Abayomi Azikiwe, editor of the Pan-African News Wire, addressing the national Workers World conference in New York City on November 18, 2012. Azikiwe discussed the impact of the world capitalist crisis on Africa-U.S. relations., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
The Future of Africa and the Struggle for Socialism
Economic downturns, imperialist militarism and labor unrest are a reflection of the world capitalist crisis
By Abayomi Azikiwe
Editor, Pan-African News Wire
Note: The following is an address delivered at the national Workers World conference held on November 17-18, 2012 in New York City.
Despite the claims by the capitalist governments internationally and their apologists in the corporate media, the world economic crisis is not easing, in fact in many ways it is worsening. In North America, Western Europe, Africa, the Middle East and Asia, unemployment is rising, currency values are declining and social unrest is burgeoning.
The Eurozone announced on November 15 that the entire 17-member currency system is back in recession. In Spain, Italy, Greece, Portugal, Belgium, the UK, France and other states unemployment and poverty are moving upward at a rapid rate.
Inside the United States, official unemployment rates are close to 8 percent and the unofficial rates are at least twice as high. Recent surveys indicate that nearly 50 percent of the population is considered below or near the poverty line.
Within the nationally oppressed communities the unemployment and poverty rates are much higher. These issues of joblessness and poverty were never really discussed during the recently held presidential and congressional elections.
Voters were given a choice between two ruling class parties, neither of which offered any program for creating jobs and of course, the Republicans and the Democrats would not dare raise the question of poverty or its elimination. Most of the current trade union leadership in the U.S. sees their existence as being closely related to the profitability of the banks and corporations.
Yet it is the financial institutions and other corporate entities which lie at the root of the current economic malaise. This is not only true for the U.S. but for the entire globe where billions still live on less than $2 per day.
Africa and the World Crisis
Recent unrest in the Republic of South Africa derives from the global crisis in the capitalist and imperialist system. Many were shocked throughout the left and progressive communities when over 50 workers lost their lives in disturbances surrounding both wildcat and protected strike actions in the mining and transport sectors of the economy, the largest on the continent.
In our coverage of the work stoppages and other violence in South Africa, we attempted to examine the underlying causes of the intensification of the class struggle inside the country and throughout the region. Workers in South Africa want the same things that their class brothers and sisters need all over the planet: a decent salary, quality homes, utility services, education for themselves and their families and the right to determine the conditions under which they labor.
Although we condemned the police killings of miners at Marikana on August 16, which resulted in the deaths of 34 workers and the injuring of many more, we placed the onus of this crime on the transnational extractive firms which are largely controlled by the western-based capitalists. South African capitalism and the its links to the world system have profited immensely from the growth of the gold, diamond, platinum, coal and iron ore sectors of the economy.
We were some of the earliest supporters inside the U.S. of the African National Congress (ANC) and its allies within the revolutionary democratic movement, the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) and the South African Communist Party (SACP). We can recall vividly how the ANC was labeled “terrorists” in the same fashion that other movements in the Middle East and the Muslim world are characterized today.
The unrest in the mining industry in South Africa has spread to other sectors including the civil service and most recently agriculture. We support the workers in their just struggles for a living wage and better living conditions. Nonetheless, we realize that in order for this to truly take place the South African Revolution must take the path towards economic independence and scientific socialism.
We know that based upon the history of struggle waged by the South African people they will succeed in realizing their strategic objectives. It was not long ago that the imperialists and other well-meaning but misguided elements doubted the ability of the peoples of Southern Africa to reach the levels that they have achieved thus far.
Responses of Imperialism to Wealth and Land Redistribution in Africa
Consequently we must continue our support of the people of Southern Africa in the next phase of the struggle for genuine liberation. With the political crisis engendered by the recent wave of strikes, a broad sweeping debate has erupted within the national democratic movement led by the ANC.
There are calls for a radical shift in policy as the ANC moves towards its congress at Mangaung next month. These are internal matters for the party and its allies to address during the 100th anniversary of the formation of the ANC in 1912.
However, we must look at the recent history of responses by imperialism to efforts aimed at wealth redistribution in the region. In neighboring Zimbabwe, the country embarked upon a land reform program in 2000 that confiscated stolen farms taken by the British settlers in the late 19th century. These farms were broken up and turned over to millions of African agricultural workers.
We have written about how this process was met with sanctions and threats of regime-change against the Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU-PF) ruling party inside the country. Yet the economic impact of these reforms has been successful in raising production and income levels among African farmers.
The experience of Zimbabwe is being looked at seriously in neighboring Namibia, headed by the South-West Africa People’s Organization (SWAPO) a close ally of the ANC and ZANU-PF. Throughout the entire region of Southern and East Africa, the question of land redistribution is no longer an academic one but is becoming a more viable political option in Kenya as well as other states.
It is not surprising that the imperialist states have targeted Zimbabwe due to this process. We can rest assured that if the ANC takes own the much needed reforms they too will come on a more sustained attack. When this occurs we must be in a position to defend the process as a much needed step in the right direction towards a non-capitalist path of development.
AFRICOM’s Escalating Aggression
The U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) has intensified its efforts on the continent with the 2011 war against Libya, the ongoing proxy war in Somalia and the threats in East and Southern Africa to intervene. The role of AFRICOM is clearly linked to the growing significance of African oil and mineral resources to the world capitalist system.
Over the last year new findings of oil and natural gas have occurred all throughout East and Central Africa. These developments are providing greater opportunities for transnational corporations and banks to enhance their influence throughout the region.
Therefore, the military interventionist policies of the U.S. through successive administrations, including the current Obama regime, will intensify. We must follow these events closely and be prepared to oppose U.S. military intervention on the continent.
As we did with respect to Libya last year and even now with the current chaos and crimes against humanity being committed throughout this North African state, we must condemn the role of imperialism and build closer ties between the workers and oppressed on the continent and those in the U.S. The struggle against austerity in the U.S. is closely related to the escalating expenditures and social impact of the interference of the Pentagon and the Central Intelligence Agency in Africa and throughout the world.