Abayomi Azikiwe, editor of the Pan-African News Wire, pictured at the Michigan Roundtable Festival on Belle Isle in Detroit during the summer of 2008. Azikiwe has written extensively on Pan-African and world affairs over the years. (Photo: Alan Pollock), a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
World Economic Crisis Continues to Unfold in Africa
Labor unrest shakes Nigeria and South Africa while thousands cross the border from Somalia to Kenya
By Abayomi Azikiwe
Editor, Pan-African News Wire
In the oil-producing West African nation of Nigeria, the two largest trade union federations were still planning for a general strike on July 18. Despite reports that state governors throughout Africa’s most populated country had agreed to implement a national minimum wage of N18,000, the workers would not be satisfied until they had the full assurance from the federal government that their wages were indeed going to be raised.
In an interview with Moment newspaper, the Nigerian Labor Congress Deputy President, Promise Adewusi, said that “The Congress won’t halt their declaration; the strike will take off with or without negotiations. No aircraft will fly, the roads would be deserted, no schools or higher educational institutions will be opened.” (July 18)
The two leading labor organizations, the NLC and the Trade Union Congress, have also announced that they will mobilize mass organizations in support of the strike actions. Also speaking at the press conference was a representative of the Civil Society Coalition, Tunde Aremu, who said that it was “immoral and unjust for the government not to implement the minimum wage on the grounds that it is unaffordable.”
Meanwhile in South Africa, the National Union of Metalworkers (NUMSA) returned to work on July 18 after a nearly two week strike which idled over 200,000 employees. The union accepted a 10 percent pay increase after demanding 13 percent initially.
Nonetheless, the National Union of Mineworkers is threatening to go on strike as well if an agreement with the bosses is not reached. Another strike being conducted by the Chemical, Energy, Paper, Printing, Wood and Allied Workers Union (CEPPWAWU) is ongoing with the union demanding a 10 percent pay increase.
Threat of East Africa Famine Leads to Mass Exodus
Tens of thousands of Somalian refugees are streaming across the border with Kenya after the government in Nairobi opened up the country in order to provide humanitarian relief. The region is suffering the worst drought in six decades while the U.S. and European Union states maintain flotillas of warships off the coast in the Gulf of Aden.
A recent announcement by Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga indicated that tens of thousands of Somalians fleeing from the US-imposed civil war and the conditions resulting from drought and lack of food and water would be allowed to cross into the Dadaab refugee camp.
On July 17, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) reported that if aid was not sent to the region soon some half a million children would face death from thirst and starvation. UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake said that “What we are seeing here is almost a perfect storm—conflict in Somalia, rising fuel prices, and drought and the loss of the rain. Now we are going to go another four to five months before there will be a harvest.” (globalhealth.kff.org, July 18)
The U.S. has extensive military and political involvement in the Horn of Africa and throughout the East Africa region. In Somalia, Ethiopia, Djibouti and Kenya, the Pentagon has supplied arms to pro-western governments in order to prevent the coming to power of movements that seek to govern independent of Washington’s influence.
In Somalia, the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) is subsidized in Mogadishu with arms and diplomatic support. The capital of Mogadishu is occupied by at least 8,000 troops from Burundi and Uganda who fighting to prevent the Al-Shabab Islamic resistance organization from taking control of the central government.
Successive U.S. administrations see political control of the Horn of Africa as important in their so-called “war on terrorism.” It was recently announced that the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) has opened an operational station in Mogadishu and is coordinating drone attacks against targeted groups inside the country.
Until the African states and regional organizations break with the dominant economic forces of imperialism, the continent will continue to suffer from periodic food deficits and massive dislocations of populations groups.