Tunisia: we should push for a workers' government

Submitted by Matthew on 4 May, 2011 - 12:22

On 24 February there was the movement that we call here “Casbah 2” — more than 300,000 people demanding that Ghannouchi go. On 27 February Ghannouchi and the other Rally for Constitutional Democracy (RCD) ministers resigned.

Everybody demanded a “technocratic” government to lead the country “administratively”. But in my opinion the far left committed an error in demanding a “technocratic” government. The January 14th Front [a coalition of left groups] made the mistake of not advancing the demand for a workers’ and popular government.

The new government has come to satisfy the popular demand for a Constituent Assembly which breaks with the old regime. It has dissolved the Rassemblement Constitutionnel Démocratique (RCD, the former ruling party). At the same time, it is a government completely in continuity on the economic and social levels, even more than continuity, because it is even more linked than its predecessors to US and French imperialism.

The government has also announced the dissolution of the security service, Ben Ali’s political police.They first announced that this service consisted of 200 persons! Then they understood that this wouldn’t stand, so they came up with other figures. The known figures indicate that the body of the police comprised 120,000 officers, today they tell us it was 50,000. What is it that has been dissolved? What remains? We don’t know!

At the same time there is the emergence of revolutionary councils in the regions and in the different localities. There are many things being done at the level of self-organisation because the municipalities have been dissolved and the councils, self proclaimed by the people, are in the position of managing local affairs.

At the central level, to counteract the National Council for the Safeguarding of the Revolution [created on 11 February], there has been the creation of the “Higher Committee for the Realisation of the Objectives of the Revolution, for Political Reform and Democratic Transition” [ISPLROR, on 17 March]. On this “Higher Committee” 71 persons have been nominated, of which 17 represent associations and 12 political parties, while 42 are individuals.

There are very few representatives of these local committees in it. Some people on it are from the left or far left. The parties which make up the January 14th Front did not go collectively — as the Front — to discuss this proposal. Some groups, factions or parties agreed to be there independently of others and three parties are represented there officially.

The creation of the “Higher Committee” came as a response to the request of the National Council which wanted to be recognised by the president and to have the prerogatives of legislating — by agreement with the central leadership of the UGTT, which did not consult the unions on this question.

For the moment forms of workers’ control are not really developing in the factories. In some enterprises belonging to families linked to Ben Ali, the workers have found themselves without any management — they have fled — and have taken responsibility for the management of these enterprises. There have also been quite a few farms which have been taken over by the workers, who have expelled those to whom Ben Ali’s government had given these state properties. Around 80 big farms are involved.

In the educational structures also, there has been the election of those who direct them — rather than them being named from above. In public transport there has been a big strike to change the chief executive who was a member of the RCD. But this is not very generalised.

• Translated/abridged from an interview by Jan Malewski on 16 March, published in Inprecor magazine, www.inprecor.fr/article-inprecor?id=1136

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