World Perspectives 2017: VII. Imperialist Interference and the Struggle for Democracy in Sub-Sahara Africa


1.                   Africa – the fastest growing continent economically as well as in terms of population – comes increasingly into the focus of the imperialist Great Powers. The Western imperialist powers – in particular the US and France – are increasingly sending troops to the continent and to expand their military presence. They are already intervening with the deadly drone programs in several countries. China has become one of the biggest foreign investors in recent years and has sent, for the first time, “peace-keeping” troops to South Sudan.


2.                   In the last two decades Ethiopia has become one of the most important local allies of the imperialist powers. The dictatorship of Hailemariam Desalegn has created fertile conditions for multi-national corporations – many of Chinese origin – to buy up land and to build factories in order to super-exploit the cheap labor force of the country. Furthermore, the regime has sent thousands of soldiers to Somalia as an occupation force, to secure the country on behalf of the Great Powers against the rebellion led by Al-Shabaab. However, the regime is currently facing a popular domestic uprising which has led to many demonstrations and violent clashes with the police resulting in hundreds of dead. Desalegn was forced to declare the state of emergency in order to crush the resistance. He has also had to begin a process of bringing back his troops from Somalia. [1] Revolutionaries fully support the mass protests against the dictatorship and the fight for a government of the workers and poor peasants which will expropriate the bourgeoisie and lead the country out of its domination by the imperialist Great Powers.


3.                   The popular uprising in Ethiopia has tremendous implications for the civil war in Somalia itself. Since 2007, the occupation forces – called “African Union Mission to Somalia” (AMISOM), with more than 20,000 troops – have been able to slowly push back the petty-bourgeois Islamist Al-Shabaab militia. This foreign intervention against the Somali people has always been supported by US drones as well as covertly acting US and French Special Forces. However, Al-Shabaab has held substantial areas of the country and has retained popular support. Since the beginning of the withdrawal of the Ethiopian troops, Al-Shabaab is again advancing and expanding its influence. If their advance continues, it is quite possible that the Great Powers will consider a direct military intervention (as the US already did in 1992/93 which resulted in a humiliating defeat, depicted in the movie “Black Hawk Down”). In all conflicts between the Islamist Al-Shabaab militia and the imperialist forces and their local allies, revolutionaries stand for the defeat of the latter, while giving no political support to the Islamists.


4.                   South Africa continues to experience a political crisis as the Zuma government, a popular front led by the ANC in alliance with the Communist Party and the COSATU trade union. The government faces massive protests both on the streets as well as inside the ANC itself. As a result, there have been important mass protests by students in defense of free education. A number of trade unions – among them the biggest single union NUMSA (metal workers) – have split from COSATU and are discussing the formation of a new political force to the left of the ANC. In recent local elections, the ANC lost tremendous support while the Economic Freedom Fighters of Julius Malema – a petty-bourgeois-populist party which emerged out of a split from the ANC youth organization – achieved electoral gains. The most important task for revolutionaries in South Africa is to win over the trade unions and other mass organizations for the creation of a Mass Workers Party. Against the Stalinist-reformist perspective of the NUMSA leadership, revolutionaries will propose a program of action based on the transitional method for such a party, without making its adoption a precondition for participation.


5.                   The Mugabe regime in Zimbabwe also faces a new upsurge of protests. The country is in the midst of a deep economic crisis characterized by mass impoverishment and an unemployment rate of 85%. This is, to a large degree, the result of the economic sanctions which have been imposed by US and EU imperialism, which are demanding the rescinding of the limited land reform which was undertaken in Zimbabwe and, effectively, want to replace the Mugabe regime with a more loyal lackey. As a result, the Mugabe has aligned himself closely with China, which has become the biggest destination for the country’s exports. However, this must not deflect our attention from the fact that the Mugabe regime has stupendously enriched itself, is thoroughly corrupt and anti-democratic, and for many years has been willing to implement neoliberal programs of the IMF. Revolutionaries support the democratic protests of the people against the Mugabe regime, and call for a government of the workers and poor peasants. At the same time, we call for an immediate end of Western sanctions against Zimbabwe, and oppose any interference of the “Orange Revolution” type by Western powers.


[1] See e.g. Yossi Schwartz: Ethiopia: Down with the Dictatorship of Hailemariam Desalegn! Revolutionary Communist International Tendency, 17 August 2016,