Pambazuka News 242: Campaign against corruption in Kenya: A convenient smokescreen?
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Featured this week
EDITORIALS: As a corruption scandal rocks Kenya, political activist Onyango Oloo asks if it isn’t all just a convenient smokescreen
COMMENT AND ANALYSIS:
- Rights campaigners fear that efforts to restore UN leadership of human rights will derail, writes Akwe Amosu from the Open Society Institute
- Author and scholar Paul Tiyambe Zeleza argues against the cartoon crisis representing a “clash of civilizations”
- The Strategic Initiatives for Women in the Horn of Africa (SIHA) Network highlight the extent of Violence Against Women in Somalia
- Four years since the end of civil war, Human Rights activist Rafael Marques says peace is about all that Angolans have to enjoy
LETTERS: The debate over “just trade” continues
BLOGGING AFRICA: Sokari Ekine reports on an innovative blog mentoring programme
PAN-AFRICAN POSTCARD: Tajudeen Abdul Raheem compares the furore over Salman “Rush to Die” with the current Danish cartoon anger
BOOKS AND ART: Kenyan Indian poet and spoken word artist Shailja Patel writes about her latest performance experience in Nairobi
AFRICAN UNION MONITOR: Is the African Peer Review Mechanism helping Africa to move away from a “generation of despots”?
CONFLICT AND EMERGENCIES: International action plan for DRC?
HUMAN RIGHTS: Exploring transitional justice options in Zimbabwe
REFUGEES AND FORCED MIGRATION: Remaining Sudanese detainees released in Cairo
ELECTIONS AND GOVERNANCE: Three killed at campaign rally in Uganda – Human Rights Watch says 23 Feb polls will not be free and fair
WOMEN AND GENDER: Arrest of members of WOZA and their legal practitioner in Zimbabwe
CORRUPTION: Civil society mass action against corruption to kick-off
HEALTH AND HIV/AIDS: Poultry workers too afraid to take tests in Nigeria
EDUCATION: SA university strikes against corporatisation
ENVIRONMENT: Multinationals looting Africa's diversity, says report
MEDIA AND FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION: Bail conditions relaxed for Voice of the People executives
PLUS: Land and Land Rights; Advocacy and Campaigns; e-newsletters and mailing lists; Internet and Technology; Courses, Seminars and Workshops; Books and Arts; Jobs.
* Can trade in the era of globalisation be 'just'? Read our issue on the subject at http://www.pambazuka.org/index.php?issue=240
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Campaign against corruption in Kenya: A convenient smokescreen?
Onyango Oloo, a Kenyan political activist and ex political prisoner, argues that there is a deepening crisis of legitimacy for the Kenyan government. The implication of key government officials in grand corruption has struck yet another nail in the coffin of the shattered and battered National Rainbow Coalition. Oloo sees corruption as driven by two factors; internally by a lack of democratic institutions, structures and culture and externally as one of the by-products of the disastrous neo-liberal policies imposed by the West and its institutions.
As I write these lines, Kenya is being rocked hard by the ramifications of the dossier unleashed from the United Kingdom by John Githongo, the country’s former anti-corruption czar. Githongo has since fled the country after uncovering the deep involvement of key Kibaki insiders in one of Kenya’s most notorious scandals - the Anglo-Leasing Affair.
Earlier in the week, the President appeared on live television to inform his compatriots that Kiraitu Murungi, the Energy minister and Prof. George Saitoti, the Education minister had “stepped aside” to allow for unimpeded investigations of the twin graft scandals of Anglo-Leasing and Goldenberg.
Some observers believe that this dramatic announcement may have been a desperate, even deft move to stave off, pre-empt or undercut the looming mass actions announced by a consortium of 76 civil society organizations and to scuttle a planned meeting of parliamentarians ratcheting up the pressure for the re opening of the National Assembly to allow members of Parliament to debate the corruption scandals.
Whatever the case, these latest resignations - coming hot on the heels of the firing of State House official and Kibaki right hand man Alfred Getonga, the resignation of long-time Presidential confidant and former Finance minister David Mwiraria and the dropping of former cabinet minister Dr. Chris Murungaru in the post-referendum reshuffle last year -have if anything deepened the crisis of legitimacy for the Kenyan government and struck another nail into the coffin of the shattered and battered National Rainbow Coalition which rode to power on a landslide victory, with a mandate to fight graft and deliver a new democratic constitution.
Many have hailed John Githongo as Kenya’s knight in shining armor and have lauded the critical, sometimes strident opinion pieces of former British envoy Sir Edward Clay. The Kenyan media, especially the Nation Media Group, has been giving itself a pat on the back, preening in self-congratulation about their role in publicizing and exposing the scandal.
Indeed, the feistiness of the Kenyan press is ironically one key indicator of how much democratic space has opened up since the ascendancy of the Kibaki-led NARC regime. Truth be said, the courage of the Kenyan media and the almost unfettered expressions of critical views by ordinary Kenyans has happened in spite of, rather than because of the NARC government. Indeed, many are the times when demonstrators have been shot dead in cold blood, clubbed senseless, tear gassed, arrested and vilified by leading politicians allied to the ruling elite. The freedom of the press in Kenya is a direct by product of the burgeoning democratic struggles within the country over the last fifteen years or so.
In as much as the ongoing campaign against corruption in Kenya has highlighted the need for clean, transparent and accountable governance, it also throws up several convenient smokescreens when it comes to unraveling the enabling environment for grand graft in Kenya.
Many Nairobi-based pundits and observers have focused on the personal greed, moral foibles and even psychological make up of the leading villains. A few have probed the links to the need for the NAK faction to have a war chest to perpetuate itself in power come the next presidential elections in 2007.
Laudable as these insights are, I am of the opinion that they do gloss over two fundamental factors - one internal and the other external that seem to fuel the waves of corruption scandals that have bedeviled Kenya for decades.
The internal factor has to do with the refusal of successive ruling cliques to take the lead in democratizing the structures of power - especially in the economic sphere. In the particular case of the Kibaki regime, there is a justifiable national ire at the NARC government because it is the one formation that rode to power with a pledge and a popular mandate to deliver a new democratic constitution within its first one hundred days in power.
The fact that a national constitutional conference concluded its deliberations by ratifying and proclaiming a new draft constitution that was effectively trashed, thrashed and shelved sent strong signals that the parvenu rulers - especially in the NAK faction fronted by the President himself - having tasted what KANU had enjoyed for 39 years were quite reluctant to forego the perks of power - like the latitude given for ministers and government insiders to circumvent procurement and conflict of interest policies for self-enrichment. Therefore the adamant refusal by the ruling clique to acquiesce to the national demand for a new constitutional dispensation was a direct factor that led to the rot of institutional safeguards against corrupt practices. Indeed the injection of political agendas directly propelled the Anglo-Leasing scandal - with disclosures that one of the motivating factors that drove key Kibaki insiders to loot state coffers in collusion with shady hoodlum business types was to stuff a war chest full of loot that NAK would use to fight its electoral rivals in 2007.
The external factor is best described in the following excerpt from Sue Hawley in a July 2000 publication by the Corner House titled “Exporting Corruption: Privatization, Multinationals and Bribery”:
“The growth of corruption across the globe is largely the result of rapid privatization of public enterprises, along with reforms to downsize and undervalue civil services, pushed on developing countries by the World Bank, the IMF and western governments supporting their transnational corporations…” (http://www.globalpolicy.org/nations/launder/general/2001/0705sng.htm)
If we accept the argument that I am advancing - namely that corruption is driven internally by lack of democratic institutions, structures and a culture that militates and acts as a check on abuse of power by political barons and other state-connected thieves and that it is one of the by-products of the disastrous neo-liberal policies imposed by the West and her institutions like the IMF on ‘Third World’ countries like Kenya, then it follows that corruption is a fundamentally political problem rooted firmly within certain local and global ideological constructs and parameters.
To put it more colloquially, graft is a manifestation of a rotten neo-colonial regime gutting the country at the behest of the imperialist powers. This means that at an ideological level, a consistent fight against corruption in societies like Kenya has to be embedded in a broader struggle for national democracy and against imperialist neo-liberal policies and machinations.
That is why I find it bizarre to see so many of my Kenyan compatriots look to places like the UK and individuals like Sir Edward Clay for mentorship and support in the war on corruption.
It is surreal to find the sleaze engulfed states like the United States and the United Kingdom - with their ENRONs, Haliburtons and so on - presume to act as the 21st Century champions against graft and other economic crimes and go further not only to lecture and harangue, but to sanction and punish states and governments that they consider “corrupt”. These mark you, are the very states which consciously assisted pariah governments in Africa like Ian Smith’s illegal regime in the so called “Rhodesia” and the racist cabal in the apartheid South Africa circumvent international censure and sanctions for their repressive and corrupt practices in years gone by. These are the same governments which turn a blind eye to the erection of the apartheid wall in Israel and the series of scandals implicating the now ailing Ariel Sharon.
We must therefore openly question the motivations and ideological intentions of these imperialist powers when they jump into the fray in battling corruption in places like Kenya and so on.
This is not to say that we have swallowed the demagogic populist appeals of discredited Kenyan ministers caught in a web of deceit who suddenly discover their mythical anti-imperialist credentials only when they are caught with their pants down. It is so easy to pierce through their threadbare rhetorical flourishes - especially when these ministers are confronted with compromising facts and startling admissions on tape - even when these surreptitious recordings are executed in less than ethical fashion.
By interrogating the motives of the Western powers in “fighting” graft in countries like Kenya, we are also putting a question mark on the local actors who, like the embedded journalists during the Iraqi invasion seem to be snuggling in bed with the Sir Edward Clays of this world.
One litmus test that would indicate whether these actors are driven by purely patriotic motives rather than being proxies and conduits for nefarious imperialist - even regime change agendas - can be gleaned by the extent that these local players participate in national democratic struggles and oppose neo-liberal imperialist policies.
We are aware that the anti-corruption campaign the world over has provided a convenient platform for many a would be imperialist friendly Presidential aspirant in this or that neo-colonial outpost. Of course, the surest testing ground is the arena of mass struggles where progressive and democratic forces meet to know each other more, struggling for unity and clarity while pursuing concrete pro-people goals.
* Onyango Oloo is a Nairobi-based political activist and former political prisoner who is currently the National Co-coordinator of the Kenya Social Forum. He returned to Kenya in late October 2005 after an 18-year stint in exile where he lived in Toronto and Montreal, Canada. The views expressed are his personal opinions and do not in any way reflect the positions of the Kenya Social Forum - which in the spirit of the World Social Forum process, does not in fact hold or express any political or ideological viewpoints as an entity.
* Please send comments to [email protected]
Africa must stand up and be counted over UN human rights issues
"Africa, which has suffered so much from human rights abuses, has the most to gain." With those words last month, Archbishop Desmond Tutu neatly encapsulated the case for African engagement on the UN's new Human Rights Council. Yet human rights campaigners are beginning to fear that current efforts to restore the UN's leadership in the human rights sector will derail, writes Akwe Amosu.
Negotiations in New York on how members of a new Council will be chosen are nearing a critical point and there's a real risk of failure if governments – and Africa’s states in particular - don't stand up to be counted.
The UN has long had a rights watchdog, the Commission on Human Rights. But its repeated failure to condemn blatant abuse, and a membership roster that sometimes looked like a dictators' club gave the Commission a bad name.
Some of the worst rights abusers cynically sought seats on the Commission in order to be in a position to block complaints about the repression they were visiting on their citizens. Prime African culprits such as Zimbabwe, Sudan, Eritrea and Swaziland were members in 2005. Libya even chaired the CHR in 2000.
So in his ‘In Larger Freedom’ report last year, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan called for a strengthening of international human rights machinery and suggested that the Commission should be replaced by a smaller Human Rights Council whose membership should include only states with good human rights records, elected by a two-thirds majority of the General Assembly (GA).
Since October 2005, negotiations have been going on in New York between regional blocs at the UN secretariat, including the African Group. But old habits die hard. The same countries that got the old Commission a bad name have been in the thick of the horse-trading, making it difficult for moderate countries to support a forward-looking agenda without clashing with habitual abusers.
All the same, just a few weeks left before the final resolution must be agreed, much progress has been made. Although African nations had serious difficulties with some aspects of the draft text and there were some hard fought debates, compromises have been found.
- All now agree that the new Council will meet regularly throughout the year, allowing for increased dialogue and engagement with member states, and for rights violations to be tackled before they result in condemnation of individual governments or measures that challenge national sovereignty.
- The new Council will be expected to promote and protect all human rights - civil, political, social and cultural - and importantly for Africa, the right to development.
- Whereas in the past, the Commission was sometimes accused of "naming and shaming" for political reasons, the new Council will use a broader range of interventions, including human rights education, advisory services, technical assistance and capacity building, to achieve improvement.
- The HRC will also undertake a universal periodic peer review of all member states, based on objective and reliable information, and the full involvement of the country concerned, a provision that African states felt was critical to their support.
Make or break
In fact, with the US proposal to exclude candidate countries that are under Security Council sanctions now rejected, the only "bracketed" (i.e. controversial) issue in the draft resolution is the percentage of votes a country needs from the General Assembly to be elected to the new HRC.
In fact, everything hinges on this "make or break" point. Earlier in the negotiation, there were attempts to agree that each region would have to put up a slate of countries for election comprising more candidates than the seats available. This would have given the GA a real choice.
Under the compromise reached, however, each regional grouping will put up exactly the number of countries for which it has seats. Thus out of a total of 45 seats on the HRC, 12 will be granted to African countries and the Africa Group will put up 12 names for election.
Each country will be voted on separately, however, allowing the GA to reject countries if it is felt that their record disqualifies them to be HRC members.
Human Rights advocates fear, however, that if only a simple majority of votes in the GA is required, the effect might be that all 12 countries are elected, no matter what their human rights record might be. That could leave the new Council with the same problem that the old Commission had – notorious abusers having seats on the Council.
If, however, a two-thirds majority in the GA is required, the challenge of getting elected will be that much harder. Even if a Zimbabwe or a Sudan is able to embarrass other African states into supporting its candidacy, many non-African countries will be needed to secure the two-thirds majority and they may not be so easily swayed.
Campaigners and civil society groups monitoring negotiations say that this is the only way to prevent the "slate" system helping to install poorly performing states on the new Council. They fear that if the bar is set at a simple majority, governments with poor records will use the "African solidarity" argument to ensure that they get all the African votes and thus enough to win a seat.
A two-thirds requirement would, however, make it more likely that serial human rights abusers would be rejected, and force the regional groups to submit alternative candidates.
Time to act
Effort by African civil society is now urgently needed to help shift the position of individual countries within the African Group, and get those countries to speak out.
South Africa is a co-chair of the overall HRC negotiations and must remain neutral, eliminating one natural African leadership voice. But countries such as Nigeria, Kenya, Senegal, Tanzania, Mali, and others could make a real difference to the outcome if persuaded to back the "two-thirds" proposal.
It is time to press our governments to endorse a requirement of direct, individual voting for countries who wish to be members of the new Council, with a two-thirds majority required for election. Further, a candidate state’s human rights record and its pledges to cooperate with the Council must be a qualification for candidacy.
But if success is achieved here, that won’t be the end of the story. Getting the rules for election right is only the first stage. After that, we still need to focus on getting credible candidates elected – and once again, civil society leadership will be key.
* Akwe Amosu is the Senior Policy Analyst for Africa at the
Open Society Institute
* Please send comments to [email protected]
Cartoons as Weapons of Mass Provocation
Paul T Zeleza
Is the global row over the publication of cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad the beginning of a “clash of civilizations”? Author and scholar Paul Tiyambe Zeleza argues not, locating the controversy firmly in the realm of politics. In this context, Muslims are challenged to find ways of defending their faith in a way that advances human freedom and decency. Those in the West, he argues, must not support aggression that hides behind freedom of speech.
Over the past couple of weeks an international crisis has erupted fueled by cartoons caricaturing and condemning the Prophet Muhammad as a terrorist figure first published in a Danish newspaper last September and subsequently reprinted with indignant insensitivity in some western countries. There have been mass demonstrations in several countries around the world, trade boycotts, withdrawals of ambassadors, travel advisories, dismissals and resignations of journalists, and sporadic outbreaks of violence that have resulted in several deaths, the burning of Danish flags and embassies, and soured the already strained communal relations within Europe and between the West and the Muslim world more generally.
To some this is a harbinger of the much-trumpeted clash of civilizations, a sign of the deep chasm between the West and Islam, between a tolerant modernity and a fanatical medievalism, or between a malicious secular culture and a maligned spiritual community. The outrage and controversy over the cartoons do point to widespread anger and anguish in the Muslim world and intolerance and indifference in the western world. But the conflict is not a clash of civilizations, rather the calculated incitement behind the publication of the inflammatory cartoons and the isolated violent overreactions in some quarters represent a clash of fundamentalisms over contemporary politics, not universal principles.
The religious dimensions of the conflict have encouraged many to see it as a contestation of implacably opposed values, a battle of rights - the right to freedom of expression and the right to freedom of religion, the right to offend and the right to be offended - and the moral equivalences of provocations and responses. This forced discourse of binaries is false. Publishers of the notorious, and to Muslims sacrilegious, cartoons and their rightwing defenders invoke freedom of speech as their unassailable defense, as an absolute value, the bedrock of western democracy under threat from ‘radical Islamists’ and other purveyors of the backward and bankrupt ideologies of political correctness. Even some of their liberal and leftwing critics concede the sanctity of this value, and only blame the publishers for their poor judgment, for bad taste. In reality, the issue is neither about freedom of speech nor indiscretion. It is about political provocation, the assertion of the supremacy of white Europe at home and abroad, the attempt to put Europe’s numerous ‘others’ in their place, especially Muslims historically so close to Europe and now so intimately a part of Europe, whose growing presence challenges European fantasies of cultural purity and whose ancestral lands continue to be ravaged by Euro-American imperialism that mock claims of civilizational superiority.
Freedom of speech is an important value, but in this crisis its value is largely ideological, deliberately deployed as a weapon of cultural aggression. There can be little question that by attacking the Prophet Muhammad the cartoons were intended to inflict the most egregious offense to Muslims, to inflame not to inform. Claims that caricatures of the sacred are normal and even healthy in a secular society not only flout against Islamic prohibition of iconic representations, but ignores the fact that there are secular taboos against which journalists in the western mainstream media dare not cross at the risk of breaching the law or popular conventions. Indeed, we are told the Danish newspaper that published the scurrilous anti-Islamic cartoons turned down cartoons lampooning Jesus Christ because readers would find them offensive. And the embattled editor of the paper was reprimanded and sent on indefinite leave when he announced his intention, in an act of misplaced bravado, to republish anti-Holocaust cartoons promised by a rightwing Iranian newspaper, Hamshari, in a gratuitous effort to test western commitment to freedom of speech.
In many cases the discourse of rights tends to suspend the rights concerned from the historical, material and institutional contexts through which they are expressed, enacted, and enjoyed. No less important to remember is the fact that the western mainstream media is a business—a huge business—subject more to the imperatives profit-making than advancing informed public discourse, more attuned to the interests of the powerful and pandering to popular prejudices than to the voices of the disenfranchised and disaffected who tend to be concentrated among racial, ethnic or religious minorities and the poor. Freedom of expression in the West would indeed be a good thing if it actually existed for all regardless of corporate status, class position, national location, ethnic or racial identity, and ideological orientation.
Nowhere in the western world is the right to the freedom of expression absolute in principle, let alone in practice. It is a relative right contingent on other rights, circumscribed by context. Rights entail responsibilities: the two are interwoven in threads of mutuality that are neither eternal nor universal but constantly negotiated in ongoing and often painful conversations within and between societies. The mainstream western media routinely avoids publishing or showing overtly racist, anti-Semitic, or pornographic materials. In fact, in many of these countries there are laws against hate speech, anti-Semitism, and child pornography, as well as libel and defamation. The laws and conventions that seek to protect groups are reactions to the sordid past of racism and genocide, the barbarities of slavery, colonization, and the holocaust that are as much a part of the western heritage as all the stylized positive values the West claims exclusively for itself, and which still cast ominous shadows over the western world.
Given these realities, the publication of these obnoxious Orientalist cartoons appears to most Muslims as hypocritical. It is a reflection of the rising tide of racism and xenophobia in Europe. It is the face of a new anti-Semitism, this time directed not against Jews, but against Muslims, who in the European imaginary are often racialized as Arabs. The cartoons draw on a long and hideous history of anti-Jewish cartoons that facilitated the dehumanization of Jews that preceded the Holocaust. The connections between the old and new breed of European anti-Semitism is usually not drawn by the defenders of the Danish paper’s right to publish the Islamophobic cartoons. Nor do those who seek to respond by recycling fascist cartoons against Jews and the Holocaust seem to appreciate their collusion with a new form of European anti-Semitism that targets them. There can be little doubt that the publication and republication of the cartoons has occurred in a context of growing anti-Muslim religious and racial bigotry in Denmark and across Europe.
It started as a localized crisis in a country becoming increasingly unsure of its national identity and intolerant of its minorities that cruelly exposed the national myth of Nordic tolerance and egalitarianism. The decision by the rightwing paper, Jyllands-Posten, to publish the cartoons resonated with the increasingly conservative political climate in which a strongly anti-immigrant and anti-Islamic party, the Danish People’s Party, is part of the parliamentary coalition of the center-right government of Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen that has passed draconian laws relating to the marriage, citizenship, religious and language rights of immigrants. The initial reaction in Denmark is quite revealing. The Prime Minister refused to meet the European Committee for Honoring the Prophet representing 27 Danish Muslim organizations and a group of diplomats from 11 Islamic countries protesting the publication of the cartoons, and many Danes expressed incomprehension at what the fuss was all about as Danish Muslims took to the streets. It is only when the furor of protests broke out in the Middle East and elsewhere that the gravity of the crisis hit the Danish government. Suddenly, Denmark was faced with its worst postwar crisis, its image in the Muslim world in tatters. The Prime Minister and the newspaper offered belated apologies for causing offense but not for the original decision to publish.
By then, the cartoons had been published in several mostly rightwing papers in various European countries ostensibly in solidarity with the Danish paper and the Danish people in their justifiable efforts to protect freedom of expression and European values that were ostensibly under assault from ‘Islamic radicalism’. Interestingly, the mainstream British media largely refrained from joining the jingoist chorus, so did the mainstream American media, another intriguing expression of the special relationship, perhaps reflecting their greater multicultural sensitivities, so some commentators claimed, or the fear of bearing the brunt of Arab and Muslim fury already inflamed by their wanton invasion of Iraq. Underlying this apparent cultural solidarity over the cartoons is the rising tide of anti-Islamic prejudice in many European countries, especially those enamored by the myths of national racial homogeneity or republican universalism.
Solidarity in the escalating crisis cut both ways. Many Muslims in Europe and in other parts of the world found common cause: the cartoons seemed to reinforce the collective vilification of their religion so central to their identity that had been escalating since the end of the Cold War and particularly following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 in New York and Washington, DC. In effect, the cartoon controversy brought together two crises: the profound feelings of fear and insecurity among marginalized European Muslims and the simmering sense of anger and vulnerability among Muslims in the Middle East who had witnessed the invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq, the latter under blatantly false pretenses, and were hearing ominous threats against Iran. In fact, the memories of western aggression in the Middle East went much deeper to the humiliation of the colonial invasion, occupation and pillage, and in recent decades the enduring tragedy of the Palestinians. It is not surprising, therefore, that the epicenter of Muslim outrage over the abusive cartoons has been in the Middle East, which has historically been at the receiving end of western terror.
The circuits and networks of transnational communication, both old and new, facilitated the fusion of the two crises. It was after the representatives of the Danish Muslim groups were refused audience by the Danish Prime Minister that the former began lobbying, first among diplomats from Arab governments, then after the latter too were snubbed, directly to governments and organizations in the Muslim world. They made the rounds of North African and Middle Eastern capitals with a 43-page dossier of the cartoons and other documents, and before long the outrage began to build steam, fanned by the region’s new spirited media, and sanctified by key bodies such as the fifty seven-member Organization of the Islamic Conference and the Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. The turning point came when Saudi Arabia withdrew its ambassador from Denmark, a move that was soon followed by Libya and Iran.
The besieged Muslim diaspora in Denmark and Europe was reaching out to the Islamic homelands seeking support and solace. This is of course not new—diasporas have always sought the protective mantle of homelands. But historically it is the European diasporas that could rely on their homelands to send gunboats to protect them from the restive natives. In fact, the annals of colonization in Asia and Africa are replete with wars of salvation for beleaguered settlers, although they were often characterized as crusades to save benighted ‘primitive’ souls, to spread civilization. Now, diasporas from the global South can more easily summon their homelands for support, although the structure of global power is still such that conventional military options are inconceivable. Clearly, the revolution in telecommunications and travel, which has compressed the spatial and temporal distances between home and abroad, offers these diasporas unprecedented opportunities to be transnational, to connect with each other across countries and continents, to retain ties with their old and new homelands in ways that were unimaginable a generation ago. This is what accounts for the rapidity and intensity of many global protests today, including the outbreak of the demonstrations over the cartoons. Cyberspace is the new medium of mass mobilization, a powerful mechanism to organize and express protest. The waves of demonstrations over the cartoons were driven as much by emails, blogs, cell phones and text messages as they were by satellite television, radio, coffeehouse talk, and street rumors.
As in all such conflicts, the manipulative machinations of governments are not hard to find. All governments whose populations are involved have sought to cynically exploit the conflict to their own immediate advantage, to appear resolute in the face of foreign agitation, to defend the values that their societies supposedly cherish. Authoritarian and unpopular Middle Eastern governments have sought to burnish their Islamic credentials and to contain the spread of political Islam and democratization pressures, both poignantly captured by the victory of Hamas in the recent Palestinian elections. Militarist and hypocritical western governments have tried to use the crisis to reinforce the case for the ‘war on terror’ and isolate the radical Islamic states and movements in the region that have put up the most resistance to their imperial project. This suggests that the forces most invested in the conflict over the cartoons are militants on both sides, the unrepentant ideologues of western imperialism and political Islam, who should be seen as political fundamentalists, and are committed to the clash of civilizations that the vast majority of westerners, many of whom are Muslim, and Muslims, many of whom are westerners, are fundamentally opposed to.
In so far as Islam and the West are not bounded mutually exclusive cultural and historical geographies, but social spaces where various peoples and cultures are mixed together, the conflict over the cartoons cannot be seen in grand civilizational or purely religious terms. Even if protagonists on both sides might prefer to talk in the calcified language of ancient hatreds, this is a quintessentially contemporary protest over specifically current conditions—the challenges of forging common citizenship and fostering cosmopolitan values in an increasingly globalized or transnational world. It is about how European Muslims and non-Muslims can live together in peace and equality, and by extension how the western world and the Muslim world can co-exist amicably. The two worlds have more ties that bind than separate them, going all the way back to their very foundations. Modern Europe is inconceivable without the contributions of Islam, and the modern Muslim world is inconceivable without the West, for better or worse. The webs of mutuality are so deep that even the fundamentalisms on both sides reproduce each other. Lest we forget contemporary political Islam is an utterly modern phenomenon, created out of forces constituted and reproduced through the historic and ongoing intersections of the mixed worlds of the West and Islam. Western imperialism bred political Islam, and political Islam provides a convenient scapegoat for contemporary western imperialism. In short, the histories of the two phenomena are tragically interconnected.
It is encouraging that the vast majority of Muslim leaders and organizations have encouraged peaceful and dignified protests, although the Western media ever so selective, sensational, and stereotypical has focused on the few incidents of violence in order to justify the fact that their denunciation of the violence has been louder than over the initial publication of the cartoons themselves that provoked the protests in the first place. The challenge for Muslims when confronted with the cultural assaults represented by the cartoons is to find ways of defending their religious faith and their political rights both in the West and in the Muslim world that advance the cause of human freedom and decency as well as open-ended inter-cultural and inter-religious conversation and civility based on the fact that ultimately we all share a common humanity in all our splendid diversities. For people in the West committed to similar values they must resist the easy temptation to support arrogance and aggression in their own countries and elsewhere hiding behind the veils of freedom of speech.
* Paul Tiyambe Zeleza is Professor of African Studies and History, Pennsylvania State University. He is the author of more than twenty books and winner of the 1994 Noma Award and the 1998 Special Commendation of the Noma Award for two of the books. This article appeared on his blog, which can be read at http://zeleza.com/blog
* Please send comments to [email protected]
Highlighting violence against women in Somalia
In Somalia, national laws, policies and procedures are not favourable to the rights of women and there is no framework to address widespread Violence Against Women (VAW). This article, from Strategic Initiatives for Women in the Horn of Africa (SIHA) Network, which comprises 28 member organisations and advocates for social change and gender equality for women in the Horn of Africa, assesses the extent of the problem and suggests solutions.
Ravaged by 15 years of war and periods of anarchy, Somalia is a prime example of how women become the main victims of violence in conflict-ridden areas. Violence against women in the form of rape, torture, looting and forced displacement are tools of war for the humiliation and control of communities living in certain areas.
The governmental instability has ensured that Somalia continually fails to interact with the African Commission regarding political, social or economical affairs. To date, Somalia remains one of the countries refusing to sign the International Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW).
Male dominance is an accepted norm in Somalia, and women are consistently undermined within society. The patriarchal Somali culture regards violence against women (VAW) on a family basis to be a private matter. Research conducted by UNICEF highlights the alarming reality that the physical punishment of women within family homes is not considered to be a violation by Somali communities. Although gender based violence is condemned widely by all sectors of society, there is a misconception as to what really constitutes VAW in Somalia.
Having asked a number of citizens 'How common is violence in your family?', the results show that the majority of people believe that violence is a rare to non-existent occurrence within Somali family life, and 75% of those questioned believe that sexual assault does not happen in Somalia.
Sexual harassment is prevalent throughout all sectors of society, but women continue to hide these abuses to prevent hostility or shame. Rape is common, and fear is widespread, but due to the impunity created by male dominance, perpetrators of sexual harassment are rarely punished. To safeguard the family's honour, some girls are forced to marry the men who raped them. In other cases, 'blood compensation' is given to the family of the victim (usually in the form of livestock or money). This never reaches the girl, but instead is handed to the male elders of the family, most commonly the father.
National Laws, policies and procedures do little to protect the rights of women. During the periods in which Somalia was left stateless, clan-based Islamic courts were established as a means of keeping law and order, but they concentrated mainly on family law. Even now, the newly appointed Somali Federal Government is not operational in many sections of the country, and no specific policies regarding VAW have been addressed. Official authorities, regardless of their responsibilities, constantly abuse the rights of women, and women in detention centres are often raped by custodians.
Some civil society organisations have filled this breach in setting policies and procedures relating to VAW. Medical support and counselling services are carried out by women and human rights organisations, but there remains no shelter for abused victims.
Of a total 694 cases of violations of women's rights carried out in the past 6 months, 36 cases have been fully investigated. All the rest remain pending and no investigation has been done. Research was conducted into the victims of sexual assault in Somalia, and of those involved in the research, 60% were physically harmed, 20% died as a result of the assault, and a further 10% committed suicide. More than half of the perpetrators were never found, and of those charged, many suffered no consequences. Even though many cases of rape are confirmed, the majority of the population still deny its existence.
In some instances, Somali women can be considered as the perpetrators of violence against their own sex, with specific regard to the practice of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM). This harmful practice is known to cause severe bleeding, urine retention, and in some cases, death. The procedures of FGM cause lifelong physical suffering for many women, yet mothers continue to subject their daughters to this horrific practice.
The majority of Somali women agree that all girls should be circumcised and that female circumcision is a part of Islamic practice. Moreover, they believe that an uncircumcised girl is unfit for marriage. A shocking 98% of Somali women continue to be circumcised, with 90% of those being subjected to the Pharaonic (also called Infibulation) method. The less radical form of circumcision, known as Sunna in Somalia (also referred to as Clitoridectomy), is mainly practiced in coastal towns.
To eradicate FGM from the cultural practices of Somalia, awareness and knowledge must be widely disseminated. Heads of families, religious leaders and FGM practitioners need to be informed that FGM is a crime against women, and should not be condoned under the guise of 'cultural or Islamic practice'.
Similarly, awareness needs to be raised amongst Somali communities about VAW in general. Some media programmes have been implemented by human rights organisations to raise community awareness about VAW. In addition, articles have been published in daily papers and information has been broadcasted on local radios. However, there remains plenty to be done in terms of eradicating VAW from the cultural practices of Somalia. Support strategies need to be put in place, training of human rights activists is essential, and pressure needs to be placed on the Somali government to sign international and regional instruments, like CEDAW.
* This article was compiled by Strategic Initiatives for Women in the Horn of Africa (SIHA) Network from information from the Kalsan Organisation's 2005 Country Report on VAW. SIHA, which means 'The Outcry' in Arabic, is a network of civil society organisations from North and South Sudan, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Djibouti, Somalia and Somaliland. Founded in 1995 by a collection of women's groups with the view of strengthening their capacity, SIHA has grown over the years and is now comprised of 28 member organisations. SIHA is advocating for social change and gender equality for women in the Horn of Africa, insisting that Violence against Women (VAW) in all its forms must be stopped. We are also involved in Peace Building and in promoting women, girls' and Human Rights. More information www.sihahornofafrica.org
* Please send comments to [email protected]
The people’s whereabouts in Angola
Rafael Marques de Morais
It has been four years of peace in Angola since the end of a decades-long civil war, but for the majority of Angolans the absence of fighting is the only benefit they enjoy, writes human rights activist Rafael Marques. Scheduled elections have been endlessly postponed, allowing the ruling elite to remain unaccountable to the population of the country while they maintain international legitimacy through corrupt use of Angola’s vast oil wealth.
For more than a decade, while the ruling class has focused on its own transformation into a bourgeois class by plundering the country’s riches, the majority of Angolans have been reviving their hopes for the future on empty promises in a vacuum.
Those in power are managing such a vacuum and selling it as a kind of stability pact. It is a pact similar to that established between a robber who points a gun at a citizen in broad daylight and in public, strips the victim of his belongings and then, civilly, requests the understanding, silence and quietness of the victim. The robbed person, in turn, thanks the perpetrator for the common sense shown in sparing his life. It is in this sense that Angolans are grateful for peace.
Four years have passed since the achievement of peace in 2002 after decades of civil war. Another legislative mandate has come to an end, since the first and last elections of 1992, without people casting their ballot – and, therefore, without the opportunity for them to hold to account and choose their political leaders as well as legitimize the rule of power.
Once again, the President of the Republic, in his much awaited state of the union address, disappointed people’s hopes for elections in 2006. Showing his normal political expediency, he now suggests voting might take place in 2007. In 2000 he announced the possibility of elections for 2001, whether the war stopped or not, and that he would retire. However, he has been pushing the prospect further into the future ever since.
Apart from the question of elections, the speech by President Dos Santos to the nation had two more key points, the setting up of the Bank for the Development of Angola (BDA) and the construction of housing for those in need.
For the President, the bank will be the catalyst for the reconstruction of the country. However, it is little more than another expedient for the redistribution of windfall profits from oil among the ruling families and their particular interests. Similar initiatives in the past, particularly the now defunct Caixa Agro-Pecuária (CAP), have suggested the final end of government-funded commercial banks. Once the ruling families and their associates borrow all the funds at a bank’s disposal, it is declared bankrupt, dismantled and privatized. As for the money lent, the trick is to write it off as bad loans and let the matter rest for good. The oil funds in question stem from rocketing prices in the international markets. This has generated a windfall, over and above the budgeted oil income, of a magnitude of which Angolans have no idea. Due to a lack of transparency and to the creative accounting practices in the Angolan public sector, the real sums the government has amassed are, at this point, anybody’s guess (The Angolan Ambassador to Brazil, General Alberto Neto, reaffirmed in an interview to the daily O Globo (21.11.2005) that “the country’s oil income does not pass through the Angolan financial institutions”, and such a procedure makes it even more difficult to track the real sums derived from the oil revenues, which officially account for more than 80% of the country’s income.)
Secondly, as far as building houses is concerned, the government should promote job creation, ensure the payment of real salaries and introduce policies for housing development that provide the incentives for the private sector to take up the task and for citizens to afford access to credit and to be able to pay for their accommodation out of their own salaries. Angolans need decent wages for decent jobs, not permanent government or international charity.
As for the need for people to legitimize the exercise of power, society has been taking notice of the electoral mobilization the ruling Movement for the Popular Liberation of Angola (MPLA) has set in motion even though it remains silent on the setting of a date for elections. People have also been ready for elections to be called at three months’ notice (within the legal deadline). Nevertheless, Angolans still need to be registered to vote and there is no hint of when this will happen, along with other essential tasks to ensure a free and fair electoral process. These tactics could make it impossible for the opposition and public opinion to make any impression on the regime’s hold on power.
However, one fundamental question arises from this scenario of doubt and deceitfulness. What’s behind the regime’s postponement of elections for as long as it can? It has absolute control over the country’s riches, the media with a national outreach and the public administration. Furthermore, it uses the army and the national police as it pleases and as a means to achieve whatever ends it may pursue. It has support from the Western powerhouses in exchange for a large chunk of Angolan natural resources (oil and diamonds). There is also a Chinese bid for another slice of the country’s lucrative market with expensive loans, billions worth of construction contracts and so forth.
The factors mentioned above have been conspiring to eliminate the people as a fundamental factor for pressure and change. So the regime is afraid to hold elections because it is not sure whether it can control the emotions, anger and frustrations of the people. It is afraid of people’s reactions during an election campaign amid increased publicity.
Another element to take into account is the MPLA’s ideological problem or, more precisely, the lack of it. The end of socialism, or of the Marxism-Leninism it used to profess, led the MPLA to import, for its own survival, Western consumerism to provide a set of values required to regulate the dynamics of society.
Hence, the President’s appeal in his speech to patriotism is a mockery for he himself provides no example of it. Patriotism must be the sharing of a set of moral and national values which unite the citizens in the defence of their common interests, the country, and the dignity and the equality it reserves to each one of its children.
For its part, the government is hooked on corruption. It is unable to come up with a set of polices and the right course of action to effectively improve people’s lives and to develop the country. It is a regime with neither an ideology nor a nation-building project.
Corruption in Angola has taken on a life of its own. It serves the regime well to annihilate any signs of opposition, dissenting voices or alternative leaderships as well as to sabotage any action by the regime to deliver welfare to the people.
The absence of morals in the conduct of government officials and the gradual deletion of references to the people in public statements provides the necessary peace of mind for the very same government officials to pocket as they please the public funds assigned to them. The current Minister of Finances, Jose Pedro de Morais, and the Governor of the Central Bank, Amadeu Mauricio, are just the latest officials to present the country in recent months with financial scandals of an international dimension. The Brazilian daily O Globo (13.11.2005), in its coverage of a national corruption scandal (O Mensalao) that has shaken the presidency of Lula da Silva, exposed the Angolan connexion. A Brazilian businessman, Marcos V. de Souse, wire transferred around US$ 2.7 million to the personal bank accounts of the abovementioned Angolan officials. Days later, the newspaper, as a follow up to the same case, unearthed other remittances worth US$ 1,6 million to the personal account of the President of the Angolan Central Bank. In their defence, the Angolan ambassador to Brazil, Alberto Neto, told O Globo (21.11.2005), that “every man has a price, what matters is to know how much” The spokesperson for the Angolan Ministry of Finances stated that it was a duty for government officials to take 15% in commissions for the deals they close.
The Chinese Godfather
Once again the government, in its bid to re-legitimize itself, has turned abroad to seek credit and political protection. This time its port of call is China, after earlier docking at the White House (and its satellite Western allies) and, before that, mooring for a long time at the Kremlin and in Havana. In essence the government knows how to cuddle up to the permanent members of the UN Security Council, those with the power of veto.
The Dos Santos regime needs international legitimacy to keep in check its own people, its internal critics and its adversaries. The consequences of this extreme dependency upon foreign forces for the legitimization of power may be accounted for in terms of years of war, the slaughter of many Angolans and the never ending onslaught upon the country’s wealth. No less serious is the people’s feeling of a loss of dignity and self respect in its own household, humiliated and despised by the government’s friends of the hour. The example of the diamond rich territory of the Lundas is a point in case. The report ‘Lundas: The Stones of Death’ provides a detailed account of the complicity between the government, international diamond mining companies and dealers in spreading terror, destitution and misery in the region. The report is available at www.wilsoncenter.org/events/docs/ADDMarq.pdf
For a long time shrewd foreigners have explored for their own benefit the political, economic, social and intellectual shortcomings of the ruling class and the vanity of its desire to mutate into an assimilated bourgeoisie – the elite. As a consequence, the MPLA is adrift. Its government has no influence over the Presidency. The President rules alone, under the influence of foreign interests. This tightens his grip on power, as well as being his major weakness, his Achilles, in his dealings with the society. Thus, in today’s Angola, the American lobbies, some Portuguese interests, the Chinese, and so on hold more true and meaningful power over the government than that collegial body holds itself, not to mention its forlorn individual members.
There is a power vacuum. The government, and especially the President, are held hostage by interests foreign to Angolan society. Individual members of the ruling class generally ponder that they are getting richer by the day and busy themselves with shopping sprees.
The Western government partners in these ransacking ventures settle their accounts among themselves. They only make a pretence of demanding some measure of respect for human rights, transparency and democracy whenever specific business projects with the government turn sour, or periodically, when their code of honour among thieves is violated. Only then do these Western governments choose to denounce the Angolan regime in international corridors as corrupt, incompetent and despicable. At the same time, their own countries welcome without any reservations the bank deposits, investments and profits from the looting of Angola.
The regime, represented by the MPLA, should reduce its propaganda efforts and goodwill-bolstering operations, like building dubious, cheap and short-lived housing projects. It must opt for a policy based on being near to the people and their problems. It must replace propaganda by respect for freedom of expression in the state media, which are the only ones with nationwide coverage. This would allow public debate to flourish and produce solutions as well as establishing a culture of checks and balances.
Freedom of expression and of the press is fundamental to curb corruption and create a public mindset to generate enough pressure on the government to punish corrupt officials. Corruption is the institution holding the government together. Reassuring initiatives to fight it might enable the authorities to postpone the holding of elections without causing public anger. By taking on corruption, President Dos Santos could find the peace and rest that he wants and the MPLA could find its way back to being a popular movement.
As for the patriotism called for by Dos Santos, his regime must be capable of defending Angolans from many an international partner which finds in Angola a land of promise in which to sow discord under official patronage and treat Angolans as replaceable, unserviceable, undignified and undeserving objects. The logic is simple: if the government does not treat its own citizens with respect and in a dignified way, who else will?
By preserving the interests, dignity and respect of the Angolan people, Angola could evolve towards an open market, a safe haven for foreign investment, a hospitable destiny for tourists from all over the world and a second home for those who may choose it in their quest for sun and prosperity. Otherwise, direct confrontation between the people and power (in the sense of a privileged minority aided and abetted by foreign interests) will only be a matter of time. In the showdown of what will be a class struggle between the very rich and the totally destitute, due to the lack of intermediate social structures, all will end up as losers. The MPLA’s battle cry used to be “Hail the People’s Power”. Many still recall this power and keep it inside themselves, for the benefit of the majority.
* Rafael Marques is an Angolan Human Rights Activist ([email protected])
* Please send comments to [email protected]
America: Take back the news – confronting the rape epidemic
What is it about rape and sexual assault that causes society to blame the victim, to allow the perpetrator to escape punishment, and to largely ignore its very existence? More importantly, how can these attitudes be changed? Take Back the News works to raise public awareness about the epidemic of rape, in order to foster greater public dialogue and ultimately greater public responsibility. The new site reflects the incorporation and revamp of this anti-rape organization, including the formation of a Media Response Project to streamline communications with media outlets, and the distribution of free Community Print Project Kits that college activist groups can use to gather and publish rape survival stories.
From Salman “Rush to Die” to the Danish Cartoons
Tajudeen Abdul-Raheem compares the crisis over the publication of cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammed with the Fatwa issued against the author Salman Rushdie by Iran’s Ayatollah Ruhoolai Khomeini. Neither the West nor Islam has a monopoly on good or evil, he writes, concluding that “…freedom will be meaningless if it is completely unlimited, but living in a society also means that we have to share it with people whose ways and values may clash with ours”.
I was a student in England when the Salman Rushdie affair broke out. Let's refresh our memories. Mr. Rush to Die, a celebrated British writer of Indian Muslim origins, had written a novel called Satanic Versus. In it he repeated one of many insinuations about Prophet Muhammad, sexuality and women.
Apart from the literary types and their allied industry promoters, not many people would have heard of the book, even less would have bought it and fewer still would have read it. Somehow some Muslim clerics got to hear about this book and before you could say Salam Alaikum Muslim Clerics in Bradford (predominantly Asian) were up in arms, calling for a ban on the book and declaring it a blasphemy against Islam.
Then Iran's Ayatollah Ruhoolai Khomeini, (briefly in the 1980s the Spiritual Leader not just of Shiite Muslims but notionally for all Muslims and admired by many anti imperialists for cutting the US to size) waded in by declaring a FATWA (basically capital punishment for an apostate Muslim). From a local affair in Bradford the anti Satanic Verses popular protests spread across the United Kingdom and became a global bonfire in many Muslim countries. A spate of bannings followed, including by many African states that feared that the book was a threat to public peace and safety.
The protests about the book had less to do with the offence than the context. This was England in the 1980s, painfully adjusting to the conservative counter revolution of Margaret Thatcher in which poor people in general but ethnic and racial minorities in particular felt marginalized and vulnerable. British Muslims, especially second or more generation Asians locked in their ethno-religious laagers in places like Bradford and Leicester, felt more vulnerable than others. A community under attack from socio-economic and political changes finally found its religious faith also not considered sacred! The matter was made worse by the fact that the author who gave this public expression was, or was supposed to be, one of them even if he claimed to have become a lapsed Muslim! Do we see any parallels with the current protests because of a set of cartoons published in some Danish newspaper four months ago?
Like Rushdie's case the matter began locally but it became global because of technology but also because of the current tensions about the role of the West in global matters, particularly in the Middle East. Like British Muslims their brethren and sisters in Denmark, despite pretensions to the contrary of liberalism in countries like Denmark, feel left out and in recent years under right wing attack due to the rightward shift in politics in the Nordic and Scandinavian countries. Xenophobia is on the rise (formalising itself in parliament and government) as in many other European countries.
While Rushdie’s case was regarded as a stab in the back, the cartoons are considered a frontal blow. The international environment has meant that the tiny Muslim populations in a very tiny country called Denmark are not alone. Their frustrations can feed into all kinds of frustrations by Muslims and non-Muslims alike about the West.
The disagreement is presented as a simplistic one between freedom of expression and its enemies. Or even more directly as yet another clash of civilizations between the West and Islam, with the former standing for democracy and the latter lack of it. But it is not about religion essentially, but about politics and power locally and internationally. Freedom is not absolute anywhere in the world, least of all in the West. Would the same newspapers that have gleefully published the cartoons in over 25 Western countries (including the apartheid State of Israel) have published them if they had been about Jews? What would be the reaction of the same newspapers if the cartoons were about Jesus Christ, insinuating that he was a pedophile, since so many priests in Europe and the US have in recent years been exposed as systematically abusive of children in their flock? How many of these freedom lovers will take up the challenge thrown by an Iranian newspaper which had commissioned a similarly offensive set of cartoons about Christianity and Judaism and dare publish them in their papers?
On the other hand how many of those militant protesters burning down embassies and brandishing all kinds of violent posters and placards will be tolerated in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Pakistan or any other so called Muslim state if their protest was about the un-Islamic practices of their rulers whose rule is any thing but Islamic?
How many of those protesting have actually seen these cartoons? My guess is that like the Satanic verses, which many liberals bought to show solidarity but never read beyond the 'satanic' page, many of those protesting the cartoons have not and will not even see them.
Does that mean there are no issues at stake apart from cynical politics and transferable anger? No, there are serious issues and discussions that need to be heard but which can only be meaningful after the current pontification from the West and victimhood emotionalism from Muslims has settled down.
Neither has a monopoly on good and evil. Freedom will be meaningless if it is completely unlimited but living in a society also means that we have to share it with people whose ways and values may clash with ours. Finding a peaceful formulae for mutual coexistence within boundaries of tolerance in equal dignity is what democracy is about. The tragedy is that the West behaves as though it has a monopoly on democracy to the extent that many non Westerners or non westernised people now instinctively reject democracy as a western subterfuge.
* Dr Tajudeen Abdul-Raheem is General-Secretary of the Pan African Movement, Kampala (Uganda) and Co-Director of Justice Africa
* Please send comments to [email protected]
* Africa: Saa Ya Kinyumbani
The music over the PA system, when I arrive at Nairobi’s Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, is relentlessly American. Kenny Rogers, Whitney Houston, muzak you can’t name but you’ve heard a hundred times before in a hundred generic interchangeable locations. It sounds especially ironic to me this time, given the purpose of my trip.
16 hours ago, in the UK, I posted the following entry on my blog:
“Migritude and I are going home. To an audience that may love us or loathe us, but cannot possibly be bored or indifferent. An audience more intimately connected to what we have to say than any other in the world.
The novelist May Sarton has a line in one of her books: ‘Perhaps, in the end, this is why one is a poet. So that once in a lifetime, one can say the right words, to the right person, at the right time.’
Almost 3am now. 6am in Nairobi - sunrise, and trees erupting into bird chatter. On Kenya Airways flights, Local Time At Destination is rendered in Kiswahili as Saa Ya Kinyumbani Ya Mwisho Wa Safari.
Literal translation: Time of the home at the end of the journey.”
I grew up in Kenya during the Moi years. When those who spoke out were routinely arrested, detained without trial, beaten, tortured, exiled, killed. We read daily news stories about journalists, activists, even students, jailed for “sedition.” Every so often, our literature teacher would tell us that such-and-such a poet had been “banned” – and we dutifully crossed out their name and poems in our school text-books.
We were taught that Kenya attained independence peacefully. Without bloodshed. The slaughter of over 300,000 Kenyans in the war of independence, the subsequent betrayal of the country by the establishment of one-party rule, was never mentioned.
I grew up in a world where brown-skinned Kenyans were “the Asians” - their Kenyan citizenship and nationality subject to constant question and attack. Black-skinned Kenyans were “Africans” – the real Kenyans. Africans of other nationalities – Ugandans, Somalis, Congolese – were suspect and unwelcome refugees, invisible in public life.
Now I’m going home to do excerpts from my one-woman spoken-word theatre show, Migritude, in which I unfold voices of Kenyan women telling of rape and torture in British concentration camps during the Mau Mau years. Speak the pain of growing up brown in black-majority post-colonial East Africa. Reclaim and celebrate the dignity outsider status. Do not disguise my radical queer politics. I am terrified. I don’t yet trust that we can speak of these things, even in the new multiparty Kenya, without consequences.
And beyond that, I have no idea how Nairobi will take to spoken-word theatre. Or slam poetry. Who will come out to hear my work? June Wainaina, PR and Marketing Manager of Kwani?, the groundbreaking Kenyan literary organization that is presenting me in Nairobi, tells me: “People here have never seen anything like you. We expect to sell out your show at the Carnivore.”
When Youssou N’Dour sang at Nairobi’s legendary Carnivore restaurant in 2005, he drew a capacity crowd of 4,500. We draw slightly less. A lot less, in fact. Only 59 tickets sold (we’d projected 200). Not even enough to recoup Kwani’s costs – or pay my artist’s fee. Most glaring, and personally disappointing, is the absence of my own Asian African community, aside from a few progressive activists, journalists, and friends. We learn important lessons from this about PR, community outreach, marketing, and choice of venue. But the press is there in force. KTN, the national TV network, films the entire show. Journalists from Kenya’s two national dailies bombard me with questions after the performance. Features on me and Migritude run in the papers every day for the next four days.
And the response to Migritude from those 59 people there is nothing short of electric. They surround me on stage afterwards, almost overwhelm me with eagerness, appreciation, thoughts, questions. I am amazed at how my work has sliced through ethnic and socio-economic boundaries. Some of the most enthusiastic responses and persistent questions come from a group of MCs and b-boys, who, I am later told, were all street children until a few years ago. One of them tells me how powerfully affected he was by the integration of history, politics, economics, into my poetry. He asks: “What obstacles will I face in writing like this?”
Someone else, Asian African, tells me he was moved to tears by Shilling Love, a piece about my parents’ sacrifices. He was embarrassed by his emotion, until he looked around and saw another listener, Black African, also crying. “I have never had this experience before,” he says, “of Asian and African sharing the same tear.”
In subsequent days I do back-to-back meetings, interviews, radio spots. I am asked repeatedly for my thoughts on “Indians in Kenya.” My recurring response is: “I don’t really have any knowledge about Indians in Kenya. But I have a lot to say about Kenyans of South Asian heritage.” I watch the eyes of Black Kenyan journalists widen with sudden understanding, and it affirms my faith in the vital importance of words. I am a poet because I believe that language shapes the reality we inhabit. When we reclaim and reinvent the language used to define us, we also claim the space and power to act politically.
Some journalists tell me that they have never heard South Asian Kenyans voice the radical politics they hear in my work. I point out that just as Black Kenyans who challenged the ruling powers post-independence were exiled, imprisoned, or killed, so also were dissenting Asian Kenyans silenced – through assassination, deportation, removal of citizenship.
On the night of the show, the TV crew tells us they will run segments of Migritude on KTN’s Art Scene program the following week. Later, we hear that the director of the show was concerned about the political content. Rather than cutting it, however, she chose to delay screening until her superiors approved it. Self-censorship? Over-cautiousness? What elements of the content caused the concern? All part of the ongoing conversation about saa ya kinyumbani. What time is it right now in Kenya’s history? Has the time finally arrived when we can have these conversations?
* Kenyan Indian poet and spoken word artist Shailja Patel has featured at New York's Lincoln Center, and venues across the US. She has drawn standing ovations in London, Glasgow, and Nairobi. Excerpts from her one-woman spoken-word theater show, Migritude, have aired on BBC radio, NPR, the National Radio Project, and Pacifica Radio, generating responses worldwide. Migritude was recently selected for the International Women Art Festival in Vienna in 2006. (http://www.shailja.com/)
* Please send comments to [email protected]
Africa: Chimurenga call for submissions
Through this issue we hope to dig into and provide a platform for the medium that best brings, on the page, writing, art and ideas together - a medium still criminally unexplored these parts. However, the idea isn't to present another "African Comics" anthology, or similar missionary or developmental projects. Though Chimurenga is a very politicised space, it's also a space for pleasure. We're inviting comics creators and graphic storytellers who have produced cutting-edge work to submit some original pieces for this issue, or excerpts from work-in-progress.
Next Issue, Chimurenga 9: "Conversations in Luanda and Other Graphic
Stories" - a comics issue.
Through this issue we hope to dig into and provide a platform for the
medium that best brings, on the page, writing, art and ideas together
- a medium still criminally unexplored these parts. However, the idea
isn't to present another "African Comics" anthology, or similar
missionary or developmental projects. Though Chimurenga is a very
politicised space, it's also a space for pleasure. We're inviting
comics creators and graphic storytellers who have produced
cutting-edge work to submit some original pieces for this issue, or
excerpts from work-in-progress.
We also have selected stories, essays and interviews to be "adapted",
or dubbed (King Tubby-style) into comics/graphic stories. You may
choose to use one of them as the basis for your submission, or simply
work from your own original idea. Let us know if you're interested, so
we can email some of the stories/essays available.
Estimated deadline for submissions is end of March - does that sound
reasonable? And submissions shall be between 4-10 pages, in black and
white, with one spot colour, usually blood-soaked red. It may be a
series of shortish pieces or a running one. We will pay an honorary of
100USD - or the equivalent thereof - per work published. LIMITED OFFER
ONLY!!!We cannot actually afford to pay a fee to contributors, and
this would be a token (God! I hate that word!) of appreciation, for
their support to our non-profit ad-free all-volunteered independent
Spread the word.
Other forthcoming issues include: Indians and Africa, Dressed to Kill,
Futbol and Politricks, Amandla Intifada - in no partcular order.
And see www.chimurenga.co.za, for more on the mag.
Zimbabwe: Operation Murambatsvina - an artist's interpretation
When Zimbabwean artist Josiah Bob Taundi grew up in the townships of Harare he saw bulldozers as emblems of construction - machines that came to clear land for building houses and roads. But last year all this changed. Bulldozers came back to the townships and razed the very same houses that they had constructed. The Zimbabwean government called this "clean up", Murambatsvina (Operation Restore Order). While the urban demolitions were in full swing across the country, Zimbabwean artist, Josiah Taundi could not help but see the agony and pain reflected in the eyes of those that had been affected by Murambatsvina. In an effort to depict their plight he began to vividly re-construct Harare’s urban destruction.
Accelarated and shared growth in South Africa?
Thabo Mbeki's neo-liberal state of the nation address, while re-committing South Africa to market-friendly economic policies, failed to outline specific programmes to meaningfully deal with the country's worsening poverty and underdevelopment. The 'have-nots', who have suffered severely in the last ten years as a result of conservative economic policies, should therefore brace themselves for more hardship.
It is very hypocritical for parliament to have chosen the theme "All shall have equal rights"- derived from the Freedom Charter - given the sad reality that the annual opening of parliament and parliament itself are a very good reflection of growing inequalities between the rich and the poor.
The annual event has become a Hollywood-style fashion extravaganza. The SABC's fashion commentator skilfully scrutinized numerous trendy outfits worn by the elite.
Despite SA's worsening levels of poverty and inequalities, Mbeki, as a result of recent surveys, is very optimistic and hopeful that the economic policies are taking the country in the right direction. Unfortunately, reality on the ground paints a very gloomy picture.
As widely expected, economic growth and government's 'Accelerated and Shared Growth Initiative' (ASGISA), featured prominently. This, and other government's neo-liberal initiatives, have seen South Africa's ruling politicians, 'prostituting' themselves to the financially well endowed corporations and the markets that they control in an attempt to attract the much craved foreign investment, with dire consequences for the masses.
ASGISA sees increased exports as fundamental for economic growth and the projected six percent annual growth rate in the next few years. However, in recent years, the country has managed to drastically increase its exports, but this has come at a heavy price for the working class. While output growth has increased, employment growth has declined in major sectors, such as manufacturing, business services, agriculture and mining.
As the Cape Town based Alternative Information and Development Centre (AIDC) points out, export oriented growth also means increased competition which, in many instances, has meant cost reduction which leads to unsafe working conditions, retrenchments and cutting of working hours and wages.
At the expense of the poor, the ANC government has put too much reliance on the private sector. The problem with this however, is that the private sector's primary aim is to increase profitability. Private companies are not accountable to anyone but shareholders. South Africa, with its heavy apartheid induced services backlog, cannot afford this situation.
Upcoming celebrations on June 16 and August 09 marking the 30th anniversary of the Soweto youth uprising and the 50th anniversary of the women's march to the Union buildings, respectively, mean very little for the majority of women and youth who, as a result of government's policies, are confronted with extreme poverty on a daily basis.
It is estimated that 70% of the unemployed are young people. Most have never worked in their life. Only about 14% of those graduating from tertiary institutions, each year find secure employment in the formal economy. Yet, none of our so-called 'experts' see the connection between this hopeless situation and youth involvement in crime, survival sex, substance abuse, etc.
Instead, in true South African-style, the government plans to deal with the symptoms and not the causes. Mbeki mentioned a plan to improve resource allocation within the justice systerm to ensure that "crime does not pay". The fact that a large majority of those overcrowding our prisons are arrested for what most sociologists view as "poverty related" crimes is immaterial.
Because of government's strict fiscal discipline, and Mbeki and Manto Tshabalala-Msimang's AIDS denial, the life saving anti retroviral drugs are only available to a fraction of infected persons - mostly women and youth - at government hospitals. Only about a hundred thousand of about six million HIV/AIDS patients are on anti retroviral medicine at public institutions.
Is it therefore not an insult and insensitive for Mbeki to suggest that we should be proud of this horrific situation?
Opposition parties, who have, in the backdrop of electioneering for the March 01 local government elections, portrayed themselves as an 'alternative' to the ANC, whilst having raised a few minor misgivings about Mbeki's speech, are in full agreement with the overall anti-poor capitalist agenda.
The failure to acknowledge that it is the top down capitalist policies of the ruling party that breed corruption and poverty, give the lie to their claims.
Certainly, there is an urgent need to conduct an intensive nationwide debate of government's economic policies that have rendered freedom and democracy enigmatic for many South Africans.
Is it not the right time then to demand an end to privatisation and outsourcing? Was the struggle against apartheid also not about decent and secure jobs? With more than eight million of the economically active population unemployed, should we not be demanding urgent steps to curb the unemployment virus?
An erosion of soul
Saman Yazdani Khan
Reading the article by Mona Prince, titled "Witness to an erosion of soul: An Egyptian woman travels to the US", was a sad yet enriching experience.
She has been brave enough to raise her voice against injustice against strong odds and kudos to her for doing that. By doing so she has further highlighted the point that fighting for justice and human rights is a global phenomena.
If US society has eroded so much that it denies its citizens the basic rights enshrined in its own constitution, then it is merely behaving just like any other dictatorial or repressive regime. It is showing its ugly side to the world now and therefore the US cannot any longer lay claim to being the champion of freedom of the individual and take a high moral ground over other nations. It has sunk too low for that.
Despite its hype about democracy and human freedom, it has exhibited that it has a soul which is no different from the many nations on this globe that regularly victimize civil society for their own petty vested gains. Now it is left to the people of this world who truly believe in justice and human rights to carry that responsibility and continue with the struggle for human justice. One such person is Mona, and I hope many find the courage to follow her example.
Can trade in an era of globalisation be just?
Good discussion. Africans need jobs so that they can get money to buy the stuff they want and free trade but not subsidized commodity imports in the form cotton, rice, and etc (paid by US taxpayers.) I believe "private capital" is better at generating jobs. Government capital creates either low productivity and or jobs for party people, Stalin's government built an ok armaments industry. Come to think of it the American economy is good at this too. Indeed this country is departing from capitalism as it is supposed to be in favor of economic hit men economics.
On BBC I heard about about a new cement plant in Southern India where there is extremely high unemployment. Construction cost: hundreds of millions, new jobs: 400!
Everywhere people are induced to leave poor but relatively stable villages and subsistence, no money, farming to try to find work and money in cities and industrial towns. They often find more and maybe worse poverty. Here in the Americas we refer to these as Maquiladoras. A byproduct of globalisation seems to be one of spreading poverty into new areas. But this outcome need not be inevitable.
I don't believe that African governments are sufficiently attentive as to what they could be doing to stimulate an emerging African market...now less talked about than a couple of years ago. Governments could strongly urge (not compel) natural resources extractors (oil drillers gold miners etc) to reinvest some of their returns from African and South American natural resources into the economies of origin, new factories, services, shopping centers. Thus stockholders would get more bang for their bucks; returns on extracting operations and on new investments in growing economies.
Unions have a critical role to play. Worker safety and child labour are big issues. I know a young man who begs in Accra who at age 7 or 8 had his arm torn off by a corn grinding machine. After a couple of years in hospital he did complete primary school. However I am also aware of an Asian company that imports soap flakes to Ghana for repackaging and local marketing. The production target on their Ghana packaging line during an 8 hour shift is 45 crates vs 165 in Asia. As a casual visitor I did not think that this was any "sweat shop". They could have been doing better while not crossing that line. And then there was the bankruptcy of Volta Garments which hired 600 workers and could not exceed making seven shirts per day versus 20-22 in Asia. Probably a lot of blame for these shortfalls has to laid on the involvement of certain unions.
And Oh! Thank God for Pambazuka News.
Can trade in an era of globalisation be just? (2)
The author barely mentions corruption which is again in the news with Kenya's watchdog fleeing the country. There are 2.9 million references on Google for 'Kenya corruption' and about half that for 'Kenya transparency.'
I think wealthy countries' perceptions about corruption in Africa are big factors in aid policies. So much assistance is crisis management instead of community development. With the H5N1 virus found in Kaduna state Nigeria, let's see how Nigerian and outside experts handle this latest health crisis. Uganda did pretty well with Ebola six years ago, but that's a very different kind of disease.
Around the blogosphere: Building bridges community style
Over the past year, the number of Africans blogging has grown. However, women bloggers are still a minority in most country blogospheres except for Kenya were there is almost a 50/50 split between men and women. To try and redress this, two Nigerian women bloggers (Oreoluwa Somolu of Ore’s Notes - http://orenotes.blogspot.com/) and Sokari Ekine of Black Looks - http://okrasoup.typepad.com/black_looks) initiated a blog mentoring project to encourage more Nigerian women to blog. Initially the project there will be a pilot project in Lagos, Nigeria which will consist of 15 participants and 20-30 mentors and will run for 6 months. For more information and if you are interested in mentoring on the project contact sokari(at)fahamu.org
Rwandan Survivors - Rwandan Survivors (http://rwandansurvivors.blogspot.com/2006/02/survivors-this-posting-was-sent-to-me.html) publishes a moving statement by a 26 year old genocide “survivor” on her/his own suffering. S/he questions the use of the term “Survivor”.
“You are called genocide survivor but actually you are not! You just try to move along with others without any basis just like a shoot trying to grow up without roots.”
S/he goes on to urge the international community to stop debating on whether genocide is taking place or not in Darfur and Act:
“The policy of the international community is ‘No interest, no emergency’. They left people dying during the genocide then came back after to clean the bloody place with their nutritional and medical assistance to the injured survivors…Why should people waste time arguing on either if it is genocide or not in Darfur? Any second wasted results in a waste of lives.”
This is Zimbabwe (Sokwanele)- This is Zimbabwe (http://www.sokwanele.com/thisiszimbabwe/archives/352) considers whether the CIO (Central Intelligence Organisation) of Zimbabwe is involved with the infighting amongst the opposition party, MDC (Movement for Democratic Change). There are two main conspiracy theories. The first accuses the vice president of the MDC of conniving with South African President Mbeki to undermine MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai. The second theory is that Tsvangirai colluded with ZANU PF and betrayed the MDC by pulling out of the Senate elections in exchange for a “reward”.
Sokwanele however poses a third theory which they explain in detail:
“The view we put forward here is that both sides in the intense leadership struggle are thereby playing right into the hands of the Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) which not only benefits from the resulting division and confusion but actually planned it that way. And the meticulous planning began many years ago”
They conclude by calling on Zimbabweans to end the “personality cult” and stop following leaders who have proved themselves flawed.
Grandiose Parlor - Grandiose Parlor (http://grandioseparlor.blogspot.com/2006/02/bridge-in-60-days.html ) reports on a a bridge that was built in 60 days in Anambra State, Eastern Nigeria.
The bridge was built by a retired engineer and the men and women of the Ozubulu village and was financed by the Worldwide Organisation of Women. Discussing his experience, the engineer, Dr Strong writes:
“For many reasons this has been a very good project to show how the people themselves can get up and do for themselves when it is obvious the government will not or can not do what they wish for a better life. Here is a marvellous bridge birthed in a jungle across a muddy river and swamp. Just as easy it could have been a school, a clinic, a library, a community palm oil processing plant, a cassava starch extraction plant, a maze of fish raising ponds, a complex of chicken houses.”
Just imagine if this was replicated across the country and across the continent?
Rantings of a Sandmonkey - Rantings of a Sandmonkey (http://egyptiansandmonkey.blogspot.com/2006/02/5-sightings-2-realizations.html) reminds us that cartoons are still very much a part of the Middle Eastern blogosphere conversations. He publishes a list of things he saw in down town Cairo for example.
“A big banner that informs the Muslim population that Denmark - all of it apparently - are going to burn the Koran - yet again - this Wednesday, and in retaliation we all should fast on Friday and then pray to god against them when we break the fast. (Not kidding!)”
And so it goes on.
AfroHomo - AfroHomo (http://afrohomo.blogspot.com/2006/02/afrohomo-memories-004-fear.html) continues his memoirs of growing up gay in Nigeria:
“In my nightmare, I am walking down a Lagos street and street hoodlums attack me with sticks and blows. Finally, they put a tire around me, douse me with gasoline and set me on fire. My mum runs towards me in tears, too late to save me from the flames…
My nightmare is not a fantasy. About three years ago, I woke up in my dorm room (during the year I spent at a Nigerian university) to screams of pain. A guy was getting severely beat-up and dorm rooms were emptying out - everyone wanted to see the show. I stood watching the beating for a while, in that horror-fascination state of mind. I stood watching until I asked one of my friends: ‘What did he do?’"
He concludes that at least he is lucky as many of his friends are probably still “walking Lagos streets, conforming on the outside but bearing dangerous secrets”. Being gay in Africa is a living torture and as he explains:
“I can't be happy as long as gay Africans live under dangly swords. Increasingly, I see GLBT activism as my life's calling. Maybe that's why god has blessed me - to fight for gay Africans that may not be able to fight for themselves. It's a scary path to tread but…”
Chippla - Chippla (http://chippla.blogspot.com/2006/02/talibanization-of-northern-nigeria.html) writes on the Tablinisation of Northern Nigeria. Kano, once a bustling cosmopolitan city, is now regressing “thanks to in no small part to Islamic religious fundamentalism” and the introduction of Sharia law:
“The federal government of Nigeria is now accusing the Kano State government of ‘seeking foreign funding to train an Islamic militia’, according to reports from the Nigerian Guardian (not archived). The Nigerian Minister of Information is reported as saying that the Kano State government is trying to turn the Hisbah into a parallel police force.”
Chippla agrees that Islam, like other religions, has a role to play in the country, but points to ”the danger of politicians hijacking religious teachings and dogma for selfish use.”
* Sokari Ekine produces the blog Black Looks, http://okrasoup.typepad.com/black_looks
* Please send comments to [email protected]
Africa: Towards More Democracy?
Henning Melber assesses the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) and its associated African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) in relation to African leadership. While warning against praising premature trends and noting some setbacks, he maintains that there has been a greater willingness of leaders to step aside – an improvement from the “generation of despots heading cleptocratic regimes that used to be the order of the day in many more countries”.
Until recently the principle of national sovereignty and non-intervention into the affairs of other African states guided the official norm of the Organisation of African Union (OAU). In contrast, the African Union (AU) in its Constitutive Act signalled a shift in the paradigm towards increased collective responsibility in crucial matters of human (and state) security. Heads of governments are since empowered to agree collectively on intervention into internal affairs of member countries under particularly grave circumstances. This newly introduced and practically enforced principle of collective responsibility has in the last years already borne fruits in several cases, where African leaders in bi- and multilateral efforts resumed mediating roles in controlling and reducing conflicts or even bringing them to an end.
The new political will has also manifested itself in the development of The New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) with a hitherto unprecedented emphasis within formulated programmatic African strategies on democracy, human rights and good governance as substantive elements for socio-economic development. While NEPAD has in the meantime been adopted as the economic programme of the AU, it should not be lost sight of the fact that it was (and should remain) far more than that.
The perspective offered by NEPAD was already in its infant stages welcomed by external partners - notably the G 7/8 and the EU - in support of African efforts towards development, including concerted arrangements to enhance peace and security. The NEPAD architects were, so to say, able to cash in on a confidence and trust bonus based on the declared aims of the blue print they were selling – interestingly first abroad before doing so on the ‘home front’. Once embraced and approved by the AU, NEPAD’s role was internationally endorsed as Africa’s official development strategy through a resolution adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 2004.
Ever since its successful promotion and consolidation, however, NEPAD had to face the challenge that its rhetoric was measured against its real achievements so far – as well as its lack thereof. Those generally in support of NEPAD, who are prepared not to close both eyes in blind loyalty to romanticising Afro-optimism, will have to admit that the road is long and winding and that the realisation of the declared goals has not always produced convincing results - if any. The NEPAD architects are not composed of an alliance free of own interests and agendas. The failed litmus test of Zimbabwe is just one among the more prominent examples to illustrate the point. There is sufficient reason to limit the expectations to at best a cautious optimism.
A marked new dimension introduced by NEPAD has more recently been the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM). It took several stages with at times sensible and delicate negotiations (and a lot of compromises) from its original concept to its concretisation and ultimate first implementation. After all, the idea and its applicability signalled a final turning point in the common grounds of African continental cooperation. Although a voluntarily entered process, the APRM has a high degree of legitimacy for those countries prepared to undergo the assessment. It is hence an attractive opportunity to increase international reputation and to thereby secure additional external support for national policies.
The peer review process was widely welcomed and accompanied by rather high expectations. The APRM translation into a practical instrument, however, also showed the limits of designing, producing, and applying the tool. Many of the African governments preferred to keep a close control on the mandate and applicability of the APRM as well as the defined and agreed priorities of the assessments to be undertaken. Given their concern that the APRM might support undue interference and impose unwanted explorations upon those willing to undergo the review procedures, ownership of the process was transferred from the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) to the AU itself and hence incorporated into those structures composed by those now responsible for reviewing each other.
Furthermore, the APRM was not firmly rooted in a legally binding document such as a protocol.
The power of decision making and taking remains vested in the countries prepared to be reviewed, which casts doubts over the true degree of autonomous and independent reviewing. The review results will only be accessible with the consent and authorisation of the country reviewed. This means a high degree of control remains executed by those who try to prove their accountability to others. The legitimacy of such a limited and constrained fact-finding mission in cases of differences of opinion among the parties involved might be dubious.
The few experiences so far suggest that there are major variations in the permissiveness of the approach shown by those states and governments willing to enter the APRM procedures. At the beginning of 2006 close to 30 countries have registered for the APRM. This is a large number. But many haven’t done so yet, and some among them would be considered as problem cases. The APRM process has initiated during 2004 the first country missions (Ghana, Kenya, Mauritius, Rwanda) and prepared since then six further missions (Algeria, Mali, Mozambique, Nigeria, Senegal and South Africa). But little is so far known in terms of visible results, against which the countries subject to the review process could be measured.
The APRM is supposed to be in the first place a tool designed for enhanced collective responsibility within the family of African countries. However, it will for obvious reasons become a criterion for measurement of the African governments’ performances in terms of good governance issues. There is no way to escape this perception and effect. The APRM therefore needs to consolidate further a highest possible degree of international credibility. This in turn requires clear guidelines securing transparency and accountability towards a wider community of interest groups and stakeholders – both at home and abroad.
The following pertinent issues remain to be addressed:
- The direct and open involvement of non-state actors in the process (churches, trade unions, universities, the private sector, independent media and many other civil society organisations and advocacy groups representing both mainstream and minority interests in the political, cultural and economic spheres) would add to the credibility and legitimacy and would especially enlarge the ownership over the process.
- The unsolved challenge remains of how governments in non-compliance with fundamental principles of good governance are treated within the AU and by its member states. After all, the APRM is a voluntary exercise, controlled mainly by those under review, and with results shared only on a consensual basis. This in itself reduces differences in opinion over good governance matters to undisclosed draft statements. But those not willing to undergo the APRM will avoid even the process of seeking an acceptable formula with those supposed to make the assessment.
Some of the questions resulting from this current state of affairs include:
- What then is the real progress (as measured against the rhetoric or lip-service) in terms of collective responsibility and common denominators for joint positions and actions resulting thereof?
- To what extent constitutes the APRM more than a club of mutually adoring, enlightened actors who are able to read the signs of the time without abandoning their policies in non-compliance with the principles suggested to guide good governance notions?
- How can the APRM help to separate pseudo-legality (aiming to create the misleading impression that everything is sanctioned by law – even the unethical and immoral – and hence formally in order) from serious efforts to improve good governance, which deserve the full support from all interested in political and socio-economic progress?
- What role should donor countries play vis-à-vis the continentally driven APRM initiative and its variety of results in terms of transparency and accountability (or the limits thereof)?
The following perspectives by African scholars based on the continent provide no answers but reinforce the questions. They are necessary to be posed. Premature praises of current trends would be as premature and destructive. As so often in transitional socio-political processes, the existing realities are most likely located somewhere in between those extremes.
The recent concerted efforts to provide the increasing number of retired African presidents with meaningful tasks to at least neutralise them if not to turn them into a constructive additional ingredient to enhance the notion of so-called good governance is just one case in point. This relatively new phenomenon on the continent is illustrated not only by the drastically growing cases of a peaceful and constitutionally anchored transfer of political power in African countries. It is also documented among others by the ‘Bamako Declaration of the African Statesmen Initiative’ adopted on 8 June 2005 as well as the ‘Africa Forum’ of former heads of state established upon initiative of former president Joaquim Chissano in mid-January 2006 in Maputu.
On the other hand, various dubious moves by political leaders in power (notably Museveni in Uganda, Kérékou in Benin, but also Obasanjo in Nigeria) seem to suggest that the willingness to vacate office in due course and according to the rule of the law existing is still not a generally accepted and internalised notion among all those occupying the positions.
Notwithstanding such visible evidence of setbacks and contrasting manoeuvres remains the fact that leaders in much bigger numbers opt out today than they did in the past. This might not be good enough yet to secure meaningful and lasting advancements for countries and their people – but it’s certainly better than the generation of despots heading cleptocratic regimes that used to be the order of the day in many more countries. If therefore the AU, NEPAD and its APRM at the end turn out to contribute to an increased shared awareness among the elites in African countries to adhere to certain principles of democracy and human rights in governing practices, one should not simply shrug shoulders and disregard this as a meaningless symbolic act. After all, processes of social transformation seem to be a long and time-consuming affair in our days, where revolutions are anything but the order of the day.
* Dr. Henning Melber is Research Director of the Nordic Africa Institute in Uppsala/Sweden and had been director of NEPRU between 1992 and 2000. Parts of this article had been presented as an input paper for a meeting between Nordic and African Foreign Ministers in January 2006.
* Please send comments to [email protected]
Cote d’Ivoire: African Union team to visit soon
The current African Union (AU) chairman, President Denis Sassou Nguesso of Congo, revealed here Saturday (February 11) that the continental body will soon initiate fresh moves to find a solution to the Ivorian crisis. Sassou Nguesso made the announcement in Brazzaville three days after the AU brokered a peace agreement between Chad and Sudan. N`djamena had accused Khartoum of assisting armed dissidents who have attacked several government targets in eastern Chad.
Ethiopia: Scholar network slams AU silence
Statement by the Network of Ethiopian Scholars (NES) on the situation in Ethiopia
"The AU can and should speak out. Not to utter even a whisper is indeed a tragedy for Africa as Africa cannot afford to wait another half century to bring democracy because of a number of its brutish and self-serving rulers that are not willing to hold Africa’s interest at heart. Have not the AU heard that the EU Parliament has voted denouncing the atrocities committed by the Meles regime?"
By the Network of Ethiopian Scholars (NES) - Scandinavian Chapter
February 9, 2006
Where is the OUTRAGE? The inexplicable silence of the AU to the Ethiopian crisis!!!
“Africa has the right and the duty to intervene to root tyranny. We must all accept that we cannot abuse the concept of national sovereignty to deny the rest of the continent the right and duty to intervene when behind those sovereign boundaries people are being slaughtered to protect tyranny.”
Former President Nelson Mandela, Speech at the OAU Summit, 1998
The 21st must be Africa’s century. It is not a question of whether can Africa claim the 21st century. This has to be Africa’s century or Africa will perish. It has to be the century of the African renaissance. It has to be the century of the post-pessimistic turn against the casual moral condemnation of a continent with over 500 years of scar and pain. Africa is to change from speaking through its hurt, suffering, sores and wounds to that of speaking with resistance and hope to the world. It is supposed to change from corrupt government to democratic Government; from tyranny to democracy; from rule by arbitrary personal power to rule by law; from a Government by the voices and choices of the governed rather than by the whims and guns of dictators.
Equally important, it was also critical to turn the tide of speech and representation about Africa. A new millennium offered the opportunity, a new optimism to initiate a new temper in Africa. For far too long Africa suffered from pessimism of description as well as pessimism of prescription. It has suffered from a condescending and often violent gaze from diagnosis to prescription. It is still the case everyone who cares to reflect on Africa begins often with an underlying tone of reproach. The African renaissance that began with the end of apartheid in South Africa provided the big idea for a non- reproachful and non-pessimistic and hopeful turn to think and speak, do , feel, reason and debate about Africa. The African renaissance ushered in a critical agenda of post-colonial liberation. The historical chapters of colonialism and apartheid have ended. South Africa joined Africa with a wonderful liberation that imparted a historic sense and energy that continues to excite the progressive imagination of all those who wish desperately to see Africa stand tall and strong by moving forward by protecting with shared obligation the dignity and humanity of all Africans the world over. Today we have indeed in Africa a new historical chapter of marching together for a deeper African integration and renewal at all levels of African existential and public life. This remains the basic trend despite the glitches and reversals Africans experience from time to time. The new agenda seems clear. To unite Africa, democracy must be rooted in all Africa. Without democratising Africa, it will not be easy to unite it and indeed free and create renascent Africa. And when the OAU gave way to the AU, it seems for a time the political will to make Africa democratic and people-centred seem to exist. There was great expectation that Africa will live up to the challenge of making Africa to stand united in freedom and move forward.
1. The Key Provisions of Africa’s Constitutive Act
The AU’s Constitutive Act promised Africans new possibilities and hopes to unite Africa on key values of respect of human rights, democratic governance, rule of law and periodic submission by Governments to a peer review mechanism, promises to find African mechanisms for building enduring peace and stability, human security and the protection of basic freedoms of speech, press, association and assembly.
Gone were the days when a dictator having come through military means and chooses to terrorise a country by invoking respect for sovereignty. The AU Constuitive Act permits African intervention in other African states under the following conditions:
· an unconstitutional take over of power through military coup de etat, mercenaries, armed dissidents
· an incumbent refuses to hand over power after an election defeat
· ignoring popular verdicts in elections
· in the event of cases of genocide
· in the event of internal stability, civil war with regional consequences
· civil society has been recognised to participate formally in the AU framework
· Governments will be subject to a peer review mechanism
· Inclusion of the Diaspora
To the credit of the AU it has tried to take real measures by intervening and imposing sanctions on coup makers, and those who refuse to abide by popular election verdicts. What has emerged as an interesting fact is that sovereignty is no longer a barrier to AU interventions as in the OAU days. Under the guise of protecting sovereignty many crimes have been committed in Africa. The AU has thus added new duties and obligations to members. Formally AU has heralded a new orientation to the use and misuse of power against citizens.
2. Where is the Commitment and Consistency?
It is not enough to put wonderful words in the Constuitive Act unless the AU acts on those principles. The AU is in Addis Ababa. The elected mayor of Addis Ababa with a land slide where the AU is located with has been locked up in jail. The entire elected leadership has been forcibly and violently put into jail. The popular verdict against the incumbent has been wasted by one of the most open robbery of the election in Africa where people voluntarily turned out to vote and express voice massively. The AU knows all these but remains silent, and in some instances gives carte blanche to the regime to do what it likes with the people and the opposition. This is indeed a scandal. It is a betrayal of Africa. Betrayal of democracy in Africa is a betrayal of Africa pure and simple.
The AU can and should speak out. Not to utter even a whisper is indeed a tragedy for Africa as Africa cannot afford to wait another half century to bring democracy because of a number of its brutish and self-serving rulers that are not willing to hold Africa’s interest at heart. Have not the AU heard that the EU Parliament has voted denouncing the atrocities committed by the Meles regime? The EU has tried to stop budget support. From the AU, not even a word. How come when the partners from Europe speak up the brothers and sisters close buy shut their eyes and close their ears and lips? Do not they know their silence gives succour to tyranny in Ethiopia? Do they care? What ever happened to the African parliament? Why does it too remain silent when fellow parliamentarians, some of whom should be their colleagues in Pretoria, Teshwane, are thrown in jail for the simple fact that they happened to be elected not from the incumbent party that dictatorially harasses a nation for nearly a generation?
Africa must be the first to speak up when Africans impose tyranny and misdirect the democratic energy of a nation displayed so magnificently on May 15, 2005. Meles Zenawi has not only killed and jailed, but also he has used pre-emptive lethal force to terrorise the urban youth and the rural population. He deserves to be censored and not feted by the AU.
3. Meles’ Invitation to Global Governance Forum in South Africa
It is a scandal after having voluntarily signed the AU’s Constuitive Act; some leaders in Africa still today go to the extent of changing constitutions to stay in power. Moreover they do not see how harmful it is to the creation of sustainable democratic institutions when the such leaders think they are like institutions themselves that need to be perpetuated. After half a century of decolonisation we would have thought Africa by now must be into a different stage of development and commitment to human rights, democracy, and the rule of law and the sustenance of good government.
The crass and obtuse regimes mismanaging some of our countries continue to claim and say, in Africa it is not ballots but bullets that decide power transfer, transition and upkeep. The regime in Ethiopia stereotype the Ethiopian people and down grade their capabilities and learning to change their condition by creating self-governance. The regime denigrates what the people achieved by devaluing their voice and votes for democracy with officially sanctioned theft and fraud. Measured by any standard one cares to adopt, what the Ethiopian people achieved in the shortest possible time in the May election with democracy is on a par to any European experience. It is certainly no less, if not, indeed, more. In fact, the turn out has been better in Ethiopia compared with many European elections and generally developed country cases. The people came, and voted with great discipline and grace. Nearly all incidents that spoiled the election atmosphere came from the regime’s incessant ambition to remain in power and secure an absolute majority in parliament by using many nefarious and unsavoury tactics. This election is not something that the regime can denigrate by calling it, this is an African election, whatever one means by that declaration.
Generally speaking, the people in Africa have no problems voting for persons who will represent them given a democratic environment. Contrary to popular belief, they know and they have wisdom. It is the selfish and crude leaders like the ones that rule in Ethiopia that create the problem, not the fact of being an African election. Where there is an overwhelming and oppressive poverty of democracy in the ruling group and its dependence on force, violence and deception and foreign money as a normative choice, there is often stealing, killing and corruption. Once the regime is corrupt, kills and steals, it is impossible to secure its voluntary abdication through the franchise, voice and votes of the people. That is the problem. The Ethiopian people have done their part, they found a bad regime that abused their trust and fiddled big time their votes and muzzled their true voice.
A Danish film Institute took nine years to make a documentary, in the soldiers’ footsteps, that show clearly how the elites that have been described as the darling of the west as the new breeds are capable of manufacturing opposition to themselves in order to impose terror on the population and opponents and give an air of indispensability to their rule. Every African must see this film to know the behaviour of the new breeds, how they frame in order to blame. In Ethiopia the opposition leadership and even artists, journalists, academics and others who speak for the respect of vote and voice have been accused with committing ‘treason..’ The AU knows this fraudulent charge by a fraudulent regime in Ethiopia. And it still remains silent.
4. Call to President Thabo Mbeki NOT to Fete to Denounce Meles
We heard that progressive South Africa and South Africa’s respected democratic leader, President Thabo Mbeki has invited Meles to participate in the Progressive Global Governance group. Here is an opportunity for Africa not to reward tyranny but to punish it. South Africa must put principle above diplomatic courtesy and show Meles the way back home. This will give a strong signal to both the AU and the AU parliament to denounce Meles and his regime like the EU parliament before them. South Africa must use all its influence to make sure the entire opposition leadership are unconditionally freed without any delay and with full apologies from the Meles regime for the crime it committed to date against them and the Ethiopian people. South Africa must lend its voice to the call for an international inquiry for the entire post- election crises engineered by the despotic and brutal Meles regime. South Africa and the AU must join the international call for the the release of all prisoners, the dismissal of all the absurd charges of ’’treason’ and genocide” against the opposition, to set uop an international inquiry consisting of the members of the African peer review mechanism and other internationally recognised personalities. The AU must recognise there can be no sustainable African integration and renaissance without the fullest possible democratisation of not only Ethiopia but Africa as a whole.
The AU must show its outrage at the injustice that has befell a country that has been its home since 1963. The AU, we call on you not to fial Ethiopia! Do not fail Africa. Stand up and speak up to tyranny.
Professor Mammo Muchie, Chair of NES-Scandinavian Chapter
Berhanu G. Balcha, Vice- Chair of NES-Scandinavian Chapter
Tekola Worku, Secretary of NES-Scandinavian Chapter
9220- Aalborg East
DenmarkTel. + 45 96 359 813 or +45 96 358 331
Fax + 45 98 153 298
Cell: +45 3112 5507
Email:[email protected] or [email protected] or [email protected]
Sudan: Increase funding for African Union’s mission during transition
In his meeting with UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan on Monday (February 13), President George W. Bush should pledge that the United States will provide necessary support so that the proposed UN mission in Darfur has both the mandate and capacity needed to protect the civilian population, Human Rights Watch said today (February 10). Human Rights Watch also called on the United States to back full financial, material and logistical support for the current African Union Mission in Sudan forces through the UN transition period, which could last nine months.
Africa: Feminist dialogues at Bamako WSF
The Association of Women in Development (AWID) interviewed Roselynn Musa, of FEMNET, about her experiences at the World Social Forum, held late January in Bamako, Mali. "As regards global issues there was some stock-taking on certain themes which were central to the World Social Forum that was held at Porto Alegre in 2004. These themes were neo-liberal globalisation, the future of women's bodies, conflict and militarism, women and peace, fundamentalisms combating gender equality and the exclusion of women from decision-making organs."
Global: 50th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women
The Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) will hold its 50th session from 27 February to 10 March 2006 at UN headquarters in New York. The Commission will focus on two thematic issues: Enhanced participation of women in development: an enabling environment for achieving gender equality and the advancement of women, taking into account, inter alia, the fields of education, health and work; and Equal participation of women and men in decision-making processes at all levels. This will fit with the theme of International Women’s Day, held annually on March 8th, of "Women in decision-making: meeting challenges, creating change."
Global: Do women feature in the news?
Women constitute 52 per cent of the world’s population yet make up only 21 per cent of people featured in the news. Women are most underrepresented in radio where they are only 17 per cent of news subjects compared with 22 per cent on television and 21 per cent in newspapers. This was revealed in global research on gender issues in the news media conducted by the World Association for Christian Communication (WACC).
Kenya: Male sexuality in the context of socio-economic change
This paper argues that HIV/AIDS prevention campaigns have missed the point by concentrating on women's empowerment and women's ability to negotiate safer sex. Instead it asks to what extent disempowered men in East Africa are motivated for responsible sexual behaviour and HIV/AIDS prevention. Drawing on research in rural and urban East Africa, the paper discusses how socio-economic change has limited men's access to income-earning opportunities, leaving many men unable to fulfil the social roles of breadwinner and household head.
Liberia: UNIFEM pledges $500,000 to support gender ministry
The United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) presented its congratulations to Liberia's new President, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, at her official inauguration ceremony in Monrovia on 16 January 2006, pledging US$500,000 to support the Ministry of Gender and Development, and women's organizations to promote gender equality and peace in the country. "UNIFEM is proud to have supported the Ministry of Gender and development, and women's organizing throughout Liberia to reach this truly historic achievement," said Noeleen Heyzer, UNIFEM's executive director, who attended the inauguration.
South Africa: Justice delayed is justice denied
POWA press statement
"People Opposing Women Abuse (POWA) is disappointed but not surprised by today’s (February 14) postponement of the rape trial involving former deputy president Jacob Zuma. Applying for recusals of judges and postponements are common delay tactics employed by defence teams during rape trials. POWA is cognisant of the fact that the State did not oppose the application for a postponement and hopes that this postponement serves the interests of the state’s case. From POWA’s experience in dealing with other rape cases, we know that delays to the court process often have a negative impact on survivors’ emotional well-being. Some survivors will interpret the postponements and delays as a sign of the criminal justice system favouring the accused."
* Related Link:
South Africa: Zuma rape case in High Court
POWA press statement
People Opposing Women Abuse (POWA) is disappointed but not surprised by today’s (February 14) postponement of the rape trial involving former deputy president Jacob Zuma. Applying for recusals of judges and postponements are common delay tactics employed by defence teams during rape trials. POWA is cognisant of the fact that the State did not oppose the application for a postponement and hopes that this postponement serves the interests of the state’s case. From POWA’s experience in dealing with other rape cases, we know that delays to the court process often have a negative impact on survivors’ emotional well-being. Some survivors will interpret the postponements and delays as a sign of the criminal justice system favouring the accused.
The general public and specifically the Zuma supporters are likely to interpret the recusal of Judge Ngoepe yesterday and the postponement of the case today as victories. This will be despite the fact that
substance of the rape case is yet to even be put before the court. POWA will continue to monitor this case closely to ensure that there will be no further postponements as agreed to by the defence.
POWA renews our call to the media to report on this with sensitivity and fairness. Certain media appears to be falling into the trap of placing the survivor on trial. Other media are going as far as publishing pictures of the survivor. We remind the media that revealing details of a complainant in a rape case that may lead to her identification without her consent is not permitted under the law.
We further note with concern the way in which the survivor is being made to enter the court through the public entrance with seemingly little protection. This has meant that she must pass media and any
public that may be gathering outside the court. We feel that this seriously jeopardises her safety. A report yesterday that Zuma supporters stoned a woman wearing similar clothing to that of the survivor indicates the need for increased security of the survivor and for protecting her identity. We have not seen Zuma enter the court through the public entrance and wonder why he has been accorded this
benefit while the survivor whose safety is at risk is not.
POWA remains steadfast in our solidarity with the survivor in this case and in other cases of sexual violence. We will be present outside and inside the court once the case resumes. Despite some of the
tactics of the Zuma supporters, we shall not be intimidated, threatened or silenced.
Written for POWA by: Carrie Shelver,
Training and Public Awareness Manager
011 642 4345
083 628 6996
Zimbabwe: Arrest of members of WOZA and their legal practitoner
On the 13th of February 2006 officers of the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) in Bulawayo arrested and detained about 181 ladies peacefully marching during a demonstration organised by the Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA), a civic organisation in Zimbabwe. On the 14th of February 2006, members of the ZRP in Harare again arrested about 252 ladies marching during a peaceful demonstration also organised by WOZA. Outside the Anglican Church at the corner of 2nd Street and Nelson Mandela Avenue, Harare, members of the ZRP assaulted, harassed, and then proceeded to detain a legal practitioner, Tafadzwa Mugabe, for about six hours from about 1300hrs to 1930hrs at the Harare Central Police station. Tafadzwa Mugabe was later released without charge. Mr Tafadzwa Mugabe, a pro bono lawyer, had questioned the police officers why they had arrested the peacefully marching ladies on St. Valentine's Day.
African: Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders (MEA) announced
African awardees include:
* Arnold Tsunga (Zimbabwe) represents victims of human rights abuses and campaigns for greater respect for human rights; he has repeatedly denounced the undemocratic system of justice in Zimbabwe. He has been threatened, detained, and is constantly harassed.
* Golden Misabiko (Democratic Republic of Congo) has denounced human rights violations in his country for the past 20 years. He was tortured in 2001 and had to flee the country in 2002 due to death threats. He returned to the DRC in 2005. Since then he has been detained several times and constantly harassed.
* Jennifer Williams (Zimbabwe), one of the leaders of WOZA (Women of Zimbabwe Arise), continues to organise and lead peaceful protests against the ongoing erosion of human rights in Zimbabwe, in spite of having been arrested and beaten by the police.
Angola: Child trafficking and government denial of collective bargaining
A new ICFTU report on core labour standards in Angola, which coincides with Angola's trade policy review at the WTO, identifies shortcomings in the application and enforcement of core labour standards, in particular with regard to trade union rights and child labour. Although workers have the right to organise and bargain collectively, these rights are denied both in law and practice. Government approval is needed to form trade unions and to carry out many union activities. Civil liberties remain scarce, even today, several years after the end of the civil war.
Congo: Harmonise national laws with international treaties, NGOs urge
The government must harmonise its national laws with the various international treaties it has ratified to better protect its citizens' rights, human rights NGOs in the Republic of Congo have said. "It is important that the government makes an effort to guarantee and make directly applicable the various human rights laws and instruments," Roger Bouka-Owoko, the head of the committee that organised a conference on rights issues, said in a statement.
Global: Gay and lesbian NGOs denied recommendation for consultative status
On January 23rd the UN Committee on Non-governmental Organizations decided not to recommend consultative status with ECOSOC for International Lesbian and Gay Association (ILGA) and Danish National Association for Gays and Lesbians. The decision was criticized by the representative of Germany, who named it an act of discrimination and stressed that it was a signal sent to the world that discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation was acceptable. The Danish representative talking in support of Danish NGO emphasized that it worked in a professional manner and produced valuable work. Voices against recommending both NGOs for consultative status came from: Cameroon, China, Cuba, Iran, Pakistan, the Russian Federation, Senegal, Sudan, US, and Zimbabwe. Voices in favor came from: Chile, France, Germany, Peru and Romania. Colombia, India and Turkey abstained. Cote d'Ivoire was absent.
Guinea-Bissau: Trade unions being harassed
The trade union movement in Guinea-Bissau is having a tough time. The unions are apparently being subjected to systematic harassment. The ICFTU was concerned to learn of the repressive measures by the management of the national Water and Electricity Company (Electricidades e Águas, EAGB) against the leaders of the local trade union at the company. According to the União Nacional dos Trabalhadores da Guiné (UNTG), the ICFTU's affiliated organisation of which the EAGB is a member, the company's management suspended all the leaders of the local union following a legal strike called by the UNTG from 7 to 9 February. A statement by the UNTG to the Attorney-General, Dr. Octavio Alves, stresses the illegal and arbitrary nature of that decision.
Malawi: Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation deplores dismissal of VP
"The Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (CHRR) wishes to express its alarm and extreme concern over the action taken by President Bingu wa Mutharika in dismissing Dr. Cassim Chilumpha from the position of Vice President of the Republic. We consider the action to be not only unfortunate but also ill-timed and ill-advised. CHRR considers the action by government to be ill-timed because, after many months of acrimonious exchanges between the two senior-most members of government, they had appeared to have finally begun to heed the widespread appeals for the President and his deputy to try sorting out their differences through amicable means."
Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation
ON THE DISMISSAL OF DR. CASSIM CHILUMPHA FROM THE POSITION OF VICE PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF MALAWI
The Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (CHRR) wishes to express its alarm and extreme concern over the action taken by President Bingu wa Mutharika in dismissing Dr. Cassim Chilumpha from the position of Vice President of the Republic. We consider the action to be not only unfortunate but also ill-timed and ill-advised.
CHRR considers the action by government to be ill-timed because, after many months of acrimonious exchanges between the two senior-most members of government, they had appeared to have finally begun to heed the widespread appeals for the President and his deputy to try sorting out their differences through amicable means. Indeed during the past few days, it seemed as though reconciliation between the two might yet be possible as suggested by the unexpected presence of the Vice President at the activities last Sunday marking Anti Corruption Day, followed, on Monday by President Mutharika’s visit to inspect the official Vice Presidential residence being finalized at Area 12. The two developments seemed to portend a new chapter in relations between the President and the Vice President. Thus, the announcement of yesterday, February 9 of the Vice President’s removal from office will have been received by many with shock and disappointment, not to mention disbelief. In our view, this is a very unfortunate and regrettable development.
The government has informed the nation that Dr. Chilumpha’s removal was agreed upon by Cabinet in view of various unacceptable actions and other behaviour that he has displayed almost since he and the President were sworn into office. Among others, the Vice President was said to have been of absconding from cabinet meetings and public government functions and also of undermining the government and attacking the President personally. Dr. Chilumpha e4ccentric behaviour is a matter of general public knowledge and a source of great concern. Many Malawian citizens and organizations, including CHRR, have publicly questioned and criticized the Vice President’s. People have been puzzled by his failure to defend and uphold the Constitution by “well and truly” serving the citizens of Malawi by carrying out the responsibilities of his office as Vice President.
In the view of CHRR, as must obviously be the case with most other Malawians and observers of Malawian affairs, Dr. Chilumpha’s public utterances and actions, particularly in the past few months, have been most questionable and, in most cases, reprehensible. In view of the oath that he took on 24th May 2004, it is our view that Dr. Chilumpha has indeed been derelict of his proper duties and responsibilities as Vice President and as member of the Cabinet. His behaviour not only caused problems in the smooth running of government business, as the explanatory statement released by the government yesterday informed the nation; by these acts he also violated his oath to “serve the citizens”. Having been elected by the people as Vice President, therefore, he has seriously betrayed the trust of the Malawian nation. The Vice President has unquestionably been wrong on every count. Nevertheless, the decision taken by Cabinet will serve only to widen the gap created by the antipathy that has existed between the two men with opposite personalities, who were brought together, not of their own free choice but through imposition, one as President of a party that did not want and the other as a running mate who has never had any love or respect for his principal. Unfortunately, as has already been witnessed, all of this has had negative implications for the stability of government and peace and unity in the country.
CHRR further considers the action taken by the President, albeit with Cabinet approval, to be completely ill-advised and surprising. We say surprising, because we would like to believe that both the Attorney General and the Minister of Constitutional Affairs, if they were at the meeting where the decision was taken, must, should surely have advised their colleagues and the President of the fact that the President has no powers or legal authority under the country’s Constitution to dismiss the Vice President. Only through impeachment may the Vice President, like the President himself, be removed from office, as spelt out in Section 86 of the Malawi Constitution. The two officials were elected jointly by the Malawi citizens and, therefore, may only be removed from office by the citizens, either directly through a plebiscite or referendum, or by Parliament, as the representatives of the citizens. If, indeed, the Attorney General and the Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs attended the Cabinet meeting at which this regrettable decision was taken then, in the view of CHRR, they, too, have to be regarded as being derelict of duty and guilty of gross irresponsibility by ill-advising, or letting other Ministers to wrongly advise, the President. For, two wrongs do not make a right.
We at CHRR have consistently called upon the President not only to exercise tolerance and use dialogue to settle differences with others; we have also repeatedly called upon the government, especially on the President, to respect and abide by the laws of the Republic in exercising the duties and responsibilities pertaining to their respective positions. The present situation has, without doubt, been born out of pride and intolerance as well arrogance as well as non-compliance with the laws of the country on the part of both parties concerned. Such traits are undesirable in persons in leadership positions.
In closing, CHRR wishes to express regret that these developments will revive the tension and instability which had seemed to be ebbing since the beginning of the year. We also regret that the results of this episode could cost the Malawian tax payer dearly in likely suites that may arise from this unfortunate episode. Accordingly, in order to avert such an outcome, the Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation calls upon the government and President Mutharika to reconsider its decision, rescind it and make another attempt to find alternative ways of resolving their differences with the Vice President.
Acting Executive Director 10th February 2006
Niger: Court of Appeal orders the reinstatement of an unfairly dismissed union leader
The ICFTU and the WCL welcomed the news on 7 February of the positive verdict in the dispute between Diamyo El Hadj Yacouba, General Secretary of the energy workers' union (Syndicat des Travailleurs de l'Energie du Niger) and representative of the CNT (Confédération nationale des travailleurs) on the National Commission on Human Rights and Labour Standards, and his employer, the company NIGELEC. If the company respects the decision of the Appeals Court, the union leader will be reinstated and will receive back pay, bonuses and benefits dating back to the time of his dismissal.
South Africa: Sexual minorities face uphill battle claiming their rights
Too often when we talk about gender-based violence there is a deafening silence about attacks on lesbian, gay and transgender people. This is because of what their sexual orientation and/or gender identity may represent. For many, living out one’s sexual orientation if it is not heterosexual, is still not viewed as a right. Argued under the pretext of culture, religion or morality, the ill-treatment of lesbian and gay people is tacitly accepted in South African society. Hetero-sexism ensures the continued exclusion of those whose very existence challenges dominant forms of gender relations in a patriarchal context.
Sudan: Students beaten and detained
Amnesty International has learned that on Saturday, 11 February 2006, at approximately 12.00 pm, armed police and security forces arrived in 15 cars at Juba University in Bahri, Khartoum at the request of university officials. Without warning, they began beating, with batons, a group of students that were gathered peacefully in front of the Administration building. According to a credible source, the detainees have been taken to unofficial National Security detention sites known as "ghost houses", where they have been tortured. The detainees have reportedly also been deprived of food and denied access to legal counsel and their families.
Zimbabwe: Exploring transitional justice options
One of the greatest challenges in the aftermath of any violent conflict is the issue of accountability for serious human rights violations, begins this report from the Zimbabwe NGO Human Rights Forum. "Although impunity continues to characterise many post-conflict situations, since the end of World War 2 there has been perceptible progress in efforts towards securing justice and accountability and in undertakings to build polities based on fundamental rights and freedoms and respect for the rule of law." The report says that "policies of amnesia and avoidance" are on the wane while the trend to do nothing is becoming increasingly unpopular. Write to [email protected] for a copy of the report.
Africa: IGAD ministers to discuss refugees, IDP challenges
Ministers responsible for refugee affairs in Member States of the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) are due to meet in Nairobi, Kenya, from 20-21 February 2006 to discuss problems of refugees, returnees and internally displaced persons in the region. The region has generated a total of 1.3 million refugees, a large portion of whom (695,000) are hosted in Uganda, Ethiopia, Sudan, Kenya, Djibouti, Central African Republic and Egypt. The conference will also review the humanitarian crises confronted by the region, share experiences and come up with a regional plan of action to respond to challenges in protection and assistance for persons affected by displacement.
Algeria: Torrential rains leave 50,000 refugees homeless, UN refugee agency
The United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR) said it is mounting an emergency operation to assist around 50,000 refugees in Algeria, after their homes and shelters in three refugee camps were washed away by torrential rains. In a statement from Algeria, UNHCR said it was planning an airlift of around 12,000 tents, 7,000 kitchen sets, 60,000 blankets and other living essentials to the camps, which house Sahrawi refugees who fled Western Sahara in 1975.
Egypt: Remaining Sudanese detainees released in Cairo on Sunday
The last group of Sudanese remaining in detention after a protest in a Cairo park was broken up in late December, were released on Saturday by the Egyptian authorities with a promise not to deport them. After extensive interviews by UNHCR in the detention facilities, the 156 Sudanese just released were determined not to be refugees in need of international protection. However, UNHCR requested that their cases be treated on humanitarian grounds and asked that they be released and not deported.
Global/Africa: Strengthening protection of Internally Displaced Persons, the UN's role
The current period of UN reform offers an opportune time to strengthen the international response to situations of internal displacement and develop a more reliable and predictable international system to protect people uprooted in their own countries. This article calls for reinforcement of the legal framework for the protection of IDPs; the enlargement of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to encompass IDPs; robust international protection measures — including expanded international police and military capacity; and more attention to political solutions to resolve the conflicts at the heart of displacement.
Liberia: Future of returning IDPs is at critical juncture
Following Liberia’s credible elections in October 2005 there may at last be real cause for optimism for the hundreds of thousands of people displaced by fourteen years of civil war. While the new government of President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf has been taking the first steps towards economic and security sector reform, IDPs and refugees have been continuing to return home in large numbers. In January 2006 the UN reported that less than 50,000 registered IDPs remained in camps – with some 270,000 already assisted to return to their home areas – and that facilitated IDP return was expected to be completed in April 2006.
Somalia: International help needed to stop people-smuggling across Gulf of Aden
Bossaso is not only the chief commercial port of Puntland, a self-declared autonomous area in north-east Somalia, but also one of the world's busiest smuggling hubs. Guns, cigarettes and drugs come in; people go out. For at least three years, thousands of Somalis, and increasingly, Ethiopians, have set off from the coastline in tiny open fishing boats hoping to reach Yemen. From there many hope to move on to work illegally in Saudi Arabia, which looms large in the local imagination as a land of riches.
Southern Africa: Regional meeting recommends action on IDPs
Of the estimated 25 million people worldwide who are uprooted in their own countries by violence and persecution, over half are in Africa. Some 2.9 million of these internally displaced persons (IDPs) are found in countries of the Southern African Development Community (SADC). The highest numbers are in the DRC and Zimbabwe, where IDPs are in critical need of humanitarian assistance and protection. In addition, a sizeable IDP population still persists in Angola years after the end of conflict. Moreover, displacement continues to occur in a number of other SADC countries as a result of natural disasters and other causes.
Cape Verde: Incumbent president claims election victory
Cape Verde’s incumbent President Pedro Pires on Monday (February 13) claimed victory in his campaign to win re-election as head of state of the cluster of 10 islands and five islets off the West African coast that are home to less than half a million people. Voting took place in the former Portuguese colony on Sunday and preliminary results on Monday gave the incumbent president a narrow lead of 51.1 percent of the vote. In a victory speech, Pires promised to fulfil campaign commitments, including a pledge to tackle poverty and unemployment.
Somalia: Parliament will meet in Baidoa, confirms president
Somalia’s top leaders have confirmed that the country’s transitional parliament will hold its first joint meeting on Somali soil in the south-central town of Baidoa, 240 km southwest of the capital, Mogadishu, on 26 February. Interim President Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed told reporters on Monday (February 13) that he had agreed with Prime Minister Ali Mohammed Gedi and parliamentary speaker Sharif Hassan Sheikh Aden that the parliament would meet as planned.
Swaziland: New constitution unclear on political parties
Swaziland's long-awaited new constitution came into effect on Wednesday (February 8), but analysts and political parties said it remained vague on the key issue of legalising political parties. "The constitution seems deliberately ambiguous on the issue - it could be read as an attempt to undermine any move to allow democracy to take root in the absolute monarchy," said Thabele Matlosa, director of research at the Electoral Institute of Southern Africa.
Uganda: Elections unlikely to be free or fair
Uganda's first multiparty elections in two decades, scheduled for 23 February, are unlikely to be free and fair due to state intimidation of the opposition and voters, according to a leading human rights group. New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW), in a report entitled "In Hope and Fear: Uganda’s Presidential and Parliamentary Polls", said the run-up to the polls had "been marred by intimidation of the opposition, military interference in the courts and bias in campaign funding and media coverage."
Uganda: Personal attacks obscure real issues as campaigns come to a close
Personal attacks among election candidates have relegated bread-and-butter issues to the backseat days before Ugandans vote in the country's first multiparty election in 26 years. With 38 per cent of the population living in abject poverty, 1.6 million people displaced from their homes by the war in the north of the country, biting unemployment in the urban areas, industries bleeding over power blackouts and international concerns over democracy and the rule of law, there are enough issues to define the February 23 Ugandan election.
Uganda: Three killed at campaign rally
Three people were killed and several others injured when a soldier opened fire into a crowd that was waiting for opposition leader Kizza Besigye at Bulange, Mengo. Police confirmed two people were killed and four injured, but eyewitnesses said a third person had died on the way to hospital.
Zimbabwe: Tsvangirai loses election appeal as opposition woes mount
Zimbabwe's opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), already wracked by internal division, is finding itself more isolated in the region and at home. "I think opposition politics is going into a hiatus now, it will be a very dark and slow period in terms of opposition politics. I think civic movements are also in the process of reorganising right now, they are very much pushed on the defensive. On the whole, even though Mugabe has problems internationally, at home the opposition presents him with few difficulties," analyst Brian Raftopoulos concluded.
Global: GAP releases internal World Bank whistleblower analysis
The Government Accountability Project (GAP) has released the "Vaughn Report," commissioned by the World Bank as a blueprint to modernize its inadequate whistleblower protection policies. The recommendations of noted whistleblower law scholar Robert Vaughn of American University Law School incorporate "best practices" that were already adopted by the United Nations, approved by the Organization of American States to implement its Inter-American Convention Against Corruption, and enacted last fall as U.S. policy to strengthen anti-corruption efforts at all multilateral development banks (MDBs).
Kenya: Civil Society mass action to kick off
The planned street demonstrations by the civil society to force President Kibaki to act on grand corruption kick off this week. The Name and Shame Corruption Network (Nascon), the umbrella organisation of the 76 groups, announced on Sunday that it had completed plans for the mass action.
Kenya: Ministers quit over corruption allegations
Ministers Kiraitu Murungi and George Saitoti are finally out of the Kenyan Cabinet following unrelenting pressure on President Kibaki to sack ministers implicated in corruption. Kibaki announced in a live television address to the nation that he had accepted the resignations of the two to pave way for investigations into the 16-year-old Goldenberg scandal and the Anglo Leasing affair whose details are still emerging.
* Related Link:
Kenya: Report on graft scandal made public
Lesotho: Water boss charged
The former top Lesotho official on the Highlands Water Commission, now an influential adviser on water matters with The New Partnership for Africa’s Development, has been charged with bribery involving over R1-million. This is the latest in a series of bribery and corruption trials connected to lucrative contracts around the Lesotho Highlands water scheme and the building of the Katse Dam.
Nigeria: Fraud Agency tackles fake anti-corruption officials
Nigeria's anti-corruption commission announced a crackdown Monday on conmen who have scammed hundreds of thousands of dollars by impersonating the agency's own officials. The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission said alleged fraudsters are already on trial in four cities for pretending to be anti-graft investigators and soliciting bribes to kill nonexistent cases.
South Africa: Court orders return of Zuma documents
The Durban High Court on Wednesday ordered the Scorpions to return certain documents seized from former deputy president Jacob Zuma and his lawyer, South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) radio news reported. The documents were seized during raids on Zuma's homes in Johannesburg and his KwaZulu-Natal homestead, and the Durban office of his lawyer, Michael Hulley, in August 2005. They relate to the investigation into Zuma's "generally corrupt" relationship with Durban businessman Schabir Shaik.
South Africa: Threats made to shack dwellers
Two weeks ago at the Joe Slovo informal settlement, bulldozers came in and destroyed the house of an outspoken member of the community. He had invited a journalist to the settlement to talk about corruption in the housing allocation process at Joe Slovo, accusing the local community leader of giving preferential treatment to family members, and of excluding Xhosa residents from new housing.
Africa/Global: Are Donor Countries Giving More or Less Aid?
The volume of foreign aid has increased during the last four decades, albeit with interruptions in certain years. Over time, the major recipients have changed: while the share of aid to Asia has diminished since the 1980s, that destined for sub-Saharan Africa has grown. There is some evidence that, since the late 1990s, debt relief has assumed a larger share of the increased aid flows to sub-Saharan Africa. The share of technical cooperation—a component of aid that is viewed as being driven by donors—has risen.
Africa: A No-Trust Fund for Africa
Civil society groups say European Union plans to launch a trust fund to disburse aid to Africa independently of the World Bank will contribute little to eradication of poverty. The European Commission, the European Union (EU) executive, launched its plan Thursday (February 9) to fund development in Africa through the European Investment Bank (EIB), the soft lending arm of the EU. The fund, which should be operational by June, will mainly provide subsidised low-interest loans to finance water, energy, transport and telecoms infrastructure in sub-Saharan Africa, with a focus on cross-border projects.
Africa: Russia 'may cancel African debt'
Russia may soon write off debts owed to it by 16 of the world's poorest countries, its finance minister has been reported as saying. Moscow would be willing to cancel about $688m (£394m) in bilateral debt, Russian news agency RIA-Novosti quoted Alexei Kudrin as saying. The agreement could encompass a number of African countries including Benin, Tanzania and Zambia.
Nigeria's oil hope and despair
The west African state of Nigeria is the continent's biggest oil exporter. But despite its huge energy reserves and potential wealth, millions of people live in extreme poverty. For 50 years oil has been pumped from beneath the creeks, swamps and forests of the Delta.It has earned the Nigerian government billions of pounds. Yet the communities in the Delta say they continue to live in poverty.
Nigeria: Why the UK should return Nigeria’s £1.7 billion to fight poverty
Nigeria, one of the poorest countries in the world, is in the process of giving a huge sum of money to the richest countries. UK organisations which are members of the Jubilee Debt Campaign are urging the UK government to return its share of this money to Nigeria to fight poverty. "80 to 90 million Nigerians live in poverty; only India and China have more poor. Whether Africa attains the Millennium Development Goals depends on Nigeria… Donor and creditor support is critical to maintain the momentum of reform."
South Africa: Protest against the WTO's Lamy
The Director General of the World Trade Organisation, Pascal Lamy, came to Wits University at the invitation of the South African Institute for International Affairs. He was greeted by protestors inside the venue who were forcibly removed to join the picket of the event outside. The protestors continued to dog Lamy at his next engagement at the Nedlac chamber in Rosebank.
Africa: Children affected by HIV/AIDS neglected, UNAIDS says
Children affected by HIV/AIDS do not receive enough care and support, UNAIDS said last Thursday ahead of the third Global Partners' Forum in London, Reuters reports. The forum, hosted by UNICEF and the UK Department for International Development, is bringing together advocates from 50 countries and 90 international organizations to address ways to improve policies that support children affected by HIV/AIDS.
Great Lakes: Health experts plan ways of countering epidemics
Medical experts from Africa's Great Lakes region are meeting in the Burundian capital, Bujumbura, to plan ways of countering epidemics in the region. Outbreaks of malaria, cholera, meningitis, dysentery and, lately, the avian influenza are some of the epidemics under discussion in the four-day workshop that began on Monday. Experts representing Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda and Tanzania are in attendance.
Nigeria: Poultry workers too afraid to take tests
Frightened poultry workers on Monday shunned medical examinations for bird flu in northern Nigeria, where the presence of the deadly H5N1 virus which can affect humans was reported last week. Only about 20 of the estimated 160 employees of Sambawa Farms in Jaji, Kaduna State, turned up for a medical screening conducted at a nearby clinic by a joint team of federal and state health officials. Workers told IRIN that many of their colleagues stayed away because they were frightened of being detained by authorities if tested positive.
South Africa: More nurses as colleges re-opened
In a move to address the critical shortage of nurses, several nursing colleges will be re-opened, Health minister Dr Manto Tshabalala-Msimang has announced. She said that her department had been contemplating the move, but that they had waited for the go-ahead from President Thabo Mbeki in his state of the nation address. “We have got to train as many nurses as possible. Even if we train too many and some leave,” said Tshabalala-Msimang at a media briefing in parliament.
Southern Africa: Armed forces to tackle impact of HIV/AIDS
The impact of AIDS on the military has been a topic African armed forces have preferred to keep under wraps, concerned with issues of national security. But in a step towards greater openness, military and civilian experts from the Southern African Development Community (SADC) gathered last week in the Namibian capital, Windhoek, as part of an advisory group to discuss a regional response to AIDS in the defence sector.
Sudan: Fifteen die of suspected meningitis in six states
More than 100 cases of suspected meningitis, including 15 fatalities, have been recorded in six Sudanese states since early January, the United Nations World Health Organization (WHO) has reported. The agency said at least 136 cases had been reported in the states of Khartoum, Blue Nile, Kassala, Sennar, West Darfur and Gederef.
Tanzania: Free HIV tests bring dramatic results in Tanzania
Eliminating even modest fees for HIV testing can greatly increase the number of those tested in Tanzania and thereby enhance Aids-prevention efforts, US researchers have said. In a two-week pilot programme, the daily average of people tested for HIV at a clinic in Moshi jumped from four to 15 when the standard test fee of Tsh1,000 ($0.95) was waived, according to a study by Duke University Medical Centre.
Global: Education for All data available
Extensive data on Education for All is now easily accessible with the new search tool on the Global Monitoring Report website. This tool, developed by the UNESCO Institute for Statistics in partnership with the EFA Global Monitoring Report team, is based on the data contained in the 2006 statistical annex tables. It enables you to search by table, theme, indicator, country and region, and to export results into an Excel format.
Mozambique: New measures needed to tackle education crisis
Despite years of interventions designed to turn around Mozambique's historically poor education system, the 2006 school year has kicked off to a dismal start, sparking debate about proposed plans to solve the countries chronic teacher shortages. According to Naima Saú, Deputy Director of Teacher Training at the Ministry of Education, teacher-pupil ratios were a major cause for concern: "on average, there are 50 pupils in each class, and some teachers even have as many as 70 pupils in a class".
Rwanda: Pregnancies/STIs reduce as university accommodates females
The decision to increase female accommodation inside the campus at the National University of Rwanda has reduced the risk of contracting HIV/Aids and having unwanted pregnancies. This was observed by the President of University Women Student Association (UWSA), Judith Kazaire. Recently the university's administrative council gave a directive to have one new hostel reserved for female students joining the university.
South Africa: Turning schools into centers of care and support
Fourteen year old Lindiwe – not her real name – became very withdrawn. Initially her teacher suspected that she had had a squabble with her friend but when she sank deeper into a depression, the teacher became very concerned. A home visit by a parent, who serves on the Care and Support committee of her school revealed that not only had Lindiwe lost both parents within one year but she had been abused by her caregiver, who seemed to be more interested in her child care grant than caring for Lindiwe. As a result of this information the committee could intervene and they placed the teenager with another family, while they also reporting the caregiver to the police, who are now investigating her.
South Africa: University strikes against corporatisation
Students, workers, shack dwellers and academics at South Africa's largest teaching university, the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN), are now in their 5th day of a militant strike against corporatisation. Thousands have marched under the banners of education for all, decent working conditions and academic freedom. One of the university's five campuses is under heavily armed police occupation and serious clashes between police and strikers look increasingly likely.
Africa: Brazil's Lula includes Blacks on foreign and domestic agendas
The closer ties that are being forged between Brazil and the African continent is a positive development, in terms of both foreign policy and the effects on the fight against discrimination suffered by black Brazilians, Geraldo Rocha, director of the Centre for the Mobilisation of Marginalised Populations (CEAP), told IPS. The Lula administration "is on the right path," despite difficulties and shortcomings, in its attempts to overcome the discrimination that blacks have always suffered in Brazil, a country marked by extreme social and economic inequality, said Rocha.
Africa: Croatia's PM slams racist abuse
The racist abuse of African and South American players featuring in Croatia's league has been condemned by the country's prime Minister. “We are living in a century in which tolerance should be cultivated. We have to stop racist acts," Ivo Sanader told the Sportske Novosti newspaper. Cameroonian Mathias Chago and Brazilians Eduardo da Silva and Oeliton Araujo dos Santos Etto, who play for Dinamo Zagreb, were taunted with monkey chants during Sunday's match against arch-rivals Hadjuk Split. Sportske Novosti condemned the "shameful eruption of racism" during the match, which was also interrupted on several occasions when flares were thrown onto the pitch.
Africa: Multinationals looting Africa's diversity
A new report on the transfer of biological resources and traditional knowledge worth billions of dollars from across Africa shows that Kenya is the biggest loser among the three East African countries. Entitled "Out of Africa: Mysteries of Access and Benefit Sharing", it says that Kenya's biological resources have been illegally acquired by giant pharmaceutical and biotechnology firms from the West and a University in Israel in an ongoing international operation that blatantly disregards the provisions of the international Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD).
East Africa: Falling water levels spell doom for Lake Victoria
There is growing alarm over the quickly receding water levels of Lake Victoria. A new report accuses Uganda of secretly draining the lake to keep the lights on and fears that it spells an impending environmental and economic disaster to the East Africa region. The US-based International Rivers Network released a study accusing Uganda of secretly draining water from the lake to sustain its electricity grids amidst a regional drought.
Global: Bottled water, a natural resource taxing the world's ecosystem
Bottled water consumption, which has more than doubled globally in the last six years, is a natural resource that is heavily taxing the world's ecosystem, according to a new US study. "Even in areas where tap water is safe to drink, demand for bottled water is increasing, producing unnecessary garbage and consuming vast quantities of energy," according to Emily Arnold, author of the study published by the Earth Policy Institute, a Washington-based environmental group.
Global: WTO says Europe's GM ban broke trade rules
The World Trade Organization (WTO) ruled yesterday (7 February) that the European Union and six of its member states broke trade rules by banning imports of genetically modified (GM) crops and food. The preliminary ruling, which could have significant implications for developing countries, still needs to be confirmed in a final decision next month, and can be appealed. Dulce de Oliveira, a professor of plant biotechnology and fellow of the Brazilian Research Council, says the decision could open the European market to GM products from countries such as Brazil, the world's third biggest producer of GM crops. The verdict came in response to a complaint that Argentina, Canada and the United States made in 2003 against the European Union's ban on GM imports, imposed in 1999, reports SciDev.
Kenya: People and wildlife struggle to share land and water
Elephants, buffaloes and other wild animals drink water on one side of a swamp. On the other, Maasai warriors watch hundreds of cattle graze as the tropical sun sears the parched land of this wildlife sanctuary. Balancing the needs of both sides is becoming more complex, and environmentalists fear the wildlife are gradually losing out. Kenyan officials recently bent stringent conservation regulations to allow cattle into the Amboseli National Park -- the only permanent source of water in the region -- to help the Maasai save their precious livestock from a punishing drought.
Kenya: Transit point for animal trade
Kenya has been singled out as one of the leading transit points for the illegal animal trade destined for Europe and Asia. According to a recent report titled "Ivory Markets of Europe", most of the ivory originates from war-torn countries of sub-Saharan Africa where laws against the killing of wildlife are almost non-existent. The document cites central Africa as one of the sources of ivory that passes through Kenya and other East African countries.
Namibia: Pushing for alternative power sources
Amid a looming energy crunch in Southern Africa, the Namibian government is pulling out all the stops to promote the use of renewable energies like wind and solar power. Namibia is dependant on South Africa for about half of its average daily power consumption of 200 megawatts (MW). South Africa's power utility Eskom announced in 2004 that it would be unable to provide Namibia with a steady supply of electricity in the near future. Eskom's surplus electricity supply capacity is expected to run out by 2007, as power demands in South Africa were expected to increase by 1,200 MW per annum.
Zimbabwe: Floods wash away dam wall
Construction of the Gwayi-Shangani Dam, one of the dams set to provide water to the drought prone Matabeleland region, has been stopped following floods that swept away the dam wall and access roads at the construction site. Large blocks of stones and gravel were washed away after the Gwayi River flooded following torrential rainfall received in most parts of Matabeleland North Province.
Africa: New approaches to land management and security in Africa
Land provides the basis for agriculture and animal husbandry, which are integral features of income generation and food production in Africa. Population growth and land degradation place demands on land resources that can lead to and increase conflict. Traditional land management systems are coming under increasing pressure. Secure access to land is fundamental for food security, income generation and agriculture for poor people throughout Africa. However, increasing demands on available land means that many Africans have insecure access to land. Ownership rights are often weak and insecure, with traditional and customary land rights being rapidly diminished. Land rights are often linked to ethnic identity, economic and political power, and thus are a key issue for many African governments today.
Global: Understanding how housing and land markets work
What are the effects of policy on housing supply? Is the public sector good at producing, owning and financing housing? What impact do land market regulations have on housing affordability? Are arguments about the benefits of market-oriented and private sector approaches valid? These questions are examined in a paper from the World Bank which condenses lessons from recent research. The authors report that while some of the benefits of market approaches have been exaggerated, they are delivering welfare gains for poor people. They suggest that the common view that just establishing effective property rights will necessarily have a widespread developmental impact is exaggerated.
Global: Washington spotlight on Internet firms over China
Internet companies facing hearings before angry US legislators say they cannot on their own resist China's effort to censor the web, according to a report on Business Day's website, as posted on www.journalism.co.za But industry analysts say that even if Washington tried to enforce free-speech standards, it is likely to have little effect.
Kenya: Muslims want ties with Denmark cut
Hundreds of Muslim protesters in Garissa town gave the Government of Kenya a two-week ultimatum to cut diplomatic ties with Denmark. They were protesting the publication by a Danish newspaper of cartoons depicting Prophet Mohammed as a terrorist. They also asked the Government to close the Danish Embassy in Nairobi. One person died in Nairobi on Friday during similar demonstrations. The protesters asked President Kibaki to recall all diplomatic officials from Denmark and ban imports from the country.
Niger: Journalist remains in preventive detention
The Committee to Protect Journalists has condemned the continued detention of the managing editor of a private weekly newspaper in Niger on a defamation charge. Ibrahim Manzo, director of L'Autre Observateur, was placed in "preventive detention" on February 2 in the capital, Niamey, local journalists told CPJ. He faces a criminal charge of defaming a local businessman. The prosecutor has asked for a two-month prison sentence and 50,000 CFA franc fine (US$91).
Zambia: Charge against newspaper editor Fred M'membe dismissed
On 14 February 2006, the state dismissed the charge of "defamation of the president" against "The Post" newspaper editor Fred M'membe. M'membe was originally charged in November 2005 and his trial was set to begin on 14 February. However, he was informed by the presiding magistrate, John Ndeketeya, that he was a free man because the state had decided not to proceed with the prosecution.
Zimbabwe: Bail conditions relaxed for Voice of the People executives
On 10 February 2006, a Harare magistrate relaxed the reporting conditions against Voice of the People (VOP) radio board members when they appeared in court for a remand hearing. David Masunda, VOP chairman, his deputy Arnold Tsunga, and board members Lawrence Chibwe, Nhlanhla Ngwenya, and Millie Phiri, all of whom are accused of operating a radio station without a licence in terms of the Broadcasting Services Act (BSA), are on Z$4 million (approx. US$40) bail each.
Haiti: Preval declared poll winner
Officials in Haiti say they have reached an agreement to declare Rene Preval president, after a vote marred by claims of irregularities. The announcement was made after urgent talks between government and electoral officials, according to the Associated Press news agency. Mr Preval has alleged that "massive fraud" denied him an outright victory in the 7 February poll. The vote triggered massive street protests by Mr Preval's supporters.
Africa: US funding for "anti-terrorism" on the up
As Washington's dependence on African oil intensifies, some analysts predict the region will increasingly play host to confrontations between US forces deployed there and various insurgent groups, predominantly Islamic extremists. Last year, the Trans-Sahara Counter-Terrorism Initiative (TSCTI) was allocated just 16 million dollars - pocket change compared to other U.S. military incursions across the globe. But funding for the exercises, described as enhancing regional security and stability, is expected to grow steadily in coming years.
Cote d’Ivoire: UN official meets with authorities after anti-UN violence
The UN’s top humanitarian official Jan Egeland is in war-torn Cote d’Ivoire seeking assurances from authorities that January’s anti-UN violence will not be repeated and that ringleaders of the attacks will be punished. “To those who have carried out criminal behaviour - attacking humanitarians or civilians - we are coming with a message that stimulating violence or attacking has to be punished,” the UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs said in the main city Abidjan on Wednesday.
DRC: Security sector reform urgently needed, says Crisis Group
No issue is more important than security sector reform in determining the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s prospects for peace and development, says a new report from the Crisis Group. "Two particular challenges loom large: the security services must be able to maintain order during the national elections scheduled for April 2006 and reduce the country’s staggering mortality rate from the conflict – still well over 30,000 every month. On the military side, far more must be done to create an effective, unified army with a single chain of command, rather than simply demobilising militias and giving ex-combatants payout packages."
DRC: UN Calls for £400m to End Congo's “Forgotten Crisis”
A UN donors' conference in Brussels will call for international donors to provide $681m (£400m) for an "action plan" for the DRC, three times the size of the UN appeal for the DRC in preceding years. More than 1,000 people a day die from violence in the country and since 1998 four million people have fallen victim to conflict, hunger and disease. Last year about 40,000 people a month were forced to flee their homes, most of them women and children. The UN also wants the European Union to provide troops to reinforce the embattled UN peacekeeping force of 16,000 men based in eastern Congo.
Eritrea: World Bank concerned over ongoing border issue
Colin Bruce, the World Bank country director for Eritrea, told Reuters that the decision to pursue the border issue meant that the Horn of Africa country was spending a lot on defence at the expense of other areas. The unresolved border issue with Ethiopia is weighing on Eritrea's economy and casting doubt on its ability to pay its debts, a senior World bank official said on Wednesday. Eritrea blames the international community, and the United Nations, in particular, for not forcing Ethiopia to demarcate the Ethiopian-Eritrean border under the terms of a peace deal to end their 1998-2000 border war which killed 70,000 people.
Nigeria: Helicopter attack launched in the delta
The Nigerian military launched a helicopter gunship attack on targets in the oil-producing Delta state on Wednesday, and militants threatened to shoot down aircraft unless military flights stopped. The attack was the first major military operation in the Niger Delta since a militant group staged a series of attacks against the oil industry, and hours after British Foreign Minister Jack Straw called on the Nigerian government to improve security in the delta.
Rwanda: Rwanda's ordinary killers
This paper examines the question of why so many ordinary Hutu participated in genocidal killing of Tutsi in Rwanda in 1994. "I find that mass mobilisation was contingent on the fulfilment of two main conditions. Firstly it required a mindset - the internalisation of a set of historical and ideological beliefs - within the Hutu population. Secondly, it required the commitment of State institutions to the genocidal project. This commitment provided the initial trigger, legitimacy and impunity for civilian participation in an anti-Tutsi programme."
Africa: Handhelds for Health
This publication from SATELLIFE provides an overview of SATELLIFE's experiences using hand-held computers for both information dissemination and data collection and reporting. The document draws heavily on experience with SATELLIFE's largest project, the Uganda Health Information Network (UHIN). This document focuses not only on the technical aspects of setting up a handheld computer project, but discusses organisational issues and promotion of local ownership.
Global: Community-based networks and innovative technologies
Where ICT makes available critical information, financial services, and reduces the maze of bureaucracy, people benefit in terms of reduced time and resources that need to be expended. Where ICT facilitates access to information about new economic opportunities and helps avail of them, small and medium sized enterprises and cooperatives demonstrate interest. But it is not just a question of facilitating economic and social development, community radio and related technologies are, for example, also proving useful in facilitating participation and strengthening the voice of communities.
Uganda: Meeting to consolidate WSIS achievements
WOUGNET in Uganda was one of the organisers of a conference in mid-December, on a post-World Summit on Information Society (WSIS) consolidation for Uganda. Held on December 14, 2005, the conference was co-organised by the Uganda Communication Commission, I-network, Collegium for Development Studies and Uppsala University of Sweden. Overall, the Uganda conference aimed at strengthening what happened at WSIS and finding a concrete way forward to meet the WSIS targets at the national level. Specially, by way of establishing national priorities and benchmarks.
Zimbabwe: MDC factions in cyber wars
Rival Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) camps have started a cyber-war and ratcheted up their campaigns to demonise each other ahead of parallel congresses this month and in March. The camp led by MDC vice-president Gibson Sibanda has distributed a draft constitution reportedly crafted by Morgan Tsvangirai's group.
Global: Chat hosted by TakingITGlobal and Chat the Planet
How do people turn laws into better lives? How can and how do people live their rights? Join us for a unique, one time only online Live Chat, hosted by TakingITGlobal and Chat the Planet. Experts from Rwanda and South Africa will join the Live Chat to talk about what they know from their work on bridging the gap between words on a page and a safer, healthier and more equal society.
Global: Development Deadline 2015
Development Deadline 2015 is a weekly e-newsletter from Inter Press Service (IPS) providing readers with "independent news reporting on how the Millennium Development Goals are influencing policy decisions and making a difference on the ground."
Global: United Nations Secretary-General's study on violence against children newsletter
This Newsletter highlights recent developments in the UN Secretary-General’s Study on Violence Against Children. As the Study moves into the second and final year of the process, the emphasis is on building the momentum and strengthening coalitions in the lead up to the release of the final report during the General Assembly, 2006, in New York. The Newsletter is distributed widely and also available on the Study web-site. If you would like to add an address to the distribution list send an email to: [email protected]
Africa: African Journalist 2006 Awards
The CNN MultiChoice African Journalist Awards are the longest running, most prestigious Pan African Awards for journalists in Africa. Over the past eleven years, the competition has grown in size and status. In 2005 it attracted over 1,500 entries from 40 African countries.
Africa: GenARDIS small grants
The Gender and Agriculture/Rural Development in the Information Society GenARDIS) is inviting applications for its small grants programme. Deadline for applications is 25 February 2005.
Africa: Nelson Mandela International Essay Competition
This exciting new competition established jointly by RUSI and The Brenthurst Foundation, a Johannesburg-based think tank devoted to strengthening Africa’s economic performance, with the generous support of the Nelson Mandela Foundation, aims to encourage fresh and innovative perspectives on African security and development. Entries are invited to address this critical relationship between security and development in the context of a trans-national theme or issue in Africa, or a single country case-study.
Nelson Mandela International Essay Competition
On African Security and Development
This exciting new competition established jointly by RUSI and The
Brenthurst Foundation, a Johannesburg-based think tank devoted to
strengthening Africa?s economic performance, with the generous support
of the Nelson Mandela Foundation, aims to encourage fresh and innovative
perspectives on African security and development. Entries are invited to
address this critical relationship between security and development in
the context of a trans-national theme or issue in Africa, or a single
The Nelson Mandela International Essay Competition is open to
professionals writing in the field, academics, government and armed
forces' personnel, and new writers seeking to contribute to the debate.
Entries need not be members of RUSI. The winning entry will receive an
award of £1500 and a year's membership to RUSI, and two runners-up will
also each receive a year's membership. All three winning entries will
(subject to Editorial Board approval) be published in the RUSI Journal
* Authors of any nationality are eligible, but their work must be
presented in English
* Essays must not be less than 3,000 words and not more than 3,500
words in length
**_Closing date for entries to the competition is _**** _31 March
2006_****. Entries are preferred by e-mail but will be accepted on paper
by post and fax. Please do not send floppy disks.***
**An international panel of eminent judges selected by RUSI will assess
the entries. The judges? decision is final and no correspondence on the
nature of assessment or the results will be entered into.***
**Please supply your name, a one-paragraph biography and current
affiliation, address and e-mail on the first page of the essay.**
Please use ?Nelson Mandela International Essay Competition 2006? as the
message title and address to [email protected] <mailto:[email protected]>
For paper applications
Please send your essay to:
Dr Terence McNamee, Director of Publications
London SW1A 2ET
Or fax completed entry form and essay to: +44 (0)20 7747 2647
Global: Tech Museum Awards
Call for nominations
The Tech Museum Awards is a unique and prestigious program that honors and awards innovators from around the world who use technology to benefit humanity. Each year, 25 Laureates are honored at a gala dinner, invited to participate in press and media coverage, and introduced to a network of influential advisors. An inspirational and unforgettable event, the black-tie celebration will be held at The Tech Museum of Innovation in San Jose, California, on November 15, 2006.
Senegal: CODESRIA Advanced Research Fellowship Programm
The CODESRIA Advanced Research Fellowship Programme is designed to contribute to the reinforcement and promotion of a culture of concentrated and extended reflection among African scholars. It is particularly targeted at a younger generation of post-doctoral African scholars interested in carrying out advanced research on any aspect of the African social reality, historical or contemporary. The programme is open to candidates from all disciplines of the Social Sciences and Humanities.
The Advanced Research Fellowship Programme
The Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa
(CODESRIA) is pleased to announce its 2006 Advanced Research Fellowship
Programme and to invite interested scholars to submit applications for
consideration for an award.
The CODESRIA Advanced Research Fellowship Programme is designed to
contribute to the reinforcement and promotion of a culture of
and extended reflection among African scholars. It is particularly
at a younger generation of post-doctoral African scholars interested in
carrying out advanced research on any aspect of the African social
historical or contemporary. The programme is open to candidates from all
disciplines of the Social Sciences and Humanities. Through the programme,
support is offered to scholars interested in charting new research
directions or extending on-going research to new heights, the expectation
being that this will contribute immensely to enriching the state of
knowledge about different aspects of the historical and contemporary
experiences of Africa. Candidates are free to determine the theme on
they wish to work and to specify their preferred methodology for doing
In identifying candidates whose applications should be supported,
will be placed on the potential for their proposals to lead to the
production of new/original insights. The fellowships will be awarded to
cover a period of one year, at the end of which a report of publishable
quality shall be submitted for evaluation. Each report is expected to be
between 35,000 and 50,000 words and if accepted for publication, will be
included in the CODESRIA Monograph Series. For the year 2006, the Council
will be awarding ten fellowships of a maximum value of USD10,000 each.
To be eligible, candidates are expected to be holders of a doctoral
in any of the social sciences and humanities. The doctoral degree should
have been obtained within five years of the date of submission of the
application. Exceptionally, candidates who do not yet have doctoral
but who have accumulated considerable research experience will be
for the award of a fellowship. All applicants are required to be
to an African research institution.
Requirements for Application
Candidates wishing to be considered for the award of a fellowship are
requested to submit the following documents:
a) Research Proposal
A research proposal of between 10 and 15 pages which should be a clear
statement of the work to be undertaken, the problematic that underpins
the significance of the study vis-à-vis the existing literature, the
methodology to be employed, implications of the methodological approach
adopted for the empirical research to be undertaken and the expected
Candidates are strongly encouraged to indicate the innovative or original
dimensions which they hope their study will yield; a detailed
of the epistemological foundations of the research will also be
as a distinct advantage.
b) Work Programme
The duration of each fellowship is one year, effective from the date of
award. Each application should be accompanied by a detailed work
spread over a period of 12 months beginning from the date of award of the
Applicants are required to provide a detailed budget up to a maximum of
USD10,000 which includes the research and dissemination costs they expect
incur throughout the duration of their fellowship. The budget should be
structured to reflect the disbursement formula the Council intends to
which will consist in paying 50% of the fellowship amount upon signature
the award contract, 25% of the grant upon receipt of a satisfactory
scientific progress report and the remaining 25% per cent upon receipt of
the final revised version of the research results. In addition to the
of fieldwork and book acquisition, candidates are encouraged to consider
integrating participation in one international conference relevant to
research preoccupation in the budgetary framework of their study. (The
choice of the conference to be attended will be made in close
with the CODESRIA Department of Training, Grants and Fellowships, it
understood that requests for support to participate in such an
conference will only be entertained by CODESRIA after the receipt of a
complete draft of the final report of the fellow for which feedback from
international scientific community might be elicited for the revision of
d) Reference Letters
Applications should be accompanied by three reference letters from
who are familiar with the applicants' work and are in a position to
to their institutional affiliation. Where possible, candidates are
to include at least one reference from a scholar based outside their
countries of residence.
e) Curriculum Vitae
Each candidate should submit a detailed curriculum vitae showing clearly
candidate's research publications and participation in research
network/activities. Copies of certificates obtained by candidates should
included with the applications.
f) Copy of Doctoral Certificate
Applicants should include a copy of their doctoral degree certificate
their application documents. CODESRIA reserves the right to cross-check
actual date by which candidates completed their studies in order to
determine their eligibility for the fellowship programme.
All applications received will be reviewed by an independent Selection
Committee comprising eminent scholars. All candidates will be notified of
the results of the selection process.
Deadline for the Receipt of Applications
All applications should be received not later than 30 September, 2006.
Applications should be addressed to:
The Advanced Research Fellowship Programme,
BP 3304, CP 18524,
Tel: +221- 825 9822/23
Fax: +221-824 1289
E-Mail: [email protected]
Zimbabwe: The World Bank Small Grants Program 2006
The Small Grants Program is calling for proposals from civil society organisations. The theme of the program is the empowerment of marginalised vulnerable groups. The activity should be completed within one year of the date the grant is awarded. Civil Society organisations working on issues of development may apply.
Nigeria: Sexuality leadership development fellowship
Call for applications
The Africa Regional Sexuality Resource Centre (ARSRC) calls for applications to its annual Sexuality Leadership Development Fellowship (SLDF) Programme. The Fellowship is scheduled to take place in Lagos, Nigeria from July 10– 28, 2006.
CALL FOR APPLICATIONS 2006 ARSRC SEXUALITY LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT FELLOWSHIP
CALL FOR APPLICATIONS
The Africa Regional Sexuality Resource Centre (ARSRC) calls for applications to its annual Sexuality Leadership Development Fellowship (SLDF) Programme. The Fellowship is scheduled to take place in Lagos, Nigeria from July 10– 28, 2006.
Objectives: The fellowship is designed to catalyse development in the field of sexuality by:
(1) Providing exposure to cutting-edge conceptual, theoretical and programmatic issues in sexuality, sexual health and sexual rights;
(2) Providing opportunities to conduct research or action projects on sexuality issues;
(3) Promoting mentoring of young African professionals by experts in the field;
(4) Facilitating the emergence of a new generation of leaders.
Training Methodology: Incorporating rigorous intellectual work and strategic field trips that bring participants in close engagement with sexuality leaders and leadership organizations, the fellowship is structured to promote sharing of ideas, team building and collaborative work amongst participants in order to nurture relationships that last beyond the fellowship period. The course also provides an academically stimulating environment that promotes cross-cultural sharing of experiences as well as individual study.
The venue of the training houses a library and resource centre with a rich Africa-centred collection of sexuality, sexual health and rights literature.
Audience: This course is designed for young researchers, academicians, civil servants, programme officers, programme managers, media practitioners and others resident on the continent of Africa, aged 35 years and below with a Bachelor’s degree or its equivalent and with demonstrable experience and (or) interest in the area of sexuality, sexual health and rights.
Training Programme: During the three-week intensive course, participants are introduced to the emerging field of sexuality and explore both theoretical, as well as, practical dimensions of this complex field.
In addition to skills development, the SLDF curriculum covers contemporary debates in sexuality studies including: Sexuality and human rights; Gender, sexuality and religion; Sexuality, health and the public policy; Cultural practice and sexual violence; Sexual rights; Sexual orientation; Narrowing the gap: sexuality, knowledge, policy and programme; Sexuality and the State; and Sexuality and the media.
Scholarships: The ARSRC offers a few highly competitive, fully-funded scholarships that are open to qualified citizens of Egypt, Kenya, Nigeria or South Africa, who are resident in the continent. ARSRC scholarships cover tuition fees, post-fellowship grant, roundtrip travel expenses as well as accommodation, meals and incidental expenses.
Interested citizens of other African countries are encouraged to apply, but will need to seek funding from other donors to cover their travel, accommodation and living expenses: as well as post-fellowship project.
Deadline for the Receipt of Applications: Duly completed application and sponsorship forms and other documentary requirements should be sent to the address below. To be considered, the application should be received by ARSRC before or on March 31, 2006.
The 2006 Sexuality Leadership Development Fellowship
Africa Regional Sexuality Resource Centre
17 Lawal St., off Oweh St., Jibowu
PO Box 803, Yaba, Lagos, Nigeria.
Email: [email protected]
Application forms and information are available on our website: http://arsrc.org/training/sldf/apply.htm
South Africa: Colloquium on economy, society and culture
In cooperation with partners, the Centre for Civil Society at the University of Kwa-Zulu Natal will be opening thematic research projects on 'Economic Justice' in 2006. We will launch this theme by reviewing some of the finest traditions of South African, regional and international political-economic theory and contemporary analysis, and invite you to join us. We are mainly concerned with market-nonmarket interactions and new forms of 'primitive accumulation'.
28 February - 4 March 2006
Durban, South Africa
THE CENTRE FOR CIVIL SOCIETY,
HAROLD WOLPE MEMORIAL TRUST,
OPEN SOCIETY INITIATIVE OF SOUTHERN AFRICA,
ROSA LUXEMBURG FOUNDATION, AND
CAPITALISM NATURE SOCIALISM JOURNAL PRESENT
A COLLOQUIUM ON
ECONOMY, SOCIETY AND NATURE
With tributes to Harold Wolpe and Guy Mhone, and the Rosa Luxemburg
Educational Seminar 2006
and book launches of new works by Dennis Brutus (Poetry and Protest) and
Console Tleane (The New Trek)
University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa
Howard College Auditorium
In cooperation with partners, CCS will be opening thematic research projects
on 'Economic Justice' in 2006. We will launch this theme by reviewing some
of the finest traditions of South African, regional and international
political-economic theory and contemporary analysis, and invite you to join
We are mainly concerned with market-nonmarket interactions and new forms
of 'primitive accumulation'. The notion of a supposed 'dual economy' in
South Africa is being debated at the highest political/policy levels. The
time is opportune to consider whether formal markets and the informal
economy plus other aspects of society and nature are divorced or
interconnected. Under these conditions, does the fight against exploitation,
racism, sexism and ecological destruction require fighting the market
itself? If so, how?
Three scholar-activists - Harold Wolpe in South Africa, Guy Mhone in
Southern Africa and Rosa Luxemburg in Europe - developed consistent
arguments about the way markets systematically exploit 'nonmarket'
opportunities: in other modes of production, in society (especially women's
unpaid labour) and in the natural environment. At three scales of analysis,
we will review their legacies and assess whether current and future
political-economic scenarios require new insights.
Social scientists will be addressing the problems associated with market
exploitation of nonmarket spheres (society and nature) from 28 February
through 2 March, in an event open to the public. From 2-4 March, activists
from across KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa and the region are especially
invited to help move from analysis to praxis, with open discussions and
strategy debates in the framework of the Rosa Luxemburg Political Education
(PROGRAMME BELOW SUBJECT TO CHANGE)
South Africa - Dedication to Harold Wolpe
9AM: Opening and Introduction
Anne-Marie Wolpe (Wolpe Trust)
Legacies of 'articulation of modes of production'
Michael Perelman (CalState): 'Articulation' from feudalism to
Ari Sitas (UKZN): SA social analysis after Wolpe
11:15AM: PANEL 1 - South African urban-rural, race, gender and labour
Caroline Skinner and Imraan Valodia (UKZN): Gender and informal/formal
Renato Palmi (UKZN): Women in the informal sector
Sthembiso Bhengu (UKZN): TBA
Richard Pithouse (UKZN): Urban movements
11:15AM: PANEL 2 - South Africa's new 'developmental state'
Isobel Frye (Naledi): Dual economy
Nina Hunter (UKZN): Community caregiving
Hein Marais (ind.): The political economy of AIDS
Langa Zita (UKZN): TBA
2PM: PANEL 1 - South African urban-rural,race, gender and labour markets
Fani Ncapayi (UKZN): TBA
Heli Guy (UKZN): TBA
Lubna Nadvi (UKZN): Race, ethnicity and labour reproduction
Richard Ballard (UKZN): Urban social movements
2PM: PANEL 2 - South Africa's new 'developmental state'
Charles Meth (UKZN): Post-apartheid poverty/inequality
Bill Freund (UKZN): The developmental state
Patrick Bond (UKZN): Debating social democracy and neoliberalism
4PM: Capitalism, racism, sexism in SA poli-econ theory - a round table
Martin Legassick (UWC)
Vishnu Padayachee (UKZN)
Ashwin Desai (UKZN)
David Hemson (HSRC)
6-9 PM: Evening Event (including drinks and dinner)
Booklaunches at Ike's Books, 48a Florida Road
The CCS Wolpe Lectures (edited by Amanda Alexander, CCS)
Dennis Brutus biography: Poetry and Protest (UKZN Press, Haymarket Press)
Tribute by Vonani wa ka Bila (Timbila)
Southern Africa and Africa - Dedication to Guy Mhone
9AM: Opening and Introduction
Legacies of 'enclavity'
Adebayo Olukoshi (Codesria): TBA
11:15AM: Regional labour markets and labour reproduction
Lloyd Sachikonye (UZ): On labour
Horacio Zandamela (Wits): TBA
Richard Kamidza (Accord): TBA
2PM: Regional economies: Is South Africa sub-imperialist?
Tandeka Nkiwane (Univ of Pretoria): TBA
Simba Manyanya (CEJSA): Threats to Zimbabwe
Tajudeen Abdul-Raheem (Uganda): TBA
David Moore (UKZN): TBA
4PM: Southern African and African resistance
Mohau Pheko (Genta)
MP Giyose (Jubilee SA)
Horman Chitonge (UKZN)
George Dor (CEJSA)
5:30-9PM Evening Event (including drinks and snacks in MTB Courtyard)
Booklaunch: The New Trek (Console Tleane)
Personal Tributes to Guy Mhone and Jose Negroa: Mhone family, Omano
Edigheji and Tawanda Mutasah (Osisa)
Global - Dedication to Rosa Luxemburg
9AM: Legacies of 'imperialism'
Jeff Guy (UKZN): Luxemburg and KZN
Nicola Bullard (Focus on the Global South): Imperialism, militarism and
reclaiming the commons
Joel Kovel (Bard): Ecofeminism versus imperialism
Helene Bank (Iglis): Rethinking imperialism
11:15AM: Primitive accumulation
Massimo De Angelis (Univ of East London): TBA
Ahmed Veriava, (UKZN): TBA
Prishani Naidoo (UKZN): TBA
David Whitehouse (ISR): China
2PM: Imperialism and new commodity forms
Elmar Altvater (Free Univ): TBA
Gill Hart (Berkeley): Accumulation by dispossession
4PM: Contesting commodification
Achal Prabalha, Access (India) : Information
Jane Duncan (FXI) : Media
Trusha Reddy, Rehana Dada (UKZN): Privatisation of the air
Annual Rosa Luxemburg Educational Seminar
The Rosa Luxemburg Educational Seminar 2006 will focus on the accumulation
of capital and resistance. It is devoted to airing political-economic ideas,
strategies, tactics and debates amongst social, labour and environmental
activists from KZN province, SA and the region. Speakers will include Jimi
Adesina, Elmar Altvater, Ulrich Duchrow, Lenny Gentle, Ntwala Mwalima and
»The Accumulation of Capital« by Rosa Luxemburg in Historical Perspective
Arndt Hopfmann (RLF-Regional Office)
Accumulation of Capital in National, Regional and Global Perspective
Evening Event (including drinks and dinner)
Screening of the movie »Rosa Luxemburg« by M. von Trotta (English
Popular Resistance to the Accumulation of Capital
(Note: Due to the Centre for Civil Society's strong support for
worker/student strike action at UKZN, delays in colloquium planning are
anticipated; your cooperation is appreciated.)
South Africa: Pan-African health congress 2006
Pan African Health is the premier African healthcare congress - incorporating a conference, exhibition, and the 1st Healthcare Award for Excellence and Innovation sponsored by Absa. The theme of Pan African Health (PAH) 2006, which takes place from 29 – 31 August 2006 at the Sandton Convention Centre in Johannesburg, South Africa is accessing and managing funding for healthcare initiatives in Africa. PAH 2006 will see the Africa’s leading healthcare players and role players converge on the Sandton Convention Centre in Johannesburg, South Africa, to stay abreast of developments in the healthcare and healthcare funding arenas, to share information and experiences, to reinforce existing relationships and to seek out and form new relationships. Contact Jenny Wong for further information on: Tel: + 27 11 465 8871; email: [email protected] or visit www.panafricanhealth.com
South Africa: Short Course on Conflict Prevention, Management and Resolution
In accordance with one of the aims of UPEACE to develop and increase capacity in the teaching of conflict and peace studies in Africa, we would like to invite your university/department/centre to nominate one or two staff members to participate in a short course on Conflict Prevention, Management and Resolution. The course is due to be held in Pretoria from 3 to 7 April 2006 and will be presented by the Africa Programme of the United Nations-affiliated University for Peace. Only proposals submitted by people who have been nominated by their institutions or organizations will be considered.
Call for Nomination: Short Course on Conflict Prevention, Management and Resolution (CPMR)
Pretoria, 3-7 April 2006
In accordance with one of the aims of UPEACE to develop and increase capacity in the teaching of conflict and peace studies in Africa, we would like to invite your university/department/centre to nominate one or two staff members to participate in a short course on Conflict Prevention, Management and Resolution. The course is due to be held in Pretoria from 3 to 7 April 2006 and will be presented by the Africa Programme of the United Nations-affiliated University for Peace. Only proposals submitted by people who have been nominated by their institutions or organizations will be considered.
The course is multi-disciplinary in nature, and is aimed at lecturers based predominantly at UPEACE partner universities in Africa who teach in undergraduate or graduate programmes which either already deal generally with issues of conflict and peace in Africa, and specifically with issues of conflict prevention, management and resolution, or have the potential to do so (e.g. political science, sociology, law, history, media etc). It is envisaged that those who attend the course will be able to go back to their universities and include a component on conflict prevention, management and resolution in some of their courses.
The course presenters will be Dr. Monica Juma and Dr. Shedrack Best. Dr. Juma holds an MA in Government and Public Administration from the University of Nairobi and a Doctor of Philosophy from the University of Oxford. She is a Senior Analyst working on issues of Peace and Security in the AU-NEPAD Programme at SaferAfrica in Pretoria. Dr. Shedrack Best holds a PhD in Peace Studies from Bradford University, UK. He is a senior Lecturer and Coordinator of the Center for Conflict Management at the University of Jos.
As stated above, only appropriate candidates nominated by their institutional/organizational/departmental heads will be considered for participation in this short course. Please provide the following documentation to accompany the institutional letter of nomination:
letter from the nominee on how he or she would incorporate the material from the course into their teaching
full contact details (email, phone, fax and mailing addresses)
This has to be submitted by 25 February 2006 to Karen Stefisyn at [email protected] or by fax on
+2712 362 5125. Please note that there is no guarantee that every nominee will be admitted to the course.
Those selected for participation will be informed by 4 March 2006 of their acceptance. They will then receive course materials and an assignment, which will need to be completed and submitted to the academic coordinator of UPEACE, Africa Programme, Professor Christof Heyns by a specified date prior to the commencement of the course.
The University for Peace will cover all costs related to air travel, accommodation, and meals throughout the duration of the course. No out-of-pocket expenditures shall be provided so individuals must take this into consideration prior to their travel. For more information on UPEACE, see www.upeace.org, and for more details on the Africa Programme, visit www.africa.upeace.org
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