Rwanda or bust

On 15 January 2024, five people drowned in the icy waters off the coast of northern France, having set sail towards Britain. The following day the government began debating the Safety of Rwanda Bill, a draconian measure aimed at ensuring that anyone who does make it across the Channel will immediately be flown to East Africa and banned from returning. Harsh as it is, the current version of the ‘Rwanda Plan’ was insufficiently vicious for the extreme right wing of the Conservative Party, whose members clamoured for Britain to disregard entirely any obligations under international law. Nicki Jameson reports.


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Rwanda plan: what lies behind?

Arsenal football club supporters say 'stop promoting a criminal country' (photo: @BlackGoldProno/Twitter)

In April 2022 the British and Rwandan governments signed a five-year Asylum Partnership Agreement (APA) under which asylum seekers arriving in Britain will be deported to Rwanda to ‘process their claims’ and after which, if successful, they will be forced to stay in Rwanda with no possibility of returning to Britain. From 20-26 June Rwanda hosted the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, attended by Rwandan president Paul Kagame, British prime minister Boris Johnson and Prince Charles on behalf of the Queen of England. According to the imperialists, Rwanda is a model and blueprint for other African countries to follow. In reality, Rwanda is a ticking timebomb. The economic crisis precipitated by the coronavirus pandemic has led to a renewed invasion of neighbouring eastern DRC by the Rwandan army in support of its proxy militia ‘M23’ as Rwanda seeks to carve out for itself DRC territory rich in mineral resources.


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A searing indictment of French colonialism

Book cover of In the Forest of No Joy

In the forest of no joy: the Congo-Océan Railroad and the tragedy of French colonialism, JP Daughton, Norton 2021, £23.99, 384pp

The cartoon in Le Journal du Peuple of 28 April 1929 says it all. The archetypal cigar-smoking French capitalist is boasting of how cheap the Congo-Océan project is, and that it ‘only costs us 2,000 “negroes” per kilometre’. Behind him the Congo-Océan railway line runs over the dead bodies of Africans. Welcome to the cruel world of the Congo-Océan, the railway built from Brazzaville, the capital of what was then French equatorial Africa, to Pointe-Noire, from 1921-34. A world where black lives do not matter. Tens of thousands were snuffed out in the construction of Congo-Océan. Even official figures admit to anything from 16,000 to 23,000 deaths; these are notorious underestimations, the real figure is likely to be between 30,000 and 60,000.


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Murder of Thomas Sankara: imperialism let off the hook

Thomas Sankara (centre)

 On 6 April 2022, a military tribunal in Burkina Faso found former president Blaise Compaoré and 11 other men guilty of ‘attacks on state security, complicity in murder and concealment of a corpse’. The trial that began on 11 October 2021 was centred around the assassination of revolutionary leader Thomas Sankara in 1987. Compaoré and his closest lieutenant, Hyacinthe Kafando, were tried in absentia as they are both living in Côte d’Ivoire. 34 years after the murder of Sankara, the narrative throughout the case has focused on the ‘internal plot’ to rid Africa of its ‘Che Guevara’. It deliberately obscures the role of French and US imperialism.


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Rwanda – tool of British imperialism

Boris Johnson and Paul Kagame shake hands (photo: Paul Kagame)

Britain’s decision to use Rwanda in east Africa as a dumping ground for unwanted asylum seekers refocuses attention on Rwanda’s role as an outpost of British imperialism. Rwanda is a tiny landlocked state with virtually no resources; 60% of the population lives in abject poverty and 70% survives by subsistence farming. Yet the country is a major exporter of critical minerals for the electronics industry. Rwanda hosts a major military base at Musanze where British and US military forces train African armies. It is the third largest troop contributor to UN ‘peacekeeping’ missions, with troops in west Sudan (Darfur), South Sudan, Mozambique, Central African Republic (CAR) and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). CHARLES CHINWEIZU reports on the role of Rwanda as a tool of imperialism.


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British imperialism in Kenya and the Mau Mau resistance

Shiraz Durrani, Mau Mau: The Revolutionary, Anti-Imperialist force from Kenya, 1948-1963 (Nairobi: 2018), Vita Books.

Review by Rohan Ammar.

As part of 2020’s global reckoning against decades of colonial glorification, Kenyans toppled the statue of their first post-independence president Jomo Kenyatta. In his place, they erected a homage to Dedan Kimathi, executed by the British colonial regime in 1957, a leader of the Kenya Land and Freedom Army, or Mau Mau, who took up arms against the British Empire between 1948 and 1963. This could be indicative of a Kenya that is pivoting back to the revolutionary politics of the pro-independence Mau Mau, while simultaneously dismantling the failed capitalist legacy of the collaborationist president Kenyatta.


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US-brokered deal unites Israeli and Moroccan military occupations

Jared Kushner and Israel's National Security Advisor Meir Ben Shabbat led a joint U.S.-Israeli delegation to Rabat on December 22, 2020 (Photo credit: David Azagury, U.S. Embassy Jerusalem)

In December 2020, as the Trump administration lived its last weeks, an unofficial tripartite deal was announced between the US, Israel and Morocco. Morocco and Israel normalised ties, opening embassies, and in exchange the US formally recognised Morocco’s claims to the occupied Western Sahara. This is only a formalisation of relations between the three states, which have been working together for decades to put down anti-imperialist movements. The Trump administration had been diverting both military and development aid to those countries ready to open embassies in Israel and normalise the occupation of Palestine. Morocco’s King Mohammed VI and ruling class have been awarded billion-dollar rewards for their declaration of support for Zionism.


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Fossil fuel industry at war in Mozambique

Troops in Mozambique

In early August 2020, fighters from the Islamist group Al Sunnah wa Jama’ah (ASWJ) captured the port of Mocímboa da Praia in Cabo Delgado, Mozambique. The port is about 40 miles south of a natural gas project run by French energy giant Total, which will exploit the third-largest gas reserves in Africa. This is one of several projects being developed by major energy corporations, such as BP, US-based ExxonMobil, and China National Petroleum Corporation. Bjork Lind reports.


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Rwanda – An inferno fuelled by imperialism

Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! No. 119, June/July 1994

The shooting down of the aircraft in which President Habyarimana of Rwanda and President Ntarymira were travelling on 6 April signalled the start of a savagery so frenzied that in five weeks between a quarter and a half of a million people were slain and 400,000 made refugees.


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Protests in Algeria continue despite change of government

Protesters in Blida, Algeria

Protesters have continued to come out on the streets of the main Algerian cities since 16 February 2019. The mobilisations have involved hundreds of thousands, and strikes have managed to bring some cities, including the capital Algiers, to a standstill. The mass demonstrations started when 82-year-old Abdelaziz Bouteflika announced on 12 February that he would run for a fifth term as president. After seven weeks of protests, Bouteflika resigned on 2 April and the new president, Abdelkader Bensalah, promised ‘free and fair elections’ within 90 days. Despite these concessions, the protests haven’t ceased.


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Algeria: protesters demand change

Hundreds of thousands of protesters have come out in Algeria’s cities against president Abdelaziz Bouteflika’s National Liberation Front (FLN) government. The 82-year-old Bouteflika has been in office since 1999, and the FLN has held power since its victory in the heroic anti-colonial liberation war against France in 1962. Demonstrations against Bouteflika started on 16 February and are continuing as we go to press six weeks later. They were sparked by the president’s announcement of his intention to run for a fifth term in upcoming elections. Protesters found the announcement ‘humiliating’ as Bouteflika has been ill and rarely appeared in public after a stroke in 2013. While past election results have been questionable, Bouteflika has maintained between 80% and 90% of the vote. A five-day strike, starting on 10 March, paralysed the capital and key economic sectors. Transport in the cities, oil and sugar production and higher education were stopped during the strike. Protests have been largely peaceful, with few clashes between protesters and police.


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The traumatic legacy of Belgian imperialism in Africa

Congo's Post-Traumatic Legacy of King Leopold II by Irenee Mbombo Kayembe

Congo's Post-Traumatic Legacy of King Leopold II by Irenee Mbombo Kayembe

Paperback, £11.99 2017

If you do not know anything about the history of Belgian imperialism in Africa, this short history of the genocidal occupation of the Congo under the direction of King Leopold, and the traumatic legacy that the country continues to suffer today, is an important and accessible read. The primary intended audience for the work, however, is the Congolese diaspora in Europe: those who carry the trauma of the genocide with them and manifest it in myriad ways.


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Hands off Angola!

Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! no 12, September 1981

Since the beginning of June, the South African Defence Force (SADF), with the complicity of US and British imperialism, has been engaged in a major act of military aggression against revolutionary Angola. The MPLA government of Angola stands as a solid barrier to imperialism's efforts to hurl back the advances of the southern African revolution. It has given unbending support to the South West African People's Organisation (SWAPO) fighting to rid Namibia of South African occupation. It has given its support to the African National Congress (South Africa). And using its rich oil reserves and rail network it is trying to eliminate the Frontline African states' dependence upon apartheid and imperialism. For its valiant internationalist stand, and in particular for its support for SWAPO, it has been subjected to apartheid's bloody war machine.


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The legacy of Lumumba

Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! no. 96 - August/September 1990

30 June 1990 was the thirtieth anniversary of the gaining of independence by Congo (now Zaire), an event that passed virtually unnoticed in the British media. Seen at the time as the most disastrous episode in the decolonisation of Africa, much of the history of the transition to independence, and of the role played by the country's first Prime Minister, Patrice Lumumba, is now ignored. ALWYN TURNER pays tribute to his memory.

Congo was first brought under Belgian rule in 1885, when Leopold II, having failed to convince the Belgian government of the prestige of having an African colony, simply annexed the region under his own direct rule. During the next three decades, he instigated a ruthless policy of exploitation of natural resources that amounted virtually to genocide, with an estimated one third of the African population being wiped out in the drive to extract ivory and rubber from the country. Even by imperialist standards, the violence was clearly unacceptable and, under international pressure, the Belgian government took over the running of the country in 1908.

For the next half century, Congo was not seen in political but simply in economic terms as a source of massive mineral wealth, to be extracted through forced labour. The Belgian government favoured total suppression combined with a policy of silence that effectively cut off the country from the rest of the world; even within Belgium, Congo was ignored, while the government deliberately avoided the creation of a white colonial class with any ties to the country.


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Namibia: interview with SWAPO

Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism no. 7 November/December 1980

 jon ya otto

The interview below was given to Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! by John Ya Otto — SWAPO Secretary for Labour — whilst on a visit to Britain to mobilise British working class support for the Namibian people's fight against South African occupation and oppression. As Comrade Otto points out this occupation and oppression of Namibia and her people is only possible because of British imperialism's direct military and economic support of the apartheid regime in South Africa.

The results of this foreign imperialist occupation of Namibia are poverty and starvation for the oppressed workers and peasants. Black worker's wages are 1/25th of those of the whites, 50% of all children die before the age of five, workers live and work in the most appalling conditions and diseases such as tuberculosis are rife. Every attempt to organise and fight against these conditions is met with brutal repression, 80% of Namibian people live under martial law, Rio Tinto Zinc (a British firm) has an agreement with the South African racist army to crush any labour or political organisation in the Rossing Mine. With British supplied weaponry and technology South African troops hunt down, imprison, torture and murder the freedom fighters of SWAPO.

This is the regime that British imperialism is actively engaged in supporting. Communists and the working class movement in Britain have a duty and interest to smash any British involvement in Namibia and Southern Africa as a whole.

In fighting in support of SWAPO and the Namibian people, communists and the working class movement should beware of the Labour Party and Labour Lefts, especially of that hypocrite imperialist Tony Benn. Benn has been prancing round the stages of Britain's speaking halls uttering his support for democracy and self-determination. But the working class movement should note that he himself when Minister signed the contract with Rio Tinto Zinc to supply British capitalists with uranium, in defiance of UN Decrees and of international law. In building support for SWAPO and the Namibian people, communists will not allow Benn and his ilk to cover up their racist imperialist role in Namibia.


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Samora Machel: Son of the Mozambican Revolution

Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! No. 64 - 15 November-15 December 1986

The People's Republic of Mozambique was declared on 25 June 1975. Born out of ten years of FRELIMO's guerilla war it was the first expression of people's power in Southern Africa. The new republic's President, Comrade Samora Machel, was just 41 years old.

Portugal first invaded the country four centuries before in pursuit of its slave trade — over 2 million Mozambicans were abducted. By the mid-20th century the colony had been turned into an engine for the exploitation of surplus labour. In the south, adult men were shipped to the British-owned mines in Rhodesia and the Transvaal — between 1900 and 1920 alone more than 63,000 died. The mine owners paid a portion of the wages in gold direct to Portugal: it was the colony's main source of income.

Portugal practised ruthless social discrimination to provide a buffer of privilege for the settlers. 95% of the population was kept illiterate. Eighty-five per cent lived in the countryside and there was little industrial development. The administrators, managers and the few skilled workers were Portuguese.

The colonial regime's suppression of all democratic rights was demonstrated in 1960 when the army massacred 600 unarmed peasants. The Mueda massacre was Mozambique's Sharpeville; it marked the turning point for the opponents of foreign rule.


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Morocco protests erupt against repression


Ten months of mass protests have followed the murder by Moroccan police of Muhsin Fikri, a fisherman deliberately crushed to death in a garbage compressor truck in October 2016. Fikri had refused to pay a bribe to policemen who confiscated his stock because of seasonal restrictions on swordfish fishing. They flung his fish into a rubbish truck and, when Fikri leapt in to get it out, told the driver to crush the trash. A video of Fikri’s mangled body went viral, sparking huge protests across the country.


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East Africa famine

Somalian children queuing to receive food

On 20 February 2017 the United Nations (UN) declared a famine in parts of South Sudan and reported that up to 20 million people in four countries (South Sudan, Somalia, Nigeria and Yemen), faced famine unless the ‘international community’ stepped in to ‘avert catastrophe’. It is very likely that there was a famine in South Sudan last year but no formal declaration was made. Under the five-level Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC scale) established by the UN in 2010, a famine (IPC Phase 5) is not officially declared until ‘starvation, death and destitution are evident’, defined as when more than 20% of households face acute food shortage, acute malnutrition is above 30%, and the child mortality rate for under-fives is higher than four deaths per 10,000 children per day. Additionally, a South Sudan government representative sat on the IPC committee, blocking any such famine declaration. Blame has been attributed to climate change, the El Niño weather phenomenon, terrorist groups, drought and lack of funds for the catastrophe, but the elephant in the room is imperialism. Imperialism is to blame for this recurring disaster and the famine is proof of the inability of capitalism to meet the basic needs of humanity. Charles Chinweizu reports.


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Plundering Africa: British imperialism 2016

Africa gold

A recent report by War on Want, The New Colonialism: Britain’s scramble for Africa’s energy and mineral resources, underlines the continued role of Britain as one of the world’s dominant imperialist powers.1 Researcher Mark Curtis has once again produced a vital report providing a savage indictment of the capitalist system. The report exposes the naked plunder by British extractive companies of African resources, ripping minerals, oil and gas out of the ground without concern for the human, social, and environmental cost. All this wealth is then transferred out of Africa through the City of London and tax havens. The report provides ammunition for revolutionaries in the fight against imperialism, in solidarity with African resistance to the plunder and destruction of their countries.


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Angola: 40 years of independence, from revolution to neo-colony

Agostinho Neto and Fidel Castro

On 11 November 2015, Angola celebrated 40 years of independence from its former colonial master; Portugal. The occasion is a significant milestone for the country's ruling party; Movimento Popular de Libertação de Angola (MPLA), which has enjoyed 40 years of uninterrupted rule. Looking at the greedy, corrupt, self-serving clique at the top of the MPLA, it is impossible not to question how a once truly revolutionary organisation, that led the heroic struggle for national liberation, which all Angolans may take pride in, has become an enemy of all that the heroes of the liberation struggle fought for.

The future of the MPLA is increasingly uncertain. Falling oil prices have hit Angola’s heavily oil dependent economy very hard (crude oil makes up 90% of Angola’s exports), forcing the government to implement budget cuts, including the removal of fuel subsidies, which had been one of the most popular policies of President José Eduardo Dos Santos’ increasingly unpopular government. In June, 17 young people, members of a book club, were arrested, and accused of reading books about non-violent protest. Initially charged with plotting a coup, they are now on trial for rebellion against the state.


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The Great African Robbery

Africa is an extremely resource rich continent, yet, despite its natural wealth, Sub-Saharan Africa is at the bottom of the Human Development Index, with 50% of people living in extreme poverty. The Overseas Development Institute estimates that $30bn of aid goes into the continent each year, but huge parts of the African population remain in poverty. A report by 15 charities, Honest Accounts? The true story of Africa’s billion dollar losses* sheds light on why this might be.

Africa has been bled dry over centuries by slavery, colonisation and imperialism, at an incalculable economic and human cost. Today this takes the form not of physical chains, but huge debts, debilitating theft of income and imposed policies that prevent the independence of nations. As Honest Accounts? explains:


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UN ignores sexual abuse in the Central African Republic

In April it was reported in The Guardian that 14 French soldiers sent to the Central African Republic (CAR) as part of international ‘peacekeeping’ efforts after the state collapsed in December 2013, were involved in sexually abusing at least ten hungry and homeless children, some as young as nine, in exchange for food and money. The rape and sodomy took place at a camp for internally displaced people (IDP) at M’Poko airport near the capital Bangui, between December 2013 and June 2014. Six children had testified against the soldiers, four were direct victims while two others witnessed the abuse. The kids fled the IDP camp in terror after the assault. France was made aware of the abuse in July 2014 and has belatedly agreed to ‘investigate’. The UN had tried to cover-up the abuse, and is busy persecuting the whistleblower, UN director of field operations Anders Kompass, who leaked the report to French authorities because his superiors had failed to take any action. This is just the tip of the iceberg.


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Burkina Faso needs a revolution

Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! 242 December 2014/January 2015

On 30 October President Blaise Compaoré was forced to flee Burkina Faso after four days of mass protests. Over his two decades in office, Compaoré plunged over half the country into poverty, reversed women’s rights and privatised natural resources. On 21 October he attempted to pass a new bill scrapping the presidential term limit, allowing him to stay in power for the foreseeable future. This sparked mass outrage.

The spectre of the ‘African Che’
Imperialism will not accept significant change in Burkina Faso easily. The country is central to French regional control as Compaoré brokered deals with Côte d’Ivoire and Mali. He was close to the US, allowing a military base to be built in Ouagadougou, the capital. Drones are used for the US spy network, flying over Mali and the Sahara.


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Ebola epidemic – Cuba sends doctors, imperialists send soldiers

The deadly and highly contagious ebola virus has been ravaging West Africa since December 2013. By the end of September, the World Health Organization (WHO) estimated that nearly 3,000 people had died. But the real figure is likely to be much higher, and the epidemic has spiralled out of control, with cases in Liberia, for example, reportedly doubling every 15 to 20 days. The lethally inadequate response by both the international community and the corrupt neo-colonial governments of the countries affected, whose frail health care systems are overwhelmed, have created a humanitarian crisis of appalling proportions.


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Scramble for energy in Africa

Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! 231 February-March 2013

France’s rush to war in Mali demonstrates an intensification of the struggle for control of energy reserves between France and the US. France remains a top investor in Africa. In 2011 France and Britain led the way in attacking Libya. France also bombed Côte d’Ivoire that year. The French state maintains hundreds of troops in Burkina Faso, Senegal, Côte d’Ivoire, Chad and Gabon and smaller numbers in its other former colonies. France is determined to defend its interests in Africa.


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Africa: US flexes its military muscle

FRFI 230 December 2012/January 2013

The US is increasing its military presence in Africa, under cover of the so-called ‘war on terror’ or humanitarian pretexts. Recent events, including the 2011 bombings of Libya and Côte d’Ivoire, and the planned attack on Mali, confirm this increasing militarisation which reflects the imperialists’ determination to control strategic raw materials in Africa, a region endowed with significant amounts of fossil fuels and mineral resources.


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Kony 2012: a cover up – March 2012

The makers of the Kony 2012 film pose with Ugandan troops, who have been accused of the same crimes that Kony is charged with
Photo: The makers of the Kony 2012 film pose with members of the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA).

On 5 March 2012 the charity Invisible Children launched a social media campaign around a film, Kony 2012, about Joseph Kony, leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) operating in East Africa. Invisible Children has received financial backing from right-wing Christian organizations including the Discovery Institute, Caster foundation and the National Christian Foundation. Invisible Children has been in operation since 2004, but received a boost after the US government deployed 100 military advisors – special forces - to Uganda in October 2011.


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Horn of Africa: aid charade follows predicted famine

FRFI 223 October/November 2011

In September 2011, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs estimated that 13.3 million people in East Africa were in dire need of food aid, up from 11.3 million in July. Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia and Djibouti are worst affected, but Sudan, Uganda and South Sudan also face food crises. In Somalia, as many as 750,000 people in the southern regions face starvation by January 2012.


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Corporate land grabs in Africa

Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! 222 August/September 2011

The number of people suffering from hunger worldwide is currently estimated to be 1.02 billion: it is a criminal fact that the countries that are the most food insecure are selling off land in order to secure food for other countries, in what has been dubbed ‘the great land grab’. Sudan has agreed that investors can export 70% of the produce that will be created through land grab deals – yet Sudan is the recipient of the largest food-aid operation in the world. In Kenya, the Qatari government has agreed to fund the building of a coastal port in exchange for a lease of 40,000 hectares of land – despite the fact that an estimated 30% of Kenyans currently suffer food shortages.


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Anti-racist conference in Durban: Smash racism and smash capitalism

FRFI 163 October / November 2001

You cannot get rid of racism unless you are prepared to fight to get rid of capitalism, a social system that engenders inequality, class division and racial prejudice. This was the message from the Durban Social Forum, a coalition of organisations which came together for the biggest march held during the United Nations anti-racism conference held in Durban recently.

The march marked a turning point in South Africa. For the first time anti-imperialist forces were able, independently of the labour movement and the hegemonic ANC-SACP-COSATU alliance, to pull a crowd big enough to match the marches held during the anti-apartheid struggle in this country. Moreover on 1 September 2001, a day after the Durban Social Forum’s 20,000-strong march, the ruling ANC held its own pro-capitalist and pro-United Nations march with a much smaller turnout. This was a victory for the forces linked to the international anti-globalisation movement; they challenged the bourgeois nationalist ANC regime in the streets and won.


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