WORLD Written by LPS – Senegal Thursday, 08 May 2014 16:45
What happened two years ago that caused the fall of the government?
After 12 years on the summit of the State of Senegal, Me Abdoulaye Wade fell as an outcome of a combination of several factors (unfulfilled electoral promises, corruption, nepotism, misappropriation of public money, nepotism, police brutality when repressing the population, accruing social divisions…), but it was his controversial candidacy for a third term what actually triggered the protest was his “Monarchical succession.”
For over two years, Wade fought a legal and media battle for his candidature for a third term regarded as anti-constitutional by the very same fundamental law that, in 2001, he himself had forced through by means of a referendum. When the opinion of specialists in constitutional law of the country, with whom he had drafted this constitution, did not favour him, Wade did not hesitate to bring experts in constitutional law from abroad, especially from France to defend his illegal candidature, and he paid them for their service.
In spite of this almost unanimous opposition, Abdoulaye Wade he insisted blindly on the same policy, and went as far as to backtrack on his own interpretation of the law. A few years later he revisited his famous phrase, “if I said so, now I withdraw what I said” and the media had broadly broadcasted in those days.
To everybody’s surprise, at the moment of announcing the final list of candidates, the Constitutional Council, supreme juridical of the country, validated this illegal candidacy, and of course, this affected the entire electoral campaign. Instead of reporting on proposals and programmes, the candidates spent their time exposing President Wade´s candidature.
President Wade has always wanted his son to take over after him and he has never concealed this. What is more, this project has been patiently built up throughout the years and Karim Wade was successively appointed as head of the agency, minister and finally minister of several strategic departments. But the straw that broke the camel’s back was when Wade wanted to have a law passed that would permit him to be elected together with his vice president with barely 25% of the ballots in the first shift. This was known as the “presidential ticket”. While the members of parliament belonging to his electoral majority were willing to validate this “ticket”, Abdoulaye Wade ran into steady opposition of the entire Senegalese population protesting in front of National Assembly and threatening the representatives for their cooperation with the tyrant. It was a spontaneous insurrection of the population, fed up with the deceitfulness of their political elite. This episode installed an atmosphere of permanent strain in the country during the electoral campaign, with often demonstrations, often very violent ones, in the capital city, Dakar and also further inland. As usual, the police played an anti-democratic role of repression against a vulnerable and defenceless population, which rendered the highest tribute with 11 people killed, injured, arrested and arbitrary arrests as well as important material damage.
Abdoulaye Wade managed to get practically everybody against him. At first he aroused hope and sympathy of the population sore for the 40 years of catastrophic rule of an allegedly socialist regime. The wound was deep in the population that lacked everything and the repeated financial scandals.
Finally, Macky Sall won. He was one of Wade’s victims, whom Wade withdrew him from the Presidency of the National Assembly for having dared to summon his son – a minister at that time – to give explanations on the management of funds that he had been administering for the preparations of the organisation of the Islamic Conference (OCI)
How do they asses the Macky Sall administration and his economic policy?
When Mr Macky Sall took over the presidency of Senegal, people were hopeful. Everybody said that he had plenty of experience within the State as he had previously been Minister of local authorities, as Home Minister, as Prime minister and finally as Chairman of the National Assembly under the Wade rule- He was the most voted Senegalese President: he achieved 65% of the ballots and ne took over with the support of a broad coalition of several parties of assorted ideology (parties of the right, of the left, of ecologists and civil associations).
By the end of the first year in the office, the first ascertainment was that his permanent scoring, because the President’s programme meaning the Yonnu Yokuuté – meaning “the voice of progress” is not what one might expect from what is expected to push the country towards greater development. Actually, the programme the programme was restricted to a list of recommendations and measures to redirect the state operating mode. For example, measures to reduce (as far as the size is concerned) of the government, creation of the creation of a Commission for repression for illicit enrichment, – which is a tribunal against the personalities of the old regime Wade accused of swindling of public funds).
Consequently, after a year and a half in the office, people began to perceive the difficulties that this government had to lead the country and saw their expectations melting into thin air due to lack of a real programme to stimulate national economy. Right now, the head of the state has just re-oriented his programme with a new plan known as “Strategic Plan of Emerging Senegal” (PSE), copied from “PSE Gabon” of the neighbouring country.
The current coalition hinging round Macky Sall symbolises the sharing out of the spoils. In the February 2012, Macky Sall got there second after the first shift and the other 14 candidates for president as well as the movements of civil society supported him in the second shift against Wade. Bur in consideration of their services all those parties and movements had to receive posts of responsibility on the presidential carriage. In this coalition, we can see the APR (Alliance for the Republic) President Sal’s liberal party; the SP (socialist Party) founded by the first president of Senegal, Senghor; (Independent Labour Party); LDMPT (Democratic League – Movement for a Workers’ party) also obedient to the communist mandate; AFP (Alliance of Forces for Progress), progressive socialists; AJ-PADS (also communist party) apart from independent representatives of civil associations.
As these left parties, are at present in presidential coalition, they have now lost all their identity. They became yearning for wealth and having tasted the delicacies of power, they are losing all credibility as their main cadres have shifted towards capitalist parties and now they defend different ideologies. This is also the case of Macky Sall’s party because its cadres and even he himself stemmed out of communist parties.
We must bear in mid that it was the same coalition that in the year 2000 had led president Wade to power, except for the socialist party that was by that time 40 years in power and it was against them that Wade stood as a first alternative. The false awareness regarding the communist countries, regarded as ruled by dictatorial and bloodthirsty parties helped these parties, – instead of helping the real awareness to emerge among workers – opted for the easy solution of allying themselves to the capitalist parties in elections, in quest of personal benefits and betraying the people.
If we have a look at the history of Senegal before and immediately after the independences, we shall see great, very strong and dynamic communist parties – such as the PAI (African Party for the Independence), the RND(National Democratic Regrouping), which were the first communist parties for independence. But these communist parties no longer play the same role. Today left parties are in the service of capitalist parties that manipulate them against the interests of the people. If we observe the political map of Senegal before and immediately after independence was achieved, they are no more a believable option and let alone a revolutionary left opposition.
For his new strategic plan of “Emerging Senegal”, Macky Sall requests funds from the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and the Paris Club for 2954 million French franks. Further more a credit from China has already been ensured for 5000 000 million franks already deposited in the banks. On top of the sum that the head of state was negotiating with the Paris Club (24 and 25 of February 2014) he will request further 1853 million CFA from financial institutions and 1111 000 million from private international financial to finance his project. All this is bound to drive the country into surplus indebtedness of the country that has already been badly indebted between 2000 and 2014, and will also lead to an invasion by multinational companies that will grab hold of whatever is left of important resources of the country.
As part of this plan, the construction of a toll highway from Dakar through to the inland provinces of the country and the construction of railways from the mining areas to the port terminal for minerals that is to be built in the peripheries of Dakar have an outstanding position together with the distribution of lands further inland near the rivers an undertaking meant to favour investment in agribusiness. As if trying to confirm all this, on the 13 of February 2014, during the opening of a highway in the north of the country, the head of the State said, “It is useless to have lands that cannot be exploited. We must summon foreign capitals to come to invest in farming so that the country can achieve food self-sufficiency that can be envisaged on the horizon of 2018.
This means that further expropriations of poor peasants’ lands to benefit multinationals. And that is valid for other economic sectors that the country has not yet been able to develop. Instead of providing the peasants with appropriate means and credits to allow them to develop their capacity of exploiting lands, the president obeys the imperialist policy and benefits the multinationals.
What is the trade union panorama?
Ever since the year 2000, with the arrival of the first modifications in Senegal, trade union centrals have been making efforts to allow the new political authorities and entrepreneurs obtain the greatest possible benefits “so as to boost strong and lasting economic growth.”
In the current trade union panorama, in spite of all the problems, trade union centrals – above all those of education and health – keep up the endless struggle to have the agreements signed years ago under the liberal Wade regime respected. They achieved some small partial victories against the attempts at creating divisions, of corruption and the parallel negotiations that became increasingly long hoping for a socially calmer atmosphere. We must say that at present there are no united trade unions centrals (integrating different sectors) what can boost a more important background of struggles capable of forcing the State to improve labour conditions and living conditions of the toiling masses. Such centrals that do exist are all corrupt, appointed to post in councils of administrations in the greatest firms in the country and postulated as members of parliament on electoral lists for legislative posts.
Ever since the independence up to now, all the leaders of trade union centrals have been courted by politicians. As an outcome of this, such leaders, in collusion with the existing power, remained at the head of the centrals for over 15 years and became unmovable and anti-democratic. These leaders mind their own private business and privileges and pay more attention to their political leaders who are in the ruling coalition. On the other hand, the head of the state compels the parties to control the trade unions so as to contribute towards pacification of social atmosphere.
The policy of dividing the trade unions responds to the tactics known as “”Divide and rule”. Ever since the socialist days after the independence and up to the liberal period of Macky Sall, the heart of the matter has been that the trade union policies have not changed or evolved and the strategy of personal and individual careers of the leaders should not be concerned by promotion of jobs or social progress or employment. Today being a trade union leader is a means for personal ascent over the backs of the workers who had elected them. That explains the tremendous amount of trade unions that we can see today and that the leaders have different political orientation and that this causes conflicts of interest and internal splits and block all industrial action fight.
Which is currently the role of French imperialism in Senegal?
As for the military agreements signed between France and Senegal, we must remember some of the post-independence history of the country. In 1974, President Senghor had signed a defence agreement between Senegal and France against an eventual internal or external aggression of both countries; France installed military bases in order to keep on administering their interest in the country and in the sub-region. We must know that such agreements also exist in several African countries, such as Ivory Coast, Gabon, Central Africa, and others. When President Wade took over in 2008, he wanted to break these agreements and in 2010 he went as far as closing French military bases in the country; this was also the case of Ivory Coast.
When Macky Sall took over on 23rs March 2012, his first trip abroad after being sworn in on the 3rd was to France. At that time, Sarkozy was the President of France. Sall returned home with new agreements that allowed for French military bases. At that time France was on the campaign trail and finally Hollande won.
On the 25th January 2014, new agreements were signed by both states. These are agreements of association and military cooperation, agreements for the installation of new military bases but also exchange of information on terrorist threats, on the development of sub-regional and collective cooperation, on eventual support that France might contribute to regional and collective security where Senegal might be involved. We must bear in mind that France is considering of having these agreements signed with 8 Francophone African countries (among them Barmako, capital of Mali) so as to justify the permanent presence of 3000 French soldiers in the region.
That is the tenor of the military agreements that prove the great return of France onto the continent so as to safeguard their interests and the Mali case is a clear example of the French intervention, in this case to defend their exploitation of uranium by AREVA society.
France has several multinationals that control the strategic points of the country’s economy in different sectors such as telecommunications, with Telecom company a majority shareholder of Sonatel, that is the greatest telephone company in Senegal and it administers telephony in neighbouring countries, such as Guinea Bissau, Mali, and Mauritania. We must also mention Bollore that administers ports of Dakar (Senegal), Abidjan (Ivory Coast), Conakry (Guinea), Lomé (Togo) and Nouakchott (Mauritania), etc.
As for the fishing agreements between Senegal and European Union, concessions of fishing permits for European ships were handed out for ridiculous sums considerably below the value of the value of the catch and this leads to the surplus exploitation of the resources and that spawns lack of fish and also leaves young Senegalese fishermen unemployed and that in turn drives many young men to risk their lives migration to Spain on fortune boats. French interests in the sub-region are plentiful and varied connected to exploitation of mineral resources in several countries, such as Mali, Mauritania, Gabon, Togo, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ivory Coast and many others. Colonisation is still thriving under different shapes thanks to the complicity of our heads of states.
What about the social struggles in the country?
There are social struggles in education and in health. These sectors demand that the agreements they signed with the former President Wade, ancestor of Macky Sall, should be respected.
In the education sector, claims focus on appreciation of the profession, so they demand improvements in labour conditions and pedagogic issues (teachers’ training) o social problems, such as the handing out of plots of land for teachers’ housing and on the financial plane recovery of two thirds of the year out of work.
In the sector of health service, after several episodes if negotiations, the SUTSAS, an inter-union of nurses and community agents of health, finally signed an agreement with the state based of a 57-point platform of demands.
But even though the State managed to disable the social bomb by signing the protocols of agreement with the trade unions of education and of health, putting that into practice is proving difficult. Actually, in the health sector protocol refers only to nurses not to doctors and the nursery was not for the doctors. There is also the question of equality of rights of those who work for private contractors with those on steady payroll and the community agents within the framework of act 3 of the decentralisation. But doctors are still on the warpath demanding better working conditions, respect of the agreements signed and the handing out of plots of land for housing. SAMES, doctors’ trade union also demands securitization of medics in the civil service at the age of 40 and the relay of the pension age to 65 years due to the long time that their studies take.
We may conclude saying that in spite of the fact that the government has managed to disable the social bomb by signing in mere 24 hours the afore mentioned agreements with the most visible trade unions, there is nothing that can guarantee social peace. Only the effective implementation of the agreements may cool down the social front, knowing that the Macky Sall administration has already benefitted from a two-year “State of grace” and now trade unions are once more on the warpath and just waiting to see the concretization to “bury the hatchet”.
If Macky Sall and his administration manage to put the agreements into practice, a leap forward towards the pacification of the social front will have been made before the forthcoming presidential elections seeing that health and education have been the two hottest sectors for years.
However, in many cases, when the situation demands some steps to be taken, the State may concede a few minor points and so stick to the essentials and then they manage to divide the inter-union with internal splits (corruption). For example, this happened in the case of CNTS that used to be a very strong central and has now been torn to pieces and the same goes for the inter-union of education. In Senegal the popular saying is heard very often.
- To conclude, we reassert that we are totally against the decisions and doings of Macky Sall as they are aimed directly against the interests of our class, the proletarian class.
- We reject the public debt and its payment for it increases capital flight to benefit international bourgeoisie.
- We reject the expropriation of the land peasants to be redistributed to agribusiness and multinationals who only come here to export the production and not to feed local population.
- Against the privatisation of strategic sectors of economy; these companies must remain in the hands of the State; nationalisation of all the great companies.
- Against the corruption in the union milieu for when all is said and done, instead of serving workers, it benefits only the government
- Against the privatisation of health and education
- Put an end to the fishing agreements with European Union and valorise local fisheries.