Union of African Workers - Senegal (RTA-S)
Several months after "Guidimakha" (a military maneuver in the hope of forming an "African intervention force" overseen by the USA, France, Britain and Germany), Guinea-Bissau is flaring up. An army mutiny led by the chief of staff, Ansumane Mané, has just broken out. By chance the attempt to overthrow Vieira Joao broke out at the moment when a summit of the OAU [Organization of African Unity] was being held, reminding the semi-colonial African governments that the "unipolar world" is in no way a guarantee for the rule of the anti-patriots. The ashes of "Guidimakha" had barely cooled when the reality of the economic, political and social contradictions acquired new life.
The journal Jeune Afrique [Young Africa] explains that "it was in effect the replacement on June 6 of the chief of the armed forces, Ansumane Mané, by General Humberto Gomes which set off the powder-keg. This disgrace followed the interception by the Guinea-Bissau police, in the month of January, of vehicles transporting arms destined for the separatists of the Movement of Democratic Forces of Casamance (MFDC). Following this affair, General Mané was suspended for 'negligence,' which he is formally contesting."
The internal crisis in Guinea was transformed into a civil war with the involvement of the neighboring countries (Senegal and Guinea Conakry). After 15 days of fighting in the capital, the conflict has now spread, according to various sources, to the whole country. The bombardments of towns and villages bordering on Casamance has been carried out by Diouf's army. There is talk of more than 200,000 refugees who have taken to the roads and the trails. Now it is clear that the war of colonial aggression in Casamance of the semi-colonial regime has been extended to the whole territory of Guinea-Bissau.
This flagrant interference in the internal affairs of a sovereign State by Diouf's armed forces is leading to the "Liberianization" of Guinea-Bissau. It appeared that on the ground the relationship of forces would have been largely favorable to Ansumane Mané, had it not been for the intervention of Senegal and Guinea Conakry. It is thus that this "Liberianization" must not hide from us the military aggression of Senegal and Guinea Conakry against the sovereignty of Guinea-Bissau.
After having plunged into mourning the mothers and fathers of the Senegalese family in the multiple conflicts and aggressions ordered by the French imperialists (Zaire in 1978, Liberia, Iraq, Casamance...), now once again A. Diouf is bringing death knocking on the gates of the peoples' houses. After Casamance, it is Guinea-Bissau which is becoming the new quagmire into which the disparaged and unpopular regime is sinking. The semi-colonial PS [Socialist Party] regime of Senegal is making the workers and peasant soldiers of the country into executioners and victims of its political adventures. This regime is bringing nothing but misfortune, tears and suffering to the peoples of Senegal and Africa.
It is against these crimes that we must mobilize to demand and obtain peace in Casamance, its right to self-determination and the withdrawal of the Senegalese soldiers engaged in Guinea-Bissau.Done June 16, 1998
Union of African Workers - Senegal [Rta-S]
Organizing Committee for the Party, Hlm Grand-Yoff V. 999, Tel. 827.15.79
The Diouf government is carrying out the arrest of the General Secretary of Sutelec [Union of Electric Workers], Mademba SOCK, and other of his comrades in Dakar and in the regions (Kaolack, Tamba, etc.), thus answering with severe repression the determined strike begun on July 13 by Sutelec. These actions were preceded by a process of denigration and demonizing, seeking to isolate Sutelec and to present it as an irresponsible trade union and its leaders as criminals. To succeed in such an operation, the Diouf regime set in motion all the media at its disposal, the Television, Radio, the [newspaper] Soleil, etc. Other supposedly independent press organs have echoed this howling of wolves to attack condemn them.
The regime did not stop here. It mobilized the trade unions it controls and the Non-Governmental Organizations, such as the CNTS and its leader, Madia DIOP, Ascosen, Asdec, Adeetel, to denounce Sutelec and to discredit its General Secretary, M. Sock, calling him all sorts of names. The 'S'P has lined up behind its chief when certain parties of the opposition preferred to remain silent. The stakes are clear: WHAT ARE THE DEMANDS OF SUTELEC?
Sutelec has, for more than two years, placed before public opinion its legitimate option of rejecting the privatization of Senelec [Electric Company of Senegal] and developing a struggle against this. This struggle ended in the signing of a draft agreement between the union and the government which showed very clearly the opening of private capital and the leasing of 51% of the capital in the portfolio of the State, to preserve the public character of Senelec.
But today, under pressure of the World Bank, the government has gone back on its commitment and is contemplating the reduction of its part of the shares to one-third, in order to liquidate the public character of the company. It is in this framework that the operation financed by the World Bank is taking place, and consists in provoking the voluntary departure of 400 employees, to weaken Sutelec and to prepare for the reduction of personnel before privatization. Here is the central demand of Sutelec. Such a demand, which has a patriotic character and poses in a fundamental manner the preservation of interests on a national scale, deserves to be supported. The national patrimony, fruit of the labor of the people of the country, workers as well as customers, should remain national property. Thus, the State has shown its anti-patriotic character, in accepting the sale of Senelec to the imperialist powers, the government is turning its back on the national interest.
Yet Senelec has passed from showing an operating deficit of hundreds of millions in 1993, to showing an operating surplus of 12 to 13 billions for the year 1997. And everyone knows that the privatization of Senelec will lead to the increase in price of electricity and the ending of the policy of rural electrification, as well as the disappearance of the public service of electricity. The example of SONEES is also edifying as to the issues at stake in this privatization and indicates where the interests of the people lie. Who is holding the country hostage? those who rule us together with the World Bank for foreign interests or Senelec? Who is causing the famine in the countryside, the unemployment in the towns? Who is holding back the wages of the workers and living a life of luxury on the backs of the people? The answer is obvious. The comprador bourgeoisie which rules us against our will seeks to utilize the annoyances caused by the strike of Sutelec to turn public opinion against the workers and their trade union. It did the same thing when the workers of Sustas were in motion.
The Rta-s denounces vigorously the repressive policy of Diouf, his party, the parties and groups which support him, and demands the immediate freedom of M. SOCK and his comrades.
The Rta-s supports the legitimate struggle of the workers of Sutelec and calls upon the workers and all democrats to mobilize themselves for the freedom of the leaders of Sutelec and for the withdrawal of the privatization plan for Senelec. The government must respect the agreements signed in June of 1997 with this union and the right to strike.
Beyond these objectives, the Rta-s calls upon the workers to understand the necessity of the revolutionary political struggle and thus the necessity of building their vanguard party, the only guarantee of a consistent struggle against the politics of imperialist domination that exists in our country and which today is taking the forms of a re-colonization of all the strategic sectors of our country, under the dictate of the IMF and the World Bank.
Dakar, July 20, 1998 The Political Secretariat
Union of African Workers - Senegal [Rta-S]
Organizing Committee for the Party, Hlm Grand-Yoff V. 999, Tel. 827.15.79
Its secretariat meeting on August 2, 1998, the Rta-s examined the national situation and put forward a certain number of conclusions.
Concerning the crisis at Senelec, the Rta-s
-reaffirms its support to Sutelec in its just struggle against privatization and the selling-off of the national patrimony,
-denounces the severe repression of the Diouf regime, his call for the denunciation of the unionists being sought by the political police, and its constant violation of the right to strike and to demonstrate,
-launches an appeal for the formation of a popular front for the freedom of Mademba SOCK and his comrades, and their unconditional reinstatement. In this framework the Rta-s has taken the initiative, since July 20, to call upon the opposition parties to carry out a large patriotic mobilization capable of making the anti-patriotic government of Diouf back down.
Sutelec's fight is a mission of national salvation against the liquidation of the public service of electricity, with disastrous consequences such as increases in the price of electric power and the foregoing of rural electrification.
Concerning the lay-off of Thiaba MBAYE and the arrest of Mamadou NDIAYE and 9 of his comrades, the Rta-s
-expresses its militant solidarity with the trade unionists whose only crime is defending the interests of the workers,
-denounces the bosses' arbitrariness, the cynicism of the comprador government and the treason of the central bureau of CNTS [National Federation of Workers of Senegal] which is plotting today to put an end to militant trade unionism.
Concerning the intervention of the Senegalese army in Guinea Bissau, the Rta-s
-reaffirms its opposition to the interference of the Senegalese government in the internal affairs of a sovereign State and the utilization of our soldiers as cannon fodder in unjust wars,
-states that what we have previously said is currently being confirmed; the adventure of Diouf is ending in a political and military defeat, whose macabre consequences for the Guinean soldiers and civilian population, and the depth of the hatred aroused among our Guinean brothers for such an adventure, has not yet been measured.
-notes that the pretext advanced for doing away with the MFDC has burned out long ago and has lost its credibility among public opinion,
-appeals to public opinion to reject the chauvinism created by the Diouf regime which is completely opposed to the free union of the African peoples.
Concerning the famine which is rampant in the country, especially in the countryside, the Rta-s considers that it is an endemic situation whose gravity can no longer be concealed by the worn-out tricks of the regime,
-denounces the anti-popular policies of the government which are at the root of the food catastrophe which is striking the popular masses.We are at a decisive turning point in the history of our country: the Diouf regime, in response to the demands of the imperialist powers, continues to resort to police and military violence in applying the plans of re-colonization determined by the IMF and the World Bank.
For the Rta-s, the present situation places before all workers, regardless of their union affiliation, the central task of MILITANT UNITY AND SOLIDARITY.
It also calls upon all democrats, all patriotic political forces, to take up a broad response unifying all sectors and all fronts, to defend the trade union rights of the workers, jobs and public service. IT IS A MATTER OF A STRUGGLE TO STOP THE GENOCIDE IN PROGRESS.Dakar, August 2, 1998
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