About this site

This resource is hosted by the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory, but was compiled and authored by Padraig O’Malley. It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.

7th Congress of the Tunisian Communist Party

From Formal to Real Independence

Six years have passed since the formal proclamation of Tunisian independence. It is now possible to survey the achievements of the independent government in that period, and to measure its achievements against the hopes and aspirations of the Tunisian people who fought together for their independence. To what extent has independence answered thc needs of the masses? To what extent has it solved the problems of the country's development? These questions were recently asked - and answered - by the 7th Congress of the Tunisian Communist Party. This article consists of extracts from the resolutions of that Congress.

The experience of these last years, declared the 7th Congress of the Tunisian Communist Party, permits the workers, peasants and the people generally to assess whether the policy of the government makes full use of all internal and foreign possibilities, and also whether it has really fulfilled their hopes.

True, the liquidation of the colonial administration has made possible the creation of a new Tunisian state which got rid of the feudal power. The new Constitution, based on a Republican system, recognised basic liberties of the citizens. The evacuation of foreign troops from our territory (with the exception of the Bizerta base still occupied by French troops), the creation of a central State Bank and a national currency, and the dissolution of the Customs Union with France were some of the factors making possible Tlmisian sovereignty.

In addition, partial measures have been taken in the economic field, in some sectors of agriculture and rural development as weil as in the direction of foreign trade. Efforts have been made to expand education, improve housing and protect the public health. The taking over of civil-service posts by Tunisians and the nationali- sation of a number of public utilities has enabled the State to create employment for some workers and young intellectuals. And the creation of a number of new enterprises gave work to a section of the unemployed, though at very low wages and without democratic conditions.

We must therefore state that, in the light of experience, the policy applied till now did not and does not yet exploit all the possibilities, and did not and does not yet correspond to the basic needs oj thc country.

Civil Rights and Workers' Rights

The Presidential system has developed towards a system of personal power, which is now criticised even by a number of politicians who helped to create it. The National Assembly does not discuss general policy; sometimes serious decisions are taken outside the Assembly (as, for example, Sept. 8, 1961, when there was a complete policy reversal after the battle of Bizerta). The Assembly is only called to ratify decisions after they have already been put into practice.

Liberties recognised by the Constitution remain purely formal, because of the infringements of them and also because of all kinds of direct and indirect pressure on citizens.... Thus at election times, strong pressures were exerted on the independent candidates; an atmosphere of intimidation is created by numerous legal proceedings against citizens on various pretexts. The right of association is again at stake.

By an arbitrary measure, the Tunisia-USSR Friendship Associa- tion was replaced by another, with the same name and regulations,but with an "official" cha~cter. The Doctors' Association and the Barristers' Society were dissolved. In the name of a false idea of "national unity", the Trade Union organisation was compelled to work side by side with the government; it alienated itself from the working people, and placed many obstacles in the way of even the most legitimate workers' demands.

Workers' and lower-paid employees' interests have been sacrificed on the altar of the interests of the privileged minority. Wages remain fixed while prices continue to soar, and capitalists and the newly privileged reap large profits at the expense of the workers of town and country. Civil service salaries and family allowances have been substantially reduced. Because there is no just solution yet to the agrarian problem, large numbers of peasants are still living in misery.... There are constant blows against the middle strata of the towns, the independent craftsmen and small traders, who are all victims of the economic slump.

Economic and Social Problems

At the, time of independence, the colonial heritage lay like a heavy yoke on our economy. Only bold measures could lighten it. But the road of "economic liberalism" chosen already in 1956, has led to a policy of improvisation, and the halting of the development thut our people rightly expected once the colonial and semi- feudal regime was destroyed.

In spite of a number of partial measures, therefore, the Tunisian economy remained on the whole, dependent, unstable, backward, without basic industries, with a preponderance of unproductive activity, and with agriculture characterised by a flagrant inequality in land distribution - 600,000 hectares for foreign settlers, the same for five thousand large Tunisian landowners, and only 32 million hectares for four hundred and fifty thousand small and medium landholders. The social consequences are to be seen in the tremendous differences in income, as well as in the unemployment and under-employment of the people, especially in the rural areas.

When faced with the failure of the "liberal" economy in solving the country's problems, the government was forced, finally, to admit the need for economic planning. This is at least a positive step. But still they refuse to transform the economic structure, which has been inherited from the past, in a genuine and radical manner. They refuse to promote wide agrarian reform, to nationalise foreign trade and internal wholesale trade, or to infringe on the privileges of the minority.

Foreign Policy

Dealing with foreign policy, the resolution declares that the policy remains ". . . basically pro-Western, objectively helping the game of the neo-colonialists." This policy is followed despite statements from time to time of "non-commitment", and despite the final establishment of trade and diplomatic relations with the USSR and other socialist countries, which step was only taken after considerable hesitation. As a result, Tunisia does not play the part it could and should in international affairc, and remains far removed from its natural allies, the African States of the so-called "Casablanca" group, but close to the side of the so-called "moderate" states.

A number of leaders of the General Union of Tunisian Workers (UGTT), who are also in the leadership of the governing party, elpenly place their services at the disposal of the I.C.F.T.U., which is a facade for neo-colonialist penetration of Africa. They com- pletely reject the genuine solidarity of the African workers which was expressed in the formation of the All-African Trade Union Pederation.... They participated in the creation of a splinter organisation dependent on the ICPTU . . . to confuse and deflect the African workers from the anti-imperialist struggle.

The Class Basis of Bourguibaism

The contradictory policy followed by the Tunisian government inside and outside the country, which is known as "Bourguibaism", in fact expresses the class interests of the Tunisian national bourgeoisie, which has some peculiar characteristics of its own apart from those common to the bourgeoisie of other newly independent countries.

. . . Independence was the result of a national struggle in which all people without distinction of class took part. Workers, peasants and the youth in fact bore the main weight of and the main sacri- fices in this struggle. There was in fact a national front against imperalism....

The national bourgeoisie, represented by the Neo-Destour Party, was enabled by its fight against imperialism to carry with it all the patriotic forces, and to play the leading part in the national movement. Thus it acquired authority, and could put itself forward as the sole candidate for power . . . when this national movement became mighty enough to overthrow the protectorate regime and destroy colonial power.

Once independence was won, the national bourgeoisie, with the help of the masses, was able to liquidate the semi-feudal power of the Beys, and to establish Tunisian sovereignty in the form of the Republic.

But once in power, the bourgeoisie wasted no time in furrhering its own interests. The negative aspect of its role became the dominant aspect . . . determined by the characteristics of the bourgeoisie and by its place in Tunisian society. It is a new social class, which has forced its way to power without a substantial economic base. The colonial regime had confined it to limited economic fields; its part in established enterprises was small. Of 290 concerns which employed more than fifty workers (1955) only 33 belonged to Tunisians. The national bourgeoisie had its investments mainly in agriculture, commerce and property speculation. Once in power they tried to acquire the economic basis which they lacked. Thus they took a path completely different from the path of struggle for genuine independence.

The Policy of Compromise

A consistent struggle for economic independence and development would have required an appeal to the active assistance of the masses, says the resolution, and also have required some reliance on the world's anti-imperialist forces. But the class ideology of the bourgeoisie prevents it from taking such a course. It has also prevented the bourgeoisie from following a policy of "positive neutralism" in foreign affairs. The prevailing trend has been one of compromise with neo-colonialism, in an attempt to gain crumbs of personal benefit from their relations with imperialism.

True, in the first years of independence, the government limited the old bourgeois elements which had prospered under the colonial regime.... Enterprises previously managed by French capitalist concerns - such as railways, transport, concessions like electricity, water and gas, and the Sfax-Gafsa Phosphates Company, were transformed into state or mixed enterprises.

But their ideas of economic development were limited by their own cupidity; they chose "economic liberalism" which is based on a holy respect for private ownership. Therefore, "Tunisianisa- tion" had the effect only of allowing some enterprising local elements to replace foreign capitalists in certain fields of the economy. Some rich Tunisians, for example, reacquired the land of French settlers; moreover, some of the land acquired by the State was partially let to private individuals. The national bourgeoisie, a class of relatively small capitalists, developed, and new layers of privileged people appeared to join those who were already privileged....

But the bourgeoisie did not give the economy a new impetus. They continued to develop mainly as an agrarian and trading bourgeoise. The old landowners expanded their ownership, others acquired land and became agricultural capitalists. Most of the national capitalists threw their resources into property speculation and commerce, which absorbed 80% of the investments in 1959 according to a report of the Central Bank. Those who turned to industry, limited themselves to minor fields, such as food, footwear and textile industries.

Thus, the choice of economic liberalism certainly enabled certain elements to enrich themselves; but for all that, it did not give the bourgeoisie as a whole a sound economic basis, especially since it did not bring any solution to the problems of economic development. Its failure became obvious. The pressure of events and of the masses, forced them to look for another way. In 1961, the Tunisian government, like other governments of newly independent countries, chose the path of a planned economy.

Promise and Reality

This new choice was in itself an improvement. The plan has objectives which are, generally, good. In particular, it pushes ahead with the development of State-controlled industry, and promises increases to the lowest income groups.

But it is not based on profound reform of the existing system. It rejects agrarian reform as well as the nationalisation of foreign and wholesale trade. Its objectives, therefore, are illusory.

This plan reflects a reformist tendency . . . which gained ground under the pressure of events and following the failure of the policy of "liberalism"; it eventually became the official doctrine of the Neo-Destour. Like all reformists, the proponents of this tendency try to present their plan as a Socialist one.... They try to hide the fact that this plan . . . is basically a new attempt to settle economic affairs in such a way as to give an extensive base to tho national bourgeoisie as a class, and allows them at the same time to strengthen their political ascendancy by the use of the whole machinery of the State.

. . . This is the present position in the economic and social fields. Promises are made; great ideas are launched - including the idea of "Destourian Socialism"; partial concessions are given a big build- up. But the conditions of the masses does not benefit from the promised and expected changes.

Clinging to Leadership

The national bourgeoisie finds its political expression in the Neo- Destour Party which led the struggle for independence.... The major concern of the Neo-Destour is and always was, to limit in one way or another the independent political activity of the masses.

Even during the time of the struggle against the colonial regime, the national bourgeoisie made great efforts - through the Neo- Destour - to gain for themselves the leadership of the workers' unions and other peoples' organisations; they wanted at any cost to prevent the working class and the poor peasantry from organising independently.

These efforts were intensified after independence. The national bourgeoisie openly attacked the improvements won by the working class and other toilers during the course of the anti-colonialist struggle. These disruptive manoeuvres . . . weakened the workers' unions, and limited their role.... The Central Union Organisation (UGTT) has been transformed to a bureaucratic apparatus whose leaders have given themselves the task of halting the forward march of the working class, and throttling its legitimate demands and its aspirations.

Other organisations also lost their mass character, and alienated themselves from those they are supposed to defend. This is the case with the National Agricultural Union (UNAT) led by big landowners, rich peasants or bureaucrats . . . with the Union for Commerce and Industry, whose leaders became themselves promi- nent businessmen; even the General Union of Tunisian Students (UGET) is subject to continual pressure to keep in line.

All these organisations are placed under the leadership of the Neo-Destour. Thus this party has acquired a kind of political monopoly.... The theory of National Unity is invoked to justify this state of affairs; it does not mean that they seek a democratic alliance with all classes in society, with a common objective which respects the legitimate interests of each class. On the contrary, it results from a denial of the existence of separate classes, in order to justify an unprincipled merger into a single party, the party of the national bourgeoisie.

. . . Till now, the national bourgeoisie imposed itself as the sole leader of the whole national movement. But since they have been in power, their limitations and weaknesses have been more and more clearly revealed. Experience shows that this exclusive leadership is harmful to the interests of the people, and to the country's progress. It is halting the development of the popular mass movement, and preventing it from carrying the national democratic revolution through to its end. Experience S/10WS that the solution of the national problems reqllires the intervention of other national forces, and their active participation in the affairs of the nation. It requires, in particular, the strengthening of the independent organisations of the working class and the poor peasantry, and that a more active part be played by these organisations in the political life of the country.

II. THE CLASSES OF THE TUNISIAN SOCIETY

The Workers

Because of the underdevelopment of the economy, the numbers of the working class remain small compared to the population as a whole. There are now 157,000 workers in industry of whom 27,000 are in the building industry and 15,000 in mining. Apart from a few important mining centres, the working class is not concentrated in big industrial enterprises.

The colonial system has left its heritage of a low educational level and a lack of qualifications. There are a great many unskilled labourers. Since independence the composition of the working class has altered a little; old workers have been promoted; young workers from training schools and apprenticeship centres have found jobs in various fields of industry. But still, the presence of many unemployed is a heavy burden on the workers in employment. The result is a lowering of the value of wages, declassed workers, instability of employment, and higher pressure from the bosses.

But in spite of the factors which hamper it, the Tunisian working class has the qualities which make it the most revolutionary class in the nation, a class whose role is to determine the future. It is linked with the form of modern industrial production which will develop. It has no special privileges to defend, and its interests therefore coincide with the real interests of the nation.

The working class suffered directly from gross capitalist exploitation under the colonial system. They struggled constantly against this exploitation, and took an active part in the fight for national independence. Their past struggles have given them a rich experi- ence, and a spirit of organisation....

The Peasantry

The peasantry is the natural ally of the working class, and forms the majority of the population. It is made up of agricultural labourers, semi-proletarians who form the bulk of the seasonal labourers, the metayers - that is, farmers who pay their rent in kind - the small peasants with insufficient land, and the middle peasants.

The peasantry, as a whole, played an important part in the national struggle against the colonial and semi-feudal system of the protectorate. Its poorest sections expected that indpendence would bring a change in living standards and especially the satisfying of their hunger for land. But the partial measures instituted by the government since independence did not bring any real solution to the land problem. The peasants see that the concentration of land ownership in a few hands has been maintained and even increased. New privileged owners took over from the French settlers. The lands acquired by the State from the French settlers were not distributed amongst either the landless or the poor landed peasantry....

The number of landless peasants must be about 300,000. Agricul- tural labourers have always suffered from low wages and get no family allowances. When crops are poor, the small peasants are obliged to sell the little that they have . . . and then look for jobs in the "workplaces for the unemployed....

"In all its strata, the peasantry is subject to a greater or lesser degree of exploitation by the rich farmers and the big landowners. Peasants live very often in miserable conditions. Their educational level is low. Though liberated from the "caid" system, they still suffer from the arbitrary power of the government.

The hard experience through which the peasants have passed helps them to understand ever more clearly that their vital problems cannot be solved while they follow behind the national bourgeoisie. They understand that they must organise for the defence of their immediate rights, and for the achievements of their desire for land reform. Their deep aspirations have great revolutionary possibilities; consequently, they play an important political role side by side with the working class, and in alliance with them.

The Urban Middle Class

In Tunisian society there are a great many middle strata which give great variety to the urban petty bourgeoisie. Amongst them are salaried employees, petty and intermediate civil servants, intellectuals, craftsmen, small traders and all kinds of shopkeepers. Generally, all strata are condemned to difficult living conditions.

Office staff and the lower-rank civil servants face rising living costs with lowered salaries insufficient for their family needs. These conditions draw them closer to the working class, whose struggle they support for common demands. Craftsmen and petty traders are subject to the results of the economic slump.... Their businesses are jeopardised and they fall into the ranks of the unemployed. Under certain conditions, they, too, come closer to the working class and support their policy of social progress.

The intellectuals play an important part, and are possible allies of the working class. Their knowledge enables them easily to understand new ideas.... The students particularly are receptive to anything new and respond sensitively to everything which is noble and lofty. Social injustice, lack of democracy and favouritism revolt them.... More and more students are attracted towards Marxism, and show their willingness to master this advanced theory which makes possible great transformations of society throughout the world.

Nevertheless a number of the petty bourgeoisie have the illusion that at some time they too will be able to climb the social ladder.The small traders dream of increasing their business; clerks and civil servants believe they can become property owners- some young intellectuals are infected by unscrupulous ambitions and the race for the best-paid positions.

III. THE TUNISIAN COMMUNIST PARTY

The Party of Independence

The Tunisian Communist Party always was, and still is, the only national democratic organisation which has kept its independent character intact from the Neo-Destour and its monopoly of political life. As the party of the working class, the poor peasantry and the advanced national forces, it was active in the service of the people; it has given the opposition a positive, national and demo- cratic content, based on its analysis and understanding of the process of history peculiar to Tunisia.

While they opposed the egoistic interests of the privileged strata, the Communists sought every possibility for a genuine national union between all patriotic classes, including the national bourgeoisie, in order to carry on a consistent anti-imperialist struggle and to develop towards democracy and progress.

Taking into account the fact that the national bourgeoisie could still play a positive part in strengthening independence, the T.C.P.'s policy decided upon at the 6th Congress (1956) was one of both support and opposition. It supported and still supports all actions of the government aimed at fighting imperialism and consolidating the peoples' gains. At the same time, it denounces and fights against all anti-democratic and anti-popular actions, and against all actions which do not strengthen national independence or which endanger it.

The political work of the TCP has met, and still meets with great difficulties as a result of the conditions described above. The national bourgeoisie, in an attempt at preventing the working and other progressive classes from playing an independent part in influencing the course of events, has done everything to hinder the Party's work, and to isolate it from the masses.

Though the TCP is a legal party, officially recognised, its legality is more formal than real. The documents of the 6th Congress were seized while in the press; party pamphlets are often prohibited, or seized during distribution, and legal action taken against party members. In Sfax, the party organisation was suppressed for months. Contact between the leadership and the local organisations in various districts is subject to police surveillance, and even to more or less concealed bans. Party public meetings are often sabotaged or prohibited under various pretexts; its members are subject to constant police pressure, and some are even fired from their jobs. They meet with shabby treatment from members of the ruling party, and militant communists are systematically removed from the lists of candidates for trade-union leadership regardless of the wishes of the workers.

Fighting for their Right

The party has had to fight against all these difficulties; it has had to make the most of all the possibilities opened up by its "legality" and by the growing sympathy of the masses for it. Its central organ, Ettalia, played an important part in clarifying the problems before the country, and in defending the demands of the workers.... In public meetings which it has been able to hold - as, for example, during the battle of Bizerta - the party has given widespread explanations of its policy, and met with the enthusiastic approval of its audience. Recently the party took part in the electoral campaigns for the Municipality of Tunis and for the National Assembly, though its campaigns had to be organised against considerable pressure which violated the legal regulations laid down by the government itself.

In spite of all these difficulties, the TCP used its opportunities to spread its campaign for democracy, for a foreign policy of real neutralism, for agrarian reform, for achievement of the worker's demands, and for a renewal of the trade union movement. In spite of the pressure, workers and democrats followed with interest and sympathy the courageous activity of the communist militants in the election period.

Owing to the activity of the Central Committee and member of the party in the political and practical work, the party's policies and slogans have won a firm place in the minds of the workers and the masses, and have been proved right by events. The tragedy of Bizerta particularly showed how right is the policy advocated by the party.

The party has not been isolated, as its enemies wanted. In spite of the efforts of some of the UGTT leaders, the communist militants have won the sympathy of their fellow workers. Within the General Union of Students, young communists work side by side with other young people.... Thanks to co-operation between communist militants and progressive democrats, a newspaper for unity, the Tribune du Progress, has been published under the direction of Dr. Sliman ben Sliman, chairman of the Tunisian Committee for Liberty and Peace, and is becoming the organ of the advanced forces in the country.

It has been proved in practice that the Tunisian communists hold out a brotherly hand to all those willing to struggle for an advanced Tunisian society. It has been proved that, though they ardently defend their own policies, the communists are those who most scrupulously respect the convictions of others who join with them for the common cause.

Still much to do

In spite of all difficulties, the party's work has made it possible for its organisation to improve and gain ground in a number of working-class areas, in some peasant areas and amongst the intellectual youth, and to strengthen its links with the masses. But the organisation is still not adequate for the important political tasks which are before it.

The practical activity of the party is still not sufficiently linked to the everyday problems which occupy the minds of the masses. Its propaganda is sometimes too general, and needs to be more specific. The distribution of Ettalia needs to become the concern of every member.... Though there is a certain improvement in the political level, efforts are needed in the training and promotion of cadres, and in educating new members.

We must aim, says the Congress resolution, at a mass Party. We must open new prospects to the masses for the just solution of their problems.

We must fight against the demagogic slogans which attempt to deceive the masses.... The links of the party with the masses must be strengthened, together with its character as the party of action.

The experiences of the Protectorate and of the first years of independence have shown that the capitalist way is not the best. Having defended the principles of "free enterprise" for a long time, the leaders of the Neo-Destour have accepted the idea of planning. They speak of "Destourian socialism"; so pervasive is the idea of socialism at this time when the world socialist system is becoming the decisive factor in the development of human society.

But the real meaning of "Destourian socialism" becomes clearer when one observes the working of the ten-year project. What, in reality, is a socialism which does not change anything, and whose sponsors themselves proclaim that it will not change anything in the social and economic structure? What is a socialism which maintains the private ownership of the means of production, accepts capitalist relations of production in all fields of the economy, and which considers it"anti-economic" to lower those wages which are too high in order to raise those which are too low?
In fact . . . this "Destourian socialism" is neither socialism nor a specific form of transition to socialism made necessary by the specific conditions of Tunisia. It does not even achieve the objectives of the national democratic revolution.... Its aim is to restrain the revolutionary feelings of the masses.

IV. THE PROGRAMME OF THE TUNISIAN COMMUNISTS

The Marxist Road - to Socialism

The Tunisian Communist Party fights for socialism as its basic objective. It tries to apply the universal principles of Marxism- Leninism to the situation of the country.... Our people, like all others, will advance towards socialism along its own path. Since socialism is the result of the historical development of each country, the paths to it will vary. But the experience of history shows that the content of socialism and the conditions in which it can be realised are the same in all countries, and follow general scientific laws.

The necessary changes cannot be carried through by those social forces which have special privileges to defend. Changes come as the result of a many-sided struggle of the working class, the peasant masses, certain middle strata in the cities and all advanced classes, against the selfish interests and the undemocratic power of the exploiting classes. The necessary revolutionary changes concern:

State Power, which must be one form or another of the dictatorship of the proletariat, the power of the working class organised and guided by the Marxist Party, in alliance with the peasantry and the advanced national forces; that is, the expression of a real democracy in the service of the overwhelming majority of the people, against a tiny minority of exploiters.

The economy, which must be based on collective ownership of the means of production and directed towards satisfying the material and cultural needs of the workers on the basis of increasing production.

Production relations, which cease to be based on the exploitation of man by man, becoming instead those of each man earning according to the quantity and quality of his work.

These revolutionary changes will make possible the building of socialism, and give birth to a new society without antagonistic classes, where every citizen will be able to develop to the limit of his ability and cultural level. At the present stage, while not forget- ting the prospects of socialism, the Party attempts to guide the efforts of the masses so as to give a new content to the Tunisian state. Since Tunisia won its independence, the content of the state is determined by the national bourgeoisie in power.... This does not, of itself, suffice in solving the country's basic problems.The independent Tunisian state must be given a democratic and advanced content. Towards this end, the Party fights for the following objectives:

For consolidation of independence: and the liberation of the Bizerta base occupied by French troops, which is a hindrance to Tunisian sovereignty over the whole country.

For a broad and real democracy: . . . which will take into account the existence of various social classes, and where the masses are in actual fact taking part in the management of public affairs. Elections to the National Assembly and all representative bodies should be free, and take place without state pressure, on the basis of proportional representation. The working class should really have the right to organise freely and independently for defence of its interests . . . and the poor peasants for genuine agrarian reform.

It is already possible to win a real respect for the Constitution, including respect for individual citizen rights, freedom of speech, press, meeting, association and strike.

For an independent national economy, at the service of the whole people, based on

For an independent foreign policy, based on a consistent anti- imperialist orientation, opposition to neo-colonialism . . . and the real principles of non-commitment. This implies breaking with the pro-Western orientation, recognising People's China, and developing co-operation with the USSR, the other socialist and non-committed countries; as well as playing an active part in the struggle for disarmament, peaceful co-existence and the ending of colonialism; for North African unity, and the birth of a united Maghreb.

For a National Democracy

The objectives of the Tunisian Communist Party have been based on the experience of other newly independent nations. The conference of Communist and Workers' Parties, in which the TCP participated, generalised this experience in the demand for a state of national democracy which:

     consistently upholds its political and economic independence, fights against imperialism and its military blocs, against military bases on its territory;

     fights against the new forms of colonialism and penetration of imperialist capital;

     rejects dictatorial and despotic methods of government;

     ensures the people broad democratic rights and freedoms . . .the opportunity of working for agrarian reform and other domestic and social changes, and for participation in shaping government policy.

The realisation of such a programme is in the interests of the Tunisian workers, the poor peasants and the people as a whole.But it requires the strengthening of the Tunisian Communist Party, the renewa~ of the trade union movement, the organisation of the poor peasantry and the linking of their struggles with those of the working class and the all-round development of the progressive and national-democratic trend.

By playing a more active, independent political role, by strengthening the positive national and democratic opposition trend, workers, peasants and progressive people create the conditions for a genuine national unity, where the national bourgeoisie will have its place but without a political monopoly.

It is obvious that on various objectives of national interest, there is the possibility of the unity of all patriotic forces even before the organisation of a genuine national union.

Therefore, the Tunisian Communist Party takes upon itself the task of continuing tirelessly to organise the working class and the poor peasantry, to direct their struggle and to develop their alliance as a basis for the union of all national and democratic forces - the union of all those regardless of class or party who wish to lead independent Tunisia forward on the road of democracy and progress.

What our READERS WRITE

YOU AND THE AFRICAN COMMUNIST

Since its first publication, at the end of 1959, The African Communist has met with, and continues to find, a warm, indeed a glowing reception, not only in all parts of Africa, but in many other parts of the world. Articles from our magazine have been reprinted in British, Canadian and United States publications, they have been translated and published in Arabic, Russian, Chinese and other languages. The British monthly, Marxism Today, in its issue of April, 1962, says, "We would like warmly to greet and pay tribute to our colleague The African Communist," and proceeds to give its readers a detailed survey of the contents of our issue No. 8. In the same month, the French journal De'mocratie Nouvelle, reprinting the article on South African racialism by Toussaint from our French language special edition (of which more below), lists the contents of this edition and offers to make copies available to its readers on request.

For this continuing success we who, under severe difficulties, produce this journal owe most of all to you, our readers, who continue to write in from every part of Africa and many other parts of the world, encouraging and inspiring us in our work.

FROM ICELAND TO JAPAN

Naturally, most of our readers and correspondents are in Africa. But we are happy to know that our readers also live in other countries--some of them very far away indeed. What country could one imagine further away than Iceland ! Yet reader Gisli Gunnarsson, of Reykjavik in that far-away country writes ordering four copies regularly "to begin with", and adds: "Please render my thanks to the brave sponsors of the magazine and my well-wishes for the future. Many people in Iceland are keenly interested in the struggle of the African people for freedom, and a Marxist analysis of this struggle would help them to increase their understanding." And another reader, Iwasaki Shigeo, writes in from another far corner of the world - from Japan.

Perhaps if more Japanese readers would see The African Communist they might put some pressure on their government to stop its disgraceful and humiliating trafficking with the South African racialists - who, in return for a deal to buy South African pig-iron, have declared the Japanese "honorary Europeans"

AFRICAN STUDENTS IN EUROPE

Our journal is also circulating more and more widely among African students in Europe. One student writes from Italy, enclosing a years subscription, "with great happiness" and also enquiring about other publications "available of the South African Communist Party, and also of interest about East and Central Africa".

From socialist Czechoslovakia another African student, Yaw Assiedu, writes: "I just cannot express my appreciation of the socialist magazine The African Communist in words. It has certainly filled a vacuum which has existed far too long in Africa. As an African and as a socialist I must congratulate the South African Communist Party for this work.... My congratulations to you and all comrades for the fight for the freedom of the proletariat and for the liquidation of capitalism." And, from revolutionary Cuba, marching towards socialism - the brave pioneer of America - Comrade Ramon Calcines, of the Integrated Revolutionary Organisations, writes: "We have received The African Communist and you can be sure that we can use its excellent material to bring to the notice of our people. We are very much interested in the developments in Africa as seen from the viewpoint of the South African Communist Party."

OUR FRENCH EDITION

The first special edition of The African Communist in French has clearly made an extremely favourable impression in French-speaking areas of Africa. Marcel Anoma of Morocco writes a warm letter "congratulating you on your excellent initiative in producing this in French. You will not be unaware that there is no equivalent of your journal in the French language and that few inhabitants of 'Franco- phone' Africa are capable of reading, English. I understand your difficulties and therefore will not say that I am impatient to see your journal coming out regularly in French. But I can assure you that it would be a great thing for other than Marxists in our part of the world to be able to read such rich articles by Numade, Toussaint and others. And for those who know nothing about Marxism because no one has yet told them anything about it, these articles will act as excellent teachers. There is no doubt about it at all that the French edition was an absolute necessity. You will understand this if you could know of the success the special edition, which I have under my very eyes, is going to have." Our Moroccan comrade, to whom we express our cordial appreciation, also tells of the keen interest shown in our special edition by a friend in Mali: "To say that he is very interested is putting it mildly, for since he has read it he dreams only of getting it into the hands of as many people in Mali as possible." Readers in Conakry (Guinea) and Caen (France) have also written to comment favourably on the French edition.

French-speaking readers will be glad to learn that we are now contemplating the production of another special edition in this language.

DISCUSSION GROUPS - AND REPRESSION

Readers in various parts of Africa are continuing to form discussion groups around The African Communist to study its contents and, in the light thereof to analyse problems and conditions in their own countries in the light of Marxist-Leninist theory. About twenty young people in Ibadan, Nigeria, have recently come together to form such a group. Clearly. there are a number of groups interested in Marxism which have been developing in various parts of this vast country, with its forty million inhabitants and urgent problems of the post-independence period. It would be an excellent thing if these several groups could come together to pool their resources and com- bine their efforts.

But the forces of reaction are more and more trying to attack The African Communist and prevent the spread of the liberating ideas of Marxism-Leninism.

Elsewhere in Nigeria, at Onitsha, a bookseller writes that the Roman Catholic Church is campaigning against our journal with threats of excommunication. One reader who bought it later returned it saying: "Our Rev. Father saw it and was annoyed with me and suspicious over my faithfulness in my religion. As I don't want to be cast out that is why I return it." Elsewhere, especially in British colonies, active police repression and bans are operated against our journal and its readers. Comrade J. W. Musole, a devoted reader and president of the Northern Rhodesian Socialist Movement, was raided, all his documents seized, and himself forced to flee from the country, after being arrested. He is nevertheless in high spirits and determined to carry on. "I believe in what I'm struggling for," he writes.

A reader in Uganda writes that he is constantly harassed by policemen who are looking for him - because of his selling The African Communist.

And in Kenya, despite an African "cabinet", the British authorties' ban on our magazine still persists - we hope not for much longer. Mr. Oginga Odinga, M.L.C., writes "with very best wishes" from Nairobi, that "you will be informed as soon as the prohibition of The African Communist is lifted in Kenya".

A similar position seems to exist in Nyasaland, from where a reader writes: "Our government of Central Africa (chiefly White settlers) does not want these books to come to our attention and once they are found they are just being destroyed."

INSPIRING

But despite all these difficulties The African Communist still finds its way into the hands of readers all over the Continent, even in the most dangerous circumstances. It is inspiring to know that here in the heart of Verwoerd's Fascist Republic, enthusiastic readers are receiving our journal. Here are some of their comments: "Despite the pressures the government of the Republic exerts and despite the limitations of freedom of speech and thought, we do manage to obtain political pamphlets and papers from all over Africa. Of these The African Communist is of the highest calibre and greatest value in education and enlightenment of the people....

Mayibuye i'Afrika ! - Let Africa Return ! " (D.K., a student.)

"I am a great reader of The African Communist. I can't live without it. It is like gold." (B.G., Cape Province.)

"The African Communist is a credit to our Party and our country." (J.M., Johannesburg.)

We want, once again, to thank all those readers who have taken the trouble to write to us. We cannot print every letter, because we have not enough space, but we can assure you that we treasure every letter like something precious. We do not regard The African Communist just as something we have written and produced for you to read. It is a joint effort of readers and writers; of ourselves and yourselves. And we know very well that without you, our readers, our magazine could not have been successful, nor will it be success- ful in the future. Let us work together, then, to make this an even more powerful weapon for freedom, independence, unity and socialism in Africa.

This resource is hosted by the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory, but was compiled and authored by Padraig O’Malley. Return to the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory site.