Liberia: the contradictions are coming to a head

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By Alfred P. B. Kiadii

Coming to mind a terse and witty Greek proverb relevant to the sum total of the crisis in the homeland, especially so at a time when the Weah administration has become the longest suicide note in the history of our country; I dare extrapolate and quote it hereunder: “Those whom the gods wishes to destroy, they first make mad.”

One year has elapsed since the much-heralded transition happened, transiting political power from one elected president to another since the 1940s was the news associated with the election of George Weah—an election marred by despicable irregularities and naked rigging by Ellen Johnson Sirleaf who was convinced that the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) was her best bet to not be investigated for the colossal looting of the public treasury during her 12 years of misrule. This transition was trumpeted as a huge success in the local and international press, especially with the novelty of an ex-soccer star becoming the new president of the tiny West African nation. The whole illusion in the chap is gradually wearing away as the regime orchestrates a wholesale economic butchery against the mass of the Liberian people who are toiling on the margins of society to make ends meet.

It has been a year since Monrovia erupted into frenzy and euphoria. Few heads of state from neighbouring African countries and beyond graced the occasion in a typical elitist fashion, with all the trappings, pomp and pageantry associated with such event. The flag fluttered over the landscape and the national anthem was sung and thus laced with a high pitch all summing up the peculiarity of the event. Also, Monrovia erupted into ecstasy with CDC faithful taking to the streets in a dramatic fashion in an implacable show of support for the man who had the mojo to ensure they leave the miserable squalors and horrible shacks. Those were the expectations of the euphoric people who had the illusion in the ex-soccer man.

Less than two years, the whole terrain of governance has been reduced to a grotesque burlesque, where indecent opportunists and economic pirates are calling the shots and dragging the republic into the doldrums. The deepest expression of those anomalies are expressed in the economic stagnation, galloping inequality and thus coupled with wholesale unemployment, and implacable poverty all assaulting living standards and undermining the people’s quest for survival. Here we have a terrible repetition of the most sickening illness which affects every regime which is historical vapid, shamefully bankrupt and superbly incompetent: the cycle of the development of underdevelopment.

According to the Pro-poor Agenda for Development and Prosperity (PAPD), approximately 80 percent of the workforce in the homeland is consigned to the informal sector of the economy. This is an impoverished sector where conditions for economic survival are volatile. More and more Liberians are scratching the soil to eke out a living. Those Liberians in such sector don’t have the opportunity to be captured in the formal sector of the economy. This is due to the structure of the social relations of production which disallows the people to mobilize capital from the production of wealth and invest heavily in increasing their capacities to win a living from nature. Thus, the peasant masses languish in the village communities without access to skills, advanced tools and capital to increase the production of food crops. Those who escape the servitude of the rural areas and migrate to the urban centres in search of economic opportunities are left frustrated because opportunities for social advances are almost non-existent and thus must accept either petite trading, housekeeping, prostitution or arm robbery as the cities are bereft of industrial activities to integrate them into the advanced working class. The working class of the country which is less than 5percent of the population is centralized in the extractive industry, cash crop agriculture and service sector. This is the fate of an economy which is part of the unequal capitalist production relations, which provides the opportunity for the transnational corporations from the metropoles to invest in the countries of the periphery with the aim of expatriating surplus profit to the mother country.

Healthcare, education, infrastructure, housing, clean water and sanitation are not forthcoming for a huge trunk of the population, as hospitals are closing down like matches boxes. Even the most functional ones are lacking drugs and qualified medical practitioners to combat illnesses and deliver proper medical diagnosis to the people. Infrastructure are either dysfunctional in condition or some key ones for the so-called attraction of investments are non-existent. Housing is a challenge as a large section of the population lives in miserable shacks, competing with rodents and insects for accommodation. The housing question came to a head during the last rainy season when flood displaced a lot of our compatriots. Rising sea levels are encroaching on the impoverished masses of the people living along the coast, and the education system is in dire straits, as evidence by the cheap supply of super incompetent teachers and lack of teachers for the sciences—low pay levels and curriculums that are modelled after the West and cannot address the Liberian problem are albatrosses that undermine the sector.

Environmental decline is on the rapid increase, as Monrovia is synonymous with a rubbish dump. More and more garbage are seen in every street corner in the city, with the city corporation completely lack the clairvoyance and capacity to address such crisis. In the long run, this crisis will lead to the outbreak of a major epidemic if a decisive effort and coordinated approach to the collection of garbage is not devised and implemented, as even major market places are not spared such disaster. In fact, it is right before these major market places that the rotten stockpile of garbage are creating a stench of unimaginable proportions. Such tragedy speaks poorly about our sense of hygiene and sanitation.

Malnutrition and hunger are on the dastard increase, as reports of kids rummaging rubbish dump for food are becoming the new normal, whether in Buchanan City or the Monrovia area, especially in a country where 83.3 percent of the population lives on less than US$ 1.25 dollars a day, and sixteen percent of households are food-insecure and two percent are extremely food-insecure. With these precarious living conditions of the mass of the impoverished people, ¼ of Liberian families spend 65 percent of income on food. This is the condition of the country and people. Yet, annually, there are reports of increase in the production of iron ore, gold, rubber, diamond, timber, etc. by private enterprises. One must understand that this social inequality is as a result of the state creating the condition for these private enterprises to pay pittance in taxes and royalties to national government – those which only provide capital for the payment of fat salaries and emoluments for the bureaucratic parasites in the government. This is why an annual budget of 560 million has more than 400 million for recurrent expenditure with a government wage bill of 317million. Clearly, the ruling clique has abandoned the question of the survival of the mass of the people and the people have been thrown to the proverbial vultures of poverty, starvation, ignorance, and disease to be devoured and decimated. Nothing is further from the truth with the height of indifference being exhibited by the Weah regime about the horrible conditions of slavery, servitude and mystery of the people.

The pro-poor euphoria of attracting investors to expand investment opportunities so as to increase the productivity of labour which in turn will provide jobs and contribute to the reduction of unemployment is a dream that remains a fatal illusion. However, this sad reality is bringing to fore social issues, as some of the females have taken to the social scandal of prostitution in order to stay financially afloat. The nation is a hotbed of infamy, debauchery and scandal. The state, even after the kleptocracy of Ellen Johnson Sirleaf,   is now a wretched casino and rotten brothel at the mercy of empty-headed bimbos, clueless vagabonds, and wayward politicos. Whereas there is unbridled stagnation in all aspects of national life, the regime elements are not only looting the public treasury to build ducal palaces and fund flamboyant lifestyles, they are also fast rolling out a ridiculous counter-revolutionary strategy to brutalize popular voices into submission, as it makes move to unleash the vice of black fascism.

Indication of the failure of the regime is rife and everywhere—the homeland is in its death throes. Stagnation of investment in its first year, lack of expansion of the economy to increase the productivity of labour, a brutal assault on the rule of law, the failure to increase income and improve the living standards of the mass of people. Scandalous inequality and a huge concentration of wealth and privilege in the hands of a coterie of economic vultures and the disastrous impact of declining material conditions of the mass of people now characterize the so-called government. Even real wages for most of the employed workers are on drastic decline due to a ravaging inflation which is 24% percent of GDP.

The Contradictions Deepen

So far, it is contradiction after contradiction, blunder after blunder— in a very short stint the regime elements – who are a comprador class in defense of monopoly capital transplanted on our soil to own the commanding heights of the country’s economy – have been exposed as arch-reactionaries, indulging in uncontrollable theft because for them national leadership is not about using the opportunity to unleash social transformation and drag the people out of the mausoleum of poverty and mystery, but an opportunity to plunder, loot and steal while the people wallow in the cesspool of drudgery and deprivation. All of the veneers of pretension have been removed. There is a crude scramble for wealth by Weah and his gang of mercenaries as they are fixated on fattening their many bank accounts. One scandal after another—from the fish deal with the Senegalese government, to the mortgaging of the ground handling services at the Robert International Airport to a bogus Jordanian company, to the selling off the Port of Buchanan to a criminal enterprise, to the denial of Liberian businesses to operate duty-free stores at the Airport, to the awarding of road construction contracts to Middle East conmen, and other infractions too numerous to enumerate. These indicate that the country is being operated by a dangerous cartel of rogues, simple hustlers and charlatans.

It is significant to note that the drifting of the homeland into the abyss is directly proportional to the super incompetence and bankruptcy of the Weah administration, as operatives of the degenerate regime are stoking toxic rhetoric and unleashing a vicious campaign of calumnies, falsifications and inaccuracies in order to find easy scapegoats to divert the attention of the mass of the people from the shambolic showing of the CDC clique. Also, this will lay the basis for its reign of terror. Leaving no stone unturned in such a hysterical outburst and childish propaganda, a sustained campaign against the progressive forces as a group of people who are working in the dark to destabilize the republic to cut short the leadership of Weah has been hatched. Faced with the growing radicalization and challenge from below, the regime has embarked on an effort to augment the strength of the paramilitary groups in the MCC police, Sabu Unit, Zebra Forces, and Weah spends most of his time at the home of the minister of defence and at the BTC barracks in an apparent charm offensive to court the support of the soldiers and lure them into his orbit.

As part of building up such false narrative to appeal to its base in response to the intensification of the class struggle and growing polarisation in the country, on yesterday the CDC Chairman in Mulbah K. Morlu took nervousness to a new height, as he took to the airwaves to purvey a deluge of outlandish platitudes and naked venoms all in an attempt to justify the increased repression of political forces who refused to capitulate to the dangerous and rotten CDC clique. In his signature tirade which typifies his chronic psychopathy and thus appealing to his jingoistic supporters, the CDC strongman pandered to narrow patriotism; expressed a deep hatred for the progressive forces as enemies of the mass of impoverished people, used opposition elements as scapegoats, and blamed them for the spiralling social problems in the homeland instead of admitting to the bastardization of democracy by his party and Weah’s promotion of his insatiable greed and wealth accumulation extravaganza over the aspirations of the people.

One must contextualize the discredited platitudes of Mulbah Morlu and other running dogs of the administration. Their obsession reflects a constipated and decayed ruling clique which is nervous at the roaring clamour of the popular forces. Thus, like all reactionary regimes, against all logic, the CDC flunkeys are employing fear-mongering, retrograde patriotism, and crude chauvinism to mobilize support from a wearied population whose eyes are gradually opening to the deception and lies of the band of rogue mismanaging the country. This is just the first episode in a long haul of things expected to happen.

No amount of laughable bombast will disguise the sad state of affairs in the country and dilute the chronic misery of the popular mass of people who struggle on a daily basis for survival. The Liberian people are living the sordid experience of rampant unemployment, spiralling inflation, thus watching the unbridled venality of the robber bureaucrats calling the shots in the republic. The people cannot even afford the basic exigencies of life, let alone pay hospital bills. Parents cannot even afford to send their kids to school, as the national enrolment of children in primary school has plummeted. Massive wealth inequality and official plunder cannot be hidden under the fog of red herring and incoherent ranting. Obviously, the ruling clique is playing its last hand: Appealing to the base instinct of its social base to push these elements to unleash barbarity on popular forces who are holding the feet of the government to the fire.

Truth is truth, so Morlu and the gang of economic thugs calling the shots in the degenerate regime must stop being crudely vulgar, one-sided and thus understand that the key contradiction inherent in every phenomenon is what leads to its growth or determines its ultimate demise, studying that in relations with other things would provide him a fair appreciation of the depth of the crisis. The major reason for the underwhelming performance of the regime is internal and not external. These internal contradictions are the basis of the essence of the regime and its self-movement. That contradiction inherent in a phenomenon is the basis for change, while the external contradiction only provides the conditions for its change. Suffice it to mean the change in the disposition of the mass of people from docility and lethargy to a bit of political awareness is principally due to the development of the internal contradictions in our society. And to just name a few, these are the internal contradictions: the implacable disarray in the government, the missing L$16 billion, the squandering of US$25 million, and Weah’s hubris and greed, his purchasing of a private jet, etc.

 

What has triggered this effort to blackguard the progressive forces?

Of late student of the University of Liberia have become increasingly radicalized due to the blatant misrule of the new band of psychopathic oligarchs managing the state. In the epoch of such popular resistance against the democratic farce, the Vanguard Student Unification Party is leading such struggle. The Party has issued a troubling preponderance of revolutionary leaflets, screeds and press releases, taking the regime to task on its failings and gross indifference to the plights of the mass of the people. This audacious move embarked on by the Party has exposed the hypocrisy of the political farce and its operatives. It has also helped in the consciousness building efforts and enabling the people to draw rationale conclusions about the nightmarish tragedy of leadership in the country.

Taking the discourse from the campuses of the University of Liberia, key operatives of the Party and other UL students were instrumental in organizing a march for the missing billions on 24th September 2018, which garnered wider coverage from both national and international news outlets. Now that these same students are taking to social media and writing in the local papers about the abysmal performance of the regime and its roguish conduct, it has unnerved the regime. This surge of resistance of the students have also pushed the masses of youth and other exploited elements into the struggle due to the ballooning of corruption and widening inequality, thus opening the space for a resistance against the reactionary regime which is in every respect a political plague and the worst caricature of democracy.

Already, this has terrified the ruling clique and it has thus collaborated with the UL authorities to proscribe all student political activities on the campuses of the university, in a move which echoes a throwback to the dastard days of the PRC and it also represents a curb on student opposition, but the students have warned of dire consequences if the suspension is not rescinded. However, still not satisfied, like all reactionary regimes which promote the “the great man theory’’ of history, the regime has decided to feed on fairy tale for the militant posture of the students. Instead of Weah and his minions looking at the radicalization of the students as a result of the objective factors, which finds deep expression in the bankruptcy of the economic order and the wholesale plunder of the national treasury by Weah and his pirates, the political gangsters believe that students who have been introduced to literature and theoretical postulates are incapable of deciphering and discerning things, they must have been influenced by certain group of people who are in the background and are bent on causing destabilization in the country. Hence, in their bizarre logic, the progressive forces are the culprits of such dangerous manoeuvring.

Signalling acute nervousness, the reaction of the regime will be based on a number of factors: a turn to violence and the promotion of its rear guard of black fascism, a trend of reaction which is not based on any ideology but crude violence and the utter purging of critical voices; buying off mainstream youth and student organizations to serve as its manipulated and discredited mouthpieces to go against the positions of the militant and genuine struggle organizations; or arranging a hasty election on the campuses of the University of Liberia and supporting the coalition of SIM, STUDA and FENSA to go against SUP in an electoral frame-up, which will be brutally rigged to install a puppet to do the bidding of the regime. Not much the regime can do, as these tactics are so outdated and anachronistic that they cannot save its neck from the revolutionary wrath of the students, as the day of reckoning is approaching with ferocious speed.

The CDC folks can vilify the progressive all they like, but the fact is that the ground under their feet is getting hotter and hotter by the day. The reality on the ground is that matters are coming to a head and things are shifting against its class interests. It doesn’t make much difference what the lackeys of the ruling clique say because everything is in decline and that the rotten state edifice is collapsing under the hammer of its own political corruption and industrial theft, as scandal has become a state-sponsored secular religion.

The homeland is plunged into the biggest leadership crisis that threatens its existence and places it on the path of an imminent collapse if democratic forces don’t coalesce to avert this disaster and ensure that it doesn’t drift into the doldrums, as indications are that the Liberian ruling elites are chronically impotent to unleash social emancipation, but prides itself in profiting from the national wealth of the country and using it to further its agenda in its own interests.

Popular Resistance, Popular Resistance, and always Popular Resistance

So far so bad, we have a president who is a total outlaw with not a vestige of respect for any law which holds him in check, embarking on a brutal heist that is being sustained ad infinitum and ad nauseam to despoil the people’s resources. He violates everything and everything he does without a shred of guilt, governing the republic like a mafia don running a cartel. He has proven organically incapable of rolling out any transformation for the critical mass of the oppressed people. He is sick with the disease of insatiable greed and nauseating hubris—those will be his undoing!

Here the popular vanguard of seasoned cadres and the radical intelligentsia must rise to the occasion to rescue the homeland from these greedy psychopaths, armed with the correct theory and ideology, they must take charge of the historical obligation to throw themselves into resistance to rescue the homeland from the retrograde claws of the backward lumpen elements who now delude themselves as serious state actors. The vanguard although small, ought to play such necessary role, as throughout human history it has been this group of people who have pushed the majority into battles to attain social emancipation.

The makeup of the group of selfless patriots are the militant students, radical intelligentsia and fighting cadres at the University of Liberia and other strata of the society fighting for liberation against the ruthless domination and outright pillage of the people’s resources by the current batch of leaders who have turned the nation-state into a playground of avarice, greed and plunder. Although the vanguard is always a minority, but when armed with the right theory and strategies, it attracts the broader layer of the oppressed people to struggle with it for an advanced civilization. Let the vanguard move, let the vanguard struggle, and let the vanguard emancipate the people!

Kiadii studied Political Science with emphasis in Public Administration at the University of Liberia, earning an undergraduate degree. He is the Secretary General of the Movement for Social Democratic Alternative (MOSODA). You can reach him through bokiadii@gmail.com.