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Ray Bush reports on an extraordinary tour of Tunisia organised by an innovative and exciting NGO focused on promoting food sovereignty and positive environmental transformation. The ‘food sovereignty days’ involved a journey into the breadth and range of small farmer struggles for autonomy and improved livelihoods throughout the country, focusing on the areas between the capital and the South East.  By Ray Bush The Observatoire de la Souveraineté Alimentaire et de l’Environnement (OSAE) is a new innovative and exciting NGO focused on promoting food sovereignty, positive environmental transformation and they do this with ideas and actions of small-scale family farmers.  Based in Tunis, the brainchild of Habib Ayeb, it has a small staff of engaged activists who in September organised food sovereignty days.  This was an amazing journey into the breadth and range of small farmer struggles for autonomy and improved livelihoods throughout Tunisia focusing on...

In the second part of Matt Swagler’s blogpost on the Russian Revolution, he focuses on how Marxist ideas became central to African political organizing from the late 1940s through the 1970s—a development which took place at the same time that the Soviet Union emerged as a new global superpower. In the first part of Swagler’s article posted on roape.net last year he argued that the 1917 Russian Revolution had important repercussions in Africa, notably in the new connections formed between Black Marxists from the Americas and trade unionists and anti-colonial figures on the African continent. In the second part of the post he looks at how the USSR (and Soviet doctrines of Communism) began to exert the most profound influence in Africa precisely at the time when the incredible emancipatory potential of the 1917 Russian Revolution had been obliterated by Joseph Stalin’s campaigns of mass...

In South Africa ten members of a militant shack dwellers organisation have been assassinated in the past six years. Yet many progressive organisations have distanced themselves from these militants. Jared Sacks exposes the complicity of a mainstream NGO that could have played an important role defending the movement against these political assassinations. Sacks argues that when movements refuse co-optation, repression, including assassination, become necessary to maintain power. By Jared Sacks On 12 June this year, at an Executive Committee meeting of the eThekwini Municipality (Durban, South Africa), the Mayor and Chief Whip made a number of veiled threats against the South African shack dweller movement Abahlali baseMjondolo (AbM). The threats included references to a conspiratorial ‘third hand’ controlling the movement, harkening back to apartheid intelligence services patronage of the right-wing nationalist Inkatha Freedom Party in what effectively turned KwaZulu Natal (KZN) into a war zone. After...

David Seddon examines a largely unknown chapter in Che Guevara’s involvement in the revolutionary anti-imperialist movements in Africa. He focuses on the question of how far Guevara was involved in promoting and encouraging the liberation struggle in what was to become Western Sahara. Did he contribute to the development of the POLISARIO Front which even today continues its struggle for Western Saharan independence? By David Seddon In my piece on Che Guevara in the Congo on roape.net and Jacobin, I observed that ‘the earliest Cuban aid effort went to the 1961 Algerian liberation movement when Castro sent a large consignment of American weapons captured during the abortive Bay of Pigs invasion. After the Algerians won independence in July 1962, they reciprocated by helping train a group of Argentinian guerrillas, even sending two agents with the guerrillas from Algiers to Bolivia in June 1963’. I also mentioned, in passing,...

In a major contribution to roape.net, Zsuzsánna Biedermann analyses the complex reasons behind the largely fruitless diversification efforts in Botswana. Many African countries abundant in non-renewable natural resources experience the harmful effects associated with the extensive role oil, mining or gas extraction plays in their economies. Even if Botswana’s initial development based on diamond mining was spectacular, there is mounting proof that the Botswana Democratic Party - the country’s governing party since independence – has been deeply intertwined with the De Beers diamond mining cartel. Development, industrialisation and diversification remains a frustrating and elusive goal for the country....

Ugandan pop star singer and politician, Robert Kyagulanyi aka Bobi Wine, has generated an unprecedented political buzz around the world. Exploring the background to the country’s crisis, Moses Khisa writes how Uganda is a country with endemic socioeconomic problems and exists in a distorted and parasitic capitalist economy. Khisa writes how the government is presided over by the visibly tired president, Yoweri Museveni, who claims weird and even messianic powers....

Nataliya Mykhalchenko reviews a book that describes the devastating impact of tax havens and capital flight for Africa. The book details the intricate relationship between capital flight, global corporations, bank secrecy and the elites, i.e. the power-accumulation nexus. As a proportion of total wealth, Africa is the most afflicted continent in the world. For example, elites on the continent hold approximately USD 500 billion in financial wealth offshore, roughly 30% of total financial wealth held by Africans....

Looking at the cocoa industry in Ghana, Erik Jorgensen and Yukari Kanamori demonstrate how power asymmetry in the private cocoa industry and reduced institutional capacity have added to dependency. The Ghanaian Cocoa industry is an example of the disproportionate appropriation of rents by foreign firms in the downstream segments of the value chain which has not only halted agricultural development, but actually eroded the position of cocoa farmers in the country....

After the manifest failure of microcredit to address poverty in Africa and everywhere else, the international development community has hit upon a new microcredit-related idea that, it claims, will do the job this time around: ‘fin-tech’, i.e. financial technology. In this blogpost Milford Bateman argues fin-tech has the potential to gravely undermine the position of the poor and to increase inequality while, not coincidentally, vastly enriching a narrow elite. ...

Continuing our look at the life of Steve Biko, Heike Becker writes about two extraordinary events. The first was the formation of a Black organisation of student protest in 1968. The South African Student Organisation (SASO) was founded during a meeting exclusively attended by black students. Biko became the new organisation’s first President. The second was the astonishing friendship that developed between Steve Biko and Rick Turner. Together their political and philosophical ideas helped shape the massive strike wave in Durban in the early 1970s. Their murder – Biko in September 1977, and Turner in 1978 – put an end to the conversation between Black Consciousness and anti-capitalist notions of ‘participatory democracy’, which provided a brief glimpse of the possibilities of another South Africa. By Heike Becker In 2015 students at South African universities rose up in a mass revolt. Young women and men born after...