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      Back Issues

      Pambazuka News 445: Clinton, Africa and US corporate interests

      The authoritative electronic weekly newsletter and platform for social justice in Africa

      Pambazuka News (English edition): ISSN 1753-6839

      CONTENTS: 1. Features, 2. Announcements, 3. Comment & analysis, 4. Advocacy & campaigns, 5. Pan-African Postcard, 6. Books & arts, 7. African Writers’ Corner, 8. Emerging powers in Africa Watch, 9. Zimbabwe update, 10. Women & gender, 11. Human rights, 12. Refugees & forced migration, 13. Emerging powers news, 14. Elections & governance, 15. Corruption, 16. Development, 17. Health & HIV/AIDS, 18. LGBTI, 19. Environment, 20. Land & land rights, 21. Food Justice, 22. Media & freedom of expression, 23. Conflict & emergencies, 24. Internet & technology, 25. eNewsletters & mailing lists, 26. Fundraising & useful resources, 27. Courses, seminars, & workshops

      Help Pambazuka News become independent. Become a supporting subscriber by taking out a paid subscription. Donate $30 a year.

      Highlights from this issue

      This week's issue of Pambazuka News (445) will be our last until 3 September, as we are closing for a short break over the month of August. We still very much welcome article submissions during this period, but ask prospective contributors to be patient with us, as you may not receive a response from the editorial team until after 31 August.

      - Firoze Manji comments on Hilary Clinton's African tour
      - Steve Ouma Akoth on what they don't tell you about AGOA
      - Wangari Maathai on why you shouldn't be fooled by the Kenyan TJRC
      - Chidi Anselm Odinkalu asks how to save international justice in Africa
      - Nikolaj Nielsen on why the Sahrawi are still waiting for a referendum
      - Patrice Lumumbas's poem, Dawn in the heart of Africa
      - William Gumede says sexist leaders are damaging the women’s rights agenda
      - John Quigley on the perils of prosecuting international crimes
      - Merrill Smith speaks out against refugee warehousing
      - Agustín Velloso on Equatorial Guinea's thirty years with Obiang
      - Gerald Caplan on Abousfian Abdelrazik's battle to get off the UN's blacklist
      - Grace Puliyel says countries can gain from brain drain

      - Memorable quotations from Mwalimu Nyerere
      - Chambi Chachage on Tanzania's tale of two governments
      - Paul Mwangi Maina says social networks are a double-edged sword

      - Khadija Sharife on pirate bankers and shadow economies
      - Ama Biney on the return of a stolen king's head to Ghana

      - Addressing violence and discrimination against women and girls is urgent
      - End repressive laws targeting women in Sudan

      BOOKS & ARTS
      - Simbarashe Mashiri reviews Stanley Makuwe's new play.

      - A short story by Karest Lewela

      - Lucy Corkin looks at the latest developments in the Macau HubANNOUNCEMENTS: Pambazuka annual break: 10-31 August
      ZIMBABWE UPDATE: Student leaders detained in fees protest
      WOMEN & GENDER: Kenyan students to undergo pregnancy tests
      CONFLICT AND EMERGENCIES: Military amnesty begins in Nigeria
      HUMAN RIGHTS: Tanzania albino group worried about stalled cases
      REFUGEES AND FORCED MIGRATION: Thousands displaced in latest DRC attacks
      EMERGING POWERS NEWS: Confucianism at large in Africa
      ELECTIONS AND GOVERNANCE: Malagasy leaders in crisis talks
      CORRUPTION: Former US congressman convicted for corruption in African deals
      HEALTH & HIV/AIDS: Saving Namibia’s HIV babies
      DEVELOPMENT: Human Development Report 2009
      LGBTI: Outspoken activists defend Africa’s sexual diversity
      ENVIRONMENT: Fears for forest as Cameroon dam construction begins
      LAND & LAND RIGHTS: Botswana frees hunting Bushmen
      FOOD JUSTICE: People’s Food Sovereignty Forum 2009
      MEDIA AND FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION: Six Gambian journalists jailed
      INTERNET& TECHNOLOGY: More East African countries to benefit from broadband
      ENEWSLETTERS & MAILING LISTS: AfricaFocus Bulletin: Kenya: Government of Impunity?
      PLUS: seminars and workshops, and jobs

      *Pambazuka News now has a page, where you can view the various websites that we visit to keep our fingers on the pulse of Africa! Visit


      Clinton in Africa: Promoting US corporate interests

      Firoze Manji


      cc Marc N
      International media attention is focused this week on the visit of the US Secretary of State, Hilary Clinton, to seven countries in Africa. But what is the significance of Clinton’s visit? Does it really hold out hope for Africa? There are three dimensions to this visit: AGOA, oil and natural resource exploitation, and security. And in each case, it is US corporate interests, not the interests of Africans, that are being pushed, argues Firoze Manji from Pambazuka News.

      International media attention is focused this week on the visit of the US Secretary of State, Hilary Clinton, to seven countries in Africa. Judging by the behaviour of representatives of many African governments, there are great expectations that this visit – following so closely after President Obama’s two earlier visits to Egypt and Ghana – holds out vast hope for Africa.

      But what is the significance of Clinton’s visit? Does it really hold out hope for Africa? There are three dimensions to this visit: The African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA); oil and natural resource exploitation; and security.

      In all three dimensions, the focus is on providing guarantees for US corporate interests. As Steve Ouma Akoth explains in this issue of Pambazuka News, despite its name as the AFRICAN Growth and Opportunity Act, the principle beneficiaries of what is exclusively a US government act are American corporations who will gain from the exploitation of cheap African labour. Yes, the latter will get ‘jobs’, but pitifully paid jobs. And in an environment where there is little choice, African workers are forced to accept that being exploited is a better option than not being exploited by American corporate interests.

      With China, India, Brazil, Saudi Arabia, Russia and other emerging powers competing for access to Africa’s natural resources, including oil, there is little doubt that the US belligerence during the era of the Bush junta has potentially created conditions favourable to the new players. Clinton’s visit is directly related to seeking to protect and advance American corporate interests in oil and natural resource exploitation in Africa. Angola provides some 7 per cent of US oil imports, closely followed by Nigeria, both countries being part of Clinton’s itinerary. Cosying up to South Africa – both because of its wealth and because it has become a serious economic power in the rest of the continent – is hardly surprising.

      And that brings us to the third dimension. This visit is also about negotiating for AFRICOM to have greater presence in Africa. It is hardly a coincidence that just as Clinton begins her junket, so AFRICOM announces its MEDFLAG initiative in Swaziland. As Thomas Friedman once put it: 'The hidden hand of the market will never work without a hidden fist. McDonald’s cannot flourish without McDonnell Douglas … And the hidden fist that keeps the world safe for Silicon Valley’s technologies to flourish is called the US Army, Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps.'

      And once again, something that is entirely a US creation is marketed as something putatively African: ‘African Command’ does not mean Africans in command, just as the African Growth and Opportunity Act is not about growth and opportunity for Africa, but rather for US corporations. Security is high on the agenda. But it is the security of US corporate interests that is at the heart of Clinton’s agenda, not human security, the security of ordinary people to thrive, to be secure that their children will be safe from impoverishment, secure in the knowledge that they will be able to work; and working, to transform their world to serve the interests of humanity, not the narrow interests of a minority in the North.


      * Firoze Manji is editor in chief of Pambazuka News.
      * Please send comments to [email protected] or comment online at Pambazuka News.

      What they don't tell you about AGOA

      Tackling taboos around the African Growth and Opportunity Act

      Steve Ouma Akoth


      cc LBL
      The African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), a US policy to encourage the formation of economic ties with countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, sounds generous on paper, writes Steve Ouma Akoth. But a closer look at the situation on the ground in Kenya raises questions about who will really benefit from AGOA, Akoth tells Pambazuka News.

      The last two weeks have seen a flurry of activities and media briefings as a preface to the 8th African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) forum in Nairobi from 4-6 August 2009. For a country struggling to overcome the ugly 2007 post-elections upheavals, nothing less would have been expected than the current zeal from the government, individual companies and their associations. As usual, the trade unions are nowhere to be seen in this prefacing. To facilitate benefitting from AGOA, the Apparel and Textile Manufacturers Association has even gone to the extent of asking for more concessions, like a reduction of the price of electricity for corporations and tax waivers.


      The story of AGOA is not new. Its script has been prepared and animated over the years by amongst others, the United States, trade departments, governments of African countries and civil society. The AGOA is a United States (US) trade act that encourages the formation of economic ties between the US and Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). It should be clarified that AGOA is not a multilateral (between more than two parties) or a bilateral (between two parties) agreement. It is but an American Domestic Trade and Development Act of 2000 toward Sub-Saharan Africa (hereinafter ‘SSA’). With the support of both the Democrats and Republicans, this legislation has been changed thrice ever since its first version in 2000. The function of AGOA is to provide preferential trade treatment for certain products originating from eligible SSA countries for a limited period. The key words that are often bypassed in most readings of AGOA are ‘certain’, ‘originating’, ‘eligible’, and ‘limited’. The legislation authorises the president of the United States to grant unilateral preferential trade benefits to SSA countries, but only if they pursues neo-liberal economic and political reforms, and demonstrate commitment to other criteria that satisfy an array of technical requirements, and only up to a sunset date.

      Read in the above form and with the statistics of trade between the US and the various SSA eligible counties, AGOA sounds generous. But its details can best be captured through a nuanced analysis of the ‘lived experiences’ by those who are supposedly the real beneficiaries of AGOA. Kenya is one of the SSA countries eligible for trade under the AGOA provisions. The biggest manifestations of trade in AGOA are the Export Processing Zones (EPZs). In Kenya, workers, investors and suppliers all have their narratives of what AGOA is, yet none of these can give a representative picture, audit or appraisal on its own. They require an adjutant reading alongside the verdict coming from the government of Kenya and that of the USA.


      A nuanced reading of AGOA and how it has been implemented and experienced by workers and many other stakeholders in Kenya attest to other underlying issues that are not receiving adequate prominence in the debate towards the 8th AGOA forum in Nairobi. They are indeed ‘taboo’ subjects that the organisers and the corporate interest would rather not talk about. The hype by the Ministry of Trade is however nothing other than partial truth, unless the details are brought forward as part of a bigger debate on the future of AGOA and other related US trade provisions in the New Partnership for Development Act (NPDA) of 2007. The term ‘taboo’ is used to refer to a prejudice that prohibits the use or mention of something because of its sacred nature. Some of the pertinent concerns about AGOA may be said to have acquired the revered taboo status and are a no-go zone for the two major parties to the pact. Herein, I review three of these ‘taboo’ subjects.


      One of the consequences of AGOA and many other trade arrangements is that for the first time after the industrial revolution, such huge numbers of unorganised labourers, especially women, are coming under the productive sway of large-scale capital. With no doubt, women employed in production for EPZ companies earn more than they would have in traditional and informal sectors. This has led into improved condition and position within the households. But the ‘taboo’ subjects here have been; in what occupations are women in the EPZs? And what is the security of these jobs?

      My observations in the last nine years point to women being employed for their manual dexterity. They are thus engaged in sections that require routine and repetition without necessarily acquiring skills or having forward-backward linkages with other sections in the company. Beyond the occupations, the jobs offered to most EPZ workers are precarious poverty jobs. Although the zones boast of creating 30,000 jobs, mostly for women, many of the women workers interviewed feel that their jobs are failing to help them and their families work their way out of poverty. So they are struggling and campaigning to turn their jobs into the potential they promise – to be a path for poverty reduction for themselves, their households and their communities. With a wage average of Ksh 5,000 per month (which translates to Ksh 20 per hour), most EPZ employees have to work for excessive overtime to meet their mere basic needs. Commonly hired on short-term contracts – or with no contracts at all – workers are working at high speed for low wages, in unhealthy conditions, and forced to put in long hours to earn enough to get by. As the preparations of the AGOA forum get underway, there are about 2,635 employees with pending cases against various EPZ companies that closed overnight and left or dismissed employees without according them any dues.


      The second taboo subject is about the effect of the EPZs to the national labour laws and practice. Although AGOA is crafted under the rhetoric of rule of law, the situation in the zones and the national labour law infrastructure after the entry of AGOA, gives a completely different narrative. The corporations, in cohort with ministry of labour bureaucrats whom they have ‘captured’, see the labour laws as shackles whose grasp they struggle to wiggle out of. As trade competition increases amongst SSA countries, protections for workers’ rights in Kenya need to be strengthened. But, instead, there has been enormous pressure on the government of Kenya to trade away workers’ rights, in law and in practice, for a place in the global economy. The pressure comes from local employers and foreign investors, ever ready to find a new sourcing location. The investors in the EPZs in Kenya have been able to impose targets, which if workers do not achieve, they lose out on their daily wages. Workers are forced to sign-out for official records and then remain locked in factories to meet the ‘targets’.

      Pressure has also been coming from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank. The two institutions, which were major sponsors of the EPZs, have advised the government of Kenya to adjust their labour laws to meet sourcing companies’ demands. This conveys an unspoken message: Labour standards should be defined not by governments, but by market forces. This is the reason behind the amendments in the Finance Act No. 4 of 1994. The Act amended Section 16 of the now repealed Employment Act and the Regulation of Wages and Conditions of Employment Act to circumvent the requirement of union involvement in the redundancy of workers and related safeguards and procedures. It is on the basis of this that IMF and World Bank sponsored changes that EPZ employees are dismissed each day with no involvement of trade unions.


      The third taboo subject relates to trade policies of the US government and their corporate courtiers who are the sourcing companies from Kenya’s EPZs. Take textiles for instance. Under AGOA, Kenya is expected to attain sustained and competitive domestic production of cotton by 2012. 2012 is the sunset date for the exception under the rule of third party origin. Thus for Kenya to continue exporting apparel products to the US, the cotton used from 2012 must originate from Kenya. The idea of producing cotton domestically is a good one. But this assumes that all cotton producing countries or those with the potential for production like Kenya are collectively governed by the World Trade Organization (WTO) rules. This aspiration is silent on America’s trade-distorting domestic subsidies which amount to about US$3.8 billion or 80-90 per cent of total US support for cotton. Domestic subsidies also make up almost all of the European cotton subsidies. The over-subsidy of cotton by the US (held at ransom by big corporations and its domestic farm barons) has been a taboo topic not only in AGOA but also within the WTO circles. During the WTO meeting in 2005, the African Ministers had demanded that 80 per cent of domestic subsidies for cotton be eliminated by the end of 2006, and the rest within a few years. There has been no move on this subject. It is a taboo subject that received not even a mention from the US President Obama during his most recent trip to Ghana.

      While the US officialdom double-speak through AGOA, US corporations and leading stores and brands like Wal-Mart, Target Stores, Sears, Hagar, and others, wring workers through exploitative purchasing practices. For these big retailers and brand owners, contracting out to a worldwide network of suppliers has become the most profitable way to source the goods they sell in their shops and under their logos. And as more developing countries like Kenya seek export-led growth, the pool of potential suppliers has increased massively, with thousands of producers on every continent vying for a place in their chains. Their strategy towards labour is simple: Make it flexible and make it cheap. Offered low prices, investors in the EPZs set high production targets and evade paying for employment benefits. And to deal with fluctuating and unreliable orders, EPZ employers hire workers on short-term contracts, or sub-contract to other factories. And to deal with the tight turnaround times, they demand that workers put in long hours to meet shipping deadlines. In maintenance of harmony in these factories, the EPZ employers with tacit support from the US sourcing companies have put in place strategies to minimise resistance and ‘de-teeth’ local trade unions. The companies’ toolkit includes hiring more vulnerable workers who are less likely to organise – women, often immigrants into the urban centres – and intimidate or sack those who do try to create trade unions and stand up for their rights.

      People who sell their labour have certain inalienable rights. These rights are premised on the fundamental belief that human beings are entitled to a dignified life. Therefore, working conditions must satisfy the minimum requirements of dignified existence. And this is a fundamental principal in the International Labour Organization (ILO) Conventions. It is on this logic that ILO prohibits any form of slavery, servitude and forced labour. The practices above and sexual harassment that constitute the trademark of EPZs in Kenya are coming under microscopic scrutiny due to the value attached to human dignity.

      In fact, the complaints against EPZ companies are all waged on the ground of undignified treatment of workers, unequal trade relationship and scrupulous practices by USA and Europe based brands and stores. America’s new chapter shall be judged on both its zeal for democratisation such as the one expressed by President Obama in his Ghana speech and a genuine move towards ‘economic and social democratisation’.

      If the US is genuinely interested in Africa’s ‘growth’, then initiatives such as AGOA should be an impetus for the completion of the pending WTO DOHA rounds of negotiations that have a focus on developing countries. The Nairobi AGOA meeting shall be incomplete unless it opens up the current quarantine on these taboo subjects.


      * Steve Ouma Akoth is strategic advisor to Labour Awareness and Resource Centre (LARC) and doctoral fellow at the University of the Western Cape, South Africa.
      * Please send comments to [email protected] or comment online at Pambazuka News.

      Impunity is a way of life

      Don't be fooled by the Kenyan TJRC

      Wangari Maathai


      cc Tom Maruko
      Don’t be fooled by the Truth Justice and Reconciliation Commission, Wangari Maathai writes in Pambazuka News, its purpose is simply to ‘facilitate impunity, hoodwink and massage the victims and yet again, sweep the crimes under the carpet’. Impunity in Kenya started with the explorers and early settlers who demonstrated no respect for the rule of law of the people they encountered, says Maathai, and given that no leader since ‘has ever been made to account for crimes they commit against the state’, there’s little incentive for things to change now.

      Impunity in Kenya started with the explorers and early settlers who demonstrated no respect for the rule of law of the people they encountered. As they advanced from the coast to the hinterland, they confronted different tribes, who tried to stop them with bows, arrows and spears and tried to force them to respect local laws and maintain order. Treaties and verbal agreements were sometimes made but were never respected. The natives were quickly overcome by the gun, which was a more superior weapon. Once firmly established, the newcomers governed with impunity.

      Prior to that, tribes had limited interactions with each other unless they were neighbours, in which case they exchanged goods, intermarried and even raided each other for livestock according to set rules of engagement. Otherwise, these micro-nations were strangers to each other. However, as they were moved around and interacted, rather than cultivate unity of purpose, they developed and embraced biases and prejudices over their practices and customs. That only served the old adage of ‘divide and rule’.

      The Mau Mau freedom struggle offered an opportunity for some tribal leaders to unite and end colonialism. But at independence, the colonial administration handed over the instruments of power to loyalists and opportunists who had supported the colonial administration against those who fought the Mau Mau war of liberation. Having stepped into the shoes of the colonial administrators, the new ruling group – which was trained by the colonial adminstrators – embraced the same unrestrained, exploitative and consumptive lifestyle and contempt and disregard for the natives. The change was simply a change of guards. Eventually, misuse of power, corruption and mis-governance by a predatory system impoverished and under-developed the country, which became dependent and is now threatened with insecurity and survival.

      Despite strong tribal affiliations and loyalty, members of the ruling elites and the rich private sector are able to come together and form strong alliances to win elections and share power and the privileges that come with it. As long as they can take pieces of the ‘national cake’ to their tribesmen, and convince them that their interests are being taken care of, they remain valuable to each other. Otherwise, they become a burden and are discarded.

      This capacity of the ruling elites and the affluent sector to cut deals between them and persuade their communities to support them – even when those deals are against the welfare of the greater good of society and country – is founded on impunity: The ruling elites have come to believe that they can commit any crimes and get away with it, as long as they are supported by their micro-nations and each other.

      The crimes they commit range from dealing with illegal substances like drugs and alcohol, accepting bribes, embracing corruption, stealing from the treasury and granaries and allocating forests, wetlands, land and public properties to self and each other, to rigging elections and generally governing as if the state is personal property. They also include overseeing killings of members of other micro-nations, like during the tribal clashes of 1991, 1992, 1997 and even 2008. Because they control the judiciary, the police, the army and until recently, the parliament, it has always been possible to agree on deals, which they defend before the public as they ask the victims of their mis-governance to ‘forgive and forget’. The crimes are then quickly swept under the carpet and the ruling elites return to the helm to do business as usual.

      They may disagree sometimes if they feel cheated or compromised, at which point they may call upon the members of their micro-nations to make demands by force if necessary. This explains the recurrence of tribal clashes and even the post-election violence of 2008.

      So, impunity has always been part of governance in Kenya. That is why the country is unable to establish a tribunal to try suspects of the post-election violence. The real intention of the just-formed Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission (TJRC) therefore, is to facilitate impunity, hoodwink and massage the victims and yet again, sweep the crimes under the carpet. None of the leaders has ever been made to account for crimes they commit against the state. Why now?

      The real truth is that none of them is really interested in the truth or justice. But in keeping with our tradition, a Truth Justice and Reconciliation Commission has been created to collect information from the public and take the report to the ruling elites for the archives.


      * Professor Wangari Maathai is a is a Nobel Peace Prize winner and the author of The Challenge for Africa.
      * Please send comments to [email protected] or comment online at Pambazuka News.

      Saving international justice in Africa

      Chidi Anselm Odinkalu


      cc HDPT CAR
      Many Africans supported the establishment of the International Criminal Court (ICC) because we believed it would help us end high-level impunity for mass atrocities and ‘enable us to attain the best we are capable of,’ Chidi Anselm Odinkalu tells Pambazuka News. But just five years after the ICC received its first case from Uganda, victims of ‘bad government’ across the continent are no longer sure the court can help them secure justice.

      International justice in Africa is in the midst of a crisis informed by fears that need to be honestly acknowledged if they are to be effectively resolved.

      The greatest fears about the role that international justice is playing in Africa arise not from crimes that have already taken place but in connection with a mass atrocity that some informed people foresee and all must work to prevent – the disintegration of Sudan into a regional killing field.

      I was born a refugee into the Nigerian civil war in which an estimated two million were killed in 30 months. Most people in our continent are, like me, children of war, want, and deprivation caused mostly by bad government. Like the rest of the world, our needs are basic. We desire a world in which our people, families and ourselves can harness our abilities in dignity, peace and justice under government that is for us not against us.

      In most of our countries, these basic expectations are illusory.

      This is why most of us supported the establishment of the International Criminal Court (ICC). For us, justice for mass atrocities is intimately personal. We believed the court would help to end high-level impunity for mass atrocities, enabling us to attain the best we are capable of.

      Yet a little over five years since the court received its first case from Uganda in 2003, the initial optimism from Africa that greeted it has been replaced by hardened scepticism from traditional opponents and, most worryingly, by fear among victims and host communities, uncertain whether the court can help them.

      The establishment of the ICC represented a major breakthrough in international diplomacy: The creation of a mutually respectful consensus around the compelling idea of bringing to account those who bear the greatest responsibility for the worst crimes known to humanity. But today mutual recrimination has replaced respectful dialogue, debates on the ICC often degenerate into epithets and supportive diplomacy is absent. Criticism of the court, no matter how constructive, risks being denounced as endorsing impunity; support for it, no matter how reasonable, is easily branded imperialism or its agent.

      Undoubtedly, the ICC has implacable enemies driven by desire for unaccountable power but there are also reasonable fears about how the court’s work could affect a precarious regional situation.

      In authorising the arrest of Sudan’s President Al-Beshir, ICC judges agreed that he had a case to answer for his alleged role in war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in Darfur. But the execution of the warrant without an adequately managed transition could create a power vacuum in Khartoum, unleashing destabilising tremors beyond Sudan’s borders.

      Consequently, all nine countries that share a border with Sudan are on a war footing. Without a government for two decades, nearby Somalia is already a major destabilising factor in the region. Uganda’s murderous Lord’s Resistance Army, long supported by Khartoum – and whose leaders are also wanted by the ICC – is re-grouping in vast ungoverned border territory between Sudan, Uganda and DRC. The 2005 ‘comprehensive’ peace agreement (CPA) that ended Sudan’s half century-long north-south war risks breakdown, while the Darfur crisis in western Sudan remains active.

      These uncertainties drive an undisguised arms race in the region. If the CPA collapses, many fear a transnational atrocity site like none this region has known.

      I recognise most of those who harbour these fears. They are neither pillaging presidents nor ravaging rebels. Like the child refugee I was few decades ago, they are victims driven by neither dollar nor dinar – widowed refugees from their homesteads, unsure whether the next meal will come or whether they will be alive at the next dawn.

      Victims now seem to be the people paying the highest cost for international justice. They suffer threats of death, exile, and other forms of persecution for their commitment to justice with little protection, assistance or acknowledgement from governments or international institutions.

      I have heard claims that those who express uncertainties about the work of the ICC in Africa may have been purchased by powerful enemies of justice. This makes victims seem expendable and discredits their well-founded fears as dubious. They are neither.

      Most victims need reassurance that when the neighbourhood mass murderer arrives their only defence is not the promise of a warrant from a distant tribunal on thin resources. They are right in asking that the promise of justice should be accompanied by credible protection from reprisals. The ICC’s friends must address this.

      While the misbegotten duel between supposed imperialists and alleged impunity apologists persists, the deadly business of mass atrocities continues unchecked, its victims in Africa fret, and the credibility of the ICC suffers.

      To overcome these difficulties, four things are needed. First, the ICC’s resources must be improved to focus more on winning back the trust of victims through better outreach and effective protection. Thus, better co-ordination is needed between African governments, the ICC, the UN at its highest levels, governments and philanthropies. Next, the African Union must translate its rhetoric against impunity into a programme of action, showing that African lives matter and it will not issue a free pass to those – big or small – that violate Africans. Third, principled multilateral diplomacy is needed to reassure both governments and victims that the Great Lakes countries will not be allowed to become a level killing field. In particular, the five permanent members of the UN Security Council should use their strategic heft to engage intensively with this looming crisis. Finally, we must re-establish mutual respect among people in the advocacy communities who sometimes disagree as to means but who mostly agree as to ends.

      * Chidi Anselm Odinkalu heads the Africa Programme of the Open Society Justice Initiative and co-chairs the Darfur Consortium.
      * Please send comments to [email protected] or comment online at Pambazuka News.

      The Sahrawi: Seeking solace in a dream

      After 34 years of promises, Western Sahara is still waiting for independence from Morocco

      Nikolaj Nielsen


      cc Saharauiak
      ‘Comfort and complacency’ have replaced ‘international law and rigour’ at Minurso, a UN mission set up in 1991 to oversee a referendum for the self-determination of the Sahrawi, Nikolaj Nielsen tells Pambazuka News. With the political will of the UN Security Council to push forward the referendum weakened by economic interests, says Nielsen, the Sahrawi are steadily losing patience with relying on international laws and human rights protocols in their struggle for independence.

      A row of Moroccan flags, firmly embedded in a concrete wall too tall to scale, align a compound that has no political will and surround a United Nations mission that has no human rights mandate. Minurso, the UN Mission for the Referendum in the Western Sahara, is a sad spectacle where the single blue flag appears to reach tall into the brisk December sky. But it hangs limp as the dozens of red draped green stars flutter in the slight breeze; defiant and dominant.

      In front of the mission's gate are two armed Moroccan soldiers. They stare out onto an empty lot where some brave individuals once staged a peaceful protest. Their demands for the fundamental rights of assembly, of freedom of expression and thought, were quickly kicked into the dirt by the black boots of the Moroccan security forces and their notorious DST. The blue helmets of the mission were passive, behind their barricade sipping sweet minted teas. Their silence underlines the terrible cost of human suffering and injustice that has gone unchecked for over 34 years. As I walk by the compound, one of the soldiers approaches and asks if I work for the mission. He then tells me to leave.

      This is Laayoune. A former Spanish outpost turned administrative centre where Moroccan soldiers, police, and security details are as common as the lowly soul attempting to carve out a life in the middle of this vast desert, whose relative size is comparable to that of the entire UK. Laayoune houses some 200,000 (this figure is in dispute) individuals. In its margins, in the Eraki neighbourhood and elsewhere, the Saharawi live in bland block apartments, some in slums, some in relatively decent housing. All under the tyranny of indifference and a media blackout.

      Minurso was established in 1991 with a mandate to oversee a referendum for the self-determination of the Sahrawi and to keep the peace between Morocco and the Polisario. But years of deadlock, of missed opportunities, and a lack of political will in the Security Council has forced the blue helmets into a corner where comfort and complacency have replaced international law and rigour.

      Boredom erodes the soldiers’ minds. Their SUVs are shiny and brilliantly white, the tires a perfect black. Everything they have appears new and when they are parked in the asphalt of lots of expensive hotels like the Nagir, the ordinary Sahrawi woman can do nothing but walk by, her head turned low as the bustle of Africa's longest territorial conflict and the UN's last decolonisation procedure continues unabated, unchecked and discredited. She is alone with her thoughts, but a recurrent phrase – shared by so many just like her – runs through her head like ticker tape: Independence, independence now.

      On 28 April, Amnesty International sent a letter to the UN Security Council calling on members to include a human rights monitoring component in Minurso's mandate. Two days later, that request was denied. One can only speculate as to why. Permanent Security Council member France has long been an advocate of Morocco’s autonomy plan and their commercial and political interests in the kingdom far outweigh any human rights mandate. French banks Credit Agricole and Société Général dot the city's main boulevards Hassan II and Mohammed V. Then two years ago France blocked the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) from publishing the following in a report on the conflict: The right to self-determination for the people of Western Sahara must be ensured and implemented without any further delay. According to Reuters, France did not offer any immediate comment when questioned.

      Several hundred kilometres away in the refugee camps in Algeria, Khadad Mhamed, the Polisario member in charge of the referendum with Minurso, fumes. ‘The United Nations is morally responsible for this delay. It is a scandal that we are still suffering after all these years. Minurso is unable to organise a referendum because there is no political will.’

      Worse, according to some Sahrawi, Minsuro witnessed the physical abuse by the Moroccan police on fellow Sahrawi and did nothing. In January 2008, the UN peacekeepers defaced and vandalised prehistoric art in the occupied territories Agence France Presse reported. Several of the soldiers had sprayed paint onto rock art that depicts human and animal figures dating back 6000 years. And then there are rumours of sexual abuse. But these belong to other articles, and other proper and thorough investigations.

      What the Minsuro are doing is providing the logistical support along with the coordinated efforts of the UNHCR: To fly Sahrawi from Laayoune to visit distant relatives in the refugee camps in Algeria. According to the UNCHR, between March 2004 and April of this year, some 8,000 Sahrawi have benefitted from the program which was established under the wing of what is disingenuously called the Confidence Building Measures Programme (CBM).

      Christopher Ross, the new UN Secretary General's Personal Envoy for the Western Sahara, is seeking to promote more such measures in order to see a definitive end to the conflict. His predecessor, Peter van Walsum, failed miserably. In August 2008, Mr Walsum wrote an op-ed in El Pais where he advanced a solution ‘short of full independence’. It was an astonishing admission that flew in the face of dozens of UN resolutions, including Resolution 1514 that guarantees a people's right to self-determination. The resolution is a pillar in the UN Charter and no person has the right to determine a people's destiny except the people. So much for neutrality, though some are now voicing hope in Mr Ross and a US administration headed by President Barack Obama.

      ‘Mr Ross is an exceptional figure, he speaks fluent Arabic and understands the conflict,’ says Pedro Pinto Leite, secretary of the International Platform of Jurists for East Timor (IPJET). The IPJET, instrumental in shaping the referendum for self-determination in East Timor, has for years also supported the Saharawi. Mr Leite then said Obama had sent a letter to King Mohammed VI expressing his views on the conflict, though no record or publication has yet brought this into the public domain.

      Not only the UN, but also the International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruled in favour of the Sahrawi – over thirty years ago. But where international justice continues to fail the oppressed, the fight continues in Laayoune's alleys and streets, where the idea of independence from Rabat is rooted in the lives of the 160,000 refugees, as well as families torn apart. The walls on these neighbourhoods are tagged ‘Morocco, Morocco out!’ along with other slogans, written in Spanish and in Arabic. Driving through the neighbourhood one late evening to meet the activists, I spotted four terrified young boys lined up against the wall as Moroccan police yelled in their faces. A wall near them was also tagged but the cab driver casually said it was drugs.

      For Brahim Sabbar, a Saharawi human rights defender who lives in Laayoune, the struggle for independence is one that can only be won through peaceful protest and through the recourse of international law. ‘Our relationship with the Moroccan civilian is good, it's the state we have a problem with,’ he says.

      Mr Sabbar is probably now in his late fifties or early sixties, but he spent at least ten years of his life locked up in the secret detention Kaalat Megouna. His family thought he was dead, his mother had refused to talk and remained silent until finally one day he arrived at her doorstep, frail but alive. His story is one that continues under remarkably similar parallels by those much, much younger than him. He had been apprehended by plainclothes policemen near Dakhla, a port town off the coast of the Western Sahara, where he had been celebrating Mauritania's defeat and withdrawal from the territory. For the first four years, he and eight other Sahrawi were isolated from the rest of the prison population.

      ‘We kept ourselves entertained by creating theatre as a vehicle. We became both audience and actor.’ As the years went by, the Saharawi at Kaalat formed committees until finally there emerged the start of a human rights organisation. Today, the Sahrawi Association of Victims of Grave Human Rights Violations Committed by the Moroccan State (ASVDH) remains banned but the material it produces and the testimonies it supplies to other organisations like Frontline Defenders and Human Rights Watch is a demonstration of its commitment.

      Since Minurso has no human rights mandate, it is up to the Sahrawi to organise and document abuse. Mr Sabbar is a central figure among those organisations. When he was once again jailed, Amnesty International launched a campaign for his release. But there are many others whose names are not known, at least not to the international community.

      At only 18, Hassanna Aalia is no stranger to the Moroccan police. He is a photographer and his images document that which is so difficult to express in words. ‘Testimonies,’ he says. Mr Aalia has himself seen the ether of police brutality. Behind the city slums lies Seguiat at Hamra, a stagnating river where Sahrawi are regularly taken to and beaten. ‘They took me to the river, they beat me there, they tortured me, and then they left me there,’ he says in a quiet voice.

      Stuck in the green swill of its water are rusting cans of Pepsi and other refuse. Behind, the walls of Suuk Djema and ahead, a single road meanders into the desert some call the lahmada, literally translated into ‘oh the heat, the cold’. Somewhere along this edge stood Hassanna Aalia, forced to strip naked as the Moroccan police took photos of him and then threatened to send them to pornographic sites if he continued to document the abuse. Despite the events that have unfolded there and the litter that dots the river banks, Seguiat at Hamra is beautiful, an oasis in the desert where one could imagine of how things may once had been, before the Moroccans, before the Spanish. It is peaceful.

      Hassanna Aalia is fortunate. He never experienced the Black Jail unlike another Sahrawi human rights defender, Ahmed Sbai. I met Mr Sbai in the outskirts of Laayoune and waited for his contact to arrive at a corner butcher, where whole sheep are strung upside down from hooks, blood dripping from their noses into small pools of crimson on the dirty concrete. In the distance, high-pitched voices of children playing in the darkness break an otherwise complete silence. The silhouettes of the block apartments stand cut against the brilliant stars of the night sky. Finally, a figure of a man approaches and then moments later, his story begins.

      ‘You enter that prison lost but you leave as a new born,’ he says. ‘I cannot really express in words what it's like.’

      In 1999, Mr Sbai says he was kidnapped from a demonstration in Smara and sent to Lebbayer, a secret jail 25 kilometres outside Laayoune. He was taken to a room inside the compound and tortured. ‘It's an empty room with no furniture except for a table and a large light. There are at least eight people in the room who then band your eyes before the torture begins. They place you facing the wall on your knees with your hands bound behind your back. I sat like this the whole night, until they set me on the table and beat me.’ He says he was then taken by his hands and feet, and stretched out with his face pushed to the floor while someone pounded his kidneys.

      Accused of belonging to a criminal organisation, Mr Sbai was then sentenced to prison for two years in what he describes as rigged court proceedings. ‘There is no independence in the court system. The judge will always decide in favour of the Moroccan government.’ Mr Sbai describes the Black Jail as a building coming apart at its foundations. Inside, there are five rooms three to four meters in length with a maximum total capacity for 250 prisoners.

      ‘I lived among thieves and criminals but I did meet two other political activists. Each room has at least 60 prisoners,’ he says. Even in these closed quarters, Mr Sbai says drugs and alcohol are rampant, smuggled into the jail by prison staff. ‘The authorities allow the drugs to control the prison population. The food made us sick and we were given water that been stored in a cistern where rats swam.’

      What then are the Polisario doing to advance their cause? At the 34th European Conference of Coordination Support to the Sahrawian People (EUCOCO) in Spain, it became obvious that the Polisario's actions in Morocco proper and the occupied territories was less than minimal. In the place of real action were words and dozens of speeches from delegates and representatives from around the world, expressing their solidarity and their photo-ops, which were few and far in between. Algeria's delegate shouted his country's solidarity with the Polisario, but refused when asked to comment, saying he was there as a private citizen and was not speaking on behalf of Algiers. He then asked to remain anonymous.

      At the ‘Human rights in the occupied territories’ workshop of the conference, Brahim Dahane, president of the ASVDH expressed his frustration. ‘The Polisario have yet to coordinate a plan of action,’ he said. Sadafa Ahmed Bahia, himself a member of the Polisario did not disagree. ‘The Polisario's implication in the occupied territories is minimal. They don't organise protests, they only represent them.’ And then again, in Agadir, Sahrawi student leader Aino Mohammed offered the same response. As it stands, the movement has no paid full time human rights lawyer. Arguments broke out at the workshop and at one point, a handful of jurists simply left. Even among the civil societies represented at the EUCOCO, there exists a rivalry exasperated by language barriers and codes of conduct. Eva, a French activist kept me entertained on all the political intrigues within the movement. But the costs are obvious. A glaring frustration of inaction seems to have derailed any substantial movement – at least at EUCOCO. There are indeed other solidarity movements for the Western Sahara, but EUCOCO seemed to décor a set.

      The European Union itself has its own act. The European Commission remains the largest donor to the refugees in Algeria. Since 1993, the Commission’s Humanitarian Aid department (ECHO) has handed out €133 million to the camps. Then two years ago, it gave another €10 million and then the same amount last June. At the same time, the European Union is signing lucrative fishing contracts with Morocco off the disputed coastline, in direct violation of international customary law and their duty of non-recognition over an area still under litigation. The 1975 ICJ ruling states that the right to self-determination also includes the right to sovereignty over natural resources. But an Association Agreement signed with Morocco means exports are stamped with a EUR1 certificate designating the products as originating in Morocco – including those exploited in the Western Sahara.

      Morocco is Africa’s top exporter of fish. And certain ministers in the European Parliament were outraged when contracts were finalised. In 2006, Brussels signed off the Fisheries Partnership Agreementwith Rabat. EU vessels are now exploiting the rich fish grounds off the Western Saharan coast. These fleets fly German, Latvian, Lithuanian, Dutch, British, Polish, and of course, Spanish flags. Spain has the most licences. Only Sweden has officially denounced the plunder of these natural resources while Ireland, Greece, and Austria have expressed serious reservations over the partnership agreement. Money is to be made and mouths to be fed. And as the financial crisis squeezes its grip, more and more pressure will be placed on Rabat to open up markets and trade to its vast neighbour to the north. But this is only part of the story.

      Prior to an annual congress in Tifariti in 2007, Polisario leader Baba Sayed said the Polisario needed a fundamental change. ‘This congress must be a renaissance for us or it’s over for Polisario.’ At EUCOCO, he appeared content but it was difficult to ascertain whether or not his renaissance had ever materialised. At the refugee camps in Algeria, the youth are mobilising and taking decisions without first conferring the Polisario. It is a situation that admittedly has the Polisario on edge.

      ‘The Sahrawi leaders couldn't stop us. They were afraid something would happen. They wanted us to stop but we refused,’ said 28-year old Brahim Sid Ahmed Boudjemaa, a Sahrawi refugee from the Smara camp in Algeria. Boudjemaa had, along with several hundred young student Saharawi, approached the Berm, a sand wall that runs 2000km through the contested border with Algeria and well along the edge of Mauritania. The students walked through a minefield and tossed rocks at the Moroccan soldiers. Boudjemaa said the Polisario were afraid something would happen, that a Moroccan soldier would lose his cool and shoot one of the students. But no shots were fired, their fingers only just touching the triggers.

      Resorting to international laws and human rights protocols has left some of the refugees feeling bitter. The principles of justice are present as are the associated values. But it's the waiting that is pushing many to the brink. At the very least, those living in Laayoune in the occupied territories can stage a fight, are active and are driven with purpose for a cause that belongs to them and fundamentally to us all.

      ‘Our situation might lead to extremism, it is so unfortunate and sad, but we have no exit. We have lost all faith in the UN. History tells us that anything taken by force should be resolved by force,’ said Mulay Hamadi Nanak, a refugee in the camps in Algeria.

      With no future and no real prospects for an independent state, Mr Nanak is seeking solace in a dream, in a solution that borders on madness. War is an absurd tragedy. Some of the old men who fought against the Moroccan soldiers are today lying at the centre for landmine victims in Rabbouni. Some are missing limbs, others paralysed. They are spending the remainder of their lives supine, thinking about the what-ifs and the terrible suffering they and their Moroccan brethren have experienced for a cause that seems dispersed and blown away like so many fine grains of sand.

      * Nikolaj Nielsen is a freelance journalist based in Brussels. His work has appeared in openDemocracy, Reuters AlertNet and other media. He writes the human rights blog at Foreign Policy Association.
      * Please send comments to [email protected] or comment online at Pambazuka News.

      Dawn in the heart of Africa

      Patrice Emery Lumumba


      cc Wikimedia
      Pambazuka News brings you a poem by Patrice Lumumba (1925-1961), one of the first generation of African nationalists who were both militant and strong pan-Africanists. Patrice Lumumba was elected the first prime minister of the Democratic Republic of Congo. Assassinated by Belgian colonialists and the CIA, Lumumba was a founder member of the Movement National Congolais (MNC), which led the Congo to independence. The image of Patrice Lumumba continues to serve as an inspiration in contemporary Congolese and African politics.

      For a thousand years, you, African, suffered like a beast,
      Your ashes strewn to the wind that roams the desert.
      Your tyrants built the lustrous, magic temples
      To preserve your soul, preserve your suffering.
      Barbaric right of fist and the white right to a whimp,
      You had the right to die, you also could weep.
      On your totem they carved endless hunger, endless bonds,
      And even in the cover of the woods a ghastly cruel death
      Was watching, snaky, crawling to you
      Like branches from the holes and heads of trees
      Embraced your body and your ailing soul.
      They put a treacherous big viper on your chest:
      On your neck they laid the yoke of fire-water
      They took your sweet wife for glitter and cheap pearls,
      Your incredible riches that nobody could measure.
      From your hut, the tom-toms sounded into dark of night
      Carrying cruel laments up mighty black rivers
      About abused girls, streams of tears and blood
      About ships that sailed to countries where the little man
      Wallows in an anthill and where the dollar is king,
      To that damned land which they call the motherland.
      There your child, your wife were ground, day and night
      In a frightful, merciless mill, crushing them in dreadful pain.
      You are a man like others. They preach you to believe
      That good white God will reconcile all men at last.
      By fire you grieved and sang morning songs
      Of a homeless beggar that sinks at strangers’ doors.
      And when a craze possessed you
      And your blood boiled through the night
      You danced, you moaned, obsessed by father’s passion.
      Like fury of a storm of lyric of manly tune
      From a thousand years of misery a strength burst out of you
      In metallic voice of jazz, in uncovered outcry
      That thunders through the continent like gigantic surf
      The whole world surprised, wakes up in panic
      To the violent rhythm of blood, to the violent rhythm of jazz,
      The white man turning pallid over this new song
      That carries torch of purple through the dark of night

      The dawn is here, my brother! Dawn! Look in our faces,
      A new morning breaks in our old Africa.
      Ours alone will now be the land, the water, mighty rivers
      Poor African surrendered for a thousand years.
      Hard torches of the sun will shine for us again
      They’ll dry the tears in eyes and spittle on your face
      The moment when you break the chains, the heavy fetters,
      The evil, cruel times will go never to come again.
      A free and gallant Congo will arise from black soil,
      A free and gallant Congo-black blossom from black seed!

      Courtesy Third World Resurgence, Issue no. 52 Sept/Oct 08


      * This article first appeared in the maiden issue of CHEMCHEMI, Bulletin of the Mwalimu Nyerere Professorial Chair in Pan African Studies of the University of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, and is reproduced here with the kind permission of the Editorial Board of CHEMCHEMI.
      * Patrice Lumumba’s gruesome murder is described in The Assassination of Patrice Lumumba (Ludo de Witte, Verso, 2001)
      * Please send comments to [email protected] or comment online at Pambazuka News.

      Sexist leaders damage women’s rights agenda

      Respect for women’s rights in patriarchal South Africa falls short of constitutional commitments

      William Gumede


      cc Kudumomo
      There is ‘a deep gulf between the call for women’s equality in South Africa’s model constitution and society’s predominantly archaic public attitudes towards women,’ William Gumede writes in Pambazuka News, with sexist views from leaders providing ‘a cloak of legitimacy’ for gender-based violence. If the country’s Gender Equality Commission is to succeed in its constitutional mandate to monitor whether the policy of gender equality is implemented, it must challenge prejudiced political leaders head on instead deferring to them, Gumede argues.

      It is soon going to be Women’s Day, which will be accompanied by the usual turning up of the volume in public rhetoric from our leaders proclaiming their undying commitment to advancing the interests of women. Yet, there is a deep gulf between the call for women’s equality in South Africa’s model constitution and society’s predominantly archaic public attitudes towards women. More often than not, women are cynically used by the very same male leaders trumpeting gender equality to fill quotas, whether it is for political posts, or to secure or to secure the 'broad-based' empowerment criteria for a black economic empowerment contract or government tender. Furthermore, women are being pulled down by cultural, political, economical and religious prejudices, which undermine their full participation in the life of society, which in turn deprives both the broader democracy and economic development generally.

      Continuing patriarchy in society means that women lack equality in sexual relationships, the family, workplace, culture, economy, politics and society. Male leaders will have to set an example. During the 2004 elections campaign, then President Thabo Mbeki said he would ‘klap’ (slap) his sister if she was to marry an opposition party leader. During President Jacob Zuma’s trial in 2006, he claimed he could tell by the way a woman sits or the dress she wears that she was ‘looking for sex’ and ‘culture’ compels him to oblige. Of course, there is no part of African ‘culture’ – or any other culture for that matter – allowing for this. In South Africa’s constitution, gender equality, over-ride culture. South Africa has high incidents of violence against women, and sexist views from leaders provide a cloak of legitimacy for such violence. How far we still have to travel can be readily seen in public attitudes about rape incidents. Women are still seen by society, the criminal justice and the political system as responsible for being raped.

      African women felt the brunt of colonialism even more than men. Colonial and apartheid administrations introduced rigid rules that deprived African women of rights in the home, economy and politics. During the anti-apartheid period, African women, mothers and wives were the rock soaking up the individual, community and societal ruptures wrought by colonialism through dehumanising assaults on the dignity, identity and self-image of blacks.

      Often the powerlessness of black men in the face of the violence of apartheid administrations exploded into violence against women in families, homes and communities. Furthermore, more often than not, manhood, whether in black or white communities, is expressed in macho terms. This is why it is so crucial that political leaders set a progressive example of male (white or black) self-identity that aligns itself with the values of the constitution. Alternative and more progressive definition of male identity must be forged throughout the public school system from the day a child enters school. It should off course begin at home. However, the reality is that with rising numbers of broken families and communities and the patriarchal views prevailing in society on the role of the women, many children are unlikely to get examples of more rounded male self-identity at home.

      There is a real danger that women will again face the brunt of the devastation of the global financial crisis. Furthermore, in the midst of economic decline, feelings of powerlessness by male individuals, who often can see others more politically connected, but not necessarily better qualified, creaming it, while they remain in poverty, are likely to increase. Self-worth in South Africa is now depressingly increasingly measured through how much money you have. Those who don’t have are seen as lesser individuals.

      But the democratic state has not been caring either. Our political leaders live in a cocoon of taxpayer-funded luxury, meanwhile, the poor and unemployed are being told to tighten their belts. For another, traditional social bonds in black society – such as extended families – that used to help soften the blow of those who are struggling, are now being broken, as families increasingly fracture. It is everybody for him or herself now, with a state that has been perceived, rightly or wrongly, as only catering for those who have the resources – financial, political and skills – who in any case look after their own welfare.

      The ANC adopted a groundbreaking resolution at its national conference in Polokwane in December 2007, compelling 50 per cent representation for women in all ANC structures as well as government, parliament, and independent democratic institutions. Yet, as home affairs minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma remarked it was up to the ANC leadership to ensure gender equality was ‘put it into practice’. ‘The ANC cannot run away from that struggle, it cannot preach the struggle and then not practice what it preaches,’ she says. The 50 per cent principle, if transformed into practice, may perhaps be the single most effective mechanism to transform not only the ANC from within and translate gender equality into the everyday life of the organisation, but also society.

      It is a real pity that the ANC Women’s League is in such a mess: Rudderless, unfocused and muddling along. The Gender Equality Commission is also failing its constitutional mandate to monitor whether the policy of gender equality is implemented. To succeed, the commission must first take head on prejudiced political leaders, rather than deferring to them, or taking on soft issues, not to rock the boat. Amartya Sen, the great economist argues rightly that ‘nothing, arguably, is as important today in the political economy of development as an adequate recognition of political, economic and social participation and leadership of women’.


      * This article first appeared in the Sowetan
      * William Gumede is author of Thabo Mbeki and the Battle for the Soul of the ANC.
      * Please send comments to [email protected] or comment online at Pambazuka News.

      The perils of prosecuting international crimes

      Audio interview with John Quigley

      Riaz Tayob


      cc Castielli
      Amid growing unease among many African states about the International Criminal Court’s (ICC) ‘discretionary’ and ‘selective’ application of international criminal law, Ohio University’s Professor John Quigley speaks to Riaz Tayob [mp3] for Pambazuka News, about legal issues that may arise from the prosecution of international crimes.

      As unease grows amongst many African states about the highly discretionary and selective application of international criminal law by the International Criminal Court (ICC), particularly related to the warrant of arrest for Sudan's President Bashir and his role in the Darfur conflict, South African NGOs are planning to launch an application with their National Prosecuting Authority and Directorate for Priority Crimes Investigation for prosecution in South Africa of individuals responsible for war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in Gaza during Operation Cast Lead (the conflict in Gaza between December 2008 and January 2009).

      A recent study conducted by SA's Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) has found that Israel is practising both colonialism and apartheid, so this matter has added significance for anti-apartheid campaigners.

      The Darfur matter has rightly attracted much attention and support particularly from groups who are lukewarm, or conspicuously silent, on the idea of the prosecution of Israel, even if it includes action against Palestinian militants. One of the lead legal Counsel in the planned matter is veteran anti-apartheid academic and activist Professor John Dugard, who was UN Special Rapporteur of the Commission on Human Rights (later Human Rights Council) on the situation of human rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (2001-2008). Dugard also lead the Arab League's International Fact Finding mission on the Gaza conflict, and twice sat as an ad hoc judge in the International Court of Justice and is a member of the UN International Law Commission. An interview with Dugard on the fact finding mission can be found on Pambazuka News.

      The application for prosecution in Spain met with resistance and it is considering reversing its laws allowing for universal jurisdiction for international crimes, including war crimes and crimes against humanity. Previously, in the United Kingdom, an Israeli official who was facing a warrant of arrest was ‘tipped off’ and did not enter the country. In this context, it is highly debatable whether alleged Israeli or Palestinian war criminals will eventually be brought to justice, either at the national or international levels.

      This interview with Professor John Quigley of Ohio State University [mp3] is an exploration of the legal issues that may arise from the prosecution of international crimes. While rather long, it aims to inform about the specialised nature of such prosecutions, which are very different from normal criminal cases.


      * Professor John Quigley is a professor of law at Ohio State University.
      * Riaz K. Tayob is a journalist with the Third World Network. He conducted this interview in his personal capacity.
      * Please send comments to [email protected] or comment online at Pambazuka News.

      Speaking out on refugee warehousing

      An interview with Merrill Smith



      As part of a global campaign to end the ‘warehousing’ of refugees, Merrill Smith, director of government relations and international advocacy for the US Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, speaks to KANERE (Kakuma News Reflector) about the UNHCR’s position on the practice, the campaign’s most significant successes so far, and the role of a free refugee press in ending warehousing.

      To highlight the global campaign to end the ‘warehousing’ of refugees, KANERE interviewed Merrill Smith, the director of government relations and international advocacy for the US Committee for Refugees and Immigrants and the editor of the World Refugee Survey. KANERE posed three questions relating to the UN Refugee Agency’s (UNHCR) greatest successes, and a refugee free press.

      KANERE: What is the position of UNHCR on the Anti-Warehousing Campaign?

      MERRILL SMITH: There is not a single UNHCR position on the campaign. The UNHCR is bound to promote the rights of the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees, including those relating to the earning of livelihoods and freedom of movement – the core of any alternatives to forced encampment, and many of its staff members take that very seriously. In fact, the first party on record to use the term ‘warehousing’ in reference to the treatment of refugees was the high commissioner for refugees himself (then Jean-Pierre Hocké) in 1988:

      ‘Fundamentally, it is in all our interests to move refugees out of the dehumanising conditions of rural refugee camps where so many of the world’s 12 million refugees are situated. Far too many of them are virtually “warehoused” in a state of near-total dependence.’

      UNHCR’s Evaluation and Policy Analysis Unit in the early 2000s sponsored much of the work upon which we drew for the World Refugee Survey 2004 – Warehousing Issue with which we launched the campaign. It is also true that UNHCR’s protection focus eroded in the 1980s and 90s, eclipsed by the growing ‘care and maintenance’ operational functions of warehousing. Taking on essentially state functions like refugee status determinations and justice administration in camps does not enhance UNHCR’s independent protection role either. To some extent, that instilled some bureaucratic inertia in favour of the status quo.

      UNHCR policy, however, is chiefly a function of the states who are members of its executive committee, especially the donors. To be effective, we should increasingly direct our advocacy efforts toward governments involved, donors and hosts, rather than treating UNHCR as some kind of autonomous, monolith that could change the refugee world if only it wanted to. Some protection officers in the field are refugee rights heroes and I am sometimes surprised at the willingness of even high-ranking UNHCR officials to challenge the status quo under the circumstances. At the end of the day, however, UNHCR is an instrument of states and not the other way around.

      Also, the inertia of institutional self-interest in sustaining warehousing is probably a greater factor in the behaviour of UNHCR’s implementing partners than in the agency itself. The partners most involved in camp maintenance, after all, are generally not small, local, grassroots NGOs but giant organisations generally based in the capitals of the major donor countries, with even greater lobbying clout than UNHCR. We do need to influence and change UNHCR but we should recognise the source of the problem: Who controls the money and how it is spent.

      KANERE:What is the campaign’s most significant success so far?

      MERRILL SMITH: This is a hard question to answer, without either selling the campaign short, or appearing megalomaniacal. Governments rarely announce that they are changing policy because some lobbying campaign influenced them to do so, nor should we try to make them admit such things – if they wish to take credit for being broad-minded, humane, and enlightened when implementing more progressive policies, we should give them that credit. Nevertheless, we know they are indeed watching. (You should see how quickly they snatch up copies of the World Refugee Survey at Geneva meeting to look at their grades!) And sometimes they admit in private that it was the warehousing campaign that made them initiate efforts to review their policies or to make changes. We hear about these from time to time but cannot reveal specific examples in public.

      Let me just say that I believe the Lebanese labour minister’s relaxation of some of the employment restrictions on Palestinians, the Thai prime minister’s visit to the camps and promise of more vocational education and livelihood opportunities, Kenya’s brief exercise in urban registration of refugees, and several other policy shifts over the years were influenced by the campaign. (Important: by ‘the campaign’, I mean to include all the actions of all the organisations around the world participating in it, not just those of USCRI.)

      Perhaps the biggest success of the campaign, however, is not visible because it is something that did not happen, namely the encampment of the Iraqi refugees in Syria, Jordan, and elsewhere. I remember in 2003, before the invasion – immediately after which everyone expected huge numbers of refugees – camps were very much part of the plans. Fortunately, the refugees did not leave then and those plans were shelved. When the refugees did begin to leave in large numbers and parties again proposed encampment at high level policy meetings, the consensus was to reject those plans because, among other reasons, as we have heard, ‘people would say we are “warehousing” them.’

      KANERE: Do you think a refugee free press can contribute to global efforts to end warehousing?

      MERRILL SMITH: Absolutely! There is a reason why the Namibian authorities shut down the internet café in Osire camp and why Thailand forbids refugees from having cell phones. Look what refugees have done with the limited tools available to them. Look at the hand-typed Voice of Refugees produced and smuggled out of Namibia that we put up on the Internet for all to see. Look at the attention that this paper, KANERE, is drawing. OK, not all of it is pleasant but surely no one thought change would be easy. Refugees speaking out as first-hand witnesses of their own situation is vital to contradicting the lies and misinformation spread about them. If you do not speak out, who controls the flow of information about you? How will it be presented?

      You may wonder, ‘Who cares what we refugees think and say? Obviously, if we were people of power and influence, we wouldn’t be here!’ But influence is a verb, not just a noun – what you say and do can change things. You should hear the room go silent at meetings in Geneva on the rare occasions when a former refugee can come and speak and begins by saying ‘As a former refugee…’ Who can contradict him? Policy makers in government have to consider what refugees have to say and write – especially when their constituents point it out to them. But how can they do that if there is nothing to point to? Nothing is as powerful in public consciousness raising as the ‘human face’ – including the actual stories of actual refugees in their own words. Without that, the refugee is just a stock figure, a doe-eyed poster child that people can manipulate and claim to speak for because she cannot speak for herself. When others control the voice, is it any wonder that the appeal is almost always for more aid and not for more rights?

      I’ll never forget hearing an African government representative say something in a meeting in Geneva that I did not think was true about the refugees in her country. I went out into the hallway and managed to reach a refugee leader in the remote camp on his clandestine mobile phone. With his information, I could go right back into the meeting and contradict her with specific facts to back me up. Can you imagine her shock! Not exactly the press, but you see the point – refugees need to use whatever means they have at their disposal to get their voices heard, especially at the tables where decisions are being made about them. You may have heard the saying, ‘If you are not at the table, you are on the menu!’ A free refugee press is one vital way to make your voice heard in places where you cannot be.

      KANERE thanks Merrill Smith for his generous contributions to this story. We wish him all the best in USCRI’s global efforts to end warehousing.


      * Merrill Smith is the director of government relations and international advocacy for the US Committee for Refugees and Immigrants and the editor of the World Refugee Survey.
      *The Kakuma News Reflector (KANERE) is an independent news magazine produced by Ethiopian, Congolese, Ugandan, Rwandan, Somali, Sudanese and Kenyan journalists operating in Kakuma Refugee Camp, Kenya.
      * Please send comments to [email protected] or comment online at Pambazuka News.

      Equatorial Guinea and thirty years with Obiang

      Agustín Velloso


      cc Wikimedia
      August 2009 marks the 30th anniversary of Teodoro Obiang Nguema’s coup d’état against Macias Nguema, but it is not an occasion that many in Equatorial Guinea will be celebrating, writes Agustín Velloso. Yet for all his unpopularity, Obiang has won election after election with more than 95 per cent of the vote. Velloso shares with Pambazuka News Obiang’s strategy for playing ‘the democratic game’ in front of the international community.

      On 3 August, few in Equatorial Guinea will have celebrated the 30th anniversary of the coup d’état led by Teodoro Obiang Nguema against Macias Nguema, his uncle and the head of the state. Obiang’s government refers to what happened with these words:

      ‘In 1979, after the devastation of a decade under the tyrannical President Macias, then-Lieutenant Colonel Obiang took control of the government and was named President of the Supreme Military Council.’

      What did Obiang do while working under Macias’ orders to stop the decade old devastation?

      The official history continues: ‘In 1969 Obiang becomes the National Guard Lieutenant, with all the forces and military quarters based in Malabo under his control.’

      He became commander in chief of the armed forces in 1975, and ‘in 1979 a presidential decree made him vice-minister of the Popular Armed Forces.’

      What did Obiang do in these 30 years to avoid another dictatorship?

      In 1982 ‘Obiang became President of the Republic for an initial seven-year term. He was re-elected to additional terms in 1989, 1996 and 2003. (…) President Obiang won re-election once again in 1996. Infrastructure and housing is now being rebuilt more quickly as new water, sewage and drainage are being installed and hundreds of miles of new roadways are being built to connect all of Equatorial Guinea’s cities and towns. Healthcare and education also top the agenda as new, modern state-of-art hospitals and clinics are being built and staffed and teachers are being trained to better teach students.’[1]

      Buried under this mountain of promises about public works, lies one certain fact: Obiang has won election after election with more than 95 per cent of the votes. In the 2002 presidential elections he got 97 per cent, in the 2004 legislative and local elections he won 98 out of the 100 parliament seats plus 237 out of the 244 country’s municipalities. In the 2008 legislative elections he got 99 seats.

      The main difference between the deposed president and the current one, is that Obiang knows how to read the signs of the times and to adapt himself accordingly. This has allowed him to hold on to power for thirty years, count on foreign support and enrich himself enormously thanks to the oil industry, also under his control.

      The past thirty years can indeed be described as thirty golden years for Obiang, but not for the great majority of Equatorial Guinea’s inhabitants. Country reports published by the World Bank, the European Union and some of the United Nations agencies, let alone those by non-governmental organisations – especially those devoted to human rights and human development – present a quite different reality.

      Obiang is willing to play the democratic game in front of the international community, because in each game he marks the cards and keeps the best while he deals the rest.

      If appearances have to be kept up of regular elections, of honouring international treaties, of adhering to foreign initiatives on transparency, accountability and good governance, for Obiang this is no problem. He lets the opposition win a parliamentary seat, he signs international treaties only to honour them in the breach, and varnishes his masterwork with glowing propaganda about the government’s good works.

      Obiang has many good friends who just happen to govern powerful countries. These convince public opinion that Obiang’s scam is legitimate and only needs a few tweaks and minor improvements. To that end, they offer technical assistance and cooperation, while making clear there is no great urgency. Since oil production started in Equatorial Guinea in the mid 90s, his friends have become even more reliable than ever, despite knowing the reality all too well.

      The 2004 Department of State report on Equatorial Guinea accurately summarised its political situation: ‘Citizens did not have the ability to change their government peacefully.’

      In 2009 the department refers to the country as a ‘nominally multi-party Republic with strong domination by the executive branch’.

      For his part, Obiang thinks it wise to take preventive measures. He sends soldiers and policemen to assassinate, kidnap and torture his ‘enemies’, and in general to make life difficult for political opponents.

      In spite of this and of the fact that there is no shortage of people willing to get their share of the enormous oil cake in exchange for loyalty, some still remain who do not give up. Some of these string along with Obiang’s pretence of democracy. Others prefer to try and oust him.

      Considering their actions so far, it can safely be said that Obiang has clearly defeated them all. He intimidates, persecutes and entertains members of the first group, according to his whims. He attacks members of the second whenever he can. These have managed to discomfit him once, but Obiang’s friends and luck have been on his side.

      Neither group of the opposition can claim that their respective strategies have come anywhere close to achieving their goals. The reverse is true, as chances of success seem to be inversely proportional to the increase in their actions.

      Playing Obiang's democracy game is not an easy task. If a player does not perform as expected, other players will not take them seriously. Equatorial Guinea's leader of the parliamentary opposition declares again and again to the international community, to the media, to various international political institutions, that his party plays by Obiang's rules and also reassures the world that his party will only use non-violent means to achieve power.

      But if the international community does not demand that Obiang play by internationally accepted rules to stay in power, why does the opposition think they have to do so? It seems the international community accepts opposition to Obiang as long as its leaders give up their people's right to resist the Obiang regime’s human rights violations.

      Philosophers dealt with the problem of using legitimate violence against an aggression many centuries ago. Since the 13th century it is accepted that ‘in the case of a deadly attack, there is more obligation to protect one’s own life than the attacker’s’.

      If a political party which opposes a never-ending dictatorship renounces legitimate defence against its violence, it is delegitimising itself, because it actually helps the dictatorship it claims to oppose. When this party seeks support from international actors, despite their party's poor record of resistance and even knowing full well their petition will be met with indifference, they are digging their own political grave.

      It is true that a legitimate defence requires another condition, namely that there are reasonable chances of success. In this respect it has to be noted that it is all about not giving up the right to legitimate resistance. Further, there can be no likelihood of success if the possibility of resistance is totally abandoned.

      The non-parliamentary opposition, made up of several small groups, has not renounced political violence. But its failure, too, is obvious and due mainly to lack of popular, militant support, to splits and internecine fighting and other shortcomings.

      The option of a coup d’état has not yielded useful results. Nor is there much chance that it will. The lack of a popular militia and bad planning, along with the use of foreign mercenaries, explain the failure. Day after day, Obiang increases his own security, and he can count on foreign support. It seems that only a palace coup, like the one Obiang himself authored 30 years ago, is likely to succeed.

      It can be said that the opposition too, like Obiang, have placed their hopes in foreign hands. The difference between the two camps is that European and North American presidents and prime ministers prefer oil in their own countries to ensuring human rights in Equatorial Guinea.

      The struggle carried out by the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) is illuminating. The oil plunder plus the damages it causes to the Delta physical conditions and to its inhabitants’ health, together with the government’s repression, are the reasons the MEND mentions to explain its attacks against the interests of the foreign companies that benefit from the oil industry with the consent of the government.

      What is taking place in Nigeria, taking into account its much bigger size, is similar to what happens in Equatorial Guinea: ‘Since 1970, US$350 billion in oil revenue has flowed to Nigeria, yet 75 per cent of Nigerians live on less than US$1 a day. (…) Nigerian governments have negotiated joint ventures with multinational companies for unregulated oil production since 1958. Over 50 years of exploitation in the Niger Delta has resulted in systematic human rights abuses and environmental devastation.’

      Against this the MEND has declared its aims: reparations for environmental damage and also control of the Delta's natural riches. It has also made public its means: ‘Leave our land while you can or die in it. Our aim is to totally destroy the capacity of the Nigerian government to export oil.’

      In recent years, its achievements have been made known. The government, heeding a request by the big oil companies, sent the army to violently repress the Delta people protests, which resulted in thousands of dead, tortured and prisoners.

      Popular resistance, however, kept up the struggle and the MEND was created. It has forced cuts in oil production from almost two and half million barrels per day to less than one and a half.

      Unlike what is taking place in Equatorial Guinea, the Nigerian government does not despise the MEND. This is not a gift from the government – it maintains its military actions against the guerrillas – but the MEND, through its resistance, has placed itself in a position that deserves its enemy’s respect. Nowadays, both camps are holding conversations.

      Meanwhile, Obiang represses the opposition parties that he so despises. At the same time, the only opposition leader with a seat in parliament, made public a communiqué after the attack against the president’s palace in Malabo that took place on 17 February 2009, which was disingenuously attributed to the MEND by the government:

      The party ‘congratulates the State Security and Armed Forces for their quick and efficient response and declares its support and solidarity with them’. It also reiterates once again ‘that (the party) rejects all movements aimed to achieve power through violence.’

      While the Equatorial Guinea parliament unanimously declares the MEND ‘a terrorist group made up of mercenaries with evil intentions and recommends maximum repression’, Nigeria president has offer the MEND an amnesty. This offer is supported by many, including Nobel prize winner Wole Soyinka.

      Equatorial Guinea politicians, both in power and in opposition, might do well to pay attention to what Soyinka’s said about Nigerian politicians: ‘In tandem with his predecessor Olusegun, President Umaru Yar’Adua must be made to recognise that he shoulders a moral and political responsibility for failure to make a decisive breakthrough in the quest to terminate hostilities in the Delta region. Much of the toll of death and destruction could, and would have been avoided if only these two rulers had lived up to their charge.’

      These words, of course, are also relevant to those in Europe and North America who ‘accompany Obiang in his efforts to improve democracy in Equatorial Guinea’ and to those who claim to support the opposition camp in its political activity.


      * Agustín Velloso is a lecturer at the Spanish Distance Learning University. He carries out research and teaches about education and politics in developing countries.
      * This article was revised by Toni Solo, an activist based in Nicaragua.
      * Please send comments to [email protected] or comment online at Pambazuka News.

      Abdelrazik's next challenge

      Canada won’t back his removal from UN terrorism blacklist

      Gerald Caplan


      cc M Knight
      Abousfian Abdelrazik, cleared of accusations of having ties to al-Qaeda, has returned home to Canada after spending six years in a Sudanese prison, Gerald Caplan tells Pambazuka News. But Abdelrazik’s ordeal is not over, says Caplan, with his name placed on the ‘1267’, a United Nations terrorist blacklist that imposes a total asset freeze on anyone on it. The Canadian government has told him he must get himself off the list, but without their help, this is impossible.

      Abousfian Abdelrazik is home again in Canada after six nightmarish years in Sudan, but his ordeal is not over. He finds himself on a United Nations terrorist blacklist – the 1267 – which imposes a total asset freeze on him and all listed individuals. Canadian regulations implementing this list prohibit anyone from providing Mr Abdelrazik with any kind of material aid, including salary, loans of any amount, food or clothing. He can barely survive while on this list.

      ‘I need my named removed from that list,’ he says. ‘I want to live my life like a normal Canadian.’

      Foreign Minister Lawrence Cannon, who refuses to meet with Mr Abdelrazik, cynically advised him of a UN website that explains how he can try to be ‘delisted’ from the 1267 terrorist blacklist. The Harper government, which has already caused this Canadian citizen such terrible damage, will not help him in any way. Yet like everything at the United Nations, delisting is an intensely politicised process. No one has actually been removed unless his government has lobbied on his behalf.

      The Security Council committee that places people on the blacklist was established ‘pursuant to resolution 1267 (1999) concerning Al-Qaeda and the Taliban and Associated Individuals and Entities.’ Its function was to oversee the implementation of sanctions imposed on Taliban-controlled Afghanistan for its support of Osama bin Laden. The 9/11 terrorist attacks gave it even more urgency.

      Any UN member can submit the name of an individual or organisation to be added to the blacklist for allegedly associating with the Taliban or al-Qaeda. All names must be supported by the entire 15-member Security Council. While these names become public, evidence to back the allegations does not. The council can, by unanimous agreement, also delist theses names, as Mr Cannon magnanimously advised Mr Abdelrazik (as if he didn't know). How does one get delisted? The website explains that any person or group on the list ‘may submit a petition for delisting. In the delisting submission, the petitioner needs to provide justification for the delisting request, offer relevant information and request support for the delisting.’

      When the United States had Mr Abdelrazik added to the blacklist, they alleged he was a senior al-Qaeda operative who knew Mr bin Laden, fought in Chechnya and was trained at a terrorist camp in Afghanistan. If any evidence for these charges exists, no one has ever seen it. Mr Abdelrazik categorically denies every accusation and both the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) have cleared him entirely. But he is of course unable to provide the 1267 committee with any ‘relevant information’ proving his innocence except his word. How can you prove a negative? By definition, no evidence exists refuting these allegations. Now Mr Abdelrazik's backers fear he'll be blackballed again by the United States, this time at the hands of the Obama administration.

      According to the committee's website, the 1267 list now includes 142 individuals ‘associated with’ the Taliban, 258 individuals ‘associated with’ al-Qaeda, and 111 outfits ‘associated with’ al-Qaeda. No evidence is adduced to back these charges. (Abousfian Abdelrazik is the only Canadian now on the list.)

      In fact, the list is something of a shambles, evoking those nostalgic days of yore when US Senator Joe McCarthy would wildly wave a sheet of paper claiming it contained 17, 117, 1,700 names of card-carrying communists in the State Department. No one knows what's real about the names on the 1267 list either, or whether they all even exist. Two weeks ago, the Austrian ambassador to the United Nations, who chairs this committee, told reporters that of 513 entries on the list, 38 people are reported or believed to be dead. ‘It is not the purpose of the list to contain dead people,’ he announced.

      The ambassador, Thomas Mayr-Harting, also reported that a third of the entries are missing basic information, such as full names, dates of birth and other particulars. Without these details, police, border guards and financial institutions cannot freeze funds or ban travel, he added.

      Inexplicably, the 1267 operation has received minimal media coverage. In a rare exception, The Economist once described it as ‘alarmingly arbitrary’ – with little or no publicity, ‘potentially innocent people are severely punished, while being deprived of any right to hear or challenge the allegations against them.’ The UN's own watchdog on human rights argues that if good reasons exist for imposing sanctions on someone, [that person] should be prosecuted. The UN replies that it is not always possible to gain the necessary evidence to gain a conviction in court. The sanctions, it says, are intended to be 'preventative' rather than punitive, aimed at stopping any potential future support for terrorism. Clearly the human rights argument lost.

      Yet the European Union too has its watchlist for suspected terrorists, but with a fundamental difference from the 1267. Everyone on the EU list must either have been convicted of a terrorism-related offence or be subject to prosecution. And all have a right to challenge their inclusion on the list, whether at a national level, the EU Council or the European Court of Justice.

      But somehow that's far too much due process for the United Nations. Never mind the very preamble of the UN charter reaffirming ‘faith in fundamental human rights.’ The basic premise of the Security Council's blacklist is that where world peace and security are at stake, virtually anything goes so long as it has the blessing of the world's great powers. This is the international equivalent of the perverse George W. Bush doctrine that if the president of the United States does something, it is by definition legal.

      Barack Obama has apparently repudiated this extraordinary presidential power grab and its devastating implication for justice and human rights. But you wouldn't know that at the United Nations where, to the deep dismay of many, Bush doctrines seem still to prevail, as Mr Abdelrazik knows only too well.

      Richard Barrett, co-ordinator of the 1267 committee's monitoring team, makes this explicit. In a rather heated conversation with University of Ottawa law professor Amir Attaran, Mr Barrett asserted that ‘the relationship between the Security Council and states is what drives this thing. There's no relationship between the Security Council and individuals. ...There is no obligation on my part or anybody else who works for the Security Council to have any dealings with any individuals on the list. It's not our job to do that.’

      Yet the committee's own website instructs an individual how to delist and Canada’s minister of foreign affairs advises Mr Abdelrazik to pursue that process. The obvious fact of the matter is that if Mr Abdelrazik is ever to escape the tortuous ordeal into which his government plunged him six years ago, Ottawa must play a central role. The state must support the individual. This includes strong representation on his behalf to the new Obama administration. Mr Cannon's smart-aleck advice to Mr Abdelrazik to get himself delisted is nothing less than a formula for his torment to continue, as the Harper government surely knows perfectly well.

      Professor Attaran maintains that the entire 1267 system constitutes a violation of international human rights law. So do the dedicated band of Canadians helping Mr Abdelrazik to delist. So far, hardly anyone else seems to care.


      * This article first appeared in The Globe and Mail.
      *Gerald Caplan is a former new Democratic Party (NDP) national campaign director and author of The Betrayal of Africa.
      * Please send comments to [email protected] or comment online at Pambazuka News.

      How to gain from brain drain

      Grace Puliyel


      cc DEMOSH
      The emigration of skilled South-Asian professionals may have contributed to brain drain in Kenya, Grace Puliyel tells Pambazuka News, but it is also bringing with it a form of brain gain through financial remittances and access to wider knowledge networks, as many migrants choose to retain ties with the country. It’s a balance governments need to fully understand, says Puliyel, if they want to make the most of the benefits migration offers, while minimising its negative impacts.

      Asians in Kenya have made a key contribution to the growth and development of the country. However, a significant number, especially amongst the younger generations, are emigrating to the West every year creating a phenomenon known as brain drain. This paper has a special focus on South-Asians for two reasons.[1] Firstly, they have become renowned for their economic success abroad (Poros, 2001). Secondly, they have shown that they still have a strong emotional attachment to their country and retain a sense of ‘Kenyan-ness’ – this was especially well exhibited by the vocalisations of various Kenyan Asians in the US and UK during the post-election violence in 2008. Thus, despite what Kenya loses in the brain drain, it can still make gains from these diaspora networks, as well as through the new arrivals from South Asia.

      Heizig (2006) makes the observation that South Asians in Kenya have passed through several stages of migration. During early years, the typical labour diaspora was due to indentured workers. However, with the improvement of passenger migration, they established themselves as more of a trading diaspora. Today, since the rise of globalisation, Kenyan Asians have increasingly become a transnational community. As Rasna Warah (1998) puts it, a unique feature is their ‘triple heritage’ – they are connected not only with East Africa and India as their ancestral places of origin, but also with Western countries, particularly Britain through colonial connections. These links result in facilitating further migration. Poros (2001) describes how transnational networks aid the movement of many Kenyan Asians to Canada, USA and the UK.

      Migration is not a one-way process. In the past few decades, there has been a new wave of migration from South Asia, particularly India. This is still a relatively un-researched area but is likely to have an important impact on counterbalancing the brain drain, improving the labour market and, on the flip side, also adversely affecting socio-political relations with other ethnic groups in Kenya.

      The main limitation to this study is that there is currently very little in the way of quantitative data on the numbers of Kenyans abroad. There is even less information on economic links between Kenya and the Kenyan community abroad such as flows of investment, remittances as well as support of charitable work and development agencies (Ghai, 2004). Therefore, the following commentary on the trends and impact of migration are largely based on subjective judgements made from observations and interviews conducted during fieldwork in Kenya between October 2008 and January 2009.


      The initial migration of South Asians from Kenya in the 1960s, particularly to the UK, was a consequence of Africanisation policies as well as to retain British citizenship (Gregory, 1993). However, in recent decades, the reasons have become more linked with academic and economic opportunities. Ghai (2004) points out that while the first two decades after independence witnessed high economic and employment growth in nearly all sectors, the situation has been reversed over the past 25 years – especially in the 1990s, with negative per capita income growth and worsening income distribution.

      As one interviewee stated, the South Asians left behind now in Kenya are an ‘entrenched minority’. Figures are difficult to come by but it is estimated that there are 102,500 South Asians living in Kenya today, which is approximately 0.35 per cent of the total population.[2] The majority of third and fourth-generation Asians leave the country for higher education and employment.

      The trajectory of their migration paths are often shaped by specific transnational network ties. These are ‘organisational, composite, and interpersonal ties that link local labour markets transnationally and channel immigrants to particular destinations and even into particular occupations,’ (Poros, 2001: 243) For example, take the story of Vinit.[3] He was born, schooled and gained a bachelors’ degree in commerce in Kisumu but found the economic prospects in Kenya unsatisfactory. In the early 1990s, he and his wife migrated to London on a visa sponsored by his uncle. Both Vinit and his uncle were part of the Patidar community, who had dominated the shop-keeping niche in London. Vinit’s uncle had a small shop initially, but with Vinit’s help, he managed to expand his business with two more branches across the city. Thus, as Poros (2001) explains, Kenyan-Asian immigrants have become successful merchants and traders through transnational interpersonal ties that assist their entry into business niches controlled by others in their community or network.

      It is hoped by government leaders, and to a certain extent the remaining population, that the pursuit of many Kenyans in higher education abroad will result in the eventual return of such skills and experience, thereby contributing to the ‘building of the nation’. In his inaugural speech, President Mwai Kibaki, appealed to all Kenyans ‘who have been hounded out of our shores by repressive policies of our predecessors to come back home and join us in nation-building,’ (cited in Okoth, 2003).

      One informant commented that many Kenyan-Asians do not return, often finding higher-paid employment and preferring to settle down overseas. This pattern adds to questioning thoughts amongst black Kenyans about whether these Asian migrants can be truly ‘Kenyan’.

      However, there is a significant amount of gain, in various forms, from this type of migration. For instance, it is a fact oft cited that remittances today exceed the total amount of official development assistance in the world (Chanda, 2008). Professor Francis Mwega from the Department of Economics, University of Nairobi, stated that in 2004, net official development aid (ODA) to Kenya was the equivalent of 2 per cent of the country’s GDP. ‘Remittances were about nine times the size of net foreign direct investment and about twice the size of net ODA.’[4] The World Bank reported that by 2008, Kenya ranked as the second most popular destination for remittances in Africa with US$1.3 billion, ahead of Sudan (US$1.2 billion), Senegal and Uganda (US$0.9 million each), and South Africa (US$0.7 million). Kenya’s Central Bank estimates that Kenyans remitted US$53.9 million in January 2008 at the height of the political crisis.[5]

      In addition, Macharia (2003) quotes a recent survey by Western Union, which showed Kenya and Nigeria to be leading in sending money through their wire service. Therefore, this is certainly a positive consequence to the ‘sending nation and regions’. Remittances are viewed as a particularly innovative form of financing for development because, unlike development assistance, these transfers go directly to family members without any intermediaries. They play a crucial role in financing destitution relief as well as in the stimulation of economic activities at local and regional levels. For the country, remittances from migrants are an essential source of foreign exchange to finance the import of goods and services (Ghai, 2004).

      Ghai (2004) states that there is sparse information on the origin and use of remittances in Kenya. Nonetheless, the general trend shows that it has augmented considerably in recent years. Therefore, if emigration continues to increase, the role of remittances in development may, in fact, assume even greater importance.

      Solimano and Pollack (2004) outline another advantage brought about by emigration – that of ‘scientific diasporas’. These are defined as networks which connect professionals and scientists dispersed around the world and function to promote the scientific and economic development of their home countries. This type of transfer of scientific knowledge generation enables, to some extent, ‘the de-linking of the contribution of scientists from their physical place of residence,’ (Solimano and Pollack, 2004: 12). For example, through intellectual diaspora organisations such as the Association of Kenyans Abroad, the sending country is able to fully utilise the technical knowledge of expatriate experts for development projects at home.

      These forms of networks have not only contributed to science and technology but has also supported the cause of civil society. For instance, around the time of the contested elections in 2008, an ad hoc organisation was formed called, Kenyans for Peace with Truth and Justice (KPTJ). A number of its most vibrant members included ‘transnational’ Kenyan-Asians, such as Shailja Patel. These individuals, although residing outside of Kenya, campaigned passionately to uncover the truth behind the post-election violence and used their geographical location to draw international attention to the crisis. Furthermore, despite national media censorship at this time, other modes of communication such as Internet blogs allowed these networks to stay intact through the transfer of up-to-date information about the situation within the country.[6] One interviewee, a member of KPTJ, argues that without these social activist networks, the appeal for help may not have been heard at an international level and thus the necessary UN intervention may not have taken place.

      In summary, the nature of the brain drain issue in Kenya is changing. The emigration of Kenyan-Asians is no longer a one-sided loss of valuable human capital. This process of international mobility also has ‘big returns’ associated with it, such as significant remittances and links to the wider scientific, technological as well as civil society networks. This is not to say that brain drain is not a reality in Kenya. After all, Docquier, Lohest and Marfouk (2007) estimate that Kenya’s skilled emigration rate to OECD countries is between 35 per cent and 40 per cent.[7] Instead of merely repressing this outflow, its benefits need to be duly recognised in order to pave the way for solutions to turn brain drain into brain gain.


      Alongside the emigration of Kenyan Asians, there has been a new migration from South Asia to Kenya. As Chanda (2008) argues, there is a lack of data not only on numbers but also on the skills and occupational composition of South Asian expatriates from the source countryside. The contribution of people of Indian origin to the Kenyan GDP is estimated to be between 30-35 per cent (Vertovec, 2002). Of this group, which also includes Kenyan and British citizens, about 15,000 are calculated to be Indian citizens.[8] However, this statistic is likely to be higher, since there are increasing reports of South Asians involved in human trafficking and other undocumented, illegal migration routes.[9]

      One interviewee observed that these new South Asian migrants are not just occupying positions of administrators, clerks and educators, as was the norm for such ethnic groups during the British Empire. Today, a sizeable number of Indian expatriate professionals render highly useful services in various sectors of the Kenyan economy. For example, they often take up management positions in a range of industries from car-manufacturing e.g. Tata, to pharmaceuticals, such as Ranbaxy.

      One major impediment to these new South Asian migrants participating fully in Kenyan society is due to tensions between them and established Kenyan Asians. The latter call the former by the term, ‘rockets’, since these ‘new Asians’ are presumed to use Kenya merely as a ‘launch-pad’ to get to the US, UK or Canada. Kenyan Asians and new South Asian migrants isolate themselves, mentally and physically, with both groups using the justification, ‘They are different from us’. Unlike the situation described by Poros (2001) in the UK where interpersonal links are used to facilitate activities of new migrants, the case in Kenya is that social friction between residents and migrants actually thwarts such efforts. This has a knock-on effect on the labour market and also wastes an invaluable opportunity to fully exploit the brain gain potential. Instead of sharing experiences and reaping the benefits of the knowledge spill-over, both parties lose out on the possibility of improvement through knowledge transfer.


      The processes of brain drain and brain gain cannot simply be associated with emigration or immigration respectively. Rather, they form part of a complex, multi-dimensional dynamic tied up with increasingly transnational identities (Poros 2001; Faist 2000). With particular regard to Kenyan Asians, their departure to Western countries does not necessarily diminish their ‘Kenyan-ness’. The fact that remittances to Kenya are one of the highest in the world suggests that migrants certainly do not forget their home country. In addition, the loss of professional workers is partially compensated by access to a range of knowledge transfer networks. No doubt, there needs to be significant socio-economic development undertaken in Kenya, particularly through the fostering of political will. This will enhance the opportunities available and provide incentives for skilled personnel to stay within the country. However, at the same time, this should not devalue the benefits brought about by emigration. There is a currently a large Kenyan Asian diaspora spread throughout the world, many of whom still retain an emotional attachment to their country of birth. This is a vital resource that should be utilised fully. The government of Kenya needs to ensure that they recognise these prospects and take heed of the policy implications.

      The brain gain resulting from the new wave of migration from South Asia is also an important one. This is an issue that has not been given the attention that it is due in the past. If the most is to be gained from this potentially advantageous population movement, greater work needs to be carried out on the myriad of dialogues that exist within the South Asian communities in Kenya. Not only is it critical to better understand and improve relations between Asians and black Kenyans, there also needs to be a focus on bridging the divide between ‘new’ and ‘established’ South Asians.

      The biggest challenge remains the need to collect a greater quantity of and also better quality data on both the South-Asian diaspora in Kenya and the Kenyan Asian disapora in the West. Only then can one begin to calculate the real socio-economic costs and benefits of brain drain to Kenya. With the necessary political support, this may just act as the impetus for much-needed policy changes to help Kenya achieve its full potential for development.


      * Grace Puliyel spent three months in Kenya with the British Institute in Eastern Africa, researching the issue of contemporary India-East Africa relations. She is currently working for a research and funding organisation based in Pune, India.
      * Please send comments to [email protected] or comment online at Pambazuka News.

      [1] There has been much debate about the identifier label placed on Asians in Kenya. In practice, it boils down to an issue of self-definition. In this paper, with the intention to enable readers to begin from the same starting point, the term ‘South-Asian diaspora’ will refer to all Asians living in Kenya at this present moment in time. Whereas ‘Kenyan-Asians’ will be used to distinguish those who can trace several generations within the country or have gained Kenyan citizenship.
      [2] Government of India, Report of the High Level Committee on Indian Diaspora, 2001
      [3] An anonymous name was used to protect interviewee confidentiality.
      [6] Waki Report, 2008
      [7] Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) – this organisation brings together about 30, mostly high-income, countries from around the world which are committed to the principles of representative democracy and a free-market economy.
      [9] ‘How human traffickers snare poor victims to Kenyan misery.’ Daily Nation. 8 January 2007.

      Chanda, R. (2008) ‘The Skilled South Asian Diaspora and its Role in Source Economies’. Working Paper 34, Institute of South Asian Studies, Singapore. [Accessed February 28, 2009].

      Daily Nation (2007) ‘How human traffickers snare poor victims to Kenyan misery’.

      Docquier, F., O. Lohest, A.Marfouk (2007), ‘Brain drain in developing countries’. World Bank Economic Review 21: 193-218.

      Faist, T. (2000). The Volume and Dynamics of International Migration and Transnational Social Spaces. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

      Ghai, D. (2004) ‘Diasporas and development: the case of Kenya’. Global Migration Perspectives No. 10. [Accessed March 5, 2009].

      Government of India (2004) ‘Report of the High Level Committee on Indian Diaspora’. [Accessed March 3, 2009]

      Gregory, R. G. (1993) South Asians in East Africa: An economic and social history, 1890-1980. Boulder: Westview Press.

      Heizig, P. (2006) South Asians in Kenya: Gender, Generation and Changing Identities in Diaspora. Munster: LIT.

      Macharia, K. (2003) ‘Migration in Kenya and Its Impact on the Labour Market’. Paper prepared for Conference on African Migration in Comparative Perspective, Johannesburg, South Africa, 2003. [Accessed March 1, 2009].


      Pambazuka annual break: 10-31 August


      This week's issue of Pambazuka News (445) will be our last until 3 September, as we are closing for a short break over the month of August. We still very much welcome article submissions during this period, but ask prospective contributors to be patient with us, as you may not receive a response from the editorial team until after 31 August.

      Comment & analysis

      To stay silent would be a disgrace

      Mwalimu Nyerere


      cc Wikimedia
      Pambazuka News presents a selection of memorable quotations by the late Mwalimu Nyerere, on the topics of Palestine, imperialism and racialism, good governance and life lessons. This material previously appeared in CHEMCHEMI, Bulletin of the Mwalimu Nyerere Professorial Chair in Pan African Studies of the University of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.

      ON PALESTINE, 1967[1]

      Our desire for friendship with every other nation does not, however, mean that we can be unconcerned with world events, or that we should try to buy that friendship with silence on the great issues of world peace and justice. If it is to be meaningful, friendship must be able to withstand honesty in international affairs. Certainly we should refrain from adverse comments on the internal affairs of other states, just as we expect them to do with regard to ourselves. But to stay silent on such issues as Vietnam because one or more powerful nations do not like what we say would be a disgrace.

      In the Middle East we have seen yet another outbreak of dangerous and destructive war in recent months. The fighting there was brought to a halt very quickly, but the situation remains one of great danger to us all.

      Large areas of UAR, Syria and Jordan remain under Israeli occupation.

      We are thus very obviously concerned in the matter. But we have other interests too. It is not, and should not be, part of our policy to gloss over an act of aggression because we recognise and have diplomatic relations with the country which commits such aggression.

      The establishment of the state of Israel was an act of aggression against the Arab people. It was connived at by the international community because of the history of persecution against the Jews. This persecution reached its climax in the murder by Nazi Germany of six million Jewish men, women, and children. The survivors of this persecution sought security in a Jewish national state in Arab Palestine. The international community accepted this. The Arab states did not and could not accept that act of aggression. We believe that there cannot be lasting peace in the Middle East until the Arab states have accepted the fact of Israel. But the Arab states cannot be beaten into such acceptance. On the contrary, attempts to coerce the Arab states into recognising Israel – whether it be by refusal to relinquish occupied territory, or by an insistence on direct negotiations between the two sides – would only make such acceptance impossible.

      In expressing our hope that a peaceful settlement of this terribly difficult situation will soon become possible, it is necessary for us to accept two things. First, Israel's desire to be acknowledged as a nation is understandable. But second, and equally important, that Israel's occupation of the territories of UAR, Jordan and Syria, must be brought to an end. Israel must evacuate the areas she overran in June this year – without exception – before she can reasonably expect Arab countries will begin to acquiesce in her national presence. Israel has had her victory, at terrible cost in human lives. She must now accept that the United Nations which sanctioned her birth is, and must be, unalterably opposed to territorial aggrandisement by force of threat of force.

      That is Tanzania's position. We recognise Israel and wish to be friendly with her as well as with the Arab nations. But we cannot condone aggression on any pretext, nor accept victory in war as a justification for the exploitation of other lands, or government over other peoples.


      Humanity has already passed through many phases since man began his evolutionary journey. And nature shows us that not all life evolves in the same way. The chimpanzees – to whom once we were very near – got on to the wrong evolutionary path and they got stuck. And there were other species which became extinct; their teeth were so big, or their bodies so heavy, that they could not adapt to changing circumstances and they died out.

      I am convinced that, in the history of the human race, imperialists and racialists will also become extinct. They are now very powerful. But they are a very primitive animal. The only difference between them and these other extinct creatures is that their teeth and claws are more elaborate and cause much greater harm – we can see this even now in the terrible use of napalm in Vietnam. But failure to co-operate together is a mark of bestiality; it is not a characteristic of humanity.

      Imperialists and racialists will go. Vorster, and all like him, will come to an end. Every racialist in the world is an animal of some kind or the other, and all are kinds that have no future. Eventually they will become extinct.

      Africa must refuse to be humiliated, exploited, and pushed around. And with the same determination we must refuse to humiliate, exploit, or push others around. We must act, not just say words.


      It reminded me of the social history of Great Britain before the advent of the welfare state. The extremes of individual or family poverty within that country were dealt with through the philanthropy of rich persons to whom such human misery was unbearable. But their charity was given only to those they regarded as the 'deserving poor'. This, in practice, meant that it was given only to those people regarded by the philanthropist as having demonstrated an acceptance of the social and economic status quo – and for as long as they did so.

      As the world's powerful nations have not (as yet) accepted the principle of international welfare, they apply the same 'deserving poor' notion to the reality of poverty outside their own countries. 'Aid' and non-commercial credit are regarded not as springing from the principles of human rights or international solidarity, regardless of national borders, but as charity extended as a matter of altruism by richer governments to the less developed and very poor nations. However, the quantity of this 'official' charity being increasingly inadequate to meet the most obvious needs, one of the criteria for a nation being classified as among the world's 'deserving poor' came to be having 'good governance' as defined by the donor community.

      And in practice that phrase meant and means those countries having multi-party systems of democracy, economies based on the principle of private ownership and of international free trade and a good record of human rights: Again as defined by the industrialised market economy countries of the North. It was in this kind of context that we in Africa first heard about 'good governance'; and this was the manner in which it was brought up at the Harare meeting to which I have referred.

      MWALIMU: MY MISTAKES, 1999[4]

      There are things that I would have done more firmly or not at all. For example, I would not nationalise the sisal plantations. This was a mistake. I did not realise how difficult it would be for the state to manage agriculture. Agriculture is difficult to socialise. I tried to tell my government that what was traditionally the family's in the village social organisation should be left with the family, while what was new could be communalised at the village level. The land issue and family holdings were very sensitive. I saw this intellectually but it was hard to translate it into policy implementation. But I still think that in the end Tanzania will return to the values and basic principles of the Arusha Declaration.




      * This article first appeared in the maiden issue of CHEMCHEMI, Bulletin of the Mwalimu Nyerere Professorial Chair in Pan African Studies of the University of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, and is reproduced here with the kind permission of the Editorial Board of CHEMCHEMI.
      * Mwalimu Nyerere was Tanzania’s first president.
      * Please send comments to [email protected] or comment online at Pambazuka News.

      [1] Excerpts from a speech on foreign policy made on 16th October 1967 at the TANU Biannual Conference in Mwanza before more than 2000 delegates.
      [2] Nyerere, J. K. Freedom and Socialism, p. 371
      [3] Written 12:04 PM Oct 13, 1998 by [email protected] in cdp:twn.features
      [4] Interview with Ikaweba Bunting published in the New Internationalist Magazine, issue 309, January-February 1999.
      [5] Written, perhaps in a visitor’s book, at one of the Commonwealth conferences.

      Tanzania: A tale of two governments

      Chambi Chachage


      cc Wikimedia
      If you want to put Tanzania’s Prime Minister Mizengo Pinda on the spot, Chambi Chachage tells Pambazuka News, just mention ‘the Zanzibar question’ – whether or not Zanzibar should retain its own separate government. Pinda recently sparked national debate by suggesting that Zanzibar is not a country, when he said that he would like to see Tanzania ‘run by a single government instead of two’. If we don’t ‘take the bull by its horns’ and resolve the Union issue once and for all, says Chachage, it will surely ‘explode’.

      It is indeed a hot seat. They say it was especially set up for someone who never sat, nay, stood, on it. Indeed little did the current prime minister know, then, that he would be its first victim.

      Of course I am talking of the impromptu questions and answers parliamentary sessions with the PM on Thursdays. Many a times the premier has come out of them unscathed. But there is one particular matter that tends to put him on the spot: The Zanzibar question.

      Not so long ago the PM ignited a national debate when he seemed to claim that ‘Zanzibar is not a country.’ This time around, in his usual frankness, he has expressed a controversial wish. ‘God willing’, said he, ‘I would like to see Tanzania run by a single government instead of two.’

      Expectedly, this statement has sparked yet another national debate on ‘The Union question’. ‘Several Zanzibar politicians,’ noted The Citizen of 1 August 2009, ‘denounced Prime Minister Mizengo Pinda’s remark.’ One of them even insisted that the PM should withdraw his statement.

      In an interview with BBC Africa, Professor Abdallah Safari observed how reluctant we have been in dealing squarely with genuine grievances particularly in regard to Zanzibar’s identity and autonomy. It is this tendency to beat around the bush that renders ‘Kero the Muungano’, that is, ‘Union grievances’, a never ending issue. It’s about time now that we take the bull by its horns.

      But where do we start? With the vision(s) that informed the founding fathers of the Union, that is, Mwalimu Julius Kambarage Nyerere and Sheikh Abeid Amani Karume? Or, by way of referenda, should we go to the people of the then Tanganyika and Zanzibar, that is, Tanzanians?

      If we start with the former then we have to understand what end was justified by the means in which the ‘Articles of Union between the Republic of Tanganyika and the People’s Republic of Zanzibar’ were signed in 1964. Surely the quest for African Unity or Pan-Africanism was a motivating factor. But, in an ulterior sense, it was not the primary one.

      To Karume, as Professor B. P. Srivastava notes in ‘The Constitution of the United Republic of Tanzania 1977 – Some Salient Features, Some Riddles’, the Union was mainly ‘motivated by the instinct of political self-preservation’ as it brought strength to Zanzibar and protected them from external enemies of the revolution.

      In the case of Nyerere, who had then just survived an army mutiny, the Union was mostly motivated by the need to protect Tanganyika from an impending communist threat in its doorstep. Way back before independence, he was quoted as saying that Zanzibar is ‘very vulnerable to outside influences’ and thus confessed: ‘I fear it will be a big headache for me.’

      Many years later, he admitted that the ‘Act of Union’ was ‘an emergency act.’ It is not surprising then that this is the same Nyerere who became a fiery critic of those members of parliament, famously known as G55, who came up with a resolution, demanding a government of Tanganyika. What he wrote afterwards can help us move beyond the current Union structure.

      In his book ‘Our Leadership and the Destiny of Tanzania’, Nyerere affirms that we could have adopted a merger with one government or a federation with three governments. ‘But’, he insists, ‘we felt unable to do so because of the small size of Zanzibar relative to that of Tanganyika.’ The latter setup, he asserts, ‘would have been too costly for Tanganyika’. But why? Because it ‘would contribute the vast bulk of the costs for running’ it on top of its own.

      Why then didn’t we opt for what the current PM wished? Nyerere’s answer is as significant today as it was then: ‘A Union with one government would give the impression that Tanganyika had swallowed up Zanzibar. We had been fighting for the independence and unity of Africa; we did not want it to be thought, even erroneously, that we were introducing a new form of imperialism.’

      He thus concludes his answer: ‘For that reason I opposed a one government structure.’ Surely the PM who happened to be a protégé of Nyerere could have not missed that. Who then inspired his wish for a one government? Ironically, it must be this same mentor of his. To Nyerere, a one government setup remained an option. But a three-government setup was always a nonstarter.

      Thus Nyerere’s poetic book ‘Tanzania! Tanzania!’ is primarily a passionate argument about why the Union will collapse if we form a federation with three governments. Therein he insists that if we really have to change it then let us change it to a one government Union. This might have been the ultimate goal that he had in mind all along.

      It may be true that ‘the founder of the Union’, as Dr Sengondo Mvungi recalls in The Citizen cited above, ‘had said that the two government was merely a transitional stage toward a single government.’ But why then have we witnessed a lot of high level reservations over the years toward the increase of Union matters in the Constitution of the United Republic of Tanzania?

      Indeed those matters have constitutionally doubled from the original 11 in the Articles of Union. To make matters worse, as Professor Abdul Sherrif and Ismail Jussa observes in their chapter on ‘One Step Forward, Two Steps Backwards: The State of Constitutionalism in Zanzibar-2007’, out of the 17 areas covered by the East Africa Community Treaty, only four are Union matters!

      In that regard the other 13 areas fall within the jurisdiction of the revolutionary government. Yet its representation in the fast-tracking of the East African Federation is as ambiguous. No wonder, as the two authors note, ‘a question that was raised repeatedly by the people of Zanzibar during the Wangwe Commission public hearings was one related to the fact that the Union government had assumed powers that are exclusively under the jurisdiction of the Zanzibar government.’

      If we don’t deal squarely with these reservations they will surely pile up and explode. Perhaps in the spirit of the Nyalali Commission there is a need to hold a referendum. What do people want?


      * Chambi Chachage is an independent researcher, newspaper columnist and policy analyst, based in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.
      * Please send comments to [email protected] or comment online at Pambazuka News.

      Social networks are a double-edged sword

      Paul Mwangi Maina


      cc I C
      As social networking sites such as Facebook, Myspace and twitter make freedom of speech a reality across the world, Paul Mwangi Maina considers the potential impacts – both positive and negative – of social media tools and citizen journalism on participation in democracy in Africa and beyond.


      The political situation in Iran and the role of social media in the development and perpetuation of the crisis have sparked a global debate on the emerging use, influence and power of social media. The unprecedented upheaval has left many around the world wondering as to the level of ‘dispute’ in the disputed elections. What is apparent however; is that there has been no evidence of large scale rigging. What then is the cause of all this the hullabaloo? Let’s take a closer look.

      Freedom of expression – the struggle, battles and bloodshed – is finally here. The war has been won. Facebook, MySpace and twitter have arrived. We can now communicate with each other and share our views, pictures, videos, sounds and reflections with the rest of the world at the touch of a button, or a screen, or even a voice command. But with every freedom comes responsibility. What are the consequences – if any – of this ‘free media’? Let’s start with a brief examination of social networks. According to Wikipedia:

      ‘ networking services allow users to create a profile for themselves, and can be broken down into two broad categories: Internal social networking (ISN); and external social networking (ESN) sites such as MySpace, Facebook, Twitter and Bebo. Both types can increase the feeling of community among people. An ISN is a closed/private community that consists of a group of people within a company, association, society, education provider and organisation or even an "invite only" group created by a user in an ESN. An ESN is open/public and available to all web users to communicate and are designed to attract advertisers.’[1]


      In politics, the use of social media was first significantly felt during Obama’s 2008 presidential election campaign. Politics underwent a kind of irreversible revolution, where the medium for mobilisation shifted significantly towards the Internet, at least in the West. The then senator Obama had the foresight to see this opportunity and capitalise on it fully. With the co-founder of Facebook, Chris Hughes, working for him as director of online organising, he had read the moment accurately. In the 5 July 2007 issue of Time magazine Tumult K. had this to say about his campaign:

      ‘...It's a buzz that Obama is finding new and creative ways to fuel, adapting to a world in which the concept of community has grown to include MySpace and Facebook. No campaign has been more aggressive in tapping into social networks and leveraging the financial power of hundreds of thousands of small donors. Nor has any other campaign found such innovative ways to extend its reach by using the Internet.’[2]

      It was clear that from this election things were going to change especially in political campaigns. Fast-forward to Iran, where the same tools were used to protest alleged rigged elections. The western media couldn’t get enough of the story. They generally seem to have concluded that Ahmadinejad lost the election. However, the rules of natural justice dictate that for fairness one should be presumed innocent until proven guilty. From their assumption, three issues arise which form the basis of this essay.

      Consider these facts. First, usually when one loses a contest it is natural to feel cheated, especially when the contest was close. Ahmadinejad, it is reported, won by a 60 per cent margin – a relatively close margin, considering that he was a front runner predicted to win by a landslide just a few weeks prior to the election. Second, it is not natural for the winning party to protest. Third, there are approximately 23 million internet users in Iran (35 per cent of the population).[3] Naturally most of them are in the urban areas. It is reported that 70 per cent of Ahmadinejad supporters are rural folks who are mostly illiterate or semi literate, old and technically challenged.[4]

      Based on these facts a clear picture emerges; this could just be a series of related and unrelated circumstances that have come together at just the right time to create a political crisis out of a fairly routine election. The conservative Iranian regime is definitely not popular among its youth. The restrictions they impose on freedoms such as internet use, mode of dressing, freedom of association among other liberties have not gone down well with the liberal youth who lean towards a more moderate society. The harassment they undergo at the hands of the Islamic militia is quite dehumanising. It is thus entirely understandable that they have revolted in this manner. Some have argued that this is much more a rebellion against the current regime than support for Mir Hossein Moussavi.


      In Africa, it is mostly the educated young urban individuals who have access to internet services. This group forms a minority of the population with the majority having little or no access. Young people form the core of the population (50 per cent) in most African countries, with most of them being semiliterate and those who are literate being the unemployed poor. The other half of the population comprise of the elderly, children and a small middle-aged population. Basically, what this means is that a small percentage of the population in Africa is engaging actively in daily debate that the rest of the population is not involved in. These people are actually forming their own agenda for their countries without the rest knowing. The consequences of this are clear, countries are becoming more polarised (moving in two different directions), without either side realising it. The end result of such a situation especially after an election is inevitable – disputes and conflict. For in Africa, it is an exception rather than the rule when a contestant accepts defeat, given that vote rigging does occur regularly.

      According to data from internet world statistics, Africa with 14 per cent of the world population, only makes up 3.4 per cent of the total internet users.[5] Internet penetration is only 5.6 per cent compared to an average of 23.8 per cent penetration in the rest of the world. However growth in usage for the period between 2000 and 2008 has been three times that of the rest of the world at 1100 per cent. We are catching up fast. The fibre optic cable has just landed in the East African coast and it is expected that this development will accelerate growth in the information communication and technology (ICT) sector. Personal computers and mobile phones are getting cheaper, faster and more reliable. Statistics also show phenomenon growth in the use of social networking sites in Africa. For example, South Africa is among the top ten leading countries in international growth of Facebook users.[6]

      This spectacular growth is in general good news for the continent. Communication is now cheaper, reliable and more efficient. In addition, business opportunities are opening up for innovative thinkers due to the increased use of ICT. However there is also a darker side to this new phenomenon. During the 2007 contested elections in Kenya, there was a temporary local news blackout in the mainstream media. Since most of the people in urban centres and conflict hot zones could not move freely they mainly communicated using their mobile phones by ‘forwarding’ messages that they had received from either family, friends or anonymously.[6] ‘Citizen journalism’ is the name of this kind of communication ‘the concept of members of the public playing an active role in the process of collecting, reporting, analyzing and disseminating news and information’.[7] Unfortunately what they were exchanging were hate messages, actually adding more wood to the fire. Currently technology is moving a step further. Individuals can now organise themselves into ISN groups that are tribal/ethnic, religious or political in nature and are exclusive. These groups provide a secure and private space for potentially negative values to foster and simmer waiting for a spark for a crisis to explode. With the kind of speed at which information moves in the web, when that spark actually comes – and it will – it’ll be too late for anyone to intervene.

      It is difficult to ascertain if the people who are protesting in Iran represent the views of the majority. As demonstrated earlier in this paper, only a fraction of Iranians use the Internet regularly. In the African continent the Internet has been relatively free of interference from governments, unlike Iran, China and other countries, where bloggers and other internet users have faced persecution. This could be as a result of the poor penetration of the service. However with the rapid growth being witnessed, the full impact of social networks will be felt sooner rather than later.

      Content in the social media should not be left unmonitored, it should not be left for anyone and everyone to create, develop, control all in the name of ‘citizen journalism’. This is not safe. In my opinion, ‘citizens’ are not capable of monitoring themselves without some form of authority. How possible it is to monitor social sites is a subject for another paper. Iran and China have tried censorship and failed miserably. Whatever the approach used should be broad-based and involve primarily the users themselves. However, it would be a fallacy to believe that there can be freedom without responsibility. Even the mainstream media is subject to libel and other restrictions.


      * Paul Mwangi Maina is an intern with Fahamu’s Kenya office.
      * Please send comments to [email protected] or comment online at Pambazuka News.

      [2] Obama’s Viral market campaign Karen Tumult, Time Magazine, 5 July 2007.
      [3] []Internet Usage in the Middle East[/url].
      [4] Ahmadinejad will sink or swim on public appeal of his stubborn zeal, CNN 11 June 2009.
      [5] Internet Usage in Africa
      [6]Tech radar
      [7] Sending a sort message (SMS) received in your mobile phone

      Advocacy & campaigns

      Addressing violence and discrimination against women and girls is urgent

      OMCT and Media Rights Agenda


      On the occasion of African Women’s Day, the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and Media Rights Agenda wish to draw the attention of the Nigerian authorities to the urgent need to address the situation of women and girls victims of gender-based violence and discrimination, in particular sexual abuse.

      Human rights violations are a global phenomenon. However, as a result of long standing discriminatory practices against women and the girl child and the non recognition of their rights as human rights, much remains to be done to eliminate laws and customs that violate their most fundamental human rights in Nigeria.

      As a state party to the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights on Women’s Rights in Africa (Maputo Protocol) and the United Nations Convention on Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), Nigeria must adopt specific and comprehensive legislation protecting women and girls from violence, which should encompass preventive, protective, criminal, compensatory and rehabilitative measures. Moreover, pursuant to the Maputo Protocol and CEDAW, Nigeria has a positive duty to eliminate gender stereotypes that perpetuate discriminatory practices that violate women and girls’ rights to dignity and integrity, such as female genital mutilation, widowhood harmful practices and early marriage, as well as sexual abuse, both in the public and private spheres.

      OMCT and Media Rights Agenda are particularly appalled by allegations of sexual violence perpetrated against women by state agents. Nigerian prisons reportedly have a high number of HIV-positive and pregnant women, some of whom have allegedly been raped while in police custody and may have become pregnant or infected as a result of the rape.

      Moreover, it has been reported that sexual violence by state agents also occurs outside of custodial settings. For instance, Ms. Queen Okoye was allegedly raped by three policemen from the Special Anti-Robbery Squad, SARS, of the Area ‘G’ Command, Ogba, Lagos, when she went to solicit police support to recover the money her boyfriend had borrowed from her. Thanks to the victim’s protest on 24 January 2009 in a public area, which has drawn public attention, Area Commander, Mr. Mobolaji Odesanya, announced he would set up an investigation panel to investigate her allegation. However, no information on results of proceedings of an administrative or criminal nature has been made public.

      OMCT and Media Rights Agenda call on the Nigerian authorities to set up an independent commission to thoroughly investigate into all allegations of sexual abuse at the hands of state officials, to bring those responsible to justice, to grant victims adequate compensation and access to free medical, psychological and social rehabilitation. In cases of pregnancy resulting from rape, women victims should be allowed to resort to safe abortion if they so wish.

      Moreover, Nigerian parliamentarians should immediately address gender-based violence, by adopting the necessary laws, by granting the necessary financial resources for the implementation of preventive measures (including training of law enforcement, judicial, health and social service personnel and awareness-raising campaigns), access to legal assistance and shelters, and by establishing qualified, independent and well-resourced institutions to receive and handle complaints in a gender-sensitive manner.

      OMCT: Mariana Duarte, Violence against Women Coordinator, [email protected]
      Media Rights Agenda: Joseph Izibili, Programme Officer, [email protected]

      End repressive laws targeting women in Sudan

      Statement by Sudanese women activists


      Despite Sudan being a signatory to the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and People's Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa, its discriminatory laws against women contradict the declared government commitment to the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) signed on 9 January 2005 and the National Interim Constitution. The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) - which Sudan acceded in 1986 - prohibits torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment such as flogging and protects women's rights to be free from discrimination based on sex.

      On 10 July 2009, thirteen women were arrested by police in a restaurant in Khartoum, Sudan, and charged with violating the public dress code face being flogged up to 40 lashes.

      The arrests took place when police forces stormed the restaurant and arrested women diners dressed in trousers which the police regarded as ‘indecent’. The women, some of whom come from Southern Sudan, were charged under article 152 (Indecent and Immoral Acts) of the 1991 Penal Code. Ten of the women pleaded guilty, out of fear and terror usually accompanied these procedures, and had already received 10 lashes (two of them under the age of 16) and those who pleaded not guilty face up to 40 lashes if convicted.

      Over the past 20 years Sudanese women- regardless of their race, religion, age or background- have suffered degrading treatment and humiliation under the public order code of 1996, which changed in 2009 to The Society Safety Code. Women, especially the poor women, street vendors and students, have been and continue to be subjected to constant threat of being arrested, beaten and tortured just for what they are wearing and their mere presence on the street. Majority are denied legal recourse and once arrested they risk being sent to prison or flogged.

      Sudanese women represent more than half of the Sudan population, their contribution to the society economy and wellbeing is substantial. Women, from street vendors, teachers and farmers, workers are preserving communities and families across the country. The role of the state is to protect them, maintain their dignity and pride and their access to a fair justice system. The degradation of women is affecting our society and self esteem and diminish the respect that we have in our diverse cultures towards women and girls- an aspect of our culture that we do need to promote and enhance.

      The discriminatory laws against women embedded in Sudan legislations contradicts the declared government commitment to the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) signed on 9 January 2005 and the National Interim Constitution. The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) - which Sudan acceded in 1986- prohibits torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment such as flogging and protects women's rights to be free from discrimination based on sex. Protocol to the African Charter on Human and People's Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa, signed by Sudan on 30 June 2008 emphasized on women right to be respected as a person and to the free development of their personalities and that existing discriminatory laws and practice shall be reformed in order to promote and protect the rights of women. And the Convention on the Rights of Children, ratified by Sudan since 1979 and clearly stating that; States Parties shall take all appropriate measures to ensure that the child is protected against all forms of discrimination or punishment on the basis of the status, activities, expressed opinions, or beliefs.

      We the undersigned Sudanese women urge the Government of Sudan to:
      · Cease the use of cruel, inhuman and degrading punishments
      · Guarantee the procedural rights of women accessing the justice system at all times
      · Guarantee respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms throughout the country in accordance with the National Interim Constitution (NIC) and regional and international human rights standards.
      · Commit to the promotion of positive culture of respecting women of Sudan and enhance their contribution and protect their wellbeing through adopting laws and polices in accordance with Sudan constitutions and international and regional obligations
      · Support and facilitate women access to the justice system safely and with dignity, through provision of training and education on the rights of women to law enforcement and other Sudan justice system mechanisms.

      Pan-African Postcard

      Pirate bankers, shadow economies

      Khadija Sharife


      ‘In Africa, political power is often used as a “get out of jail free” card, immunising the venal political elite through various mechanisms,’ Khadija Sharife tells Pambazuka News. But, says Sharife, while corruption may be ‘rampant’ in Africa, this is ‘only half the story’: Corrupt government leaders get away with graft much more easily and more frequently, thanks to international financial enablers, based in ‘transparent’ locations from London to New York. The key to addressing corruption, Sharife suggests, is to scrutinise unchecked and unregulated shadow economies 'in developed and developing countries alike'.

      Corruption isn't an issue that Jacob Zuma, the current president of the African National Congress (ANC) – South Africa's liberation party – is particularly enthusiastic about. Until prosecutors dropped charges in early April, Zuma stood accused of 18 counts of corruption, graft, fraud, and racketeering related to a rigged multibillion-dollar arms deal. He was alleged to have accepted 783 payments from French arms multinational Thint via his financial advisor Shabir Sheik, who was later convicted for graft, fraud, and corruption. Sheik has since emerged from prison, serving just 28 months of his 15-year term.

      In Africa, political power is often used as a ‘get out of jail free’ card, immunising the venal political elite through various mechanisms. Transparency International, the global corruption watchdog renowned for its annual Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI), argues that corruption is especially rampant in Africa. TI defines corruption as the ‘abuse of entrusted power for private gain’, a notion limited to the governing bodies in developing countries.

      But this is only half the story. A respectable financial army plays an invaluable role in a global shadow economy. A coterie of bankers, accountants, and lawyers – based in ‘transparent’ London, New York, and Singapore – serve as the ‘postcard-island’ tax havens, and they're backed by multilateral financial institutions. Corrupt government leaders get away with graft much more easily and more frequently because of these international financial enablers.


      According to Global Financial Integrity's Raymond Baker, a leading capital flight expert, an estimated US$900 billion is siphoned from underdeveloped regions each year. Since the 1970s, Africa has experienced a loss of US$600 billion in capital flight, a considerable portion derived from odious loans that commercial and development banks provided to despotic regimes. Harvard economist James Henry argues that that more than US$1 trillion worth of loans ‘disappeared into corruption-ridden projects or was simply stolen outright.’

      Facilitating this theft are the IMF and World Bank's structural adjustment programs through tax competition, liberalised trade, and natural resources auctioned piecemeal to corporations. These multilateral institutions made it easier for politicians and corporations to acquire capital and then spirit it out of the country.

      ‘The IMF pushed the Washington Consensus, pushed free trade for corporations, providing them with market access and minimum impediments in Africa such as tax competition,’ said Richard Murphy, director of Tax Research LLP. ‘The IMF helped companies not to pay their taxes. They got it horribly wrong.’

      Despite TI's emphasis on corrupt political environments – which has since become the definition of corruption – less than 5 per cent of capital flight comes from this narrow category, according to Murphy. A much larger portion of capital flight, 30 per cent, derives from garden-variety crimes like drug trafficking and money laundering. Multinational internal mispricing, meanwhile, constitutes an astounding 60 per cent of illicit flight.

      ‘TI has got it all wrong,’ stated Murphy. ‘Transfer mispricing constitutes the largest portion of flight capital.’ But even when capital flight happens because of corruption narrowly understood, like bribery, where does the money end up? Probably tax havens and places like Switzerland, which zealously protects the privacy of its depositors. Though Sudan, Chad, Equatorial Guinea and Zimbabwe rank near to last on CPI's list of 180 countries, Switzerland comes in at a pristine fifth place. ‘The idea that Switzerland has a clean economy is a joke. It is a dirt-driven economy,’ said Murphy.


      Tax justice was billed as the ‘big issue’ of the recent G20 meeting in London, a gathering of the largest economies in the world. By targeting Switzerland and numerous island economies, Prime Minister Gordon Brown conveniently shifted attention away from UK crown dependencies and overseas territories, accounting for more than a quarter of all tax havens worldwide.

      And London is the head office.

      ‘Tax havens are little more than booking centres. I've seen transactions where all the decisions are made in London, but booked in havens,’ stated an official of Britain's Serious Fraud Office, to John Christensen, cofounder of the Tax Justice Network and former economic advisor to Jersey, one of the world's leading tax havens – and a UK crown dependency.

      High-net-worth individuals have already secreted away more than US$11.4 trillion, Christensen estimates, resulting in a loss of over US$250 billion in taxes each year, minus corporate profits declared in tax havens.

      The presence of tax havens, guaranteeing protection and discretion to corrupt political elites and economic criminals, directly undermines democracy and development, manipulating legal vacuums in unanticipated ways.

      ‘The IMF is in favour of the highly flawed incentive of tax holidays. Many countries have lost huge sums of revenue, because tax incentives undermine revenue base of developing countries,’ said Christensen. ‘Corporations prefer weak governments that are anxious to secure investments, and despotic governments,’ he stated.

      Over 60 per cent of global trade occurs in unobserved vacuums. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), composed of 27 high-income countries, have decided to focus on these conduits as well as the exotic islands, thus marginalising and absolving structural exploitation, the lax regulation, and the culture of secrecy, all of which underpins the larger OECD economies such as London.

      The strength of offshore hubs — an intricate labyrinth that facilitates flight and protects the corrupt through obscuring transparency, depends on the lack of automatic exchange of information between countries experiencing capital flight and those on the receiving end. After intensive lobbying by the international financial community, the IMF removed just such a provision on information exchange from the final drafts of its Articles of Agreement. Presently, governments are only able to interrogate havens when already in possession of data related to illicit financial transactions and assets.

      The power of offshore hubs expanded when the IMF paved the way for capital account liberalisation in the late 1970s. Cross-border flows increased eightfold. Unlike tax havens, offshore hubs relocate at the first sign of financial regulation. This is often done via costly flee clauses. The move to target and regulate tax havens, which range from shell companies to conduit markets to hedge funds, shouldn't detract from the importance of regulating offshore hubs as distinct entities.


      During his days on the throne, according to the Tax Justice Network's John Christensen, former Nigerian dictator Sani Abacha had a standing order to transfer US$15 million from state coffers to his Swiss bank account each day, resulting in a personal fortune of US$3-5 billion. One hundred banks (including Citigroup) knowingly protected Abacha and facilitated his plunder. Since the early 1990s, the population of Nigerians living on less than one dollar per day has increased by 10 per cent.

      Nigeria's economy is largely dependent on hydrocarbon contracts, which is the root of the problem. ‘Hydrocarbon contracts in particular are very secretive, especially with regards to taxation, and it is difficult to get evidence of payment, with many political parties and politicians receiving payment on the side,’ said Christensen.

      Nigeria isn't the only country subject to opaque transactions and capital flight. Wall Street's US$56 trillion tumble was triggered by toxic assets traded in the shadow economy. Suddenly, the spotlight in the United States fell on discretely marketed tax havens and powerful multinationals, many of them on the receiving end of taxpayer-subsidised bailout funds. The US Government Accountability Office (GAO) reported that 83 of the top 100 corporations maintained multiple subsidiary units in tax havens.

      The key to addressing corruption in the broadest sense is through country-by-country reporting. Such reports reveal the presence of multinationals in each country, trade names, financial performance, physical assets, the number of employees, sales to third parties, and intra-group trading, profits, and tax payments to the governments in each location.

      ‘Country-by-country reporting already works in the US where states all have different corporate taxes,’ stated Murphy. ‘It would allow us to “look through” havens, and if nothing of value is added there, we can simply ignore it and tax the companies where performance is happening.’

      The automatic exchange of information in conjunction with country-by-country reporting would bolster accountability by precipitating automatic sanctions on havens, disincentivising capital flight and corruption. In doing so, the magnifying glass of transparency would fall on unchecked and unregulated shadow economies in developed and developing countries alike.

      Now that would be an economic revolution.

      * This article previously appeared in Foreign Policy In Focus.
      * Khadija Sharife is a journalist and a visiting scholar at the Centre for Civil Society (CCS) based in South Africa.
      * Please send comments to [email protected] or comment online at Pambazuka News.

      Return of stolen king's head to Ghana

      It is time for us to reclaim with dignity that which belongs to us

      Ama Biney


      The preserved head of King Badu Bonsu II has been returned to the Ghana by the Netherlands, 170 years after the Ahanta chief was hanged for ordering the murder of two Dutch emissaries, Ama Biney tells Pambazuka News. The return of the head is not just of cultural importance for the Ahanta people, says Biney, it’s also a significant step in ‘setting right colonial wrongs’.

      On Friday 24 July 2009 the pickled head of King Badu Bonsu II was finally returned to the government of Ghana after 170 years by the government of the Netherlands. Preserved in a jar of formaldehyde in a laboratory in the Leiden University Medical Centre, the Ghana government quietly negotiated the release of the chief’s head.

      King Badu Bonsu II was chief of the Ahanta ethnic group who are based near the coast of Ghana. The Ahanta were renowned as the first ethnic group to trade with the Portuguese. In 1837, King Badu Bonsu ordered for two Dutch emissaries to be murdered and it is alleged he had their heads cut off. In revenge, the Dutch vowed to avenge the deaths of their compatriots. An Ahanta kinsman was bribed to betray the King and he was captured and hanged in 1838. Europe was in the throes of studying phrenology (a bogus science involving a study of human skulls to purportedly decipher what they say about human personality), so the King’s head was considered a prized artefact by depraved European scientists, including the Dutch.

      The Dutch, like many barbaric Europeans at the time, callously and arrogantly disregarded the cultural significance the decapitated body of the King held for his people. Europeans did not consider Africans possessing any culture worthy of protecting let alone promoting because they had come to Africa to bring commerce, civilisation and Christianity, otherwise known as the ‘three Cs’. Eric Odoi-Anim, Ghana’s charge d’affaires in the Netherlands said: ‘Without burial of the head, the deceased will be hunted in the after-life.’

      The chief of Ahanta-Boadi, Nana Etsin Kofi II, met the arrival of King Badu Bonsu II as the remains touched down at Kokota International Airport, along with the minister of chieftaincy and culture, Mr Alexander Asum-Ahensah. Libation prayers were offered at the airport by Nana Kweku Darko III, to invoke the spirits of Nana Bonsu and other ancestors of the Ahanta area. A befitting burial to King Badu Bonsu is to be arranged in the near future.

      Meanwhile, the return of the head – very much intact by its preservation in formaldehyde – is a significant one in setting right colonial wrongs. Not since the full body cast of Saartjie Baartman, the so-called Hottentot Venus, was transported from France to South Africa in 2002, has a similar event taken place in Africa. In a similar case, the utter degeneracy of the French led them to preserve the brains and genitalia of Saartjie Baartman, who was paraded around London as an exotic performer and died at the young age of 22.

      To what extent can the return of King Badu Bonsu’s decapitated head, be seen as part of necessary reparations of possessions owed by Africans lying in the vaults of Western museums? Perhaps this recent return of King Badu Bonsu’s remains should make Africans ask how many other remains lie hidden in Western laboratories unknown to us? It is time for us to reclaim with dignity that which belongs to us.


      * Dr Ama Biney is a Pan-Africanist and scholar-activist who lives in the United Kingdom.
      * Please send comments to [email protected] or comment online at Pambazuka News.

      Books & arts

      Dictator ends his life on stage

      Simbarashe Mashiri


      Simbarashe Mashiri reviews a recent performance of His Excellency is in Love, a play by New Zealand-based Zimbabwean writer Stanley Makuwe.

      What happens when an eighty-year old dictator falls in love with a woman half his age? The country’s economic and political structures crumble to the ground, leaving millions of people at the edge of starvation and extreme poverty. This seems to be the message in Stanley Makuwe’s latest play, His Excellency is in love.

      On 4 July 2009, African-Pacific Productions, a new African community theatre company based in Auckland, New Zealand, performed His Excellency is in love to a full house at the Auckland University’s Maidment theatre. The show was unanimously declared a refreshing piece of art by an appreciative audience, which included the University’s academics and scholars.

      ‘Congratulations on your success,’ said Auckland University’s associate professor of Theatre, Dr Murray Edmond.

      ‘You gave us more than we expected,’ said professor of English, Michael Neill.

      ‘You have proved that there is a market for African theatre in New Zealand,’ commented New Zealand’s celebrated painter, John Reynolds.

      His Excellency is in love is a political satire about an imaginary African country, Mateshona, whose leader, His Excellency Comrade Jongwe, after falling in love with a younger woman, Marunjeya, loses his mind in an effort to maintain a strong grip on power. Comrade Jongwe is obsessed with power to the point of going on a killing spree, eliminating those opposed to his leadership, while on the other hand his new woman goes on a shopping spree around the world, spending the hard earned taxpayer’s money on designer clothes, perfume and G-strings.

      ‘Teachers on strike for pay rise? Do I care? I used all their money to buy my son a toy in Europe,’ Marunjeya brags on a phone call to a friend.

      To keep his hands clean of blood, Comrade Jongwe uses Chibagwe, his right hand man and news reporter to eliminate perceived enemies within his own party. After killing, Chibagwe is quick to go on TV to announce that the murdered are in fact killed in road accidents. Most of those killed are quickly declared national heroes, receiving state burial at the national shrine.

      When those killed return to haunt Comrade Jongwe, the end result is fatal as he guns himself down while attempting to shoot the voices of the dead in his office.

      His Excellency Comrade Jongwe is played by Rwandan actor, Francois Byamana. Francois is one of the fast-rising stars from New Zealand’s African community. He has featured in New Zealand’s plays and documentaries, including A thousand hills, a play that traces his life as a refugee from Rwanda to New Zealand through DRC and Kenya. Francois’ amazing story dates back to 1994 when he was one of the thousand people who took refuge in a luxurious hotel in Rwanda when a hotel manager risked his life by opening the hotel doors to Tutsi refugees.

      Zimbabwean Melissa Musakwa plays Marunjeya, while Chibagwe is played by Shona poet, Solomon Nyamazana. Theatre director Ali Kanwal plays Chiromo, a minister who wets his pants when secret agents throw him before His Excellency Jongwe to respond to allegations of wanting to topple the aging dictator. Another actor involved is South African traditional dancer and performer, Sesi Francis. Francis plays the president’s witch, whose role is to supply traditional medicine that makes the dictator a feared man to those who look at him in the eyes.

      ‘I rub lion fat on my forehead so that those who look at me in the eyes tremble with fear. This is hyena saliva. It keeps me hungry for power. Whenever I hear the word “power” I drool like a starving hyena in the plains of Serengeti,’ boasts the dictator to his young woman.

      As part of encouraging African youth participation in theatre, young traditional singers and dancers, Somalia’s Mohammed, Sudan’s Fate, Brazil’s Kelvin, Mali’s Seydu and Betty Fogogo from Burundi, took part as the witch’s apprentices.

      Directed by Zimbabwean director, Sam Mudzanire, His Excellency is in love was first performed at the Auckland Performing Arts Centre (TAPAC) in June 2008 followed by other performances at the Salvation Army Conference Centre in July 2008 and at the Meteor in Hamilton in March 2009 before coming to the Maidment, bringing instant success to the ambitious theatre company.

      Writer Stanley Makuwe is a Zimbabwean based in Auckland. He moved to New Zealand in 2002. His first book, Under this tree and other stories, was published in 2005 and was voted book of the week on New Zealand’s top radio station, TalkBack ZB. In the same year he was a runner-up in the BBC World African Performance followed by making it to the Highly Commended List in the 2007 International playwriting competition. Groomed by controversial and politically charged award winning playwright Cont Mhlanga, Stanley’s other play, Overthrown, was banned by the Zimbabwe police on its opening night at Amakhosi Cultural centre in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe. Produced and directed by Mhlanga, the police accused the play of being intended to embarrass the Zimbabwean president, Comrade Robert Mugabe.

      The latest show was funded by Auckland City Council and Sky City Auckland. There is no doubt that expectations are now higher from the promising works of Stanley Makuwe. He is currently working on a new script about migration due to be staged at the Auckland International Cultural Festival to be held in March 2010.

      When asked to comment on the success of His Excellency is in love, Makuwe had this to say: ‘As Africans in foreign soil we always have work harder than an average local to prove what we are capable of doing, and this time we proved beyond doubt. It’s a victory for Africans. A victory for Africans means a victory for the African continent.’

      Makuwe’s dream is to climb up the ladder and sit with theatre heavyweights such as Nigerian playwright Wole Soyinka and Uganda’s John Ruganda.


      * Please send comments to [email protected] or comment online at Pambazuka News.

      African Writers’ Corner

      Trusting foolishly

      A short story

      Karest Lewela


      ‘The other day, as my drowsiness took charge, I heard the nurses whispering. They said how sad it was that I ended up this way. I don’t think it is sad. I think it is sad they think it is sad though. They said I used to be a lawyer – imagine that! Me! A lawyer! I told you I was bright. They mentioned about a generous pardon I had received from the Head of State (HoS). They also said I was very lucky, for I ought to have been sent to the gallows.’

      Blue, black and all other cool hues not so crystal-defined, seemed to be in a conspiracy to deny his identity the chance to separate itself from his conscience. As a result, he increasingly became his own worst critic, leaving no chance for error. In his mental guidebook for life, it read on every single page that error was to be attributed exclusively to folly. He was clear too that folly, as infectious as it may be, was to be left to be the basest of instincts, for the average man who really did not deserve the burden of carrying humanity in his purse. Every time he was angry, he would quickly declare the foolish as being selfish, for dragging down humanity with them every time the normal curve decided to be all-inclusive. He would often be caught saying, with little pride, that if such folly were his destiny, he would end his life other than deride a great cause such as humanity was.

      He could generously share, with no pretence for decorum, his unending list of things he detested. His understanding of humanity was very different from the teleological character fallen from God’s grace: He believed much like the humanists, that God lived through man, and therefore purity and perfection were man’s innate characteristics. Anything short of that must not be of God, and must therefore be of the Dark One, a threat to humanity that must be fought with passion. He fought many battles, bruising many egos in the process, picking strings of enemies in a world where politeness held the strained fabric of society together. It was unambiguous for him: Evil will never love goodness, to do good one must expect to be fought back by such forces of wile. Humanity was a superior force, which must be preserved at all costs, often times by a loss of the humane in the battle.

      His fellow human beings didn’t understand him. They could easily describe him, speaking always in vitriolic tones, of his baseless pride, his acidic unappreciative nature, his self-righteous narrow-mindedness, his feigned intelligence that could only efficiently serve Paleolithic ends, his brash outlook that mirrored the rough edges of a worthless diamond, and a countenance that knew no way of knowing if it was expressing happiness. Many blamed his childhood, not because they had access to such a background, but because such unhappiness could only have arisen out of inadequate breast feeding or early weaning. It was believed that early weaning robbed one of childhood and forces one to grow up untimely. The result of that was likened to the early harvesting of mangoes in a bid that if kept in warmth they would ripen: Therein arose the paradox, yellow skin but bitter taste, acrid after-taste. Indeed, this was one of those fruits; they called him in popular fashion, a fruitcake. I still don’t understand where the ‘cake’ part was derived from; a fruit would have just suited him okay. Since no one bothered to ask my opinion, I didn’t volunteer to brand it silly. He never understood why the mention of the word would elicit giggles of satisfaction either, so he didn’t protest.

      I think he was very intelligent, even though I never told anyone. To carry oneself with such an air, one must have had access to information not easily reached. He must by necessity have had an intense understanding of self, such that the understanding of others would come uninterrupted and easy. He must have had superior vision, in his smile of wryness, it always appeared to me that he could see how we were all trapped and didn’t even realise it. In case you wonder how I knew we were, are trapped: It was by looking at myself in the reflection of his eyes. Even though people tended to think of me as mentally retarded, on this count of recognising his mental capacity, I was the genius. Sometimes I wondered whether my identifying with him meant that I was like him, intelligent. Somehow, such thoughts would reach their intensity when they were about to inject me with a dose of palliatives, taking me to a safe dreamy land. As the drugs would take effect, I would edge closer to common wisdom that he was but a fool, and the doctor would monitor the progress and advise that I keep on the medication.

      Of late it has been getting harder for me to live within myself. When the drugs fade off my body, I am having recollections. Unlike the initial years when the dosage would wipe out my memory and I would wake up in a revisionist crisis of self-definition, these days I am putting thoughts together, editing out the long pauses of drowsiness. Thankfully, I have lived in years of silence, and even though it now rabidly itches me to speak and share my thoughts on this debate, to tell them that this man is superior to them, and that if they listened to him, they may find liberation like I have, I keep mum. I tend to get excited by my convictions, and it is at such points that I am always thrown into a straightjacket before the nasty shot is administered. For the sake of an even deeper understanding, I must remain docile, detached, and even strung-out. I must go into a longer stupor than the drugs can sustain, so that I use my drug free mind to figure out this genius.

      One thing still troubles me deeply. If there are any similarities – and I believe there are many – between this man and myself, how come they don’t put him on the same medication as me? How had he managed to escape the People’s wrath all these years? At times it gets very irritating to my sensitive mind. Is he like I think, exceptional, or is he like they say of me, a lunatic? What’s with the double standards? Who was conning the other? Which was the truth? Who was behind this conspiracy to keep me from using my natural brain, in its organic form, without artificial chemical incentives?

      I wanted to reach out to this gentleman. If not for my own good, at least to let him know that they were going to go after him, and they would not stop until he was committed to an asylum. I also really wanted to find out from him, how I could escape from this condition that he could see in us, but of which we were too socialised to realise that we were trapped. I think the many years of living against the grain had made him, like me, paranoid. He could not trust anyone. He also knew I was on medication, and from the rumours abounding about me, he remained very keen to escape my madness. Even though he didn’t know or understand whatever my ailment was, he knew that most things human were contagious. He suspected that my condition was a variation of a strain of folly, and he would have rather die lonely than breath the same air as a foolish man.

      It hurt me that he had to be alone, when he could easily have had my company. Sometimes, even in his brilliance, I could easily discern his weaknesses. Pride aside, the prime of it was that he didn’t recognise obvious survival tenets, like safety being a function of numbers. Some people said that because of his snobbishness, he had missed out on important communal lessons. Others mentioned the milk theory. I don’t take milk of my own volition no more, the aim being double: That if a milk-deprived person becomes that conscious I will chance the experiment, and secondly, I don’t trust this milk if the design is that it make one more social, if not sociable. Sometimes they force me to drink it. I always feel giddy as a result, and no, I don’t think it is psychological. Nothing is psychological apart from the wars, perpetrated by the State and financed by the People, to control people’s consciousness. I also don’t believe in a collective conscience, neither does the State, even though I heard somewhere that the Laws have prescribed it. Wait. I remember now, my apologies, I didn’t hear it. I read it in the Constitution, now that is one twisted document. I am surprised sane people vow by it. I think sanity is an illusion.

      The other day, as my drowsiness took charge, I heard the nurses whispering. They said how sad it was that I ended up this way. I don’t think it is sad. I think it is sad they think it is sad though. They said I used to be a lawyer – imagine that! Me! A lawyer! I told you I was bright. They mentioned about a generous pardon I had received from the Head of State (HoS). They also said I was very lucky, for I ought to have been sent to the gallows. I think I must have lost consciousness because I don’t remember any other part of that particular conversation. I would love to ask Sister Lucy about it, but I don’ t think she likes me. If she does, then she has an amazing way of hiding it, even from herself. I digress.

      The reason I am letting you in on this, which is not to be repeated to anyone else, and which this is the maiden and final mention of, is because I need your opinion. Assuming that what they said is true, that I was once a lawyer, then it must be logical that I was punished for my arguments. It is not natural for the lawyer to be sentenced, right? Correct me if I am wrong, living in parallel worlds means I am no longer sure of anything. Do you know the fate of the client I was defending? I sure hope my pronouncements did not condemn him. If so, I apologise, especially to his loved ones. I am not sure whether I need to apologise to him, he must have been guilty any way. Everyone is guilty at any time; it is a pity because the State often chooses to prosecute on the wrong guilt. They could learn a lot from me.

      Wait! Could it be that I was defending the Bright One I told you about earlier? Help me out here: How come I don’t know his name? Do you know his name? It is not important. If it is because of him I live like this, then he has a rather unusual way of showing his gratitude. Perhaps everyone is right; maybe he is just a fool, and I even more so for taking an almost romantic interest in his foolishness.

      I must be the most hip drug addict of all time, considering HoS pardoned me. However, what kind of pardon takes away a quick solution that the gallows proffered for a dragged out pain on medication like my life is? Why would HoS pardon me, if such pardon were not an admission of guilt and liability by itself? I must talk to the Bright One, and let him intervene on my behalf. The State must pay for my suffering, and I don’t mean they keep supplying the cheap drugs they keep jabbing into my body, as if there was a risk these drugs would expire if they were kept anywhere else apart from the insides of my body.

      ‘I don’t think HoS is an intelligent person, judging from the character of the State’s citizens.’ Said I to myself.

      ‘We know, and haven’t you learnt anything about saying that aloud?’ Sister Lucy bellowed at me, her lips curled like a wilted flower in early evening, waiting upon the early morning rays of sunshine to open up and smile again. Why was she so angry with me? Should I ask her for an explanation? My gut feeling, at least whatever is left of it, tells me that her calloused hands would rashly bruise my skin if I were to even think of smiling in her direction.

      I realise Sister Lucy must have been quite a gem in her prime. The way she carries her now dead-weight shows traces of grace, and generosity if you like a curvaceous body. I know I do, I have just realised that, letting my powerful mind do some quick time travel into the past. I like what I see, in the past I mean. I can even see that she used to smile, and it is – sorry, was – a beautiful smile. They must have gotten to her, and it is no wonder she frowns consistently. I don’t think she loves her job. It must be hard condemning the lives of others when all you want to do is save them. I think she is frustrated that she can’t save me. I think she still likes me. I also know, like she does, that the drugs are not meant to save me. I don’t feel sorry for her; she works for them, for the State. I do not agree with anything about the State, after all they say the State made me what I am today.

      As she jabs my arm once more, I can see a trace of something strange. Allow me to describe it with one word: Almost. Indeed, it is almost a smile, almost reassurance, almost pity, and almost love. No, strike love out, I don’t know how love looks like. It looks like something, an unimportant detail to this story, once again. Too many pieces that won’t fit together: HoS pardon to me, the identity of my client, and Sister Lucy. When the drug subsides I will try yet again to figure it out. I must work fast before the next dose, the effects are getting stronger with every passing day, and my memory is slowing down fast.

      As the last milligram of the State medication takes permanence in my blood, acclimatises and receives acceptance from the other molecules that preceded it, I will figure it out. I already have a few leads:
      My client: Either HoS, Sister Lucy, or the Bright One
      My crime: Human rights activism, Treason, Insanity (wrongful count of course)
      My pardon: Pity, Conspiracy
      The Bright One: He could have been HoS during that trial.
      Sister Lucy: Former lover, perhaps was once a nun, hence the Sister bit. She must also be related to HoS.

      I am very close to figuring it all out. I will be sure to share. Please don’t tell anyone about all this, they won’t understand. They never do. They are not like you and I.

      * Karest Lewela is a Kenyan poet and activist for social justice. He is based in Nairobi and is currently the contracting and procurement manager for Kenya Shell Limited
      * Please send comments to [email protected] or comment online at Pambazuka News.

      Emerging powers in Africa Watch

      The Macau Forum Quarterly

      Lucy Corkin


      In the third quarterly report on the Macau Forum, Lucy Corkin provides a roundup of the latest political and economic developments in the countries that constitute the Macau Hub. From the recent appointment of a new chief executive in Macau to the Bank of China using Macau as a platform to promote greater ties between China and the Portuguese speaking countries in Africa and Brazil, Corkin astutely explores the interconnectedness between these issues.

      After a ballot held on 26 July, Former Social and Cultural Affairs Secretary Fernando Chui Sai-on sailed through to become Macau’s new Chief Executive -elect, the second since Macau’s return to China in 1999. Chui received 282 of 300 possible votes after gaining the support of 286 in the preliminary member nomination committee meeting. He was the only contender after chief prosecutor Ho-Chio-meng pulled just before the nominations. Chui was a favoured candidate in Beijing; he is from a powerful Macanese family and his brother is a legislator and member of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference. Chui has reportedly held public consultations following his appointment, possibly to mollify critics of Macau’s decidedly non-participatory system. A recently passed state security law regarding the punishment of ‘treason, secession or subversion against the Chinese government’ has underlined the limits of Macau’s autonomy from the mainland. Chui will take over from Edmund Ho in December this year.

      It is hoped by many that Chui’s appointment will persuade Beijing to ease visa restrictions for Chinese mainlanders. Tourists from the mainland are the life-blood of the Macau gaming industry, the only place in China where casinos are legal. After overtaking the Las Vegas strip in earnings a few years ago, Macau’s growth has slumped in the wake of the global economic crisis. As Macau’s gaming industry plummets, contracting by almost than 13 percent in the first half of this year, a new impetus has been given to the territory’s role as a bridge between China and the Portuguese-speaking world.

      Auspiciously but definitely not coincidentally, to commemorate Africa Day on 25 May, the Macau Inter-University Institute (known by its Portuguese Acronym of IIUM) launched the Centre for African Research and Development Studies (CARDS). Ivo Carneiro de Sousa, Vice-rector of IIUM for Research and International Relations lauded the launch of what he called the Asia’s ‘fourth Africa Studies Centre in Asia.’

      Dismissing centres for African Studies on the Mainland, de Sousa outlined plans to participate with the other centres in Mumbai, Tokyo and Kyoto. De Sousa also cited the strategic advantage of Macau’s long-standing relations with Africa and its local African Diaspora. Furthermore, a seminar entitled Macau as a trade and cultural platform between China and the Portuguese-speaking countries” was organised by the International Institute of Macau (IIM) as part of a string of initiatives designed to bolster Macau’s image and strategic significance in this regard. As IIM Director Luis Barreto pronounced: “When Macau is no longer capable to assume this role of go-between, it will disappear. This is written in its origin, gives it strength and bestow upon it status. This is what Macau was and what it still is”.

      Concurrently, the Bank of China (BOC) is also actively promoting Macau as a platform for economic and commercial co-operation between China and Portuguese-speaking countries through the Bank’s Macau branch. Macau has already hosted a conference for the central bank governors of Portuguese-speaking countries with this aim in mind. In September 2006, Banco de Fomento de Angola signed an agreement facilitating fund transfer services to Chinese nationals in Angola as well as to companies with Chinese capital in the African country. Co-operation with Portugal’s Millenium BPC and Stanley Ho and Ferro Ribeiro’s Mozambican-based Moza Banco is also on the cards. (Moza Banco has thrived since its establishment less than a year ago. The bank has an agreement with China Exim Bank and is looking to expand operations to the whole of Mozambique) According to Zhang Jianhua, President of BOC, transfer services were be extended to Brazil in July this year.

      President Inácio ‘Lula’ de Silva’s May visit to Beijing was an effort to gently remind Chinese President Hu Jintao of the pledges made during the latter’s state visit to Brazil four years ago. Although more than US$ 7 billion in investment had been promised, by early 2009, less than US$ 150 million had materialised. Commercial relations have at times been strained; Chinese manufactured goods have stolen market share from Brazilian exports to its regional neighbours, while Brazil complains that exports to China have not diversified from soya, oil and iron. For its part however, Brazil has reneged on a pledge to accord China market economy status. Brazil now recognises the importance of cultivating closer ties with China and it seems Lula’s recent visit was successful. During his visit to the Chinese capital, a total of 13 new co-operation agreements were signed, including a US$ 10 billion loan from China Development Bank to Brazilian national oil-company Petrobras in return for a guaranteed supply of 200,000 barrels of oil per day for the next 10 years. No details of the other agreements were published although it is speculated that they may include a US$ 800 million loan for the Brazilian development bank, financing for ports and waterways, as well as a market for Brazilian meat and poultry exports. Lula subsequently published a glowing review of Sino-Brazilian co-operation in China Daily. Furthermore, Brazil, following in the wake of these agreements, is, for the first time ever going to hold the Forum on Economic and Trade Cooperation between China and Portuguese-speaking Countries from August 11-13 this year. China and Brazil have several successful co-operative agreements in place, such as the China-Brazil Earth Resources Satellite (CBERS) launched in 1988; it now has 3 operational satellites in place. President Lula has announced that these images will be freely provided to African countries.

      In Africa, at the end of May, the China EXIM Bank announced that it would be financing the construction of the Mpanda Nkuwa Dam in Mozambique through a US$ 2.3 billion loan package. Amid marked controversy in terms of the environmental implications of such a dam, construction is to begin in 2010. Mozambique will also receive US$ 3 million in ‘military aid’ in the form of non-lethal military equipment such as uniforms, boors and transport vehicles. This was announced this May after the conclusion of the Mozambican Defence Minister Filipe Nyussi visit to Beijing where he signed an agreement with his Chinese counterparts.

      * Lucy Corkin is a PhD candidate at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) and resident Macau Forum analyst for Fahamu’s China in Africa programme.
      * Please send comments to [email protected] or comment online at Pambazuka News.

      Zimbabwe update

      Mutambara says MDC has no control in unity government


      Deputy Prime Minister, Arthur Mutambara on Wednesday said the two MDC formations have no power to stop continued abuses of power by ZANU PF, and said the parties have no control in the unity government. Mutambara, who was speaking at a Commercial Farmers Union (CFU) congress on Wednesday, said the MDC’s efforts to influence positive change in Zimbabwe were being frustrated by ZANU PF loyalists fervently opposed to the coalition with the MDC.

      Student leaders detained in fees protest


      Police have arrested four student leaders after a foiled protest at Zimbabwe's main university over new tuition fees, a human rights group said Thursday. "Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) confirm the arrest and detention of four representatives of the Zimbabwe National Students Union (ZINASU) at the University of Zimbabwe," the group said in a statement.

      Student leaders still in custody


      Ten students who were arrested during a meeting at the University of Zimbabwe on Wednesday have been released without charge, but the police are still holding four representatives from the Zimbabwe National Students’ Union (ZINASU). The four, including ZINASU President, Clever Bere and General Councillor Archieford Mudzengi are accused of ‘participating in a gathering, with intent to promote public violence and breach of peace.’

      Women & gender

      Global: UNSC: Create senior post on women and war


      The UN Security Council should urgently establish a high-level post to fill a leadership gap relating to women and armed conflict, Human Rights Watch has said. A special representative of the secretary-general assigned to this issue would be able to push for protection against sexual violence and to promote equal participation by women in peace talks. The Security Council is to hold a discussion on the issue of women, peace, and security.

      Kenya: Students to undergo pregnancy tests


      Kenyan female students will now have to undergo pregnancy tests at least once a term if the new guideline launched by the Public Health and Education Ministers - Beth Mugo and Prof Sam Ongeri - are implemented. The Guideline was launched amid rising number of pregnancy related school dropouts. The test is supposed to be voluntary, the guideline said.

      Kenya: Study accuses health practitioners of carrying out FGM


      Health care practitioners are now performing Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) in a process known as medicalization, which tends to reinforce and legitimize FGM, hence hindering the global effort towards its abandonment, a recent study claims. The joint research study by United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and United Nations Children's Fund {UNICEF} has however elicited diverse reactions from Kenyan medical professionals, with some stating that they were yet to catch any medical personnel carrying out FGM.

      Southern Africa: Glass ceilings

      Women and men in Southern African media


      Women are underrepresented in Southern Africa media houses; they hit the ‘glass ceiling’ at senior management and their representation wanes in top decision-making positions. Media women are more likely to be assigned to “soft beats”; to be on non-permanent contracts and to earn less, on average, than men. These are just but some of the findings of the Glass Ceilings: Women and men in Southern African media.

      Human rights

      Africa: The search for lasting solutions to a deadly trade


      Since the global financial crisis hit the mining industry, a dramatic decline in the demand for commodities and the closure of certain operations have seen an increase in the illegal mining trade in Africa. Angola’s law enforcement authorities have reported that more than 6 000 foreign nationals, who were caught illegally digging for diamonds in the country’s north-eastern region of Lunda Norte, have been deported since the beginning of 2009.

      Kenya: 4,000 on death row get life


      More than 4,000 prisoners facing execution in Kenya had their sentences commuted to life imprisonment on Monday in the largest commutation in history, news sources reported. There have been no executions carried out in Kenya for 22 years. In a statement broadcast on the state-owned radio Kenya Broadcasting Corporation, President Mwai Kibaki said that an “extended stay on death row causes undue mental anguish and suffering, psychological trauma, anxiety, while it may as well constitute inhuman treatment.”

      Tanzania: Albino group worried about stalled cases


      A Canada-based rights group has questioned Tanzania's commitment to stop albino murders after courts in the northwest of the African country suspended cases against suspected killers due to lack of funds. At least 53 Tanzanian albinos have been murdered since 2007, with most of the killings taking place in the remote northwest regions of Shinyanga and Mwanza, where superstition runs deep.

      Zimbabwe: Military sustains grip on diamond fields


      Zimbabwe has failed to remove its armed forces from the diamond fields in Marange and to end related human rights abuses there, Human Rights Watch has said. As a result, the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS) should suspend Zimbabwe immediately. The KPCS, an international group governing the global diamond industry, sent a review mission to Marange in late June 2009 to assess Zimbabwe's compliance with the group's standards, which require diamonds to be lawfully mined, documented, and exported by participant countries.

      Refugees & forced migration

      DRC: Thousands of displaced in latest attacks by Ugandan rebel group


      Some 12,500 people in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) have been uprooted from their homes in the past month by attacks by the Ugandan rebel Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), the United Nations refugee agency has reported. “The humanitarian situation in this remote part of the DRC remains dramatic,” Andrej Mahecic, spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), told reporters in Geneva.

      Kenya: Urgent aid needed for overcrowded refugee camp


      The United Nations refugee chief has appealed for a massive injection of funds to help residents in Kenya’s sprawling and overcrowded Dadaab complex, which he described as “the most difficult camp situation in the world.” Located some 90 kilometres from the border with Somalia, the three camps at Dadaab were built to house 90,000 people but today are home to more than three times that number, mostly Somalis.

      Emerging powers news

      Africa needs to ‘play smart’ in trade with Asia


      Africa's success in avoiding the worst of the economic crisis that has swept the industrialised world has been due in large part to the remarkable growth of trade and investment with China, India, Brazil and other “emerging” developing countries.

      Africa: Africa seeks partnership not patronage - African Presidents


      Four African Heads of State have drawn the attention of President Barack Obama's Administration to the fact that Africa as a continent was seeking partnership and not patronage. A release from the World Bank Office in Accra on Wednesday said President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf of Liberia; President Paul Kagame of Rwanda; President Seretse Khama Ian Khama of Botswana and President Abdoulaye Wade of Senegal said this in a joint statement.

      Company news and analysis


      In company news and analysis, FirstRand partners China Construction Bank in Africa, and the contracted Chinese firm will replace faulty SAT-1 at no extra cost to Nigeria.

      South Africa's No. 2 banking group FirstRand Ltd has partnered with China Construction Bank to help both companies win investment, corporate and project finance deals in Africa (View Article).

      India's Bharti Airtel and South Africa's MTN Group have extended M&A talks over the proposed US$23 billion cash and share swap deal. Bharti and MTN indicated that the structure and terms of the potential transaction may be adjusted (View Article).

      China, bruised by the collapse of a proposal to buy a Rio Tinto stake, could confine itself to project-level deals with miners to feed its hunger for metals and shun company acquisitions to avoid further loss of face (View article).

      The Chinese Government has confirmed it will replace the SAT-1 at no extra cost to Nigeria amidst speculation that the Chinese company in building the satellite used substandard materials (View article).

      Confucianism at large in Africa


      China has in recent years taken great pains to show the world that it is a well-rounded emerging power with a complete strategy for engagement in places like Africa. Its Confucius institutes are an interesting feature in this show of sophistication.

      Cooperation, visits and exchanges


      In this week's news on cooperation, visits and exchanges, Chinese special envoy visits Senegal, Nigeria's commerce minister set to visit India, and Liberia cooperates with China to improve its law system.

      Before leaving Senegal, Chinese special envoy Liu held a press conference in Dakar and told reporters about the preparations for the 4th China-Africa Cooperation Forum ministerial meeting that is to be held in Egypt this November and China's investment in Africa's energy sector (View Article)

      Nigeria's Commerce Minister Chief Achike Udenwa will lead a delegation to India in September in a bid to strengthen economic ties and encourage investment with the West African country (View Article)

      In July, 33 senior officials from 19 West and Central African countries came to China and participated in a High-Level China-Africa Experience-Sharing Program on Development, jointly organized by China’s Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Commerce and State Council’s Leading Group Office for Poverty Alleviation and the World Bank (View Article)

      Several justices from China’ Supreme Court met President Johnson Sirleaf and discussed possible ways China can assist Liberia in improving the rule of law system as part of the country’s post conflict reconstruction (View Article)

      No place in BRIC for Russia’s economic mess


      Lack of structural reforms in the domestic economy puts Russia in an awkward position in the BRIC alliance.

      Tensions and rivalries on the continent


      This week, Namibia plans to expand its inquiry on China, the U.S. gets nervous about China's growing footprint across Africa, and China opposes the arrest of LRA leader Kony.

      Namibian prosecutors investigating allegations of kickbacks on government contracts with China have expanded their inquiry to include a Chinese contract to build a key railroad link (View article).

      China’s "no strings attached" financial assistance to developing countries in Africa and Asia has come under scrutiny during the recent high-level talks between Chinese and US leaders (View Article).

      Trapped in a police raid on illegal immigrants, a Nigerian man chose to leap from the second floor of a shopping mall rather than be arrested. Now many are asking: Is this the end of China's African dream? (View article).

      The indictment of Sudan President Omar el-Bashir and LRA chief Joseph Kony is a stumbling block to peace in Africa, according to China (View Article).

      The situation in Algiers is tense following the bloody clashes between Chinese and Algerian traders this week, despite comments by Beijing’s envoy describing the clashes as an isolated incident (View Article).

      And Hilary Clinton’s seven nation African tour is facing the stark reality that China has overtaken the US as Africa’s top trading partner (View article).

      Trade, investment and development news


      In this week's roundup of trade, investment and development news, a Delhi firm wins $100 mn Ethiopian sugar factory contract, China funds US$1.2 billion project for revival of agriculture in Angola by 2012, and South Africa's wool exports to China are set to hit a new record.

      Africa's growing middle class and the rising availability of generic drugs and low-cost insurance could offer big profits for private hospital groups from emerging markets such as South Africa and India (View article).

      India continues its sugar quest in Africa, with Delhi-based Uttam Sucrotech winning the $100 million contract for expansion of the Wonji-Shoa sugar factory in central Ethiopia (View article).

      The Chinese Embassy donated about 600 textbooks to the faculty of Arts and the Balme Library of University of Ghana to assist in the teaching of Chinese (View Article).

      Angola is to invest US$1.2 billion over the next four years in the "revival" of agriculture and in boosting food security, thanks to funding from a credit line from the China Development Bank (View article).

      South Africa, the world's second-largest exporter of apparel wool, posted record wool exports to China during the 2008/09 season (View Article).

      Paper manufacturer Anmol Products Ethiopia, promoted by India’s Anmol group of companies, Sunday inaugurated its unit at Ginchi, about 80 km south of the city (View article).

      The total bi- lateral volume of trade between Nigeria and China is over $7 billion, making Nigeria China's fourth largest trade partner (View Article).

      The Kano State Government in Nigeria has reached out to a Chinese firm to manage the Malam Aminu Kano International Airport (MAKIA) based on the decision by the Federal Government's concessioning agenda (View Article).

      Elections & governance

      Kenya: Impunity 'disappoints US'


      US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has described as disappointing Kenya's failure to investigate a bout of deadly violence after the 2007 election. Speaking in Nairobi on the first day of her African tour, Mrs Clinton urged the Kenyan authorities to end impunity. At least 1,300 people were killed in two months of violence, but the cabinet has resisted calls for a tribunal.

      Madagascar: Malagasy leaders in crisis talks


      Madagascar's army-backed leader is in Mozambique for emergency talks with three of his predecessors. The Indian Ocean island has been in a state of crisis since Andry Rajoelina forced the elected president, Marc Ravalomanana, to flee in March. The African Union called the takeover a coup and foreign aid has been frozen.

      Mauritania: New president takes the oath


      Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz, who was elected in the first ballot of Mauritania's 18 July presidential election on with 52.47% of the votes, on Wednesday took the oath before the Constitutional Court at the Olympic Complex Office in Nouakchott. Senegalese and Malian presidents, Abdoulaye Wade and Amadou Toumani Toure respectively, representatives from several countries and international organisations, the country's acting president, Ba Mamadou, officials from the government, the Senate and the Islamic High Council (HCI), attended the ceremony.

      Niger: President claims victory


      Niger's President Mamadou Tandja, 71, is claiming victory in a referendum he called to change the constitution and run for a third term in office. Correspondents in the capital, Niamey, say giant posters have gone up in the city bearing a message of thanks to voters from Mr Tandja.

      West Africa: Public forum held on Niger


      Human rights activists and journalists in Ghana on August 3, 2009 converged at the Ghana International Press Centre in Accra for a public forum to expose the Ghanaian public to the political situation in Niger which has brought in its wake dire consequences for democratic institutions in the country including the media. The forum on the theme “Niger-Democracy Under Threat” was aimed at reminding the public of the need to prevent another violent conflict in West Africa, which has in the last decade experienced a number of civil wars with devastating humanitarian consequences.
      Human rights activists and journalists in Ghana on August 3, 2009 converged at the Ghana International Press Centre in Accra for a public forum to expose the Ghanaian public to the political situation in Niger which has brought in its wake dire consequences for democratic institutions in the country including the media.

      The forum on the theme “Niger-Democracy Under Threat” was aimed at reminding the public of the need to prevent another violent conflict in West Africa, which has in the last decade experienced a number of civil wars with devastating humanitarian consequences.

      Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) organised the forum which coincided with the controversial referendum by the authorities in Niger to adopt a new constitution that will extend President Tandja’s stay in office beyond the expiration of his second-five-year term in December 2009.

      President Tandja has assumed emergency powers, which have enabled him to dissolve parliament and the Constitutional Court. The president has through the Conseil Supérieur de la Communication, the media regulatory body, placed several restrictions on the media, particularly the electronic media, which has been banned from holding any live discussion programmes on the prevailing situation.

      Addressing forum participants, a Nigerien journalist and a Programme Officer of MFWA, Saidou Arji noted that the situation has left in its wake dire consequences for media and freedom of expression in the country. Arji said the situation in Niger is a recipe for disaster and has created a deadlock that could explode in the impoverished country, as a greater percentage of Niger’s budget is from donor funding.

      In a statement to the forum signed by Kwasi Adu-Amankwah, Secretary General of the Lome-based African Regional Organisation of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC-Africa) reiterated its call on ECOWAS, AU, UN and the international community to rally behind the people of Niger and ensure that President Tandja respects international protocols on good governance.
      Emmanuel Bombande, the Executive Director of the West African Network for Peacebuilding (WANEP), who chaired the forum, reminded West African leaders about the volatile nature of the Sahel region. He said it is a haven of mercenaries and armed groups who could take advantage of the situation to unleash mayhem on Nigeriens.

      Issued by the MFWA, Accra on August 5, 2009.

      The MFWA is a regional independent, non-profit, non-governmental organization based in Accra. It was founded in 1997 to defend and promote the rights and freedom of the media and all forms of expression.

      For further information, please Contact:
      Prof. Kwame Karikari
      Executive Director
      P.O. Box LG 730,
      Accra, Ghana
      Tel 233-21 242470
      Fax 233 -21 221084
      Email: <mailto:[email protected]> [email protected]


      Africa: Former US congressman convicted of corruption charges related to African deals


      A federal jury has convicted former United States Congressman William J. Jefferson, 62, of New Orleans, of using his office to corruptly solicit bribes, in deals mainly in African states, the Justice Department has announced. After hearing evidence for more than one month, a jury found Jefferson guilty on 11 charged counts, including solicitation of bribes, honest services wire fraud, money laundering, racketeering and conspiracy.

      Angola: Private oil firm shareholders have same names as top government officials


      A private oil company in Angola, given permission by the state oil company Sonangol to bid for potentially lucrative oil rights, has shareholders with the same names as Sonangol's chairman and other top officials, Global Witness has learned. Angola is one of the two top oil-producing countries in sub-Saharan Africa but most of its people still live in dire poverty.


      Africa: World Bank chief heads to Africa as economies hurt


      World Bank President Robert Zoellick travels to three countries in Africa next week to see for himself damage inflicted on the region from the global financial crisis and recession. His visit to the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda and Uganda will focus on encouraging businesses and donors to invest in Africa, as the global crisis seems to be easing in industrialized economies but is still being felt in most of the developing world.

      Global: Human Development Report 2009

      Overcoming barriers: Human mobility and development


      Human development is about putting people at the centre of development. It is about people realizing their potential, increasing their choices and enjoying the freedom to lead lives they value. Since 1990, annual Human Development Reports have explored challenges including poverty, gender, democracy, human rights, cultural liberty, globalization, water scarcity and climate change.

      Kenya: Why Kenya is unable to exploit Agoa deal


      Nine years since the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (Agoa) was enacted, Kenya is yet to fully benefit from the legislation. Although the country’s slow pace of economic reforms and growth are largely to blame, US stringent import policies have also undermined the benefits. The Ministry of Trade says Kenya’s volume of exports to the US have been minimal. For instance, in 2006, export to the US amounted to Sh21 billion and Sh19.3 billion in 2007 against imports of Sh24.7 billion in 2006 and Sh44.5 billion in 2007.

      Southern Africa: The future of the Southern African Customs Union


      Tensions over the future of the Southern African Customs Union (SACU) and trade relations with the EU are rising, as reflected in the plethora of recent media reports. Unfortunately they are so complex that they defy simple categorisation. The most difficult problem concerns the future of revenue distribution within SACU. South Africa substantially subsidises the smaller members - particularly Lesotho and Swaziland - and the South African Treasury is uncomfortable with the subsidy’s extent, given competing domestic fiscal demands.

      Health & HIV/AIDS

      Africa: WHO launches scheme to improve African diagnostic labs


      Laboratories from 13 African countries have joined a scheme to improve diagnostic capacity on the continent. The scheme, to be overseen by the WHO Regional Office for Africa and the US President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, was announced in Kigali, Rwanda on 27 July.

      Mozambique: Closing HIV day care centres brings protesters out


      Thousands of people took to the streets of Maputo, capital of Mozambique, and the country's second city, Beira this week, to protest the government's closure of day care hospitals for HIV-positive patients. In Maputo, activists handed Health Minister Paulo Ivo Garrido a memorandum slamming the decision, which they said was a setback in the national response to the epidemic. An estimated 16 percent of Mozambique's 21 million people are living with the virus.

      Namibia: Saving HIV-positive babies


      While a number of countries in southern Africa have made great strides in improving access to antiretroviral (ARV) treatment for HIV-infected adults, progress in rolling out treatment for HIV-positive infants and children has lagged behind. Namibia is a notable exception. Over 7,600 children are receiving ARV treatment - 100 percent of those estimated to be in need of the life-prolonging medicine - according to Dr Angela Mushavi of the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a technical advisor to Namibia's prevention of mother-to-child HIV transmission (PMTCT) programme.

      North Africa: Fighting AIDS in conservative Mauritania


      Campaigners against HIV/AIDS in Mauritania face an uphill task to put their messages across, especially those that deal with safer sex and condom use. Campaigners have to cut corners in order to avoid angering the country's powerful religious clerics. "With a predominantly Muslim population that seeks guidance from the Quran, any advocacy outside the main parameters of religion is more often than not frowned upon, derided and scorned," says John Sadeed head OF NADOA, an advocacy NGO in Mauritania that promotes attitudinal changes and positive living for those people with HIV.

      Uganda: Government inquiry launched as ARV shortages blamed for deaths


      The government is investigating whether a nationwide shortage of antiretroviral (ARV) drugs led to the reported deaths of HIV-positive people in northern Uganda this month. Health workers in Apac district reported that at least 17 people known to have been HIV-positive died over the past month after failing to receive their life-prolonging medication due to supply shortfalls.

      Zimbabwe: Global Fund grants $37.9 mln to fight AIDS


      The Global Fund to fight AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria on Friday granted Zimbabwe $37.9 million, resuming support after getting assurances from the new unity government that the money would not be misused. The fund said last year Zimbabwe's central bank had confiscated $7.3 million in 2007 meant for health programmes. The central bank has since returned the money, Global Fund officials said.


      Africa: Outspoken activists defend Africa's sexual diversity


      The second World Outgames, held in the Danish capital, offered up a veritable smorgasbord of sport, politics and arts while celebrating sexual and gender diversity. But it also reminded participants that bigotry against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people, sometimes culminating in violence, remains a scourge across the world.

      Burundi: Homosexuals suffer under new anti-gay law


      Homosexuals in Burundi say that their lives have been marked with increased discrimination and fear following the East African country’s move to ban homosexual practices. Burundi officially passed the law criminalizing homosexuality in April this year. The interviews conducted by the advocacy group Human Rights Watch documents the difficulties of being a gay or lesbian in Burundi, including instances of sexual violence, family rejection, police intimidation, and now the daily possibility of imprisonment.

      Malawi: Parliament bans homosexuality


      Malawi’s Constitution Amendment Bill banning homosexual marriages was passed in July this year, during a parliamentary sitting to pass the 2009/2010 budget. During this sitting Member of parliament, Edwin Banda proposed that the constitution should include a clause stipulating that Malawi is a “God fearing nation”, a phrase that would cast homosexuality out as it is said to be ungodly.


      Burkina Faso: Protecting the Environment


      Burkina Faso’s first plastic recycling centre is paving the way for a new kind of development project. It provides a money earner to the poor while tackling environmental pollution. Local industry also benefits – the recycled plastic granules cost half the price of importing new plastic from abroad.

      Cameroon: Fears for forest as dam construction begins


      Crouched on a low wooden stool in front of his mud hut in the village of Pangar, Alain Selembe puffs away at his clay pipe, his gaze lost in the surrounding forest, quite oblivious to the noise made by his two playing daughters. All he hears is the rumbling of bulldozers opening up a 30 kilometre road from Deng Deng village to the confluence of the Lom and Pangar rivers, where the government plans to construct a new dam.

      DRC: Deforestation in the Congo


      As the change in climate is witnessed all over the world, the Congo Basin’s rate of deforestation is being debated as the loss of trees is leading to the destruction of essential animal and tribal habitats at an increasing rate and a large amount of carbon dioxide is remaining in the atmosphere unchanged.

      Gabon: Saving the rain forests


      Gabon is a sparsely populated country covered mostly in rainforest – just 1½ million people live here. That, and the fact that oil wealth has made per capita income higher in Gabon than most other African countries, are some of the reasons why its natural wonders are so well preserved. But the oil is running out and the government has started selling other mineral resources to foreign investors, which means destroying large tracts of forest.

      Global: Africa united at climate change talks


      Africa’s position at climate change negotiations is unified and strong, and in fact, as a region, Africa is “probably the most unified”, Department of Environmental Affairs International Cooperation DDG Alf Wills has said. Wills said that developing countries, in general, are unified on the science of climate change. He agrees that the historical responsibility of climate change lies with the developed world, but in terms of the finer details and priority areas of focus, developing countries remain divided.

      Land & land rights

      Kenya: Conservation refugees - Ogiek face eviction from their forest home


      The Kenyan government has given Ogiek communities living in the Mau forest until mid September to abandon their homes or face arrest. Police officers have been stationed around the forest in preparation. The Mau forest has been severely degraded in recent years, largely due to an influx of logging companies and illegal settlers exploiting the area’s resources. The Kenyan government has decided to combat this problem by evicting everyone, including the Ogiek people who have lived there for centuries.

      Kenya: Our Ass and the Mau


      One thing that is very, very notable about the contentions over the Mau, particularly whether and when to evict, or not and why, is the absence of law-based arguments. The occupiers of the moral high grounds, those who have mounted the high horse, carefully avoid the law. They speak as though it actually does not exist. It is as if there are no land laws that can be used to determine various claims. And that ought to make people quite curious indeed.

      Rwanda: British funding to secure land peace


      The British Department of International Development (DFID) has committed £20 million that will support a land registration programme for Rwanda. The five-year project will see million of Rwandans attain certified rights to land as well as create a data base of land ownership in the east African state.

      South Africa: Eviction of 23 Families in Motala Heights

      Abahlali baseMjondolo


      This week 23 families living in tin-shanty houses in Motala Heights, Lot 35, were issued with letters, demanding that they pay exorbitant increases in rent - effective immediately - or face eviction. A pensioner, seeking advice about the letters, was told by the Pinetown Legal Aid Board that he would be “in the firing line” if he challenged the so-called landlord. Relatives of the so-called landlord threatened an area coordinator for Abahlali baseMjondolo for assisting the families, warning that they would “come to your home and deal with you.”

      Southern Africa: Botswana 'frees hunting bushmen'


      Six Botswana bushmen found guilty of hunting without a permit on their ancestral land have been set free with a caution, a lobby group says. Survival International said the "attempt by the Botswana government to punish Bushmen for hunting to feed their families has backfired". The San bushmen of the Kalahari have faced years of legal rows for the right to live on their ancestral lands.

      Food Justice

      Global: People’s Food Sovereignty Forum 2009


      From 13 to 17 November 2009 hundreds of representatives from civil society, nongovernmental and people’s movements of small scale food providers, Indigenous
      Peoples, food and rural workers, youth, women and food insecure city dwellers will meet in Rome to share and articulate their findings, proposals and actions at local, regional and global levels. The timing and location are designed to facilitate interaction with the 2009 FAO World Food Summit and to bring the voices and the lessons of people’s organizations to the ears of the Heads of State and Governments and to the international institutions gathered to discuss how to deal with an increasingly hungry world.
      People’s Food Sovereignty Forum 2009
      Forum of people’s organizations, social movements and NGOs Rome, 13 – 17 November 2009

      “Eradicating Hunger and Poverty now!
      Nothing against us, nothing without us.”
      “One does not sell the earth upon which the people walk”
      “Uno no vende la tierra por la cual camina su pueblo”
      « Personne vend la Terre où marche son Peuple »
      Tashunka Witko - 1840 – 1877

      The world is rich yet there are a billion hungry people. An immoral and insufferable

      Responsibility for this hunger is concentrated in the hands of a few and in well identified areas:
      • the mantra of economic liberalization reiterated at national and international levels;
      • neglect of the primary production sector with the marginalization of small-scale food providers and the transformation of food consumers from food right holders to customers in the market place;
      • the commodification of food, exposing it to the agrofuel craze, to the unregulated vagaries of the financial market and to the manipulation of its basic nature (be it physical, genetic or just ideological);
      • the parallel nullification of the vital status of food for people’s survival;
      • the privatization and patenting of knowledge, science and life;
      • the fragmentation and proposed repackaging of the global governance of food and agriculture in undemocratic, opaque and non-participatory ways.

      The fragile, rich world we live in is now facing a structural and multifaceted crisis.

      Climate, energy, financial and economic crises further aggravate the persistent food crisis, the only one –so far– which has triggered riots in dozens of countries, clearly underlining how essential equitable access to food is to the well-being of people and to social and political stability.

      Civil society organizations and Movements have long denounced the blind path that has been travelled thus far and have proposed a radically different way to eradicate hunger: food sovereignty.

      Food sovereignty was first launched at an international level in 1996 during the
      CSO/NGO Forum parallel to the 1996 World Food Summit. It was adopted as the common framework for the civil society event convened in parallel to the World Food Summit: five years later in 2002.

      We are now heading towards the 2009 World Food Summit that FAO will host
      16-18 November. Promises by world leaders in the summits of 1996 and
      2002 to halve hunger have led to nothing.

      We are therefore calling on small-scale food providers (peasants and smallscale farmers, fishers, pastoralists), agrifood workers, rural youth, women, Indigenous Peoples, urban poor and non-governmental organizations to participate in a further elaboration of the food sovereignty agenda and to determine a people’s way out of the continuing multiple crises.

      From 13 to 17 November 2009 hundreds of representatives from civil society, nongovernmental and people’s movements of small scale food providers, Indigenous
      Peoples, food and rural workers, youth, women and food insecure city dwellers will meet in Rome to share and articulate their findings, proposals and actions at local, regional and global levels. The timing and location are designed to facilitate interaction with the 2009 FAO World Food Summit and to bring the voices and the lessons of people’s organizations to the ears of the Heads of State and Governments and to the international institutions gathered to discuss how to deal with an increasingly hungry world.

      Over the past 25 years we have experienced how to resist in the face of structural adjustment and destructive trade liberalization policies. We have built socially and ecologically sustainable systems of production. We have resisted land grabbing and the privatization of natural resources. We have defended our rights to food and to produce food. We have built up our knowledge of the new directions which are needed by society as a whole. It is time for the Heads of State and Governments coming to Rome for the WFS 2009 to “Eradicate Hunger and Poverty now! Nothing against us, nothing without us.”

      Among the main areas of discussion in the Forum, the following issues are proposed: rights and access to natural resources; global governance of food and agriculture, domestic and global markets, models of production and patterns of consumption,… Particular focus will be reserved for the views of rural youth, women and Indigenous Peoples, who will organize their own specific gatherings.

      A quota system will guarantee balanced regional and fair participation of small-scale food providers and food vulnerable constituencies coming from developing countries.

      Work will be carried out in English, French and Spanish with simultaneous translation during the plenary (first and last days). Translation assistance will be also available during working groups convened to discuss specific issues that will report back to the plenary.

      An International Steering Committee of the Forum is being set up, whose composition will take into account constituency/regional and gender balance.
      Representatives of the following constituencies (and regions as applicable) will form the Steering Committee:

      Farmers: Two main global farmers’ organisations
      One regional farmers’ organisation from Africa
      Fisherfolk: two main fisherfolk’s global forums
      Indigenous Peoples organisations / Asia or America
      Agricultural and food workers organisations (Asia or Latin America)
      Environmental organisations/networks
      Agroecological organisations/networks
      Urban poor organisations
      Human Rights organisations / Latin America
      Women / Ad-hoc Group of INGOs in formal status with FAO
      IPC secretariat
      Italian Food Sovereignty Platform (Italy host country)

      The Steering Committee will be facilitated by the International Planning Committee
      (IPC) for Food Sovereignty, which will also be responsible for the organization of the

      The Italian Food Sovereignty Platform will provide support for mobilization in Rome and in Italy. IPC and the Forum Steering Committee will be in charge of organising logistics for travel, visa, accommodation, meeting place and facilities.

      Appropriate timing for preparing and organizing the event is crucial and respect of deadlines and organizational commitments is essential. Contributions to the process from anyone are most welcome.

      Funds are also essential for promoting and organizing the Forum and for ensuring that organisations with less resources can fully contribute to the event.

      Fundraising is already on-going but financial support is necessary and organizations are called on to volunteer to raise it.

      With your commitment, this People’s Food Sovereignty Forum 2009 will challenge those causing hunger and will provide a clear way forward to confront the dysfunctional global food system that leaves one billion hungry.

      Join us at the “billionaire’s” forum!
      “Eradicate Hunger and Poverty now! Nothing against us, nothing without us.”

      Antonio Onorati Beatriz Gasco Verdier Luca Bianchi
      International Focal Point Liaison Officer Finance Officer
      [email protected] [email protected] [email protected]

      Madagascar: Volatile climate, politics leave access to food precarious


      Access to food for the people of Madagascar remains unreliable because of the impact of natural disasters, which routinely strike the island State, and continuing political tensions, a United Nations report has warned. The joint Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) and World Food Programme (WFP) mission tasked with assessing crop and food security in Madagascar underscored the effect a run of cyclones on the east coast in 2008-2009 and several years of drought in the south has had on the country’s crops.

      Media & freedom of expression

      Gambia: Six journalists jailed


      Justice Emmanuel Fagbenle, sitting at Gambia's High Court, has pronounced heavy fines and imprisonment against six journalists, including executive members of the Gambian Press Union (GPU), who were charged with criminal libel and defamation of President Yahya Jammeh.

      Global: 'Massive attack' strikes websites


      High-profile websites including Google, Facebook and Twitter have been targeted by hackers in what is described as a "massively co-ordinated attack". Reports suggest the strike may have been aimed at a single user, pro-Georgian blogger known as Cyxymu. Twitter was taken offline for more than two hours whilst Facebook's service was "degraded", according to the firms.

      Sudan: IFJ condemns harassment against female journalist


      The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has condemned the charges brought by Sudanese authorities against Amal Habani, a female journalist and editor of the column "Tiny Issues" in Ajrass Al Horreya newspaper for having denounced the prosecution of Sudanese women who wear trousers. “This is a blatant violation of freedom of expression. Our colleague just expressed a candid opinion in her column,” said Gabriel Baglo, Director of IFJ Africa Office. “These charges are nothing more than harassment and must be dropped.“

      Conflict & emergencies

      DRC: UN sends protection teams to east amid widespread reports of rape


      With reports of widespread rape and other atrocities pouring in from the eastern Kivu provinces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), the United Nations mission there has sent some 40 teams to the region over the past six months to bolster the protection of civilians. By identifying early warning signs of potential threats to civilians the joint UN teams, which include child protection, civil affairs and public information officers, allow peacekeepers to react rapidly to counter them, the mission known as MONUC has said.

      Nigeria: Militant amnesty begins


      An offer of an amnesty for militants in Nigeria's oil-rich Niger Delta region has come into effect. In the next two months the government hopes about 10,000 rebels will exchange weapons for a pardon and retraining. But reports suggest few rebels have surrendered on the amnesty's opening day, and it is unclear how many armed groups will take part in the amnesty.

      Internet & technology

      East Africa: More countries to benefit from broadband


      Malawi, Mozambique and Tanzania are set to benefit from affordable communications services following a US$151 million funding boost from the World Bank. The sum marks the third phase of the Africa Regional Communications Infrastructure Program (RCIP 3), which aims to connect eastern and southern Africa to reliable and high-capacity communication services.

      eNewsletters & mailing lists

      Kenya: National Government of Impunity?

      AfricaFocus Bulletin Aug 4, 2009 (090804)


      On July 30, only days before this week's visit of U.S. Secretary of State Hilary Clinton to Kenya, the first stop on her 7-country Africa trip, the Kenyan Cabinet decided to reject special prosecution of those responsible for post-election violence in 2007 and 2008, whether under a domestic special tribunal or by the International Criminal Court (ICC), to which the case has been referred. This AfricaFocus Bulletin contains a brief commentary by Muthoni Wanyeki, executive director of the Kenya Human Rights Commission (KHRC), excerpts from an extended interview with Maina Kiai, the former chairperson of the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR), and links to a number of other related commentaries and reports.

      USA/Kenya: What Kind of Partnership?

      AfricaFocus Bulletin Aug 4, 2009 (090804)


      "Many people had hoped that Kenya's 2007 presidential elections would cement Kenya's democratic progress and would provide a solid foundation for the country to break out of its economic doldrums and begin to achieve some of its enormous economic potential. Instead, the 2007 elections brought trade and commerce to a halt, polarized the country along regional and ethnic lines and for a brief moment nearly brought the country to the edge of civil war." - Johnnie Carson, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Africa. This AfricaFocus Bulletin, available on the web but not distributed through e-mail, contains the transcript of the July 22 speech by Carson. Another AfricaFocus Bulletin, on the web and sent out by email, contains excerpt from an analysis by former Kenya National Commission on Human Rights chairperson Maina Kiai and other commentaries on recent Kenyan developments.

      Fundraising & useful resources

      Africa: Gender and Media Diversity Journal 7

      Call for submissions - Gender, media, sport and 2010


      The Gender and Media Diversity Journal is the biennial journal of the Gender and Media Diversity Centre (GMDC). The GMDC is a physical and virtual resource centre based in Southern Africa, managed by Gender Links and the Gender and Media Southern Africa (GEMSA) Network, with linkages in Africa and across the globe. The journal is an intellectual but not academic journal. It provides up-to-date and cutting edge information on media diversity in Southern Africa and the space for the dissemination of research findings and projects; case studies; campaigns; policy developments; and opinion and debate on media practice in the region.

      Africa: Graça Machel Scholarship Programme


      The key aim of the Graça Machel Scholarship Programme is to help provide the female human resources necessary for economic, social and cultural development in the southern African region and to develop an educated and skilled workforce that can benefit the wider community. Scholarships that target women have long been recognized as an effective approach in addressing gender equality and eradicating poverty.
      Graça Machel Scholarship Programme

      Application Information:

      The key aim of the Graça Machel Scholarship Programme is to help provide the female human resources necessary for economic, social and cultural development in the southern African region and to develop an educated and skilled workforce that can benefit the wider community. Scholarships that target women have long been recognized as an effective approach in addressing gender equality and eradicating poverty. By providing opportunities to study at postgraduate level, these scholarships aim to empower women and to equip them to take up leadership positions in order to have a direct impact in the communities, nations and region in which they live. Following in the footsteps of Graça Machel, these female scholars will be positive role models for other women.

      The Graça Machel Scholarship Programme will provide a minimum of 60 postgraduate scholarships to female students from Angola, Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Swaziland, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe in both South Africa and the UK. The majority of the scholarships will be for study in South Africa.

      One of the key concerns of Mrs Machel is giving a voice to rural women and the scholarship is therefore aimed at empowering rural women. The Graça Machel scholarship is for women who have experienced significant struggle in their life and who have sought to overcome those barriers, be they related to gender, disability, poverty, age or racial discrimination. Applicants will be expected to demonstrate clearly how their application fits within this vision of empowerment.

      Postgraduate Study: All scholarships are for postgraduate study, either for one academic year if based in the UK or for two years if based in South Africa. The scholarship includes payment of a maintenance allowance, travel, health insurance and tuition fees.

      Candidates: Scholarships are awarded on a competitive basis to women on the basis of academic/professional merit, financial need, intended academic programme, leadership potential and commitment to work for constructive change in Africa. Applicants must have at least two years’ relevant work experience.

      Subject Areas:

      * Health
      * Education
      * Science & Technology
      * Economics & Finance
      * Development

      Applications outside these areas will not be considered and will be discarded.

      Application Process: The application form is of primary importance as the main assessment is made on the basis of the completed application form. If necessary, interviews will also be conducted. The following documents must be sent with all applications:

      * Certified copy of undergraduate degree certificate plus university academic transcript
      * One passport size photo with the applicant’s name clearly written on the back
      * One academic reference in sealed envelope
      * One employment reference in sealed envelope

      Please post (do not fax or email) completed application forms and supporting documents to:

      Canon Collins Trust

      22 The Ivories, 6 Northampton Street, London N1 2HY, UK.

      Please be aware that Canon Collins Trust will assess many applications. We have at least 20 applicants for each available scholarship. It is important that you take time to complete the form fully, accurately and legibly. It is also vital that you demonstrate why your application should be successful.

      The deadline for applications is

      # 10th August for study in South Africa (courses starting in February): we will notify you by 30th November if you have been successful

      # 10th December for study in the UK (courses starting in September/October) Application forms for study in the UK will be available in September. We will notify you by 30th June if you have been successful.


      We are happy to accept references separately from the application and will collate them; however it is the applicant’s responsibility to ensure that the reference is sent.

      In the case of the work reference, please be aware that confirmation of employment is not sufficient as a reference. We require information regarding your work performance and potential.

      Application checklist

      1. Have you answered all the questions carefully?
      2. Remember to include:

      * Undergraduate degree certificate
      * Academic Reference
      * Work Reference

      3. Is the application form legible?
      4. Do not include any additional information as it will be discarded. Your application will be judged by the quality of the information on the application form.
      5. Do not exceed the word limits. Once the word limit has been exceeded further information will be ignored.

      Emerging Leaders International Fellows Program


      The Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society at The Graduate Center of The City University of New York is accepting applications for the spring 2010 Emerging Leaders International Fellows Program. This program provides nonprofit sector leadership training through seminars, applied research and mentorships. The program is designed for young scholars and practitioners from outside the United States who are interested in building Third-Sector capacity in their home countries or regions. The deadline for receipt of application materials is September 3, 2009.

      Global: The Tech Awards 2010


      The Tech Awards program inspires global engagement in applying technology to humanity's most pressing problems by recognizing the best of those who are utilizing innovative technology solutions to address the most urgent critical issues facing our planet. People all over the world are profoundly improving the human condition in the areas of education, equality, environment, health, and economic development through the use of technology.

      Review of Leadership in Africa (RoLA)

      Call for submissions


      Review of Leadership in Africa (RoLA) is a scholarly journal that provides a forum for the rigorous – theoretical and empirical – examination of the ideas and practices of leadership in Africa in all its ramifications. It publishes original, high quality articles that promote the understanding of the theory, concept and practices of leadership in Africa. The journal invites different perspectives and positions on the leadership question in Africa that allow for a holistic examination of leadership in all its ramifications.
      Review of Leadership in Africa (RoLA) is a scholarly journal that provides a forum for the rigorous – theoretical and empirical –examination of the ideas and practices of leadership in Africa in all its ramifications. It publishes original, high quality articles that promote the understanding of the theory, concept and practices of leadership in Africa. The journal invites different perspectives and positions on the leadership question in Africa that allow for a holistic examination of leadership in all its ramifications.

      The journal is comparative and multi-disciplinary in focus and would thereby be particularly interested in receiving contributions from scholars in the social sciences and humanities including the disciplines of political science, sociology, psychology, anthropology, law, international relations, history, literature, linguistics, languages, education, religious studies, media and communication studies, cultural studies and development studies.

      Manuscripts should be double-spaced throughout, including notes and references. Manuscripts, which should not be more than 10, 000 words, should be accompanied by an abstract of about 250 words. Authors are required to submit ONLY electronic copies of their contributions following the Harvard system, with endnotes and the list of references at the end of the paper. Each corresponding author published in RoLA will receive three printed copies of the journal in addition to an electronic PDF copy, which allows the author to print as many copies as possible and disseminate them to colleagues. Contributions should be sent to either of the editors: Dr. Wale Adebanwi, African American and African Studies, 2201 Hart Hall, One Shields Avenue, University of California, Davis, CA 95616, USA. Email:
      [email protected] or Dr. Ebenezer
      Obadare, Department of Sociology,
      University of Kansas, 1415 Jayhawk Blvd.,
      722 Fraser Hall, Lawrence, KS 66045-7556,
      USA. Email: [email protected]
      Books for review or book review should be sent to Dr. Abu Bah, Department of
      Sociology, Northern Illinois University, DeKalb, IL 60115, USA. Email: [email protected]

      RoLA accepts submissions only by email.
      Adigun Agbaje, University of Ibadan, Nigeria
      Wale Adebanwi, University of California, Davis, CA
      Ebenezer Obadare, University of Kansas,
      Lawrence, KS
      Book Review Editor
      Abu Bah, Northern Illinois University, DeKalb, Ill.
      David E. Apter, Yale University, USA
      Abdoulaye Bathily, Cheikh Anta Diop University, Senegal Jean Comaroff, University of Chicago, USA Larry Diamond, Stanford University, USA Peter P. Ekeh, SUNY at Buffalo, USA Jane Guyer, Johns Hopkins University, USA Goran Hyden, Florida University, USA Robert Jackson, Boston University, USA Richard Joseph, Northwestern University, USA Mahmood Mamdani, Columbia University, USA Kwame A. Ninsin, University of Ghana, Ghana Paul Nkwi, African Population Advisory Council (APAC), Kenya Adebayo Olukoshi, CODESRIA, Senegal (chair) Onigu Otite, University of Ibadan, Nigeria, Oyeleye Oyediran, Centre for Policy Research Trust, Nigeria
      John D. Y. Peel, SOAS, UK
      Richard Sklar, UCLA, USA
      Lennart Wohgemuth, Gothenburg University,
      Paul Tiyambe Zeleza, Penn State University, USA

      Hussaina Abdullah, CSSRD, Nigeria
      Rita Abrahamsen, University of Wales, WalesDauda Abubakar, Ohio University, USA Said Adejumobi, Lagos State University, Nigeria Pius Adesanmi, Carleton University, Canada Isaac Olawale Albert, University of Ibadan, Nigeria Kunle Amuwo, AAPS, South Africa Joseph Ayee, University of Ghana, Ghana Kwame Boafor-Arthur, University of Ghana, Ghana Janet Bujra, University of Bradford, UK LaRay Denzer, Independent Scholar, USA David Emelifeonwu, Royal Military College, Canada William Alade Fawole, Obafemi Awolowo University, Nigeria Harry Garuba, University of Cape Town South Africa Maria Grosz-Ngate’, Indiana University, USA Okechukwu Ibeanu, University of Nigeria, Nigeria Jibrin Ibrahim, Centre for Democracy and Development, Nigeria Ben Nantang Jua, South Carolina State University, USA Sahr J. Kpundeh, The World Bank, USA Peter Lewis, American University, USA Abubakar Momoh, Lagos State University, Nigeria Leslye Obiora, University of Arizona, USA Cyril Obi, Nordic African Institute, Uppsala, Sweden Odia Ofeimun, Hornbill, Nigeria Mojubaola F. Okome, City University of New York, USA Bayo Okunade, University of Ibadan, Nigeria Segun Oladipo, University of Ibadan, Nigeria Ebere Onwudiwe, Central State University, USA Eghosa Osaghae, Igbinedon University/University of Ibadan, Nigeria Oyeronke Oyewumi, SUNY at Stony Brook, USA Elisha P. Renne, University of Michigan, USA William Reno, Northwestern University, USA Amadu Sesay, Obafemi Awolowo University, Nigeria Rotimi Suberu, University of Ibadan, Nigeria Bola Udegbe, University of Ibadan, Nigeria Pat Utomi, Lagos Business School, Nigeria Olufemi Vaughan, Bowdoin College, USA Adebayo Williams, Lagos, Nigeria

      Institutional subscription - $ 60/yr
      Individual subscription - $ 20/yr

      South Africa: Agenda journal no. 82, "Gendered Violence in Education"

      Call for submissions


      Agenda invites contributions for Agenda journal no. 82, "Gendered Violence in Education". At the forefront of feminist publishing in South Africa for 22 years, the Agenda journal raises debate around women's rights and gender issues. The journal encourages critical thinking, debate and social activism and strengthens the capacity of women and men to challenge gender discrimination and injustices. The IBSS/SAPSE accredited and peer reviewed journal will be published in December 2009.
      Agenda invites contributions for Agenda journal no. 82, "Gendered Violence in Education". At the forefront of feminist publishing in South Africa for 22 years, the Agenda journal raises debate around women's rights and gender issues. The journal encourages critical thinking, debate and social activism and strengthens the capacity of women and men to challenge gender discrimination and injustices. The IBSS/SAPSE accredited and peer reviewed journal will be published in December 2009.

      “Gendered Violence in Education”
      Gendered violence has serious and grave impact for women and girls in all phases of South African education and remains a pressing concern.

      Pernicious forms of gendered violence, whilst not easily quantifiable, include physical, verbal and sexual assault and harassment, mostly unreported. Girls and young women are “still scared” both in schools and in institutions of higher education. In this special issue we put gendered violence in educational settings under the spotlight and highlight its nature, form and extent. In doing so, we intend to consider a nuanced account of violence in educational settings focusing on the cultural and social constructions of masculinities and femininities where young women and girls remain disproportionately the target. But we are also concerned with boys and men. Taking heed of the slippery conception of violence as non-linear, destructive and reproductive (Scheper-Hughes and Bourgois, 2004) this special issue also considers although not limited to previously unattended and neglected issues in relation to gendered violence in education including girl-on-girl violence, aggressive femininities, violence against school teachers, corporal punishment and violent masculinities. Gendered violence cannot be located outside structural violence including inequalities of race, class, age and sexuality producing a climate of destruction, vulnerability to HIV and AIDS and disease.

      This issue of Agenda will address gendered violence in all arenas of education, focusing on such issues as: rape, physical and verbal forms of abuse, violent masculinities and femininities, sexual harassment. Effective strategies are necessary in ending the scourge of violence in South African education. We are open to a wide variety of methodological approaches including memory work, self-study and working with the visual.

      Guest Editor
      Prof. Deevia Bhana - [email protected]

      We invite contributors from all over the African continent and other developing countries to write on the above-mentioned topics from either a research or an activism perspective.

      Abstracts and contributions must be written in English language and a style accessible to a wide audience. Please submit abstracts to editor:

      Lou Haysom, [email protected]
      All abstract submissions must:
      • Specify the specific key area you would like to write on;
      • Count 200-300 words;
      • Include contact details: your name, institution/organisation, telephone, email and the country in which you reside/country of origin.
      Deadline: Please submit no later than 9th August 2009 .
      Please feel free to forward this to anyone that may be interested.
      Shireen Ragunan
      Agenda Feminist Media
      Suite E302 - Diakonia Centre
      20 Diakonia Avenue
      Durban, 4001

      “Empowering Women for Gender Equality”
      Tel: +27(0)31 - 3047001
      Fax: +27(0)31 - 3047018
      e-mail: [email protected] <mailto:[email protected]>

      Courses, seminars, & workshops

      Africa: The 2009 Africa Research Conference in Applied Drama and Theatre


      The Division of Dramatic Art in collaboration with Drama for Life, Wits School of the Arts, is organising the 2009 Africa Research Conference in Applied Drama and Theatre. This year's conference will aim to facilitate dialogue across disciplines concerning the role of Drama and Theatre in HIV/AIDS education, prevention and rehabilitation.

      Certificate in Resources Mobilization for Non-Profits

      September 7 – October 2, 2009


      Are you an Executive Director or manager of a non-profit organization
      Are you working in the NGO sector?
      Is your organization’s sustainability threatened by shrinking donor support?
      Are you in charge of fundraising and resource mobilisation in your organization
      Do want to enhance your skills in fundraising?
      Are you a trainer or consultant in fundraising and resource mob ilisation for the non-profit sector?
      If your answer to any or all of the above questions is yes, then this 20 days course organised jointly by GIMPA, the Resource Alliance (UK) and the African Women’s Development Foundation (AWDF) Ghana is definitely a must!
      September 7 – October 2, 2009
      Are you an Executive Director or manager of a non-profit organization
      Are you working in the NGO sector?
      Is your organization’s sustainability threatened by shrinking donor support?
      Are you in charge of fundraising and resource mobilisation in your organization
      Do want to enhance your skills in fundraising?
      Are you a trainer or consultant in fundraising and resource mob ilisation for the non-profit sector?
      If your answer to any or all of the above questions is yes, then this 20 days course organised jointly by GIMPA, the Resource Alliance (UK) and the African Women’s Development Foundation (AWDF) Ghana is definitely a must!
      The Certificate in Resources Mobilization for Non-Profits course will equip you with critical knowledge and skills which when applied in everyday work situations will result in a significant increase in the effectiveness of your fundraising.
      Come and learn from the experience of fundraising experts and donor agents. This is your organization’s ticket to financial sustainability.

      Course content
      The courses content address critical issues including the following:
      Role and relationships of state, business and voluntary sector
      Public policy environment within which non-profits operate
      Main sources of non-profit funding and support
      Donor prospecting and research; donor motivations and trends in giving
      Ethics, accountability and transparency
      Effective Communications and resource mobilisation
      Strategic planning, financial planning
      Resource Mobilisation Techniques (Diaspora Fundraising, Fundraising events, Payroll Giving, Corpora te Fundraising)
      Managing self (self-awareness, time management, stress management) and others (suppliers, volunteers, staff)

      Target Audience
      People working in resource mobilisation in the non-profit sector. They may be involved full-time or part-time in mobilising resources and may be paid or volunteers
      Trainers or consultants in fundraising and resource mobilisation for the non-profit sector
      Officials with responsibility for fundraising in public Institutions

      Tuition fee: US$ 1.500
      Accommodation: Air Conditioned room - $18.4 per night
      Executive Room - $42 per night (includes dinner)
      Meals: Lunch $5, Dinner $5

      Entry Requirement
      Applicants with first degree or its equivalent are preferred though completion of other certificate and diploma courses may be sufficient.
      Applicant must know how to use email and word processing and simple spreadsheet software.
      Applicant must have a minimum of one year’s experience in mobilising resources.
      Assessment and Evaluation
      A combination of continuous assessment, exams and project presentation at the end of the course are used to assess students for the award of certificate.
      Participants must be regular in class for at least 90% of the course duration to qualify for the award of certificate.
      For further information about the course, please contact:
      The Assistant Registrar, Business Support & Executive Programs
      GIMPA, P. O. Box AH 50, Achimota – Ghana
      Tel: 021-42161 or 401681-3 Ext. 1082, 1076. Email: [email protected] <mailto:[email protected]>
      Application forms are available on GIMPA’s website: <> or the Cash Office, GIMPA
      AWDF has put in place a small bursary to sponsor qualified grantees to attend this course. Applying Grantees should be ready to share, priority will be given to applicants who will explicitly state this in their application.
      How to apply for the AWDF Grant (important)
      Individuals applying should submit the following documents
      · Name of organisation
      · Address
      · Telephone and Fax number
      · Contact person's name and title
      · Application letter
      · Applicant’s CV
      · A one page personal statement explaining why you should be considered.
      · A signed recommendation letter from applicant’s organisation
      Important information
      The process for selecting qualified applicant will be highly competitive and will adhere strictly to the entry requirements. No application will be reviewed without a signed recommendation letter from applicant’s organisation’s head. Please send both hard and soft copies of your application documents to the following address. Soft copies should be email to [email protected] <mailto:[email protected]>
      There will be cost sharing where necessary and selected applicants will be notified.
      The Grants Administrator
      78 Ambassadorial Enclaves
      East Legon, Accra, Ghana
      PMB CT89 Cantonments
      Accra, Ghana
      Tel/Fax: 00233 21 782502
      Tel: 00233 21 780476/7
      Email: [email protected] <mailto:[email protected]>
      Please note that the deadline for receiving all applications is August 7, 2009

      South Africa under Globalization: Issues in Foreign Policy and Development

      Announcement and call for papers


      The African Studies Association of India is proud to announce a seminar; South Africa under Globalization: Issues in Foreign Policy and Development, to be held at the Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi, on 11 to 12 November 2009.he proposed seminar seeks to address the issues related to foreign policy and development in South Africa under globalisation.
      South Africa under Globalization: Issues in Foreign Policy and Development

      Seminar: Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi, 11 to 12 November 2009

      The transition of South Africa from apartheid to democracy has taken place within the context of a globalization strongly characterized by market oriented economic policies. Against this background, the African National Congress (ANC), with its professed commitment to the values and goals of the Freedom Charter, came to power with just short of a two thirds majority in the first open general election of 1994. It has remained in power, negotiating several changes of leadership and significant internal power and policy struggles, without loosing its initial support base.

      The transition to democracy raised many expectations as well as fears, both domestically and internationally. Democratic South Africa geared itself to meet those challenges, seeking to balance the potentially competing claims of the economic and political international arena in the context of globalization, with the more local and regional visions and demands of national and African level economic and political constituencies.

      Economically, South Africa has chosen for close cooperation with developed countries, who are the leading players in the world economy, and a number of whom who had been allies of the former apartheid regime. In openly opting for a market led economy, South Africa has pursued a path contrary to the vision enshrined in the Freedom Charter, and which is strongly propagated within the trade unions. The tensions around the path that the South African economy is to take, and whether its explicit market orientation is able to deliver the redistribution that was the basic mandate on which many people see the ANC as having been voted into power in successive elections, is at the heart of the ongoing tensions in the South African polity - and on its streets. While its strong economy and fiscal discipline have enabled South Africa to deliver significant services and grants to those who had not had them under apartheid, the country is still haunted by the worst inequality ratios on the planet, and by serious skills shortages.

      The attempt to steer a path and to find an appropriate location between more broadly international and more regional African and southern African concerns, is also at the heart of South African foreign policy. This is perhaps most graphically embodied in the person of former President Mbeki, seemingly almost never in South Africa during his term as President - moving on the world stage, whether at G8 level meetings, or on the African stage, acting as a broker for African conflicts , such as in Cote d’Ivoire, the DRC, Sudan, Zimbabwe. South Africa, as would be/potential international leader, has moved somewhat uneasily between these different levels, as in its controversial term as chair of the security council , and then in its role in AU committees and as ‘broker in chief for Africa’ – which role has had mixed reception in Africa. At a southern African/SADEC level, South African foreign policy has to grapple with the issues of Zimbabwe, and of non-nationals coming to live and work in the country. South Africa has struggled to restrict the movement of non-nationals from the region, and such ‘amakwerekwere’, as they have become known locally, have not always been well received by their, sometimes xenophobic, poverty stricken, South African hosts.

      In the African context, with the development imperative driving both domestic as well as foreign policy, new potential foreign investors in Africa, such as China and India, have become a significant focus of foreign policy. This makes for a more diverse and multicentric distribution of power within the global political-ideological economy, leading to possible new alliances, and to the need to scrutinise the changing role in the global (and African) context of groupings that involve such investor countries - such as the G20, the Non-Aligned Movement, IBSA, etc.

      The proposed seminar seeks to address the issues related to foreign policy and development in South Africa under globalisation. The seminar will address the following sub-themes, but will allow for papers that do not fall strictly under these topics.

      1. South Africa: External Engagement under Globalization
      2. Post Apartheid South Africa: Issues of Development and Equity
      3. Democratic South Africa: Issues of Governance and Empowerment
      4. South Africa: Security Issues under Globalization
      5. South Africa: Issues of Identity, Culture and Diaspora

      Please submit Abstracts (200 to 300 words) by 5 September and Completed Papers by 11 October 2009, to Professor Ajay Dubey, African Studies Association of India, Centre for West Asian and African Studies, School of International Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi, India. Email at [email protected]

      Accommodation: Delegates will be accommodated at significantly subsidized rates on campus (Rs 1500 per night for the three nights of 9 through 11 November) at visiting faculty accommodation. Please state if you wish to reserve accommodation .

      Conference Fee: In accordance with Indian practice, no conference fee will be charged.

      Travel Costs: Delegates are requested to find their own airfares to Delhi. The conference organizers are approaching various international funders for travel support, but cannot promise anything at this stage. We would suggest that South African delegates approach their universities, as well as the Knowledge Interchange and Collaboration Programme (KIC) of the National Research Foundation. The conference organizers will be very happy to write supporting letters to those whose abstracts are accepted for the conference to assist them in their search for travel funding. The earlier Abstracts are received, the earlier such approval and supporting letters can be formalized.

      The Seminar on South Africa will be preceded by a one day Seminar (10 November) on Asia and Sudan – in which you are very welcome to join us - whether as an interested observer, or as a more active participant!

      We look forward to welcoming you to Delhi and to the Seminar/s !

      Ajay Dubey, Jawaharlal Nehru University, on behalf of the African Studies Association of India.

      South Africa: The ICTJ Fellowship Program in Transitional Justice

      November 2nd to November 20th, 2009


      The International Center for Transitional Justice (ICTJ) is pleased to announce its 2009 Fellowship in Transitional Justice: a three-week professional development course on transitional justice based in Cape Town, South Africa. This course will be held from November 2nd to November 20th, 2009 in Cape Town, South Africa.

      Tanzania: 6th Pan-African reading for all conference


      The Pan-African Reading for All (RFA) Conference is one of the most exciting and most memorable literacy events on the African continent. It is organized bi-annually by the International Reading Association’s International Development Committee in Africa (IRA/IDAC) and the National Reading Association in the host country. Under the theme: “Literacy for Community Based Socio-economic Transformation and Development” participants from all over the world will converge in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania from August 10th – 14th, 2009 to share their experiences in literacy and reading promotion initiatives and practices from different countries.

      THEME: Literacy for Community Based Socio-Economic Transformation and Development

      VENUE: The University of Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania

      CONFERENCE DATES: August 10th – 14, 2009

      The Pan-African Reading for All (RFA) Conference is one of the most exciting and most memorable literacy events on the African continent. It is organized bi-annually by the International Reading Association’s International Development Committee in Africa (IRA/IDAC) and the National Reading Association in the host country. The first edition was held in 1999 in the glamorous South African City of Pretoria. The second edition was held in Abuja in Nigeria in 2001. In 2003, the third edition was held in Kampala, the city of seven hills in Uganda. In 2005, the 4th edition of the Pan-African Reading for All conference was taken down south to Swaziland, commonly known as the Switzerland of Africa because of its scenic beauty and climate. The most recent edition of the conference held in August 2007 took place in the West African country of Ghana. The up coming 6th Pan-African Reading for All Conference is being organized by the International Reading Association’s International Development Committee in Africa (IRA/IDCA) in collaboration with the Reading Association of Tanzania (CCHAUTA.) and Children’s Book Project for Tanzania (CBP), and will take place at the University of Dar Es Salaam, in Tanzania from August 10 – 14, 2009.

      The conference brings together teachers, teacher educators, lecturers, adult literacy instructors, researchers, librarians, writers, publishers, book sellers, community leaders, policy makers and readers from all over Africa and beyond. Over the years, the conference has continued to register a steady increase in the number of participants from the United States, North America, Europe and Asia, giving it a really global perspective. Besides professional experience participants have opportunity to visit some successful

      local literacy projects and exciting tour sites to make their experiences in Tanzania extremely exciting and memorable. More than 600 delegates are expected to participate in the Conference. You could be one of them; just fill the form below/contact the CBP if you want to participate.

      Under the theme: “Literacy for Community Based Socio-economic Transformation and Development” participants from all over the world will converge in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania from August 10th – 14th, 2009 to share their experiences in literacy and reading promotion initiatives and practices from different countries and to present, examine, analyze, and seek ways of surmounting the various challenges preventing successful transmission of literacy through formal and non-formal systems of education. You are therefore invited to be part of this powerful network of literacy professionals, researchers and policy makers committed to fostering literacy and reading culture for sustainable socio-economic transformation and for the good of the whole world. You may choose to be part of this conference by: sponsoring some conference planning activities and events, sponsoring some participants, making presentation at the conference, registering to attend the conference and many other ways.

      The Pan-African Conference has become an important literacy event on the African Continent providing platform for policy makers in government and the donor community to interface with literacy professionals at all levels and researchers to share vital knowledge and information on appropriate ways and strategies of delivering literacy and reading skills to the community at the grass root level. In countries where the conference has been held a number of positive developments have been registered ranging from rapid growth and development of community libraries, adult literacy classes, children’s reading tents, emergence of reading and writing clubs in schools and communities to positive policy pronouncements in favor of the book sector and publishing industry.

      In the past, Tanzania, the host country, initiated some of the most revolutionary educational policies for rural transformation and socioeconomic development in living memory. It embraced Universal Primary Education; it had some of the most innovative adult literacy programs in Africa; it introduced progressive gender policies in education and liberal text book publishing and selection policies. Today, Tanzania has lost some of that momentum; while it is steadily expanding secondary and higher education quantity-wise, quality-wise it is falling behind many African countries. Why is this? What are the policy and pedagogical challenges that Tanzania needs to address in order to promote education and literacy? These are among the issues that the Conference will address.

      In addition to visiting some successful community literacy projects and tourist attraction sites, participants will also have an opportunity to participate in book, cultural and educational exhibitions along side the main Conference, just within the same vicinity.

      Conference Goal

      The overall goal of the Pan-African Reading for All Conference is to create a platform for literacy professionals to share their experiences in literacy research and instruction in the class room and in communities with a view to identifying challenges faced and strategies through which such challenges can be surmounted in order to improve the delivery of literacy services for sustainable socio-economic transformation and improvement in people’s livelihoods.

      Specific Objectives

      The specific objectives of the conference include:

      • Creating a platform for literacy professionals and literacy practitioners in Africa and beyond to share experiences and adopt best practices in the teaching of literacy skills and management of literacy programs.

      • Creating opportunities for literacy professionals in Africa to undertake research, peer-review their materials and publish articles for their own professional development.

      • Giving professional advice and guidance to African governments on matters of education in general and literacy instruction in schools and communities in particular

      • To drum up support for the integration of literacy programs in other national programs in order to facilitate a sustainable development of a reading culture in communities

      • Increasing the community’s awareness of the profundity of their cultural heritage, and need promote and defend it for their own survival and preservation.

      • Alerting policy makers and media practitioners to support the community through literacy enhancement.

      • Alerting the book sector personnel to the needs of the newly literate populations of the African continent.

      Expected Outcomes

      • Increased networking and alliances of educators and literacy professionals across Africa and beyond for sharing accepted practices and research in classrooms and elsewhere in the field of language and literacy.

      • Enhanced capacity building among African educators as contributors to the design and implementation of effective national Education for All action plans.

      • Increased international understanding of literacy problems in Africa through publication of conference proceeding which will be a tangible output.

      • A profound professional pronouncement on the state of literacy in Africa and the best way forward for African Governments and other stakeholders based on the evidence presented.

      • Improvement in the quality of literacy teaching and instruction in schools and communities

      Conference Themes and Sub-themes

      The themes and sub-themes under which participants will make presentations and share experiences shall be as highlighted bellow:

      1. Literacy for Community Based Socio-economic Transformation and development.


      The 2009 MILEAD Fellows Institute

      2009/2010 Fellows announcement


      Moremi Initiative proudly announces the 2009-2010 MILEAD Fellows. The MILEAD Fellows were selected through a highly competitive selection process and criteria, including their outstanding leadership potential and demonstration of commitment to the advancement of women in Africa. The 26 selected fellows represent some of Africa’s most extra-ordinary young women leaders with the courage and commitment to lead/effect change in their communities.
      Moremi Initiative selects 25 extraordinary young African women leaders from private sector, government, academia, media, and non-profit sectors as MILEAD Senior Fellows.

      Moremi Initiative proudly announces the 2009-2010 MILEAD Fellows. The MILEAD Fellows were selected through a highly competitive selection process and criteria, including their outstanding leadership potential and demonstration of commitment to the advancement of women in Africa. The 26 selected fellows represent some of Africa’s most extra-ordinary young women leaders with the courage and commitment to lead/effect change in their communities.

      The Fellows
      The 2009/2010 Fellows representing regional diversity, coming from 22 African countries and the Diaspora, and include emerging young women leaders engaged in actively leading change on critical issues including women’s health, HIV/AIDS, economic justice, community development, political participation, and environmental justice.

      Rosemary Mbeng Agbor (CAMEROON)
      Sofiat Makanjoula-Akinola (NIGERIA/ SWITZERLAND)
      Rosa Aku Bani (GHANA)
      Rama Salla Dieng (SENEGAL/ MAURITIUS)
      Aminata Fall (GUINEA/EGYPT)
      Honorine Umotini Gasasira (RWANDA)
      Donmale Gbaanador (NIGERIA/USA)
      Takondwa Kaliwo (MALAWI)
      Rahab Njeri (KENYA)
      Yvonne Larvin (UGANDA)
      Fatou C. Malang (GAMBIA)
      Sebabatso Manoeli (LESOTHO/ USA)
      Huda Mohamed (SOMALIA)
      Martha Mutale (ZAMBIA/CANADA)
      Chiedza Mutizi (ZIMBABWE)
      Ruth Namwese (UGANDA)
      Muthoni Nduhiu (KENYA)
      Charmine Linda Ntuli (SOUTH AFRICA)
      Julie Biringanine Nzigire (DRC)
      Fatimah Oluwakemi Bello (NIGERIA)
      Haika Harisson Ngowi (TANZANIA)
      Daintowon Pay-Bayee (LIBERIA)
      Annette Quarcoopome (GHANA)
      Sarah Simba Riziki-Neema (DRC)
      Oluwaseun Waziri (NIGERIA)

      The 2009 MILEAD Fellows Institute
      The MILEAD Fellows will converge in Accra, Ghana to kick-start the 2009/2010 MILEAD Fellows Program with a three-week intensive residential leadership institute. The University of Ghana and The Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration (GIMPA) will jointly host the institute. It will enable the Fellows to cross-examine concepts of leadership in a broad African context, cultivate the skills and experiences women need to occupy and excel in leadership positions, and gain knowledge on cutting-edge issues critical to African women and their communities. Additionally, experienced and accomplished women leaders who are committed to supporting and nurturing the next generation of African women leaders will mentor Fellows over the period.

      About The MILEAD Fellows Program
      The MILEAD Fellows Program is a uniquely designed initiative committed to the long-term leadership development and promotion of Africa’s most promising young women leaders. Fellows go through a yearlong training and mentoring program, designed to build skills, strengthen networks, and support women’s leadership on critical issues. Over the course of a year, selected Fellows progress through three phases that include: identification and preparation of Fellows through leadership development, networking, conferences, mentoring, and training; promotion of Fellows through media coverage and networking; and support of Fellows through career planning, management, and access to opportunities and resources. Fellows continue to receive and share lifelong solidarity and support through the Alumni Network of the program.

      About Moremi Initiative
      Founded in 2003, The Moremi Initiative for Women's Leadership in Africa strives to engage, inspire, and equip young women and girls to become the next generation of leading politicians, activists, social entrepreneurs, and change agents: leaders who can transform and change institutions that legitimize and perpetuate discrimination against women. We firmly believe that the full and active participation of women in leadership is a pre-requisite for positive change and development in Africa, and addresses the problem of leadership imbalances.

      Key program partners include GIMPA Gender Development and Resource Centre, Junior Achievement International, Women Peace and Security Network Africa (WIPSEN-Africa), Institute of African Studies- University of Ghana, Women’s Initiative for Self Empowerment (WISE), The Institute for Democratic Governance (IDEG), The Global Fund for Women, Open Society Institute- Women’s Program, and The Africa Group Consult among others.

      For more information, contact Moremi Initiative: Tel: +233 242 901 222 Email: [email protected] or visit:

      Fahamu - Networks For Social Justice

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      With over 1000 contributors and an estimated 500,000 readers Pambazuka News is the authoritative pan African electronic weekly newsletter and platform for social justice in Africa providing cutting edge commentary and in-depth analysis on politics and current affairs, development, human rights, refugees, gender issues and culture in Africa.

      In addition to its online store, Fahamu Books is pleased to announce that Yash Tandon’s Ending Aid Dependence is now available for purchase in bookstores in Tanzania, Ghana, Zambia, Malaysia, and Mauritius. For more information on the location of these stores, please visit Where to buy our books on the Fahamu Books website, or purchase online.

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