Democratic Socialist Movement

For Struggle, Solidarity and Socialism in Nigeria

By - DSM

CABINDA: No to terrorism! Yes to working peoples’ struggle and unity

CABINDA: No to terrorism! Yes to working peoples’ struggle and unity

By Dagga Tolar

Not a lot of people both on the African continent and outside have heard of Cabinda, until the attack claimed by the Front for the Liberation of the Enclave of Cabinda (FLEC) on the Togolese national football team in Angola. The attack on the Togolese, who were on their way to take part in the recently concluded 2010 African Cup of Nation, resulted in the death of three people, leaving the rest members of the team in a state of shock such that they had to subsequently pull out of the tournament.

No doubt, this terrorist attack has not helped in anyway to advance the struggle for the liberation/secession of Cabinda as an independent sovereign state, as intended by FLEC. How then can liberation be truly achieved.

Angola won her independence from Portugal on November 11, 1975 and was soon plunged into a civil war, as struggle broke out amidst the various liberation groups for perks of office. This struggle became a “hot” part of the then “cold war” between the imperialist-capitalist west and Stalinist USSR. The eventually victorious MPLA was supported by the then USSR and Cuba while UNITA was supported by the apartheid regime in South Africa and the US imperialist government. In 1976 Cuban troops played a crucial role in defeating South African army units fighting alongside UNITA. The Angolan working masses had to endure and pay enormous sacrifice in the struggle, first to end the colonial domination of the Portuguese and then against South African and US intervention, in the hope that independence would mark the beginning of better things to come.

It was not until 2002 after the killing of Jonas Savimbi and routing of UNITA that the civil war ended and the working masses could now look forward to an improvement in their living conditions, as the ruling elite would no longer fall back on the excuse of war to hold back the task of developing the commanding sectors of the economy and meeting the needs and aspiration of the working masses. And a key factor to this is the oil-rich region of Cabinda with a population of 250,000 and geographically cut off from the other parts of Angola by Republic of Congo. The people of Cabinda had being in struggle for liberation from Portugal since 1960s. It was made a part of Angola with the independence of the latter from Portugal without consultation with Cabindans.

As socialists, while recognizing the right of any group of individuals to self-determination, we are however very critical of any methods that seek to divide the working masses against themselves. We hold that the unity and solidarity of the working masses is imperative in the overthrowing of capitalism, without which the struggle for self-determination on its own can become nothing but another means to give some few individuals the right, in the name of nationalism, to exploit the working masses at the altar of greed and profit.

It is from this point of view that socialists condemn the attack on the Togolese team. This attack has achieved nothing more than mere gaining of world-attention through the mass-media in a very negative light. If FLEC is banking on a situation where its attack and the attention it had generated would transform to a sort of pressure that would force the Angolan ruling elites to grant its demand, or act as a pressure on the so-called “international community” made up of leading imperialist nations to intervene in a way that the Angolan ruling elites would be humbled to grant the demand for independence for Cabinda, this in reality only amounts to a pipedream.

Such expectation is entirely naďve and ignores the fact that both the Angolan ruling elites (including those from Cabinda) and imperialism are the main beneficiaries of the current status quo and exploitation of Cabinda. This scenario is not much at variance from the situation in Niger Delta oil-rich region of Nigeria, wherein years of neglect have resulted in armed militant groups, who attack oil installations and kidnap sometimes of even oil workers, ostensibly to fight for the liberation of the masses of the Delta region.

The weakness of the working class movement in the whole of Angola is the reason why groups like FLEC would still dictate the direction of struggle of Cabinda for liberation for a long time to come. But employing terrorism, as a method of struggle, has proved worldwide as only a path to a blind alley. The method of terrorism would only in the end bring more sufferings to the working masses of both Cabinda and Angola. It is the working people, irrespective of nationality, who are usually made to bear the brunt of what is entirely the fault of the ruling elites and their capitalist system.

Socialists have always prized the initiatives and actions of the working masses over and above the armed actions of individuals or groups of individuals. Such actions shut out the working masses and reduce them to spectators, when only their mass action alone can sufficiently guarantee the victory that would make it possible for capitalism to be overthrown and society to be transformed in a truly democratic and just fashion.

The current regime is not capable of permanently developing and transforming Angola into a state that can sufficiently meet the needs of all the working masses, even with Cabinda as part and parcel of Angola. There is need for a workers’ and farmers’ government that will nationalize the oil-industry and other commanding sectors of the economy, and place them on democratic control of the working people and not the Stalinist bureaucratic dictatorship imposed on Angolan by the MPLA.

Moreover, on the basis of capitalism, FLEC cannot guarantee, on a lasting basis, the genuine liberation of people of Cabinda in term of social economic development and provision of basic needs of life. Besides, the method of terrorism being employed cannot in the first place guarantee the independence of Cabinda from Angola. To be meaningful to the socio-economic needs of the ordinary masses of Cabinda the struggle for self-determination has to be formulated to embrace total economic control over Cabinda’s oil resources. This approach will be ferociously resisted by both imperialism and the local capitalist elites. Consequently, it will be necessary for both the working masses of Cabinda and Angola to jointly struggle for the defeat of the Angola’s budding capitalists and their imperialist backers.

To a very large degree, the question of the liberation of Cabinda is only possible within the framework of a united working class programme that would mobilize and organize the working masses to lead and champion the struggle for the liberation of Cabinda. This also requires the creation of a political platform of workers, poor farmers, and other strata of the oppressed masses both within Cabinda and across the entire Angola, armed with a socialist programme, that struggles to defeat capitalism in order guarantee the use of the rich resources of Cabinda for the benefit of the working masses and society in general.

Also importantly, without the working masses of Cabinda seeking the solidarity and allying itself with the Angolan working masses, the liberation of Cabinda cannot come about or be sustained. There should also be a movement of working class people in Angola who struggle for a socialist transformation of the country and support the rights to self-determination for the working people of Cabinda. This will create an enabling condition for creation of a socialist federation of Angola and Cabinda which in turn should seek the overthrow of capitalism in countries like Congo (Brazzaville) and Congo (Kinshasa) for a possible socialist confederation of southern Africa.