Already one of the two poorest nations on earth, Ethiopia’s food production per capita between 1970 and 1981 fell by 84%. The extravaganza of Marxist evangelism proceeded. Following the Stalin precept, a terror campaign ensued, conceived to instill subservience into a discontented population. Between 1976 and 1979 more than 100 000 were slaughtered and, to make this slaughter even more obvious, bodies were strewn throughout the streets of Addis Ababa.
After last year’s failed coup attempt (26.5.89) Mengistu purged his entire Army leadership, at least 300 senior officers, including 50 generals, being executed or arrested. This, combined with an economy that is in tatters; that a further 7 million people are again on the verge of starvation; that possibly more than one million people are dead through Government-induced famine, civil war, disease, drought and forced mass population relocations – plus the fact that the Soviet arms pipeline is shutting down – has resulted in Mengistu being politically born again.
“Socialism baka! (enough)” is the cry across the land. “We want capitalism!” And the Ethiopian Government is falling over itself to say that it will adopt a mixed economy. Deciding that Marxism is not the password to popularity, Mengistu now, rather bizarrely, argues that Ethiopia was never socialist in the Eastern Bloc sense. Socialism was “just used as a tool to shatter the aristocracy, dismantle feudalism and introduce land reform.” As confirmation that he is veering away from Marxist/Leninism, Mengistu has announced a referendum on the widening of political participation to opposition groups. All this leaves many Ethiopians wondering just what all the horrendous sacrifices imposed on them in the name of socialism were all about.
Yet another example of a socialist Utopia developing into a chaotic nightmare. Former leader Thomas Sankara, friend of Beyers Naude and IDASA, was a revolutionary firebrand determined to follow in the steps of Fidel Castro and Colonel Gadhafi. Sankara was overthrown by Captain Blaise Compaore in 1987 “to save the country from total chaos.” Compaore is now offering to share power with other parties and experimenting with private enterprise.
Suffering severe economic difficulties as a result of the fall in world oil prices, the Congolese Labour Party (CLP) is swinging away from socialist practices imposed in the early ´80s. In January, the CLP set up a commission to study methods of democratic political and economic change.
Africa’s least populated and fifth smallest state. While administered as Spanish Guinea of the Spanish Equatorial Region, it enjoyed the continent’s highest per capita income. It was granted autonomy in 1968, when Francisco Macia Nguema of the evocatively and appropriately named Fang tribe snatched power. By 1970 the country was well on the road to systematic terror. Bolstered by Soviet funding and Cuban troops and advisers, the maniacal Marxist monster killed 50 000 of his countrymen – many through extremes of torture – and drove 150 000 into exile. In the words of the last US Ambassador to the country at that time, Nguema’s “barbaric behaviour made Idi Amin look like a great statesman.” On 3.8.79 Nguema was overthrown in a coup d’etat. Having abandoned Marxism, the country is now walking the stony path back to democracy.