Democratic Socialist Movement

For Struggle, Solidarity and Socialism in Nigeria

By - DSM



By Kola Ibrahim

The mass enthusiasm and celebration that accompanied the recent run-off elections in Senegal, in which the incumbent, now outgoing, president, Abdoulaye Wade, was roundly defeated by his former protégé, Macky Sall, has again brought to the fore the increasing but unquenchable quest for change by the working and oppressed people across Africa, and indeed the world. Attempts by various bourgeois pundits and governments to place the success of the elections on either or both of Wade and/or Sall, is very misleading as it is an effort aimed at undermining the revolutionary content of mass movements that led to the disgrace of Wade. The various congratulatory messages to Senegal by imperialist governments and African rulers are only meant to blur the various anti-democratic and anti-poor policies being implemented by these governments. This explains why they were desperate to overlook the various struggles of the Senegalese against the Wade regime, which triggered that the mass opposition against him in the election.

Indeed, the struggle to remove the bankrupt, corrupt and pro-capitalist government of Wade has been raging for close to five years, since he began the fraudulent constitutional changes to allow him to clinch to power through the dubious two seven-year terms. This flies in the face of the overwhelming failure and incapacity of Wade to tackle ever-increasing poverty, inflation and joblessness in the country. Expectedly, the mass of youth and working people mobilized and massively protested against not only the regime’s fraudulent political manoeuvres, but worsening of their living conditions. The peak of the mass struggle against the regime was the mass movements of 2010 and 2011, in which the working people mobilized to replicate the revolutionary feats of their compatriots in the Middle East and North Africa. Despite the brutality of the regime that led to death of over seven persons, the working and oppressed people refused to be cowed. Interestingly, most of the imperialist and pro-capitalist governments that are shouting about democratic victory were silent on these events.

However, as a result of lack of mass independent political platform of the working people and the bankruptcy of the trade union leaders in Senegal, this mass quest for a revolutionary change was diverted to supporting various sections of the pro-capitalist opposition in the country for which Sall’s group became the biggest beneficiary. Had there been a mass party and a revolutionary trade union movement, it would have been much easy to chase away the rotten capitalist government and the system it represents.

Indeed, the contradictions of capitalism in Senegal are too obvious. Despite the enormous agricultural and mineral resources of the country, the various capitalist political elites, including the mis-named Socialist Party of Abdou Diouf, could neither resolve the economic nor nationality problem of the country. Of course, as a result of the anti-colonial rule and independence movements of the 1940s to 1960s, coupled with the Keynesian/welfare economic system of the period, the Sedar Senghor ‘Socialist’ Party government was able to introduce some progressive policies, like opening up education, on the basis of capitalism. But such policies could not be sustained within the confines of capitalist economy. The Diouf government only deepened these contradictions, especially in a period of resurgence of globalised neo-liberalism.

Interestingly, it is the same mass anger that revolted against the Diouf government and enthroned Wade and his Senegalese Democratic Party that has now turned out to be the Wade’s nemesis. Ironically, at the emergence of Wade in year 2000, various capitalist governments and pundits welcome the elections as a sign of great era for the Senegalese people. After twelve years of following the diktats of global neo-liberal regime, coupled with the notorious inept and highly corrupt nature of third world rulers (exemplified by the OIC Hosting and the white elephant “African Renaissance” monumental scandals of the Wade regime), the imperialist forces have found a new bride in Sall; though still singing the same neo-liberal tunes of yester years.

While Senegal’s elections are hailed as another milestone for a country that has witnessed no coup since its independence, the same neo-liberal capitalist policies that have engendered the mass revulsion against the Wade regime, are now being again promoted by global capitalist forces for the new regime. This raises the posers of whether the incoming regime of Macky Sall can effect any fundamental positive change in the lives of the toiling majority in the country. Historical facts point otherwise.

Sall cannot be divorced from the rottenness that characterized the Wade rule. Since the emergence of Wade in year 2000, Macky Sall has been a right hand man of Abdoulai Wade. Between 2003 and 2008, he was minister of the government in various ministries. In fact, he was made Prime Minister of Senegal between 2004 and 2007, superintending over anti-poor neo-liberal policies that are the underlining cause of increasing protests between 2007 and 2011. Despite the unprecedented economic and social problems faced by the working and poor people of Senegal, Sall could boldly announce that he felt fulfilled of what he had achieved as Prime Minister. This is in a country that by 2007 the life expectancy was merely 58 years while 50 per cent of the population is literate.

Politically, Sall could be described as a protégé of Wade, leading his campaign in the 2007 election. This election was conducted under the dubiously altered constitution that constitutionally guaranteed Wade a third term. Then, it did not occur to Sall that such is undemocratic. Ironically, the same promise of reverting to two terms of five years was made by Wade in year 2000 against the perpetual tenure system of the “Socialist” party government of Diouf. It will therefore not become strange if Sall decides later to tinker with the constitution that will guarantee him more terms in future. Indeed, Sall only became estranged with Wade, after his chance of succeeding him (Wade) was becoming thinner by the day. Despite the media and imperialist whitewashing of Sall as a fresh face, the reality speaks otherwise: he is part of the rottenness of Wade regime. The new government will still be controlled by the major politicians, with corruption and nepotism still reigning.

This capitalist whitewashing is not unexpected as Sall though promised to end the economic problems especially the rising costs of foodstuffs and unemployment; he has decided to do this under the dictates of imperialist masters. During the course of his campaign, Sall made trips to France and United States, to assure the big businesses of these centres of global capitalism and their political undertakers in governments, of his readiness to continue anti-poor neoliberal policies that have condemned majority of the population to penury. Surely, neo-liberal capitalism has never elected to lift poor people out of poverty and want but to on the contrary, profit from their misery. Therefore, for those who still nurse the illusion of an emerging golden era for Senegal, nay Africa, it is only a matter of time before this illusion is shattered.

The acceptance of defeat by Wade has nothing to do with leadership, but a reflection of the depth of mass radicalism, which Wade’s stubbornness could have ignited into an open revolt. Virtually all the rulers in Africa had perfected, or are perfecting, the art of manoeuvring political situations in their interests and the interests of their cronies. With their subservience to imperialist capitalism, they have no base; therefore, they depend on political manipulations, patronage and outright corruption, in order to hold the levers of politics and economy.

Only revolutionary movements of the working and people, organized under their independent political platforms, which will establish working people’s governments premised on the foundation of revolutionary, democratic socialism can give a way out of the capitalist quagmire in the continent. With public ownership of the commanding heights of the economy (and resources of the continent) under the democratic control and management of the working and oppressed people, the enormous resources and potential of the continent can be harnessed on national and continental basis, in the interests of the toiling and poor people of Africa. This underlines the necessity for the rebuilding the mass organizations of the working and oppressed people including trade unions, to serve as revolutionary platform for change.

This will mean the enormous anger and enthusiasm for change by mass of working people and youth in Senegal, rather than being diverted to supporting the ‘best of the worst’ amongst agents of imperialism, will be used to undertake political struggle to oust capitalist government and the capitalist system it represent. As the Sall government’s pro-capitalist anti-poor character, and its failure to resolve any of the fundamental problems of the people become obvious, the working people and youths may realize the need to re-energize the movement and build a party of their own with revolutionary socialism boldly written on its front burner.