By Moses Uneh Yahmia
It is obvious that the wave of violence looming everywhere in Monrovia is the handiwork of ruling party’s enthusiasts who were inspired by the erratic behavior and inflammatory rhetoric of President Weah. With the fulsome backing of the security apparatuses, the thugs are unwavering. They are not deterred but more than stimulated to cause more bodily harms and damages to properties and lives of leaders and supporters of the opposition political parties, social activists, critical journalists, etc. The ruling party politically dominated Montserrado County for almost 15years. Montserrado County has been a place of sweeping victory for the CDC. This is why victory of the opposition collaborating political parties in the recent by-elections held in the county sent shock waves across the camp of the ruling party.
That the drift to violence and banditry by thugs of the regime is the reaction of such historic loss on the one hand and the political awakening of the people produced such victory and at the same triggered such banditry on the other. The President and his surrogates had this mechanical perspective that the masses in the slums and ghettos of Montserrado County would have continued their support for the CDC despite its clumsy handling of the state of affairs in barely two years. They were so naïve to think that George Weah – with no technical capacity and experience, low in ethical and moral values, zero insight on history and understanding of statecraft – had the magic wand to continuously woe the people although Weah and the CDC seem lost in relation to taking the country out of the socioeconomic abyss.
The illusion that the masses in the slums of Monrovia had in Weah has its origin in the failure of the established and arrogant ruling elites to promote the welfare of the exploited layers of the society. But the apologists of the Weah government scorned those who posited that if George Weah took similar path – a path that has been the wont of political leadership since the formation of the state in 1821- he would be confronted by a resilient people eager to have a seat at the table of civilization. But the results of the by-elections in Montserrado County, the largest stronghold of the ruling party have turned on the head such bizarre perspective of the cynics. The trashing of this school of thought on the part of the people has caught the regime so very unaware. For most part, sums up the disarray in both the government and the ruling coalition.
The political consciousness of the masses, like every phenomenon in the development of nature is not stagnant but in constant flux and is subject to change as they interact with the material world. The forces in tension initially created molecular changes below the surface of the Liberian farce. These changes were not seen with the naked eyes. But now the contradictions have reached a nodal point. They have pierced through the surface and created a seismic shift in the consciousness of the people, producing a qualitative change out of quantitative change. Before the outcome of the by-elections in Montserrado County, this change first expressed itself in the June 7 Protest when thousands of Liberians took to the streets to protest against the economic hardship and unbridled incompetence and corruption of the Weah government. The masses who about two years ago sang as a battle hymn “move on the road the country giant coming again” are now lamenting “George Weah da rogue, we will talk it.” A man once called a “darling black President” is now referred to as a “Generational Traitor”. Things have turn into the opposite. To paraphrase the words of Alan Woods, the illusion in George Weah has evaporated like a drop of water on hot stove.
The rejection of the CDC in the by-elections is a protest vote against not only the corruption of the neo-colonial state but also the hunger and misery among the masses of the people. And the corruption of the bureaucracy, the hunger and misery among the people are the consequences of imperialist capitalism which has played no progressive role for the African people unlike in Europe and Japan where capitalism evolved organically and developed the productive forces of those societies. According to the IMF, microeconomic stability remains elusive as growth in 2018 was estimated at 1.2percent down from an initial forecast of 2.5percent. The fund also announced a growth decline in 2019 as the country’s total economic output for this year will register 0.4percent growth from a previous forecast of 4.7percent. Inflation runs havoc with a 28percent double digit rise over a year while the Liberian dollars has depreciated by 26percent in less than 12months.
The masses of the poor in the urban centres live in Bantustans; their incomes, eked out through informal economic activities, are being butchered by hyperinflation. The Liberian peasantry like the peasantry in other parts of Africa is still in its communal enclaves barely surviving on subsistence farming with no hope of producing surplus to take to the market for exchange. This is due to lack of advanced tools and new farming methods. The exploited layers of society hardly afford decent meals to eat, transportation to commute and fees for their children’s education; hospitals are without drugs, equipment and electricity, thus patients are left abandoned to perish; workers at the mines and plantations are either being layoff or subjected to wage slavery and harsh working conditions; medium and small enterprises are shutting down, the economy suffers the lack of domestic and foreign direct investment. Thus, it stagnates as underemployment and unemployment are on the increase.
As means of tackling the economic crisis, the regime has found solace in IMF’s brutal austerity measures which have crippled economies of the Global South since the entrenchment of the neo-liberal structural adjustment programs carved by imperialism during the Reagan/Thatcher’s era. The funds measures which are meant to place the brunt of the crisis of capitalist exploitation on the working masses, peasants and urban poor while multinationals repatriate millions of dollars in surplus values, have dumped the economies of Haiti, Argentina, Greece, Honduras, Brazil, etc. in the toilet and is determined to continuously butcher the Liberian economy. Heeding to the IMF’s demand of running a realistic budget, the fiscal management of the country has significantly sliced funding to education, healthcare, infrastructure, energy, youth development, agriculture, etc. as reflected in the draft 2019/2020 budget. Salaries of civil servants including teachers and health workers have been cut by 50percent under the guise of salary harmonization.
On the eve of the country’s independence celebration, public sector workers including the police, immigration and the army were deprived three-month salaries and benefits. Amidst such sclerosis which as usual, will and has hindered investment in education, healthcare, infrastructure, electricity, housing, safe drinking water, civil servants’ salaries and benefits, etc., US$490.3 million according to a Central Bank report was registered as the 2018 export value for the country’s major export commodities including iron ore, rubber, gold, diamond, cocoa and coffee beans, etc. Vast portion of the surplus is repatriated through dividends and expatriate salaries as investments in these sectors are owned by foreign capital, a situation made possible by private ownership and free market economy. This pattern of economic production and trade, our friends from the IMF, World Bank and WTO will never say is the major reason the African people have been deprived of the needed capital to deal with the question of economic development. It is against these backdrops that the ruling party was given a back kick by the masses in the by-elections of Montserrado County and this objective condition has been the determining factor for the continuation agitation of the African people.
Events before and after the elections, the government demonstrated its lack of potency to draw a spreadsheet, recalibrate and turn back the hands of time to bring some level of sanctity to leadership. With this, the people would be pacified and think that although there are economic challenges which are not exclusively the by-products of the present government but the commitment and sacrifices from the regime would indicate that hope is on the horizon. At least it will delay the inevitable disillusion in the masses as the Liberian people cannot find salvation in the neo-colonial organization of the state. Instead of the outcome of the by-elections teaching the government a lesson, it has rattled and demoralized President Weah and his henchmen who `during the campaign chest beat that no one from the opposition parties has the numbers to snatch away Montserrado County. They are now insecure and vulnerable. And there is this panic that power is rapidly slipping from their hands. And for a group of people that has looted a post-war nation in such a short-period, sitting idly and watching power slid in the arms of an opposition that is fervid to subject them to simple jail is an alternative that can ever be imagined. Thus, since it lacks the means to tackle the socioeconomic contradictions, the regime has resolved to risk every semblance of liberal democratic values and unleash a reign of terror in order to crush the revolutionary uprising of the masses. We call this the re-emergence of black fascism in Liberia’s political history. To think that this is the surest way to perpetuate its rule tells you the degree to which the CDC elements lack a sense of history as the experiences of Samuel Doe and Charles Taylor are more than enough to teach a historical lesson.
But this is the basis for the consistent attacks against Miss Telia Urey, the candidate of the opposition Collaborating Political Parties in the Montserrado County’s District 15 by-election. This is the basis for the attacks against peaceful citizens at the NEC’s headquarters and opposition’s supporters at the Liberty Party headquarters. Already, the regime’s death squad has allegedly eliminated some voices of dissent and individuals with sensitive information about corruption in government. Matthew Innis, Rep. Adolph Lawrence, Miss Jestina Taylor, the missing activist Muah Muah are apparently few victims of the callous death squad consisting of ex-rebel generals assembled and paid by Nathaniel Mcgill. The repression and bloodbath will continue unabated. More social activists will perish mysteriously. Opposition leaders will be terrorized, imprisoned, eliminated or chased into exile. The rights of the oppressed masses will be trampled upon. Protest actions will be violently countered by riffraff and bandits mobilized and trained by Jefferson Koijee, a pupil of the notorious Chucky Taylor. We knew we would reached such stage where the little democratic gains achieved over the corpses of thousands of our compatriots would be jeopardised by the political farce masquerading as a government.
We have only seen from the opposition a floodgate of liberal reactions to the reign of terror unleashed by the ruling party against voices of dissent and the Liberian people. The opposition has only been craving for international community, religious and traditional leaders, civil society, and government’s condemnation of the violence. It is good to seek an open space for civil debates, exchange of ideas, and tolerance for diverse political views as ways of strengthening democratic governance. But these values of liberal democracy are only possible in a society where the ruling clique is committed to making democracy thrive. With this, one fights with ideas. But in a situation where the state is determined to eliminate political foes and derail political stability or every oxygen of democratic participation through reactionary violence, to continuously react with all those liberal niceties is politically inimical.
How long will you continue to deliberate, deliberate and deliberate while the masses continue to be victimized by the reactionary violence of the debased regime? To not analyse the current objective condition in the country to draw the necessary conclusions is to make a fatal mistake. While it is good to promote peace and democracy, it is also right and proper to organize and prepare the working masses, students, urban poor and every layer of the exploited class to not only protect themselves against the ruthlessness of the totalitarian government but also move forward to take the struggle against the rotten order to end. This is the task of a revolutionary vanguard committed to the social transformation of society and not a clique of liberal petite bourgeois elements who confine themselves to hideouts and lament on social media while the paramilitary thugs inflict casualties on the masses of our people.
In the final analysis, the social crisis in Liberia will deepen and the people will grow angrier and spontaneously stampede into history to take their destiny into their own hands. But the crisis cannot be resolved on the basis of the neo-colonial or imperialist capitalist organization of the Liberian state. Tubman’s Open Door Policy, Ellen’s Interim Poverty Reduction Strategy (IPRS), Poverty Reduction Strategy, (PRS), and Agenda for Transformation (AfT) all underpinned by the neo-colonial economic model have proved disastrous for the Liberian people. The current government and the liberal opposition are just two sides of the same coins that are committed to the bankrupt system. The latter only opposes the former’s methods of reaching the desires of the neo-colonial organization of the society. Under Neo-colonialism, which Dr. Nkrumah referred to as the Last Stage of Imperialism, democracy is a sham. It creates an incompetent state presided over by a conservative political elite class that facilitates the exploitation of the material and human wealth of African societies by foreign monopoly capital in exchange of little in taxes and rent that are looted by this arrogant cabal of bureaucratic parasites.
Thus, this neo-colonial model, which has its foundation in the European colonization of Africa, has depleted the resources of African societies and deprived the continent of the needed capacity to further develop its productive forces. After political independence in the 20th Century, every effort that was geared towards reversing the devastating effects of imperialist aggression was countered by either military coup, direct imperialist military intervention or proxy wars. Our task is to continue the building of a revolutionary movement that mobilizes the working masses, peasantry and urban poor to fight for the socialist transformation of Liberia. We must link our struggle with the revolutionary struggle of the international working people against capitalist exploitation. This is the only remedy to resolving the wave of barbarism that has taken over humanity.
Moses Uneh Yahmia can be reached via firstname.lastname@example.org!