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PAMBAZUKA NEWS 214: Focus on G8: Make looting history

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Featured this week: Focus on the G8


- Helping Africa shouldn’t be so much about making poverty history, as making the looting of Africa by rich countries history, argues Firoze Manji
- Operation Murambatsvina - sweep out the trash – has torn through Zimbabwe like a Tsunami and Zimbabweans are feeling like the rest of the world is ignoring their plight, says Mary Ndlovu
- Issa Shivji is not optimistic that the G8 summit will produce significant changes for the millions of people trapped in poverty
- Bob Geldof is only the latest in a long line of Europeans who have appointed themselves as spokespersons for Africans, writes Patricia Daley
- Social movements and civil society activists will be meeting in Mali for their own G8 counter summit. Barry Amanita Toure explains why
- George Dor critiques the recent debt cancellation “deal” for Africa, the Blair Commission for Africa and the rise of Paul Wolfowitz to the top job at the World Bank
- Raised Voices is a unique project that traveled the world to gather views of the majority world on the G8
- Expect sugar-coated statements and hot air from G8 leaders, says Thomas Deve, who discusses various mobilizations to injustice including the World Social Forum and Global Call to Action Against Poverty.
- The best service the world could give Africa, argues Makeda Tsegaya, would be to support struggles to transform leadership on the continent
- Marie Shaba, chairperson of the Tanzanian Association of NGOs, discusses how the G8 can assist Africa’s development
PAN-AFRICAN POSTCARD: Tajudeen Abdul-Raheem on why Live 8 and G8 attention for Africa “is like being offered a handkerchief by the same person who is beating the hell out of you.”
GLOBAL CALL TO ACTION AGAINST POVERTY: African voices on the G8 via SMS; news from mobilizations in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and Mozambique
PLUS: Links to news on conflict, human rights, elections, development, refugees, women’s rights, media, environment, jobs and books…


Make looting history

Firoze Manji


Some 120 years ago, in 1884-85,, European governments met in Berlin to 'negotiate' the carving up of Africa - a meeting that in essence was very little different to this week's G8 meeting in Gleneagles. Had Bob Geldof and Comic Relief been around at the time, would they have held pop concerts in Paris, London, Berlin, Brussels, Lisbon etc. calling on their rulers to be nice about carving up the continent, to ensure that a few more crumbs fell off the table into the mouths of the poor while they carried out their project of occupation, colonisation, military subjugation, looting and genocidal slaughter? The very idea sounds absurd because we have the benefit of hindsight.

But why are things any different today? In many post-colonial countries real per capita GDP has fallen and welfare gains achieved since independence in areas like food consumption health and education have been reversed. The statistics are disturbing. In Sub-Saharan Africa as a whole per-capita incomes dropped by 21% in real terms between 1981 and 1989. Madagascar and Mali now have per capita incomes of $799 and $753 down from $1,258 and $898 25 years ago. In 16 other Sub-Saharan countries per capita incomes were also lower in 1999 than in 1975. Nearly one quarter of the world's population, but nearly 42% of the population of sub-Saharan Africa, live on less than $1 a day. Levels of inequality have also increased dramatically but worldwide. In 1960 the average income of the top 20% of the world's population was 30 times that of the bottom 20%. By 1990 it was 60 times, and by 1997, 74 times that of the lowest fifth. Today the assets of the top three billionaires are more than the combined GNP of all least developed countries and their 600 million people.

Since the early 1980s, economic and social policies of African countries have been subverted to serve the interests of the west - the repayment of debt, and the opening up of the countries to the needs of voracious international capital. Africa has abundant natural resources, yet their exploitation by capital has not lead to the development of the forces of production nor to the improvement of life chances or life expectancy for the majority. Instead, the countries with the richest resources are the ones that have been torn apart by civil war (Angola, DRC, Sierra Leone, Liberia etc) or subjected to gross environmental degradation (as in Nigeria).

The western media and the western 'development' agencies feed us with a diet that makes us think that "poverty" is the problem. But poverty is not the problem. It is the looting, theft and frank exploitation that forces Africa's people into destitution, that impoverishes them, and prevents millions from realising their full potential as humans.

Just look at the looting involving aid and debt. According to the OECD, total resource flows to developing countries between 1982-1990 was $927 billion. In the same period, developing countries remitted $1,345 in debt servicing alone - a difference in favour of the west of $418 billion. To understand the size of that, it's worth noting that the Marshall Plan transferred to Europe the equivalent of $70 billion in today's prices. In other words, developing countries are providing through debt servicing alone the equivalent of more than two Marshal Plans every three years. And that is assuming that all aid sent to developing countries was actually spent there. ActionAid calculates that only one third of G7 official aid in 2003 was 'real' aid. The rest was 'phantom' aid which may have achieved other goals, but did not help to fight poverty. Only 10 cents of every dollar of US aid is 'real' aid. The 'best performer', according to ActionAid, was the UK - but even there, nearly a third of aid was found to be phantom. And substantial proportions of that aid is used to hire private consultancy companies whose task is the privatisation of water supplies.

The G8 meeting should be seen as a gathering of the descendants of the Berlin Conference. Their agenda is fundamentally the same. We shouldn't be begging them to be nice about it. We shouldn't be begging them to carve us up 'fairly'. Let's end this charade about 'fighting poverty': turn, instead, to fighting those who cause and profit from impoverishment.

* Firoze Manji is director of Fahamu and Pambazuka News editor

* Please send comments to [email protected]

Some 110 years ago, in 1894-95,, European governments met in Berlin to 'negotiate' the carving up of Africa - a meeting that in essence was very little different to this week's G8 meeting in Gleneagles. The G8 meeting should be seen as a gathering of the descendants of the Berlin Conference, argues Firoze Manji, we shouldn't be begging them to be nice about it. We shouldn't be begging them to carve us up 'fairly'. Let's end this charade about 'fighting poverty': turn, instead, to fighting those who cause and profit from impoverishment.

Zimbabwe’s Tsunami

Mary Ndlovu


Operation Murambatsvina - sweep out the trash – has torn through Zimbabwe like a Tsunami, describes Mary Ndlovu. Hundreds of thousands of people have been internally displaced, but the true cost of the government operation on the livelihoods of people is almost impossible to predict. As the G8 meets in Scotland and African leaders conclude an African Union Summit in Libya, Zimbabweans feel that the rest of Africa has turned its back on them.

Towards the end of May a tsunami struck Harare, flattering everything in its path - informal businesses, solidly built homes, shacks, orphanages, churches, even a mosque; it took with it people’s lives, livelihoods, family life, their spirit to survive. Like the Asian tsunami in December, the number of its victims and the total cost of the destruction are hard to quantify; unlike the Asian tsunami, it is man-made and continues in wave after wave of senseless brutality, reaching every corner of this increasingly miserable country.

The government calls it Murambatsvina – sweep out the trash – or Operation Restore Order. But Zimbabweans have rejected the government’s term, for they are not trash, and order has not been restored. Only the term “tsunami” adequately portrays the suddenness, the scale and the nature of the catastrophic destruction which has been visited on us - not by erratic nature, but by our own government.

Suddenly, with virtually no warning, police in central Harare descended on informal traders, breaking and burning their stalls, confiscating or destroying their wares, and arresting thousands. By the following week, the attacks had spread throughout Harare and to other urban centres in the country, and the assault on informal housing had begun. Six weeks later, the operation continues. Police of various descriptions move from township to township, ordering residents to destroy their illegal dwellings or have them smashed. Sometimes sufficient warning has been given for people to remove their furniture and salvage some of their building materials, other times the bulldozers are hot on the heels of the police, disrupting funerals, chasing people from their cooking and their bathing. At least six people have been killed directly by the police actions. Many others, especially babies, the aged and those suffering from AIDS have succumbed to exposure, shock and hunger as they huddle through the cold nights in the rubble of their homes.

Now, in the depth of the winter season, tens of thousands remain camped in the open, dazed and unbelieving. Others, perhaps hundreds of thousands, have moved into the houses of friends or neighbours or relatives, who were already overcrowded, or sleep on verandahs. Thousands are crammed into churches where they have been offered shelter and are being fed; some have managed to sell their furniture to raise the bus fare to go to their rural homes, where they face an uncertain future with no food or housing.

How do we expect them to react when our President tells UN experts that the action is for the good of the people, and they appreciate what has been done for them? Can it ever be for someone’s good to destroy their home when you have nothing to replace it with? When you tell them they are rubbish, maggots, who are not wanted? When you cause them the utmost trauma of preventing them from feeding their families? When you destroy the huts of orphans and smash the centres that were caring for them; when you bulldoze a clinic that was providing anti-retrovirals to AIDS patients and tell them to go to rural areas where there are no medicines.

Surely a government which turns so viciously on its own people must be acting in response to a serious threat to its power, an armed rebellion or organised sabotage at least. No. Not at all. That has not happened and government has not mentioned it. The government says it is seeking to reduce crime and restore order to the cities of Zimbabwe. There has been too much illegal activity and this must be stopped; informal trading venues and illegal dwellings were havens for criminals, foreign exchange dealers, fraudsters; purveyors of stolen property, making once beautiful cities filthy and unsafe. This is a clean-up operation which will catch the criminals, drive the forex back into the banks, and black market goods into legitimate channels.

It is unspeakably depressing to watch government and party leaders trying to defend the indefensible. Raze whole suburbs to catch a few criminals? Deprive people of earning a living to stop thieves? How many more thieves will be created? With a national housing backlog of two million units, bulldoze more than 80,000? Where is the once very professional police force whose training teaches them how to identify and apprehend criminals? Where are the health officials who enforce hygiene standards and the town planners who design orderly housing developments? Why the sudden need to restore beauty to the cities?

Of course it is true that the cities of Zimbabwe have deteriorated during the past ten years. Visitors from other parts of Africa once gawked at Harare, wondering how such a beautiful, orderly municipality could really be African. It was well-planned, most people were in employment, there was little sign of the shanty towns and street traders common in other African metropolises.

But things have changed, for several reasons. First is the deterioration in standards of government, especially the growth of corruption, which sees by-laws flagrantly ignored for the price of a small bribe, and awarding of contracts to cronies incapable of delivering the services. Second was the effect of the economic decline resulting from the Economic Structural Adjustment Programme (ESAP), introduced in the early 1990’s. Many urban workers lost their jobs, and government encouraged them to turn to the informal sector to create their own incomes, in manufacturing, services and retail trading; councils which resisted were ordered by central government to relax by-laws to accommodate them. Third was the effect of the farm invasions of 2000 and thereafter. On the one hand these produced a flood of displaced farm workers, many of whom crowded into the slums of Harare, and on the other it opened former farmland to be allocated without any planning to loyal supporters of ZANU PF for informal settlement. Fourthly, when the opposition MDC won control of most urban councils between 2000 and 2002, government deliberately undermined their operations, using its powers under the Urban Councils Act to prevent rate increases in line with hyperinflation. Borrowing powers to develop housing and upgrade crumbling infrastructure, especially in water and sewage reticulation, were systematically denied. The decline of Zimbabwe’s cities is in large part, therefore, the direct result of government’s economic and political mismanagement.

Then suddenly, without consultation, public deliberation, or even the simplest level of information, government declared itself obsessed with illegality, and determined to eliminate it from Zimbabwe. This seemed strange in view of the fact that it is the government that has been content to ignore legality whenever it threatened to restrict its own operations, flouting court orders in regard to holding of elections, seizures of land, release of detainees from prison, and prosecution of known criminals. But Zimbabweans have come to know that government uses the law when it finds it convenient and abuses it to pursue its political goals.

In this case, the line between legality and illegality has become blurred. Many of the informal traders had licences issued by the local authorities, but many did not. Many of those who did broke the law in other ways, by receiving stolen goods or dealing in foreign currency or black market goods, but most did not. The settlements around Harare which have now been destroyed had the blessing of the highest government authorities, who had allocated stands, arranged in some cases for financing, and publicly encouraged the recipients to build homes. Does this make them legal if the necessary planning laws have been ignored? The people are now being punished for taking government instructions as legality.

The cry by government that traders and home-owners were illegal is thus partly correct, and partly not. However, the methods used in carrying out their operation of destruction are clearly not legal. The actions of the police have all been taken without due process, and violate statute law, our constitution, and international law.

The Urban Councils Act specifies that an illegal structure can only be destroyed when notice of 28 days has been given to the owner and occupier and opportunity has been given for a court application; no one was given such notice. The common law does not permit the deprivation of property in the possession of anyone without legal sanction; those who had their buildings and their trading goods destroyed or seized had their property illegally despoiled. The constitution guarantees the right to be protected from arbitrary deprivation of property, and from cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment. Surely destroying one’s home and leaving them in the open is cruel and degrading by anyone’s estimate. The United Nations Covenant on Economic Social and Cultural Rights provides that everyone has the right to shelter, while the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights has been interpreted, in a case brought against Nigeria, to mean that a government may not evict anyone from his home without providing alternative accommodation. How can our government claim that it is restoring legality, when all the means it is using are quite clearly infringements of the law at every level?

The effects and costs of the operation are certainly too huge to measure. Six weeks since its beginning, the tsunami continues to destroy people’s lives. The original estimates of 200,000 to 250,000 persons displaced have by now doubled. The 300,000 school children displaced from schools was given by the Ministry of Education for Harare only, after only two weeks of demolitions. In Mutare, Bulawayo, Victoria Falls, Beitbridge, Harare itself, and many other towns and cities, countless thousands more have since been affected. A million traders and their families losing their livelihoods will have an immeasurable effect. Of course many will begin again because they simply have to feed their families, legal or not legal. But in total, how much business is being lost for every sector of the economy? And how many of these were sending money and food home to the rural areas. We simply can’t know.

Perhaps falling back in horror at what they have done in the past weeks, the government has suddenly announced a programme of reconstruction. Thousands of stands will be serviced and houses built over the next three years. Although only four houses have been built in a week, 9,000 are to be ready in two months. This raises more questions than it answers: where will the money come from in a cash-strapped economy? Who will pay for the houses? And most important of all - if government can mobilise the money to build houses, why didn’t they do it before smashing down the ones that already existed? The cost of re-housing Indonesian communities affected by the natural tsunami last December is estimated at $US5 billion for 500,000 still homeless. We have at least that number of homeless people now. Where in our wildest dreams do we imagine we will get funding to rebuild what we have ourselves destroyed? Our economy was already in a state of complete collapse - what some have referred to as meltdown. Rebuilding on this scale is pure delusion.

But as government’s efforts at damage control pick up pace, more themes have emerged. Applicants for new trading licences and allocation of stands will be “vetted” - a term that has not been defined. It is only assumed that they will be checked for criminal records (few will be found) and asked to produce ZANU PF membership cards. Already we are told that the stands at Whitecliff Farm are being reserved for civil servants - police, army and CIO primarily; they are certainly not the people who were displaced. Women arrested for protesting were finger-printed and told they would never get vending licenses again. “Presumptive taxes” will be levied on informal traders, who will pay income tax on “presumed income”. While party lackeys wheel and deal and survive on kick-backs and bribes, the struggling poor will provide for the instruments of their own oppression.

Perhaps more sinister, all these processes of “reconstruction” have been removed from the local authorities who legally have responsibility for them. Licences have always been issued by the councils, not by the police. Housing stands have been allocated by the council housing departments. Now we have unknown authorities responsible for allocating these resources. We have new “task forces” controlled by the army assigned to supervise the reconstruction. Clearly, there is an all-out attempt to usurp the designated powers of elected councils completely and emasculate any democratic participation of the people. We are truly heading for a military state, where central government takes everything, leaving no democratic space for anyone else. We are even to have chiefs for cities, since they will better implement government policies! Government is no longer by elected officials, answerable to the people. It is by appointees of those clinging to power by the barrel of the gun.

As we struggle to give a rational explanation for these seemingly deranged acts of destruction several points emerge clearly:

1. This is very obviously a pre-emptive assault on urban populations, the stronghold of the opposition, and the potential source of any meaningful threat to ZANU PF’s power; its main aim seems to be to forcibly relocate poor people to rural areas by making it impossible for them to live in towns;

2. It is not only an attack on towns, but on informal activities in rural areas as well – wood carvers and sculptors, gold diggers, even fishermen; nor is it an attack only on opposition supporters, as many of ZANU PF’s members have also been affected;

3. It seeks to impose government and ZANU PF control on sections of the economy where their grip has slipped in recent years - in the control of foreign exchange rates, the collection of taxes and the determination of who benefits from resource allocation. As such it is a desperate attempt to ensure that the little wealth that remains is channelled through the hands of government, to be spent as they see fit;

4. It is not going to improve the national economy - in fact it will cripple it further, and it will have horrendous consequences on the lives of millions of Zimbabweans, reducing hundreds of thousands more to penury;

5. It has been undertaken in a typically ZANU PF way - suddenly, violently, illegally and recklessly, without regard to the disastrous consequences;

6. One more very large nail has been hammered into the coffin of Zimbabwean democracy, which is rapidly being replaced by an illegitimate oligarchy amassing wealth for themselves while the people starve, and maintaining their position by military rule.

And Africa turns its back. They do no want to know. We helped South Africans when they were fighting a force too powerful, why do they deny us the same? We do not want to be rescued by the developed world. We want to be rescued by our fellow Africans, understanding our plight and standing by the principles to which they committed themselves in the African Union, the Harare Declaration, numerous international human rights instruments, the SADC and NEPAD. Why do they not care? Why do our pleas fall on deaf ears?

* Mary Ndlovu is a Zimbabwean human rights activist

* Please send comments to [email protected]

* Read the “The Zimbabwean Crisis and the Challenges for the Left” a Public Lecture delivered at the University of Kwa-Zulu Natal by Brian Raftopoulos.,40,5,735
Operation Murambatsvina - sweep out the trash – has torn through Zimbabwe like a Tsunami, describes Mary Ndlovu. Hundreds of thousands of people have been internally displaced, but the true cost of the government operation on the livelihoods of people is almost impossible to predict. As the G8 meets in Scotland and African leaders conclude an African Union Summit in Libya, Zimbabweans feel that the rest of Africa has turned its back on them.

Comment & analysis

Aid with one hand; Guns with the other

Q&A with Issa Shivji on the G8


Global leaders like UK prime-minister Tony Blair have been vocal in stating that 2005 is a year where progress must be made on Africa's development. The G8 summit - an opportunity for rich world leaders to put their heads together and change the global development machinery - is now underway in Gleneagles, Scotland. Debt relief, aid flows, global trade and climate change are on the agenda of one of the highest profile G8 meetings ever. But well-known African commentator Issa Shivji is not optimistic that this summit will produce significant changes for the millions of people trapped in poverty.

PAMBAZUKA NEWS: There has been a deluge of promises and debate around issues of aid and debt ahead of this G8 summit. What, if anything, can Africans expect from world leaders this time around?

ISSA SHIVJI: Little. Promises based on utterly wrong premises yield little beyond further humiliation of the African people as permanent beggars. Debt and aid belong to the same system, the system of exploitation of African resources. "Aid as imperialism" is as true today as it was thirty years ago when Teresa Hayter wrote a book with that title.

PN: Reading the various media reports around the G8 there is a very real sense that it is all about Tony Blair's plans for Africa, or Gordon Brown's promises, or what George Bush is or isn't prepared to do. Why is it that African voices seem to be so sidelined in events that are so crucial to their lives?

IS: Truly African voices have been and are being sidelined. This is the show of the very people who plan poverty in the first place! Poverty in Africa, both historically and in contemporary times, is due in no small measure to the exploitation and plundering of its resources by Western multinational capital. The crucial point for me is not that the Africans have little say in Blair's and Brown's plans but that Africans have lost all voice in controlling their own resources, their own destiny.

PN: What is the relevance of Blair's Commission for Africa report, the G8 event and the various other initiatives taking place during 2005? How should African people engage with these initiatives?

IS: Isn't it a cruel irony that a leader of a country that followed Bush into destroying a developing country (Iraq) and that has increased its arms sales to Africa fourfold in the last four years should be spearheading the fight against African poverty? If this is not cyncism, what is it? Commissions on Africa have been many but this was the first time in recent history that it was established and led by the very people whom we used to call 'neo-colonialists'! It is African leaders who like poodles dance to the tune; the African people in their villages have little time to engage in such dances!

PN: Tony Blair's plans for Africa are presented as being anti-poverty, but critics argue that they mask age-old policies that will continue the exploitation of Africa. What's so wrong with Blair's - and by extension - the G8 approach to ending poverty?

IS: As I said, the very premises are wrong. The underdevelopment of Africa and the resultant poverty are the outcome of a long historical process of exploitation of the continent by Western imperialism. That relationship continues today in an even more blatant form as the resources of Africa - from mineral to bio-resources - are siphoned off through various mechanisms that we associate with globalization: the so-called free trade, and various other associated policies such as privitisation and marketisation of the African economy. So while Africa's economies get integrated in global circuits, African people get marginalised. One hates to be cynical but it is literally true that while Blair gives aid with one hand to reduce poverty, he sells arms with another to kill the poor.

PN: Once again, African leaders will attend the summit and be granted an audience with G8 leaders. Are African leaders getting anything substantive in return and are they correct to engage in this way? What should they be doing which they are not doing?

IS: We shouldn't forget that Africa and generally the people of the South are on the defensive. The confidence and arrogance of the nationalist period has been defeated. Imperialism has assumed a more offensive and aggressive posture. African leaders today are more compradors than nationalists. So long as African leaders seek legitimacy from their imperial masters rather than their own people they will continue to appear with bowls in hands at the doorsteps of the G8.

PN: The G8 development approach is largely based on building Africa through a free market economy that attracts foreign investment and trade. What would an alternative development agenda for Africa look like?

IS: There is no doubt in my mind that we, in Africa, have to develop a nationalist, a Pan-Africanist vision, both political and developmental. And this vision has to be in opposition to the domination of imperialism, read globalisation, just as the nationalist vision in the last century was in opposition to colonialism. More than ever before we need Nkrumahs and Fanons who saw in African unity and in the unity of the oppressed people and exploited classes a counter-force, which would be the harbinger of an alternative vision and an alternative path of development.

PN: Plans are afoot to create a human white band around Edinburgh as a symbol of demands for trade justice, debt cancellation and more and better aid. What is your assessment of these mobilisations?

IS: I do not wish to be cynical of the well-intentioned who would want to bring the "plight" of Africa to the world stage. But I would like to see much more and in a more sustained fashion the well-intentioned people with red bands surrounding Edinburgh and highlighting without ambiguity and prevarication the pillage of Africa; pillage through trade, investment, debt and dubious policies.

PN: What is the most effective action that organisations in Africa should take today that will make a significant impact on the relationship between our countries and the G8?

IS : Ultimately, the liberators of Africa will be Africans themselves. Organisations in Africa have to sink their roots among their own people and free themselves of this dependency syndrome. We have to organise and mobilise for a second independence in every sense of the world. Fundamentally, the relationship between Africa and G8 is an unequal exploitative relationship. That is the fundamental premise which should be our point of departure.

* Issa Shivji is Professor of Law at the University of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.

* Please send comments to [email protected]

Global leaders like UK prime-minister Tony Blair have been vocal in stating that 2005 is a year where progress must be made on Africa's development. The G8 summit - an opportunity for rich world leaders to put their heads together and change the global development machinery - is now underway in Gleneagles, Scotland. Debt relief, aid flows, global trade and climate change are on the agenda of one of the highest profile G8 meetings ever. But well-known African commentator Issa Shivji is not optimistic that this summit will produce significant changes for the millions of people trapped in poverty.

Bob Geldof and the Livingstone connection: Africa not yet saved?

Patricia Daley


Bob Geldof is only the latest in a long line of Europeans who have appointed themselves as spokespersons for Africans, writes Patricia Daley. With a distinct brand of humanitarianism they have acted to serve the demands of global capitalism, suppressing African voices and aiding the exploitation of the continent.

Bob Geldof’s rally against poverty in Africa seems to have incurred admiration from well-meaning whites and indifference or resentment from Africans. The questions the critics pose are: who gave this pop star the authority to speak for us; why does he represent Africa in such a one dimensional way? Can’t he and his supporters see the realities on the ground? Can’t he see that Africans want to speak for themselves? Geldof seems to believe that his mission is noble. To him and his supporters, the moral argument is clear: the West is rich, Africa is poor; the West has the means to help Africa out of poverty. The argument is so simple that only the easily cynical would seek to dispute it. Through his celebrity status Geldof hopes to mobilise western public opinion to put pressure on the leaders of the capitalist world to be more benevolent to Africa.

To understand the Geldof phenomenon, we need to look historically at the role that Africa has played in the European imagination and in global capitalism. Geldof’s crusade and attitude is not new. He is only the latest in a long line of European men whose personal mission has been to transform Africa and Africans. David Livingstone, the celebrity of his day, embarked on a similar crusade in the late 19th century, painting Africa as a land of ‘evil’, of hopelessness and of child-like humans. His mission was to raise money to pursue his personal ambitions.

‘Darkest Africa’ occupies a special place in the white man’s psyche; it remains a place where he [and she] can achieve heroic status. Therefore, does it not make sense that African voices are silenced? Michel Foucault’s treatise on the relationship between power and knowledge may be old hat in academia, but still relevant in the real world. Sir Bob would lose his authenticity and thus his power if he was to give space to the multiplicity of African voices; many of which would certainly challenge his stance.

It may seem amazing that in the twenty-first century, with increased mobility, greater communication and an African heading the United Nations that many westerners are more comfortable with European interlopers translating Africa for them. Perhaps, only then could some be persuaded, as one famous Irish comedian was, ‘to give money to those bloody niggers’. Africa remains the object of western desires not the subject of its own destiny.

Livingstone’s and Geldof’s humanitarianism fits well with the demands of global capitalism, serving to obscure distinct phases in the exploitation of Africa. Livingstone’s redemption of the African savage was very much tied to colonial conquest and exploitation of the continent’s resources; a mission that Livingstone supported in the marriage of commerce and Christian morality. The consequence for most of Africa was dispossession, forced labour, de-humanization, oppression and genocide, as in the Congo Free State.

Geldof’s Live Aid also occurred at a time when neo-liberal policies were being forced on recalcitrant African countries. The results are fully documented: collapse of health and education services, increased unemployment and privatization, leading to greater impoverishment of the masses. All this occurring while westerners bathe in the glory of their collective benevolence to the ‘lost continent’. Geldof was even rewarded for his chivalry with a knighthood.

How convenient for Live 8 - an upsurge of western popular goodwill - to occur at the same time as a new scramble for African resources? With the threat from China, Africa’s oil and other strategic minerals are even more critical to the continuance of western economic dominance. One just has to consider the significance of Africa’s resources in the west’s push for peace settlements in Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

It is beneficial to western capital for Africans to be seen as the architects of their own misery. Mugabe, thug as he is, is no worse, and certainly less so, than many other leaders in Africa’s post-colonial history, yet his vilification fits into the discourse of corruption and self-inflicted harm and justifies the prevailing view that Africans cannot be trusted with their own destiny. Racism is not often used in explanations of the west’s attitude towards Africa, yet it remains a fundamental component of the west’s interaction with Africans – nowhere is it more visible than in the diaspora. How can one claim to want to save a people, when one is complicit in the marginalization of their relatives? The irony has not been lost on Africans.

Geldof, like Livingstone before him, represents the cultural arm of global capitalism. The inequalities he rallies against are reproduced by the very capitalist system he supports. How many artists, fading or otherwise, would turn down the promotional opportunity of playing to an audience of the magnitude predicted for Live 8? In the cultural as well as in the development industry, African poverty serves as a vehicle for wealth creation.

Those people, whether on the right or the left, who are conversant with the realities of Africa, know that aid will not ‘save’ the continent and deliver the promised land; that the problem in Africa is not poverty but impoverishment and that Africa needs freedom not redemption. Africa’s creativity has to be released through true democracy and not the compromise of ‘good governance’ and western tutelage.

Livingstone’s and Geldof’s suppression of African voices, whether deliberately or inadvertently, aids the continued exploitation of the continent. Geldof has the capacity to transcend Livingstone’s shortcomings, if only he would listen to Africans and engage with issues of reparations and the politics of truth. He would certainly get more diaspora Africans among his London audience, despite their lack of appreciation for rock music.

After Live 8, when African resources are delivering wealth to western trans-nationals and African people suffer further degradation, be it wars, hunger or political oppression, they are likely to find little external support. After all, a whole generation of western civil society will say, “did they not receive debt relief?” “Are they so incompetent or corrupt that they could not make good use of our bountifulness?” In Africa, people will continue to live and die and a lutta continua…

* Dr Patricia Daley holds the posts of University lecturer in Human Geography, and Fellow and Tutor in Geography at Jesus College, Oxford. She is an African from Jamaica.

* Please send comments to [email protected]
Bob Geldof is only the latest in a long line of Europeans who have appointed themselves as spokespersons for Africans, writes Patricia Daley. With a distinct brand of humanitarianism they have acted to serve the demands of global capitalism, suppressing African voices and aiding the exploitation of the continent.

False promises to Africa from Blair and the G8

Barry Amanita Toure


In a small corner of Mali far from the fanfare of the G8 summit in Gleneagles, Scotland, social movements and civil society activists will meet from 6-9 July to discuss international political and economic mechanisms which constrain the national policies of developing countries of the South. “Faced with the G8, which plays the role of a totally illegitimate world board of directors, African social movements are organising themselves to formulate alternatives to current neo-liberal policies and are firmly resolved to show their determination,” writes Barry Amanita Toure.

Tony Blair, the British Prime Minister, has decided to make Africa one of the priorities of the next G8 summit to be held from the 6th to the 8th of July 2005 in Scotland. The report of the Commission for Africa, written for the occasion, recommends among other things doubling aid for Africa, cancelling poor countries’ debts “as quickly as possible”, removing rich countries’ customs barriers against African products as well as strengthening “good governance” in our countries. One can only support Mr. Blair’s initiative to finally bring to the G8 governments’ attention this set of problems that social movements throughout the world have raised for years.

However, being an African social movement, we find it difficult to have faith in all this talk. Are the governments of the world’s richest countries suddenly gripped by a guilty conscience in the face of the disastrous consequences of policies they have imposed on Africa for years? Is there a real will to change or was this report only meant to hoodwink the British electorate?

We must admit that a close look at rich countries’ current policies towards Africa tends to make us sceptical. In the nineties, the IMF, the World Bank and the G8 had already promised to write off the poorest countries’ debts, an initiative called Heavily Indebted Poor Countries. This initiative received a huge amount of publicity: the international press announced 90% debt cancellation and even 100% after the Cairo Euro-African summit (April 2000).

Debt reduction linked to this initiative depended on the implementation of structural adjustment programmes, dubbed War on Poverty Strategic Framework. However, upon close analysis the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries initiative turns out to be one more ‘publicity stunt’ on debt cancellation. If we look at the debt levels of those countries which ‘benefited’ from this initiative, we see that, not only has the debt not been reduced but it has even increased.

Our States, being the good students of the IMF and the World Bank that they are, have meanwhile privatised our countries’ public sectors and have disengaged themselves from the health and education sectors, thus contributing to the growth of poverty. The report emphasises the importance of “good governance” in African countries but our governments will soon have nothing to manage, given that all of the State’s functions are now being carried out by the private sector.

On the other hand, doubling of aid to Africa is without a doubt indispensable given the pauperisation of our countries (more than 300 million Africans live on $0.64 a day), but care would have to be taken to ensure that this aid is really destined for African countries and not business enterprises from the North. In fact, aid is often used to fund lucrative contracts involving donor country enterprises implementing projects totally ill suited to the local context.

In speeches, rich countries pretend to contribute to the development of Africa but in reality, Europe and the USA are negotiating free enterprise deals that impose the opening up of African agricultural markets and competition between our economies and those of the North. How will African farmers be able to compete with American and European farmers when the latter benefit from substantial export subsidies? How will a local enterprise be able to continue selling its product in the face of massive importation of goods produced at much less cost by multinational companies? It therefore appears that G8 countries resort to double speaking and that they have unfortunately got us used to vain promises that are never followed by concrete action.

Due to the importance of this year’s G8, which is meeting once more to make false promises to Africa, we feel that it will be very important to mobilise African social movements and civil society to take firm action to reject Blair and the G8’s fraud.
This is why, as has been the case each year for the past four years, the Coalition for African Alternatives Debt and Development (CAD Mali) is organising the People’s Forum in Mali.

This year, it will be held in Fana from the 6th to the 9th of July 2005 so as to run concurrently with the G8 summit. This People’s Forum is a critical opportunity to inform and sensitise African social movements on international political and economic mechanisms, which constrain the national policies of developing countries of the South. Faced with the G8, which plays the role of a totally illegitimate world board of directors, African social movements are organising themselves to formulate alternatives to current neo-liberal policies and are firmly resolved to show their determination.

* Mrs. Barry Amanita Toure is chairperson of CAD-Mali (Coalition for African Alternatives Debt and Development)
E.mail : [email protected]

* This article was translated by Andrew Tichaenzana Manyawu ( [email protected]) For the French version of this article please click on the link below.

* Please send comments to [email protected]
In a small corner of Mali far from the fanfare of the G8 summit in Gleneagles, Scotland, social movements and civil society activists will meet from 6-9 July to discuss international political and economic mechanisms which constrain the national policies of developing countries of the South. “Faced with the G8, which plays the role of a totally illegitimate world board of directors, African social movements are organising themselves to formulate alternatives to current neo-liberal policies and are firmly resolved to show their determination,” writes Barry Amanita Toure.

G8, Tony Blair’s Commission for Africa and debt

George Dor


In the context of this week’s G8 meeting, George Dor critiques the recent debt cancellation “deal” for Africa, the Blair Commission for Africa and the rise of Paul Wolfowitz to the top job at the World Bank. He concludes that they represent “nothing other than a new means of continuing the exploitation initiated under the times of conquest, slavery and colonialism”.

The upcoming G8 meeting or, more accurately as regards economic matters, the G7, to be held in Edinburgh, UK, will put the spotlight on Tony Blair’s Commission for Africa and the issue of debt.

Much has been made of the commission on the release of its report in March and the announcement on debt consequent on the meeting of Finance Ministers in preparation for the G7. But, at most, these developments amount to little more than a reflection of the need to react to the persistence of the activities of Jubilee and other social movements over the years. A closer look at these initiatives suggests very little to celebrate.

Debt “Cancellation” and Control of Africa’s Economies

Starting with the debt issue, the ministers announced an amount of debt to be cancelled of a mere US$40 billion for African and other countries. This is a fraction of the total debt of African countries of US$300 billion and of countries in the South of US$2 400 billion. It is less than the amount of more than US$50 billion that the United States spends EACH YEAR on its illegitimate occupation of Iraq.

It also compares poorly with the G7 offering in Cologne, Germany, in 1999 of US$100 billion. Moreover, the intermittent promises of the G7 include amounts promised before but not fulfilled. In other words, they are little more than recycled promises.

In the case of the Cologne announcement, the real intention was not to provide debt relief but to rescue the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank from their crisis of legitimacy and enforce their continued control over the economic policies of the countries in the South. The institutions were strengthened in the form of the Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility (PRGF) and Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers (PRSPs). Of course, these new initiatives were also quickly exposed for what they really are, structural adjustment in new guise.

Most importantly, the current offering, like that of 1999, is contingent on countries implementing economic reforms, in other words it is premised on a fundamental difference with the Jubilee South slogan, “total and unconditional debt cancellation”. This is cancellation for countries that have gone through the IMF and WB hoops, those that accept these institutions’ structural adjustment conditions. In other words, it is another deal to strengthen the IMF and WB.

Previously, the G8, IMF and WB have used debt as an instrument to dictate our economies in the form of making loans for debt servicing conditional on IMF and WB policies. Now debt relief/cancellation and grants are being put forward as the new instruments to dictate our economies. If a country wants relief, it first has to meet the prescribed conditions, it has to toe the line.

A related critical point is that debt relief/cancellation does not necessarily translate into more money to spend on meeting people’s needs. The relief may indeed result in less debt servicing, but this is only forthcoming if countries have agreed to the conditions that include cuts in government spending and promotion of the private sector. Indeed, this is the case in Zambia: in order to jump through the hoops to be included in the G7 list of 18 countries, it had to further cut state expenditure over and above the decades of cuts that the debt regime had already forced on the country. That is to say, it will get cancellation with less money to spend on people’s needs.

On the word “cancellation”, this does seem to be an advance on the previous rhetoric of debt “relief”, but the offer only covers 18 countries and it is not yet clear whether it amounts to 100 percent cancellation even for this short list of countries. In the case of the Latin American countries, for example, much of their debt is related to a multilateral institution, the Interamerican Development Bank.

The Blair Commission, Neoliberalism and the International Financial Institutions

As regards the Blair Commission, in its opening lines it states, “For its part, Africa must accelerate reform.” There are two important issues here. First, the report suffers from the recurrent syndrome of blaming the victim for corruption, conflict and war. There are indeed too many instances of African leaders who are guilty of one or more of these charges. But, the role of the Northern countries in slavery, colonialism and the imposition of neoliberal policies and the impact of these Northern interventions on poverty and death across the continent are simply ignored.

Secondly, while the report more explicitly refers to reform of political governance in order to address corruption and conflict, it also makes repeated references to various forms of “economic reforms”. In other words, in failing to address the neoliberal cause of so much of Africa’s current destitution, it simply reiterates that Africa must continue to follow this neoliberal path at a faster pace.

This is perhaps most evident in relation to the report’s treatment of the multilateral institutions. It fails dismally to address the negative impact of the World Bank and IMF on the destruction of African economies and the poverty and death that this has led to. It has been estimated that World Bank and IMF structural adjustment programmes are responsible for the deaths of 19 000 children in the world every day. Yet, the report simply asserts that “The African Development Bank needs to be strengthened… The IMF and World Bank need to give higher priority to Africa’s development.”

Paul Wolfowitz, Military Invasion and Economic War

It is no small surprise that the new President of the World Bank, Paul Wolfowitz, echoed this call and visited the continent immediately on assuming office. Wolfowitz was the architect of the invasion and occupation of Iraq, which led to the expansion of United States military influence in the Middle East and the awarding of multi-million and billion dollar contracts in Iraq to corporations with close ties to the Republican Party leadership.

He has a history of being against détente and arms control during the years of the Cold War with the Soviet Union. He supported Asian dictators like the Indonesian General Suharto on behalf of the Reagan administration. He has been a persistently strong proponent of more spending on defense.

Wolfowitz was eagerly pushing for regime change in Iraq well before 9/11. He defined leadership as, “not lecturing and posturing and demanding, but demonstrating that your friends will be protected and taken care of, that your enemies will be punished, and that those who refuse to support you will regret having done so." He helped convince George Bush 1 to use force to remove Saddam Hussein from Kuwait, and urged Bill Clinton to turn his attention “to implementing a strategy for removing Saddam’s regime from power.”

He lied about the purported weapons of mass destruction and claimed, "Intelligence about terrorism is inherently murky, and the US must be prepared to act on less-then perfect information.” He later admitted that oil was a significant reason for the invasion and occupation, stating that North Korea will only be treated to sanctions because it is not sitting on “an ocean of oil”.

The sinister combination of George Bush’s appointment of his man in Iraq to lead the World Bank with the call for the World Bank to play a more significant role in Africa is now being pushed as a boost for Africa’s development. Wolfowitz’ role in the destruction of Iraq and the World Bank’s role in poverty and death on the African continent are being brushed under the carpet. Trevor Manuel, South Africa’s Minister of Finance, described Wolfowitz as a ‘wonderful individual, perfectly capable’. Even some critics are suggesting that Wolfowitz be given a chance in his new role and that the World Bank be given yet another chance on the continent.

Wolfowitz visited Nigeria, Burkino Faso, Rwanda and South Africa from 12 to 18 June. Jubilee South Africa and the Anti-War Coalition organised two demonstrations on 17 June, one outside the offices of the World Bank’s International Finance Corporation and the other at the Gauteng Provincial Department of Finance and Economic Affairs. The message was clear: “Paul Wolfowitz is not welcome in South Africa, he must go home! The World Bank, its partner, the IMF and related international financial institutions should be shut down!”

For Jubilee South Africa, the opposition to these institutions is based on both their role in the use of debt to impose structural adjustment in the countries of the South as well as their impact on South Africa. The World Bank and IMF supported the Apartheid regime and its institutions in the form of substantial loans until they were instructed to stop doing so. They have returned in the post-Apartheid era to shape the country’s neoliberal macroeconomic and social policies, manifesting in rising unemployment and lack of access to social services.

The Blair Commission, Trade and Resources

The Blair Commission’s handling of trade issues also reflects its insistence that Africa insert itself into the neoliberal global world. It calls on Africa to produce cheaper goods for the world market and suggests that rich countries allow African goods somewhat more access to their markets. In other words, African countries are being told to continue on the path of orientating their productive activities towards exports at the expense of producing the goods and services needed by the people of Africa.

The report’s recommendations on trade must be seen within the broader context of a world in which the World Trade Organisation (WTO) has assumed enormous power and in which unbalanced regional trade agreements are being foisted on African countries. African economies are being opened up to the goods of Northern countries, undermining local production and resulting in increasing unemployment. The report’s approach will, at best, offer limited opportunities to larger-scale private sector enterprises with the capacity to engage in export activities, while continuing to undermine small-scale production, rural economic activity, food security and the like.

The commission does highlight some of the most glaring manifestations of Northern exploitation of the continent. For example, it talks of “conflict resources” and implicitly acknowledges that Northern banks are holding stolen assets, Northern corporations are guilty of making bribes, and the oil, minerals and other extractive industries are less than open about their payments. However, its recommendations in this regard are by and large vague. It notes that “assets stolen from the people of Africa by corrupt leaders must be repatriated” and “Firms who bribe should be refused export credits.” From previous experience, there just isn’t the political will or clout to give effect to these recommendations.

As for resources, the commission is very much in keeping with the meagre offerings of the Finance Ministers in relation to debt. It suggests a mere US$25 billion per year to be committed by donor countries, to be implemented by 2010. This could be doubled by 2015, subject to the condition that “good governance in Africa must continue to advance.”

It argues that half of this amount should go to education and health. It makes positive recommendations on removing primary school and patient fees, but instructions of a similar kind by the United States Congress to the Treasury, World Bank and IMF have gone unheeded before. Most significantly, the pennies proposed in the report won’t come near to restoring the levels of finance to health and education on the continent so consistently undermined by the World Bank and the IMF in the decades of imposed structural adjustment.

Finally, the report argues that a third of the 25 billion a year should go to “growth and poverty reduction”, a euphemism for an increased role for the private sector and a “doubling of expenditure on infrastructure”. This includes large, regional transport and power projects. To date, projects of this sort have realised large profits for Northern and South African corporations at the expense of increasing indebtedness and environmental destruction on the continent.

There are substantial similarities and convergences between the Blair Commission and Thabo Mbeki’s New Partnership for Africa’s Development (Nepad). This is particularly so in their neoliberal orientation towards the World Bank, IMF, trade and large infrastructure projects. The report has no qualms about exposing Mbeki’s capitulation to the neoliberal approach in stating that, “The developed world must support the African Union’s Nepad programme to build public/private partnerships in order to create a stronger climate for growth, investment and jobs.”

The Blair Commission and the G7 Finance Ministers’ announcement on debt thus represent no more than two additional moments in the decades of neoliberal exploitation of the continent. This is, in turn, nothing other than a new means of continuing the exploitation initiated under the times of conquest, slavery and colonialism.

* George Dor is Jubilee South Africa General Secretary.

* Please send comments to [email protected]
In the context of this week’s G8 meeting, George Dor critiques the recent debt cancellation “deal” for Africa, the Blair Commission for Africa and the rise of Paul Wolfowitz to the top job at the World Bank. He concludes that they represent “nothing other than a new means of continuing the exploitation initiated under the times of conquest, slavery and colonialism”.

Majority world voices on the effects of G8


'Raised Voices: Testimony from the majority world on the effects of G8 polices on their lives' is a multi-media project that captures a diversity of voices from varying perspectives in text, audio and video. Raised Voices on the G8 captures the viewpoints of people from around the world in countries such as Brazil, South Africa, India, West Papua, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Kenya and more. Below we have reproduced five Raised Voices from Africa. To read more Raised Voices and to download and video and audio files of those interviewed, visit the Raised Voices website at

Tayo from Nigeria on corruption

I am Tayo Adesina. I am from Nigeria. I'd like to speak on the issue of corruption. People in the West have talked about corruption in Africa, especially as it pertains to African leaders. But it is quite important to note the corruption in Africa has a direct bearing with the relationship between the West and Africa. Western companies operating in Africa have been vectors of corruption. So have banks in the West. So there is no way you can talk about corruption in Africa without dragging the West into it. The day the West stops being corrupt that is when corruption in Africa will stop. Without the West cutting the wings of their companies. Without the West cutting the wings of their banks, the proceeds of some of our vital resources in Africa will continue to be diverted to the West. And so African peoples will continue to suffer. And so I believe that Western leaders should try as much as possible to educate their people about the evils of corruption in Africa and then it will have an effect on African leadership. Once corruption stops then people in Africa will have a new beginning. Thank you.

Kemi from Nigeria on migration

I feel the policies of the G8 has really affected the Nigerian people because these days you know we hear of Nigerian immigrants everywhere as illegal immigrants. And it's mostly the policies of the Western countries that has actually pushed people out of Nigeria. Because the high level of unemployment, the poverty and the educational policies too. It has really affected the young people in Nigeria because their parents can not actually pay for their school fees, because part of the IMF conditionalities is that they should 'hands off' tertiary education in Nigeria. And that has really affected the Nigerian people, because they can hardly feed themselves.

Raufu from Nigeria on debt

My name is Abdul Raufu Mustafa. I'm from Nigeria and I live in Cowley in England. The issue that Nigeria really is bothered about in the conduct of the G8 countries is essentially debt. In the 70s Nigeria borrowed something in the region of 17 billion dollars. Not all of this money got to Nigeria because of collusion between corrupt Nigerian officials and corrupt bankers. But since then Nigeria has paid over 30 billion dollars and still owes another 34 billion dollars in back interest and penalties and the lot. And that has become a major problem for the country because a lot of resources are being diverted just to service the debt. And this is happening in the situation where 7 million Nigerian kids are not having the most basic of primary education. The health system in the country is in dire condition, the universities, the roads, virtually all public infrastructure. That is a situation which is partly contributed to by internal problems but also no doubt by the debt burden. This is an unsustainable debt. And absolutely something has to be done about it at the level of the G8 so that ordinary people in Nigeria can get a look in to the issues of life.

Raj from South Africa on trade

One of the things that's gonna happen at the G8 conference is that the G8 countries are going to talk about agriculture. These countries are the ones that have been pushing on the world a vastly unequal system of agricultural trade. A system that demands that farmers in the Global South turn their fields from growing food for themselves and their communities into food for export. The argument being that this is the most efficient use of their land.

Miles from Zimbabwe on Aid

I'm Miles Tendi. I'm Zimbabwean, I'm a student here in Oxford University. Now George Bush's proposed budget for 2005/6 amounts to $2,570 billion. 22 billion is going to foreign aid. Of that 22 billion, 35% is going to Israel alone. Israel has a population of 6 million and its land size is about the same as Swaziland. Swaziland happens to one of the smallest African countries. Now on top of that 48 African countries, with the combined population of 600 million will receive only 1 billion dollars. Amazing! Even more amazing is the fact that most Americans think that the US government spends 24% of its federal budget on foreign aid when in reality it's only 0.1% of the federal budget that goes towards aid. And I think that's the crux of the matter. There is no electoral price to pay for Western leaders when they do not enhance policies that'll push development forward in the under-developed world.

'Raised Voices: Testimony from the majority world on the effects of G8 polices on their lives' is a multi-media project that captures a diversity of voices from varying perspectives in text, audio and video. Raised Voices on the G8 captures the viewpoints of people from around the world in countries such as Brazil, South Africa, India, West Papua, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Kenya and more. Below we have reproduced five Raised Voices from Africa. To read more Raised Voices and to download and video and audio files of those interviewed, visit the Raised Voices website at

Nobel Peace Prize Winner addresses the African Diaspora

ENTERPRISE AFRICA, African Diaspora & Development Day, 2005

Wangari Maathai


'One of the worst outcomes of injustices is poverty,' says Wangari Maathai, 2004 Nobel Peace Prize Winner. 'It robs human beings of their dignity.' Professor Maathai spoke at the Africa Diaspora and Development Day in London on 2 July 2005 where thousands of Africans met to discuss their own future, while across the other side of London, a largely white, apolitical road show known as Live8 was busy telling Africans what they really needed. 'When people are poor and when they are reduced to beggars, they feel weak, humiliated, disrespected and undignified,' said Maathai. ' They hide alone in corners and dare not raise their voices. They are therefore, neither heard nor seen. They do not organize but often suffer in isolation and in desperation. Yet all human beings deserve respect and dignity. Indeed it should be unacceptable to push other human beings to such levels of indiginity. Even before any other rights, perhaps it may be time to campaign for all human beings to have the right to a life of dignity: a life devoid of poverty in the midst of plenty because such poverty demonstrates gross inequalities. As long as millions of people live in poverty and indignity, humanity should feel diminished. A time such as this gives all of us, and especially those in leadership, the opportunity to reduce poverty. There is a lot of poverty in Africa. This is largely due to economic injustices, which must be addressed not only by the rich industrialized countries but also by leaders in Africa.' For the full text of her speech, click on the link below.
One of the worst outcomes of injustices is poverty, says Wangari Maathai, 2004 Nobel Peace Prize Winner. It robs human beings of their dignity. When people are poor and when they are reduced to beggars, they feel weak, humiliated, disrespected and undignified. They hide alone in corners and dare not raise their voices. They are therefore, neither heard nor seen. They do not organize but often suffer in isolation and in desperation. Yet all human beings deserve respect and dignity. Indeed it should be unacceptable to push other human beings to such levels of indiginity. Even before any other rights, perhaps it may be time to campaign for all human beings to have the right to a life of dignity: a life devoid of poverty in the midst of plenty because such poverty demonstrates gross inequalities. As long as millions of people live in poverty and indignity, humanity should feel diminished. A time such as this gives all of us, and especially those in leadership, the opportunity to reduce poverty. There is a lot of poverty in Africa. This is largely due to economic injustices, which must be addressed not only by the rich industrialized countries but also by leaders in Africa.

Nothing short of a paradigm shift will radically alter the plight of the poor

Thomas Deve


Expect sugar-coated statements and hot air from G8 leaders, says Thomas Deve, who discusses various mobilizations to injustices including the World Social Forum and Global Call to Action Against Poverty. The greatest asset for mobilization in Africa, he says, is the testimony poor communities, unemployed youths, women, children and the marginalized can make on how market based dogmas and principles have unleashed untold suffering in Africa.

Once upon a time, most of us used to fancy witty statements from "Red" literature like the Communist Manifesto and highlighted the primacy of social action that was necessary to confront Bourgeois institutions. We all accepted that the executive of a modern state was nothing but a committee for managing the day-to-day affairs of the bourgeoisie, hence the need to study contradictions in society triggered by industrialisation and control over key means of production and people's welfare. The state was correctly portrayed as an arena of struggle, hence the desire to work towards a dictatorship of the proletariat and trigger the withering of the state as a precondition for an egalitarian society. The consensus was on the need for ideological clarity, good arguments and the passion to ignite citizens of the world to belong to movements and organisations seeking to build alternatives to capitalist societies.

With all roads leading to Gleneagles this coming week, a great opportunity is presented which demands that we audit our analytical arsenals and state of mobilisation, and review levels of solidarity which we have shown in struggling against bodies of thought and action giving legitimacy to the G8. Many questions do arise. For example, are there any future scenarios we can project on how the G8 has positioned itself, taking into account that vocal constituencies are telling it that: "Efforts to tackle poverty and sustainable development, as pledged in the UN Millennium Declaration, are grossly inadequate. Governments too often fail to address the needs of their citizens. Aid from rich countries is inadequate in both quality and quantity, and promises of debt cancellation have not materialized. Rich countries have yet to act on their repeated pledges to tackle unfair trade practices."

On our part, will those who have spent their time organising against the G8 take to the streets, issue petitions, position papers and other related actions we have witnessed in the past? If we borrow insights from the struggles of the past and positive passions that used to be triggered by the "Red" experience and questions in my opening remarks, it is clear that the G8 experts and strategists are not sleeping. They recognise that millions of people the world over are not accessing basic necessities in a sustainable manner that will allow the rich to sleep quietly. There is consensus that the G8 is a cabal of the world's richest countries that has overseen the world economy during the debt crisis; introduced aid conditions that forced recipient countries to liberalise, and developed unfair trade rules.

In order for the harmful effects to be redressed, these countries have to be part of the solution, and the time to act is now. Gaps of inequality are increasing and restlessness has increased in both camps of the poor and the rich. Those organising against the G8 have grown in numbers and have visible movements on the ground whose demands are now much more focussed and coordinated globally to such an extent that the rich and powerful have to be seen responding to their demands.

It is this realisation and growing awareness on the dynamics of modern poverty which has led the G8 to move a bit on calls for debt cancellation, more and better aid, and enhance dialogue on global partnerships targeting unfair trade rules. Damning statistics are being churned out everyday on how bad the situation is and all these cannot be ignored when we confront Gleneagles. It has been argued repeatedly that one third of deaths - some 18 million people a year or 50,000 per day - are due to poverty-related causes. This amounts to at least 270 million people since 1990, the majority being women and children, and roughly equal to the population of the United States. No less than 535 million still subsist on levels way below the poverty line - earning less than US$1 a day. Almost 185 million people are unemployed and half of these are young people between 15-24 years of age. For every US$1 in grant aid to developing countries, more than US$13 are taken out in debt repayments. For every three seconds that pass in 2005 without action, one more child will die from poverty. That is at least 30 000 children and at most, 50 000 people who will lose their lives from preventable causes. And finally, 245 million children between the ages of 5 and 17 continue to be forced to work (one in six of the world's children).

Poverty is not a given. 50 000 people dying a day from poverty is not acceptable and these telling statistics have inspired many people to continue fighting until figures of this nature are a relic of history rather than the reality of today. It is the situation of real people behind these statistics that has led many of us to use the white-arm band for example, and express our readiness to rededicate energy towards heightened awareness on the need to challenge systems and values of domination that cause this state of affairs. We still put on red T-shirts and feel that value has been added to critical consciousness building as was the case in the mid 70s when we went to a 200 litre fuel containers and tore out the black rubber lining on the lids meant to keep it air tight, proceeded to use them as wrist bangles for proudly proclaiming "Black power" as enounced in the then dominant Black consciousness philosophies of the time.

Back to the G8, our account would be incomplete if we do not acknowledge the role of the World Social Forum (WSF) in bringing together movements that have clearly put forward anti-capitalist struggles at the heart of how they challenge the G8. WSF processes have given some ideological coherence and clarity to many movements as they are proclaiming that "Our world is not for sale" and "Another world is possible." The above calls and pronouncements motivated one of the strongest voices challenging the hegemony of the G8. It is not a far fry from the truth, that since January 2005, most of these voices have coalesced around the "The Global Call to Action against Poverty"(GCAP), which has been described as a fast-growing coalition of millions of people and organisations united in the belief that 2005 offers an unprecedented opportunity for change.

It has simple demands:

- Increased aid from the G7 countries to 0.7% of GNI.
- More and better aid.
- The removal of trade barriers and unfair trade practices that inhibit the development of the poorer economies.
- There should be more trade justice.
- Debt cancellation for countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America
- Maximisation of efforts to eliminate poverty and achieve the Millennium Development Goals and more in a way which is sustainable, and implemented in a way that is democratic, transparent and accountable to citizens.

GCAP, whose organisations and movements are active in over 70 countries and boasts at least 150 million supporters, is organised around charities, trade unions and women's groups, to non-governmental and religious movements that span every culture across the world. Not all its constituencies are for radical reform and revolution, but feel good to lend their weight behind a campaign ready to push more vigorously for unconditional debt cancellation for developing countries for example. Not all in GCAP will say "Smash the WTO", but they are there to make sure that the slogan "One struggle with many fronts!" becomes a reality and meaningful, hence one of the action moments targeted is the Hong Kong WTO December ministerial.

Its diversity is testament to the strength of the movement and billed as one of the world's largest anti-poverty coalitions. It is a strong voice that cannot be ignored as has been shown by the latest coverage it is getting from corporate media that has largely concentrated on GCAP symbols and placing less emphasis on the nature of its demands.

For us in Africa, our greatest asset is the testimony poor communities, unemployed youths, women, children and the marginalized can make on how market based dogmas and principles have unleashed untold suffering in our part of the globe. We have incontrovertible evidence that liberalisation has led to loss of meaningful access to basic social services. Privatisation instigated by market-based public sector reform processes has rendered many services unaffordable for the majority of our citizens. Conditionalities attached to some reform processes spearheaded by institutions that function as extensions of the G8 have emasculated the State in developing countries, leaving it with very little flexibility when it comes to policy options that are pro-poor and defending its people against offensive interests spreading fast via corporate driven globalisation.

In this respect, nothing short of a paradigm shift will radically alter the plight of the poor. We have acknowledged that new languages will be adopted to reify what is happening and pacify the struggling masses through participatory processes like Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers (PRSPs) and HIPC initiatives, but the essence of solutions underpinning dialogue in the G8 still reinforce market driven fundamentalism despite overwhelming evidence that it is a fundamentally flawed world outlook when it comes to redressing poverty related inequities be-devilling the world. The G8 on its part will produce pronouncements sugar-coated with hot air and radical rhetoric but not good enough to stop the other wave - rooted in brimstone and fire and occasioned by real lived poverty experiences that can only be ended by meaningful social and economic justice.

* Thomas Deve ([email protected]) coordinates the Economic Policy Project at MWENGO (, an organisation whose mission is to nurture a community of values by strengthening and mobilising African human resources in support of organisations fighting for social justice.

* Please send comments to [email protected]
Expect sugar-coated statements and hot air from G8 leaders, says Thomas Deve, who discusses various mobilizations to injustices including the World Social Forum and Global Call to Action Against Poverty. The greatest asset for mobilization in Africa, he says, is the testimony poor communities, unemployed youths, women, children and the marginalized can make on how market based dogmas and principles have unleashed untold suffering in Africa.

The face of tyranny and making poverty history

Makeda Tsegaye


Africa needs leaders, says Makeda Tsegaya. Africans have known this for years and have long campaigned for more democratic governance. The best service the world could give Africa would be to support their struggles to transform leadership on the continent.

Last weekend saw a large number of gatherings in London and nine other cities around the world for a rock concert aimed at mobilizing support for the ‘Make Poverty History’ campaign. Hundreds of thousands of marchers in Edinburgh echoed the political message of this concert, namely debt-relief, fair trade, and better and more aid for Africa and other poor regions of the world. Others expressed their views on the subject via text and e-mail messages. Judging from the sample of messages transmitted via the international media, many seemed to be supporting the cause of the rock concert, while others doubted the efficacy of such campaign on a continent plagued by authoritarianism and corruption. Yet, a few others appeared to give the impression that poverty in Africa is a problem endemic to and created by the continent. As such, the role of developed nations in engendering the problem is hardly, if ever, interrogated. This article intends to bring a few points into the limelight based on the political messages of the campaign with a view to making a positive contribution to the on-going debate regarding the perception and eradication of poverty in Africa.

Indeed, supporters of “Make Poverty History’ have raised the profile of important issues that have significant implications for development in Africa, particularly fair trade and debt-relief. However, a critical factor for poverty eradication in Africa that was missing from the campaign is responsive governance. In fact, the lack of accountable governance and committed leadership in Africa have been the main source of misery and abject poverty on a continent blessed with so much riches. A continent that is still plentiful despite years of massive exploitation from people within and outside the continent. In fact, many Africans are beginning to realize that their vulnerability is a predictable outcome of years of tyranny and not a punishment from God or a biblical curse on the continent. This realization is now leading to a widespread demand for democratically elected leaders. Leaders, who genuinely strive to work in the interest of the people to create better opportunities for employment and economic growth, access to quality education and health care services, and most of all who are accountable to their constituencies and not to domestic cliques or external actors. They are determined to end poverty and a miserable existence sustained by an act of charity year after year.

Nonetheless, as surprising as this may sound to those who cannot imagine Africa beyond making appeals for humanitarian assistance and peacekeeping forces, such desperately needed changes have, indeed, began taking their course on the continent. African civil society organizations are thriving and concerned citizens are promoting freedom, liberty and true independence individually and collectively. Africans are now more convinced than ever before that without a dramatic change in governance and leadership, no development model can bear fruit on their continent.

With this realization, more and more people are exerting utmost pressure on dictators and corrupt leaders within the bounds of legality and peaceful resistance. A recent electoral process in Ethiopia exemplifies a situation in which citizens took advantage of a small window of opportunity to peacefully challenge tyranny, abject poverty, starvation and war. Unfortunately, their efforts to bring peaceful transformation were frustrated by despicable tyranny, which responded to the resistance via mass killings and torture. Yet, the world watched in silence and ignored the plight of Ethiopians for justice. Isn’t it ironic that the world continues to reward dictators and megalomaniacs in Africa on whose watch millions have perished due to starvation, poverty and war? Does the world genuinely believe in ‘making poverty history’ in Africa without the transfer of power from the hands of a few ruthless and self-centered individuals to the people? I hope we do not have to wait for another rock concert in twenty years to find the answers.

The demand for good governance in Africa should not be viewed as a far-fetched intellectual exercise. It is a reasonable demand, as it determines the fate of millions facing unfair and preventable tragedy. It is possible to transform the life of Africans by promoting good governance, which ensures inclusiveness, accountability, and full participation of the people. However, the world should not be deceived by dictators, who often change their tactics to resemble democratic norms, while their underlying motivation is to maintain power at all costs. In fact, the underlying realities in most African countries and the plight of the people are more accurate measures of the extent of democratic reforms than superficial declarations from dictators. Poverty eradication will be an empty declaration as long as dictators and corrupt rulers in Africa are allowed to continue oppressing the people and abusing domestic and foreign resources. It is apparent that the leaders of democratic nations can use political and economic support as leverage to put pressure on dictators to accept the will of the people.

The ultimate objective of sanction is not to hurt the people but to exert pressure on dictators and tyrants. Therefore, sanction can be effective when it is applied to support a struggle that is spearheaded by the people. Regrettably, such a powerful tool is not used when the condition is ripe. For instance, providing any kind of support to the ruling party in Ethiopia now would send the wrong message to Ethiopians who are struggling to end years of oppression and poverty. Ethiopia is a country that continues to inspire rock stars twenty years after its first agonizing images of famine hit the screens of the world at Live Aid in 1985. After twenty years, the agony of Ethiopians has multiplied with over 14 million (20%) of the population declared as ‘drought-affected’ in 2003. Hence, it is clear that the vulnerability of Ethiopians multiplied under oppressive and incompetent leadership. There is no better time than now for the world to recognize that it is not more aid that can change the situation in Ethiopia. Ethiopians have long realized that without democratically elected, committed and able leadership, no volume of aid can save their children dying from starvation, preventable diseases, poverty and war. Their full and remarkable participation in the elections of May 15 was their way of saying enough to starvation and enough to poverty. What they need from the world is enough pressure on the ruling party to respect the rule of law and transfer power to elected leaders.

Evidently, Ethiopia is also affected by the debt burden and unfair trade like any other African country. Still, the proliferation of massive human tragedy in the country cannot be explained without thoroughly examining issues related to debt burden and unfair trade. In other words, one needs to raise questions like how are loans utilized, what kind of development and trade policies are in place and to what extent are they implemented, how are resources from domestic and outside sources managed, and what is the level of the public’s participation? Clearly, these questions force us to examine the nature of governance and leadership in the country. Simply put, increasing aid is not going to prevent Ethiopian or other African children from dying. I am not summarily denigrating the value of aid. It is apparent that appropriate, well-targeted and judiciously administered aid could enhance economic growth. Nevertheless, experience shows that some form of aid in Africa seems to be doing more harm than good. Hence, the role of aid in promoting development in Africa should not be overestimated. The benefits of aid are short-term and the best aid can achieve is to fill gaps and not to be the driving force in development. On the contrary, aid can impede the development of good governance by giving a false impression that needs are met which, in turn, erode accountability by legitimizing dependency on foreign aid.

Conversely, it is indisputable that trade is at the core of economic growth and prosperity; hence, it is appropriate and legitimate that Africans demand fair trade. However, as an important player in international trade, Africa must have the power to make trade a ‘fair game’. In other words, Africa needs to be equipped with the right tools to ensure that trade becomes a ‘fair game’. Fist of all, Africa must have competent and independent leadership that is capable of harnessing its human and capital resources in developing its own macroeconomic policies. This includes making informed decisions on what to trade with whom and in what form. At the same time, Africa needs to have accountable leadership that refrains from engaging in illicit trade with external ‘actors’ for shameful personal gains. Africa must also metamorphose from a raw-material supplier to a genuine trader in order to fully benefit from its trade, thereby, creating employment opportunities and securing better terms of trade. Simultaneously, Africa needs powerful and ingenious entrepreneurs, well-trained and smart negotiators, efficient producers, far-sighted and creative policy makers and so on to take full advantage of international trade. In fact, Africa already has some of this expertise on the continent and its vast Diaspora around the world. This is why visionary and competent leadership is imperative in Africa to harness existing skills and knowledge in order to create wealth and equitable distribution of income among responsible and hard working citizens.

It sum, it is evident that Africa’s most deadly pandemic is lack of committed leadership. Africa needs to have leaders, elected by the people to work for the people. Therefore, the world could do a great service to Africans by supporting their struggle to transform leadership on the continent. Moreover, providing political and economic support to dictators when it is clear that they are not working in the interest of the people is not only morally unacceptable but also an unforgivable crime to humanity.

* Makeda Tsegaye is an Ethiopian woman with a Masters degree in International Peace Studies (with specialization in Economic Development and Peace) currently working for an international development agency in Nairobi, Kenya.

* Please send comments to [email protected]
Africa needs leaders, says Makeda Tsegaya. Africans have known this for years and have long campaigned for more democratic governance. The best service the world could give Africa would be to support their struggles to transform leadership on the continent.

We are fatigued with charity, we know we can do it ourselves

Q&A with Maria Shaba of Tango


Even those who remember the word "Ujamaa", and know it was the philosophy behind Julius Nyrere's attempt to collectivise agriculture in the 1960s, probably wonder whether it has anything more than academic relevance to today's debates about development. In this interview with BBC Newsnight’s Paul Mason (reproduced here with permission of Paul Mason) Marie Shaba, chairperson of the Tanzanian Association of NGOs, discusses how the G8 can assist Africa’s development.

PAUL MASON: What's the one principle that drives you as an activist?

MARIE SHABA: Justice - I've seen a lot of injustices in my life. I was born in the 1940s - as a young person I've seen the struggle for independence not only for Tanzania but for the whole continent and that's what's been driving me.

PM: What are the biggest problems facing you that the G8 could actually do something about?

MS: One of the most important things they have to do is keep their promises - we are dealing here with a human race, and when you make a promise and you want the support of somebody, then you have to fulfil your promise. Africa has gone through so much and not been able to get its fair deal in trade in governance, everything. The G8 has to recognise and accept that.

PM: Give me a concrete example of the kind of poverty you have to deal with?

MS: These days we have a very strange kind of impoverishment: most of our industries - the parastatals - have been privatised. And you find women who used to be the backbone in agriculture, especially for food security, have all gone into towns now - because with the Structural Adjustment Programmes a lot of subsidies were taken away from the farmers so most of the men left the women in the village - and without subsidies women could not farm even for subsistence. So most of them are moving into towns. And this is a great phenomenon in my country, because then you have to depend on food from others - and you have no respect if you depend on food from others.

So what is happening you find women now: they are employed in the flower industry in Arusha. They employ a lot of women because they are cheaper, they are careful in the way they handle flowers, but they are not protected health-wise, and they deal with a lot of pesticides, they suffer a lot of diseases: they are like human beings saturated with pesticide in their bodies. And when you are sick they just chuck you out, employ another one. And if this woman falls sick and dies, she leaves behind orphans. So in our country we are saying "for every rose that somebody in Europe wears there is the life of an African woman". So this kind of impoverishment is quite severe and it's frightening, and its all because of liberalisation.

PM: What are people doing for themselves? When people in this country (the United Kingdom) faced problems like that, in the 19th century, they got organised to do something about it...

MS: We come from a different background: immediately after independence we had our own brand of socialism - and the main part was to have a human rights culture: that's what Ujamaa meant. And self-reliance. We had a one-party system so our mindset was totally different - there was a lot of trust, faith that the government would take care of people. That they would enter contracts for the interests of the people. But after 1987 when Structural Adjustment came in, we began to see different behaviour - and a lot of people didn't realise what was happening.

PM: So what are people doing now?

MS: We are organising - the NGOs have been in the forefront: education, to make people realise they have the power to change things through elections, through organising in groups, support each other. If people are not organising, we wouldn't be here. It means people are organising to find solutions - especially women in the informal sector. They cushion the impact of some of the economic policies, because in the informal sector they sell goods from small producers, and at the end of the day they survive: if it were not for these small producers - the so-called illiterate women, we'd be telling a different story.

PM: A lot of people here ask: why can't Africans help themselves - why can't they do what South Korea has done and go from farming to industry in one big leap?

MS: That's blaming the victim - we are here not because we are lazy, unintelligent. If I was the leader of Tanzania, and the economy was down, and here is somebody who says: "I can give you money, BUT" .... the choice is: do you refuse and let your people die, or to agree and hope things get better? That's what happened to most of our leaders; they've been hoping things will change - so its blaming the victim.

PM: If the G8 could only do one thing what would it be?

MS: Fair trade!

PM: But that's not even on the agenda of the G8...

MS: We are wondering why. Because with charity - we are all so fatigued as recipients of charity, begging, when we know we can do it ourselves. The capitalist system is so strong and been there so many years - and they keep on changing their strategies. But it’s just what Emma (Thompson) was saying: capitalism is there to maximise profits. And this means we need to rearrange our mindset.

PM: What is the mood in some of the shanty towns and villages you work in? Do people know about the G8 and the international debate that's going on about African poverty?

MS: No. A lot of people blame the government. That's the immediate thing they can see - they don't understand the intricate issues behind it all. For example our president is on the Africa Commission, and Blair is the chair of G8, so they might be aware that our issues are being discussed - but not much.

PM: So there's no big feeling on the streets - that the G8 must do something, and this is the big chance?

MS: What people are saying is they blame it all on the (African) leaders - so its up to people like us to say we shouldn't blame our leaders because we will just fight each other and let the G8 countries off. Civic education is a process: you (Britain) have been there for a long time; we've been independent only since 1961 and there are a lot of things happening that are happening too fast: but slowly the picture is beginning to unfold.

PM: If it all goes well at Gleneagles, and you get everything you want, what kind of a difference could it make? What would we see in 10 years time?

MS: It will bring back self-confidence. Right now, as Africans, I think we have lost self-esteem - we feel like we are the poorest of the poorest, like we can't even think for ourselves; like everything has to be thought out somewhere in Europe - even how to govern ourselves. So there is lack of self-esteem. But should we get the solidarity and confidence of other people, we have all the resources we need. We are blessed with all the resources: human, material, land - everything. So the support we need should go to strengthening the structures for continuity and transparency, so that more people will know what's happening - and what opportunities are there. That's more important than giving us money to settle things.

And another thing, with trade, would be to help us compete: we need a lot of preparation - and we need to start it locally, or maybe regionally before we can even compete abroad - so we need that space. That's what the G8 can do: give us space to develop at our own pace.

* This article first appeared on the blog NewsNi8gt and is reproduced here with permission of Paul Mason. Visit for more information.

* Please send comments to [email protected]

Even those who remember the word "Ujamaa", and know it was the philosophy behind Julius Nyrere's attempt to collectivise agriculture in the 1960s, probably wonder whether it has anything more than academic relevance to today's debates about development. In this interview with BBC Newsnight’s Paul Mason (reproduced here with permission of Paul Mason) Marie Shaba, chairperson of the Tanzanian Association of NGOs, discusses how the G8 can assist Africa’s development.

Advocacy & campaigns

Against Babangida


A website has been launched by a group of Nigerians, to deter former military dictator, General Ibrahim Babangida from making a come-back. The website,, has as one of its main features a listing of Nigerians tagged "Public Enemies," for promoting or working for the aspiration of Babangida to rule Nigeria again, come year 2007.

Restore the right to housing in Zimbabwe: Sign a petition


"We, associations of inhabitants, international networks, voluntary groups, NGOs, public agencies, citizens of the world, are profoundly hurt by and denounce the ‘Murambatsvina operation’ (sweep away the garbage operation) launched by the government of Zimbabwe."

Sign on letter: What the G8 should do on energy


"We the undersigned call on the Group of 8 (G8) leaders to recognize and act upon the twin, interlinked crises of debt and global warming. Current G8 energy investments are fundamentally at odds with sound development practice. Ongoing public financing of the fossil fuel industry is increasing debt, poverty, and climate change. Urgent action is now required to substantially reduce emissions, reduce fossil fuel dependence, and protect people around the world, especially the vulnerable, the poor and disappearing nations."

Stand up for Africa petition


Visit to sign a petition to make poverty history in Africa.

Pan-African Postcard

White men in dark suits, ageing rockers and the AU summit

Tajudeen Abdul-Raheem


Tajudeen Abdul-Raheem is at a loss for words over the current Live 8 and G8 attention for Africa. “It is like being offered a handkerchief by the same person who is beating the hell out of you,” he writes, preferring to focus his attention on the just-concluded African Union summit of heads of state that took place in Shirte, Libya. It was at this summit, he argues, that decisions about he real future of Africa were being made.

How I wish I could write this article from beginning to end without mentioning the G8, Tony Blair, Geldof or any of the other busy bodies running around like headless chickens claiming they want to help Africa. I will try and try very hard.

One of the difficulties with becoming flavour of the moment is that you forget what you want for yourself as others divest you of the power to help yourself. Everybody loves Africa now and is going to desperate lengths to show why they are our new best friends!

It is like South Africa after the release of Nelson Mandela from prison. Suddenly we could not find any supporters for the loathed apartheid system anymore both inside and outside of South Africa. Even the Boer Nationalist Party that institutionalised apartheid became anti apartheid. Everywhere Mandela went powerful politicians in powerful countries in Europe and America who had shielded the apartheid regime from international sanctions and prevented censure of the racist regime in multi lateral forums including the UN Security Council, Commonwealth, EU, etc were all queuing up to have their pictures taken with the Great Madiba. They all reinvented their political CVs to show how all along they had been fighting for his release and an end to apartheid. One of the worst of this latter day friend of South African Liberation was Margaret Thatcher, who as British Prime Minister resisted any criticisms of apartheid South Africa, invited Botha on a state visit to London and described the ANC as a 'typical terrorist organisation like the IRA.'

Africa is in a similar situation now. It is difficult to know how to react to this sudden show of concern for a people that have been so marginalized and humiliated for such a long time. It is like being offered a handkerchief by the same person who is beating the hell out of you.

After last Saturday's multi-city parties the whole world is now programmed to look up to eight white men in dark suits meeting in far away Gleneagles, Scotland, to save Africa. None of them is an African.

Yet a much bigger assembly of another powerful group of people, all of them heads of state from across Africa, were meeting in the Libyan city of Shirte deciding on the future of Africa without a similar focus in the global media.

It is these people through their action and inaction who have the power to change things for the better or worse on this continent. Anybody who really cares about helping Africa needs to know what these group of unfortunately, all men, have been saying to themselves.

The fifth ordinary Summit of the Assembly of the African Union has just ended in Shirte. The leaders amongst other pressing issues had to address themselves to the dances for poverty and pledges for action from outsiders about Africa. They welcomed the initial debt relief package for developing countries out of which 15 African countries will benefit. However they called for universal debt cancellation that benefits all African countries, not just a select few.

This is a logical consensus given previous experience of African countries scandalously competing among themselves about who is more connected in Washington, London or Paris. Individually they sold out but collectively we may regain some dignity and credibility. They have to avoid being played against each other. The separate deal for debt relief for Nigeria is potentially one of those divide and rule tactics. It may limit Nigeria's capacity to talk on behalf of Africa and also neutralise it in bloc negotiations, whether in the WTO or in the IMF/World Bank. My own suspicion is that they have agreed to throw this carrot at Nigeria as an advance compensation for her not to get the much-coveted UN Security Council permanent seat, which will more likely go to South Africa.

Significantly, the AU summit did not dwell so much on aid but rather called for the abolition of unfair trading rules that rig international trade against Africa and asked for a clear timetable for the abolition of these subsidies. One can see that the African leaders are not taken in by various pledges on aid and rather want us to trade our way to prosperity instead of being aided to remain dependent. This contrasts with Prophet Blair's breakthrough in getting a calendar on aid targets. The AU is saying we need some fair-trade not some aid.

These are the messages that the African leaders invited to the G8 as side salads will be taking to Gleneagles. I really wish that these leaders would stop ridiculing themselves by appearing like an NGO lobby group at the Summit of Rich White Men. From next year they should have a face-to-face summit to review any progress on mutually agreed targets. After all that is what the mutual accountability principle in the African Peer Review Mechanism is all about. It is about us judging ourselves and also mutually judging each other with our so-called international partners.

Apart from the response to the G8, the AU summit made numerous decisions on a variety of issues that have direct impact on Africa and Africans in more of a way than anything a group of ageing rockers and an exclusive club of white men will do for Africa.

One of those defining issues is the call by the Brother Leader, Muammar Gadaffi, which President Museveni immediately supported, for an all-African Union government and a dismantling of all barriers to freedom of movement for Africans across Africa. While many dismiss this as hasty and too ambitious I would like to remind them to rewind to the reaction to Gadaffi's call for an acceleration of the integration process through a review of the OAU charter at an Extra ordinary summit in the same city of Shirte in September 1999. Then as now the idea was initially dismissed as far-fetched but within three years we had the African Union. Its institutions are now taking shape and at this summit the Libyan leader was upping the stakes for the AU to rise up to the next phase of the struggle for unity without which we will remain beggars and vulnerable to extra African powers. There is no point in asking the rich countries to open up their markets to us when we close ours against each other. We cannot sustainably globalise without Africanising.

* Dr Tajudeen Abdul-Raheem is General-Secretary of the Pan African Movement, Kampala (Uganda) and Co-Director of Justice Africa. ([email protected] or [email protected])

* Please send comments to [email protected]
Tajudeen Abdul-Raheem is at a loss for words over the current Live 8 and G8 attention for Africa. “It is like being offered a handkerchief by the same person who is beating the hell out of you,” he writes, preferring to focus his attention on the just-concluded African Union summit of heads of state that took place in Shirte, Libya. It was at this summit, he argues, that decisions about he real future of Africa were being made.

Books & arts

African Compass New writing from southern Africa 2005


New writing from southern Africa 2005 is the first book in a three–year series of the US $10 000 HSBC/SA PEN Literary Award. The award is targeted at young writers who are citizens of any country in the SADC (Angola, Botswana, Democratic Republic of Congo, Lesotho, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe).

Ghanaian author wins Commonwealth prize


Alex Agyei-Agyiri's first novel Unexpected Joy at Dawn has won Commendation in the 2005 Commonwealth Writers' Prize, Best First Book Africa Region. A Ghanaian poet, playwright and short story writer, he has previously won the BBC Arts and Africa poetry award, the Ghana Association of writers' Literary Prize and the Valco Award for Literature.

O Vendedor de Passados

by José Eduardo Agualusa


"That divide between fact and fiction in the lives of ordinary people is what Agualusa has tackled with O Vendedor do Passados. Yet he has done so in a format that could easily be described as magical realism, one based in southern Africa. As part of this merging of history as story, numerous characters play a part in the narrative, from Frederick Douglass, the abolitionist, to South African high court judge Albie Sachs and Portuguese poet Fernando Pessoa." - From a review by Richard Bartlett on the website of African Review of Books. Visit to read the full review.

Sixth Caine Prize for African Writing goes to Nigerian


In the year of Africa, S.A. Afolabi from Nigeria has won the sixth Caine Prize for African Writing, Africa's leading literary prize, for Monday Morning from Wasafiri, issue 41, spring 2004. The Chair of the judges, Baroness Young of Hornsey, announced the winner of the US$ 15,000 prize at a dinner held this evening (Monday, 4 July) in the Bodleian Library in Oxford. S.A. Afolabi was born in Kaduna, Nigeria and grew up in various countries, including the Congo, Canada, East Germany and Indonesia. He has been writing for over ten years and has had stories published in Wasafiri, London Magazine, Edinburgh Review, Pretext and others.

Letters & Opinions

An Open Letter to the G8

Network of Ethiopian Scholars


We welcome the intentions to translate into practical action the vision of the Global Call to Action Against Poverty to make it history. Though the systems the G8 leaders are steering are way more complex and not so easily amenable to any good intention to make them deliver to the poor, we hope that any set of serious effort that you collectively undertake makes a difference.

Africa has suffered for too long. Until today the record of the political economy of international aid has been largely unproductive. Africa was trapped in a double bind: if the G8 and others refuse their assistance, Africa loses; if it accepts their assistance, Africa loses also. We hope now for the first time, the G8 are prepared to provide aid by engaging with the political economy of aid, investment and trade without forcing Africa to lose and blaming Africa for it. It is time to provide the kind of assistance that will make Africa a winner and would not put all the blame to it, if things go wrong.

Change of Heart about "Live 8"

Doreen Lwanga


I am writing this letter to applaud the Live 8 events that have happened this past weekend in Berlin, London, Philly and elsewhere in the Western world. I have to say that after a long period of living and being exposed to real life in Western countries, I have become a Western- or to put it more specifically "White-pessimist" and developed a very big ego of Afro-optimism. This is particularly due to the way I have watched, observed and received news about Africa in these countries. The media, regular people and the education system mainly potrays its connection with Africa driven by a culture of pity. So, I had become convinced that white people have no intrinsic interest in Africa or Africans.

However, after watching "Live 8" events on TV in London, Berlin and Philly, I felt a change of heart. People coming out in numbers and thinking about Africa, performing for Africa, sweating for Africa, driving miles from the comfort of their homes for Africa. Although some of us Africans who love Africa very much are saddened by the way Africa is represented in Western audiences, today a part of me feels grateful and sad as well. I wrote to friends in Madagascar, in Senegal, in Uganda and in Nigeria, wondering how many cities in Africa have held similiar events? How many, really, how many places in Africa will you go and there is a band or fundraising event for the war in Northern Uganda or Darfur or Congo or Cote D'Ivoire? Yet if P Diddy or U2 or Snoop or 50 Cents were to come to perform in Africa for commercial purposes, many of us would save our salaries to watch their shows, and give our month(s) payment back to the rich when we cannot even raise money for our fellow Africans. Why don't African artists do this in their own countries? Or do we need an Africa International TV to show us that we are raising money for the continent?

One may say we have a lot of problems in our own countries but my goodness how many Ugandans even raise money for the people living in displaced camps in Northern Uganda? Besides those with relatives in these camps, usually it takes the likes of Save the Children to set up bases in Northern Uganda, so that our own media can report the humanitarian assistance. Then we complain that Bono or Paul McCartney are stealing the show....uhm! As Bob Geldof said today, "Don't let them tell you this doesn't work". Because twenty years ago, that girl on the TV screen had only two minutes to live. But this year, she finished her exam and degree in Agriculture in Northern Ethiopia. So, I thought to myself, even though these people's mercy is driven by an annoying culture of pity, I am watching Madonna, Snoop, Destiny's Child, Bono, Paul McCartney, sweating for Africa and raising their voice for Africa's poverty to the G8. And this made me rethink a part of my heart and pessimism about White people and the West. And I felt grateful and a little more certain that this money being raised now has a higher chance of making it to Africa unlike that money Western governments claim to allocate to Africa each year or the so-called humanitarian agencies but ends up paying their own staff and machinery.

Open letter on Live 8, G8 and African development


Bob Geldof has done an unusual service of getting the key western countries to focus public attention on Africa at the G8 summit. This poses a difficulty for those who see the harm that this kind of focus does to the continent. It conceals the root cause of many of the problems of the continent and perpetuates a view of a continent that is unable to solve its problems. The problems are easy enough to state: complicity between the West and the corrupt leaders who have consistently pillaged the continent; reinforcement of the dependency culture that aid plus neo-liberal economic reform will redeem the continent from poverty, thus maintaining the pauperisation of Africans; suppressing radical people-centred alternative economic opinions opposed to the World Bank / IMF economic orthodoxy; and the subversion of the social and economic development in the interest of repayment of odious debt.

While we accept that good governance is self-evidently desirable, it is also true that the West has been and is still complicit in the corruption that they now disavow. In instances where Africans have democratically elected promising leaders, Western governments have undermined or conspired in their political elimination and replaced them with puppet regimes. The Democratic Republic of Congo is a classic example of this phenomenon. In spite of being duly elected and the preferred choice of his people, the West conspired to eliminate Patrice Lumumba and replaced him with Mobutu Sese Seko. It is therefore impossible to understand the economic and political circumstances in the Congo today without a knowledge of this history. We pose the question: how can it be that the country with the most natural resources in Africa is still amongst the poorest and least developed? Other examples could be cited to show that Africa’s real interests were stymied by the West’s activities in Africa.

We believe that Africa needs neither conditional aid, charity nor pity. Western governments should be held to account for the exploitation of the continent and to make reparations for the pillage that they have inflicted.


Patricia Daley, Fellow, Jesus College Oxford
Firoze Manji, Editor Pambazuka News
Paul Okojie, Senior Lecturer in Law, Manchester Metropolitan University and a member of the International Governing Council of the Centre for Democracy and Development
Peter da Costa, PhD Candidate, SOAS, London
Tajudeen Abdul-Raheem, General_Secretary, Global Pan African Movement
Susan Akono, writer
Abiodun Onadipe, Independent Consultant
Rotimi Sankore, Coordinator of CREDO for Freedom of Expression and Associated Rights

An edited version of this letter first appeared in the Guardian July 4 2005

Say no to debt - but where did all the money go?

Mwombaji (no further details supplied)


Yes I definitely want to say no to debt, but one thing bothers me, where did all the money go? Who benefited from the whopping sum given to African leaders?

Take Tanzania for instance, things are at a complete standstill including the people. Where did the money go? Why has no one done anything to stamp out corruption? Bribery is the only language people know. The poor have to fork out what they don't have, to give the haves in order to have things done no matter how little the service may be, including giving of a bedpan to a loved one in a hospital bed.

How long are these tin gods going to be propped up and to whose benefit? Tanzania is nothing but a rubbish dump. The city of Dar ES Salaam is nothing but an unsightly rubbish heap with pot holes even around the diplomatic offices and homes.

It is time the CCM allowed fair elections and see what happens. It is time the CCM stopped being dictatorial. It is time the CCM stopped lying to the world saying they are democratic. It is time the people were given the opportunity to make up their own minds and if they wanted to try a new leader they should be allowed to choose.

It is time we stamped out corruption in Africa. If after 40+ years the CCM has not done anything but run the country to the ground it is not likely to make any changes now, otherwise, they would have done it long ago.  All it means is that they have perfected the art of concealment and will continue to do so unless the eyes of the world focus on them. The masses now say, enough is enough. It is time we were all given a fair opportunity to voice our opinion.

So we call upon the world to support change. We call on the Western powers to oversee the coming elections in Tanzania. We call on the rest of Africa to stand up for once and start bringing change for the benefit of all Africans from all walks of life.

Women & gender

Africa/Global: Are donors really implementing their commitments to promote gender equality?


This report argues that the ten-year review of the Beijing Platform for Action (BPFA) must be linked to the review process of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) as it provides a major input into that process. The report specifically makes the link with MDG 8 – advocating a global partnership to eradicate poverty - and highlights the need to bring the well-established connection between poverty eradication and gender equality to the centre of that partnership.

Africa/Global: Women take brunt of human rights abuse


Women and girls faced “horrific” levels of abuse in 2004 worldwide, Amnesty International (AI) has said in its annual human rights review, blaming widespread rape and violence on a mix of “indifference, apathy and impunity”. From honor killings carried out by the victims’ families to sexual violence used as a weapon of war, abuse frequently went unpunished and survivors were often abandoned by their own communities, the London-based rights group said. Amnesty indicated that it had sought in the past year to argue that violence against women in conflict situations was “an extreme manifestation of the discrimination and abuse they face in peacetime”, notably domestic violence and sexual abuse.

DRC: Sexual violence in the Congo


International Alert has published a new report on sexual violence against women and girls entitled "Women's Bodies as a Battleground: Sexual Violence Against Women and Girls During the War in the Democratic Republic of Congo, South Kivu (1996-2003)". This report, based on interviews with 492 women and 50 soldiers in Eastern DRC, is the result of research carried out by two Congolese women's organisations, Réseau des Femmes pour un Développement Associatif (RFDA), Réseau des Femmes pour la Défense des Droits et la Paix (RFDP), and the UK-based peacebuilding organisation, International Alert.

Nigeria: Trafficking in women from Nigeria to Europe


The Western European prostitution market has become increasingly globalized during the past 15 years. The processes by which Eastern European, Southeast Asian, Latin American, and Sub-Saharan African women end up as sex workers in Western Europe are highly varied. The largest group of prostitutes from Sub-Saharan Africa comes from Nigeria, and they are usually recruited through a specific type of trafficking network. The term "trafficking in persons" is restricted to instances where people are deceived, threatened, or coerced into situations of exploitation, including prostitution. This contrasts with "human smuggling," in which a migrant purchases services to circumvent immigration restrictions, but is not necessarily a victim of deception or exploitation.

South Africa: How gender is being factored into the South African budget, 2005


This paper examines gender equity within the 2005 South African budget. The authors highlight that women and girls are often most vulnerable to conditions like HIV/AIDS and poverty, but that programmes to address these conditions will fail without a significant earmarking of funds. Ensuring that there is adequate funding for men's and women's programming does not mean having separate male and female budgets, but rather giving critical consideration to the imbalances that exist in society and respond effectively to addressing these. The authors claim that the South African budget in 2005 gives some consideration to tackling gender inequities, but these interventions tend to be gender-blind.

Human rights

Botswana: Public flogging causes outrage


Two weeks ago Tebogo Malete was publicly flogged at a traditional court in Old Naledi, a village southeast of the Botswana's capital, Gaborone; a photograph of his punishment was published in the weekly newspaper, The Midweek Sun. Malete, 27, a petty thief, had been sentenced to five lashes for housebreaking at the customary court presided over by the village headman. The humiliating newspaper photo showed him with his pants down and a police officer using a lash on his bare buttocks, sparking outrage in human rights circles.

Congo: Lead NGO pulls out of the human rights commission


The main human rights NGO in the Republic of Congo, the Congolese Human Rights Observatory (OCDH), pulled out of the state-sponsored National Commission of Human Rights last Thursday to protest what it says is the commission’s inaction on known abuses and lack of government independence. "The government does not consider the commission to be a constitutional institution with administrative and financial autonomy," Roger Bouka-Owoko, the OCDH executive director, said during a news conference to announce the NGO’s decision.

Egypt: New reports criticises restrictive NGO law


The international NGO Human Rights Watch (HRW) and the Egyptian Organisation for Human Rights (EOHR) launched two separate reports on Monday, both criticising an Egyptian law that excessively regulates civil society and the activity of NGOs. "Freedom of association is a core political right. One cannot talk about democracy without being able to have an environment that allows people to come together in a free and unrestricted way," Joe Stork, Deputy Director of HRW's Middle East Division, said at a press conference in Cairo.

Liberia: Civil society groups urge AU to act on Charles Taylor


African and international civil society groups have launched a campaign urging the African Union (AU) Assembly to demonstrate its human rights commitment when it meets in Libya by ensuring that Charles Taylor faces justice for the crimes that he committed against African men, women and children. “It is now time for the African Union to join ranks with other key nations and international bodies in calling for Charles Taylor to face trial for these serious crimes,” said Kolawole Olaniyan, Africa Program Director at Amnesty International.

South Africa: Jubilee South Africa to oppose Absa/Barclays Deal in Court


On the 5th of July 2005, in the Johannesburg High Court, Professor Dennis Brutus and Jubilee will make ex-parte applications to the High Court, stating their opposition to the takeover of Absa by Barclays. The anti-apartheid activist and poet Professor Dennis Brutus will approach the Court, advising it that Barclays Bank aiding and abetted the Apartheid Regime and has been misleading in information provided to the JSE and SRP, including the glaring omission that Barclays is the lead defendant in ongoing litigation in the USA.

Sudan: ICC Prosecutor Briefs Security Council


The United Nations Security Council should strongly declare its full support for the International Criminal Court's investigation into the serious crimes committed in Darfur, Human Rights Watch said before the first-ever briefing of the Council by an ICC prosecutor. When the Security Council referred the situation in Darfur to the ICC on March 31, it invited the court's prosecutor, Luis Moreno Ocampo, to report on the progress of his investigation within three months.  The International Criminal Court lacks the ability to execute its own requests. Instead, the court must rely on state cooperation to further its investigations. The Security Council should encourage and facilitate this cooperation, which is crucial to the effective pursuit of justice, Human Rights Watch said.

Refugees & forced migration

Chad: Refugee operations rush to beat rainy season


With rainy season floods just days away, UNHCR is scrambling to relocate some 10,000 refugees from the troubled Central African Republic (CAR) who recently arrived in several villages in remote southern Chad. The refugees, many of whom fled fighting in the CAR in early June with nothing but the clothes on their backs, are currently scattered among 17 villages near the Chadian town of Gore.

DRC: Once displaced by war, hundreds return to Kisangani


Around 890 people displaced from their homes almost seven years ago in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) arrived in Kisangani, capital of Orientale Province, on Sunday after 43 gruelling days on a boat on the Congo River that came from Equateur Province. "We are now in the process of finding the means to take them to [the villages] they came from as soon as possible," Hubert Molisho Nendolo, Kisangani’s deputy governor, said.

Sudan: One million IDPs planning to return south, says report


One-third of all internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Sudan plan to return to the south within six months, posing considerable humanitarian challenges to aid organisations, an interagency survey found. Sudan has experienced the worst population displacement in the world, mainly due to prolonged conflict since 1983. Although it is difficult to determine the exact number of IDPs, the figure is commonly rounded to four million, the survey report noted.

Togo: Thousands internally displaced


Togo’s slide into political chaos following the disputed presidential elections in April 2005 has forced several thousand people to flee their homes, killed scores and wounded many more. While some 34,000 people have fled to neighbouring Benin and Ghana, UN agencies working with international and local NGO partners estimate that 12,000 people have been displaced within Togo's borders, especially in the Plateaux and Central regions.

Elections & governance

Africa: Africa’s garden of democracy


"The African paradox can be simply stated. Africa is widely perceived throughout most of the world as the continent of perpetual socio-political upheavals and tragic military confrontations; yet its people’s commitment to democracy, far from undergoing any erosion, is, at grassroots level in particular, more and more vibrant." Click on the URL provided and read the rest of this article by Congolese writer Kabasubabu Katulondi.

Burundi: Ex-Hutu rebels lead Burundi poll


Officials in Burundi are counting votes following Monday's key parliamentary election, with a former Hutu rebel group looking set to win comfortably. Early results put the FDD well ahead of its main Hutu rival, the Frodebu party of President Domitien Ndayizeye. The polling was largely peaceful and the turnout was 65%.

Egypt: Judges allege vote fraud


Judges in Egypt say May's referendum on constitutional reform was marred by widespread fraud. The referendum on whether to allow rival candidates to contest the presidency in September was approved by more than 80% of voters. The judges said turnout in the booths they oversaw was very low but in government-supervised booths it was recorded at 100% in some cases.

Guinea: Opposition leader returns as food tensions mount


Alpha Conde, the main political rival of ailing Guinean President Lansana Conte, returned to Conakry this weekend after two years abroad, and received a rapturous welcome from thousands of people, angry about rising food prices and poor living conditions in the West African nation.

Libya: Annan announces creation of 'Democracy Fund'


Addressing leaders of the African continent meeting in Libya, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan announced the launch of a new initiative to financially support States undergoing the democratization process. Mr. Annan told the African Union (AU) Summit in Sirte that the new UN Democracy Fund will provide assistance to countries seeking to establish or strengthen their democracy. "A number of Member States have already indicated their intention to contribute," he said, voicing hope that others would follow their example.

South Africa: Support for fired deputy president forces presidential retreat


Unexpected and overwhelming support for sacked former deputy president Jacob Zuma has given President Thabo Mbeki and the leadership of the African National Congress (ANC) some pause for thought. Mbeki's attempt to have the ANC's national general council endorse his "handling" of Zuma - which means approve Zuma's dismissal - backfired, leading to the president having to give concessions he would rather have done without.


Africa: More Aid Sought for African People


A leading campaign group has called for a substantial part of increased aid to Africa to be channelled directly to people, rather than governments. While G8 leaders talk of doubling aid to Africa, "we say that at least half of the doubling should be for more local initiatives," director of the London-based International Institute for Environment and Development, Camilla Toulmin, told IPS.

Ethiopia: Meles tops list of millionaire officials


Prime Minister Meles Zenawi and 14 of his top officials have stashed away at least $238 million dollars out of which Meles, the mayor of Addis and a top confident of the premier have a combined deposit of $100 million in overseas banks, a radio reported on Wednesday. The radio said it has the evidence which verifies the loot of the Ethiopian treasury by the top-notch of the regime which is trying to contain public protests through killings, detentions and prolonging a state of emergency.

South Africa: ANC's zero tolerance


The African National Congress will adopt a "zero tolerance" approach to corruption - no matter who it involves. This was the commitment made by ANC chief whip Mbulelo Goniwe when he announced that the five serving ANC members of parliament who pleaded guilty to fraud with parliamentary travel vouchers have resigned from parliament.

Zambia: Graft campaign threatens Zambia's Mwanawasa


Zambian President Levy Mwanawasa has made his anti-corruption campaign the hallmark of his administration, hoping to persuade voters to give him a second term in next year's elections. Now it may well secure his ousting. The campaign has won Mwanawasa powerful enemies within the circle of former President Frederick Chiluba, the man the anti-graft efforts have largely targeted, while some senior figures in his own administration are unsure of whether they may be next in line for investigation.


Africa/Global: The Origins of the G8


G8 is the term used to refer to the group of eight of the world’s richest and most powerful countries, namely the US, UK, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia and Canada. It’s formation was solidified in 1976 as a response to a global economic crisis represented by a rise in oil prices, inflation and unemployment. The coming together of the G8 was an attempt by leaders of these nations to stabilize the world economy and guarantee the ability of capital to continue to function effectively. Click on the link below for more details on the G8 and links to recent critical articles on the G8 summit.

Africa: African leaders seek end to debt


Delegates at the African Union summit in Libya are preparing a final declaration expected to appeal for the continent's debts to be wiped out. Members are also likely to call for fairer terms of trade with the West, while stressing their desire for better governance and transparency. The meeting ends a day before the G8 summit of the world's richest nations.

Africa: Debating the aid business


"Behind the politicians and pop stars on display at the Gleneagles summit of the Group of Eight (G8) on 6-8 July, look out for another contingent of professionals: non-government organisations (NGOs). The aid agencies will be there in strength, promoting their solutions for Africa’s ills, rallying their troops and rattling collection-boxes." But this article on argues that Western NGOs’ desire to help Africans has led them into unhealthy relationships with host countries, donor governments, and media.

Africa: Subordinating Development to Free Trade


The impact of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) on the world's poor has been overwhelmingly negative, states this paper. "Despite its anti-development agenda, the WTO as an institution continues to garner a certain (though grudging) amount of buy-in from the developing country governments. This seems to stem from the belief that some rules, no matter how skewed, are better than the law of the jungle.”

Angola: Diamond areas short-changed by development, says report


Angola is likely to produce diamonds worth nearly US $900 million this year, but little of that money will be spent on development in the diamond producing areas, according to a new report. The report by Partnership Africa Canada noted that "three years of peace is enough time for an oil-rich, diamond-rich government to have made wider social investments in the diamond areas and to have produced development policies that are more supportive of Angola's artisanal miners".

Nigeria: Nigeria to get $18bn debt relief


The Paris Club of creditor countries has agreed the outline of a debt relief package for Nigeria. About $18bn (£10bn) of debt will be written off and Nigeria plans to buy back a chunk of outstanding loans. The country owes the rest of the world $35bn, and the new talks are linked to an agreement between Nigeria and the IMF on debt repayments.

Health & HIV/AIDS

Africa/Global: 3 by 5 becomes 1 by 5


The 29 June announcement by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) that the much-heralded '3by5' initiative is "unlikely" to be achieved by the end of 2005, places even greater urgency on the need to scale up access to other care options that keep people with HIV alive while they wait for antiretroviral (ARV) drugs, says a press release from Aids Care Watch. The two UN agencies, who share responsibility for tackling the global pandemic, highlight progress during the past 18 months towards greater ARV access, and report that one million people with HIV/AIDS (PWHA) in poorer nations are now taking life-saving ARV drugs. They had hoped 3 million people would have access to the medicines by the end of 2005, but that now looks out of reach.

Africa: G8 should focus on HIV, women's empowerment


When the leaders of the world's largest industrial nations meet in Scotland, they will debate how to address the HIV/Aids crisis and whether to significantly increase assistance to Africa. But for the summit to have a real impact on the Aids pandemic, the G8 will have to do more than increase funding; they will have to address the economic and social realities that make women and girls a special, high-risk group. Evidence from Africa shows the importance and cost-effectiveness of this strategy.

Africa: Health Resources Shortfall


A recent edition of the Africa Focus Bulletin examines the problem of health resources for Africa. Despite their commitment early this month to write off debts to multilateral institutions by 18 developing countries (see, says the Bulletin, rich countries have barely made a start in meeting the demands to address Africa's needs. "While debate tends to focus under the standard themes of debt, aid, and trade, activists in the health field are taking the lead to stress that the framework needs to be changed to a common obligation to invest in universal rights rather than a narrow conception of charitable "aid" from donors to recipients."

Africa: MSF urges UN and G8 AIDS drug action


The international medical NGO, Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF), is urging G8 nations and the UN to push for speedy delivery of the cheapest and latest anti-AIDS drugs to developing countries. MSF stressed that this was vital to head off a looming supply and cost crisis, because "access to newer drugs is increasingly critical, as the growing number of people with HIV/AIDS currently on treatment will inevitably develop resistance to first-line treatments".

Botswana: Rising malnutrition accompanies increasing joblessness


Botswana's health authorities are battling climbing malnutrition rates among young children, despite sustained economic growth in recent years. A recent report by the National Early Warning Unit in the Ministry of Agriculture showed a dramatic decline since April this year in the nutritional status of children under five years in the northeastern districts of Kgalagadi North, and Mabutsane and Gantsi in the west.

Guinea-Bissau: Over 1,000 cholera cases recorded as epidemic spreads beyond capital


A cholera epidemic that broke out in the capital Bissau last month is spreading into the interior of the country, with more than 400 new cases reported nationwide over the past week, health officials said Friday. Since the beginning of the epidemic on 11 June, a total 1,027 cases have been registered, including 12 deaths, said Simao Mendes, director of Bissau’s General Hospital.

South Africa: HIV drugs and food not keeping up with demand


An estimated 200 000 South Africans living with HIV and AIDS are in urgent need of anti-AIDS drugs, but supply is not keeping up with demand. And, despite good nutrition being an essential pre-requisite for starting anti-retroviral (ARV) treatment, only a fraction of HIV and AIDS patients are receiving the supplements and food parcels. This is the finding of a monitoring report compiled by the Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) and Aids Law Project, 18 months after the government approved the national HIV and AIDS treatment plan.

Zimbabwe: Doctors demand better pay as inflation bites


Doctors at two of Zimbabwe's largest referral hospitals have embarked on an indefinite strike, demanding a pay rise of more than 100 percent and a special allocation to cover escalating fuel costs caused by the ongoing petrol shortage. Junior and mid-level doctors at Harare's Parirenyatwa and Central hospitals vowed on Wednesday not to resume work until the government had met their demands.


Africa/Global: Does child labour always undermine education?


Children are often forced to work due to chronic poverty. Globally, work is the main occupation of almost 20 percent of all children aged under 15. This is considered a major obstacle to achieving the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) of universal primary education by 2015. Research from the University of Oxford in the UK suggests that child labour is often essential to household survival. Children who do household work release adults from domestic responsibilities to earn a wage; those employed outside the home contribute to family income.

Africa: Higher education as the bedrock of development


While there is no single solution to Africa's need to increase its capacity in science and technology, higher education is a central concern, reports the latest edition of the newsletter. "Though the number of universities has proliferated, teaching quality is often poor (with low salaries and 'brain drain' being contributing factors), and public spending on universities is often small. Equipment and support resources are also lacking. With a Millennium Development Goal focusing on universal primary education, in a few years there will be a crucial need for more and better universities to cater for a more educated population."

Africa: UNICEF Urges G-8 to Focus on Results for Children


The decisions which the G8 leaders take this week have the potential to reduce extreme poverty around the world and to improve the lives of hundreds of millions of children, UNICEF said. "By putting poverty and development at the center of their agenda, the G8 leaders have an unprecedented opportunity to help to realize the Millennium Development Goals.  These vital goals focus on the needs of children to survive, to be educated and to be protected from the impact of HIV/AIDS. There can be no more important task," said UNICEF Executive Director Ann M. Veneman.

Kenya: Kenya Needs 24 More Universities


Kenya requires 24 more public universities to meet United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation international standards. Prof Wanjala Kere, Unesco's lead education consultant in technical, vocational education and training, said the current number does not meet required international standards. "According to Unesco standards, there is need for one public university for every one million people and we only have six public universities for a population of approximately 30 million people," said Kere.


Africa/Global: "Greenwashing" does not make the world cleaner


The greenwashing that corporations are now doing as their bit to clean up the environment cannot hide the damage they are causing, Meena Raman, chair of Friends of the Earth International said Saturday. In fact, any attempt to contain climate change must tackle the big corporations first, she said. Host Britain has made climate change one of two priorities, along with the development of Africa, at the summit of heads of government of the eight leading industrialised nations (the United States, Canada, Britain, Germany, France, Italy, Japan and Russia) to be held in Gleneagles, Scotland, July 6-8.

Africa: Climate change 'threatens to evict African plants'


Climate change could drastically alter the distribution of thousands of plant species across Africa, say scientists. The researchers, led by Jon Lovett of the University of York in the United Kingdom, looked at 5,197 species of African plants — about 10-15 per cent of the continent's plant species. Using computer models that predict future climate, the researchers concluded that by 2085, the habitats in which nearly all of these plants can live would either shrink or shift, often to higher altitudes, as a result of anticipated changes in Africa's climate.

Africa: Up in Smoke?


Africa - Up in Smoke?, the second report from the coalition of the UK's top environment and development groups, the Working Group on Climate Change and Development says that efforts to alleviate poverty in Africa will ultimately fail unless urgent action is taken to halt dangerous climate change. The report says that G8 nations have failed to 'join-the-dots' between climate change and Africa. Unless addressed, this could condemn generations in the world’s poorest nations.

East Africa: UN Co-Organizes Campaign to Clean Up Pollution in Lake Victoria


The United Nations housing agency is co-sponsoring a major awareness campaign to clean up Lake Victoria as rapidly growing urbanization along its shores threaten the world's second largest body of fresh water with increasing pollution and environmental degradation from waste and industrial effluents. "The main objective of the project is to innovatively change attitudes and behaviour with regard to environmentally unsound activities that continue to harm Lake Victoria," UN-HABITAT said in a statement.

Kenya: Thousands left homeless in forest evictions


Ezekiel Lang'at vividly remembers the day in early June that a group of security guards and policemen stormed his home near Mau Forest in Narok District, southwestern Kenya. "This is not your farm - you have to leave," they ordered him before torching his houses. Lang'at is one of thousands of Kenyan families who have been left homeless following a government decision to evict them, without compensation, from farms allegedly carved out of the forest.

Media & freedom of expression

Angola: Journalist jailed


Journalist Celso Amaral, the former director for the government-controlled national radio in the northern province of Huila, was arrested on a charge of mismanagement and has been languishing in jail for the last month. The Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) Angola learnt of Amaral's arrest when it undertook an information trip of some of Angola's regions at the end of June.

DRC: CPJ Condemns Harassment of Journalists Covering Opposition Protests


Security forces have harassed and detained several journalists covering opposition protests in the Congolese capital, Kinshasa, according to local sources. A presidential spokesperson told the Committee to Protect Journalists that any journalists detained while doing their work would be released.

Ethiopia: Four journalists arrested


The Ethiopian Government arrested four journalists on 28 June. The arrested journalists were Befekadu Moreda, Editor in-Chief of Tomar news paper; Zelalem Gebre, Menilik news paper; Dawit Fassil, Asqual news paper; and Tamrat Serbesa, Satenaw news paper.

Sierra Leone: Open letter to president on libel laws


"We are writing on behalf of the International Press Institute (IPI) and the World Association of Newspapers (WAN), to call for the repeal of Sierra Leone's seditious libel law under which Paul Kamara, editor of For Di People, is currently imprisoned. In October 2004, Mr Kamara, editor and publisher of the independent daily For Di People, was convicted on two counts of seditious libel for articles that appeared in his newspaper focusing on a 1967 Commission of Inquiry, which reportedly implicated you in the embezzlement of public funds."

Zambia: Media freedom under threat says watchdog


Zambian police are investigating charges of sedition and criminal libel against two journalists, raising concern that freedom of expression is under threat. Sipo Kapumba, a spokesman for the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) Zambia, told IRIN the police had summoned Fred M'membe, editor of the privately-owned The Post newspaper, on 29 June after a series of editorials critical of President Levy Mwanawasa's government.

Zimbabwe: Mugabe Signs Draconian Law


Zimbabwean journalists now risk spending 20 years in jail following the signing into law by President Robert Mugabe of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Bill which introduces stiffer penalties against the publication of falsehoods. The Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Bill Chapter 9:23 which was passed by Parliament at the end of last year, was gazetted on 2 June 2005 after the President assented to it.

News from the diaspora

UK tribute to Walter Rodney


The Karibbean Independent Trust for Ecology (KITE), has arranged a 25th anniversary event to commemorate the life of Dr. Walter Rodney, Caribbean historian and politician, who was murdered in 1980. During his short life Dr. Walter Rodney wrote many works of history, the best known being "How Europe Underdeveloped Africa". Eusi Kwayana said at the time of his death: "Our best was killed by our worst".

Conflict & emergencies

DRC: Civilians Killed as Army Factions Clash


The Congolese army must prevent further violence among its rival factions that has caused unnecessary civilian casualties, Human Rights Watch said after security forces in the eastern city of Goma fired mortars against soldiers based in a crowded neighborhood, killing two children and injuring 10 other civilians. The violence among army factions comes at a time when security forces across the country have been on high alert for weeks. Opposition parties had called for mass protests to force the Congolese transitional government to step down on June 30, the deadline originally set by the 2003 Sun City Accord.

DRC: Elections delayed as demand for tin fuels continued conflict


Continued fighting in the mining areas of eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) threatens the country's fragile peace and adds daily to the 3.3 million death toll in the world's most devastating conflict since World War 2, says Global Witness. It has also contributed towards the delay in the Congolese elections, which were originally scheduled for June 30. The international demand for tin has led to a US$50 million trade in the metal in eastern DRC with military factions vying to control the lucrative mining areas there, according to a report released by Global Witness.

Nigeria/Sudan: Obasanjo meets with Darfur rebels to try to unblock peace talks


Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo has met the leaders of the two main rebel movements in Sudan's Darfur region in an attempt to resurrect peace talks that have become bogged down by splits within the rebel ranks. Obasanjo is the current chairman of the African Union (AU) and the Nigerian government is hosting peace talks in Abuja between the rebels and the Sudanese government on behalf of the continental body.

Northern Uganda: Building a Comprehensive Peace Strategy


Peace may yet be possible in Northern Uganda in 2005, says the International Crisis Group. "Many elements seem to be in place, but they need to be pursued by President Museveni's government in a more comprehensive framework, given stronger international support and - most urgently - be committed to by the rebel Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) in the context of a specific process with a clearly definable endgame."

Zimbabwe: Order out of Chaos, or Chaos out of Order?

A report by the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum


“Operation Murambatsvina” and “Operation Restore Order” are the code names used by the police for a massive operation that began in Zimbabwe towards the end of May. This nationwide campaign, which has been conducted in the cities and towns, in peri-urban areas, and on farms settled after land invasions, has led to the destruction of many thousands of houses and means of shelter, trading stalls and markets. Whatever the reasons behind this, none of which can be morally justified, this campaign has created a huge humanitarian disaster causing enormous hardship and suffering. Within the space of a few weeks, Operation Murambatsvina has produced a massive internal refugee population who are homeless and without the means to earn a living.

Internet & technology

ITU hones in on digital divide


The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) has launched a new development drive designed to bring access to information and communication technologies to the estimated one billion people worldwide who are still without access to a telephone. Called 'Connect the World', the initiative is designed to encourage new projects and partnerships to bridge the digital divide.

Kenya: On the Way to Getting Wired


There's no disputing that computer ownership in Kenya is on the increase. Even so, the path to ensuring that the majority of Kenyans are able to benefit from information and communication technology (ICT) is littered with obstacles - something that came to the fore during a conference held this week in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi.

Mobile Phones for Mother and Child Care


This article evaluates the strategy of using mobile phones as a tool for promoting maternal, newborn and child health (MNCH) in developing countries, using Egypt as a case study. Information presented in this article is based on a qualitative study conducted by the author in Minia Governorate, Egypt in 2002-2003, and uses a framework developed for the UK Partnership for Global Health and the Nuffield Trust in 2002 entitled "Integrating Information and Communication Technology to Improve Global Health: A Conceptual Framework".

Nigerian blogger tackles taboos


A Nigerian-born blogger living in Spain is giving a voice to African women and highlighting gay and lesbian issues on the continent. Online diaries, or weblogs, come in all shapes and sizes. Some are intensely personal; others are very political. Sokari Ekine's blog is both, and that is just the way she likes it.

eNewsletters & mailing lists

Association of African Women Scholars email list


The discussion group is open to members and non-members. The AFWOSCHO list focuses on debates and exchange of ideas about gender issues in Africa and encourages the dissemination of and response to other related and relevant information (research queries, conferences and workshops, grants, fellowships, courses, programs, scholarships, collaborative work). Request to join can be made on the internet through [email protected] by sending the following message: SUBSCRIBE AFWOSCHO [your name]

The Equinet newsletter


The Equinet Newsletter is the newsletter of the Network for Equity in Health in Southern Africa. The Newsletter is delivered by e-mail once a month. Visit to read the newsletter and for subscriptions.

Fundraising & useful resources

Call for Proposals

Conflict and Governance Facility


CAGE has entered its second phase with regard to the Calls for Proposals to fund policy research and dialogue within the conflict and governance arena. Please visit our website at to access all the funding information. The application pack (Guide and Form) can be downloaded and completed forms must be submitted on or before 30 August 2005, 15h00, only to the CAGE offices.

CCS research grants deadline


The Centre for Civil Society is based at the University of KwaZulu-Natal in Durban. We aim to advance socio-economic and environmental justice by developing critical knowledge about, for and in dialogue with civil society, through teaching, research and publishing. As part of our mandate, the Centre grants research funds of up to R50000 to a number of researchers annually to encourage new and innovative research on civil society, through teaching, research and publishing.

Fellowships at the National Endowment for Democracy


The National Endowment for Democracy (NED) invites applications to its Reagan-Fascell Democracy Fellows Program. Established in 2001 to enable activists, scholars, and journalists from around the world to deepen their understanding of democracy and enhance their ability to promote democratic change, the fellowship program is based at NED's International Forum for Democratic Studies, in Washington, D.C.

Southern African Litigation Centre


The Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa (OSISA) in partnership with the International Bar Association (IBA) announced the launch on June 20, 2005 of the Southern African Litigation Centre (SALC). The Centre will be located in Johannesburg and will assist lawyers in various Southern African states in litigating specific human rights, public interest and constitutional cases within their respective domestic jurisdictions. The Centre will be staffed by resource people who are able to provide expert support to lawyers litigating on these issues in the region. They will do so by providing training, mentoring and facilities, thus promoting the effective implementation of human rights in the region.

Courses, seminars, & workshops

Development Planning and Management training


Olive (Organisation Development and Training) is running two - five day sessions on Development Planning and Management on the 15th to 19th August and 14th to 18th November respectively, and altogether covering 5 modules.

Managing Agricultural Research for Development within Innovation Systems Perspective

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, October 3-20, 2005


In response to changing continuing education needs of agricultural institutions and their personnel in Eastern Africa, the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) and Alemaya University (Ethiopia) are setting up a Center for Agricultural Research Management and Policy Learning for Eastern Africa (CARMPoLEA). This regional center will serve as a home of capacity building initiative to improve the management, organization and leadership of agricultural research and policy making and ultimately support the Agricultural Innovation System (AIS). To launch the center, we are organizing a series of workshops which are aimed at responding to regional knowledge and skill needs in the areas of agricultural research management and policy.

Global call to action against poverty

African voices via SMS


As part for the Global Call to Action Against Poverty (GCAP) Fahamu, the producers of Pambazuka News, set up an SMS number so that people around Africa and the world could send messages calling for debt cancellation and an end to poverty. So far we have received over 1000 messages – all calling for an end to debt and poverty. Below is a selection of some of these messages. You can send your message to +27 82 904 3425.

1. No to debt, yes to africa development. Mozambique

2. No to debt. Deeply unjust and maintains serious under development and inequality. Emma Harvey. South Africa

3. No to debt. The G8 countries must extend the cancellation of debt to all countries in the South to give them a chance to revamp their economies and improve the standard of living of their communities. The next important task will be to open up trade opportunities in terms of fair trade so that these countries can develop their capabilities and capacity. Aluta continua! South Africa

4. Every 3 seconds an African child dies due to poverty - cancel the debts. Ghana


6. Poverty is bad. Ghana

7. No to Debt it binds a nation to poverty. Mugerwa Olga Nakato

8. No to debt, Another world is possible. Adelson Rafael,

9. No to debt - I wish to remind the G8 leaders that delay is not denial and the focus is on them to act now. Ronald Ondari,

10. Please help the children of Africa. Farida Choisy of the Seychelles. Thank you.

11. It has to stop. No to poverty. No to war!



14. Peace&unity will stop poverty (maga)
South Africa

15. The G8 must cancel our debt. But we Africans are our own enemy. We must say NO to corrupt, self serving leaders and vote them out of power. God has provided for Africa in abundance but some of our 'leaders' connive with the West in robbing Africa. Enough is enough! We shall overcome. Namibia

16. No to debt! We r not responsible for being down, but we r responsible for getting up! South Africa

17. I really hope leaders get it to their heads that they are the way forward for AFRICANS. Ayodele olufawo from Nigeria.

18. Africa is in debt BECAUSE since slavery, colonization, apartheid & now globalization we've been ENRICHING the G8 countries. AFRICA OWES NOTHING. Magauta, Joburg, South Africa.



Join the call for debt cancellation! Text your comments with your name and surname to

+27 82 904 3425

Your message will be used to demonstrate overwhelming support for debt cancellation.

Kampala Speaks Out


Today (July 01), the length and breadth of Kampala, Capital of Uganda is soaked with messages of solidarity and the Global Call to Action against Poverty on this second international White Arm-Band Day. As early as 4 a.m. banners were erected in strategic positions of the city calling upon Ugandans to speak out with one voice and send a clear and powerful message to Prime Minister Tony Blair, President George Bush, the rest of the G8 leaders as well as our President Museveni.

Lobby of G8 embassies in Maputo


Wednesday 6th of July 2005
Friday 8th of July 2005
Eight of the most predominant organisations will go to G8 embassies to present their demands to the G8 ambassadors.
Contact Silvestre Baessa on +258 824921000. [email protected]

Mass rally in Tanzania


Rallying under the themes “no more broken promise” and “ Acha mizengwe timiza malengo ya Millennia”, TANGO and Action-Aid will on 5th July be holding a procession which will culminate into a mass rally at Karimjee Hall grounds. The procession and rally will be part of the Global Call to action Against Poverty, which aims at creating awareness on the content of the Millennium Declaration and the subsequent Development Goals.

White bands wrapped around buildings across the world


In the run-up to and during the July G8 summit in Gleneagles, Scotland, buildings around the world are wrapped in white bands, the symbol of the Global Call to Action against Poverty campaign ( In Freetown, Sierra Leone, the famous cotton tree, planted by freed slaves when the nation was founded, is draped in a white band, as is the slavery archway in Senegal.

Whiteband action in Kenya


Today (July 01) the Kenyan GCAP Coalition sent out powerful delegations of activists to petition some of the G8 Embassies with the message for debt cancellation, more and better quality aid and immediate removal of harmful conditionalities that come with any new loans. The Embassies visited were Japan, Germany, USA and Italy.


UK: 2nd Floor, 51 Cornmarket Street, Oxford OX1 3HA
SOUTH AFRICA: The Studio, 06 Cromer Road, Muizenberg 7945, Cape Town, South Africa
KENYA: 1st Floor, Shelter Afrique Building, Mamlaka Road, Nairobi, Kenya
[email protected]
[email protected]

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