Friday, March 31, 2017

Ahmed Kathrada, Veteran Communist and National Liberation Icon in South Africa, Dies at 87
Former political prisoner served time for political work alongside Nelson Mandela and others

By Abayomi Azikiwe
Editor, Pan-African News Wire
Wednesday March 29, 2017

Funeral services were held on March 29 for Ahmed Mohamed “Kathy” Kathrada, a longtime member of the South African Communist Party (SACP) and the African National Congress (ANC) in South Africa.

Kathrada died at the age of 87 after undergoing neurosurgery. His memorial was attended by hundreds of family members and friends who paid tribute to the veteran of the decades-long national liberation struggle that brought the ANC to power in 1994.

Born on August 21, 1929 to Indian immigrant parents living in the Western Transvaal (now the North West Province), Kathrada was subjected to discriminatory practices of the racist system then dominated by the British with the Boers playing a supplementary role.

Coming from the Indian population in the settler-colonial state of the former Union of South Africa, Kathrada played an instrumental role in forming coalitions among the oppressed national groups across the country during the 1940s and 1950s.  In 1941, at the age of 12, he joined the Young Communist League, an affiliate of the Communist Party of South Africa (CPSA).

He was heavily influenced by Dr. Yusuf Dadoo, a leading member of the Indian Congress movement and the Communist Party. Dadoo was an important figure in the Non-European United Front (NEUF) which initially opposed African and Indian involvement in the military services during the early phase of World War II.

After Nazi Germany invaded the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) in June 1941, Dadoo and other Communists shifted their positions in support of the war on the basis that European fascism was a greater threat to oppressed peoples and Moscow. This position prompted opposition within the NEUF with many feeling that Africans and Indians should not fight within the ranks of the British military under any circumstances.

Nonetheless, the CPSA continued to campaign against racism inside the country during the War with the founding of the Anti-Segregation Council to oppose the Pegging Act. Later Dadoo and other leftists were able to turn the tide against more moderate forces in the Indian Congress movement.  After WWII, the cooperation between the Natal and Transvaal Indian Congresses and the African National Congress intensified.

The ANC Youth League (ANCYL), which was formed in 1943, drafted its Program of Action in 1949. The post-World War II atmosphere among Africans and larger sections of the Indian population groups in South Africa became decisively militant and confrontational against the racist state.
These events within the African and Indian Congresses led to Kathrada and other coming into closer cooperation with Nelson Mandela, Walter Sisulu, J.B. Marks and other ANC leaders. 1947 saw a major advancement in the national liberation movement with the signing of the Dadoo-Naicker-Xuma Pact which solidified the Alliance between the ANC and the South African Indian Congress. Kathrada worked as a coordinator of joint actions among the youth wings of the ANC and SAIC.

In 1948, the National Party won a substantial margin in the all-white elections making the Boer ruling elites the leading force within the Union of South Africa. A renewed system of colonial occupation known as “apartheid” was formerly instituted.

Mass Struggle and the Congress Alliance

During the early 1950s, a series of laws including the Suppression of Communism Act, the Pass Laws, Stock Limitation Regulations, the Group Areas Act, the Separate Representation of Voters Act, and the Bantu Authorities Act were passed by the National Party regime designed to thwart the burgeoning unity in action among the Indian, African, Colored and progressive whites. Soon the Defiance Against Unjust Laws Campaign was begun in 1952, bringing thousands into the mass struggle to end apartheid.

By 1954, the Federation of South African Women (FEDSAW) was created bringing together political forces from the African, Indian, Colored and left-wing whites. This organization mounted demonstrations against the pass laws requiring Africans to carry documentation at all times. The lack of these passes could land people in detention.

A major advancement in the movement happened on October 27, 1955, after 2,000 women demonstrated at the Union Buildings in Pretoria. The action was organized largely by the ANC Women’s League and the FEDSAW. They sought to deliver a statement demanding the repeal of pass laws to cabinet ministers who refused to accept the documents.

In less than one year, another larger demonstration took place which has been characterized as a turning point in the struggle. According to the South African History website, “Ida Mntwana led the march (October 27, 1955) and the marchers were mainly African women from the Johannesburg region. The Minister of Native Affairs, Dr. Verwoerd, under whose jurisdiction the pass laws fell, pointedly refused to receive a multiracial delegation. On August 9, 1956, 20,000 women from all parts of South Africa staged a second march on the Union Buildings. Prime Minister Strijdom, who had been notified of the women`s mission, was not there to receive them.” (

The Armed Phase of the South African Revolution

Kathrada although under banning orders for political activities was heavily involved in the formation and early operations of the ANC-SACP military wing Um Khonto we Sizwe (MK).  In July 1963, after going underground, Kathrada along with other MK leaders were arrested at the Lilliesleaf Farm in Rivonia during a law-enforcement raid. Mandela had already been arrested the year before with the assistance of the American Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and charged with leaving the country illegally. Mandela had traveled in 1961-62 to Ethiopia and Morocco to receive military training. He was caught at a roadblock where he was posing as a driver for a white family.

In 1964, Kathrada along with Nelson Mandela, Walter Sisulu, Govan Mbeki, Dennis Goldberg, Raymond Mhlaba, Elias Motsoaledi and Andrew Mlangeni were tried for treason and found guilty in an apartheid court. Although the defendants felt they would be hung, the ANC-SACP leaders were given life in prison without parole under hard labor conditions. Mandela, the last of the group to be released, served twenty seven and a half years in prison at Robben Island, Pollsmoor and at a residence in the Western Cape.

By the time the leadership of the ANC and SACP were released the support and membership within the national liberation movement had grown exponentially. MK under ANC leadership issued a declaration in August 1990 suspending the armed struggle in preparation for negotiations. After many attempts to sabotage the transition process where thousands more people lost their lives in apartheid-regime backed violence and targeted assassinations, the ANC was able to win the right to hold democratic elections on April 27-28, 1994. The ANC won nearly two-thirds of the vote in order to constitute a coalition government with the National Party and other small groupings. The NP withdrew from the government in 1995. The ANC has controlled the executive and legislative branches of the South African state since this time period.

Kathrada and Post-Apartheid South Africa

“Kathy”, as he was popularly known, was elected to parliament during the 1994 elections. Five years later he declined to seek re-elections therefore ending his involvement in electoral politics. South Africa has undergone tremendous reforms since 1994. However, fundamental aspects of capitalist rule have not been fundamentally altered.
Issues of land ownership, control of mining and finance, are still major sources of debate and struggle. Factionalism within the ANC, which has always existed to a limited degree, has taken on wider dimensions in recent years.

It was pointed out at the memorial services for Kathrada that he had written an open letter to President Jacob Zuma, the current leader of the Party that perhaps he should step down in light of accusations of constitutional violations. Former Vice-President under Thabo Mbeki and interim President Kgalema Motlanthe spoke at the memorial largely praising the contributions Kathrada.

Nonetheless, he said as well that: “It would be disingenuous to pay tribute to the life of comrade Ahmed Kathrada and pretend that he was not deeply disturbed by the current post-apartheid failure of politics.” Zuma was not in attendance at the memorial saying that he was absent in respect of the family’s wishes. 
Abayomi Azikiwe, PANW Editor, Featured on TVC Worldwide Satellite News Network, Discussing the Recent Unrest in Cameroon
Africa Today is a popular program which airs over TVC Lagos, Nigeria.

Watch this interview aired on Television Continental (TVC) worldwide satellite news network's Africa Today program with Abayomi Azikiwe, editor of the Pan-African News Wire.

Azikiwe discusses the current political upheaval in the West African state of Cameroon. The broadcast aired originally on Wed. March 29, 2017.

According to one source: "TVC News is a 24-hour television news channel owned by Continental Broadcasting Service Nigeria Ltd., based in Lagos. From its inception the network promoted itself as the 'first Pan-African news agency' with plans to open offices in Johannesburg, Nairobi, Accra and Dakar. The channel airs on British Sky Broadcasting Group Plc (BSY) in the UK, Naspers Ltd. (NPN)’s DStv and Startimes in Nigeria, and Multi TV in Ghana."
Pan-African Journal: Special Worldwide Radio Broadcast for Fri. March 31, 2017--Hosted by Abayomi Azikiwe
Listen to this special edition of the Pan-African Journal: Worldwide Radio Broadcast hosted by Abayomi Azikiwe, editor of the Pan-African News Wire.

To hear the podcast of this program just go to the following URL:

The program will feature our regular PANW report with dispatches on the appeal to the African Union by African students in India after a series of racist attacks; the Brazilian politician who played a key role in the coup against the Brazil Worker's Party government of President Dilma Rousseff has been convicted of corruption; the Trump administration is appealing a restraining order against the latest entry ban on people from Africa and the Middle East; and the Republican Party is facing greater internal acrimony over the role of the conservative caucus and the offer by Gen. Michael Flynn to testify with immunity.

In the second and third hours we conclude our monthlong commemoration of Women's History examining the contributions of Ruby Elzy and Kathleen Cleaver.
Pan-African Journal: Special Worldwide Radio Broadcast for Thurs. March 30, 2017--Hosted by Abayomi Azikiwe
Listen to the Thurs. March 30, 2017 special edition of the Pan-African Journal: Worldwide Radio Broadcast hosted by Abayomi Azikiwe, editor of the Pan-African News Wire.

To hear the podcast of this episode just click on the website below:

The program features our regular PANW report with dispatches on the recent passing of Ahmed Kathrada in South Africa; unrest continues in the West African state of Cameroon where teachers have gone on strike over non-payment of salaries; fighting continues for the control of the Iraqi city of Mosul; and UK Prime Minister Theressa May is preparing to exit from the EU.

In the second hour we will present an audio documentary on the African American freedom fighter Assata Shakur.

Finally we look back at the contributions of Ruby Elzy known as the Black Diva of the 20th century.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

African Students in India to File Formal Complaint With African Union After String of Racist Attacks
Africans have been targeted in racially-motivated attacks this week, particularly in Greater Noida.

Elsa Buchanan By Elsa Buchanan
International Business Times
March 30, 2017 08:27 BST  

Following a string of "racist" attacks on African students in India, the Association of African Students in India (AASI) has threatened to lodge a formal complaint with the African Union (AU).

Just this week, several Africans have been targeted in racially-motivated attacks, particularly in Greater Noida in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh. In the latest case, a Kenyan woman was attacked and beaten in the street by unidentified men in Greater Noida, a city of over 100,000.

This comes after a mob attacked a group of Nigerian students on 27 March, accused of cannibalism and murder following the recent death of a local boy.

The ASSI this week also shared an unverified video appearing to show a mob armed with sticks and stools, repeatedly beating and kicking an African man inside a mall.

Describing the recent attacks on Nigerians as "barbaric racism" against Africans in India, the AASI said it will file a formal complain to the AU, and send a report on the rampant discrimination to all heads of states in African countries.

AASI urged the Indian government to take concrete measures to secure the lives of all African students in India.

"Africans are not safe in this country. They are considered cannibals. This is a matter of public perception here," Samuel Abiye Jack, president of the ASSI told press. "We are tired of the appeasement and promises made by the Indian government and therefore we will be taking stringent actions."

The association said it would demand African states cut all bi-lateral trade with India if its government fails to protect African students and ensure maximum security in areas where they live, according to the Times of India newspaper. Additionally, the ASSI said it would urge all African students in their respective countries to avoid choosing Indian as a study destination.

"We will ensure that all the local media houses in our respective countries get details of the growing racism which African students are facing in India. We will also send a detailed report on the barbaric racism African students are facing in India to the high levels of all African governments and heads of state," the association said.

India has condemned the recent attack on Nigerians in Greater Noida, with Minister for External Affairs Sushma Swaraj asking the local government to launch an investigation into the incident.

An African student, Sadiq Bello earlier tweeted to Swaraj: "@SushmaSwaraj as an international student in Noida, you need to act fast as living for us in Noida is becoming a life threatening issue."

The ASSI advised all African students in Greater Noida to remain indoors until sufficient security measures are taken. The African student association announced it would hold a peaceful demonstration in Hyderabad, the capital of southern Telangana state.

Angry mob in India attacks Nigerian students accused of cannibalism and murder

The mob in Greater Noida blamed the students for the death of a local boy.

By Ananya Roy
March 28, 2017 12:03 BST  

An angry mob in India attacked a group of Nigerian students accused of cannibalism and murder following the recent death of a local boy. Three students were reported injured in the Monday (27 March) incident in Greater Noida, near the capital New Delhi.

Police have arrested seven people in connection with the attack. State authorities have promised a thorough investigation and strict action.

The attack followed the death of teenage boy, Manish Khari, on Saturday (25 March). The boy reportedly suffered a cardiac arrest due to drug overdose, but residents blamed the African students living in the area for his death.

Earlier, when the boy was missing for a day, the locals accused the foreign students of cannibalism and even barged into their houses to search for Khari's remains.

Following complaints by the locals, police charged five Nigerian students with murder, but did not arrest them due to lack of evidence. They were, however, detained briefly for questioning.

Accusing the police of bias, some African students staged a protest outside a police station in the area demanding withdrawal of the murder charges.

According to NDTV, the Greater Noida police have identified and traced 54 locals who were part of the mob and will soon initiate legal action against them. "We have arrested six or seven people from the spot. There are more. We will arrest them and put behind bars," senior police officer Sujata Singh said.

Meanwhile, one of the students complained to Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj through Twitter and the minister instructed state authorities to take appropriate action to ensure their safety.

Yogi Adityanath, the newly-elected chief minister of Uttar Pradesh of which Noida is part, has also promised a thorough investigation into the incident.
Brazilian Politician Who Orchestrated Ousting of Rousseff Sentenced to Prison
Worker's Party President Dilma Rousseff was ousted in a political
coup during 2016.
Former lower house speaker Eduardo Cunha convicted over role in Car Wash corruption scandal and
given 15 years in prison, which could be appealed

Reuters in São Paulo
Thursday 30 March 2017 14.54 EDT

Eduardo Cunha, the former head of Brazil’s lower house of congress, has been sentenced to more than 15 years in prison for his role in the vast Car Wash corruption scandal.

Cunha’s conviction led to one of the stiffest penalties handed down to such a senior politician since the end of the dictatorship era in 1985, but public satisfaction with the judgment will be mixed with concern that he could yet win an appeal and that many other powerful figures accused of similar crimes remain unpunished.

Sergio Moro, a Curitiba lower court judge, found Cunha – a rightwing evangelical Christian – guilty of corruption, money laundering and currency law evasion in connection with a $1.6m bribe he received from a deal by the state-run oil firm Petrobras to buy exploration rights in Benin. The judgment also noted a pending case in Switzerland related to $2.3m stashed in a secret bank account in the European country.

“The responsibility of a federal parliamentarian is enormous, and so, therefore, is his guilt when he commits crimes. There can be no more serious offence than the betrayal for personal gain of a parliamentary mandate and the sacred trust of the people,” the judged noted in his ruling.

Public opinion is firmly behind the conviction. As recent mass protests have indicated, many Brazilians are angry at endemic corruption and the impunity long enjoyed by senior office holders.

Cunha – often compared to Frank Underwood in House of Cards due to his reputation as an arch-manipulator – has long been one of the most unpopular figures in the country.

He orchestrated the impeachment of the Workers party president Dilma Rousseff in an attempt to evade justice. But – amid a public outcry – he was forced to stand down soon after and was then expelled from congress, stripping him of the immunity of office.

In his resignation speech, Cunha warned that other lawmakers would follow him to jail: “It’s the price I’m paying for the country to be free of the Workers party. They are charging me the price for leading the impeachment process,” he told lawmakers. “Tomorrow, it will be you.”

But although dozens of senators, deputies, governors and the former presidents Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, Rousseff and Fernando Collor de Mello have either been charged or are under investigation, it is far from clear that they will be brought to trial and convicted. The current president, Michel Temer, has been named in several plea bargains as a senior figure in the scandal, but he has not been charged by prosecutors.

In recent months, there have also been several signs that the Car Wash inquiry is being weakened both by the mysterious death of a senior judge, political appointments to the supreme court and growing efforts in congress to pass an amnesty bill and outlaw plea bargain deals.

Should these trends continue, Cunha’s conviction could also prove to be the only one of its kind.
3/30/17 AT 7:30 PM

Sean Spicer: Trump Has The Authority To Order Travel Ban

The U.S. Justice Department on Thursday appealed a ruling by a federal judge in Hawaii extending a suspension of President Donald Trump's revised restrictions on travel from some Muslim-majority countries.

The appeal will be considered by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco, which last month upheld a suspension of Trump's first travel order.

Trump signed the revised ban earlier this month in a bid to overcome legal problems with a January executive order that caused chaos at airports and sparked mass protests before a Washington judge stopped its enforcement in February.

Trump has said the travel ban is needed for national security.

U.S. District Judge Derrick Watson on Wednesday turned an earlier temporary restraining order into a preliminary injunction in a lawsuit brought by the state of Hawaii.

The case challenged Trump's travel directive as unconstitutional religious discrimination. Hawaii and other opponents of the ban claim it is based on Trump's election campaign promise of "a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States."

"The court will not crawl into a corner, pull the shutters closed, and pretend it has not seen what it has," Watson wrote on Wednesday.

The Justice Department on Thursday also asked a Seattle federal judge to suspend separate litigation filed by Washington state against Trump's travel restrictions until after the 9th Circuit rules on the Hawaii appeal.

In addition, the Justice Department earlier this month appealed a ruling from a Maryland judge against Trump's revised executive order. That case will be heard by the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Virginia.
Trump Goes After Freedom Caucus Ringleaders
3/30/17 08:48 PM EDT

For years, the House Freedom Caucus has pushed around House Republican leaders, even driving a speaker out of office. But now they’ve messed with the president of the United States, and Donald Trump is coming at them in full force.

Trump on Thursday evening turned his Twitter firepower on the ringleaders of the conservative group that helped tank the House GOP Obamacare replacement — a direct assault that could undermine the group’s influence going forward.

While Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), Vice Chairman Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) and group member Raul Labrador (R-Idaho) have long been the darlings of the far-right, Trump's offensive could hurt them in their home districts, where he's extremely popular.

Trump's Thursday tweetstorm against the group marks an escalation in the face-off between the White House and conservative purists. Trump previously tried to offer the Freedom Caucus concessions on health care, but the group rejected his carrot approach. Now, he's reached for the stick.

His message also come as stories of White House primary threats against Freedom Caucus members are starting to trickle out. Freedom Caucus member Mark Sanford said Trump asked Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney, a founding caucus member and fellow South Carolina Republican, to threaten him politically.

“The president asked me to look you square in the eyes and to say that he hoped that you voted ‘no’ on this bill so he could run (a primary challenger) against you in 2018,” Sanford said Mulvaney told him, according to The Post and Courier.

Before last Friday's health care debacle, Trump had at least some relationship with two of the members he called out by name Thursday. Meadows campaigned with Trump in the Tar Heel State. Trump considered Labrador for Interior secretary.

Labrador tried to remind Trump earlier Thursday of Freedom Caucus support he received during the 2016 campaign.

"Freedom Caucus stood with u when others ran," he tweeted. "Remember who your real friends are. We're trying to help u succeed."

Labrador's comments were a direct reaction to a Trump tweet earlier on Thursday morning in which the president claimed the conservative bloc “will hurt the entire Republican agenda if they don’t get on the team, & fast.”

“We must fight them, & Dems, in 2018!” Trump said, hinting that he may support primary challenges to HFC members next election cycle and run them out of office.

President Donald Trump tweeted that "we must fight" the Freedom Caucus a group of conservative Republican lawmakers who helped sink health care reform.

The trio has not responded to a request for comment. But the group's spokeswoman Alyssa Farah retweeted Trump's post and said the three members were "en route back to their districts to serve their constituents."

Farah in recent days has emphasized that moderates also sank Speaker Paul Ryan's Obamacare replacement bill, arguing that conservatives alone are not to blame. Jordan has sounded like a broken record the entire week, repeating over and over again that Ryan's bill doesn't repeal Obamacare at all, as Republicans told voters they would.

Trump has reacted to the group's opposition with a heavier hand than they're used to. In the past, when Freedom Caucus members have tanked GOP bills they felt weren't conservative enough, constituents applauded them back home.

Now, however, they're taking on the head of the Republican Party with an extraordinary bully pulpit — not just the leaders of an unpopular Congress, so the consequences are uncertain.

Trump’s decision to single out these three lawmakers in particular shows he’s well aware of the dynamics of the group.

Jordan and Labrador, multiple group sources said, rallied some Freedom Caucus members when they started wobbling in their opposition to the Obamacare replacement. Meadows had a harder time with the matter, but ultimately stuck with the group.

Since the bill was pulled last week, some Freedom Caucus members have wondered aloud whether they did the right thing. But others defiantly argue they were right on principle, even if it means taking on man in the Oval Office.

Trump's tweet singling out caucus members followed one in which he shared an op-ed from Colorado Rep. Ken Buck, a Freedom Caucus member who wrote in The Hill that Trump has earned conservatives’ support and party leaders deserve their faith.

“In fact, we have to trust the president and party leaders, because the law requires a meandering path through Senate rules and administrative action before we can arrive at a better system,” Buck wrote.

“Great op-ed from @RepKenBuck,” Trump tweeted. “Looks like some in the Freedom Caucus are helping me end #Obamacare.”
Former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn Seeks Immunity
David S. Cloud
Los Angeles Times

President Trump's former national security advisor, retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, has been seeking immunity from prosecution in return for testifying to the House and Senate intelligence committees, a congressional official confirmed Thursday.

The negotiations were first reported by the Wall Street Journal.

In a statement, Flynn's lawyer, Robert Kelner, said "Gen. Flynn certainly had a story to tell and he very much wants to tell it, should the circumstances permit."

"No reasonable person, who has the benefit of advice from counsel, would submit to questioning in such a highly politicized, witch-hunt environment without assurances from unfair prosecution."

Trump fired Flynn three weeks into the new administration after news reports disclosed that he had lied to White House colleagues, including Vice President Mike Pence, about his contacts with Sergey Kislyak, Russia's ambassador to the U.S.

In December, Flynn had telephone conversations with Kislyak in which he discussed sanctions that the Obama administration had recently imposed on Russia to punish Moscow for its interference in the 2016 presidential election.

Flynn denied to Pence and other officials that he had discussed the sanctions with Kislyak.

So far, the committees, which are investigating Russian interference and whether anyone close to Trump colluded with Moscow, have not taken Flynn up on his offer, the Journal reported.
Kathrada as Important as Madiba - Former Robben Islander
2017-03-28 21:22
James Villiers, News24

Picture of struggle veteran Ahmed Kathrada at the Nelson Mandela Gateway in the V&A Waterfront. (James de Villiers, News24)

Cape Town – Former Robben Island prisoner and Robben Island Museum council member Luyanda Mpahlwa described the death of struggle veteran Ahmed Kathrada as a "dark hour" for South Africa.

"He was as important as Madiba. We regard his death with the same gravity as that of Nelson Mandela," Mpahlwa said.

"It’s a dark hour for our country, as we mourn his passing noting the influence he has had on Robben Island itself, but also the role that he played towards achieving freedom, democracy and peace in South Africa."

Mpahlwa, 58, was addressing journalists at the Nelson Mandela Gateway to Robben Island at the V&A Waterfront on Tuesday afternoon, following the death of Kathrada on Tuesday morning. Kathrada was 87.

"I read a tweet this morning, now that everybody is tweeting, where someone quoted him saying that, when Nelson Mandela, died comrade Kathrada felt that he left him alone, and I think this tweet went on to say that as a country we definitely feel alone now that he has departed," Mpahlwa said.

'Missed children'

Kathrada spent 18 years on Robben Island after being arrested on Liliesleaf Farm in Johannesburg, from where Umkhonto we Sizwe conducted military operations.

"I remember in one of the articles that [he is] quoted… where he was mentioning that his cell had an advantage [over Madiba’s] because it was looking outside," Mpahlwa said.

Nelson Mandela’s cell had a window that looked into the prison court yard.

"He said he used to enjoy seeing the warders taking their children to school through his window, because one of the things that prisoners missed were children," Mpahlwa said.

"Even the wardens' children, actually, brought that aspect to him."

Kathrada was the first chairperson of the Robben Island Museum when it was established in 1994.

"[He] was tasked with establishing the Robben Island Museum to recognise and preserve the social memory of all ex-political prisoners who had served their sentences at Robben Island," Mpahlwa said.

'A struggle giant'

Mpahlwa said Kathrada was well known for personally conducting more than 300 island tours, including tours for USA presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton.

"There are various layers around this island, but I think where he took the most [people] was the two quarries, the lime stone quarry and the blue stone quarry, because those symbolise the hardship on Robben Island," Mpahlwa said.

Mpahlwa said the museum was planning a commemorative book, where visitors could leave messages for Kathrada.

"[We] would like to join the nation and the rest of the world in mourning the passing of this struggle icon, a struggle giant who until his death stood for what he believed in," he said.

Mpahlwa was 22 when he was sent to Robben Island in 1982. He was sentenced to five years imprisonment for refusing to testify as a state witness.
Statement of the African National Congress Following the Meeting of the National Executive Committee Held from the 24th to the 26th March 2017
27 March 2017

The National Executive Committee (NEC) of the African National Congress (ANC) met in an ordinary, scheduled meeting from the 24th to the 26th March 2017 at the St. George Hotel, Irene in Gauteng. The NEC is the highest organ of the ANC between National Conferences and has the authority to lead the organisation, subject to the provisions of the ANC Constitution.

The NEC met, as it does every two months, to supervise and direct the work of the ANC and all its organs. It also gives due consideration to the work of the ANC led government. This meeting therefore received the Political Overview delivered by the President, the report of the National Working Committee and a report on the State of Readiness for the National Policy Conference to be held from the 30th June to the 5th July 2017.

The meeting deliberated at length on the national grievance encompassing in the main land, racism and crime. We have said before and reiterated in the January 8 statement that our liberation remains incomplete without the return of the land to the people. As President Tambo asserted "to allow the existing economic forces to retain their interests intact is to feed the root of racial supremacy".

The masses of our people demand faster action on land restitution and redistribution. To give practical expression to this historic mission of the ANC, the ANC must accelerate land redistribution within the existing legislative framework. We must also then practically identify areas which are an impediment to effective and speedy land redistribution. Consequently, the NEC resolved to convene an urgent Special NEC meeting which will look at these matters and clarify itself on what must be done to strengthen our policy framework. Achieving this will require that, amongst others, we endeavor to unite former liberation movements and the dispossessed black majority to whom the resolution of the land question is central to their existence.

The NEC also reflected on recent incidents which have brought sharply to the fore once again the spectre of racism. Our nation's scars from apartheid colonialism remain deep. The re-emergence of racially based superiority and privilege, if left unchecked, will derail our advance to a non-racial, non-sexist and democratic society, founded on basic human rights and the dignity of all. The racist onslaught has become more direct, racists in our society are getting even more emboldened entrenching anger amongst the people.

For the past 22 years we have been in dialogue with our erstwhile oppressors, however in many sectors of society the olive branch offered by our people has been met with disdain and disregard. This has become even worse following the August 3 setback suffered by the liberation movement. A party representing white privilege emerged to lead government in a number of municipalities thus creating a feeble hope amongst the most ardent racists that come 2019, they will once again be in power - this time with the support and blessing of black people whom they had oppressed.

The ANC calls on Parliament to fasttrack the promulgation of the Prevention and Combating of Hate Crimes and Hate Speech Bill which criminalizes racism and metes out harsh consequences for those in our midst who continue to perpetuate it. Where people refuse to be educated on their wrongs, they must be punished by the law. Such include opposition leaders who make utterances praising colonialism. This demonstrates clearly that ours remains a struggle between progress and reaction. It is clear that wehave hardly moved an inch from the ideological positions of the past which viewed colonialism and apartheid racism as having been good for black people.

The NEC further considered the escalating and rampant levels of crime, especially violent crimes perpetrated against women. Our people are terrorised by taxi gangs that rape women as well as gangs and taxi violence in Delft, Mthatha, Lusikisiki, Libode and elsewhere. The entire nation is tired of co-existing with criminals. The NEC calls on all ANC structures to speak out and lead campaigns and programmes against crime, supporting government. We must also be on the ground fighting crime with the people, and providing support to victims and survivors of crime. The NEC has resolved to spend more time on programmatic action to deal with this scourge against our people. We welcome the focused attention on crime by the Presidency. As the ANC we will have committed ourselves to convene a National Summit of Community Policing Forums (CPF) scheduled for later this year. This will go a long way to strengthening CPFs as organs of people's power, fighting side by side with our people against criminal elements in our society.

The NEC had a candid and honest discussion on the state of the NEC and our ongoing pursuit for unity in action. We recommitted ourselves to work to unite the organization towards the 54th National Conference. Unity of the ANC is not just about the organization but the future of our country. Amongst others, members of the NEC were cautioned against being part of and fueling divisions in provinces and regions. This includes failure to correctly interpret and clarify ANC policies and decisions. In this regard, the NEC reaffirmed its position that nobody elected to a structure of the ANC may contest for positions in a structure lower than were they are sayingThis is a principled decision of the NEC which was reaffirmed by the NEC meeting. A member of the ANC elected to higher organs shall resign in all lower structures and therefore cannot and should not stand for election in lower structures.

As it relates to the ANC in Nelson Mandela Bay, the NEC directed the Provincial Executive Committee (PEC) of the ANC in the Eastern Cape to deal with the matter in line with the NEC decision.

The NEC has called for strict enforcement of discipline in the organization and unbiased, consistent application of disciplinary measures in all matters of ill-discipline. This includes public statements in the traditional and social media which are to the detriment of the organization. These distractions and our preoccupation with ourselves and our internal challenges defocus us from dealing with the real issues our people expect us to deal with in leading society. In this context, the ANC NEC SubCommittee on Communications will soon finalize a Communications and Social Media Policy which will guide all structures and members. At all times, we must balance organizational issues with the responsibility to lead our people and work with them to solve challenges facing them and the country.

Our responsibility is not to unite only the ANC structures but the broader mass democratic movement. This starts by unifying the Alliance at all levels. The NEC expressed its concern about the unfortunate public utterances attacking the ANC from some Alliance components. The ANC takes all matters raised seriously and will be discussing them with our Alliance partners in bilateral and Alliance meetings, hence the meeting with the South African Communist Party (SACP) currently underway.

The capacity of the state to deliver against the resolutions of the African National Congress was raised as a matter of serious concern by the NEC. It is the view of the NEC that many challenges currently experienced are a direct consequence of the glaring lack of capacity within the state. The very fact that the courts are playing a more interventionist role in governance is reflective of our role in abdicating our governance responsibilities to the judiciary. Judicial overreach occurs in instances where the Executive and the Legislature fail to deal adequately with matters before them. NEC resolved to develop an accountability framework for all ANC cadres deployed in government. This will ensure that the ANC is at the centre of giving strategic guidance to government and stronger oversight on the implementation of ANC resolutions in government.

The NEC reaffirmed our position that the provision of social grants is the most critical aspect of our social security net alleviating poverty for the most vulnerable in our country. NEC called on government to intensify the insourcing of critical services in the State. In this context, the NEC calls on government to immediately increase state capacity to deliver social grants uninterrupted.

NEC also acknowledged that the ultimate aim is to move people out of the social security net into productive employment thus the need to accelerate the programme of radical economic transformation. The NEC noted and welcomed the ANC and ANC Youth League submissions to the Heher Commission in furtherance of our objective to attain free higher education for the poor.

NEC condemned the collusive behavior of the banks and called on government to strengthen regulations intended to deter anti-competitive behaviour. No discussion on radical economic transformation can be complete without a thorough interrogation of the need to change the patterns of ownership in the financial services sector. Government must also fast-track the establishment of the State Bank which must be the primary transaction bank of government.

The NEC welcomed back to South Africa Comrade Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma following her deployment to the African Union. NEC resolved to redouble its efforts to participate and strengthen multilateral institutions committed to a world in peace, with equality and solidarity.

The African National Congress sends our condolences to the family of Comrade Ambassador Aubrey Nkomo who passed away yesterday. Comrade Nkomo was a committed activist and internationalist who dedicated his life to the movement. We also express our deepest sympathies to the family of Mr. Petrus "White Head" Molemela, a legendary South African and founder of Celtic Football Club. May their souls rest in peace.

Issued by:
Secretary General
African National Congress

Zizi 082 330 4910
Cameroon Gripped By Second Teachers Strike
March 28, 2017 1:08 PM
Moki Edwin Kindzeka

Teachers strike in front of the Ministry of Finance in Yaounde, Cameroon, March 28, 2017. (M.E. Kindzeka/VOA)

There is more turmoil in the education field in Cameroon. Teachers in the country’s eight French-speaking regions have joined their colleagues on strike in its two English-speaking regions. Francophone teachers say they are owed salaries from as far back as seven years.

“No pay, no school” were among the signs some of the hundreds of teachers from Cameroon's secondary and high schools were holding Tuesday at their rally outside the Ministry of Finance in Yaounde.

Among them was 27-year-old Rogers Kiven who traveled to the capital from Mokollo, on Cameroon's border with Nigeria. He said he began teaching four years ago, but has not yet been paid.

"We discovered that two years, three years, four years after that we still have not [received] a franc. We communicated [with] our minister and he communicated with his colleague from finance. From those communications, we were able to deduce that our moneys were with the minister of finance. Inasmuch as we are not paid, we are not going to leave this place," Kiven said.

Officials met with teacher representatives late Monday. The teachers refused a request to stop their strike while the government examines the issue.

Ministry of Secondary Education human resources director Moussa Djafarou, who spoke during that meeting, said case files have been compiled.

Djafarou said the Ministry of Secondary Education has forwarded to the Ministry of Finance more than 11,000 authenticated files from teachers who have to be paid. He said he understands that it may be difficult to raise the money and pay them at once, but stressed that there should be transparency, traceability and rationality in what is done.

About 20,000 teachers affected

An official at the Ministry of Finance did not respond to a request from VOA for an interview.

Cameroon has around 80,000 secondary school and high school teachers. Those claiming salary arrears are primarily recent graduates, about 20,000 of them, according to the association that organized the strike.

Each year in Cameroon, the state recruits about 2,000 teacher training graduates, but they say their monthly wages come late or not at all.

Thirty-year-old teacher Zudom Calvin from eastern Cameroon blames administrative bottlenecks.

"They ask us to compile documents and even when we compile those documents, sometimes they get lost. So we do not want that system to go on like that. He [the finance minister] must pay us," Calvin said.

The teachers say they are in debt and struggling to take care of their families.

This new strike leaves many classrooms empty at schools around the country. Schools remain closed in Cameroon's two English-speaking regions, the northwest and the southwest, as a separate teacher strike enters its fifth month.
Cameroon Footballers Ordered to Leave Russia After Being Caught Attempting to Stay Illegally

30 Mar, 2017 14:18
Cameroon footballers ordered to leave Russia after being caught attempting to stay illegally

Fifteen footballers from Cameroon and one from Belgium have been detained in the Crimean village of Ordzhonikidze after being caught attempting to stay in the country illegally.

The players from FC Yaounde II, the second string of Cameroon premier division side FC Yaounde, were taking part in the Open Winter Cup organized by the Crimean Football Union (CFU) in February.

For the duration of the tournament, which took place in various regions of Crimea from February 8 to 25, the players were staying in Alushta on the southern coast of Crimea.

When the tournament ended, the organizers took the players to the airport, after which they absconded.

“In the course of an organized search party, national border security uncovered 15 Cameroonian nationals and one Belgian national," the Crimean border control said in a statement, reported.

“During questioning of the foreign nationals who had been living in the village of Ordzhonikidze, in the Feodosiya region, it was established that the documents of the illegal migrants were in order, however their Russian visas were long out of date.”

The Feodosiya region court fined the men 2,000 rubles ($35) and ordered them to leave Russian territory within 10 days.
Cameroon: Situation of Unpaid Teachers - Consultative Platform Created
"Pursuant to the high instructions of the Head of State and as directed by the Prime Minister, Head of Government, a consultative meeting was held today Wednesday 29 March 2017 in the Prime Minister's Office.

The meeting was chaired by the Secretary-General of the Prime Minister's Office, Mr. Séraphin Magloire Fouda and was attended by the Minister for Finance, the Minister for the Public Service and Administrative Reform, the Minister for Secondary Education and representatives of the "Collectif des Enseignants Indignés du Cameroun".

The purpose of the meeting was to examine the difficulties confronting graduates of Higher Teachers' Training Schools with regard to the processing of their absorption files at the administrative and financial levels.

After frank and fruitful discussions which helped to explore the current situation, the participants agreed on the following points: (1). the rapid and integral financial absorption of all teachers concerned as from the month of April 2017; (2) the setting up of a consultative platform bringing together representatives of Government departments involved in the processing of teachers' absorption files and those of the "Collectif des Enseignants Indignés du Cameroun" to: (i) accurately determine the number of teachers effectively concerned; (ii) propose lasting solutions to the late processing of files observed; (ii) prepare a plan for the settlement of arrears owed the teachers concerned; and (iv) define ways of rapidly taking charge ofallowances and other bonuses. Taking cognizance of these conclusions, the representatives of the "Collectif des Enseignants Indignés du Cameroun" decided to call off their strike action and to resume their professional activities."

Done at Yaoundé on 29 March 2017

The following signed: For the Government Mr. Seraphin Magloire FOUDA Secretary-General of the Prime Minister's Office Mr. Alamine Ousmane MEY Minister for Finance Mr. Ange Michel ANGOUING Minister for the Public Service and Administrative Reform Mr. Jean Ernest MASSENA NGALLE BIBEHE Minister for Secondary Education For the "Collectif des Enseignants Indignés du Cameroun" Mr. SAMBA SAMBA Patrick; Mr. ESSAME MBIA Cédric; Mrs. MIETCHO epouse Ngoa; Mr. BESSALA NGONO Jacques; Mr. Souleyman OUMAR ADAMA; Mr. ELONG NGANDO Jean François; Mr. GAINBU SUKAM Gilbert; Mr. NGAHA Luc Hiver.
Reeling From An Internet Shutdown, Startups in Cameroon Have Created An “Internet Refugee Camp”
University of Buea in Cameroon's southwest English speaking region
(Quartz/Yinka Adegoke)

Abdi Latif Dahir
March 28, 2017
Quartz Africa

It’s been 70 days now since Cameroon’s two Anglophone regions have had any access to the internet. The shutdown in the Northwest and Southwest regions was instituted in January following protests against political, linguistic and economic marginalization from the French-dominated government.

The blackout is currently stoking regional fear and unrest, crippling a vibrant and growing digital sector, and in effect, creating ‘internet refugees.’

But the starts-ups have shown the creativity and determination which made them enterpreneurs in the first place. After weeks of shuttling back and forth to the commercial capital of Douala to access the internet, tech developers have come together to create what they call an “internet refugee camp.”

The space is located in Bonako, a village near the toll gate separating the Southwest from the Francophone region of Littoral. The space was sponsored by ActivSpaces, Cameroon’s first tech hub and incubator, and Njorku, a job listing startup voted as one of Fast Company’s 2017 most innovative African companies.

The startups rented the one room in the village, brought chairs and tables, and connected electricity through a generator. A dozen members from the six startups currently operating there each brought their own modem portable internet for use. The co-working space has thrown a lifeline to these techies, shortening the distance of their daily, over 70-kilometer commute from Buea to Douala by an hour.

“It was tedious. The commute was not easy,” says Otto Akama, the community manager of ActivSpaces, about the daily trip to Douala. “The real benefit [of coming to Bonako] is that there’s no traffic.”

The internet shutdown has cost the Cameroonian economy over a million dollars, not to mention the long-term effects on supply chains and the budding Silicon Mountain industry. This is not a desirable outcome for the central African nation at a time when commodity prices are low, and the country hopes to sign a two-year aid deal with the International Monetary Fund to deliver sustained growth.

The government is yet to publicly announce why it shut the internet, and operators, worried that their licenses would be withdrawn, reportedly complied with government orders. The blackout has drawn sharp criticisms from the United Nations, the American Congress, whistleblower Edward Snowden, and members of the Cameroonian diaspora in the US and France. Even in the euphoria that followed Cameroon’s win of the Africa Cup of Nations in February, the country’s goalkeeper Fabrice Ondoa used the occasion to stand in solidarity with those in the English-speaking regions.

Ayuk Etta is the CEO of Skylabase, a startup that develops computer software and which is currently using the Bonako space. This week, he is going on a trip to The Gambia and then Rwanda to see if he can permanently relocate. “This is too much,” he said.

But despite the shutdown, a faint glimmer of hope keeps surfacing from the tech industry. Lum-Neh Angela, whose app Opportunity Space connects Cameroonians to scholarship openings, and whose launch was affected by the shutdown, was recently selected for The Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship program. In January, Nji Collins Gbah from the Northwest region became the first African to win a spot in the Google Code-in competition.
‘Time to Sound the Alarm Bells’ As Mosul Plight Has ‘Escalated to the Limit,’ Moscow Says
30 Mar, 2017 14:41

Displaced Iraqi people receive aid as Iraqi forces battle with Islamic State militants in Mosul, at Hammam al-Alil camp, Iraq March 23, 2017. © Khalid al Mousily / Reuters

The humanitarian plight of war-torn Mosul has “escalated to the limit,” with the Iraqi president comparing it to a “full-on catastrophe,” Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova said.

“It’s time to toll the alarm bells,” the official added.

“The Mosul humanitarian situation has escalated to the limit. The Iraqi president has compared it with a full-on catastrophe,” Zakharova said.

The city “is running out of essential food and medical supplies,” with “experts warning about a threat of mass famine if the assault on the city lasts longer.”

So far, it seems like such a turn of events is highly likely, Zakharova said, adding that the Iraqi forces’ advance has seen little success and become bogged down in intense city battles.

Another frequently-voiced danger for the locals is the US-led coalition’s airstrikes targeting residential areas.

“With such population density, what kind of pinpoint strikes are our Western partners talking about?” Zakharova asked.

According to the latest UN data, 307 people died in western Mosul on March 17-22, and “these are only the deaths that have been confirmed,” the Foreign Ministry spokesperson added.

“We still have to fully estimate the real scale of casualties.”

The Russian official’s concerns have been echoed by Katharina Ritz, head of the International Committee of the Red Cross in Iraq.

“The concern for us is that the highest standard should be maintained when it comes to protecting the civilian population in any conflict, in any area. To have military warfare in densely populated areas in western Mosul, precautions and care need to be the priority,” she told RT.
Another Escalation in Iraq: U.S. Army Sends New Reinforcements to Mosul
By Andrew deGrandpre
Military Times
March 26, 2017

WASHINGTON — An unspecified number of combat soldiers from the U.S. Army's 82nd Airborne Division have been ordered to northern Iraq, marking the Pentagon's latest escalation in what's been a slow-moving campaign to flush Islamic State fighters from their stronghold in the city of Mosul.

"Additional members of 2/82 BCT are deploying to Iraq on a non-enduring temporary mission to provide additional 'advise and assist' support to our Iraq partners as they liberate Mosul," U.S. officials in Baghdad told Military Times on Sunday. The unit designation refers to the division's 2nd Brigade Combat Team, a force of more than 4,000 based at Fort Bragg in North Carolina.

A brigade combat team comprises infantry, artillery and cavalry troops, plus their supply pipeline. About 1,700 soldiers from the same unit are overseas now, spread between Iraq and Kuwait. It's unclear whether the full remainder — approximately 2,500 paratroopers — will receive deployment orders. Earlier this month, a top Army general told Congress there were plans to do precisely that, and distribute those personnel within Iraq and Syria.

On Sunday, U.S. officials would say only that this new surge in Mosul will not reunite the entire brigade.

It's a sensitive topic for several reasons, not the least of which centers around a deepening desire in Washington to limit the perception abroad that America's military footprint is growing in Iraq and Syria. The Trump administration also has expressed a desire to limit what information it telegraphs about military strategy.

There are 5,262 U.S. troops authorized to be in Iraq, and another 503 in Syria, officials told Military Times on Sunday. But the numbers have been considerably larger for quite some time as commanders leverage what they call temporary — or "non-enduring" — assignments like this one involving the 82nd Airborne in Mosul.

It's believed there are closer to 6,000 Americans in Iraq, not including this new deployment. Nearly 1,000 more are on the ground inside Syria, where several hundred additional personnel arrived in recent weeks to bolster allied forces targeting the city of Raqqa, which ISIS considers its capital. The Pentagon is  reportedly weighing plans to send upwards of another 1,000 troops there.

If those plans bear out, the U.S. would have closer to 10,000 military personnel on the ground for a mission officials continue to call advisory.

The deployment announcement comes as U.S. commanders face growing pressure from the White House to intensify the fight against ISIS in both theaters, and step up efforts to dismantle terror groups elsewhere that threaten the U.S. and its interests.

U.S. officials told Military Times that none of the 82nd Airborne soldiers bound for Mosul is expected to be rerouted to Syria, where a major U.S.-backed operation, launched last week, seeks to sever the Islamic State's last escape route from Raqqa. That effort involves an unspecified number of American military advisers, supported by Marine Corps artillery and U.S. warplanes.

It also coincides with reports, published Saturday, that Iraq's security forces have temporarily  suspended operations in west Mosul amid fallout from a March 17 airstrike suspected of killing more than 100 civilians trapped in the fighting there. The U.S. military is investigating those claims, but has acknowledged conducting an attack on ISIS fighters in the immediate area.

The battle in Mosul has worn on for five months, and an estimated 2,000 militants remain entrenched there. It's been complicated by a variety of factors, including the Islamic State's propensity to use civilians as human shields.

Army Maj. Gen. Joseph Martin, who oversees all coalition land forces in Iraq and Syria, told Military Times last month that the block-by-block fight is the most complex he's witnessed due in large part to the city's size, which he equated to Philadelphia, and the amount of time ISIS had to establish its defenses. And even as the Iraqis make progress, he noted, ISIS continues to adapt.

"It’s urban combat of the like, of a scope and scale I have not see in thirty-one years," the general said, "and I’ve served in combat a couple of times."

Andrew deGrandpre is Military Times' senior editor and Pentagon bureau chief. On Twitter: @adegrandpre.  
Iraqi Forces in Mosul See Deadliest Urban Combat Since World War II
Jim Michaels
4:41 p.m. ET March 29, 2017

U.S.-backed Iraqi forces battling the Islamic State to liberate Mosul are suffering heavy casualties in the deadliest urban combat since World War II, according to top U.S. commanders for the Middle East.

Gen. Joseph Votel, the head of U.S. Central Command, said Wednesday that 774 Iraqi troops were killed and 4,600 wounded since the Mosul offensive began in October.

Tens of thousands of Iraqi troops are battling several thousand Islamic State militants holed up in their last major stronghold in Iraq.

The casualty statistics, released for the first time, highlight the difficulty of fighting in a densely populated city where the militants have had several years to build up complex defenses.

“This is the most significant urban combat to take place since World War II,” Lt. Gen. Stephen Townsend, the top coalition commander, said this week. “It is tough and brutal.”

The willingness of Iraqi armed forces to press ahead with the offensive despite heavy casualties is a remarkable turnaround after they collapsed nearly three years ago when the Islamic State invaded the country.

The militants swept into Iraq from Syria, capturing Mosul, in June 2014 in a devastating defeat for the armed forces. The militants seized U.S.-supplied arms and ammunition, while Iraq’s military melted away almost without firing a shot.

“Now they are a professional force,” said Army Col. Joseph Scrocca, a U.S. military spokesman.

“The Iraqi security forces are putting themselves in the line of fire in order to protect civilians.”

The dangerous urban combat has also exposed civilians to greater risk. The U.S. military said it is investigating a March 17 incident that killed dozens of civilians in western Mosul.

The U.S. military acknowledged an airstrike targeted the area, but officials also suspect that militants may have herded “human shields” into the building and might have stored munitions in the structure or rigged it to blow up. Townsend said the coalition used a small munition that was not designed to collapse an entire building.

The Pentagon said the air campaign exercises unprecedented caution to avoid civilian casualties, though avoiding deaths of citizens in a crowded city is difficult.

"As we move into the urban environment, it is going to become more and more difficult to apply extraordinarily high standards for things we are doing, although we will try," Votel told the House Armed Services Committee.

City fighting also places enormous challenges on ground forces. Fighting in urban terrain generally favors the defenders, who can place snipers in windows and hide down narrow alleys.

Even with precision munitions, it is difficult to use air and artillery power in a dense urban battle. Much of the fighting falls on the shoulders of the individual soldiers, who have to clear the city block by block. Iraq's elite counterterrorism troops have been engaged heavily in the battle for Mosul.

Votel said 490 Iraqi forces were killed and 3,000 were wounded in the first phase of the offensive to liberate the eastern half of the city, which lasted about 100 days. Another 284 were killed and 1,600 wounded since the Iraqis began five weeks ago to retake the western half of Mosul.

The fight to drive the Islamic State, also known as ISIS, from the rest of the city will be difficult.

The U.S. military has deployed about 450 advisers to work with Iraqi forces in Mosul and are sending another 200 troops to the area, as Iraq increases its forces in the offensive. The Pentagon said the advisers are generally not near the front lines but work in headquarters behind the front lines.
Brexit: Group of MPs Hits Back at BBC Bias Claims
A cross-party group of MPs has defended the BBC, after another group accused it of biased Brexit coverage.

Earlier this month, a letter from Conservative MP Julian Knight, supported by 70 mainly Tory MPs, accused the BBC of a biased and "pessimistic" view.

But the counter letter - signed by 85 MPs and MEPs - called on the corporation to defend its independence.

They urged the BBC "not to succumb to pressure to skew" coverage.

The letter to director general Tony Hall warned of "an authoritarian attempt to force people to accept a single version of events".

Labour MP Pat McFadden, who coordinated the response, said: "This letter is a strong statement of support for the BBC to be free to do its job to report fearlessly and impartially.

"The reason the BBC is respected as a news source around the world is precisely because it is independent.

"And at a time when those who ask fair and tough questions are being denounced, that independence and impartiality is more important than ever."

A BBC spokesman said: "As we say to politicians from all sides, impartiality is the cornerstone of BBC News and we go to great lengths to ensure that we balance our coverage and address all issues from a wide range of different perspectives."

Among the MPs who signed the letter were Conservatives Kenneth Clarke, Nicky Morgan, and Anna Soubry; Labour's Yvette Cooper and Ben Bradshaw; the Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron; and the SDLP's Mark Durkan.
Pillars of the West Shaken by ‘Brexit,’ but They’re Not Crumbling Yet
New York Times
MARCH 29, 2017

LONDON — On a day that blended dull ritual with undeniable historical import, Britain formally began its departure from the European Union with the delivery of a letter to Brussels, followed by lofty words from Prime Minister Theresa May in Parliament.

Two years of grinding divorce negotiations now begin, with the outcome unclear, except that the talks are certain to be contentious and spiteful — and that the only sure winners will be lawyers and trade negotiators.

For the first time, the European bloc is losing a member, not to mention its second-largest economy.

The multilateral architecture that has shaped the Western world since the aftermath of World War II has taken a severe blow, and as the letter was delivered on Wednesday, questions abounded about whether this pivot toward nationalism and self-interest represented the beginning of a more volatile global era.

The British government formally notified the European Union on March 29 that it intends to withdraw from the bloc.

When Britons voted last June to leave the European Union, the champions of “Brexit” argued that the country, with its exit, was at the front edge of a larger populist wave. Months later, the election of Donald J. Trump as president of the United States only deepened the feeling that an anti-establishment political contagion was sweeping across Western democracies, upending the established order. Britain, the argument went, would be a winner in this new era.

Few people predicted the British exit, and fewer still predicted Mr. Trump’s victory. But few predicted where things stand now, either: The European Union, if still ailing and dysfunctional, is far from dead. Populist parties are sinking in the polls in Germany and underperformed in the Dutch elections this month. Opinion polls in many countries show continued public unhappiness with the bloc but little desire to see it fall apart.

“No one is following Britain out of the E.U.,” Pierpaolo Barbieri wrote recently for Foreign Affairs, a magazine published by the Council on Foreign Relations, a nonpartisan research group.

The question now is whether some Europeans, having watched the first aftereffects of the vote to withdraw and the American presidential vote — political division in Britain and the fall of the pound, and political missteps in the Trump White House — are sobered by the chaos of the right. That thesis is speculative, too, and will be tested next month in France, where the traditional parties have imploded and the far-right nationalist Marine Le Pen, if victorious, has promised to take France out of the European Union. But for now, Emmanuel Macron, who is pro-Europe, is leading the polls.

Picking winners at such a volatile moment is perilous, but many analysts agree that the British withdrawal, and the uncertainty it produced, has been good news for Russia, and possibly for China, as two large powers that can exercise greater leverage in negotiations with individual European capitals than with a tightly unified European bloc that, taken together, is a geopolitical powerhouse.

“ ‘Brexit’ surely strengthens the disintegrative processes already underway in the E.U., and therefore is a boon” to Russia, said James Nixey, head of the Russia and Eurasia program at the London-based think tank Chatham House. “The E.U. is more powerful than any single actor, even Germany, so anything that diminishes a rival in the zero-sum terms in which Russia thinks strengthens the Russian voice in Europe.”

Britain’s absence at the European table could also help the Russian president, Vladimir V. Putin. Partly pressed by Britain, the United States’ main ally, the European Union has been tough on Russia over its annexation of Crimea, and the bloc has moved to cut Europe’s dependence on Russian natural gas. Anything that shifts power in Brussels away from that Anglo-Saxon view is considered a plus for Moscow.

The coming exit from the European Union has already turned Britain inward, with the government and the country’s powerful tabloid news media fixated on the particulars of its withdrawal: the uncertainties of whether the country will maintain access to the bloc’s single market; demands that the country take control of its borders to stunt immigration; and an insistence on “reclaiming sovereignty” by returning lawmaking powers to London.

Britain has started the clock on leaving the European Union, and will be out of the bloc by March 2019. Here is how “Brexit” has affected business so far.

Those themes of national sovereignty and curbing immigration resonate across the Continent, which is why some saw the British exit as a political precursor and the European Union as an endangered species.

In December, however, Austrians narrowly elected a pro-European president, Alexander Van der Bellen, over Norbert Hofer of the far-right Freedom Party. In Spain, the populist Podemos party underperformed polling expectations last year and the conservative prime minister, Mariano Rajoy, stayed in office.

This month, the Dutch gave the far-right anti-European politician Geert Wilders fewer votes than expected in a northern European country similar in its political outlook to Britain. In Germany, Chancellor Angela Merkel remains popular in the polls, although weakened by her long service in the job and by severe criticism of her 2015 “open-door” immigration policy. The anti-euro, anti-immigration Alternative for Deutschland is slipping, however, and Ms. Merkel’s main challenger is the pro-European Martin Schulz of the Social Democrats, the former head of the European Parliament.

Even Bulgaria, the European Union country considered most influenced by Russia, saw voters endorse the pro-Europe, center-right party in elections last weekend.

As European voters seem to be tentatively endorsing unity, Britain is confronted with widening divisions. On Tuesday, less than 24 hours before the exit letter was delivered to Brussels, the Scottish Parliament voted to demand a new referendum on independence from the United Kingdom. Such a referendum is unlikely to happen anytime soon — it requires the approval of the British government in Westminster — but the rising nationalism in Scotland is a reminder that London could get a taste of its own medicine.

With her government desperate to maintain Britain’s standing in the world, Mrs. May has turned to President Trump. He and his chief political adviser, Stephen K. Bannon, are deeply skeptical of multilateralism, free trade and “entangling alliances.” While NATO may pass muster as a security shield (provided everyone pays up), the European Union, like the United Nations, seems an example of the world that Mr. Trump and Mr. Bannon want to dismantle or, at the very least, weaken.

Yet Mrs. May has also tried to present Britain as committed to globalization and to global trade — as, effectively, still open for business. It is a tricky circle to square, demonstrating how difficult it is to predict Britain’s future. Some envision the country’s fate as being a European equivalent of Singapore, sovereign and respected, a partner eagerly sought by the rest of the world. Others warn that Britain could be left much more isolated than it is now, especially since European leaders feel they must strike a hard bargain.

“There is a political imperative that ‘Brexit’ not be seen as a success,” said Mark Leonard, director of the European Council on Foreign Relations, “because every government in Europe is challenged to some degree by resurgent nationalists who would be encouraged and inspired by a ‘Brexit’ success.”

For those British lawmakers in favor of the withdrawal, like Jacob Rees-Mogg, a Conservative legislator, the exit “is a wonderful liberation for my country.”

The single market, he told Prospect magazine, “is a bureaucratic, highly regulated means of making British business more inefficient — it’s about having a closed, inward-looking Fortress Europe approach, rather than engaging with the world.”

There is “no political event in my lifetime that has been better or more exciting for the nation,” he added.

But Mr. Leonard has his doubts.

“Britain may be sailing off to sea,” he said, “but the welcoming arms won’t be that numerous.”

Follow Steven Erlanger on Twitter @StevenErlanger.
Brexit: No Talks With the UK Before Clear Withdrawal Terms, Says France
BBC World Service

France has insisted that the UK must first sort out the terms of its exit from the European Union before talks can move on to future relationships.

President Francois Hollande told British Prime Minister Theresa May that talks must settle the UK's financial bills and the rights of citizens.

Other pro-EU politicians meeting in Malta expressed a similar view, saying they would not allow "cherry-picking".

Mrs May called for simultaneous talks during exit negotiations.

But in a phone call, Mr Hollande warned her that the withdrawal agreement should come first, a common line among European leaders.

"First we must begin discussions on the modalities of the withdrawal, especially on the rights of citizens and the obligations arising from the commitments that the United Kingdom has made," he said.

The party chairman Manfred Weber said they would "not allow the cherry-picking we saw over the past few decades", and that the UK could not shape the future relationship with the bloc in the way it had done as a member of the EU.

Speaking at the meeting, German Chancellor Angela Merkel did not mention Brexit directly, but said the EU must guarantee the prosperity and security of its citizens or risk them turning away.

She had already said that Britain's commitments to the EU had to be dismantled before talks could move on.

Mrs Merkel ended her speech with a quote from the philosopher Erich Fromm: "He said one loves what one makes a lot of effort for and what one makes a lot of effort for one loves.

"And it's important we must make an effort for this Europe because we love it and we want to leave it behind in a good position for future generations."

More European reaction

The European Council President, Donald Tusk, is expected to set on Friday draft guidelines that will form the basis for EU negotiations with the UK.

They will be amended and then approved by the remaining 27 EU leaders in a month's time, and they are likely to set out a clear negotiation schedule, the BBC's Chris Morris in Malta says.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

African Politics and the World Situation
Centenary of the Bolshevik Revolution requires a reassessment of the impact of the Soviet Union on the struggle for national liberation and the socialist construction

By Abayomi Azikiwe
Editor, Pan-African News Wire

Note: This report was written and delivered in part to the Midwest Regional Conference on Socialism and National Liberation held in Detroit, Michigan at Wayne State University on March 25-26, 2017. The Conference was sponsored jointly by the WSU chapter of the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) and the Detroit branch of Workers World Party (WWP). Azikiwe addressed the Conference on a panel entitled “Fighting Capitalism Around the World.” Other panelists in this session were Lorena Buni, Chairwoman and National Solidarity Officer of Anakbayan USA; Mond Jones of the Detroit branch of Workers World Party; Claude “Toutou” St. Germain, leader of the Boston Fanmi Lavalas of Haiti; Randi Nord of the Detroit branch of Workers World Party and editor of Geopolitics Alert; Yvonne Jones, co-founder of the Detroit Active and Retired Employees Association (DAREA); and Joe Mchahwar of the Detroit branch of Workers World Party. This panel was chaired by Kayla Pauli of Workers World Party in Michigan. The Conference was attended by delegates from at least 12 different states and some 20 cities.
This conference comes at a very important time in regard to the political and economic situation here in the city of Detroit, the state of Michigan, throughout the United States and indeed the world.

There has been much ruling class propaganda about the purported financial and employment resurgence in the U.S. Wall Street has apparently welcomed the ascendancy of the Trump administration with the Dow Jones Industrial Average exceeding 21,000 points.

Trump has surrounded himself with Wall Street bankers, oil magnates, Pentagon generals and ideological racists. They represent not the strength of the modern capitalist system but its stark contradictions and weaknesses.

Although the stock market is rising this does not necessarily translate into a qualitative rise in the standard of living for working people, the nationally oppressed and marginalized communities in the recent period. The Bureau of Labor Statistics claimed that during the month of February over 250,000 jobs were created. However, what is not said are the types of employment the new hires working in. When the corporate media outlets say that some of these jobs are within the manufacturing sector it still avoids the reality of declining monetary and social wages for the working class overall.

Moreover, the assault on the working class and poor is unrelenting in areas that extend beyond their places of employment. In Detroit and other municipalities, tens of millions have been displaced over the last decade through home foreclosures, evictions, utility shut-offs, and through the processes characterized as “gentrification.” How would we quantify the losses of people’s homes, neighborhoods and essential services?

In Detroit, municipal employees and retirees have undergone massive cuts in their pensions, annuities and healthcare benefits. Just three years ago over 50 percent of African Americans residing in the state of Michigan were living under emergency management designed to enhance the authority and profitability of the banks and industrial corporations. Under the so-called “Financial Stability Agreement” imposed nearly five years ago at the aegis of Gov. Rick Snyder and adopted in a 5-4 vote by the majority compliant Detroit City Council, the stage was set for full-scale emergency management. This acceptance of the FSA took place during a period of political opposition aimed at overturning EM legislation in its totality.

The U.S. promotes the notion of being a democratic society. Many wars in the 21st century have been launched by the White House and the Pentagon saying that their intentions are to bring democracy to other nations which are post-colonial states. Nevertheless, this propaganda rings a hollow tone if we examine the workings of the capitalist system of governance in states such as Michigan.

In essence it was the industrial abandonment of the city of Flint and the appointments of successive Emergency Managers that lie at the root of the poisoning of the water in the city where the population has been reduced by half over the last four decades. The city of Detroit has gone from a population of 1.8 million in 1950 to one of less than 700,000 today.

Corporate media outlets hail on a daily basis the ostensible “rebirth” of Detroit while tens of thousands of its majority African American community are being forced to leave for the suburbs and other areas of the state and country. Despite the campaign of “ethnic cleansing”, African Americans constitute more than 75 percent of the city making them the largest concentration of this oppressed nation among all major municipalities in the U.S.

This same pattern has been replicated throughout the Midwest. In Chicago, public housing complexes have been razed over the last two decades. Historic African American neighborhoods were targeted, as in Detroit, for predatory lending and disinvestment.

Extortionist methods of high mortgages, rents, property taxes, utility and water costs, insurance rates, compounded by food deserts, the lack of educational resources and city services, are all utilized as effective methods to drive people out of their communities.

The segregation of African Americans and their super-exploitation means in essence that they remain a colonized and neo-colonized people within the U.S. With the advent of Black mayors, congresspersons, city council representatives and other elected officials provided a veneer of self-determination and political equality during the era of the 1960s through the conclusion of the 20th century. However, in many cities where African Americans had occupied these positions they have been removed and replaced by whites.

Detroit is an excellent example where for forty years from Coleman A. Young to Kwame Kilpatrick, African Americans had maintained political control of City Hall. Obviously in the present situation, the ruling class cannot even afford to allow this limited degree of political influence and power. Mike Duggan, the white comprador corporate-designated mayor from Livonia, is symptomatic of this shift in capitalist governance. Not only is the Duggan administration promoted as the only viable solution to the current crises of underdevelopment and job losses, he is falsely portrayed as being superior in administrative skills and efficiency.

Of course the actual record is at variance with this narrative. The revelations surrounding the operations of the Detroit Land Bank Authority (DBLA) and its blight removal program utilizing federal funds has become a focus of a federal criminal investigation. Dan Gilbert, of Quicken Loans, the “Don” of the city who is also promoted as a white savior, occupies the chairmanship of the Detroit Blight Removal Task Force. This entity identifies properties for seizure and demolition. The DLBA has become the largest landlord in the city while Gilbert, a financial and real estate magnate, is also under investigation for criminal fraud involving his misrepresentations to secure Federal Housing Administration (FHA) loans for his unsuspecting clients. While former Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick is serving a 28-year sentence for violations of federal law, Gilbert, Duggan and their cohorts are still open for business. Washington and its district attorney have not shut down their nefarious operations, prosecuted them for the misuse of federal funds and placed them in prison for decades.

Consequently, there is much work to be done to expose these contradictions which the masses understand almost instinctively. This is why our work here in the city has linked the plight of African Americans with their counterparts on the continent of Africa.

Our Work in the Struggle to Reverse Imperialism in Africa

Over the last decade the Michigan Emergency Committee Against War & Injustice (MECAWI) has led several campaigns in solidarity with the anti-imperialist struggle in Africa.

The organization was founded in September 2002 during the build-up in the Persian Gulf for the blockade, massive bombing, invasion and occupation of Iraq. The U.S. under President George W. Bush had intervened in Afghanistan directly only a year before.

MECAWI’s efforts went beyond Iraq to solidarity actions with Haiti when it was invaded and occupied beginning in the aftermath of its bicentennial in February 2004. Military forces from the U.S., France and Canada overthrew the elected government of President Jean Bertrand Aristide. The president was kidnapped and flown by imperialist military aircraft to the Central African Republic (CAR). Aristide was later granted political asylum in the Republic of South Africa whose then President Thabo Mbeki had visited for the 200th year anniversary of the conclusion of the anti-colonial struggle when African slaves successfully rose and led a revolution against France.

In 2005, a delegation from South Korea visited the U.S. and we were able to host the delegates in Detroit where they appeared before the Detroit City Council and spoke at a MECAWI-sponsored forum at Wayne State University. The Koreans were here to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the national student uprising of 1980. The demonstrations and unrest shook the foundations of the Pentagon and Wall Street outpost which serves as a bulwark against the reunification of the Peninsula and the attempts aimed at the destabilization of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) based in Pyongyang.

By the concluding months of 2006, the political situation in the Horn of Africa State of Somalia was reaching a boiling point. A coalition of groups under the banner of the Islamic Courts Union (ICU), were bringing a modicum of stability to the decades-long war-torn country. The White House under President Bush sought unsuccessfully to utilize pro-western warlords to reverse the advances of the ICU.
By December the neighboring state of Ethiopia, now a close ally of Washington, sent troops into Somalia to enforce imperialist foreign policy designs in the region. Ethiopian military forces were working with Pentagon and Central Intelligence Agency CIA) personnel to find another way into Somalia after the enormous defeats suffered by the U.S. and the United Nations between the years of 1993-94. A popular resistance alliance arose in opposition to the Pentagon and UN occupation of Somalia during 1992-1994. The Marines were deployed in December 1992 in what was dubbed Operation Restore Hope. Utilizing the devastation caused by a recent drought in the country, the administration of President George W. Bush, Sr. deployed 12,000 soldiers to ostensibly distribute relief and to establish safe corridors for those impacted by food shortages.

This imperialist intervention of 1992-93 proves disastrous. Within several months a national uprising in response to U.S. military atrocities committed against the Somalian people forced the Marines and the UN so-called peacekeeping operation out of the country.

The previous government of President Mohamed Siad Barre had gone from a 1969 anti-imperialist and socialist-oriented seizure of power by military officers, to making a rightward shift to the U.S. by 1977, leading to a failed invasion of the Ogaden region of Ethiopia. Cuban internationalist forces were in Ethiopia to assist and defend the Provisional Military Administrative Council (PMAC), or the Dergue, which dominated the government in Addis Ababa after the 1974 Revolution against the monarchy. PMAC had committed the country to a socialist path and was providing assistance to the national liberation movements in Southern Africa.

Cuban internationalist forces played an important role during the Somalian invasion of the east of Ethiopia in the Ogaden region during 1977-78. The defeat of this successionist effort undermined the stability of Somalia for decades to come.

However, the Eritrean question was not able to be resolved and the war which began for independence under the His Imperial Majesty Haile Selassie I in 1961, continued with greater intensity. The internal national question within Ethiopia itself was manifesting through the guerrilla wars waged by the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) in the north and the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) in the south. The Western Somali Liberation Front (WSLF) was waging a war against the central government seeking federation with its nationality in Somalia, a country which during the period of colonialism was divided by five different states carved out by Italy, Britain, France and Ethiopia.

By 1991, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) was collapsing following the pattern which had begun in the late 1980s in Eastern Europe. The economic and military resources needed to maintain the war against the Eritrean People’s Liberation Front (EPLF) and other armed movements was not forthcoming. The State Department under the George Bush, Sr. administration was pressuring the Worker’s Party of Ethiopia (WPE) government under Haile Mengistu Mariam to relinquish control of the state and allow the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF), led by the TPLF, to enter Addis Ababa. Also within this deterioration of the WPE government, the EPLF declared independence in Asmara. Two years later the UN-supervised election brought about the inevitable international recognition of Eritrea as an independent state.

In Somalia with the fall of neighboring Ethiopia, Washington no longer was compelled to provide resources for the Siad Barre regime. Internal power struggles worsened to the point of the collapse of the government in Mogadishu. Since 1991, the Somalian state has remained fractured and weak. Today the federal government in Mogadishu is propped-up by the Washington and Brussels funded African Union Mission to Somalia (AMISOM) consisting of 22,000 troops from several states across the region.

MECAWI foresaw this situation as being an opening for imperialism to re-enter Somalia with force in early 2007. Accompanying the Ethiopian intervention and the threats from Kenya as well was the bombing of the country by both the U.S. and the British Royal Air Force (RAF).

 A press statement issued on January 11 to announce a demonstration during a program at Wayne State University (WSU) featuring UN ambassadors from Kenya, Ethiopia, Iraq and Malaysia, MECAWI said: “Despite the overwhelming vote on November 7 to end the war in Iraq, the Bush administration is not only escalating the conflict but has embarked upon a new military adventure in the East African nation of Somalia. Utilizing the US-backed government of Meles Zenawi in Ethiopia, the Bush regime has engineered an occupation of Somalia, a sovereign nation. In addition, the American military launched a bombing campaign that has resulted in the deaths of over 500 Africans in Somalia since Monday.”

This same release went on to emphasize that: “Using the same old pretext of fighting terrorism, C130 gunships bombed civilian areas in southern Somalia where these rural communities have no defenses against such deadly weapons of mass destruction. The Michigan Emergency Committee Against War & Injustice is demanding the immediate halt of all military actions against Somalia and the withdrawal of American and Ethiopian military forces from the Horn of Africa nation.”

Sentiment against the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and Haiti were reflective of the mood enunciation in this press release. Hundreds of thousands had demonstrated across the U.S. and the world against the invasion of Iraq in March 2003. With respect to the U.S. role dominating the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) forces in Afghanistan, the rationale for the war was losing credibility even among those who supported and justified the intervention. Atrocities of the same nature of which were being perpetrated and exposed in Iraq and Haiti were also taking place in Afghanistan.

Neo-colonialism was being enforced at the barrel of the gun and sharpness of the bombs dropping over wide swaths of territory throughout various geo-political regions of the world. Oil, cheap labor and strategic waterways coveted by the imperialists were the real reasons behind the wars of conquest and genocide. As the economic crisis was deepening in Detroit and other Midwestern municipalities, small towns and rural areas, the Pentagon budget was expanding exponentially. The creation of a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in the aftermath of the attacks on September 11, 2001, was aimed at the further consolidation of the intelligence and military apparatuses of the state in both the domestic and foreign policy arenas.

Diplomatic ploys engineered by the U.S. were a key element in the renewed imperialist war drive. The presence of such persons on the campus of WSU in the heart of this majority African American and economically targeted city was an affront to the best in its legacy of Civil Rights, Labor, Black Power, Anti-war and Pan-Africanist traditions. Launching an ideological and political challenge to the neo-colonialist approach to both local and global capitalist and imperialist policy was the appropriate response to such a provocation by the Bush administration.

The MECAWI press release of January 11, 2007 appealed to the people saying: “The United Nations ambassadors from both the US-backed government in Ethiopia and the American-installed occupationist regime in Iraq will be visiting Wayne State University's Law School on Thursday beginning at 10:00 a.m. We are calling upon anti-war activists, students and community people to come out and picket the appearance of these puppets in order to tell them and their Bushite sponsors that the people want peace not war. We support the Somali and Iraqi peoples' right to self-determination and independence. A policy of colonialism and imperialism is doomed to failure in the 21st Century. MECAWI is calling on the US Congress to halt all funding for the Iraq occupation and the military interference in the internal affairs of Somalia. We need money for jobs, health care, quality education, senior services and affordable housing, not permanent war and colonial occupations.”

A report written by this author in regard to our intervention at the WSU Law School forum featuring the UN ambassadors, notes: “MECAWI pointed out that the Bush administration has repeatedly lied about a terrorist threat and weapons of mass destruction in order to provide a rationale for the ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Only the Ambassador from Bangladesh, Mr. Iftekhar Ahmed Chowdhury, conveyed an appreciation for questions asked by MECAWI representatives. Two members of MECAWI then continued to shout out critical questions and statements related to recent events in Iraq and Somalia. After the forum was over, MECAWI approached the Ambassador from Kenya, Mr. Z.D. Muburi-Muita, and handed him a copy of a statement issued to the press which condemned American involvement in the Horn of Africa and Iraq. The statement was also handed over to the Iraqi Ambassador, Mr. Talib Hamid Al Bayati, as well as the Ethiopian UN Representative, Mr. Dawit Yohannes.”

As the war in Somalia escalated the plans for the formal adoption of the U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) was announced in 2007. Scheduled to go into effect in February 2008, MECAWI issued a call for a conference on U.S. Imperialism and Africa in Detroit that would denounce AFRICOM and expose it for the danger it represented to the independence and sovereignty of Africa.
On February 23, 2008, the 140th birthday of Pan-Africanist and Communist Dr. W.E.B. Du Bois, MECAWI held a day-long meeting on the contemporary struggle against neo-colonialism and imperialist militarism on the continent. This was the only gathering of its kind internationally. The U.S. Imperialism and Africa conference was self-organized and carried out by local activists from MECAWI and Workers World Party Detroit Branch. Friends of these organizations were attendance and participated. The National Conference of Black Lawyers (NCBL) attended and presented a paper on its legal objection to the creation of AFRICOM.

Papers on issues involving imperialist wars of regime change and domination in Somalia, Sudan, Zimbabwe and other states were delivered. A newly-released film on Cuban internationalist solidarity with Africa was screened for the first time in the city in its entirety. The revolutionary legacy of Patrice Lumumba, Kwame Nkrumah, Ida B. Wells-Barnett, Shirley Graham Du Bois, Amilcar Cabral, Agostino Neto, Nelson Mandela and other were evoked. The conference provided a wealth of information and a program of ideological and political opposition to the changing role of the Pentagon, the CIA and NATO in Africa.

The anti-colonial and anti-racist history of struggle waged by African Americans was recounted in the effort to illustrate the principled positions which MECAWI was seeking to continue. In the weeks and months to come the Pentagon accelerated its bombing campaigns in Somalia along with the intensification of the occupations of Afghanistan, Iraq and Haiti. These foreign policy assaults were replicated in the U.S. through the worsening economic crisis that had struck Detroit and the state of Michigan with a vengeance in its first wave.

On February 14, 2008, the call for the U.S. Imperialism and Africa Conference was issued to the media saying: “The Michigan Emergency Committee Against War & Injustice (MECAWI) is an anti-war and anti-imperialist coalition that opposes United States military intervention in Iraq and Afghanistan. Moreover, MECAWI has responded to further interventionist maneuvers by the Bush administration in Somalia, Haiti, Zimbabwe, Sudan, Colombia, Cuba, Venezuela and other geo-political regions of the world.  Based upon recent political events on the African continent such as: the US-backed invasion of Somalia in 2006; the escalation of destabilization efforts against Sudan, Zimbabwe, Kenya and Chad;  as well as the much publicized American plans to establish military bases on the continent through the Africa Command (AFRICOM) that is directly administered from the Pentagon, many of us in the anti-imperialist and anti-war movements see the mounting danger of greater United States military intervention in Africa.”

In an address delivered at the U.S. Imperialism and Africa Conference this writer stressed: “As a result of the rejection by leading African states, such as Nigeria and South Africa, headquarters for this military program remains in Germany. Consequently, in recent weeks the overall political framing of the AFRICOM project has shifted to a less threatening approach with the American administration later claiming that the program is designed to enhance the capacity of African states to provided adequate security amid the changing concerns of the 21st century.  This evolution of political spin continued when Bush was in Ghana, the first country south of the Sahara to gain national independence in 1957 from Britain. Kwame Nkrumah proclaimed on March 6, 1957 that the independence of Ghana was meaningless unless it was linked up with the total independence of the African continent. With the overthrow of Nkrumah in 1966 by a US-backed military and police coup, the country has fallen into the grip of neo-colonialism, what the first Prime Minister and President described as the last stage of imperialism.”

This same lecture continued recognizing: “To further obscure its imperialist aims, the United States Ambassador to the United Kingdom denied over the BBC on February 20 that the Bush administration had any intentions of building military bases in Africa. So what should the people of Africa and the world believe? And what does this apparent new interest in African affairs mean to the anti-war and peace movements in the United States in light of the ongoing occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan?”

Just five years later during the Jubilee commemorations of the 50th anniversary of the formation of the Organization of African Unity (OAU), the predecessor to the now African Union (AU) initiated in 2002, another conference was held by MECAWI to assess the five years since the launching of AFRICOM. Even though the U.S. defied the proclamations in 2008 that its ambitions were to build military bases in Africa, the escalation of Pentagon, State Department and CIA involvement on the continent had accelerated.

The propaganda had shifted to advancing notions of assisting African nation-states to enhance their national security capacity. Nevertheless, airstrips, CIA stations, drone operations, aerial bombings, special forces and commando raids were becoming more frequent with examples of Somalia and Libya being the most pronounced. The phenomenon of joint military exercises, training programs and the embedding of Pentagon and U.S. intelligence personnel within African military structures had expanded.

The call for the MECAWI Conference on May 18, 2013 said: “Today in 2013, African states are being invaded once again by troops from the Pentagon, various NATO forces, Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) operatives and other intelligence organizations from throughout North America and Europe as well as transnational corporations and banks determined to maintain western hegemony over the continent, its people and resources. Five years ago in 2008, the Michigan Emergency Committee Against War & Injustice (MECAWI) held a similar conference in the wake of the formation of the U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM). In 2008 we predicted that the formation of this Pentagon command specifically geared toward Africa would prove disastrous for the continent. Unfortunately what we anticipated has been proven correct.”

Emphasizing the role of imperialism over the previous five years, the call said: “AFRICOM coordinated the overthrow of the government in Libya under the martyred Col. Muammar Gaddafi, a longtime leader of his country who served as a co-founder of the AU and its chairman in 2009-2010. Although the headquarters of AFRICOM remains in Stuttgart, Germany, the U.S. has established a military base in Djibouti along with drone and CIA stations in Somalia, Niger and other countries across the continent. The current war in Mali, although said to be waged by France for humanitarian reasons, is merely designed to penetrate the continent and exploit its oil, uranium and gold. Africa is playing a greater role in supplying oil, platinum, natural gas and other strategic resources to the western industrialized capitalist states. Therefore, we believe that a renewed anti-imperialist campaign aimed at enhancing solidarity with Africa and its people is necessary during this period.”

AFRICOM had been formed under the administration of George W. Bush, Jr. nonetheless with the election of President Barack Obama the military command had been strengthened and enhanced. Just two years earlier, the Obama administration would wage a full-scale war against Libya which toppled the Jamahiriya resulting in the deaths of tens of thousands of Africans. Aerial bombardments initiated by the White House soon brought in other NATO air forces and their allies in the Middle East such as Turkey and the Qatar. After the adoption of two pseudo –legal resolutions by the UN Security Council 1980 and 1983, the stage was set to dismantle Africa’s most prosperous state driving its leader Col. Muammar Gaddafi from the capital of Tripoli in August 2011 bringing about his eventual brutal assassination on October 20.

In the case of Libya, many so-called leftists and antiwar activists objectively took the side of imperialism. Not understanding the changing character of western hegemony, these misguided elements fostered the notions that the Pentagon-CIA-NATO forces had some legitimate role inside the North African state to protect civilians. Since when has the imperialists been concerned about protecting the lives of civilians both inside and outside the U.S.? The war against Libya opened Africa further to the military hegemony of Washington, London, Paris and Brussels.
MECAWI organized demonstrations, public forums and wrote extensively on the unjust and imperialist character of the war against Libya. This bombing and ground operation utilizing CIA, Special Forces and State Department personnel under the direction of the-then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton essentially bombed the country back into the stone ages. Clinton laughed at the brutal assassination of Gaddafi and lauded the installment of the counter-revolutionary militias as a triumph for democracy in Africa. The regional AU’s effort to bring about a peaceful resolution to the intervention was disregarded.

Today Libya has gone from the most advanced state in Africa under Gaddafi, where the nation served as chair of the AU in 2009, to being one of the most impoverished—a source of instability and terrorism across North Africa and West Africa. Human trafficking operations involving millions are centered inside the country. The social and political impact of the imperialist dismemberment of Libya has spread throughout North Africa and the Middle East across the Mediterranean into Southern, Central and Eastern Europe.

The fallout surrounding the imperialist war drive led by successive U.S. administrations against Africa and the Middle East extending into Central and Southern Asia has impacted the stability of the European Union (EU). The Brexit vote in Britain to leave the EU can be traced directly by to the machinations of the Pentagon and NATO. What is described in the modern period as “populism” sweeping the imperialist states represents the failure of militarism and unbridled capitalist economic policies. The collapse of the USSR and the Council of Mutual Economic Assistance (COMECON) eliminated the only real alternative to western hegemony emanating from Europe.

Russia after 1917: International Communism, Colonial Questions and the Upsurge of Anti-Imperialism

This year represents the centenary of the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia. Born in the midst of the first imperialist world war, the Russian Social Democratic Labor Party (RSDLP-Bolshevik) later becoming the Communist Party, was able to seize power in October (November 6) just eight months after the popular overthrow of the monarchy. Many including Marx and Engels had been involved in the workers upheavals of 1847-1851 as well as studying the lessons of the Paris Commune (1870-71), themselves seemed to have believed that the first revolution against capitalism would be victorious in one of the more advanced capitalist states in Western Europe such as Germany, France or Britain.

However, the largely unpopular war against Germany would create the political situation for a coalition of workers councils called Soviets, which grew out of the uprisings of 1905, the peasantry starving for bread and land reform along with the battered Russian military suffering from a disorganized war effort and lack of food and supplies on the battlefront, served to provide V.I. Lenin and his comrades the ability to seize power. This revolution took an immediate stand against the imperialist war by signing a treaty with Germany to end Russia’s involvement, also exposing the plot to dominate the West Asia by Britain and France through the Sykes-Picot Agreement signed in 1916, and fostering the liberation of the oppressed nations and nationalities within the Russian sphere of influence.

The Bolsheviks formed the Third International which held its First Congress in1919. By 1920, Lenin in response to the mass uprisings across the colonial territories in the aftermath of World War I, declared the world socialist movement as being the staunchest allies of the oppressed peoples under the yoke of colonialism and semi-colonialism.

With specific reference to the U.S., the Second Congress of the Communist International in1920 heard a report from John Reed on the state of the African American people. Based on these analyses and other information provided to the Russian Communist Party and Socialist state, Lenin declared: “The second main idea of our Theses is that, in the current world situation, after the imperialist war, the mutual relations between states, the world system of states, is determined by the struggle of the smaller number of imperialist nations against the Soviet movement and the Soviet powers with Soviet Russia at their head. If we overlook this question, we cannot pose correctly a single national or colonial question even in the most distant part of the world. It is only from this standpoint that the political questions of the Communist Parties, not only in the civilized but also in the backward countries, can be posed and answered correctly. Thirdly, I would like to emphasize the question of the bourgeois-democratic movement in the backward countries. This was the point that gave rise to some differences of opinion. We debated whether it is correct in principle and theoretically to declare that the Communist International and the Communist Parties have a duty to support the bourgeois-democratic movements in the backward countries, and the outcome of this discussion was that we came to the unanimous decision to talk not about the ‘bourgeois-democratic’ movement but only about the national-revolutionary movement. There can be no doubt of the fact that any nationalist movement can only be a bourgeois-democratic movement, because the great mass of the population of the backward countries consists of the peasantry, which is the representative of bourgeois capitalist relations. It would be utopian to think that proletarian parties, insofar as it is at all possible for them to arise in these countries, will be able to carry out Communist tactics and Communist policies in the backward countries without having a definite relationship with the peasant movement, without supporting it in deeds. But objections were raised that, if we say ‘bourgeois-democratic’, we lose the distinction between the reformist and revolutionary movement which has become quite clear in the backward countries and the colonies recently, simply because the imperialist bourgeoisie has done everything in its power to create a reformist movement among the oppressed peoples too. A certain understanding has emerged between the bourgeoisie of the exploiting countries and that of the colonies, so that very often, even perhaps in most cases, the bourgeoisie of the oppressed countries, although they also support national movements, nevertheless fight against all revolutionary movements and revolutionary classes with a certain degree of agreement with the imperialist bourgeoisie, that is to say together with it. This was completely proven in the Commission, and we believed that the only correct thing would be to take this difference into consideration and to replace the words ‘bourgeois-democratic’ almost everywhere with the expression ‘national-revolutionary’. The point about this is that as communists we will only support the bourgeois freedom movements in the colonial countries if these movements are really revolutionary and if their representatives are not opposed to us training and organizing the peasantry in a revolutionary way. If that is no good, then the communists there also have a duty to fight against the reformist bourgeoisie, to which the heroes of the Second International also belong. There are already reformist parties in the colonial countries, and on occasion their representatives call themselves Social Democrats or Socialists. This distinction is now made in all the Theses, and I think that our point of view is thus formulated much more precisely.”
Of course there were no African Americans in attendance at the first three congresses of the CI where these questions were debated and discussed. Later in 1922, a delegation of two African Americans, renowned Jamaican-born poet and novelist Claude McKay and Surinam-born Otto Huiswoud, attended the Fourth Congress of the CI. This gathering was held amid a cultural and political renaissance among the African American people.

The Universal Negro Improvement Association and African Communities League (UNIA-ACL) was in its heyday with Jamaican-born Marcus Garvey attracting millions across the U.S., the Caribbean, Central and South America as well as colonies on the African continent. The Negro World newspaper published in three different languages and attracted Black leftists into its ranks such as Nevis-born Cyril Briggs and Hubert Harrison from St. Croix.

Briggs and Harrison had been associated with the revolutionary nationalist and socialist movements in the U.S. prior to joining the UNIA. Briggs co-founded The Crusader magazine which eventually took an anti-capitalist position. In 1919, Briggs, and others formed the African Blood Brotherhood for African Liberation and Redemption (ABB). Eventually many within the leadership of the ABB joined the early formations which later consolidated as the Communist Party of the U.S.

1919 witnessed over two dozen racial incidents when African Americans came under attack by white mobs and law-enforcement authorities in the aftermath of the first imperialist war in cities such as Chicago and Washington D.C. What distinguished these so-called race riots from others which had occurred during the late 19th and early 20th century was that African Americans fought back against the racists in a disciplined and organized fashion. It was during this period that the ABB was formed as a self-defense organization advocating self-determination and anti-capitalism.

In addition, strikes in the Steel and Coal Mining industries and the Seattle general strike heightened fears of the capitalist class and federal government. A series of bomb attacks attributed to Anarchists also set the stage for a massive wave of repression involving thousands of law-enforcement personnel as they raided homes and offices of suspected radicals ostensibly designed to prevent an uprising aimed at overthrowing the U.S. government on May Day 1920.

Ideological and political differences with Marcus Garvey over the character of the movement led to a split within the UNIA between Briggs, Harrison and the leadership. These contradictions were heightened by the federal government infiltration of the UNIA, Socialist organizations and the eventual Communist Party.

During the post-World War I period the Department of Justice targeted radicals and revolutionaries for disruption, deportation and imprisonment. Hundreds of Socialists, Anarchists and Black Nationalists were victimized in this effort initially launched by the-then Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer in 1919.

Garvey was indicted and convicted on bogus charges of mail fraud during the 1922-23. He was eventually imprisoned in 1925 serving two years in federal prison before being deported back to Jamaica in 1927.

Moreover, Africans living in the South still tied to the land in the agriculture system of production were being harassed, super-exploited, imprisoned through contract labor schemes and lynched by the racist mobs, started to rapidly migrate into the industrial and shipping centers of the Northern, Midwestern and Western urban areas. This process of migration brought vitality into the workers’ movement and the African American nation which continued to grow in class and racial consciousness. A plethora of newspapers, magazines, theaters, social organizations and businesses flourished as a result of the legalized and de facto segregation prevalent in the municipalities. Although Africans relocated in the hope of a better life through good paying employment, quality housing and more social freedom, conditions in their new found homes were just as bad if not worse than what existed in the South.

A statement issued after the 1922 Fourth Congress of the CI in Moscow said of the African American national question that: “The Communist International must show the black people that they are not the only ones to suffer capitalist and imperialist oppression; that the workers and peasants of Europe, Asia and America are also victims of imperialism; that the black struggle against imperialism is not the struggle of any one single people, but of all the peoples of the world; that in India and China, in Persia and Turkey, in Egypt and Morocco, the oppressed non-white peoples of the colonies are heroically fighting their imperialist exploiters; that these peoples are rising against the same evils, i.e., against racial oppression, inequality and exploitation, and are fighting for the same ends – political, economic and social emancipation and equality.”

These movements outside the U.S. in the colonial and semi-colonial territories were the foreign counterparts of the African American national question. There had been an ongoing debate within the Left over whether the African American people were fighting for inclusion within U.S. society or sought to establish their own autonomous and perhaps independent existence. Judging from the report of John Reed at the Second Congress of 1920, there seems to be a lack of appreciation of the necessity of organizing within the rural areas of the South where African American farmers and agricultural workers were very much a part of the production process which was integral to the capitalist manufacturing centers of the North and Midwest.

Racial conflict in the South was often prompted by the division of labor along national lines. Many white farmers remained landless and poor however they were indoctrinated by the ruling class that their interests lay with the plantation owners whom had survived the destruction of the Civil War and Reconstruction periods. In major cities such as Memphis, Atlanta, Winston-Salem, etc., African Americans had carved out an existence through the utilization of religious, cultural and social institutions. These also came under attack by white racism. By the final decade of the 19th century and first years of the 20th, migration began to increase. This migration was not limited to the North, Midwest and West it also occurred in areas such as Kansas and Oklahoma. These migration patterns were not exclusively spontaneous. There were organizations that eased the strain on moving to other regions of the country. African American newspapers such as the Chicago Daily Defender carried ads which promoted migration and groups such as the National Urban League were founded and funded by some capitalist corporations to facilitate the transferal of African labor from the rural South to the industrialized centers of the U.S.

In an effort to embrace the anti-colonial and revolutionary nationalist struggles as their own as well, the resolution adopted at the Fourth Congress of the CI continued stressing: “The Communist International represents the revolutionary workers and peasants of the entire world in their struggle against the power of imperialism – it is not just an organization of the enslaved white workers of Europe and America, but is as much an organization of the oppressed non-white peoples of the world, and so feels duty-bound to encourage and support the international organizations of the black people in their struggle against the common enemy. The black question has become an integral part of the world revolution. The Third International has already recognized what valuable help the colored Asiatic peoples can give to the proletarian revolution, and it realizes that in the semi-capitalist countries the co-operation of our oppressed black brothers is extremely important for the proletarian revolution and for the destruction of capitalist power. Therefore the Fourth Congress gives Communists the special responsibility of closely applying the “Theses on the Colonial Question” to the situation of the blacks. The Fourth Congress considers it essential to support all forms of the black movement which aim either to undermine or weaken capitalism and imperialism or to prevent their further expansion. The Communist International will fight for the racial equality of blacks and whites, for equal wages and equal social and political rights. The Communist International will do all it can to force the trade unions to admit black workers wherever admittance is legal, and will insist on a special campaign to achieve this end. If this proves unsuccessful, it will organize blacks into their own unions and then make special use of the united front tactic to force the general unions to admit them. The Communist International will immediately take steps to convene an international black conference or congress in Moscow.”

Leading elements within the ABB which grew out of the resistance to racist state and mob violence after World War I joined the Communist Party during the mid to late 1920s. Eventually the ABB was dissolved and the American Negro Labor Congress (ANLC) was formed in 1925. The organization was the first attempt on the part of the CP to organize mass organizations among the African American people.  ANLC cadre held a conference to draft a program of action although this effort gained limited results. A newspaper called the Negro Champion was published in an attempt to intervene in the political and ideological struggles taking place among the African American people.

On an internationalist level, the League Against Imperialism (LAI) was founded during this same time period. The first gathering was held in Brussels, Belgium and organized by German Communist Willi Munzenberg in February 1927. Delegates were invited to the first meeting from China, India, South Africa, Indonesia, Senegal and Algeria. Leading figures in the anti-colonial movements from these geo-political regions such as Lamin Senghor (Senegal),  Virendranath Chattopadhyaya (India), J.T. Gumede of the African National Congress (ANC) of South Africa, Messali Hadj of the Algerian North-African Star, and Mohammad Hatta of the Perhimpoenan Indonesia were reported to have been in attendance.

Including the Chinese nationalist Kuomintang led by Chaing Kai- shek, the involvement of these forces along with the Communist Party would not last long. On April 12, 1927, the Kuomintang military forces marched on Shanghai where they massacred the Communists and allied workers. Later that year in December, the Kuomintang crushed the Canton Commune. As a result, the coalition of Chiang Kai-shek's Kuomintang and the Communist Party of China was dissolved, leading to the Chinese Civil War. Later in 1931, the Japanese imperialists invaded Manchuria.

LAI was headquartered in Berlin during the period of 1927-33, when the Nazi Party came to power. Anti-imperialist and anti-colonial work was severely set back as fascism spread throughout the European continent after 1933.

The League Against Imperialism did enormous work in Britain expressing solidarity with the anti-colonial struggle in India. Nonetheless, there were disagreements with Nehru of India in 1930-31 over criticism related to the policies of the Congress Party. He was expelled from the LAI in 1931. By 1937, the LAI had gone out of existence as an international organization.

Paralleling the LAI was the work of the International Trade Union Committee of Negro Workers (ITUCNW) which was an affiliate of the Red International of Labor Unions (RILU) and the Third International. This organization formed in 1928 was led by African American Communist James Ford who was quickly replaced by Trinidad-born George Padmore.

The ITUCNW came amid the positions on the African American and African national questions emanating from the Sixth, (1928) Congresses of the CI. Prior to this the efforts of the Workers (Communist) Party had been extremely limited.
Cyril Briggs admitted in a lengthy article published in The Communist magazine in September 1929 that: “In attempting to evaluate the work of our Party among the Negro workers and farmers during the past ten years, it is necessary to begin with the frank admission that the task of winning the Negro masses to our program was seriously and sincerely taken up only since the Sixth World Congress. Most of our Negro work prior to the Congress was of a sporadic nature intended in the main as gesture for the benefit of the Comintern.”

Later Briggs quotes the Sixth Congress resolution on the Negro Question in the U.S. which said: “the Negro masses will not be won for the revolutionary struggles until such time as the most conscious section of the white workers show, by action, that they are fighting with the Negroes against all racial discrimination and persecution… to mobilize and rally the broad masses of the white workers for active participation in this struggle.” (p. 494)

This same article continues in relationship to the demand by the Sixth Congress that white chauvinism, prevalent in both the left and right factions of the Party, be rejected categorically: “An aggressive fight against all forms of white chauvinism must be accompanied by a widespread and thorough educational campaign in the spirit of internationalism within the Party, utilizing for this purpose to the fullest possible extent the Party schools, the Party press and the public platform, to stamp out all forms of antagonism, or even indifference among our white comrades toward the Negro work. This educational work should be conducted simultaneously with a campaign to draw the white workers and the poor farmers into the struggle for the support of the demands for the Negro workers.” (pp. 494-5)  

The ITUCNW published The International Negro Workers’ Review in March 1931. It was later renamed The Negro Worker.

In July 1930, the International Conference of Negro Workers was convened in Hamburg, Germany utilizing the base of the Western Secretariat of the COMINTERN located there. This meeting was originally scheduled to be held in London however the repression leveled against the working class and anti-colonial struggle by Britain prevented the gathering.

Specifically related to the attendance at the 1930 Conference, Susan Campbell said: “Present in Hamburg were 17 delegates representing six African-American organizations, British Guiana, Trinidad, Jamaica, several west African countries, and South Africa. Information on who these delegates were is both lacking and in some cases (partly because of pseudo-names) contradictory. Jamaica was represented by S.M. DeLeon, Trinidad by Vivian Henry of the Trinidad Workingmen’s Association, and British Guiana/Guyana by pioneer trade unionist Hubert Critchlow. There for Sierra Leone, under the alias ‘E. Richards’, was Isaac Theophilis Akkuna (I.T.A.) Wallace-Johnson; for South Africa, Albert Nzula. Also present were Johnstone (Jomo) Kenyatta, two men identified only as ‘S. Norton’ and ‘Akrong’ from the Gold Coast/Ghana, and Frank Macaulay, who had cooperated with Wallace-Johnson in the Nigerian Workers’ Union. Padmore, although from Trinidad, had counted as an African-American delegate, together with James W. Ford, I. Hawkins, and J. Reid. The Gambian delegate, listed as George Small, was almost certainly E.F. Small, editor of The Gambia Outlook and organizer of one of west Africa’s first unions, the Bathurst Trade Union. In late 1929 Small’s union had led a general strike that tied up the Gambian economy for 18 days. British Colonial Under-Secretary Drummond Shiels, a prominent member of the Fabian Society, had commented “the union has unfortunate affiliations and has been run rather on Communist lines." Otto Huiswoud seems not to have been present; likely he was already off as part of a COMINTERN ‘mission’ to the South African Communist Party he is known to have undertaken around this time.” (The Negro Workers: A Comintern Publication of 1928-37)

The resolutions passed at the ITUCNW Conference in Hamburg took a hard line against what was described as “Negro reformism.” This tendency was characterized as “the most dangerous obstacle to the development of the struggle of Negro workers.” There was much criticism of the role of the Socialist International as represented by the British Labor Party.  ITUCNW said of the Labor Party that it was “the best proof of the real policy of these imperialist agents.”

ITUCNW resolutions demanded the full independence of all colonial territories along with the right to self-determination for all oppressed nations. In the aftermath of the Conference many of the delegates traveled to Moscow to attend the Congress of the RILU.
However, in 1933 the Nazis came to power in Germany. Padmore was arrested and jailed for several months. He was then deported to Paris where it appeared the authorities were working with the German fascist regime to gain access to Padmore’s collection of documents shedding light on the strength and work of the ITUCNW and the RILU.

Soon after this, Padmore broke with the COMINTERN over its shift in foreign policy in relationship to Britain and France. Moscow viewed Germany as the principle threat to the Soviet Union and its influence.  Padmore initially claimed it was the financial problems associated with the ITUCNW as his reason for departure.

Nonetheless, Campbell recalled: “in September 1933 Padmore bid ‘Au Revoir’ to his editorship of the Negro Worker, then begun castigating the COMINTERN for its cynical abandonment of the colonial workers’ cause in the interests of Popular Front rapprochement with Britain and France. Here is should be noted that while the Popular Front era is usually thought of as having begun with the July-August 1935 Seventh (and last) COMINTERN Congress, its start can be more accurately dated to the 13th Plenum of the Executive Committee of the COMINTERN, held shortly after Hitler’s January 30th 1933 assumption of power.”

Later in early 1934, Padmore officially severed his ties with the COMINTERN. James Ford went so far as to label Padmore a “police agent.” Padmore then wrote a public letter criticizing the new COMINTERN position having it published in the NAACP’s Crisis magazine. Earl Browder, the-then General Secretary of the CPUSA, replied to Padmore’s criticism which also appeared in the Crisis.

During his Paris sojourn, Padmore continued his work in the Pan-African struggle. He collaborated with Nancy Cunard, the author of the anthology “Negro.” By late 1935 and early 1936, Padmore relocated to London where he teamed up with his childhood friend C.L.R. James who was working within the Trotskyist movement in Britain. They formed the International African Service Bureau (IASB) publishing the International African Opinion. Later in 1944, long after James had traveled to the U.S. for a lecture tour that extended for fifteen years, the IASB was dissolved and the Pan-African Federation was formed which went on to organized the Fifth Pan-African Congress in Manchester in October 1945.

The Fifth Pan-African Congress was led by George Padmore, Dr. W.E.B. Du Bois and Kwame Nkrumah, who had just arrived in Britain from studying for a decade in the U.S. Nkrumah left for the Gold Coast in 1947, eventually forming the Convention People’s Party (CPP) in 1949 which led the British colony to independence by 1957, becoming the base of the anti-colonial and Pan-African struggle until 1966 when Nkrumah was overthrown in a CIA-backed coup against his government.

Post World War II and the Socialist Camp

During the years of the second imperialist world war from 1939-1945, the anti-colonial movement was reawakened in the colonies of the British and the French. Africans from Morocco, Egypt, Algeria and South Africa intensified their struggle against colonial occupation.

On August 12, 1946, African mineworkers in Witwatersrand went on strike for higher pay and better conditions of employment. After one week, the racist state still dominated by British imperialism, ruthlessly suppressed the work stoppage. Nine people were reported killed by the police and over 1,200 people were injured.
The brutality of the state had a profound impact on the consciousness of the national liberation movement of the African National Congress (ANC). The ANC had assisted in the formation of the African Mineworkers Union dating back to 1941. J.B. Marks, an ANC leader, played a critical role in the organization of the union.

African workers earned 1200 percent less than white miners. Although European mineworkers had been involved in labor struggles dating back to the 1880s, they were eventually accommodated by capital and most became staunch defenders of the racist system of colonialism.

The 1946 African Mineworkers strike was broken by the racist colonial state. However, its impact on the consciousness of the masses was enduring. In 1949, the ANC Youth League, formed in 1943, drafted its program of action calling for more militant activity on the part of the liberation movement.
By 1950, after the passage of the Suppression of Communism Act, outlawing the Communist Party of South Africa, there were strikes and mass demonstrations surrounding May Day resulting in the deaths of 16 people by the police. In 1952, the Defiance Against Unjust Laws Campaign began lastly four years until 1956. These events prompted the formation of the Federation of South African Women in 1954 bringing together women patriots from the African, Indian, Colored and white progressive movements.

In 1955, thousands met in Kliptown to announce the Freedom Charter, a revolutionary democratic document that called for the abolition of the racist apartheid system, the nationalization of the mines and white-controlled lands inside the country.

The South African apartheid regime indicted over 150 activists for treason. The trials lasted for four years ending in the acquittal of the members of the Congress Alliance in 1960 which consisted of the ANC, Indian National Congress, Congress of Democrats, among others.

On March 21, 1960, the police massacred 69 people outside a police station in Sharpeville and near a bus terminal in Langa Flats. The ANC, along with the newly-formed Pan-Africanist Congress were banned and remained so for another thirty years when they were allowed to operate openly in February 1990.

These mass struggles characterized the national liberation movement in South Africa, Ghana, Guinea and other areas. Nevertheless, in Algeria the National Liberation Front (FLN) was forced to take up arms against French imperialism in 1954. The guerrilla movement waged a military campaign until 1961 when the stage was set for the national independence of the North African state in 1962.

The ANC and the South African Communist Party (SACP) formed Um Khonto we Sizwe (MK) which embarked upon an armed struggle in December 1961. The guerilla unit carried out attacks on power stations and government offices in its initial phase. Leaders of MK were arrested between 1962 and 1964. Later the Rivonia Trial was held placing Nelson Mandela, Walter Sisulu, Ahmed Kathrada, Dennis Goldberg and others in prison for life without parole.

Although the apartheid regime expected that the ANC and SACP were eliminated as threats to the state and economic system, by 1976, the mass movement emerged again when students in the thousands demonstrated and struck against Bantu education. Hundreds of youth were killed, wounded and arrested during 1976-77. Thousands of additional youth fled the country into exile where they received training in camps established by the ANC, PAC and the Black Consciousness Movement (BCM).

In 1980, the ideological and political orientation of the national liberation movement in South Africa had swung decisively in favor of the ANC. The form of the movement focused on igniting unrest within the military, labor and mass arenas of struggle.

These developments in South Africa were not occurring within a vacuum. The former Portuguese colonies of Guinea Bissau, Mozambique and Angola were focal points for the armed phase of the African Revolution.  Portugal, a fascist colonial state, had been one of the earliest European nations to initiate the Atlantic Slave Trade. Nonetheless, Portugal was overshadowed by Britain and France in the colonial scramble for Africa.

Making tremendous gains in the armed struggle in Guinea Bissau and Mozambique, the African Party for the Independence of Guinea (PAIGC) and the Mozambique Liberation Front (FRELIMO) were poised to declare independence by 1974. A coup of younger military officers in Lisbon in April 1974 pledged to decolonize their holdings on the continent. Guinea Bissau became independent in 1974 while Mozambique followed later in June 1975.

The situation in Angola was more complicated since there were three organizations claiming to be the legitimate national liberation movements in the oil-rich country. The Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) has done the bulk of the fighting during the revolutionary war starting in 1961 and extending to 1975 when an agreement was reached for a peaceful transition to power.

Nevertheless, two other organizations, the National Front for the Liberation of Angola (FNLA) based largely in Zaire ( now the Democratic Republic of Congo) under the-then leadership of the imperialist-backed military strongman Mobutu Sese Seko, who had been involved in the overthrow and assassination of Congolese patriot and elected Prime Minister Patrice Lumumba, and the Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA) headed by Jonas Savimbi, a dubious character who had later been discovered to be a collaborator with the Portuguese colonial authorities, were the groups favored by the imperialists.
CIA operatives and mercenaries sought to ensure the victory of the counter-revolutionary forces against the MPLA which was supported by Cuba and the Soviet Union along with having an alliance with the South West African People’s Organization (SWAPO), the ANC and the South African Communist Party (SACP). Cuban internationalist forces intervened in Angola on the eve of independence in November 1975 in the midst of an invasion by the South African Defense Forces (SADF). The Cubans fighting alongside their MPLA comrades pushed back the SADF consolidating the independence of Angola under revolutionary leadership.

By 1988, after a monumental battle at Cuito Cuanavale, the racist apartheid regime in defeat agreed to withdraw from southern Angola and to grant independence to Namibia, then known as South West Africa, a colony of Pretoria. These advances in the African Revolution coupled with the growing armed and mass struggle led by the ANC and its allies in South Africa, prompted the release of Nelson Mandela and other political prisoners during 1987-90 and the lifting of bans on other political activists living in exile when many then returned to South Africa after 1990.

The African Revolution was not uniform in its response to the neo-colonialism. As early as 1961, the independent states had split into a minority anti-imperialist and socialist-oriented camp led by Ghana, Guinea, Algeria and Mali, in opposition to the more moderate governments which resisted the calls by Dr. Kwame Nkrumah and others for political and economic integration. The setbacks in Congo, Cameroon, Nyasaland (Malawi) and similar post-colonial states where the reactionary and moderate political elements supported by imperialism seized control of the governments, served as an impediment to the realization of genuine independence and sovereignty.  
Kwame Nkrumah in his ground breaking work entitled “Neo-Colonialism: The Last Stage of Imperialism”, published in late 1965, clearly identified the U.S. as the leading power which was committed to the halting of the forward progress of the African Revolution. Nkrumah in the chapter entitled “The Mechanism of Neo-Colonialism” says: “In order to halt foreign interference in the affairs of developing countries it is necessary to study, understand, expose and actively combat neo-colonialism in whatever guise it may appear. For the methods of neo-colonialists are subtle and varied. They operate not only in the economic field, but also in the political, religious, ideological and cultural spheres. Faced with the militant peoples of the ex-colonial territories in Asia, Africa, the Caribbean and Latin America, imperialism simply switches tactics. Without a qualm it dispenses with its flags, and even with certain of its more hated expatriate officials. This means, so it claims, that it is ‘giving’ independence to its former subjects, to be followed by ‘aid’ for their development. Under cover of such phrases, however, it devises innumerable ways to accomplish objectives formerly achieved by naked colonialism.”

This same idea is further elaborated by Nkrumah when he illustrates that: “It is this sum total of these modern attempts to perpetuate colonialism while at the same time talking about ‘freedom’, which has come to be known as neo-colonialism. Foremost among the neo-colonialists is the United States, which has long exercised its power in Latin America. Fumblingly at first she turned towards Europe, and then with more certainty after world war two when most countries of that continent were indebted to her. Since then, with methodical thoroughness and touching attention to detail, the Pentagon set about consolidating its ascendancy, evidence of which can be seen all around the world.”

Challenges of the 21st Century

As Nkrumah articulated in Neo-Colonialism fifty-two years ago, the U.S. remains the dominant imperialist power in the world today. This is even more evident with the fall of the USSR and the allied Socialist states in Eastern and Southern Europe.

However, the struggle against imperialism and for Socialism is by no means over. The People’s Republic of China, the world’s most populace state, remains under the control of the Communist Party. The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) has survived for more than sixty years since the imperialist war led by the U.S. attempted to overthrow Kim Il Sung during the early 1950s. Vietnam has been a united country for over four decades after both French and U.S. imperialism sought to eliminate the Communist and national liberation forces through a war of genocide and occupation which lasted from 1945 to 1975.

On the African continent the ANC, SWAPO, ZANU-PF, MPLA and FRELIMO remain in power in Southern Africa after the defeat of settler-colonialism. Strikes launched by trade unions and students are occurring with greater frequency across Africa in states such as Nigeria, Kenya and South Africa.

Our task in the U.S. is to demonstrate unconditional solidarity with the peoples of Africa, the Middle East, Asia and Latin American in the face of mounting imperialist pressure. The wars in Libya, Sudan, Ivory Coast, Nigeria, Somalia and the DRC are a manifestation of neo-colonialism where the imperialist countries of the West are seeking to maintain control of the strategic minerals, land, waterways and productive labor of the African people.

These developments in Africa and other areas of the so-called “Global South” are by no means episodic, they are consistent. The approach of the anti-imperialist movement in the West therefore must be unrelenting. Irrespective of the class and political character of any individual state on the continent, the people must be defended against neo-colonialism and imperialist machinations.

Genuine anti-imperialists should demand the dismantlement of AFRICOM, the halting of the interference of the Pentagon and the CIA in African affairs and the payment of reparations to the nations of Somalia, Libya, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Tanzania, Ghana and others which have been the subject of military bombing campaigns, direct or indirect interventions and the strangling of their national economies through sanctions and other forms of effective warfare.

In Ivory Coast in 2011, the French imperialists supported by the Obama White House destabilized and overthrew the government of President Laurent Gbagbo. The president was arrested by French commandos and transported to The Netherlands to stand trial before the dreaded International Criminal Court (ICC). The ICC has focused primarily on the pursuit, targeting, arrest and prosecution of African governmental leaders and rebel commanders.

At the same time the ICC has not lifted a finger against Washington, London, Paris and Brussels which has waged unjust wars against the peoples of the Middle East, Asia, Africa and Latin America since the conclusion of World War II. Millions have died and been displaced in wars that have been started by imperialism just over the last quarter century. Iraq, Afghanistan, Haiti, Sudan, Zimbabwe, Syria, Yemen, Colombia, Cuba, Brazil, Venezuela and additional states have had their economies and political systems either destroyed or severely crippled by the western capitalist governments.

Institutions such as the ICC serve as surrogates of the imperialist system. They are the enemy of the majority of the world’s peoples and should be dealt with as such by anti-imperialist forces based in the West.

States such as Zimbabwe, South Africa and even Greece should be defended by progressive forces in the U.S. since their difficulties stem from their efforts to re-correct the ills imposed upon them by the U.S. and its allies. This international proletarian solidarity is a method of forming closer ties with the workers and the oppressed in the post-colonial and semi-colonial nations.

An alliance of revolutionary workers movements in the West with the peoples’ struggles and organizations of the Global South will guarantee the overthrow of imperialism. This is our task in the present period as we build a revolutionary party and movement to take on imperialism in the center of its operations here in the U.S.