13 January 2019

Tunisia: Year VIII of the Revolution - Mining Basin 'Cradle of the Revolution' Still Marginalised

Gafsa/Tunisia — The celebration of the 8th anniversary of the Revolution has particular significance in Gafsa, where the 2008 mining basin revolt is considered the "cradle of the Revolution", for having caused the first psychological break with Ben Ali's repressive regime and prepared for his agony.

The results of the Gafsa Phosphates Company (CPG) recruitment competition, which was marred by irregularities, had then sparked the anger of the unemployed through the delegations of Mdhilla, Redeyef, Metaloui and Oum Larayes.

Supported by the population, the protests continued for several months (January-June 2008), defying repression that left four martyrs and several wounded and led to the imprisonment of trade unionists and activists.

Eleven years after the events in the mining basin and eight years after the Revolution of 17 December 2010-14 January 2011, sporadic protests against nepotism, unemployment, marginalisation and the absence of development projects have never ceased, leading to a complete paralysis of phosphate activity, on several occasions, and a drop in production to one-third (about 3 million tonnes of phosphate in 2018, against 9 million in 2010).

Ahmed Radadi, a former prisoner of the 2008 mining basin revolt from Redeyef, said in a statement to TAP that in all Redeyef, Oum Larayes, Metlaoui and Mdhilla delegations, "nothing has changed... or worse". For him, the situation has worsened in terms of road infrastructure and public service. Unemployment has increased, not to mention the decline in phosphate production, due to roadblocks by protest movements of the unemployed.

Since 2011, the Phosphate Company has not exceeded 6 months of continuous activity, he points out. The final results of the fourth round of the 2016 competition for the recruitment of 1,700 executing agents are still not announced by the CPG. For Radadi, only a serious dialogue with the protesters and a social involvement of the Gafsa Phosphates Company can contain the crisis.


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