Pambazuka News 456: Counterterrorism's blindness: Mali and the USA
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Highlights from this issue
- Vijay Prashad warns that US counterterrorism efforts in Mali could create another Guinea
- Yash Tandon on the Palestine-Israel question
- Khadjia Sharife on carbon trading and the colonisation of the atmospheric commons
- Joan Baxter says agribusiness in Africa is putting profits before people
COMMENT & ANALYSIS
- Do Kenyans kiss asks Storymoja
- Sabella Abidde on why every Nigerian wants a title
- Pambazuka News is looking for an indexer
LETTERS AND OPINIONS
- Camara is a canker on Africa's collective conscience
ADVOCACY & CAMPAIGNS
- Kenyan youth alliance spokesperson shot dead
- Climate Justice Now! South Africa calls for solidarity
- Kenya grassroots message to welcome ICC prosecutor Luis Moreno-OcampoANNOUNCEMENTS: Indexer/Cataloguer wanted for award-winning African social justice website
ZIMBABWE UPDATE: Tsvangirai calls off unity government boycott
WOMEN & GENDER: Water key to reducing maternal mortality
CONFLICT AND EMERGENCIES: How France fueled Angola’s civil war
HUMAN RIGHTS: African debt crisis: A human rights perspective
AFRICA LABOUR NEWS: Africa labour news roundup
REFUGEES AND FORCED MIGRATION: Flooding deluges Somali refugees
SOCIAL MOVEMENTS: Civil society presses for ICC support
EMERGING POWERS NEWS: Emerging powers news roundup
CORRUPTION: Decisive global meeting on corruption set for Doha
ELECTIONS AND GOVERNANCE: Malagasy leader walks out of talks
HEALTH & HIV/AIDS: South Africa overcomes mortality crisis
DEVELOPMENT: Efforts to achieve anti-poverty goals in peril
EDUCATION: Strike shuts Morocco’s public schools
LGBTI: Lutheran council shuns homosexuality
ENVIRONMENT: Court freezes Cote d’Ivoire Trafigura compensation
LAND & LAND RIGHTS: Global protocol could limit sub-Saharan land grab
FOOD JUSTICE: Agencies renew effort to fight hunger
MEDIA AND FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION: South Africa’s legislation ‘undermines free expression
INTERNET& TECHNOLOGY: The Internet goes multilingual
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Counterterrorism's blindness: Mali and the US
Tucked away in the corners of the news media sits a report that the US government will provide US$5 million in trucks and military equipment to Mali. The aim of this donation is to help the Malian military fight the group known as al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM). Last December, AQIM kidnapped two Canadian diplomats, who were released after four months. This is what they do these days: kidnap, extort, run guns and drugs. Islam is a veneer.
AQIM comes out of the brutal Algerian civil war (1991–2002), which took the lives of over 200,000 people, and was fought between the secular–authoritarian National Liberation Front and various Islamist factions. The war ended when the Islamists lost the armed conflict. A few hardened veterans turned to the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat in the late 1990s, and this group became the AQIM (adopted into the al-Qaeda fold by its junior amir, Ayman al-Zawahiri, in 2006). AQIM conducted a few spectacular operations, including the kidnapping of tourists, the bombing of Algerian military vehicles and suicide bombing. AQIM's leadership comes from that well-known class of jihadi graduates known as the 'Afghan Arabs', people like Abu Musab Abdul Wadoud (Abdelmalek Droukal), who did his time in Afghanistan.
The association with al-Qaeda is a propaganda coup, with Wadoud telling The New York Times that the link not only strengthens their sense of theological unity, but it also brings 'grief and sorrow to our enemies'. This is bluster. AQIM is a small shop with a large sign, paying its franchise dues without increasing its own business. But since AQIM operates on the border between Algeria and Mali, and does some of its business in Mali, the US government decided to help fortify Mali's military. US$5 million is not much money for the US, but for a country with total revenues of US1.5 billion, with a military budget of about US$70 million per year, this small disbursement is considerable. And it is set to increase – keep an eye on that.
The US government has worried that the turmoil in Algeria would spread across the Sahara into places such as Mali. In 2002, the Bush administration set up the Pan Sahel Initiative (PSI), which became, in 2005, the Trans-Sahel Counterterrorism Initiative (and later Partnership, the TSCTP). The point was to take the military forces from the seven 'willing' Saharan countries and train them to fight their various foes, some of whom might be offshoots of al-Qaeda (AQIM, however, was not formed till 2006, when this military interchange was already fairly advanced). With the trans-Sahel project, the US government put in US$500 million over five years, mainly for military hardware, as if the militaries of Ghana and Nigeria, which joined up, need more funds.
Through the TSCTP, the US government wanted not only to fight the Islamists on the battlefield, but also take on their extremist ideology. To this end, USAID got some funds to help revise textbooks, pay for schools that teach a 'tolerant ideology' and run rural radio stations 'by broadcasting moderate views and providing information on government services'. The money for these non-military functions was available in 2005 and 2007, but not in 2006. Because of this fluctuation, according to the General Accounting Office of the US government, 'the mission suspended its peace-building program in northern Mali'.
All attention was focused on the military aspect, although even here there is some uneasiness. The US Embassy in Bamako was quick to point out that the US$5 million for trucks and other military hardware comes not from the US military, but from the US State Department. Although, the State Department is not the only one involved; from April to June this year, 300 US Special Forces 'advisers' trained the Malian military at three of its bases. These Sahelian initiatives are now run through AFRICOM, the US African Command, set up in October 2007. It operates a programme called 'Joint Task Force Aztec Silence'. The Cowboys are playing Cortés in the desert. The 'silence' after Aztec is chilling.
The insurgents in northern Mali are various. The longest tension is between the Malian government and the 'Tuareg rebels'. The Tuaregs are the Berber nomads of the Sahara, who live across the boundaries of the countries that make up northern Africa. Known as the 'Blue Men of the Desert' for their indigo robes, the Tuaregs have faced a challenge to their independence and to their livelihood. The former has come from the attempt first by the colonial states and then by the new national states to integrate them into the state structure (and to fix international borders, at which the Tuaregs scoff). The latter came from a century long deterioration of the land around the desert, of the long drought that has changed the Tuaregs' ability to conduct their form of pastoralism (this is one of the major problems that effects Darfur, as has been so keenly brought out by Mahmood Mamdani in 'Saviors and Survivors').
The Tuaregs have a long history of struggle with the Malian state, starting in 1962 in the Adrar N'Fughas mountains, when the Tuaregs resented the attempt to bring them under the control of the newly independent state. A history of rebellion against the French had only strengthened their resolve to protect their way of life, and only a concerted military campaign by the new Malian state forged an uneasy peace. The droughts of 1968, 1974, 1980 and 1985 devastated the pastoral way of life, sending the proud Tuareg peoples south to seek a livelihood in the cities of Mali. Libya's oil wealth was able to absorb many of the migrant Tuaregs, who joined its military and its informal labour force.
A second rebellion opened up in 1990, and quickly the Malian state realised that a military solution was not possible. The government and the Tuaregs signed the Accords of Tamanrasset, which led to the National Pact in 1992. The basic position was that the state would make a commitment to decentralisation, and to some kind of development (between 1968 and 1990, Mali spent only 17 per cent of its total infrastructural funds in the north; between 1991 and 1993, it spent 48 per cent of its funds in the region). But was this development always a chimera?
Mali came out of colonial rule in devastation. Nothing was left of it. The colonial Office du Niger indulged a fantasy, trying to recreate the inland Niger Delta in a cotton-growing region. Corvée labour and the forcible relocation of the peasantry were the more ghastly sides of the process, but the structural point is that Mali was rendered into agriculture with little value-added processing or industry as part of its colonial development (the story of the colonial era is accessibly told in Monica van Beusekom's 2002 study, 'Negotiating development: African farmers and colonial experts at the Office du Niger, 1920–1960'). Mali's 'independence' came with severe constraints.
The French were ejected, and a popular government led by the charismatic Modibo Kéita came to power. But the country was dependent on one crop (cotton) for more than half its GDP (gross domestic product), it had little processing and industry and almost no sources of energy (all oil is imported, and the hydroelectric plants at Kayes and Sotuba are much too modest for the needs of consumer consumption, not to mention industrial development). Poor soil and the lack of access to water in the northern part of Mali put pressure on the agricultural side, and Mali's distance from the sea (1,400 miles on either end for this landlocked country) makes it hard to take its agricultural products to market. Further, the cotton subsidy regime in both Europe and the United States strikes at the heart of Mali's attempt to grow its already dismal economy.
Kéita turned the planning ministry over to Jean-Marie Koné, a moderate and not a Marxist, who had put his own stamp on the process. By 1965, Samir Amin had already concluded that the gap between Mali's plan and its implementation had called into question the entire 'planning function' (Samir Amin, 'Trois expériences africaines de développement: le Mali, le Guinée et le Ghana', Paris, 1965). Kéita was not given a chance. General Moussa Traoré left the barracks in 1968 and ended Mali's first experiment with democracy. But Kéita's government did start a process that allowed Mali to become self-sufficient in cereal production by the early 1970s. That ended in the mid-1970s. If Malian socialism had been permitted some more time, it might have produced a model for a small land-locked country.
Traoré had none of Kéita's imagination, and none of the socialist movement's patience with the devolution of power. When things turned bad, he went to Washington. The World Bank welcomed him in 1981, and Mali became the test case for its 'structural adjustment' policies. Ten years of grief for the Malian people came to an end in 1991 when a political movement removed Traoré and replaced him with another man in green. The tide had turned against the military, which handed over power in 1992 to the Alliance for Democracy in Mali. Its leader, Alpha Oumar Konaré, became president.
Konaré cut his teeth in Kéita's era as a student leader, and then as a member in the Marxist–Leninist Parti Malien du Travail, later joining Traoré's regime as a minister and then throwing himself into the creation of a civil society (as editor of a cultural outfit, Jamana, as a newspaper editor and as the founder of Radio Bamako). Mali inherited a criminal debt – over US$3 billion – much of it driven up during the military rule. Sixty per cent of Mali's fiscal receipts went toward debt servicing. Salaries could not be paid. Konaré's hands were tied. As one of his associates told Howard French of The New York Times, 'We service our country's debt on time every month, never missing a penny, and all the time the people are getting poorer and poorer.' Konaré, now a liberal, begged the United States and Europe to either forgive the debt or restructure it. No development in the North could occur to bring peace to Mali, with the National Pact of 1992 in danger of being impoverished economically and politically. Washington held fast. Moral hazard was the name of the game. George Moose, Bill Clinton's assistant secretary of state for African affairs, cavilled, 'virtue is its own reward'. How could Mali be bailed out? That would set a bad example for the rest of the indebted countries.
In 1995, Howard French reported from Bamako for The New York Times, 'Diplomats also speak of this large landlocked country as a bulwark against the spread of Islamic militancy from its northern neighbor, Algeria. Already Mali faces a destabilizing conflict involving Tuareg tribesmen in the north, but any settlement has been thwarted by a lack of resources. At the same time, Mali's debt burden, contracted under years of dictatorship, consumes so much of the country's revenues that there is little left for development needs.' The point was clearly made. No one listened. Konaré could not move any agenda. He left office in 2002, and went to the African Union. His successor is equally despondent.
But unlike Konaré, current President Amadou Toumani Touré is a former military general. Ruling outside a political party, Touré has been equally unable to find a way out of Mali's structural debt crisis. The festering unrest in the north continues. In 2006, Tuareg rebels took two military bases in Kidal and Menaka. The government hastily conducted a peace deal (the Algiers Accord), making all those tired promises of development once more. In January 2009, the battle in the north recommenced with the Malian military moving against the camps of the Tuareg leader, Ibrahim Ag Bahanga, who was not part of the Algiers Accord. Bamako hopes to bring all parties to the table, although this kind of armed attack reduces confidence among the Tuareg, and might move some to the AQIM and its offshoots (at least they have a trade that pays well).
The AQIM, despite the swagger of its leadership, has become a kind of trans-Saharan gang. Kidnapping tourists is a source of its revenue: it demanded £5 million for two Austrian tourists, who were freed in November 2008 (Austria denies that it paid the ransom). Certainly AQIM is now a major player in regional arms smuggling, and in drug running, the two growth industries in areas devastated by drought and debt. There is a suggestion that AQIM has sent militants to Iraq, but these numbers are very low, if they are at all true. The bulk of 'foreign fighters' in the Iraqi insurgency come from the Mashriq, the states of the Arabian peninsula in the main and Jordan. The AQIM is a criminal gang. Algeria, Libya and Mali should be able to form a regional process to disband them.
Touré is playing a double game: he has pledged to start a 'total struggle' against the terrorists, but won't release his troops unless they are better equipped and trained by the United States. It wants air power (a reminder of the time when the Italians bombed the Berber with the view that the bombs 'had a wonderful effect on the morale of the Arabs', according to the Italian air commandante in charge of the 1911 operation). Touré is using the AQIM threat to consolidate his power, and to bring in the cash. More money is on offer for counterterrorism than for development.
Washington's counterterrorism spectacles see only al-Qaeda. The debt burden and the impossibility of governance are not on the agenda. Whether the State Department or the Defense Department give arms to the Malian military says more about anxiety in the US than about the dynamic in Mali. Once more the US will strengthen the military against civil society, and once more we might see Mali fall the way of Guinea and others in the region that were set up to become dictatorships. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton quite rightly called the mass rapes by the Guinean military 'criminality of the greatest degree'. If better sense does not prevail, not long from now we might read of similar atrocities at the Modibo Kéita Sports Stadium in Bamako.
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* Vijay Prashad is the George and Martha Kellner chair of South Asian history and the director of International Studies at Trinity College, Hartford, Connecticut. He can be reached at [email protected].
* Prashad is the author of 'The Darker Nations: A People's History of the Third World', New York: The New Press, 2007, which was chosen for the Muzaffar Ahmad Book Award, 2009.
* Please send comments to [email protected] or comment online at Pambazuka News.
The Palestine–Israel question
On 27 December 2008, Israel launched a lethal attack on Gaza and continued the bombing for 22 days. In the end, it withdrew its forces. Israel, however, continues to retain a siege over Gaza, a narrow strip of land containing a million and half Palestinians, half of them in refugee camps living a precarious existence. Many observers are of the view that Israel’s action amounted to genocide. Almost 60 years ago, before the state of Israel was created, Mahatma Gandhi wrote: ‘My sympathies are all with the Jews ... But my sympathy does not blind me to the requirements of justice. The cry for the national home for the Jews does not make much appeal to me ... Palestine belongs to the Arabs in the same sense that England belongs to the English or France to the French. It is wrong and inhuman to impose the Jews on the Arabs.’ In the longer piece on the subject, I argue that the Jewish problem, historically a European problem, was dumped on Palestine in 1948 by the force of arms and a resolution of the General Assembly of the United Nations when it was dominated by the North. The legitimacy of that resolution and the question of whether the British truly fulfilled their mandate to the people of Palestine must be posed again. The article argues that while the Jews have a legitimate grievance against their historical persecution, in its present predicament, the Euro-American alliance exploits the Jews in Israel, and in turn, Israel super-exploits and oppresses the Palestinians. The ‘two-states solution’ is primarily to serve Euro-American broader interests in the Gulf area. And one of the casualties of the war in Gaza may well be the two-state solution. What, then, is to be done? That is the question that is addressed in the essay.
THE PALESTINE–ISRAEL QUESTION (16 JANUARY 2009)
History will not absolve those world leaders who watch with cynicism the humanitarian catastrophe unfolding in Gaza. Silence and inaction are only a step removed from complicity. The Kafkaesque contrast between Kosovo and Treblinka where the West intervened self-righteously and brought individuals to trial before the international human rights tribunals and their visible, audible connivance at the carnage now afoot in Gaza will not be lost to history. It is, surely, only a matter of time before the individuals responsible for these crimes are brought to court. Even the people of Israel, maybe the next generation, will eventually see from hindsight the ironical and cruel similarity between the concentration camps of Auschwitz and Dachau, in which many of their forefathers perished, and the ‘final solution’ inflicted on the ghettoized population of Gaza. Cardinal Renato Martino echoed the sentiment of Pope Benedict XVI when he compared Gaza to a Nazi camp.
One casualty of the war will, surely, be the devaluation of the Jewish Holocaust. If the former victims of European persecution can do the same to the ordinary innocent women and children of another race whom they burn alive in their houses with their aerial bombing, then the lessons of the original Holocaust will be lost to history, and the Jews must tear down the temples and museums dedicated to the Holocaust. The Jewish Museum in New York and the Anne Frank Museum in Amsterdam now have no value.
This editorial is published in a special issue of the South Bulletin which focuses on the present crisis humanity faces in the holocaust now being perpetrated by the Jews of Israel on the people of Palestine. In his article in that issue, ‘Holocaust Denied’, John Pilger quotes the Soviet poet Yevtushenko: ‘When the truth is replaced by silence,’ the poet said, ‘the silence is a lie.’ Yevtushenko was asking why those who knew what was happening are silent. In relation to the war in Gaza, Pilger says, ‘Among the Anglo-American intelligentsia ... (t)hey know that the horror now raining on Gaza has little to do with Hamas or, absurdly, ‘Israel’s right to exist.’ They know the opposite to be true: that Palestine’s right to exist was cancelled 61 years ago and the expulsion and, if necessary, extinction of the indigenous people was planned and executed by the founders of Israel.’
Also reproduced in that issue of the South Bulletin is what Mahatma Gandhi said on the subject in 1938 and 1946. ’My sympathies are all with the Jews,’ he wrote, ‘...But my sympathy does not blind me to the requirements of justice. The cry for the national home for the Jews does not make much appeal to me. .... Why should they not, like other peoples of the earth, make that country their home where they are born and where they earn their livelihood?…If I were a Jew and were born in Germany,…I would claim Germany as my home even as the tallest gentile German may, and challenge him to shoot me or cast me in the dungeon; I would refuse to be expelled or to submit to discriminating treatment. And for doing this, I should not wait for the fellow Jews to join me in civil resistance but would have confidence that in the end the rest are bound to follow my example.’
Gandhi goes on to say, ‘Palestine belongs to the Arabs in the same sense that England belongs to the English or France to the French. It is wrong and inhuman to impose the Jews on the Arabs. What is going on in Palestine today cannot be justified by any moral code of conduct…Surely it would be a crime against humanity to reduce the proud Arabs so that Palestine can be restored to the Jews partly or wholly as their national home… And now a word to the Jews in Palestine…if they must look to the Palestine of geography as their national home, it is wrong to enter it under the shadow of the British gun…’
Indeed, it was the British gun that created the state of Israel. In my own op-ed in the special issue, I show how the British violated the mandate on Palestine given to them by the League of Nations. On three occasions Britain promised the Arabs the setting up of a legislative body in Palestine and the cessation of Jewish immigration. All the promises were broken. Arab rebellions were ruthlessly crushed including, according to British records, the murder of 3,073 Arabs and punitive demolition of more than 2,000 houses through aerial bombardment. During the Second World War, nearly 30,000 Jewish men were trained by the British, and formed the core of the Haganah, later the Israel Defence Forces, which defeated the Arabs in 1948. It is clear that the British violated that trust. The General Assembly of the UN should set up a Commission of Inquiry to undertake the long-delayed evaluation of the British mandate in Palestine. Did the British fulfil their mandate and their trust?
The Jewish problem was always, historically, a European problem. In Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice (c.1598), the central and most despised character is the Jewish moneylender Shylock. Though Shylock is a tormented character, he is also a tormentor. In his Othello, the Moor of Venice (c. 1603), Othello, the black man, kills his wife, Desdemona, and yet Shakespeare presents him as a character that deserves sympathy and compassion. Throughout the centuries, a Jew in Europe was looked down upon more than a black man. It is with colonialism and the Jewish Holocaust in Europe that a reversal took place, with the black man despised and the Jews becoming an object of pity and guilt. To expiate their guilt Europe and America, instead of giving Jews their rights in their own countries, dumped them onto the colonised South.
Gandhi’s advice to the Jews now holds good for the Arabs. They must fight for their rights where they are born, even if they are shot and cast into the dungeon, and even if Israel holds 12,000 of them prisoners in their dungeons. Israel, with all its military hardware and American technology designed to flush out the tunnels between Gaza and Egypt, will not defeat Hamas. Hamas is not just a few individuals. It is an idea, the idea of liberation from merciless exploitation and oppression. Israel cannot win. The fact is that the two-states solution primarily serves Euro-American broader interests in the Gulf area. The Euro-American alliance exploits the Jews in Israel, and in turn, Israel super-exploits and oppresses the Palestinians.
One casualty of the war in Gaza is the two-states solution. The question then is: What does the international community do with a state called Israel. There is a forgotten piece of history. When the British mandate over Palestine was created, the US Department of State, in supporting UN Resolution 181, had recommended the creation of separate Jewish and Arab provinces, not states. Now that the two-states solution has failed, the Palestinians should have their democratic right to create their one state, as should have happened if the British had been faithful to their mandate. As for the Jews, I have a practical proposal. The only way the Americans and the Europeans can expiate their guilt over centuries of persecution of the Jews is to ‘welcome them back home’. They can create a province called Israel somewhere between Utah and California. It would cost US$2.5 million over a period of ten years. It can be done. ‘We can do it’, Obama!
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* 'Development and Globalisation: Daring to Think Differently' (ISBN: 978-1-906387-51-8) is available for only £7.95 from pambazukapress.org.
* Yash Tandon is the former executive director of the South Centre.
* Please send comments to [email protected] or comment online at Pambazuka News.
 See the Independent (2009) 9 January.
 South Bulletin: Reflections and Foresights (2009) 16 January, www.southcentre.org
 Mohandas K. Gandhi (1938) ‘A non-violent look at conflict & violence’, Harijan, 26 November, http://www.kamat.com/mmgandhi/mideast.htm
 Gandhi (1938).
Carbon trading: Colonising the atmospheric commons
Whether it is used to described rolling blackouts or civil wars, the catchphrase ‘Africa wins again’ remains a favourite amongst naysayers naturalising the continent as a place where tragedies symbolise the realisation of Africa’s innate ‘destiny’ – to self-destruct.
ARMS AND ENERGY
Of course, such ‘tragedy’ is rarely located in context: The US for example has supplied arms or technology to 90 per cent of conflicts at the turn of the millennium. Presently, there is a 92 per cent correlation between rising arms sales and rising oil prices and over 50 per cent of government-to-government buyers are autocratic governments with brutal human rights records.
But militarisation directly corresponds with the policies underpinning the exploitation of resources ‘held in common’, specifically fossil fuels. Despite obvious scientific evidence that the global commons can no longer sustain carbon dumps, the battle to geostrategically secure fossil fuel resources has intensified, especially in Africa.
This is not because the US and China, for example, lack the know-how to utilise renewable energy. In fact, implementing (‘05) current technology renders it possible to reduce emissions to pre 2000 levels while making a profit on at least 50 per cent of implemented technologies – and this achievable by 2010 with ‘zero net costs’.
Says who? The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) – almost five years ago.
Yet developed nations, specifically the US, emitting 19 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions per capita annually, continue subsidising oil giants to the tune of US$300 billion, all the while claiming that significant caps cannot be realised.
Meanwhile, for mal-developed regions situated at the base of the commodity chain, blackouts – the result of structural adjustment programmes upending basic state services, are guaranteed by ecologically destructive ‘white elephant’ projects such as mega-dams, classified as low-carbon sources of energy.
CLEAN AND GREEN?
Over 60 per cent of Africa’s energy is derived from hydropower, chiefly linking mega-dams to foreign industries via costly transmission lines. In the process, disruption and loss of riverine resources and flood recession agriculture – amongst other socio-ecological consequences – are marginalised as externalities.
Thanks to ‘offsets’ that grant industrial polluters a ‘get-out-of-jail-free card through the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), polluters circumvent caps by bankrolling ‘green-wrapped’ business-as-usual projects in poor countries.
Yet ‘between a third and two-thirds’ of CDM projects do not represent actual reductions, according to the head of Stanford University’s Sustainable Development programme. (Like many other institutions of influence, Stanford was on the receiving end of US$225 million in oil-money from Exxon-Mobil for its Global Climate and Energy project.) Instead, offsets facilitate the process of corporate gaming, simultaneously utilising Africa’s ‘underdeveloped’ status as yet another exploitable resource.
A CANCEROUS LEGACY
It’s happening in my old home town of Clare Estate in Durban, South Africa, where the Bisasar Road dump – previously Africa’s largest landfill, will remain open for business, estimated to generate 6 MW of so-called ‘green power’ electricity from toxic gasses. (Durban’s daily consumption is around 1500 MW). Some fifteen years after liberation from apartheid, and countless promises to close and rehabilitate the dump, medical, industrial and domestic waste continues to frequent the land, formerly designated an Indian area by the apartheid regime’s Group Areas Act. But closing the dump – as opposed to harvesting methane – does not represent ‘market efficient’ economic use of pollutions trading i.e.: it does not generate cash.
Another alternative – integrating the landfill flow of gas (7 000m3 per hour) to Petronet’s pipelines running past the site – was rejected by Durban’s solid waste department (DSW) project manager who stated: ‘[What] if something goes wrong with this pipeline? If the land subsides or they do something funny with their pipeline…?’
The scar across my own pelvis perhaps bears witness to the carcinogenic effects of the dump. In one area of Clare Estate immediately adjacent to the dump, seven out of ten households ‘reported tumour cases,’ according to the late Sajida Khan, Bisasar’s whistleblower who in 2007 died of cancer fighting the dump’s cancerous legacy. She diagnosed her disease as stemming from the lack of Durban officials’ political will to close the dump: 'Poor countries are so poor they will accept crumbs. The World Bank know this and they are taking advantage of it.’
But if countries or nation-states are composed of citizens and regimes – two separate identities altogether – and the World Bank represents not the world but the disproportionate voting shares controlled by powerful economies, it follows that CDMs are justified and accepted not by the ‘poor’ but by those rich in political or financial capital.
According to the deputy head of the engineering at DSW, ‘What makes them worthwhile is the revenue that can be earned from carbon credits.’ Though private purchasers are rumoured to be financing the project, in 2008 at least, the World Bank’s Prototype Carbon Fund (PCF) was still billed as the chief bankroller at US$3.9 per ton, notwithstanding a 2005 withdrawal from Bisasar once it became a notorious case of a toxic CDM.
Despite cheap available solar and wind options, less than 5 per cent of the Bank’s CDM projects (2005) account for renewables, focusing instead on hydropower, methane-capture and other investments. This is not surprising given that the World Bank remains a consistent backer of fossil fuel projects with 82 per cent of the World Bank’s financing for oil-related projects designed for export back to the North. Since Kyoto in 1997, the Bank has invested billions in more than 128 fossil fuel projects, US$17 billion in related projects, with an increase of 256 per cent for coal from 2007-2008.
Bisasar’s CDM classification neatly legitimises the presence and active state of the lethal and carcinogenic dump for US$15 million in certified emissions reduction credits (CERs) for methane-to-electricity conversion over a 20-year lifespan.
Trevor Manuel, previously the country’s minister of finance, now head of planning, recently stated that CDM projects would even get tax exemptions. No need to convince the African regimes – already great fans of tax ‘competition’: Africa’s exports (80 per cent of which are primary commodities) are negotiated via secretive development agreements, swopping corporate tax holidays (the main source of income from rents) for bribes – a leitmotif that also appears to characterise the business of CDM.
THE AFRICA THAT WINS AGAIN…
Ironically, ‘Africa wins again’ traditionally referred not to the corporate-state corruption siphoning US$148 billion in development revenue each year from the continent, but to Africa’s harsh climates.
Yet, it is precisely this lack of revenue disclosure, redistribution and re-pricing –concealing social ecological costs of extractive industries classified as externalities or hidden costs – that has catapulted Africa into the position of continent most vulnerable to climate change, according to the UN’s IPCC. Unlike developed nations, which derive 80 per cent of wealth from intangible capital (education etc), African citizens depend on the health and evolution of direct ecosystem services such as fisheries, fertile land and fresh water, which account for 70-80 per cent of wealth. Unfortunately, according to the IPCC, by 2100, crop revenue will decrease by 90 per cent, particularly affecting small farmers lacking access to irrigation.
But the West’s liberalised version of the constitution, individualising human rights, dismantles democracy by undermining collective ecological and host community rights over shared resources. Not only do these communities lack legal titles to inhabited land, but regimes are often able to legally displace citizens on the discovery of valuable resources – in the name of the greater common good. It is the same logic used to justify land-grabbing – some three million fertile hectares (and the ground water beneath it) have been purchased by multinationals hiding behind the veneer of governments. ‘We are not farmers. We are a large company… The same way you have shoemakers and computer manufacturers, we produce agricultural commodities,’ stated an official from Agricola.
This is the opposite of the Africa’s rights-based concept of Ubuntu – a person is a person through ‘humanity’. But humanity cannot sustain itself without the shared resources that must be legally recognised before sustainable development (via sustainable economics) can be accomplished.
Rentier economies – dependent on corporations for wealth from primary commodities such as oil, perceive citizens as threats to usurped power. In contrast to high-income countries, citizens are not required to finance state budget and therefore possess no access to direct taxation, lending to political representation. The result: a resource-rich mal-developed continent controlled through forced peace i.e.: electoral authoritarianism, or militarisation. Though Africa remains a major supplier of fossil fuels, over 30 per cent of the total human population living in darkness resides in Africa, with the continent contributing just 5 per cent to global electrification and 3.5 per cent of carbon emissions.
Paradoxically, Africa supplies as yet unrecognised regulatory ecological services to the north such as the Central African rainforest – one third of the world’s intact tropical forests cumulatively absorbing 5 billion tonnes of carbon each year, conservatively valued at £13 billion – a figure almost equivalent to the ecological reparations offered by developed nations for exhausting the atmospheric commons. An estimated US$100 billion in regulatory carbon sinks is annually supplied by ‘developing countries’.
WHO OWNS THE AIR?
But global warming, packaged as an apolitical ‘environmental’ issue has yet to be placed in the context of selective justice, one that is determined by political capital, trivialising the ecological debt from rich nations to poor nations. Plausible estimates of just ecosystem services, such as the study recently conducted by the University of Berkeley, interrogating six categories including climate change, evidences the figure ranging from US$8.7 -$47 trillion dollars, while previous studies assessing 17 ecosystem services plausibly places the figure at US$33 trillion, revealing disproportionate burdens on maldeveloped regions. Yet the architects of the cap-and-trade system deliberately blur the lines between victim and aggressor, the former suffering mass the threat of ‘caps’ on survival carbon necessary for basic electrification, and the latter, seeking to propertise ownership of atmospheric rights. Given that 99 per cent of materials flowing to the US are trashed within six months, the logic of capping basic services in poor countries is baseless.
But the US’s goal – extending empire from the control of strategic resources to the ability of ‘rivals’ to access negative commons for development purposes is the primary reason the US failed to ratify the limpid and lopsided Kyoto Protocol.
THE PRICE OF POLLUTION
‘The carbon market doesn’t care about sustainable development,’ revealed Jack Cogen, president of Natsource, recently named the world’s largest buyer of private carbon credits, managing over US$1 billion in monetised ‘natural’ assets. ‘All it cares about,’ he continued, ‘is the carbon price.’
But the market itself, created out of thin (albeit toxic) air is not backed by industrial polluters for the purpose of profits from tradeable commodities – though this is certainly the intention of systemically important financial entities that designed the system like Goldman Sachs, exploiting deregulated vacuums in the global architecture.
Rather, pollution trading – muscled into the Kyoto Protocol by the then US Vice President Al Gore – using the sulphur dioxide model of the modified Clean Air Act (1990), facilitates the colonisation of the atmospheric ‘commons’ by privatising access. This is accomplished by granting major polluters – multinationals exploiting fossil fuels – durable and enforceable property rights to the atmosphere under the guise of incentivising the reduction of carbon, which accounts for 75 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions.
The logic of the cap-and-trade system, managing negative commons or dumps, requires multinationals to purchase credits or allowances, should companies exceed government-allocated caps. These credits, financed by taxpayers in developed countries, are often provided free of charge to polluters. The US’s permits, estimated at US$646 billion for a potential market of US$3 trillion (2020), will see US$55 billion or 69 per cent freely peddled to industry by 2012, with multinationals receiving 15 per cent in free permits to ‘cover their increased costs from the global warming protection program.’ In contrast, China – a world leader in solar and wind energy technology, proposes to convert 15 per cent of energy sources to renewable by 2020. Over 80 per cent of China’s energy is derived from coal.
Yet despite permits constituting ‘deferred taxes’, it is not government that quantifies the level of emissions, but multinationals themselves, facilitating a process where corporations inflate emissions. This paves the road for two possibilities: Allowing multinationals to control the price of pollution, artificially depreciating it via mass sell-offs, or alternately, creating artificial scarcity in order to profit from stashed permits. Since permits have been propertised, cancellation or withdrawal requires governments to finance corporate losses once again, using taxpayers’ funds. This of course brings back unpleasant memories of the US’s taxpayer funded ‘bank bail-out’. Though Goldman Sachs is posting profits, the millions who lost their homes were not so lucky.
According to David Victor of the US’s Council of Foreign Relations (CFR), emissions permits are ‘assets that, like other property rights, owners will fight to protect’. Crucially, it also legitimises the rights of polluters to monopolise the negative commons by exhausting already decreasing atmospheric capacity (projected at 500 billion tonnes in the next four decades at present rates), preventing former colonies and emerging nations from using their share of carbon sinks. And as most governments, save for the Netherlands, withdraw free meal tickets from multinationals that cease polluting, permits actually incentivise the use of fossil fuels, undermining innovation in renewable technologies.
In his position as chairman of the International Emissions Trading Association (IETA), representing over 170 corporate bodies, Cogen’s logic of markets not sustainability, resonated perfectly with gaseous corporate entities, interlocked at the diplomatic and board level with revolving door officials.
CARBON AND CORPORATIONS
It is a logic perfectly integrated with corporatised climate discourse. Conveniently, for example, there was little mention of the real roots of global warming in Al Gore’s Oscar-winning An Inconvenient Truth, which appeared to shift the blame to rural peoples burning logs instead of corporations, from slaughterhouses to oil giants, burning the atmosphere.
Pick away at any loose thread: Example, Kathleen McGinty, Natsource’s vice president of asset management was the former aide to Senator Al Gore, before rising to the position of key environmental advisor during Bill Clinton’s presidency. Goldman Sachs holds a ten per cent share in Al Gore’s Chicago Climate Exchange (CCX) – the US’s pilot carbon trading programme – while Goldman Sachs employees like Ken Newcombe, former head of the World Bank’s Climate Change Capital (‘a leading investment banking group’), are as voluminous on the scene as cranes in Dubai.
Goldman Sachs, Obama’s leading financial bundler (from a pool of systemically important Wall Street legal, securities, investment, banking and other financial entities including Citigroup and UBS) picked up the baton from Enron, whose former traders include Louis Redshaw, presently head of markets at Barclays Capital, creators of the world’s first Global Carbon Index.
Initially, the US’s sulphur programme, the progenitor of Kyoto’s cap-and-trade scheme, was shaped by Enron, once an obscure natural-gas pipeline corporation based in Texas, USA.
The scheme enabled the corporation to dominate the newly created US$20 billion commodities market facilitated by the revamped Clean Air Act’s sulphur trading programme, authorising emission trading. This resulted in artificial energy shortages such as occurred in California soon after the Act was muscled through. In fact, since the late 1970s, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), mandated with the right to regulate emissions, initiated an offset scheme for power plants allowing multi-state corporations to engage in modifications aimed at enhancing ‘efficiency’ of existing plants. The lack of ‘trade’ at that stage was due to the dearth of technology able to quantify emissions.
Enron’s success in deregulating the trade in electricity came courtesy of intensive lobbying in Washington, revolving door personnel like Wendy Gramm, as well as the financial wizardry of economic mercenaries stationed at Arthur Anderson, previously one of the world’s major accounting firms. Five weeks prior to joining Enron’s board of directors, Gramm – chairwoman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission since the days of Texan trooper George H.W Bush’s vice presidency – forced through key regulatory exemptions shielding Enron’s books from public interrogation and government oversight. As early as 1989, Gramm issued policy memos lobbing for deregulation. Later, legislation pushed through Congress – bypassing the Senate Committee – was delivered by Gramm's husband Texan Senator Phil Gramm, a UBS exec during Obama’s election campaign. Hubby Phil would write the 11 000-page Commodity Futures Modernisation Act forbidding government from regulating derivatives and other toxic financial instruments, such as trading of energy commodities.
According to emails made public following investigations, the gap (pg 262 et al) in the Act dumped on Congress a few days before Christmas – and Clinton’s exit, known as the Enron ‘loophole’ was backed by important agents of deregulation such as Larry Summers and Alan Greenspan (present in the new Obama administration). Excerpts from the email reveal: ‘Gramm needs to fully understand how helpful the bill is to Enron…The legislation eliminates concerns that our derivatives transactions may be illegal or that our online platforms may be unregulated futures exchanges…Without this legislation the industry will be crippled…Senator Gramm has been contacted by a number of people urging passage of the bill. This clearly has had an impact. Senator Gramm appears committed, and he and his Staff are very focused…As the Bush transition moves forward, we need to monitor (or perhaps try to influence) the selection of the new CFTC Chair/Commissioners…’ (Emails can be seen at enronexplorer.com)
Arthur Andersen’s fall from grace – and that of Enron – does signify deviant acts on the part of corporate mercenaries, for such activities remain endemic to the global financial architecture.
The International Accounting Standard Board (IASB), for example, founded and financed by the ‘big four’ deliberately prevents corporate country-by-country reporting, indicating economic activities in host and home countries from being implemented, enabling corporations conducting 60 per cent of global trade within rather than between entities, to self-regulate global trade. Unsurprisingly, the big four – in addition to 430 major banks, 70 000 corporations, 720 insurance firms, amongst other trusts, funds, foundations and corporate vehicles, are registered in the world’s largest secrecy jurisdiction – the Cayman Islands.
The UN’s acceptance of cap-and-trade is not surprising as CCX includes many former UN officials such as Kofi Annan, in addition to former World Bank president James Wolfensohn amongst others. As far back as the UN’s Rio summit in 1992, Gore’s CCX, self-described as ‘the world’s first and North America’s only legally binding integrated emissions reduction, registry and trading system’, declared the need to realise ‘market-based solution to global warming.’
This ideology bears resemblance to ‘growth’ of the common cuckoo, brooding parasites that deposit eggs in the nests of other birds, carbon capitalism destroys and marginalises other living beings, voraciously feeding off host entities at the expense of host communities. If scientists are correct, and the atmosphere can withstand only 250 billion tonnes more in our carbon budget before we hit bankruptcy, our choices, until the earth recovers, are limited to a zero-carbon future – beginning with drastic cuts in developed not developing countries. This means doing away with carbon capitalism and capitalism overall. The only other alternative is a zero-future.
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* 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.
Profits before people: The great African liquidation sale
Back in the early 1990s when I was reporting from northern Ghana, an elderly woman farmer decided I would benefit from a bit of enlightenment. In a rather long lecture, she detailed for me the devastating effects that the Green Revolution – the first one that outside experts and donors launched in Africa in the 1960s and 1970s – had had on farmers’ crops, soils, trees and their lives. She said that the imported seeds, fertilizers, pesticides and tractors, the instructions to plant row after row of imported hybrid maize and cut down precious trees that protected the soils and nourished the people – even the invaluable sheanut trees – had ruined the diverse and productive farming systems that had always sustained her people. When she finished, she cocked an eye at me and asked, with a cagey grin, 'Why do you bring your mistakes here?' By 'you' she meant all the people, foreigners and Africans in their employ, who tramp all over the continent implementing their big plans to develop it. These great schemes are generally concocted even higher up the decision-making chain in distant world financial capitals, often by free-market ideologues and international bankers who wouldn’t know a sheanut from a peanut.
At the time, I had no answer to her question. But now, two decades later, I think I do. It’s taken a lot of years of schooling at the knees of African farmers and intellectuals from Zambia to The Gambia. And most recently, it was all summed up clearly for me by members of COPAGEN, a coalition of African farmer associations, scientists, civil society groups and activists who work to protect Africa’s genetic heritage, farmer rights, and their sovereignty over their land, seeds and food. All these knowledgeable people have shown me that the answer is quite straightforward: many of those imported mistakes, disguised as solutions for Africa, are very, very profitable. At least for those who design and make them.
Not, however, for the average African farming family or even the average African whose interests, we are led to believe, are being served by the big plans made by big planners for progress and development. There have been many of these master plans over the years, spearheaded by the Bretton Woods institutions and the world’s major economic powers, nearly all of them promoting the unfettered free market and re-regulated private sector; that is, regulations that curtail cowboy capitalism have to be lassoed and put down, replaced by new ones to promote and sanction the profitable stampede over the public sector.
Hence all those years of structural adjustment programmes in Africa, poverty reduction schemes, the first Green Revolution, the liberalised trade that cranked open Africa’s doors to cheap imports and subsidised foodstuffs dumped on the continent, which snuffed out African industries and undermined African farmers who, ironically, the same free-market gurus said should not be subsidised.
These monetarist schemes have helped to make Africa poorer and even more dependent on foreign donors and capital, and thus more vulnerable to still more of the big plans, so that now, even as Africans struggle to confront the perfect storm of the global food crisis, financial crisis and climate change – all of which are the offspring of the unfettered free-market financial system – the same big planners are at it again with more sweeping solutions (profitable ones) for the problems they themselves caused. The difference today is that there are many new planners and players scrambling for a bit of the action in Africa, not just Western powers and the financial institutions they largely control, as in the past, but also China and other Asian countries, as well as the Gulf states awash in cash.
Breaking over Africa is a tsunami of predatory capital, otherwise known as 'foreign direct investment' (FDI) in Africa. The spin on the FDI has it offering Africa wondrous opportunities, the only way to eradicate hunger and poverty. This is not the kind of well-targeted and well-controlled investment that could promote local resources and put them to good use through local processing and value-adding to sustainably grow African economies from the farm up. The investment is extractive and exploitive, heading right for the vulnerable heart of the continent – its farms and the families and communities that work them, who account for 70 per cent of Africa’s population. The wealth generated and food produced will mostly flow out of Africa, leaving social, political and environmental upheaval and human suffering in its wake.
And just to make sure there’s absolutely nothing impeding or taming the tidal wave of investment, the World Bank and the US are busy helping African governments 'harmonise' laws to privatise land and open the doors for the patenting of crop and tree varieties and for genetically modified (GM) organisms crops.[i]
So what do the world’s great investors have their eyes on in Africa, in addition to the usual natural resources – minerals, petroleum and timber – that they’ve always coveted? In a word, land. Lots of it. The land-grabbing 'investors' are purchasing or leasing large chunks of African land to produce food crops or agrofuels or both, or just scooping up farmland as an investment, the new favourite hedge fund. More than US$100 billion have been mobilised in the past two years for investing in land, and according to one analyst, the idea behind the new land craze is 'not to harvest food but to harvest money'.[ii]
If the storm of foreign investment and interference is left to blow itself out, one day in the not-so-distant future African farmers may awake to find themselves without land to cultivate, their communities and lives in indentured tatters, no seeds to call their own. The crop varieties their own forbearers developed will have been 'improved' and then privatised by foreigners who own exclusive rights for their use. Crucial watersheds and vast tracts of woodlands needed to combat climate change will have been converted to vast water- and fossil-fuel-guzzling industrial plantations producing food and agrofuels, run by giant agribusinesses and foreign investors, absent landlords and bosses who may never in their lives have soiled their hands in, well, real soil. Africa will become the whole world’s vassal state. Alarmist? Yes, because so are the facts.
There are estimates that in the past couple of years, 30 million hectares (that’s an area the size of Senegal and Benin together) have been grabbed in at least 28 countries in Africa.[iii] In Ethiopia alone, more than 600,000 hectares have already been acquired, with another 1.6 million literally up for grabs, at the same time as the country is asking for urgent food aid.[iv] It was just such a land investment deal between the South Korean company, Daewoo, and the former president of Madagascar, which would have accorded Daewoo 1.3 million hectares for industrial monoculture – the production of food and agrofuels for export to Korea – that contributed to the downfall of President Marc Ravalomanana.[v]
At the moment, the grabbing of Africa’s land is shrouded in secrecy and proceeding at an unprecedented rate, spurred on by the global food and financial crises. GRAIN, a non-profit organisation that supports farm families in their struggles for community-controlled and biodiversity-based food systems, works daily to try to keep up with the deals on its farmlandgrab.org website.[vi]
GRAIN reports that some of the grabbers are countries anxious to secure their own future food supplies – China, India, Japan and other Asian countries, Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states, Libya and Brazil.[vii] Other land-grabbers are buying up and leasing vast tracts of land in Africa as a lucrative investment, or as one analyst describes farm land, 'an asset like gold, only better'.[viii] Among them are multinational agribusinesses, investors from the Middle East and investment houses, and pension funds. Others getting in on the new land rush are energy and mining companies, who cloak their land-grabbing in green-washing terms to cash in on public goodwill to try to tackle climate change with large-scale production of agrofuels from food crops such as palm oil, sugarcane and maize, or non-food crops such as jatropha, all of which require enormous amounts of land, water, and yes, fossil fuels that cause climate change, to produce.
Apart from the African governments and chiefs who are happily and quietly selling or leasing the land right out from under their own citizens, those who are promoting the new wave of rapacious investment include the World Bank, its International Finance Corporation (IFC), the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and many other powerful nations and institutions. The US Millennium Challenge Corporation is helping to reform new land ownership laws – privatising land – in some of its member countries. The imported idea that user rights are not sufficient, that land must be privately owned, will efface traditional approaches to land use in Africa, and make the selling off of Africa even easier. GRAIN notes the complicity of African elites and says some African 'barons' are also snapping up land.
Jacques Diouf, director general of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), originally called the land-grabbing a system of 'neocolonialism'.[ix] Since then, however, the FAO appears to have joined the ranks of the World Bank et al who support the land-grabbing and are working towards a 'framework' that will promote 'responsible investment in agriculture' to make it a 'win-win' situation.[x] Which means, in the English that the rest of us speak, that there will be lots of lofty promises, fancy rhetoric emanating from high-level meetings, while business continues as usual. Africa loses. Foreign investors win–win.
Foreign investors have never been, are not and never will be in the business of helping hungry Africans feed themselves and solve food insecurity on the continent, no matter what the land-grabbers would have local people believe.[xi] It’s big business, for big profit.
Ndiogou Fall, head of the Network of Peasant Organizations and Producers in West Africa (ROPPA), says that entire communities have been dispossessed of their land and that some states have undertaken massive deforestation projects to satisfy the investors. He declares the members of ROPPA totally opposed to the sale of Africa’s arable land.[xii]
And at the same time, another big plan is buffeting Africa’s farmers. It’s the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), which claims it is working in smallholder farmers’ interests by 'catalysing' a Green Revolution in Africa. Green Revolution Number Two. AGRA is being bankrolled primarily by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, along with the Rockefeller Foundation that bankrolled Green Revolution Number One, and it has roped in many major development banks, UN agencies and the CGIAR (Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research) – among others – to help revolutionise African agriculture. AGRA is run by several people with close ties to the biotech monster, Monsanto, and just like Green Revolution Number One, it recommends 'modern' technological solutions such as imported fertilizers and purchased seeds. While it denies that GM crops are necessarily involved, the Gates Foundation has offered US$5.4 million to the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center, an American institute funded heavily by Monsanto, to expedite the acceptance by African governments of GM crops for field testing.[xiii] One does want to ask the worshippers of modern technology and industrial agribusiness models who insist on exporting these to Africa, why, when these are supposedly so productive, they have to be so heavily subsidised in Europe and the US.
To render African agriculture commercially profitable, as AGRA aims to do, the Gates Foundation admits (not publicly, but in a leaked document) that it may eventually involve 'land mobility'. That’s doublespeak for smallholder farmers being removed from their land.[xiv]
Before it set out to re-invent the African farm, did AGRA revisit – and perhaps criticise – liberalised and imbalanced trade policies that have suppressed prices for African produce and hurt Africa’s farmers? Did it examine the economic dogma imposed on Africa that destroyed agricultural extension programmes and reduced government spending on agricultural investment, research and infrastructure? Did it do its homework and take stock of the countless studies of the countless advantages of holistic, small-scale farms that rely on the sharing of local seed varieties and traditional knowledge, of agroforestry and integrated diverse systems of trees, livestock and crops, which reduce risks and are resilient in the face of climate change? Did it examine ways to promote and improve these environmentally sustainable systems? Did it pay more than lip service to the landmark International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development (IAASTD) study carried out by dozens of scientists over many years and initiated partly by the World Bank itself, which in April 2009 concluded that agro-ecological agriculture by smallholder farmers was the best solution of all? Did it look at giving African farmers more control over their own resources rather than putting them still more at the mercy of giant seed and agrochemical companies? The answer to all of the above: no.
And perhaps most importantly, did it even engage with Africa’s farmers when it drew up its big plans? Not according to Simon Mwamba of the Eastern and Southern Africa Small-Scale Farmers’ Forum, who had this to say about AGRA:' You come. You buy the land. You make a plan. You build a house. Now you ask me, what colour do I want to paint the kitchen? This is not participation!'[xv]
So the liquidation sale of African land, traditional knowledge, biodiversity, seeds and crop varieties – of Africa’s sovereignty – proceeds unchecked. If it continues, the losses to the continent – to its people, its resources, its environment and its future – are incalculable, just like the profits that will be accrued – elsewhere of course.
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* Joan Baxter is a Canadian journalist who has lived and worked in Africa for 25 years, reporting for the BBC and other international media and doing research on sustainable natural resource management, agriculture, mining and extractive industries. She is an award-winning author and her latest book, 'Dust From Our Eyes – An Unblinkered Look at Africa' was shortlisted for the Dayton Literary Peace Prize.
* Please send comments to [email protected] or comment online at Pambazuka News.
[iii] Piro, Patrick. 17 Sept 2009. La course aux terres ne faiblit pas Politis 1029
[viii] Mayer, Chris. 4 Oct 2009. This asset is like gold, only better. DailyWealth. http://www.stockhouse.com/Columnists/2009/Oct/4/This-asset-is-like-gold,-only-better
[ix] Blas, Javier. 18 Aug 2008. Financial Times.
[x] Japan Ministry of Foreign Affairs. 29 Sept 2009. Promoting responsible international investment in agriculture.http://www.mofa.go.jp/policy/economy/fishery/agriculture/investment.html
[xi] Poindexter, Sama. Sept 2009. Awoko Newspaper.
[xiii] Friends of the Earth (FOE) Ghana; Togo; Nigeria; Cameroon; Sierra Leone; Tunisia; Swaziland; South Africa; Mauritius. 6 April 2009. AGRA & Monsanto & Gates, Green Washing and Poor Washing. [http://crossedcrocodiles.wordpress.com/2009/04/06/agra-monsanto-gates-green-washing-poor-washing/]
[xiv] Raj Patel, Eric Holt-Gimenez & Annie Shattuck. 21 September 2009. Ending Africa's Hunger. The Nation.
Famine and the noisome beast in Ethiopia
Alemayehu G. Mariam
It is hard to talk about Ethiopia these days in non-apocalyptic terms. Millions of Ethiopians are facing their old enemy again for the third time in nearly forty years. The black horseman of famine is stalking that ancient land. A year ago, Meles Zenawi's regime denied there was any famine. Only 'minor problems' of spot shortages of food which will 'be soon brought under control', it said dismissively. The regime boldly predicted a 7–10 per cent increase in the annual harvest over 2007. Simon Mechale, head of the country's Disaster Prevention and Preparedness Agency, proudly declared, 'Ethiopia will soon fully ensure its food security.' For several years, the regime has been touting that its Productive Safety Net Programme would result in ending the 'cycle of dependence on food aid' by bridging production deficits and protecting household and community assets. Famine and chronic food shortages were officially ostracised from Ethiopia.
But the famine juggernaut could not be stopped. Recently, Mitiku Kassa, Ethiopia's state minister for agriculture and rural development, was panhandling international donors to give US$121 million in food aid to feed some 5 million people. The United Nations World Food Programme says a much larger emergency fund of US$285 million in international food aid is needed to avert mass starvation just in the next six months.
Zenawi's regime has been downplaying and double-talking the famine situation. It is too embarrassed to admit the astronomical number of people facing starvation in a country which, by the regime's own accounts, is bursting at the seams from runaway economic development. USAID's Famine Early Warning Systems Network in its September 2009 Situation Report indicated that there are 'an additional 7.5 million' individuals to those reported by the Ethiopian government who are 'chronically food insecure'. Regardless of the euphemisms, code words and rhetorical flourish used to describe the situation by politically correct international agencies, between 15–18 per cent of the Ethiopian population is at risk of full-blown famine, according to the estimates of various international famine relief organisations.
Many Ethiopians view the recurrent famines as an expression of divine wrath. Successive governments have evaded responsibility for their failure to prevent or mitigate famine conditions. In 1973–74, Ethiopia's 'hidden famine', exposed to the world by the BBC's Jonathan Dimbleby, resulted in the deaths of an estimated 200,000 Ethiopians. Emperor Haile Selassie said he was unaware of the magnitude of the famine. He lost his throne and life in the ensuing military coup. In 1984–85, the Soviet-supported socialist military junta known as the 'Derg' denied the existence of a famine which consumed over 1 million Ethiopians. Today, the regime of Meles Zenawi shamelessly presides over a third apocalyptic famine in 40 years while boasting to the world an '11 per cent economic growth over the past six years'.
Every Ethiopian government over the past four decades has blamed famine on 'acts of God'. The current regime, like its predecessors, blames 'poor and erratic rains', 'drought conditions', 'deforestation and soil erosion', 'overgrazing' and other 'natural factors' for famine and chronic food shortages in Ethiopia. Zenawi's regime even has the brazen audacity to blame 'Western indifference' and 'apathy' in not providing timely food aid for the suffering of starving Ethiopians.
Penny Lawrence, Oxfam's international director, observed after her recent visit to Ethiopia: 'Drought does not need to mean hunger and destitution. If communities have irrigation for crops, grain stores, and wells to harvest rains then they can survive despite what the elements throw at them.' Martin Plaut, BBC World Service News Africa editor explains that the 'current [famine] crisis is in part the result of policies designed to keep farmers on the land, which belongs to the state and cannot be sold'. So the obvious questions for Zenawi's regime are: Why is all land owned by a government that has rejected socialism and is fully committed to a free-market economy? Why has the regime not been able to build an adequate system of irrigation for crops, grain storages and wells to harvest rains?
Indian economics Nobel laureate Amartya Sen argued that the best way to avert famines is by institutionalising democracy and strengthening human rights: 'No famine has ever taken place in the history of the world in a functioning democracy' because democratic governments 'have to win elections and face public criticism, and have strong incentive to undertake measures to avert famines and other catastrophes'. Ethiopia's famine today is a famine of food scarcity as much as it is a famine of democracy and good governance. Ethiopians are starved for human rights, thirst for the rule of law, ache for accountability of those in power and yearn to breathe free from the chokehold of dictatorship. They are dying at the hands of corrupt, foreign-aid profiteering and ethnically-polarising dictators who cling to the Ethiopian body politic like blood-sucking ticks on a milk cow.
Sen's democratic network of 'famine early warning systems' does not exist in Ethiopia. Opposition parties are crushed ruthlessly, and their leaders harassed, persecuted and jailed. Birtukan Midekssa, the first woman political party leader in Ethiopia's recorded history, today languishes in prison doing a life term on the ridiculous charge that she had denied receiving a government pardon in July 2007 following her kangaroo court conviction and two-year incarceration. The free press is silenced and journalists imprisoned for exposing official corruption and offering alternative viewpoints. They do not dare report on the famine. NGOs, including famine relief organisations, are severely hobbled in their work by a law that 'criminalises the human rights activities of both foreign and domestic non-governmental organizations', according to Amnesty International.
All along, Zenawi has been hoodwinking international donors and lenders into supporting his 'emerging democracy'. After two decades, we do not even see the ghost of democracy on Ethiopia's parched landscape. All we see is the spectre of an entrenched dictatorship that has clung to power like barnacles to a sunken ship, or more appropriately, the sunken Ethiopia ship of state.
Images of the human wreckage of Ethiopia's rampaging famine will soon begin to make dramatic appearances on television in Western living rooms. The Ethiopian government will be out in full force panhandling the international community for food aid. Compassion-fatigued donors may or may not come to the rescue. Ethiopians, squeezed between the black horseman and the noisome beast, will once again cry out to the heavens in pain and humiliation as they await for handouts from a charitable world. Isn't that a low, down-dirty shame for a proud people to bear?
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* Alemayehu G. Mariam is a professor of political science at California State University, San Bernardino, and an attorney based in Los Angeles.
* This article was originally published by the Huffington Post.
* Please send comments to [email protected] or comment online at Pambazuka News.
Power cuts and powerlessness: Tanzanians' plight during energy crises
It has become so predictable, this thing we call ‘power rationing’. We in Tanzania had it in 2006, 2007 and 2008. It is here in 2009. If the yearly trend continues then we shall surely experience it in 2010.
If we have forgotten the past then we only have to glance at the dates of the following front-page news stories from The Citizen to get a glimpse of how this power rationing is such a vicious cycle: '"Tanzania 2006: Power" crisis dominated headlines' (29 December 2006); 'Another power crisis as Songas turbines collapse' (25 September 2008); 'Power crisis: Tough times ahead – No solution in sight as sabotage suggestions angers Tanesco boss' (13 October 2009).
For some strange reasons the major power crises tend to emerge toward the end of the year. Some claim it is because of delayed rains. The moment you blame it on ‘Mother Nature’ you let humans off the hook. But isn’t being human all about taming nature? And, as experts of climate change insist, aren’t we the ones who affect those rain seasons with environmental degradation?
From what has been going on there is no way we can claim human agency is not behind this power tragedy. When we survey more cover stories from The Citizen this is what we get as evidence of why this is a manmade problem that needs humans to take responsibility: 'Business want power shedding compensation' (19 March 2007); 'Tanesco ordered to pay Sh190.8m to paper mill' (12 September 2007); 'Emergency power supply contract that never was' (19 March 2008); 'Rationing ends as power supply normalises' (The Citizen, 20 September 2008).
Humans, as a restaurant owner plighted with power cuts told me the other day, never get used to problems. We are not used to the power rationing problem. At the individual level we might have devised coping mechanism to partially deal with it but that does not mean we are really used to it. Every time we experience power cuts we suffer and complain. We also try to offer solutions.
When such a crisis occurred, or rather was made to occur, in October 2006, a concerned citizen wrote an open letter to President Jakaya Kikwete. He told him how the crisis was affecting his attempt at self-employment. His hope was that such a leader who was/is committed to creating a million jobs for (young) Tanzanians would/will take note of how the power crisis was/is a setback to that goal.
Three years down the line, self-employees are still bearing the brunt of the on and off blackouts. For instance, in the beginning of the year the parliamentary committee responsible for public investments accounts found out that a salon could incur a cost of up to an additional TSh 60,000 (Tanzanian shillings) per day during rationing. According its chair, Zitto Kabwe, in his press statement on the current crisis, the rationing curtails the capital of small-scale entrepreneurs and thus impoverishes them.
Companies also suffer: 'Power woes: Cement firm incurs over Sh2bn loss' (2 February 2007). The national economy as whole has been suffering: 'Revealed: Power crisis to cost nation Sh815 billion' (30 November 2006); 'Power disconnection cost Govt, firm Sh 540m a day' (22 November 2007). Even Tanesco is losing out: ‘Tsh 2 million or so per day’ says POAC’s chair!
Over the years, however, we have been coming up with ‘Band-Aid’ solutions. We can also see this reflected in The Citizen’s cover stories: 'New power tariff soon' (29 December 2006); '40 percent power rise will kill industries' (23 September 2007); 'Consumer body says Tanesco’s new connections charges are illegal' (19 November 2007); 'Govt is rattled as MPs reject power bill again' (20 March 2008); 'Power sector for partial liberalisation' (19 April 2008).
A survey of The Citizen’s headlines on the IPTL, Richmond and Dowans solutions is also self-revealing: 'Richmond says power equipment "in flight"' (21 October 2006); 'Tanesco: Dowans yet to commission 20MW' (19 January 2007); 'Dowans: Dr. Rashid throws in the towel' (7 March 2008); 'Ex-Richmond power deal may be extended to 2012'; 'Tanesco now halts Dowans contract' (1 July 2008); 'Court blocks sale of Dowans plant' (20 December 2008); 'Switch on Dowans, IPTL now, businesses tell govt (21 October 2009).
As I am writing this article the power cuts seems to have eased. Perhaps this is because of 'Kikwete’s order on IPTL' (22 October 2009). This order, depending on how you view it, came in the wake, or as a result of, the businesses’ call and Zitto Kabwe’s statement referred to above. I want to be so happy that the power cuts have been cut regardless of who has done it. But can I?
Politically speaking, is it possible to happily enjoy this power when a permanent solution to the recurring crisis has not yet been found? Economically speaking, is it possible to be happy about it even though it will cost us a lot in the long run? Morally speaking, how can it be possible to enjoy this power when there seems to be a shady cloud around it as the court process indicates?
These are the kinds of questions that make me think that perhaps there is more in the word ‘power’ than we use interchangeably with ‘electricity’. No wonder the veteran journo, Karl Lyimo, thus rhetorically admits: 'It seems I’ll never understand this even if I live to know the difference between power, energy and electricity!' Power cuts means we are a powerless people.
In my physics class I was taught that power is defined as energy over time. I was also taught that the law of conservation of energy states that you can neither create nor destroy energy. What you can only do is transform it from one form to another. And that is indeed what we have been doing since Uhuru: transforming mechanical energy from moving water into electrical energy.
Human agency is what has done this transformation. It is this same agency that has transformed fuel energy from generators to produce electrical energy. Surely the same agency has the power to harness the heat from the sun and force from the winds and turn them into electrical energy.
With all these forms of energy in our country, how can we afford to be powerless? Why can’t we have the same kind of belief that inspired Barack Obama to powerfully declare: 'We will harness the sun and the winds and the soil to fuel our cars and run our factories'? What is stopping us from being powerful enough to also conclude: 'All this we can do. All this we will do.'?
Power is about the distribution of resources. Let’s redistribute our energy resources. Yes, we can.
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* Chambi Chachage is an independent researcher, newspaper columnist and policy analyst based in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.
* 'Nyerere's Legacy', edited by Chambi Chachage and Annar Cassam, is coming soon from Pambazuka Press.
* © Chambi Chachage.
* Please send comments to [email protected] or comment online at Pambazuka News.
Refugee refoulement in the East African Community
The African Union’s Special summit on refugees, returnees and internally displaced persons that took place in Kampala on 22 October marked a historic attempt to address the huge challenge of forced displacement that continues to overwhelm the continent.
Tarsis Kabwegyere, Uganda's minister for relief, disaster preparedness and refugees, highlighted the summit’s importance on 19 October, arguing that delegates must let their minds ‘reflect back on our brothers and sisters, the aged, our mothers, children and the infirm who are the first victims of forced migration. They have all their hopes on this summit that together we can lessen or end their misery.’
While such sentiments are clearly noble, they come at a time when the pressure upon Uganda’s population of Rwandan refugees to repatriate is at its height. The UNHCR’s announcement on 19 October that the cessation of refugee status clause would be invoked by 2011 for all Rwandan refugees once again raises the contentious issue of forced returns in the Great Lakes region.
Given that Rwandan refugees have had ample time to reflect upon whether they wish to go home, the proposed road map suggests an unwillingness on the part of both the Ugandan and Rwandan Governments and the UNHCR to accept that they do not want to return to Rwanda.
Kabwegyere had previously threatened that those who refused to repatriate before 31 July would lose their refugee status, stating that ‘when conditions no longer justify you being a refugee, you can become a worker.’ He has also said that Uganda has ‘been pushed to the limits’ and that ‘there is no justification for them [Rwandan refugees] to remain.’
On the Rwandan side, the rhetoric has been equally as intimidating, with Innocent Ngango, the official in charge of refugee repatriation at Rwanda’s ministry of local government, suggesting that refugees would be stripped of their status ‘if they have not returned by the end of December.’
Such threats amount to coercion and constitute a breach of international conventions protecting refugees and asylum seekers. For as long as they hold refugee status, those Rwandans who remain in Uganda cannot legally be forced to return home. To do so would violate the universal principle of non-refoulement, enshrined in Article 33(1) of the 1951 United Nations Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees and the 1967 Protocol.
Article 5(1) of the African Union Convention Governing the Specific Aspects of Refugee Problems in Africa, moreover, specifically states that ‘the essentially voluntary character of repatriation shall be respected in all cases and no refugee shall be repatriated against his will.’
The coercive rhetoric that has emerged from both Uganda and Rwanda over this issue thus contributes to a climate of confusion and fear amongst refugees. With the Ugandan Government and UNHCR yet to outline the alternatives for those who do not wish to return, an impression is conveyed that refugees do not have a choice. In fact, returnees have been quoted as feeling that they are ‘going by force.’
While Uganda is entitled under both the United Nations and African Union Conventions to withdraw refugee status if the circumstances under which refugees gained their status have ceased to exist, this cannot apply to those who are able to demonstrate that repatriation would compromise their dignity or safety.
Rwanda may very well be stable, but this does not detract from the fact that many Rwandan refugees possess legitimate concerns over their safety and ability to live a peaceful and dignified life if they were to return.
This brings us to the contentious fact that the vast majority of the remaining refugees are ethnic Hutus, including some who are evading prosecution for participating in the 1994 genocide. It is clearly not the aim of international refugee law to protect the perpetrators of such horrific acts of brutality. Yet at the same time it is crucial that those who are innocent of such crimes are not put in danger in an attempt to bring others to account.
Despite this, the fact remains that the financial concerns of UNHCR and Uganda, in addition to Rwanda’s sense that its national pride is at stake, are exercising a strong and unwelcome influence over the fate of these refugees.
In fact, the politicisation of refugee programmes has, historically, been all too common in East Africa. The infamous forced return of Rwandan refugees from Tanzania in 1996, facilitated by UNHCR, was the result of a combination of political pressure and the prospect of military intervention by the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), who viewed the large numbers of Hutu refugees as both a strategic threat and a matter of national pride, with the refugees representing roughly one sixth of the country’s population.
The Tanzanian authorities’ subsequent use of military force to ensure the refugees’ repatriation was a gross violation of international human rights law and as such was widely condemned. Amnesty International described how those responsible exhibited ‘a shocking disregard for the rights, dignity and safety of refugees.’
Little has changed in this regard since 1996. Despite Tanzania’s commendable decision to grant citizenship to those Burundian refugees who fled ethnic violence in 1972, reports earlier this year indicated that the 37,000 refugees of the Mtabila camp, who arrived in the 1990s, were being intimidated and coerced into repatriation.
A June 2009 report by the Fahamu Trust, for instance, found that the Tanzanian authorities had ‘closed the refugees’ markets and businesses, restricted crop cultivation, burned houses, arrested camp leaders and threatened the use of force by the army.’ The report also condemned the actions of the UNHCR whom it alleges to have ‘stood by while refugees were forced to return based on threats of force while uninformed of their rights.’
The process of screening refugees to assess whether they have unresolved protection concerns was similarly criticised by Fahamu. While Amnesty International argued that, ‘contrary to international and regional law, there is no procedure in place to assess any individual claims by refugees and asylum-seekers of well-founded fears of persecution.’ If true, this is extremely disturbing and represents a serious violation of the refugees’ human rights.
In fact, this illegal behaviour is characteristic of Tanzania’s approach to dealing with the 1990s influx of Burundian refugees. Following one particularly intimidating operation in 2003, UNHCR spokesperson Peter Kessler voiced his organisation’s growing concern that repatriation was not being carried out voluntarily. He referred to the testimonies of returned refugees who cited ‘declining levels of assistance as one of the major reasons for return’, in addition to ‘new measures imposed by local authorities which restrict their movements and now confine them to the camps.’
While such coercive measures represent an extremely cynical attempt to manipulate refugees into returning home, they at least recognise the existence of international prohibitions on refoulement through the very act of attempting to circumvent them. Kenya’s ongoing treatment of Somali asylum seekers on the other hand demonstrates no such desire to avoid international condemnation.
The closure of Kenya’s border with Somalia in response to the escalation of violence in 2007 has had a devastating impact upon the efforts of Somali refugees to claim asylum in Kenya. UNHCR has been forced to shut down its refugee transit centre, which registered refugees before allocating them to camps, while there are numerous reports of forced returns and other human rights violations being perpetrated by Kenyan police.
In fact, the free reign granted to police by the border closure has increased the corrupt and abusive practices of an already brutal force. Human Rights Watch have documented numerous cases where busloads of Somalis have been turned back at the border without being granted the opportunity to claim asylum. Worse still, Somalis unable to pay police bribes have been arrested, held in detention centres and beaten before being deported. There has even been one reported case of Kenyan police opening fire on a vehicle carrying refugees, injuring three Somalis who were subsequently forcibly removed from a Kenyan hospital and deported.
While Kenya is clearly entitled to protect its borders, it is illegal to do so at the expense of the safety of refugees who are fleeing violence and persecution. The AU Convention Governing the Specific Aspects of Refugee Problems in Africa, to which Kenya has acceded, clearly states that that ‘no person shall be subjected by a Member State to measures such as rejection at the frontier, return or expulsion, which would compel him to return to or remain in a territory where his life, physical integrity or liberty would be threatened.’
That the Kenyan police continue to violate this principle is a matter that must be urgently addressed by the incoming police chief Mathew Iteere. If the removal of Major General Mohammed Hussein Ali from his post is to have any meaning it is essential that his successor carries out the sweeping reforms necessary to combat the systemic corruption and brutality of the police force, including its abuse and exploitation of defenceless Somali refugees.
Unfortunately, the appalling record of refugee refoulement in the EAC does not end here.
This month Burundi began the process of deporting more than 400 Rwandan refugees, in a move condemned by the UNHCR and human rights groups. In 2005 Burundi forcibly returned 6,500 Rwandans, many of whom have since returned to claim asylum. In June this year, Rwanda forcibly expelled its remaining Burundian refugees at gunpoint. While, in addition to its coercive repatriation of Rwandans, Uganda has been complicit in the Kenyan government’s attempts to pressurise Kenyan refugees to return, many of whom feel that the ethnic tensions that led to the post-election violence of 2007-8 remain unresolved.
The pervasive practice of coercion and forced return within the EAC requires urgent attention. While the challenge faced by member nations in addressing the region’s manifold refugee crises is an exceptionally difficult one, the refoulement of refugees does not represent a legitimate solution. The failure of donor nations to adequately support the EAC, or UNHCR, in dealing with such huge flows of forced migrants cannot excuse the act of placing refugees in harms way.
This raises fundamental questions regarding the EAC project and an integration process that ultimately aims to establish a political federation. The mission of the EAC, based on its 1999 Establishment Treaty, is to deepen the economic, political, social and cultural integration of the region in order to improve the quality of life for all citizens. Yet it is impossible to reconcile these aims with the pervasive practice of refugee refoulement. If the fundamental aim of the EAC is to bring greater cohesion and solidarity to the region, how can governments treat the citizens of other member states with such callous disregard?
As the process of integration continues the potential for regional political concerns to take precedence over the safety of refugees can only increase. One major reason for this is the limited integration of the international non-refoulement norm into the national laws and practices of member states. With pressure to return refugees being placed upon host governments by neighbours who wish to present an image of safety and stability, weak national laws and inadequate enforcement mechanisms can be exploited, resulting in refugees being treated as political currency.
This severely undermines the potential for initiatives such as the AU’s ‘Special Summit on Refugees, Returnees and Internally Displaced Persons’ to make a tangible impact on the ground. An opportunity exists though, for the EAC to demonstrate its worth to the people of East Africa and develop a refugee policy that will provide concrete guidelines for the protection of refugees and asylum seekers, preventing regional political concerns from impinging upon their human rights.
In fact, the ‘Treaty for the Establishment of the East African Community’ explicitly recognises the importance of developing such concrete guidelines. Article 124(4) requires that ‘Partner States undertake to establish common mechanisms for the management of refugees’ as part of a drive to improve regional peace and security. The EAC Peace and Security Conference in Kampala on 5 October, moreover, reaffirmed the importance of establishing common mechanisms for managing refugee crises by confirming that a framework would be drawn up.
While these are certainly positive indicators, the urgent need to find a solution to the rampant abuse of refugee rights in East Africa demands a much more decisive response from the region’s political leadership. Unless concrete steps to protect refugees from forced return are taken in the immediate future the stated commitment of the EAC to fostering social justice and protecting human rights can be considered nothing but empty rhetoric or worse, political subterfuge.
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* Lawrence Carter works with the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI).
* Please send comments to [email protected] or comment online at Pambazuka News.
Mwalimu Nyerere’s non-alignment still needed today
Issa G Shivji
Mwalimu Julius Nyerere was a great leader but not an angel. There are his personal qualities like integrity which are inspirational. There are his political practices, some of which need to be assessed and others which cannot stand up to criticism. But there is one aspect of his political practice which needs to be carefully evaluated and its relevance gauged. This is his foreign policy in relation to superpowers and his association with non-alignment.
The Bandung conference held in Indonesia in 1955 was a great historical event for the formerly colonised world. Twenty-nine Asian and African countries attended, significantly excluding Israel, South Africa, Taiwan and North and South Korea. The Bandung conference eventually led to the formation of the non-aligned movement in 1961.
Many Asian and African countries became independent after the war. They were born as nations in the midst of Cold War rivalries between the Western and Eastern camps respectively led by the then two super-powers, the United States and the Soviet Union. These were not only political and ideological camps. They were also military configurations. The Soviet Union, together with its East European allies, formed the Warsaw Pact as a counterpoint to the military alliance of the Western powers led by the United States and NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization).
The newly independent countries, led by such leaders as Jawaharlal Nehru of India, Gamal Abdel Nasser of Egypt, Josip Broz Tito of Yugoslavia and Sukarno of Indonesia, were farsighted enough to realise that their independence would mean little if they fell in either of these camps. Later as African countries became independent, several African leaders like Kwame Nkrumah and Nyerere joined the Non-Aligned Movement. Originally 'non-alignment' simply meant not aligned with either of the military camps. But as they grappled with their economic problems, non-aligned countries began to explore and try to forge a common stand in economic matters as well. This was not always as successful.
With the collapse of the Soviet Union in the late 1980s, and the imposition of neoliberal policies, particularly in Africa, Western imperialism under the US took the offensive to rehabilitate itself morally and ideologically. The Warsaw pact collapsed, but NATO was further strengthened and undertook military adventures in the former Yugoslavia and Afghanistan, with disastrous results in terms of human life.
Neoliberalism and globalisation were not simply a matter of certain economic policies giving free rein to capitalist vultures and financial speculators, but, much more, they were an ideological offensive against nationalism and socialism. The second generation of African leaders, or the so-called 'new breed' leaders, as Western media christened their new African allies, fell in line, adopting neoliberal polices and the ideological package that went with them.
In the case of Tanzania the heydays of neoliberalism were during the third phase government under President Benjamin Mkapa. Foreign policy took a radical turn. Instead of liberation, African unity and solidarity with oppressed peoples, which were the cornerstone of Mwalimu’s foreign policy, neoliberal foreign policy prided itself in what was called ‘economic diplomacy’. This was hardly diplomacy and much less economic. In practice, economic diplomacy meant no more than 'selling' the country abroad to woo so-called investors. Worse, in military and political terms, it meant thoughtlessly toeing the line of the vicious superpower, the US, and its handyman, Zionist Israel.
Mwalimu used to avoid superpowers like the plague. The third and fourth phase governments embraced the superpower and echoed its multifarious 'wars', like the so-called 'war on terror'. Under a thinly-veiled garb of the United Nations, we in Tanzania sent troops to Lebanon. We were the only African member of the so-called International Contact Group on Somalia formed at the behest of the US. We allied with US policies in Somalia in the process undermining the reconciliation efforts of the regional African grouping IGAD (Intergovernmental Authority on Development). Had it not been for the opposition of civil groups, we might have even sent troops to Somalia.
For a few million dollars given apparently for HIV/AIDS, we diverted counterpart funds from other priorities – like malaria – to HIV, even though malaria kills more people. And for a few million mosquito nets, we feted warmongers of the world. It was first time ever that a leader of a superpower had set foot on our soil. George W. Bush came with a few hundred million dollars, a couple of million mosquito nets and a military project, US Africa command, or AFRICOM. AFRICOM has been trying hard to achieve legitimacy so that it can establish a base somewhere in Africa. A large majority of African countries have rejected it. Strangely, we have kept quiet. Worse, we have been warming up to the advances of the superpower.
If we had some understanding of shifting world hegemonies, we would refurbish Mwalimu’s non-alignment and use it as our polar star in our international relations. Non-alignment is more relevant today than it was ever before. World hegemonies are shifting. Analysts are talking about the 21st century as Pacific as opposed to the Atlanticist 20th century. US hegemony is declining, though it remains the strongest military power. Its traditional backyard, Latin America, is fast slipping through its fingers. The rising China and India sit at the G20 table while the East Asian tigers, although somewhat tamed after the 1997 financial disaster, may be recouping. It is only Africa, which, in the eyes of US-led Western imperialism, remains virgin land to be raped at ease.
The new forms of exploitation and capital accumulation by world capitalism centre on an unrestrained plunder of over- and underground natural resources, including minerals, oil, land, forests, bio-resources and even water and the clean environment. Africa is poised to become one of the major suppliers of oil to the US as well as providing land mass for agro-fuels. In the impending rivalries between the old powers in the West and the rising powers in Asia, the ‘battle-zone’ is likely to shift from the Atlantic to the Indian Ocean.
US military bases in Djibouti and the island of Diego Garcia, the deployment of a massive navy ostensibly to defeat a few hundred Somali pirates, the militarisation of Ethiopia, AFRICOM itself, and the wooing of Tanzania are all part of this newly developing geopolitical strategy. To be drawn into this power-game would indeed be disastrous for any African country, as the history of imperialism teaches us.
On the other hand, new rivalries and the development of multi-polar worlds give Africa an opportunity and some space to carve out its own niche, provided it has its own agenda. How can we in Africa have an agenda of our own, for our people and against imperialist domination, unless we have a foreign policy akin to non-alignment?
Formally, Africa is not colonised, but national liberation, in the sense of being masters of our destiny, has been aborted. If neoliberalism has proven anything, it is that our territorial independence was a shell without substance. Our very sovereignty was assaulted by neoliberals as foreign powers, though their consultants made policies for us and sat in the decision-making processes of all strategic ministries from planning through finance to central banks. A new realisation is dawning upon many conscious Africans – the need for African unity, for new pan-Africanism.
Developments in Latin America and the Middle East should make us re-think our impending opening-up to states like Israel and reactionary Arab regimes like Saudi Arabia at the expense of liberation movements like that of Palestine or left-leaning nationalist regimes like those of Bolivia, Venezuela and Iran. The recent conference of Africans and Asians in Caracas, Venezuela, may be the beginning of a second Bandung. It is beyond comprehension that we sent a low-profile representation to that historic meeting while our media fell over each other when describing the attention that President Barack Obama was showering on our president.
The least that can be said, therefore, is that the post-Washington Consensus world is likely to be very different, not only in economic, but also in geopolitical terms. In which case, we need to revisit the three pillars of Mwalimu’s non-alignment – national liberation through pan-Africanist unity, in solidarity with the oppressed peoples of Latin America and Asia, and in particular the Middle East.
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* Issa G. Shivji is the Mwalimu Nyerere professor of pan-African studies at the University of Dar es Salaam.
* © Issa G. Shivji 2009
* Please send comments to [email protected] or comment online at Pambazuka News.
South Africa's success is about ‘we’, not ‘me’
Almost every developing country that has become rich since the Second World War has done so by lifting the majority of people out of poverty collectively and not the elite only. In fact, the developing countries that have been successful since the Second World War, particularly those from the East Asian developmental states, have done so by empowering the widest number of people – at the same time, not just an elite. Those developing countries where only a small elite became prosperous, have as countries stagnated.
Even the post-Second World War Western European reconstruction was premised on a social contract which was based on lifting everyone from poverty together, and not only a few lucky ones. In fact that has been the basis of the Western European welfare state: It was based on the fact that everyone in society must be looked after, not only the political, economic and cultural elite.
Sadly, it is now clear that since 1994, the economic dividends of South Africa’s democracy are only benefiting a small elite – the old pre-apartheid white establishment, which has now been joined by a small black elite. The overwhelming majority of black South Africans remain trapped in grinding poverty.
The gap between rich and poor in South Africa is now so wide, that research by Haroon Bhorat, University of Cape Town economics professor show that the country has now officially become ‘the most unequal society in the world’. This ever-deepening divide between the affluent and destitute is not only anymore just between blacks and whites, but also between a minority of rich blacks and the majority poor blacks.
The tragic story in Africa since independence is that almost every African liberation and independence movement that came to power, only a small elite have benefited from the end of colonialism or white-minority rule. Sadly, many of those who got rich after independence and liberation were mostly those who were connected to dominant leaders, factions, families, regional or ethnic groups of the liberation or independence movements. The post-independence elite who have become rich have done so mainly by exploiting their struggle credentials and ‘political connectivity’, while the overwhelming majority of those less connected, but who have most probably sacrificed more during the struggle, starve.
Furthermore, in most cases the old colonial or white-minority elite, even if they have opted out of public life, struck economic alliances, even if grudgingly, with the new elite, giving up shares in companies in return for being allowed to retain their prosperity.
The even more tragic story of African liberation and independence is that ordinary members, supporters and activists of these movements have allowed a small minority of those who struggled in the liberation struggles to get rich overnight.
When only a small elite becomes rich, and if that elite has control of political power also, as is the case in South Africa and in other African post-independence societies, the issues of the poor are unlikely to be determinedly pushed. National and provincial cabinet ministers, mayors and councillors, live in huge mansions in exclusive suburbs, drive R1m cars, surrounded by bodyguards, cutting through the traffic in VIP entourages. Their electricity, water bills, children’s school fees are subsidised by the state. At the same in the private and parastatal sectors, both the old apartheid-era elite and new black elite, pay themselves huge salaries, bonuses and perks, even if the companies they run are failing spectacularly.
To imagine that the new elite will somehow support a basic income grant for every poor family that lives in devastating poverty is just foolish. This new black liberation and independence elite retain their legitimacy by either giving patronage to selected groups, or to just enough poor people, to prevent widespread social rebellion at the injustice of only a small elite benefiting from the fruits of liberation.
In every African country the leadership has sustained this disgusting inequality by keeping on spouting liberation rhetoric and slogans, and professing in public their ‘commitment’ to the poor. Furthermore, they usually control the information of their conspicuous consumption from reaching the majority of the movement’s members and supporters. They often deflect scrutiny by blaming colonialism, apartheid, imperialists or individuals, parties or organisations linked to the pre-liberation old order.
Alternatively, the post-independence new rich portray members, activists and supporters who criticise this inequality as in league with the ‘colonialist’, imperialists, or white-minority, or as ‘reactionary’, alleging they are somehow oppose to the advancement of the poor. Or critics will just be muzzled through using state institutions such as the security apparatus, police, intelligence services, tax authorities, to muzzle critics with struggle credentials who cannot be dismissed.
The African independence elite have always seen success – not as lifting the widest amount of people out of poverty, but how a ‘struggle’ individual can ‘accumulate and display the most wealth’. Those who cannot do so are seen as having ‘failed’. Yet, unless we measure success as lifting the widest number of the black majority out of poverty, in the shortest time, we will fail as a country. And will join the club of developing countries that just muddle along, with a small political and economic elite in charge, and a poor majority trapped in poverty, from which a small numbers occasionally join the ranks of the rich.
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* This article first appeared in the Sowetan.
* William Gumede is co-editor with Leslie Dikeni of The Poverty of Ideas.
* Please send comments to [email protected] or comment online at Pambazuka News.
The RDP to challenge Swapo?: Namibia's elections
Twenty years ago, South Africa's occupation of Namibia came to an end. Less than five years later, the apartheid regime was voted out of power in South Africa itself. This year, elections both in South Africa during April and in Namibia at the end of November invite an analytical overview. This serves mainly the purpose of stimulating discussion on forms of political hegemony in the two countries in a comparative perspective.
The majority of votes in general elections (since 1989 in Namibia and since 1994 in South Africa) have been cast in favour of the most prominent liberation movements, the South West Africa People's Organization (Swapo) of Namibia and the African National Congress (ANC) in South Africa. Both anti-colonial organisations have transformed into parties in government and have consolidated their hegemonic status in terms of political rule by obtaining a clear majority of votes in subsequent elections.
Both Swapo and the ANC had a movement character with trade union alliances when obtaining legitimate political power under majority rule. Both also were divided into an exile wing and activists who were committed on the home front. These plural and diverse movements operated on the basis of the smallest common denominator to obtain national sovereignty and secure political majority rule under their leadership. Their transformation into political parties tended to cover the fact that internal differences were considerable and that the movement was home to a diversity of ideological orientations, which would potentially merit re-organisation into different political parties. Inner-organisational conflicts and rivalries, often also with personal components dating back to the ‘struggle days’, were fuelling competition also related to seeking access to material privileges and hence not only confined to differing political views. The frustrations over lost power struggles and subsequent processes of marginalisation were a strong motivating factor in triggering the establishment of new political parties.
In both cases internal differences led to the breakaway of former higher-ranking party members, who created their own opposition parties challenging the erstwhile liberation movements, of which they had been an integral part earlier on. In Namibia, this happened for the first time in 1999 with the creation of the Congress of Democrats (CoD) and in 2007 for a second time with the Rally for Democracy and Progress (RDP), while in South Africa it was the Congress of the People (COPE) in 2008. So far, none of these new parties were able to emerge as a serious alternative, although in South Africa the ANC lost its two-thirds majority in the elections 2009 arguably because a number of votes moved from the ANC to COPE, while in Namibia the CoD became the official opposition as a result of the election in 2004.
Both Swapo and the ANC claimed to be and were considered as the decisive liberators of the people from the yoke of colonialism and apartheid. The accomplishment of this historic mission was also perceived as a kind of ‘end of history’. Once having achieved legitimate formal political power on the basis of the results of relatively free and fair general elections, their common understanding is based on the shared history of liberation movements in Southern Africa (including the MPLA (Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola), FRELIMO (Liberation Front of Mozambique) and ZANU-PF (Zimbabwe African National Union – Patriotic Front)). These parties view themselves as entitled to continued political rule and support each other as allies against all efforts of ‘regime change’, considered as externally induced imperialist conspiracy.
Both the ANC and Swapo have youth leagues (and other active wings such as for women) who play a prominent role in the political mobilisation and discourse by promoting radical, militant rhetoric. This often is in favour of a hard-line politics guided by dogmatism and intolerance and devoid of any democratic notion. Members among the established leadership seem to use the party wings as outlets to voice views they as political office-bearers can or should not articulate.
Swapo was the declared sole representative of the formally acknowledged anti-colonial aspirations among the Namibian people and recognised by the United Nations General Assembly as ‘the sole and authentic representative of the Namibian people’. This provided the organisation with a genuine exclusivity perceived among the movement’s officeholders and the wider population as confirmation that it has the sole mandate to represent the people of Namibia and to execute the power of definition over what is considered to be truly Namibian. In contrast, the ANC was always seen as one among several political forces representing opposition to the apartheid regime and never had a similar exclusive status.
The complexity of South African society (in terms of demographic features, the socio-economic aspects of an industrialised country with a large and often organised population and the long educational and intellectual history also among the formerly colonised majority) differs markedly from Namibia’s society of a small and predominantly rural-based population (Namibia’s two million inhabitants are exceeded in numbers by the urban conglomerate around Johannesburg alone).
The public as well as inner-party discourse in South Africa shows far more nuances and diversity than in Namibia. Likewise, the role of NGOs and other civil society actors and their forms of mobilising participation in public affairs through civic interest groups and social movements seem to suggest that there is considerably more strength and space for dissenting voices to operate and articulate alternatives without immediate fundamental consequences for the daily survival of the individuals involved. Individual risks in material security for dissenting political views expressed seem to be higher in Namibia than in South Africa, so a ‘culture of fear’ as a consequence of the far-reaching control of the former liberation movement over most of the affairs in society seems greater. There is a strict social control over people’s activities and ‘subversive behaviour’.
The CoD was established in 1999 as a new alternative to Swapo, mainly by younger party cadres frustrated with Swapo politics. Its leadership did not pose a risk to Swapo’s two-thirds majority. In contrast, Swapo was able to expand its dominance even further, while the opposition was increasingly split into a variety of small, often locally rooted parties with an ethnic support base.
The ANC was always engaged in alliance politics, implying the negotiation of a political programme with other influential forces organised into separate entities (SACP (South African Communist Party) and COSATU (Congress of South African Trade Unions)). Swapo in contrast had no separate organisational negotiating partners to acknowledge within a political alliance. The trade union movement was already affiliated prior to independence and its political negotiating power proved to be rather insignificant. Its more articulate and politically influential leaders were mostly co-opted into the political leadership of Swapo without any increase in the strength of the trade unions; rather, it resulted in their weakening.
QUESTIONS AND CONCERNS
The orderly and democratic conduct of the Namibian parliamentary and presidential elections during the end of November 2009 should at this stage not be taken for granted. Opposition parties (in particular the RDP) are not fully free to organise the political rallies and mobilise the political support that they are constitutionally entitled to. Indications suggest that Swapo activists take initiatives to prevent other parties (again, in particular the RDP) to make use of the freedom to organise and campaign in public without interference. To what extent this is a response to provocations from these opposition party activists remains a contested issue, but regardless it does not reduce the damage brought in terms of international reputation.
It remains to be seen to what extent the moderate elements in the party leadership of Swapo will be able to execute influence and keep the more militant forces at bay. This would support the democratic image of Namibia, which has for a number of disturbing symptoms and features come increasingly into question.
It is uncertain if the newly established RDP will draw enough votes from the former support base of Swapo to establish itself as a meaningful political alternative. It is a matter of speculation if the RDP will be able to reduce Swapo’s two-thirds majority to an absolute majority. It also remains to be seen if the election results are accepted by all parties and reflect beyond any doubt the will of the people.
Voters in Namibia have based their preferences for Swapo as the political organisation of the formerly colonised people on the undisputed basis that this has been the liberator from settler colonialism, but less so on the political programmes or the delivery of services since independence. It will be interesting to see if voter behaviour starts to change and to what extent the generation of the ‘born free’ will make a difference.
Differences and rivalries in Swapo have not ceased with the establishment of the RDP. The nomination and ranking of candidates on the party list as compiled at the end of August at the electoral college offered no clear indication concerning the degree of political influence by the competing camps inside Swapo and their influence to appoint political office-bearers in government for the term 2010–15.
So far, Namibian politics, and in particular Swapo politics, remain dominated by the first generation of political office-bearers since independence, composed mainly of activists who had been representing Swapo in exile. A generational shift seems due and evidence is emerging. It will be of interest to what extent this is becoming visible in the new cabinet.
Swapo’s and Namibia’s first president (officially titled the ‘Founding Father of the Republic of Namibia’) has remained politically active ever since leaving office as head of state in 2005 and as party president in 2007. The list of party candidates for the election did not however provide any clear evidence of his continued influence. The composition of cabinet members will provide a better indicator to what extent he remains influential and/or how much the cabinet bears the handwriting of the (re-)elected head of state.
The print media, as well as a number of radio broadcasting stations in Namibia, have been relatively autonomous and resemble aspects of the South African media in their critical reporting. It remains to be seen to what extent these media are granted to play such a role in the future with a new communications law which does allow also for media-control measures.
For the first time after two decades into Namibian independence an alliance of civil society organisations has been formed to execute a meaningful role in local election observations. It will be interesting to see to what extent Namibian civil society actors are able to fulfil this role and to what extent they are accepted if not supported to execute such a legitimising function.
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* Dr Henning Melber is the executive director of the Dag Hammarskjöld Foundation in Uppsala, Sweden, and a member of Swapo since 1974.
* This is a slightly updated and revised version of a paper presented to a panel at the seminar 'Promoting democracy: the state of public opinion and political behaviour in South Africa' at the Department of Political Sciences, University of Pretoria, 16 July 2009.
* Please send comments to [email protected] or comment online at Pambazuka News.
Zimbabwe: Healing, reconciliation and reconstruction
Recent symposium explores way forward
Wazir Mohamed and Esau Mavindidze
Syracuse University’s Africa Initiative partnered with the Newhouse School of Public Communications to host a three-day symposium from 29 October to 31 October. This crucial meeting brought together key figures from Southern Africa and the United States to deliberate on the question of Zimbabwe's future, the role of healing in socio-political reconstruction, and the role of democratic institutions and an informed citizenry in a peace process that goes beyond partisan proclivities. This symposium was unique in many ways, not only because the meeting was held at a time when the Global Political Agreement (GPA) that brought tentative peace and stability in Zimbabwe was hanging in the balance, or that a key partner in the unity government had threatened to pull out due to alleged frustrations by a coalition partner.
This meeting remains unique in the sense that it aimed to create a space for Zimbabweans themselves to deliberate the present and future of the country. By bringing together representatives of government, civil society, human rights groups, scholars and Zimbabweans in the diaspora, the symposium provided a rare avenue through which we could assess the progress, status, challenges and opportunities for lasting peace, healing and reconstruction for the people of Zimbabwe. Among those who presented at the conference were:
– Senator Sekai Holland, Zimbabwean minister for healing and national cohesion
– Elinor Sisulu. author of Walter and Albertina Sisulu: In our lifetime
– Jestina Mukoko. peace activist and national director, Zimbabwe Peace Project
– Gertrude Hambira. head, General Agriculture and Plantation Workers Union of Zimbabwe
– Thomas Deve, Africa policy analyst, UN Millennium Campaign.
From the United States there were presenters that included, Esau Mavindidze, Imani Countess, TransAfrica Forum, Briggs Bomba, Africa Action, Lavina Hall, Rutgers University, Erin McCandless, The new School and Timothy Scarnecchia, of Kent State University.
The symposium began with a solidarity luncheon with the workers of Syracuse University. Among those invited were Adjuncts United, SEIU Local 200 United, and Teamsters, Local 317. Gertrude Hambira of the Plantation Workers Union (GAPUZ) spoke on the struggles of the workers in Zimbabwe. John Burdick of the Faculty-Labor Fairness Coalition presented a solidarity message.
The symposium then continued in the Herg Auditorium of the Newhouse School, with a reception hosted by Lorraine Branham, the dean of Newhouse School of Communications. In her opening and welcome remarks to participants and guests, Dean Lorraine Branham noted the centrality of a free and unbiased media in advancing the pursuit of justice and stemming impunity. She expressed solidarity with the visitors and representatives of agricultural farm workers, human rights activists, and political and social organisations in Zimbabwe.
The programme included a special breakfast panel on gender and violence in Southern Africa. This well-attended forum was moderated by Syracuse University’s Dr Deborah Pellow and Dr Lavinia Hall from Rutgers University. The Friday schedule also included a special discussion on xenophobic violence against Zimbabweans in South Africa. This project included a video conference (via the Global Collaboratory at the Maxwell School) previously done between Syracuse University students in an Anthropology class and victims of xenophobic violence in South Africa.
Consistent with Syracuse University's ongoing commitment to Scholarship in Action, and the Africa Initiative’s mission of providing space for constructive discourse on Africa and African peoples, the third day of the symposium was dedicated to the Syracuse community to interact with those at the centre of the struggle for peace and dignity in Zimbabwe, and to have a meaningful conversation that transcends the often oversimplified analyses and notions of violence in popular corporate media. This special community event was held on Saturday 31 October 2009 at the Warehouse Auditorium in Downtown Syracuse from 2pm to 5pm. It was co-sponsored by the Pan African Community of Central New York (PACCNY) and included Pan African cuisine served by Jerk Hut restaurant.
REFLECTIONS ON THE EVENTS AT SYRACUSE UNIVERSITY OF THURSDAY AND FRIDAY, 29-31 OCTOBER
The deliberative conference – Zimbabwe: Healing, reconciliation and reconstruction was a huge success for the following reasons:
While the conference was organised in an academic setting, the planning and execution allowed for deliberate and focused reports and discussion which featured ground conditions, ground responses, and the ways in which the regional and global community has been intervening to bring about the processes of healing, reconciliation and reconstruction in Zimbabwe. This approach was reinforced by the balance between academic and non-academic professionals who were invited to present papers and to participate in the deliberations. The organisers must be credited for putting this forum together. Credit is due to the young people of Africa Initiative who did most of the work.
One question that dominated the symposium was the question of state sponsored violence. In her keynote address, Minister Sekai Holland drew attention to the dogged and painstaking work of the Organ on national healing, reconciliation and integration. Under the portfolio, Minister Sekai Holland is working with fellow ministers of state John Nkomo (Zanu-PF) and Gibson Sibanda (MDC-M) to heal the Zimbabwean nation scarred by state-sponsored violence and bitter hatred over the past 10 years. The position taken by the organ thus far is that is that issues of violence have never been adequately addressed in Zimbabwe and to do that there is a need to take a long look into the past and appreciate the way violence has shaped who we are as communities.
Healing can start to happen when there is truth about what has happened in the past – the liberation struggle, Gukurahundi and all the other forms of violence that have been waged on different communities in independent Zimbabwe. The thrust of the argument of not laying blame informs a discussion that acknowledges violence going all the way to pre-colonial times and how this has shaped some of our behaviours and responses to issues of violence and abuse that is taking place in our society today. It would be an understatement to add that this provoked healthy discussions and divergent views.
This conference was an important aspect of the critical intervention which became necessary as a result of the deteriorated social, economic and political climate in Zimbabwe. It served to open new spaces for debate and discussion. Debate and discussion which will, in my view, contribute to the process of rebirth which is beginning in the country.
In this light, the conference received reports on the situation in Zimbabwe and the struggles of its people to foster a society based on respect for the equal right of all the citizens to the resources of the country. Such spaces for debate and discussion is especially necessary because Zimbabwe and its counterpart in South Africa have had to combine its post colonial with an anti neo-colonial phase of development. As a result the post independence phase has been littered with the following problems:
– How to address the issues of historical and structural inequalities located in the land problem
– How to address the issue of gender oppression and patriarchy
– How to address the issue of racial and ethnic chauvinism
– How to heal from long standing historical acts of violence that have dogged the history of Zimbabwe
– How society can openly discuss long-standing wounds such as that of Gukurahundi in a way that can lead to national and regional healing
– How to address the rise in violence, especially against women, against the poor, against political opponents, against immigrant workers, and against white farmers
– How to address the growth of corruption now evident in the state, in the security forces, and which is seeping into the fabric of the culture.
The underlying current that guided the debates and discussion was the historical and structural problems that confront the society. The issues of oppression and exploitation based on race, gender, and entitlements organised around the land question. The confluence between the land, the ethnic, gender and the national questions and the response of the post independence government formed the base, and was the entry point within which the reports from the ground and the discussion at the conference took place. There was the stress from the symposium that a new land audit was necessary to ensure that land is in the hands of those who farm it.
From the background of these monumental issues that confront the country today, the conference examined the role of the global economy. Special attention was placed on the ESAP, the structural adjustment formula implemented in Zimbabwe in the period of transition from minority to majority rule. It was felt that the land question, the ethnic question, the gender question cannot be divorced from the manner in which neo-liberal approaches served to counteract and limit the possibilities for the creation of a just society based on an equitable formula for redistributing land. It was also reinforced that the neo-liberal focus on stock exchanges and old fashion mining conditions do not provide an alternative to the past forms of economic exploitation.
Those who took this approach, in particular Briggs Bomba and Thomas Deve felt that enough emphasis is not placed on the ways in which restructuring at the global level pushes local decision making. Many participants drew attention to the fact that the economic recession at the global level imposed greater hardships on the poor and exploited. There was also a vigorous discussion on the ways in which deregulation and liberalisation contributed to the deepening corruption that has consumed the state, the security forces, state officials, and politicians.
From this background, an important thread that emerged to guide the discussion around issues of healing and reconstruction was the endemic presence of a corrupt state structure, and its involvement in violence. Especially since this state – which must bear responsibility for the forced removal of the poor, chaos, for famine, and for violence –continues to maintain relative control in the country.
DEALING WITH THE ISSUES
From the background of the tentative peace that resulted from the formation of the inclusive government (emanating from the Global Political Agreement (GPA), conference participants received and discussed reports of the human rights situation, the food security problem, the problems of land reform, the unemployment crisis, the condition of the farm workers and the reduction in the number of farm workers which resulted from the forcible take-over of farms. Based on the discussions which ensued on these issues, the following areas of consensus emerged.
First, what to do about violence against the person. Should the society turn a new leaf without addressing the matter of crimes against the person? From the human rights standpoint, and this was ably addressed by Elinor Sisulu, the society cannot move forward, healing cannot begin without justice for those who have suffered at the hands of corrupt officials and the security forces. Healing, reconstruction, and reconciliation can only begin if and when the society recognises wrongs, find solutions to address past and current crimes, and forges a path towards respect for the human rights of all its citizens.
Second, how to create equitable land redistribution to allow white, black, the upper and lower classes, and male and female to participate in the economic future of Zimbabwe.
Having recognised that ‘Land Reform’ is yet to take place, conference participants in particular Minister Sekai Holland and leader of the Farm Workers Union, Gertrude Hambira, presented scenarios for the furtherance of the discussion on this matter. Both of these leaders recognised the importance of a just and equitable land reform for Zimbabwe to move forward. Minister Holland outlined the approach that the non-ministerial body, the organ which has been established by the joint government will in the near future make pronouncements on how to proceed on land reform.
She explained that one basis for forward movement is located in the demands and program for Land Reform as outlined in the platform of the MDC. On the other hand Gertrude Hambira and the farm workers union which she represents is calling for land to the landless – that is the setting aside of land adjoining large landed estates for the creation of villages. Such villages would feature the growth of subsistence agricultural communities, which inevitably would supplement the household income of the farm worker.
Third, the role of the Zimbabwe diaspora in the process of healing and reconstruction was stressed. Esau Mavindidze made a presentation on the pivotal role of the more than four million Zimbabweans in the reconstruction process. Drawing attention to the importance of remittances in the society, Mavindidze noted that the Zimbabwean diaspora had to take cognizance of the fact that they were an important constituency in the reconstruction of Zimbabwe. He said Diaspora communities, organizations and activists had to be networked to create conditions to effectively engage the home country politically and in other areas of reconstructions such as knowledge transfer, business creation and the promotion of knowledge intensive Foreign Direct Investment (FDI).
Also noted was the fact that brain drain was a key component of the overall character of human flight from Zimbabwe since a significant percentage of those who left are professionals and skilled people. This crippling flight of some of the country’s best brains has escalated to levels that have serious implications for the reconstruction of Zimbabwe since there is currently no coordinated effort for these expatriates to participate. The symposium noted that the human capital available in the diaspora concerns the level of education, training, skills and knowledge that might be drawn on for the home-country’s reconstruction initiatives.
OBSERVATIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
The following observations and recommendations were made:
Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) and other Knowledge Management (KM) techniques, if utilised appropriately, can enhance the potential role of the diaspora as meaningful change agents in the social, cultural and intellectual aspects of Zimbabwe.
ICTs have rendered geography irrelevant. As a result Zimbabwean skilled personnel scattered throughout the world can develop common agendas and identities, even across large geographical distances, making it easier for them to become involved in the reconstruction process in Zimbabwe.
There are greater engagement possibilities, including increased foreign direct investment, creation of web-based professional, social, and political networks, and advocacy initiatives.
The task is to create professional associations coordinated within well thought out ICT platforms that can channel programmes that match the needs in human capital in the home country with the supply of diaspora skills abroad.
Engagement with the society at all levels will be easier when the diaspora has organised itself. On its part, the emerging progressive leadership must come up with a comprehensive policy frame-work based on the assumption that without any support and incentives, the skills available in the diaspora will not be transferred to Zimbabwe.
This level of engagement will keep the diaspora focused on Zimbabwe and playing constructive roles, which will make them relevant and create bridges for the possibilities of moving back to the homeland.
COORDINATING ADVOCACY WITH INFORMATION AND LEGISLATION.
Imani Countess of TransAfrica Forum outlined the efforts being undertaken by TransAfrica to educate the public in the United States on the current state of the peoples of Zimbabwe. The historical role of TransAfrica in working with the legislators on Capitol Hill was outlined, especially in relation to the current legislative initiatives being considered under the leadership of the Congressional Black Caucus.
While much was achieved by this conference, a lot of work still needs to be done to support help the GPA and people of Zimbabwe as they approach this new phase. Follow-up is required to address the broad areas of consensus that emerged in Syracuse. Specialised conferences and discussion involving all stakeholders should be attempted. The broad areas for these conferences could be: Land reform for the twenty first century: How will reform produce healing and integrate Zimbabwe into a new global economy; Democratic reform for Zimbabwe: The role of indigenous knowledge and culture in fostering democracy and democratic institutions in Zimbabwe; UBUNTU and the human spirit: The meaning of freedom and human rights for development.
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* Please send comments to [email protected] or comment online at Pambazuka News.
The race for Zimbabwe’s resources
Udo W. Froese
It is much clearer today in 2009 that every African country governed by a former popular black African struggle movement against Caucasian international Western colonialism, is under severe pressure. This includes particularly those countries that trade with China, who bear the brunt of the interfering US/UK/EU/Canadian/Australian/Israeli punishment. African countries included in this unfair war-of-attrition and destabilisation are Kenya, Sudan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Madagascar and of course, Zimbabwe.
During the times of the Cold War there was a balance of power between the Soviet Bloc of nations and the international West. History reveals that ‘the Soviet and Cuban intervention was to undermine China’s influence in Africa rather than to help the MPLA (Angola’s ruling party) to win for its own sake, or even to weaken Western influence’. In fact, this is documented as early as in April 1976, in two essays in the book After Angola: The war over southern Africa – The Role of the Big Powers by Colin Legum, and How the MPLA won in Angola, by Tony Hodges.
It is recorded history that the Chinese backed Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe in his struggle against colonial British Rhodesia.
RACE FOR ZIMBABWE’S RICHES
Meanwhile, the Rhodesian lobby has finally come out in full force. Their influential lobby, well used by the international West, has to date worked hard at destabilising and isolating Zimbabwe in order to retain its interests in agriculture, mining and resources, otherwise also known as ‘land’.
Their henchmen have been deployed and have thrown their considerable weight behind the protection of the forever hopeful deputy minister of agriculture in Harare, the MDC’s Roy Bennett, as well as the CEO of British mining company African Consolidated Resources plc (ACR), Andrew Cranswick. Both have made their respective contributions to political party MDC-T, led by Morgan Tsvangirai.
Bennett, a white commercial farmer in Zimbabwe, is a known funder of the MDC-T. Researchers in history and politics delved into the background of Roy Bennett as well as that of Andrew Cranswick. They claim that Bennett was a member of the notorious Selous Scouts. Bennett also served as a policeman in Ian Smith’s Rhodesian government.
His colleague, David Coltart, revealed that Bennett had served in the British South African Police, founded by the British arch-conqueror of Africa, Cecil John Rhodes.Roy Bennett was also a member of Ian Smith’s Rhodesian Front (RF) political party. As soon as that had fallen apart, Bennett assisted to create two white, right wing political parties and later threw his weight behind the MDC, urging his fellow Rhodesians to follow suit.
Then there is Andrew Cranswick, the Rhodesian born Zimbabwean, shareholder and CEO of the British mining company, African Consolidated Resources. In their admission to the London Stock Exchange’s AIM, on 30 June 2006 ACR plc stated under the sub-title ‘Operational Focus’ in paragraph seven:
‘Zimbabwe is a highly rich mineral province – in 1975 the country was ranked as the fifth largest gold producer in the world. Zimbabwe also has one of the best documented geological databases of the world’s developing nations, with a sophisticated mining environment and continues to possess an excellent logistics infrastructure when compared with most other African states.’
Andrew Cranswick publicly threatened that Zimbabwe is under US/UK/EU/Canadian/Australian/Israeli sanctions, ‘a fate that would befall anyone who dared to take a stake in the diamond fields (of Marange)’. ACR plc took over the diamond claim of Marange in Zimbabwe from De Beers. The global diamond cartel distanced itself from its diamond fields at independence of Zimbabwe in April 1980. Only two years ago, Cranswick and his British ACR went into operation of Marange.
Zimbabwe’s ministry of mines as well as the judiciary would be well advised to re-visit the agreement De Beers entered into with the Rhodesian regime. It would make good sense if an astute team of expert researchers and mining and contractual law specialists would re-visit the transfer of the diamond mining rights from De Beers to ACR plc in 1980.
It would also make good business sense to investigate the agreements since then and whether or not the land had been dormant and thus, the DeBeers ‘sale’ of the Marange licenses would by now have been forfeited. Which government and which ministry signed those mining rights over to ACR plc, when and under what conditions?
Meanwhile, ACR offered the Zimbabwean government (whom exactly?) an equity partnership in this venture and still seems to await a response. According to Cranswick, ‘the board remains hopeful that good sense will prevail and the deposit can be exploited for the good of all Zimbabweans’. Zimbabwe’s minister of finance, the MDC’s Tendai Biti, backs the aforementioned approach.
It is the same similar tactic the world diamond cartel, De Beers, has pushed through in many of the diamond producing countries. These include Botswana (DebTswana), Namibia (NamDeb) and South Africa (De Beers).
It seems Zimbabwe would have to follow that example. Until this has happened the diamond cartel will stop at nothing to discredit Zimbabwe’s diamond industry. Zimbabwe could be facing expulsion from the international diamond community and the Kimberly Process Certification. The diamonds could even be declared as ‘illegal blood and conflict diamonds’.
THE STRUGGLE FOR SUCCESSION
Zimbabwe’s president Mugabe expressed his disapproval of senior officials’ involvement in the diamond industry. He described it as an industry where ‘suspicion could easily be raised’. Mugabe asked, ‘How do you become involved in this sort of thing when you are a Politburo member, partnering white businessmen, why?’
Retired general and war hero, Solomon Tapfumanei (directly translated: How did you get this rich?) Mujuru, alias Rex Nhongo, is the only Politburo member who is publicly known to have a direct interest in Zimbabwe’s diamond fields. As a Zanu PF member of parliament he serves on the board of the diamond field, River Ranch Limited.
General Mujuru is allegedly also a close friend and business ally of Andrew Cranswick. His legal counsel at River Ranch Limited is George Smith. Smith is a retired judge who served under Ian Smith and Robert Mugabe as a cabinet secretary. It is interesting to observe that Mujuru’s role is never publicly questioned, as he remains a war hero. Meanwhile, he has amassed great wealth over the years.
The Zanu PF committee of Matabeleland North under its governor, the current minister of mines, Obert Mpofu, also comprises Solomon Mujuru, Thoko Mathuthu and former minister of finance, Simba Makoni.
It is further alleged that Mujuru is often labelled as Zanu PF’s ‘kingmaker’. This misconception seems to come from some of his loyal army supporters. If this would be the case, President Mugabe would have long been ousted, as the retired general is certainly not on the side of the president.
The fugitive director of the failed NMB Bank in Harare, James Mushore, is Mujuru’s nephew. Mushore allegedly exposed the rather limited influence of his uncle when he flew to London early 2004.
Despite his wife, Joyce’s position as deputy president of Zimbabwe, retired General Mujuru’s political influence seems waning. According to well-informed sources, Mujuru has no presidential ambitions, yet wants to have his ally as president of Zimbabwe.
But, Mugabe’s criticism of Politburo members’ participation in Zimbabwe’s diamond run seems to have marginalised Mujuru further. His wife Joyce is of lesser influence than ever before, the same senior sources say. Like in most African countries, the above-mentioned financially and politically ambitious elite could at best be described as the ‘native assistants of the G-8’.
Dr Tafataona Mahoso, head of Zimbabwe’s Media Commission described the above scenario in an article of the New African news magazine aptly, ‘The Africans in these business bodies are mainly managers or subsidiary shareholders of a residual Rhodesian rump capital which does not want a proper African national business class.’ In fact, such behaviour undoes what Mugabe tried to build in his lifetime.
THE HISTORIC OUTCOME
In above context, the likes of Tsvangirai, Biti, Mukoko, Bennett, Cranswick, the Rhodies and their MDC simply are non-starters, despite, or most likely because of their aggressive support of the international West.
Their sponsors push them. It is realistic fact that not one of the heads-of-state of the SADC region will allow any one of them to mislead them, no matter what Tsvangirai tells Mozambique’s Guebusa, South Africa’s Zuma, Angola’s Dos Santos or DR Congo’s Kabila. The ‘Government of National Unity (GNU)’ stands. That’s fact too. SADC heads-of-state would find it difficult to support an old colonial, race-based order, where their kith-and-kin have no access to land and the wealth of their land.
The international West led by Washington DC and its sanctions against Zimbabwe ordered the MDC-T’s Tsvangirai to take out the chestnuts from the burning fire. In other words, Tsvangirai would have to get his party colleague Roy Bennett out of the serious trouble he finds himself in. Honestly now, which head-of-state would allow that?
Meanwhile, the Zanu PF-led government under President Mugabe remains under international Western pressure in their hope for a ‘regime change’. And of late, the diamond industry is being used to assist.
The foreign-funded and owned ‘civil society’ has long showed its hand as the tool to implement destabilisation on a grand scale. The foreign ownership of ‘civil society’ and their aims and goals for all SADC members are also known to the respective heads-of-state.
A further tactic to isolate Zimbabwe from the SADC raised its ugly head. A Namibian on-line community publishes its virulent attacks against Zimbabwe’s diamond industry on the Internet. After some research, the reality came to the fore – it is just another tactic to destroy the relations between the two countries and isolate Zimbabwe further. When Zimbabwe’s senior minister Emerson Mnangagwa visited Windhoek, Namibia recently, his hotel room was broken into and all his belongings were stolen. Both above mentioned actions are not Namibian. Namibia’s name is being abused.
Whatever the international West plans to achieve its ‘regime change project’ in Zimbabwe, both MDCs would most likely not be part of the historic developments. The ruling Zanu PF might undergo various changes, rejuvenation, possibly even a modification of the name. But, Zimbabweans, Africans know that they are not part of the self-interested international Western strategies for their continent.
The harder and more desperate the international Western attempts to re-colonise Africa become, the broader the gap between the two cultures.
All of Africa’s wars, strife and problems are of typically ruthless materialistic nature. But, they are not an African creation. Greedy colonial-racist interests are the common historic cause for Africa’s woes.
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* Udo W. Froese is based in Johannesburg, South Africa.
* Please send comments to [email protected] or comment online at Pambazuka News.
Wanted: Indexer/cataloguer for award-winning African social justice website
Pambazuka News (www.pambazuka.org) is an award-winning social justice e-newsletter and website that is produced by a community of some 1800 commentators, bloggers, activists and academics. It is published by Fahamu (www.fahamu.org), an Oxford-based charity.
In order to improve the usability of the site’s online database of 55,000 records, which has been built up over the last ten years, we are seeking an experienced indexer whose task will be to assign keywords using an established cataloguing system (e.g. such as used by the Library of Congress) and to develop a thesaurus of key words for classifying new articles as they are added to the database. The person would also be required to provide similar services for the growing list of books published by Pambazuka Press (www.pambazukapress.org). The person would also be expected to train and work alongside volunteers/interns.
The post would ideally be full-time for the first three months, and part-time thereafter. Remuneration according to experience. Closing date for applications: 1 December 2009.
Applications in writing with CV and references to [email protected]
Fahamu Trust is a registered UK charity (no. 1100304).
2nd floor, 51 Cornmarket St, Oxford OX1 3HA
Do Kenyans kiss?
An afternoon of candid conversation
Do Kenyans kiss? This was the question posed to a group of about thirty ladies, young and old, from all walks of life on a pretty Saturday afternoon. As you can imagine, the women laughed and threw out various answers:
‘Even in public!’
This was the beginning of a rousing discussion entitled ‘Sexually Speaking’ held on 17 October at the Storymoja premises in Spring Valley.
Storymoja organises a Women in Leadership forum every month, with a view to providing a comfortable space for women to get together, exchange ideas on topics that concern them, and network. Previous sessions have been held on balancing work and personal life, social etiquette and doing a life audit, to name a few. Participants said they enjoyed these talks very much. The Sexually Speaking session was no exception, as it was an afternoon of candid conversation on how various issues of our lives affect our sexuality.
The moderator of the session was Storymoja’s MD, Muthoni Garland, who introduced the guest speaker, Valentine Njoroge, a columnist with the Nairobi Star.
Back to the all-important question: ‘Do Kenyans kiss?’
A lady in blue jacket pointed out that Kenyans do kiss, but in private because Africans generally are uncomfortable with public displays of affection. A popular radio MD was of the opinion that Africans should start kissing more in public. She added that kissing should be depicted in African movies, plays and books so that people get used to it. If this happens then most people will find it a normal act of affection and not off putting.
However, an editor at the meeting disagreed. She asked why should we as Africans, copy the white people and kiss in public?
‘Africans have their own way of showing affection!’ She emphasised.
The younger ladies in the group were surprised to know from the older ladies that sex gets much better when you grow older!
‘You gain more confidence sexually when you get older.’
A former MP said: ‘It’s like you find yourself!’
A retired banker and counsellor agreed: ‘When you get older you have a broader idea of what you want from life and you know how to get it.’ She added that not only does sex get better with age; it also gets better after birth! ‘You are more accepting of your body and loose inhibition.’
She summed it up for us: Age doesn’t matter, if you have confidence in your body, and yourself, you have no reason not to have great sex!
One lady lamented that young Kenyan girls don’t have sexual confidence from a young age. The only guy brave enough to attend the session concurred and said a big example is women having the mistaken assumption that the vagina is ugly! It is because from a young age, most Kenyan girls are taught not to look, touch, or even think about their vagina. Valentine talked us into loving all our body parts, including the vagina. ‘You should examine the vagina, and love it and in fact it, give it a name!’ She recommended.
We realised that most of us did not know the equivalent of the word vagina in our local dialects. From the session I learnt that ‘vagina’ in Kikuyu is ‘keino.’ That’s why Kikuyu who know this don’t dare call athlete hero Kipchoge by his second name! So what you do call it in your mother tongue? If you don’t know, find out. Along the way, you will learn more about your traditional sexual practices. It was noted that these practices are not necessarily bad, as we have been taught to believe.
The session was not all play; we became very sombre when we discussed sexual health. Valentine and Muthoni concurred that sexual health is a very serious matter and we should have a ‘sexual health conversation’ with any one we have sex with. How do you ask your sexual partner whether he has ever had an STD? Or that you need to go get tested for HIV together?
A lady with a lovely afro hair-do complained that it usually is a very difficult conversation because men are not engaging. She told us that most of the times she has brought up the subject of getting tested, her sexual partners have not been co-operative. ‘They say something like, “I already tested for HIV”. Then I ask, but can’t we go together?’ she said. This is not an easy conversation to have. But Valentine stressed that you must this conversation with anyone you intend to have sex with because it’s a matter of life and death. If a man doesn’t want to discuss a healthy sexual relationship, then he probably is not worth risking your life for!
A small-bodied girl in red pointed out that the ‘let’s get tested’ conversation is way up there with the ‘meet my parents’ conversation. So ladies don’t discuss HIV and other STDs with people they have casual sex with. If you have such a conversation, you automatically make the relationship serious. This brought about such a hue and cry among the ladies regarding casual sex. Is the Kenyan woman today engaging in casual sex? Or has she always kept it ‘on the down low’ because she feels that the society will judge her as loose?
One proud Luyha woman was adamant that she couldn’t have sex with just anyone! ‘I have stayed celibate for two years because I cannot have casual sex!’ she insisted, sending the whole group into fits of laughter. ‘I can’t let any man just come to pour things into me as if I were a toilet!’ She told us it is not that she doesn’t have sexual urges, she does have a good sexual appetite, but she manages it by going to the gym.
But the lady with the afro hair-do said that such judgements are what make women who have casual sex feel as if they were immoral. The pointing of fingers and the disapproving looks from people is what makes some girls shy to come out and say they do enjoy casual sex. She argued that sometimes the body just wants sex! Yes, just sex, without the emotional connection or the relationship. And if that is so, we should be okay with that, and either have protected sex at all times or learn how to control the urge. The ladies remained divided on this heated point.
Another major discussion that came up was how we should speak to our children about sex. Most us don’t know how because we were never spoken to about it by our parents. A lady banker said, ‘When we were young, we were just told you should wait till you’re married to have sex, and that sex before marriage is bad because you could get pregnant.’ Valentine told us that parents should be in the loop regarding their children’s sexuality. The conversation should be two-way, and should be informal and frequent. A parent in the meeting said her ten-year-old son was already going to the internet for information on sex, and so today parents need to have this conversation early on. She said she talks to her son to learn what is going in with him, and what he knows, regularly and very casually, for instance in the car on his way to school.
The session was quite animated, spirited and enthusiastic. We even ran out of time and were not able to discuss all the scheduled topics. Valentine concluded by telling us that modern Kenyan women can change their sexual behaviour. It is possible to have a healthier sex life, a confident sex life, and an educated sex life. One step is by attending sessions such as this one, with informed, opinionated women who are willing to share their knowledge.
The Storymoja forum was not only informative and entertaining, it was loads of fun! After the session, participants chatted together over cups of tea and cake and continued discussing the hot topic with much enthusiasm. Women made new friends and contacts. A number concluded that this particular topic was pertinent and very broad so we should discuss it some more in future. Please check our website to find out when the next session will be held for this and other topics for Women in Leadership
BROUGHT TO YOU BY PAMBAZUKA NEWS
* This article first appeared on Storymoja.
* Please send comments to [email protected] or comment online at Pambazuka News.
Titles and the politics of identity in Nigeria
Sabella Ogbobode Abidde
I first became aware of the politics of titles when the Guardian newspaper ran into a hiccup over its refusal to use titles for certain Nigerian personalities. This was some twenty-five or so years ago. Until then, it wasn’t something I had thought about. Just about all the public personalities I had met or read about had titles, i.e. Dr Tai Solarin, Chief Awolowo, Professor Awojobi, Chief MCK Ajuluchukwu, Alhaji Lateef Kayode Jakande, Chief MKO Abiola and many others. Lagos State had numerous Alhajis and Alhajas; Ilorin and Ibadan had countless number of Imam.
For a while, in my immediate surrounding were military officers. Whether a brigadier general, a major general or a lieutenant general, we simply addressed them as General XYZ. They all earned the right to such titles and the associated accolades. That was my thinking until the politics of titles came to the fore. Apparently, titles can be bought and sold, forged or rented, or even made up. I cannot recollect how the Guardian-Title affair was resolved; I however, remember that the paper got some heat for it. If Nigerians and other media outlets had supported the Guardian initiative, perhaps things would not have been this bad.
It’s been twenty-five or so years since the Guardian initiative. But we are still at it. In the intervening years – and more so since I moved to the West – I have come to understand and appreciate the move more. I have also come to understand why, within the Nigerian context, titles matter. I have come to understand that not to ‘properly address’ certain people with their earned, dashed, or forged title, could get one into trouble. Some Nigerians, it seems, do not like to be ordinary people. They have to be somebody. They have to be important, a very, very important person – whether or not they add value to the community they live in.
I am not sure how bad it was then, but today Nigerians have become title-crazy to the point where some people now prefix their name with architect, accountant, engineer, movie-producer, surveyor, lawyer, music producer, nurse, etc, etc. It is as if their lives mean nothing without a prefix or a title appended to their names. It is as if to be a Mr, a Miss or a Mrs is a curse. In fact, some highly placed women now prefer to be addressed as Dame or Lady XY or Z. A life without title, it seems, is now considered abhorrent, to be rejected.
The issue of title or no title recently became an issue in my own world. A few weeks ago, when I was approached to be a member of the Aaron Team of negotiators, I was asked what my title was. I responded that I didn’t have a title, didn’t go by any title and also that I prefer to be called by my given names. I however, indicated that I have a doctorate (PhD) from Howard University. Except within academic circles, I rarely, if ever, append PhD to my name or prefix it with Dr. I was not going to play the title-politics.
My distaste for ‘title-title-title’ was borne out of the fact that (a) as with religion, some people have the tendency to wear it on their sleeves; (b) some people use it as an instrument of oppression; (c) some people use it to separate themselves from others; (d) the use of titles does not make one any better than or more brilliant than others as some people are wont to think or behave; and (d) on the funny side, ‘na title we go chop?’ Overall, I do not begrudge people who use titles in informal settings. It is an individual thing, a personal choice. It was just not for me.
Nonetheless, ever since the formation of the Aaron Team, I noticed that I have been variously referred to as Professor Abidde, Dr Abidde, Dr/Professor Abidde, The Ijaw Environmental Activist, The Ijaw Activist, The Internet Warrior, The Nigerian Political Commentator, Mr Abidde, or simply as Sabella Abidde. Most publications, however, refer to me as ‘Professor Sabella Ogbobode Abidde…a political commentator based in Washington DC.’ One person with all these titles? But really, what am I? What’s the appropriate title?
When I brought this to the attention of friends and relations (in and outside of Nigeria), the collective answer was: ‘Why bother so long as derogatory adjectives are not being used.’ Also, with hundreds of media houses around the world basically repeating the same thing, who was I to call to clarify matters with?
Was there even a need for clarification? But really, am I Dr Abidde or Professor Abidde? Or both? And what’s with all the titles that have been bestowed upon me? This was the lingering debate until a question was posed on the Ijaw Nation Forum (an exclusive and members-only forum for Ijaw worldwide). The enquiry was posted on 27 October 2009 by one Feremondi Olali. It was simple enough: ‘Our brother and friend, Dr Sabella Abidde, is widely published in the Nigerian press as a professor. Just wish to know! Since Abidde, a known critic on titles, hasn't refuted it, let me also formally address him as Professor Sabella Abidde.’
As part of my answer, I responded: ‘…the way academic titles are used in the United States, I have been told, are quite different from the way they are used in Nigeria. In all the institutions I have been affiliated with, if you have an MBA, MFA or JD for instance, and you are a university teacher, students may refer to you as Professor Olali or Dr Olali. That may not be the case in Nigeria. I never went to university in Nigeria. Depending on the college/university, we have the assistant professors, the associate professors, and the senior or full professors. As a matter of habit, all are addressed as Professor, i.e. Professor Olali (even if you are an assistant professor or all you have is a master’s degree).’
I then went on to say: ‘…As an adjunct instructor of African politics in Oklahoma, I was referred to as Professor Abidde. When I was a PhD candidate and taught at the undergraduate level, I was referred to as Professor Abidde. When I became a SYLFF Fellow and a Teaching Associate, I was also referred to as Professor Abidde by my students. Even after I earned my PhD and continued to teach some students refer to me either as Professor Abidde or Dr. Abidde.’ This, to my knowledge, was the common and acceptable practice in the six universities I have been associated with in the United States. What was Olali getting? What’s galling him? What’s his motive?
Feremondi Olali’s question, and my two-part answers, became the source of fierce debate on the Ijaw Nation Forum. For the sake of brevity, other conversations are not repeated here. The firestorm had not settled when he followed up with a lame stinger under the heading, ‘Dr Sebella's disnoest response!’ (Dishonest is what I am assuming he meant). I have abridged, but not edited his response:
‘…But before I go any further, let me say that it appears to me that you didn’t attempt to hoodwink the Nigerian public with the title “professor” but nonetheless you enjoyed the (un)earned title and did nothing to correct the misrepresentation. I’ve seen Professor Wole Soyinka several times labouring to correct the impression that he is the first African Nobel Laureate. He would always reject it by saying that he is the first African Laureate in Literature.
‘Sebella, when you said you’re not in control of how the Nigerian papers address you, you seem to show a discrepancy in character. What if they describe you as a Nigerian-born fraudster in the US? Would you reply or take them to court? Haven’t you in any time responded to media misrepresentation on you?
‘When you claim that your colleagues and students often called you professor, you further demonstrate dishonesty. Colleagues and students call their friends and teachers everything under the sun, including atheist, black idiot, etc. Have you been called such? You know you’re not a professor, so why take pride in that or continue to identify with it. The concept ‘professor’ has universal/conventional meaning, whether in Africa, Europe, US or Asia. The criteria in these areas may not be same but they’re very identical – basic degree(s), number of publications, community/public work, years of mentorship etc etc…’
You may be thinking this is a debate about ‘much ado about nothing’. And in fact, this essay may also be much ado about nothing. You may be right on both counts. And may be not. But really, ‘Is Dr Sabella Abidde a professor, and was he dishonest in his response,’ as Feremondi Olali accuses?
How ironic that for someone who has stayed away from the politics of titles, the same issue has now come to haunt him. Life!
Please spare me the headache: Call me Mister! Please call me Mister Sabella Ogbobode Abidde.
BROUGHT TO YOU BY PAMBAZUKA NEWS
* Sabella Ogbobode Abidde is a public intellectual who has written and commented extensively on African affairs. He is currently based in Washington, D.C
* Please send comments to [email protected] or comment online at Pambazuka News.
Kenya is fated to federalism
The ruling class in Kenya is hell-bent on instilling into Kenyans the fear that there will be chaos, bloodshed and disintegration if Kenya adopts a federal system of government. The ruling class says, as if it were an extremist supporter of Doctor Pangloss of Voltaire’s 'Candid', that a centralised government is for us the best of all possible governments. But given her nature and history, the truth is that Kenya is fated to federalism. To build a foundation for peace and stability, Kenya should, in addition to reducing the socio-economic inequalities among her people, opt for federalism.
Federalism, according to William H. Riker, an authority on the system, is 'a political organisation in which the activities of government are divided between regional governments and a central government in such a way that each kind of government has some activities on which it makes final decisions'. Conventionally, says Arend Lijphart in 'Democracies', federalism is a spatial or territorial division of power in which regional governments are geographically defined. The other characteristics of federalism, says Lijphart, are bicameralism, a written constitution, a decentralised government, the right of regional governments to be involved in the amendment of the federal constitution but to change their own constitutions unilaterally, and equal or strong disproportionate representation of the smaller regions in the federal chamber. Usually, federalism is accompanied by substantial autonomy for the members of the federation, says Lijphart.
Like any other systems of government, federalism has its vices and virtues. In federalism, smaller units are typically disproportionately represented in the legislature. But in a plural society, federalism gives autonomy to distinct sub-societies. It is clear that if a federal system was introduced in Kenya, distinct ethnic groups would get autonomy. A disadvantage of Kenya becoming federal would of course be the overrepresentation of small ethnic units. Also, those who do not belong to distinct ethnic groups would be denied representation.
That brings us to the question why ethnicity should be the basis of federalism in Kenya. Tribalism, we know, is a tormentor of Kenya. But that in itself is not a sufficient argument for making ethnicity the basis of federalism in Kenya. And if the federalising process became ethnic, we would have to find out how multi-ethnic territories would be treated. Non-territorial federalism, or corporate federalism, would be an option, which practically means that cultural minorities would be given the right to establish their own schools, legislative councils and so on. The jurisdictions of their institutions would be defined not in terms of territorial but cultural community membership. A mixture of territorial and non-territorial federalism would also possible, but it would result into an overly cumbersome system of government.
There are advocates of devolution without federalism, who argue that we should devolve power but not federalise the country. It is possible to devolve power without federalising the country. Devolution refers to the process of transferring power from central government to a lower or regional level. Giving more power to local authorities would be devolution. But that is not what Kenyans normally mean by devolution. In Kenya, the political class has redefined devolution as giving 'natives' the 'licence' to evict those they have defined as 'visitors', 'strangers', 'outsiders', 'immigrants', 'foreigners' and 'sojourners'. In the Kenyan corruption of the word, devolution is federalism, which, in Kenyan corruption, is the practice of ethnic cleansing. What our politicians and their constituencies mean when making proposals to devolve power is that those with the wrong ethnic groups will be evicted from the territories to which power will be devolved.
FEDERALISM IS NOT ETHNIC CLEANSING
Federalism should be reclaimed from the polluting mouth of the political class, the polluter of Kenyan norms and values, and restored to its true meaning and purpose. It should then be adopted. And, if territorial federalism is the one chosen, people in each province will have constitutionally defined activities on which they make final decisions. But ethnic cleansing would not be one of those activities. And no walls would be erected against mobility across the territories. And no barriers would be erected against full participation in the activities of the territory in which one chooses to live. With federalism, autocracy would substantially be reduced, and people would get cultural autonomy and control over resources in the territories which they are. People living in different territories would even experiment with their preferred forms of social, economic and political organisation. That would unlock organisational creativity throughout the country, bringing benefits to Kenya as a whole.
Admittedly, federalism is in itself not a firm promise that autocratic power would be widely spread in all directions, should federalism be adopted. Nor would federalism be a guarantee that the people would truly get control over their resources. But those would not be arguments against it. Nobody can guarantee that an institution, however carefully it is designed, will do exactly what it is intended to do. Crafters of institutions, for example, writers of constitutions, have only limited information. That is one reason why institutions are chronically monitored, revised and corrected.
The fear that Kenya would disintegrate if it adopts federalism is founded on our politicians’ corruption of federalism and the vested interests the ruling class has in autocracy. It is perfectly possible to federalise Kenya without a drop of blood. It all depends on how the federalisation is organised and managed. Our authoritarians may postpone federalism, but the monolithic structure of the government, the unnecessary evil under which most of us are very unhappy, will surely be swept into the dustbin of the history of autocracies.
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* Samuel Abonyo is a doctoral candidate in sociology at the University of Oslo.
* Please send comments to [email protected] or comment online at Pambazuka News.
President Museveni, patronage only perpetuates corruption
I was intrigued by press reports that President Yoweri Museveni has given Shs 1 billion (Ugandan shillings) to buy buses. The story reported that that money was part of the Shs 2 billion pledge the president made to the ex-legislators' Sacco to improve their welfare. While it is alright to get concerned about the former MPs’ welfare, we need to ask a number of questions: Did the President draw that money from his personal account or was it drawn from state coffers? If he withdrew it from his personal account, how does he intend to recoup it? Is it only former legislators whose welfare needs to be improved or other citizens who don’t merit the attention of the president? The president and his lieutenants have vowed to crush corruption, but is this possible when he is busy dishing out patronage to his clients? Has anybody told the president that if he has drawn that money from state coffers, his action is tantamount to and props up corruption? If no one has told him, I would beg to inform the president that what he is doing is a naked abuse of office and the worst form of corruption.
Our country has suffered a great haemorrhage of funds. Only a few days ago the state-owned newspaper The New Vision reported that Shs 370 billion had been spent on Chogm (Commonwealth heads of government meeting). I am one of the few Ugandans that questioned on air what benefit an ordinary Ugandan such as my mother would get from Chogm after the country had injected in lots of money. The sceptics are now being vindicated after all and it is now being revealed that Chogm cost us far greater sums of money than we were told before. Ugandans are dying of famine, higher education has been reduced to the preserve of a few as fees in public institutions have been overly hiked, and our country is being turned into a man-eat-man society. It is ironical that those who were preaching Marxism before capturing power have now turned into far-rightists hell-bent on promoting individual welfare instead of the common good.
Ugandans must stop their complacency and begin asking tough questions such as what is it that we benefit from our taxes? Why is it that the leaders who preached frugality have become wanton big spenders? Could it be the disease of overstaying they diagnosed upon capturing power has caught up with them? I strongly pray that day in, day out Ugandan elites keep reminding our dear president of his 1986 inaugural speech and his book, 'What is Africa’s Problem?' I know like my area the Honourable MP Otafiire has always said, 'ebibagamba nibanyuka tibyo bagamba nibataha' ('what they say while making local brew is different from what they do while drawing it'), but our leaders need to be told that not all Ugandans are too daft.
Uganda has a miniscule number of university graduates. And besides, most of these have no jobs and the government is always telling them to create their own. Why did former MPs, who were earning huge sums of money, fail to create their own jobs and resort to continue sucking state coffers?
Could the money dished to former MPs be a reward from the president for having struck out the constitutional provision which limited the president to two five-year terms, hence giving Mr Museveni a green light to rule the country ad infinitum? I am asking all these questions while well aware that the president never used his own money, because he has never declared all that huge wealth as per the leadership code. Accordingly, I am fully convinced that the president used our taxes to reward former MPs, some or most of whom could not retain their seats as a result of non-performance, at least according to voters’ standards. Assuming many lost because of non-performance, should the president continue rewarding non-performers?
I have argued time and again that the unemployed in Uganda are not those with skills but the highly educated. I know of many first class and second upper graduates who fail to get jobs because jobs are given on patronage and the unfortunate graduates have no godparents because they are from humble families. These people have chosen to write coursework for others in order to make ends meet. Others have chosen to do printing business and are busy forging O level, A level and university documents. And the NRM (National Resistance Movement) government deludes itself that it is fighting corruption!
Last year on 6 April 2008 when I was hosted on UBC TV with Hon. Charles Bakabulindi, I said the government was sitting on a time-bomb because of graduate unemployment. I am happy now the government has seen it. Sadly, the NRM takes too long to learn and learns the hard way. I doubt whether they would have deciphered that had it not been for the events of 10–12 September 2009, which claimed the lives of more than 20 people. Now the government clearly knows that unemployment can push people into frustration and hopelessness, which ultimately results in a wave of criminality. The truth of the matter is that we have a minute number of genuine university graduates but we have too many people with academic papers. I have advised the NRM government to order all employers to verify the documents of their employees, but the government has chosen to keep a deaf ear. Personally, I am tempted to believe that maybe the NRM is the one that sends the criminals to forge documents and use them to obtain jobs for which they are not qualified. If that is not the case, I demand an explanation as to why the government doesn’t crack down this grave form of corruption.
In 2001, corruption was a big campaign tool against Museveni. This time I call upon the opposition to use corruption, unemployment and the denial of higher education to the poor as tools to dislodge Museveni. I would also expect Museveni to give accountability for the proceeds of all our parastatals that he sold. We have become so complacent that the state house tenants now take the state to be their personal property. I don’t know how many times I have been illegally arrested, detained and tortured. Right now I am undergoing a malicious prosecution and my crime was writing a letter to the president complaining about tuition increment in Makerere University. Each time I am arrested, my property is stolen by the police and to date I have never recovered anything. I have a case against the state in the High Court but I guess there is a deliberate effort to frustrate it. I would pray that the president explains why the blatant abuse of my rights and freedoms continues unabated. I also call upon all the human rights defenders to be concerned about my plight because just like Martin Luther Jr said, 'injustice anywhere, is a threat to justice everywhere'. I know Museveni fears those armed with the pen and the microphone as opposed to those armed with the gun, but I would pray that he heeds the constructive critical voices rather than heeding destructive praise singers.
I have a problem with the Ugandan opposition parties because they rarely address critical issues. For instance, I was jailed for opposing the inexplicable hike of university fees but scarcely did the opposition address this issue as serious. I wish the opposition parties would have think tanks and research desks to help them address critical national issues. Only then shall we look at them as viable alternatives.
President Museveni and the NRM should know that we have a new generation of voters which we may call 'Generation X'. This generation shall not be fed on deception and manipulations of bringing peace and stability. This generation of voters wants jobs, education, good roads and an assurance that the country belongs to them. This generation shall not be duped by money, and we are busy sensitising it that if money comes its way, it should not be spared. We are ready to chew the money and do the needful. We shall never see any university graduate languishing on the streets if jobs were given on the basis of a meritocracy and not patronage–clientelism. Finally, the MPs fleece the taxpayers too much when they are in parliament; they shouldn’t be allowed to continue after losing their seats. For God and my country!
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* Vincent Nuwagaba is a political scientist and human rights defender.
* Please send comments to [email protected] or comment online at Pambazuka News.
Civil Society message to CHOGM 2009
Roundtable Consultation on Partnering for Human Rights in the Commonwealth
Civil Society Organisations from across the Commonwealth and beyond met in London on 13 October 2009 and issued this message to the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting 2009.
The credibility of the Commonwealth as a values based association is being seriously questioned.
Human rights and fundamental freedoms form an intrinsic part of Commonwealth Principles as enshrined in the 1971 Declaration of Commonwealth Principles and other subsequent Commonwealth communiqués and declarations.
The Harare Declaration and Millbrook Action Plan commit governments to observe and implement Human Rights as part of the Commonwealth’s fundamental political values. Security, climate change and financial stability can only be realized where there is genuine protection of human rights. The 2009 CHOGM is considering the theme “Partnering for a more Equitable and Sustainable Future.” It must recognise that partnerships without human rights will lead to neither equity nor sustainability.
The Commonwealth is far from fulfilling its purpose as a champion of human rights. Many critical aspects of the Millbrook Action Plan are yet to be fully implemented.
In this context we urge that CHOGM should:
1) Indicate real political will to strengthen human rights within the Commonwealth and call for demonstrable adherence by member states to international best practice standards of human rights.
2) Expand the mandates of the Secretary-General’s Good Offices role and CMAG so that civil society is routinely actively involved in their work and they should refer to international human rights standards in dealing with countries that seriously or persistently violate human rights.
3) Apply human rights criteria in selecting host countries for Commonwealth meetings with input from CMAG, the Human Rights Unit and broad-based civil society consultation.
4) Further the implementation of its past commitments on civil society space at previous CHOGMs by ensuring their participation and representation in Commonwealth meetings and processes, especially those relating to human rights and mandate the Commonwealth Secretariat and the Commonwealth Foundation to this end.
5) Call on the Secretary-General to take immediate action in the event of direct threats made by governments to Human Rights Defenders and civil society, particularly in light of the recent threats made by the President of The Gambia.
6) Develop a public disclosure policy that will uphold the principle of maximum disclosure and ensure full transparency in all aspects of the Secretariat’s work.
7) Strengthen the Human Rights Unit within the Secretariat by elevating it to the level of a Division.
8) Recognise that currently there are no systems in place to comprehensively vet membership applications, and set up a mechanism that will carry out independent, comprehensive, and public reviews of the state of democracy and human rights in an applicant country so as to verify that Commonwealth membership standards have been satisfied.
9) Establish a mechanism to measure the implementation of past human rights commitments and recommend ways of implementing them speedily.
10) Call on member states that have not yet done so to begin or continue the process of realising international and regional human rights standards through ratification of treaties and by devising steps to implement those treaties.
Human Rights Defenders CHOGM should:
Recognise the value and importance of the work of Human Rights Defenders, including women Human Rights Defenders. Any attack on them is an attack on the human rights of the whole society.
Reaffirm that Commonwealth countries have a duty to protect the life and liberty of Human Rights Defenders and respect their rights to freedom of association, movement, expression and information.
Urge Commonwealth states to commit to abide by the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders at international, regional and sub-regional levels and take steps for the domestic implementation of the Declaration. Member states should view Human Rights Defenders as key partners in implementing the human rights principles in the Harare Declaration.
Mandate the Secretariat to develop a Commonwealth-wide policy to protect Human Rights Defenders.
To implement this policy the Secretariat should:
1) Provide technical assistance to states in implementing international standards for the protection of Human Rights Defenders and the promotion of civil society.
2) Partner with member states and civil society organisations to put in place National Human
Rights Action Plans that include a comprehensive, practical step-by-step strategy for improving protection for Human Rights Defenders.
3) Create a monitoring mechanism on the situation of Human Rights Defenders within the
Commonwealth Secretariat’s Human Rights Unit which should also work to protect Human Rights Defenders at risk.
Kenya grassroots message to welcome Mr. Ocampo!
Bunge la Mwananchi
On November 2, 2009, grassroots leaders drawn from the countrywide networks of Bunge la Mwananchi met and developed a position on the debate of holding to account post election violence (PEV) perpetrators in Kenya on the eve of ICC sepcial prosecutor Ocampo's visit.
On November 2, 2009, grassroots leaders drawn from the countrywide networks of Bunge la Mwananchi met and developed the following position on the debate of holding to account post election violence (PEV) perpetrators:
1. Remembering that the innocent lives of 1,300 Kenyans were lost, unknown numbers sustained gross injuries and billions of property was destroyed as result of violence that ensued following botched elections;
2. Noting that prior to the announcement of election results, in spite of politicians’ tribal war crusades, grassroots Kenyans who bore the huge brunt of PEV had conducted themselves in a responsible and peaceful manner;
3. Emphasizing that PEV was a war of the ruling class, on the one hand led by President Mwai Kibaki and on the other by Rt. Hon. Raila Odinga, and that the grassroots Kenyan were victims who were manipulated through messages of ethnic consciousness, bribery, propaganda and populism;
4. Insisting that had President Mwai Kibaki conducted himself in a manner respecting the rule of law and respecting public institutions prior to the exercise of general elections and likewise respecting the electoral law and sanctity of human life, the disgrace on ballot democracy and the loss of lives was wholly avoidable;
5. Maintaining that had Prime Minister Raila Odinga acted as a statesman, after the disputed elections results, he would not have pursued power at all costs, would not have incited his supporters into uncoordinated mass actions and consequently no one would have been lynched, no life would have been lost and no property would have been destroyed;
6. Mindful of the lack of political willingness in the Grand Coalition Government to implement the National Accord’s Agenda of inter alia restoration of people’s liberty, compensating and resettlement of IDPs, comprehensive electoral laws, police and judiciary reforms and addressing general poverty and lack of employment among youth;
7. Appreciating and echoing the attention of the International Community (the US, the EU and the UN) in pressurizing the Coalition Government to urgently effect meaningful reforms and by extension welcoming the importance of the planned visit by the International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutor, we wish to state as follows:
i) That the PEV was a class war between the ruling class- rich and powerful- into which the unsuspecting poor and powerless were drawn and inhumanely treated as mere collateral damage;
ii) That it beats sociological imagination to exonerate President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga from the damning facts of the PEV: Raila Odinga called for mass action that turned violent amongst innocent Kenyans and Mwai Kibaki deployed the Kenya Police who shot and killed protestors; and therefore the ICC prosecutor must not disappoint the poor victims of PEV by not holding the President and the Prime Minister accountable for their actions, inactions, commissions and omissions.
iii) That the coalition partners - President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga are direct beneficiaries of the PEV, now most interested in protecting their PEV war Generals and least interested in ensuring justice for the poor victims of PEV.
iv) That there are thousands of internally displaced persons who were irregularly forced out of camps and are still homeless, hungry and cold with inadequate respite from the Coalition Government.
v) That several victims of police shooting are still nursing gross wounds at home without medication and some still have bullets lodged in their bodies.
vi) That the indictment and trial of PEV perpetrators is a reassurance and a signal by the Global Family to the majority of grassroots Kenyans that the culture of impunity and irresponsible leadership has no place in our world today.
vii) That for restoration of people’s interest in democracy, elections and governance, and further to expedite the reform agenda in Kenya, it is extremely important that high profile PEV perpetrators are indicted, arrested and tried outside Kenya.
viii) That we support both a Local Tribunal to try the small perpetrators of PEV such as politicians’ hirelings who raped, looted and torched property; and the Hague option for the rich, powerful and high profile perpetrators who planned and financed PEV.
ix) That we are keenly watching Mr Ocampo and are interested that justice is not only done but seen to be done.
THIS STATEMENT IS DATED AND SIGNED ON THIS MONDAY 2ND NOVEMBER 2009
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Kenya Youth Alliance spokesperson shot dead
The spokesman of the outlawed Mungiki sect, Njuguna Gitau, has been shot dead. Mr Gitau was in charge of the Kenya National Youth Alliance which is the political wing of the Mungiki.
Mr Gitau was shot in the head on Nairobi's Luthuli Avenue, according to witnesses at the scene. They said he had been walking on the street with four men when an argument broke out. Two of them drew pistols and shot him before the attackers fled the scene.
His death comes barely two days after the leader of the outlawed sect Maina Njenga claimed his life (Njenga's) was in danger.
Mr Njenga told Capital News in an exclusive interview that he had received death threats via text messages and phone calls after indicating he would disband the movement.
He is expected to record a statement with law enforces on Friday. He was not immediately available for comment.
Witnesses said he was seen arguing with four men before two of them drew pistols and shot him in the chest.
“I saw a commotion and I thought they were city council askaris. The one who was shot tried to cling to a door and started screaming. Two of them shot him in the chest while the other two shot in the air to scare away people,” a witness said.
Another witness told Capital News that he saw the four men argue but before he could even comprehend what was happening, he heard gunshots and later saw the man (Gitau) lying dead.
“I heard him pleading with the four men: “Please don’t kill me.... then suddenly gunshots rent the air. He was shot three times,” the witness said.
Central Divisional Police chief Richard Muguai who led a team of officers to the scene said they have launched investigations into the killing.
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* This new story was first published by Capital News on 5 November 2009
* Please send comments to [email protected] or comment online at Pambazuka News.
Launch of Climate Justice Now! South Africa and solidarity call
Climate Justice Now!
CJN!SA is an alliance of organisations, communities and individuals in South Africa who are united in promoting just solutions to the impacts of climate change. Its mandate is set by its partners from social, environmental, labour and community-based movements and it works in close association with partner members in Climate Justice Now! International.
CJN!SA was initiated in early 2009 to address specific issues around the promotion of climate justice in the South African context. It was launched in October 2009 following 7 months of consultations amongst grassroots organisations across South Africa. It believes that any shared vision on addressing the climate crisis must start with challenging the dominant development model, exposing false solutions to climate change such as carbon trading, and encouraging positive solutions. The coalition recognises that the threat of climate change integrates old and new struggles, and thus the call for climate justice is the same as struggles for land, water, ecosystems, agrarian and urban reform, food and energy security, and rights for people and nature.
CJN!SA follows the emergence of Climate Justice Now! at the Climate Conference in Bali in December 2007 which was a response to the destructive and distracting ‘solutions’ that were being negotiated at the international climate change talks. The exclusion of poor and marginalised communities most affected by the impacts of climate change from these talks was motivation for a group who could hold the space for their voice. It has built significant momentum and recognition as a broad-based alliance of organisations and movements across the globe that are committed to building a diverse climate justice movement, locally and globally, for genuine solutions to the climate crisis.
CJN! is an alliance of more than 160 organisations and movements from across the globe committed to the fight for genuine solutions to the climate crisis, to building a diverse movement - locally and globally - for social, ecological and gender justice.
CJN!SA and CJN! are united in calling all people to raise the voices of the global South, defend the rights of people and nature, and strengthen solidarity in the fight for climate justice.
A world where people live good lives in solidarity, with equality, and in a healing and respectful relationship with each other and the Earth.
Enable and facilitate solidarity amongst and with those affected and most vulnerable to climate change.
To challenge and expose unsustainable practices and false solutions to the climate crisis such as trade liberalisation, privatisation, carbon markets, CCS and agrofuels.
Seek out, promote and facilitate genuine solutions to the climate crisis that meets the rights of people to live a good life while ensuring the rights of nature, culture and peoples.
Communities across the world in rich and poor countries who are most affected by the worst impacts of climate change are also the communities least responsible for the excessive levels of carbon in our atmosphere. They bear the burden of fossil fuel extraction and use and destruction of nature.
Inside the global climate negotiations, rich industrialised countries have put unjustifiable pressure on Southern governments to commit to emissions reductions. At the same time, they have refused to live up to their own legal and moral obligations to radically cut emissions and support developing countries’ efforts to reduce emissions and adapt to climate impacts. Rich communities, industries and government in the South also show reluctance to commit to a change in lifestyle and to production mechanisms that are sustainable and respectful of the earth.
We will take our struggle forward not just in climate talks, but on the ground and in the streets, to promote real and just solutions that include:
• Leaving fossil fuels in the ground and investing instead in appropriate energy- efficiency and safe, clean, community-led renewable energy;
• Radically reducing wasteful overproduction and associated over consumption and promoting sustainable livelihoods over profit;
• Massive transfer of resources both globally and nationally that acknowledges and settles the ecological, social and climate debt owed by all countries; both industrialised and industrialising
• A just and equitable resource conservation that enforces and promotes peoples’ sovereignty (control over and access to) over energy, ecosystems, land, food, air and water.
Climate Justice Now!
Press Statement on Ocampo
Kenyans for Justice and Development
FOR JUSTICE TO BE DONE THOSE WHO BLOCKED FREE AND FAIR ELECTIONS SHOULD BE HELD CRIMINALLY ACCOUNTABLE ALONGSIDE THOSE WHO CAUSED THE POST ELECTION MAYHEM
Kenyans for Justice and Development welcome ICC Prosecutor Louis Moreno Ocampo’s intervention towards helping us find justice for the chaos of early 2008. The ICC’s intervention is a major step towards holding criminally accountable all those who masterminded and executed the 2007/2008 pre and post election mayhem.
We concede that Kenya ’s weak legal framework, compromised judiciary, an unprofessional police force, lack of a credible witness protection mechanism, the total lack of political will to hold to account the culpable, and the presence of armed militia in some regions all point to the obvious lack of local capacity to deal with the problem unaided.
In view of the above, we urge that Mr. Ocampo does the following:
(i) He issues open warrants to enable Kenyans know who are being investigated, so that the suspects can vacate office and not interfere with the investigations and that the ICC process proceeds with the speed he has always pledged.
(ii) He publicly supports the Imanyara Bill that is seeking to set up a local tribunal meeting international standards to deal with the many ordinary people who took part in the mayhem, as part of the three tier approach to dealing with the post election violence.
Given their mandate is restricted to the conduct of hostilities not their causes, we are aware of the limitations faced by both the ICC and local tribunal in ensuring holistic justice. For justice to be done and be seen to be done by all we must bring in a causal effect to the Post Election Violence scenario. Those who masterminded the mayhem should be held criminally accountable simultaneously with those having a causal link to the mayhem.
It is most important that those who blocked reforms and did things that in a causal nature set the country on a war footing must also be held liable for their actions. The people who blocked the constituting of an impartial ECK; rejected the 50% + 1 threshold for electing the president; used inciting language on the campaign trail; tampered with the election results after the peaceful voting; and those who hurriedly swore in Mr. Mwai Kibaki as the President to irregularly legalize the contested results must all have their feet held to the fire. This also includes sections of the media that participated in fanning the fires of conflict during the imbroglio.
Consequently, we demand that President Kibaki, Premier Odinga and their Cabinet do the following:
i) That they must immediately be put in place an independent and impartial mechanism, running parallel to the ICC process, to hold to account this category of people for their causal roles in the mayhem so that justice is done to all players.
ii) That they stop deceiving Kenyans that they are “on top of things” in relation to sorting out the Post Election Violence issues, and let the international community whenever it deems fit , in the principle of being “our brothers keeper”, remind them of their failures.
iii) That they give victims from all ethnic groups the chance to be heard since up until now only the voices of the perpetrators have been heard.
iv) That they guard against the negative ethnicity that is threatening to hijack and subvert the justice process by ignoring minority victims – those moderates who were victimized by their own communities for shielding those targeted, and those whose communities were not prominent players in the mayhem.
To achieve true reconciliation as a country, we must hold criminally liable both those who frustrated a fair electoral process and stole the elections, and those who masterminded and executed the mayhem. In proceeding this way, we will strike a body blow against the culture of impunity and give Kenyans a sense of equity before the law, and make Justice our shield and defender.
Signed: Neto Agostinho
National Convener, KEJUDE
Date: November 4, 2009
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* Please send comments to [email protected] or comment online at Pambazuka News.
Comrade Ronnie Press
The South African Congress of Trade Unions (SACTU)
The South African Congress of Trade Unions (SACTU) pays humble tribute to Comrade Ronnie Press, one of the Movements great heroes, one of whom may not always be spoken of, but one whose contribution to the National Liberation of South Africa, the working class and the international Communist and trade union movement will be a shining example for generations to come. He was by nature and profession a teacher one who imparted his brilliant intellect and scientific knowledge amongst the working class and student community as a whole.
SOUTH AFRICAN CONGRESS OF TRADE UNIONS (SACTU)
Message delivered at the funeral of the late
Comrade Ronnie Press
5th November 2009
We have come here today to pay humble tribute to one of the Movements great heroes, one of whom may not always be spoken of, but one whose contribution to the National Liberation of South Africa, the working class and the international Communist and trade union movement will be a shining example for generations to come.
He was by nature and profession a teacher one who imparted his brilliant intellect and scientific knowledge amongst the working class and student community as a whole. More directly his mind played a critical role in formulating decisions that needed to be taken within SACTU the South African Communist Party (SACP) and the African National Congress
His approach was humble, something he had acquired working with leadership of the ANC and SACP and in particular from someone he had deep admiration, the late President of ANC Comrade Oliver Tambo.
His inspiration for struggle was born out of the concentration camps of Sachsenhausen in the East of Germany inspired by a young girl who had given her life ion the fight against fascism. In his own words “this was for me a lesson in humility and reverence, to die so young so brave and so determined in the fight against fascism.” These hallmarks were to influence Comrade Ronnie throughout his life, both at work but also in struggle.
His joining of the Congress of Democrats in 1953 and became active from 1954 thrusting him into what he described as “joining the human race”. This was to shape him and whom we have got to know for more than 50 years of the rest of his life.
This shaping lead him naturally to align his life and his energies to the working class, not only in South Africa but internationally.
When the South African Congress of Trade Unions (SACTU) held its founding Congress in March 1955, Ronnie served the tea and white bread rolls. As he said “this was a noble task allocated to those members of the Congress of Democrats fired up with the desire to see the end of Apartheid.
It was a job I was particularly suited for after all I had a degree in Chemical Engineering and a PH.D. in Chemistry and I cam from a family where trade unionism was a way of life.”
At the famous Congress of the People in June 1955 where the Freedom Charter was adopted which today continues to guide the policy decisions of the African National Congress, Ronnie was under the speaker platform looking after the set of car batteries that drove the public address system. He equally read at the Congress the message from the Peoples Republic of China. This was the diversity of Comrade Ronnie and ability to play so many roles and never allowing the mantle of leadership to change is nature or outlook.
At the historic march of Women to Pretoria in August 1956 against the Pass Laws, Comrade Ronnie was the taxi driver for the leadership. He stood a few metres away from Comrade Lillian Ngoyi as she delivered the famous challenge to the Apartheid regime in front of the thousands of women who had gathered at the Union Buildings, “you have touched the women- you have touched a rock. You will die.” As Ronnie said “the air rang with silence”.
His contribution in SACTU spanned the period when he became the General Secretary of the Textile Workers Industrial Union in 1956 up until the phasing out and phasing in of SACTU into COSATU in 1990.
Time will not allow to day to speak of his immense contribution to SACTU but it was in SACTU that he established a life long political friendship with some of the most outstanding African working class leaders on the Continent of Africa. It introduced him to the international working class movement and between 1956 and the 1990’s he travel the world representing the organized working class.
But to Comrade Ronnie as a person, since this occasion is about him not just the organizations he so well represented. It was logical that he would end up being charged with high treason in the famous 1956 treason trail alongside Nelson Mandela. As he said after he was issued with the warrant of arrest, “My immediate reaction was one of curiosity and then a feeling that they were not being serious.”
His commitment to people is reflected not only in his political work but in his family life. In January 1957 he married Sibyl Sack. A women that he stood by throughout his life especially in the most difficult periods when she suffered physically, he supported her throughout. He cared for her in the same way that he cared for the working class, with patience, dedication and commitment.
When he asked her to marry him he said she must understand”the people come first”. Later he was to say “The passage of years revealed a different underlying reason.” His parents told him that unless they got married in Shull, instead of the registry office, they would not get presents. In protest at having to get married in a suit and in Shull he wore bright green socks. Significantly today he had requested that it be a Green funeral with bright colours. The link between his marriage and death symbolized in the colour green.
He was a teacher, informed by Marxist Leninist principles. Through he approached any subject under discussion in a dialectical manner. Objective reason; cause and effect; unity of opposites, his mind worked as a Marxist mind would. Steadfast in a principled manner he would debate his point informed by ideology and theory. His was not to be found discussing individuals but rather theory and practice. Debate he could, and was not afraid of disagreement understanding that to be part of the solution making process. His joining of the SACP in 1955 was the beginning of a deepening of his convictions in changing the world to a more egalitarian society.
In SACTU his contribution in and outside of NEC meetings was both theoretical and practical. When things were hard you could see it on his face. He did not like debate that led nowhere or argument that was not objective. He wrote for Workers Unity, the organ of SACTU prolifically. The major discussions about the future of SACTU in 1982, in a revolutionary council meeting was historic. It lead major progress and direction and the founding of Cosatu in December 1985.
For those who worked with him, he would always greet you with the wry smile and his high pitched voice. It was welcoming and reflected Comradeship and friendship an invitation to talk.
He loved children and would always be ready with a small gift when the children of the movement where around. He understood them and what their basic needs where for that particular moment.
In conclusion to those who gave Comrade Ronnie support in his period of exile in England and in particular Bristol our sincere appreciation and thanks. He developed the Bristol Anti- Apartheid Movement and its National structure. His personal Comradeship with those from the CPGB and Labour Party are now over but it is the quality of what has been built that must be the foundation to continue the struggle.
To you Comrade Ronnie thank you for keeping the Red Flag flying and for your major contribution to the organized working class and SACTU. In honour of you and the entire leadership of SACTU and its members we have begun the process of the writing of the SACTU history book in which you are a special part.
Go well dear Comrade, may your soul rest in Peace
Book release: 'The Poverty of Ideas: South African Democracy and the Retreat of Intellectuals', edited by William Gumede and Leslie Dikeni
Size: 210 x 148 mm
Pages: 272 pp
Recommended Retail Price: R180.00
Published by Jacana Media in October 2009
“The progressive intellectual appears by many accounts to have lost his or her voice; their silence deafening…”
Dikene & Gumede, 2009
It is of grave importance that we evaluate the role of knowledge and what significance we attach to it. Do we respect and value the production of knowledge, or is contemporary South African society being “dumbed down”? And if knowledge is no longer an essential commodity, do we have a need for a “thinking class”; the intellectuals?
Where are our great South African minds?
Are they hiding in fear of our society’s seeming intolerance of criticism and dissent?
Eminent thinkers Leslie Dikeni and William Gumede examine how South African intellectuals have regressed from drivers of change in the Apartheid era to disenchanted ghosts that appear to fear critical engagement in The Poverty of Ideas: South African democracy and the retreat of Intellectuals.
This book offers differing but critical evaluations of the responsibility of the progressive intellectual in a new democracy. During the struggle against apartheid intellectuals have spoken out and more often then not influenced the trajectory of events. But it appears that today’s intellectuals are paralysed by fear of raising the ire of authority…
ABOUT THE AUTHORS
William M. Gumede is Senior Associate and Programme Director, Africa Asia Centre, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London; and Honorary Associate Professor, Graduate School of Public and Development Management, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg. He was Deputy Editor of the Sowetan, South Africa’s largest national daily newspaper. He is author of the bestselling book Thabo Mbeki and the Battle for the Soul of the ANC (2005).
Leslie M. Dikeni is Research Associate at the Department of International Politics, University of Pretoria. He was executive director, Africa Secretariat, UN Human Rights Commission. He has been a Senior Researcher at the Centre for Policy Studies. His research interests include globalisation and the social construction of knowledge.
LIST OF CONTRIBUTORS
Vishnu Padayachee & Graham Sherbut
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Action needed on Gambian president's remarks
Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative
Dear Secretary General,
I write once again in relation to the Gambia. As I mentioned earlier in email correspondence with your chief of staff, I am indeed obliged that you circulated our letter (date: 21st September 09) of concern in relation to the President of The Gambia's outrageous statements to the CMAG.
I am certain that Member States and the leadership of the Commonwealth would have been deeply disturbed and actions toward repairing the situation created by the President of Gambiaís statements may already be underway.
However, while we welcome any diplomatic initiatives to appraise the President of Gambia of the implications and consequences of such a statement and to persuade him to repudiate them in an unequivocal manner, we feel that it is very necessary for the leadership in the Commonwealth to react strongly to the statements and signal its apprehensions and disquiet. But it has now been several weeks after the offending statement was made and the CoW will shortly be over. I would be most appreciative to know the reaction of CMAG and whether this seriously threatening statement is going to be a concern of Member States attending the CoW and whether there is likely to be any response from the CMAG, your office or the Heads of Government or even the present and future chairs of the Commonwealth.
As we have written to outgoing and incoming Chairs of the Commonwealth - public statements require public responses. An absence of straightforward response will indicate acceptance of the violence in the statement and an unwillingness to defend with all vigour the fundamental political principles on which the Commonwealth is founded.
CHRI London Office28 Russell Square London WC1B 5DS, UK Tel: +44-207-8628857 Fax: +44-207-8628820 E-mail: [email protected]
As you are aware, in the same vein of protecting its own foundational principles, the African Commission has clearly felt that a response to the same statements is essential. At an extraordinary meeting on 11 October 2009 it has passed a resolution on the deteriorating human rights situation in the Gambia in which it suggests relocating the Commission out of the Gambia and where the Commission has explicitly mentions that it is convinced that the alleged statement calls into question the commitment of the Republic of The Gambia to the fundamental principles and objectives of the Constitutive Act of the African Union, the African Charter and other regional and international human rights instruments. In these circumstances where nothing has been publicly stated by the Commonwealth even a month after the President's objectionable statement - and previous to the CoW where the Gambian delegation will no doubt be present - I would urge the Commonwealth under your leadership to publicly regret such a statement coming from a head of state and commend the withdrawal of any invitation to the Trinidad CHOGM to other heads of state and to the incoming Chair. We continue to believe that the presence of a head of state or his representative at Trinidad or indeed at other forums in the absence of any repudiation will call into question the credibility of the whole organization in most fundamental and damaging way
Maja Daruwala Director, CHRI
Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative NGO in Special Consultive Status with the Economic & Social Council of the United Nations
B-117, First Floor, Sarvodaya Enclave, New Delhi 110 017
Tel: 91-11-2686 4678, 2685 0523, 26528152
Fax: 91-11-2686 4688
E-mail: [email protected]
Website: www.humanrightsinitiative.org Advisory Committee
Sam Okudzeto Ghana (Chair)
Eunice Brookman- Amissah Kenya
Murray Burt Canada
Yash Ghai Kenya
Maja Daruwala India
Alison Duxbury Australia
Neville Linton UK
B. G Verghese India
Zohra Yusuf Pakistan
CHRI Ghana Office No. 9, Samora Machel Road, Asylum Down Box CT 6136 Cantonment, Accra, Ghana Tel: +233-21271170 Fax: +233-21-244819 E-mail: [email protected]
20th October 2009 Mr. Kamalesh Sharma Honourable Secretary General Commonwealth Marlborough House London
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Camara: A canker on Africa’s conscience
An open letter to the president of Guinea
‘If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality.’ (Desmond Tutu)
I write as a fellow African to take a stand with the people of Guinea and to let you know that Guinea and Africa as a whole are better off without you in power. Words cannot express my disappointment and anger at the arbitrary and irresponsible use of state power during the unfortunate 28 September 2009 incident. Your remarks following the incident smack of a level of irresponsibility that should have no place in African leadership today.
Mr President, the topmost priority and most fundamental responsibility of any president (any government for that matter) is to ensure the welfare and safety of his/her citizens. Any leader who is incapable of or unwilling to discharge this responsibility is not fit to rule. The horrendous massacre and flagrant abuse of human rights by men under your command, combined with your lamentable attempt to absolve yourself of any responsibility by asserting that you cannot control the security forces and their actions, clearly make you incapable and disinclined to remain in power as leader of Guinea.
There can be absolutely no justification or excuse for the gruesome murders, despicable acts of sexual assault and brutal repression of 28 September, so please quit trying to find or provide one. The violence of 28 September was senseless, illegal and inhuman. With tears in my eyes, I watched photos of the lifeless bodies of the many young people killed.
Mr President, even just one life is too many to lose in situations like this. And that is why your government’s attempt to play down the numbers of those killed and brutalised amounts to nothing but an insult to the victims. To you it may be ‘statistics’, but to the innocent victims and the families they left behind, it is their lives and everything that comes with it. No citizen should have to pay with their life or dignity for exercising their fundamental freedoms.
By your own words, you attest that the people of Guinea cannot count on you to protect them – even from state institutions like the police and military that are supposed to protect and defend them. The world’s response is a vote of no confidence in your leadership. Your leadership is a disgrace to Africa and an insult to the people of your country.
The days of guaranteed immunity for such violent repressions against civilians are over in Africa. Your fellow presidents, from both ECOWAS and the African Union, in an unprecedented move have called for your immediate resignation. Today, there is a new civil society that will make nuisance of themselves until they see you in the company of the likes of Charles Taylor at The Hague. And most importantly, there is a new generation of Africans that are determined to hold leaders like you accountable for your crimes against our people. Just a day after the incident, a group of young African women leaders selected from across Africa for as outstanding leaders – the MILEAD Fellows – launched a petition to mobilise Africans from all over the world to demand justice in Guinea. And you should have seen the outrage from young Africans from across the globe when I posted photos of the horror online. With all these, any more desperate attempts by you to remain in power only mean more trouble for you.
The following quote from the American declaration sums up my view on the matter:
‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
– That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,
– That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.’
Guinea deserves better and Africa is better than what you represent. There is no doubt there are many people in Guinea today who can effectively and responsibly lead the country if given the chance. As long as you remain in power, you represent nothing more than a canker on the collective conscience of Africa, because Africa as a whole shares your shame in the eyes of the rest of the world and also shares the pain and injury suffered by the good people of Guinea.
What Guinea needs is the following:
– An independent and internationally monitored hearing where victims and witnesses can give evidence and testimonies on the accounts of the incident.
– Immediate measures to stop the lawless and reckless behavior of security offices in the country.
– Medical, social and psychological support for all victims of rape and sexual assault during the incident.
– Compensation for the bereaved families and the injured while we explore long term compensatory and justice remedies.
– You out of power as soon as possible. As soon as today.
I implore you, Mr President, in the name of decency, justice and common sense to step aside and allow an independent investigation into this matter,so that justice can be brought to any individuals who are found responsible for orchestrating, ordering and committing these horrible crimes against humanity.
To the people of Guinea, I say, we stand with you in solidarity.
To Moussa Camara, I say, you are a disgrace and must step down as president of Guinea.
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* Mawuli Dake is a leading African human rights advocate and strategist. He is the CEO of Africa Group Consult.
* Please send comments to [email protected] or comment online at Pambazuka News.
Praise for 'The plight of Eritrea's boat people'
The plight of Eritrea's boat people by Yohannes Woldemariam is one of the best written analysis I have read on this matter in a long time. Good points on the policies of the Eritrean government that are driving hundreds and thousands out of their country, the role of EU's migration policy and the overall responsibility of the global community. Thank you.
P.S. I happened to be visiting Italy, in Sicily at the time of this and you can read more of the findings of my organisation from www.BlackAllianceBlog.blogspot.com
Secrets of the Ethiopian Streets 'a powerful poem'
Secrets of the Ethiopian Streets could have aptly been renamed 'Secrets of the African Streets'; especially after having watched CNN's presentation of Joburg's 'prostitutes' in light of the forthcoming World Cup. It is a powerful poem and congratulations in order. What is probably lacking in the general discourse is how state failure leads to such cultural decadence.
Wowed by 'Dispelling Africa's myths about albinism'
Wow, I have gone through 'Dispelling Africa's myths about albinism' and am deeply touched and also disgusted by persons who even after having knowledge on albinism still act like they need more education on it, while the government is giving support, mere talk isn't as important we need to see action, and measures being taken to protect all the persons with albinsm in Kenya. We are right behind such moves, that work to improve the quality of lives of persons with albinism.
FOCAC 2009: A new impetus for Sino-African relations?
The spotlight will fall on Sharm El’ Shaik, Egypt in November 2009 as the next chapter in Sino-African relations is forged at the occasion of the fourth Forum for China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC). It will see representatives from African and Chinese governments converge at an ominous time as the world continues to grapple with a financial crisis. The FOCAC summit was initiated to serve as China’s primary vehicle to outline and structure its foreign policy in Africa. It serves thus to foster increased and in-depth dialogue amongst Chinese and African governments with a view to stimulate greater south-south cooperation and development through deepening aid, trade and investment linkages. The first summit took place in Beijing in 2000, followed subsequently with summits in Addis Ababa in 2003 and Beijing in 2006.
SETTING THE SCENE
China’s deepening engagement in Africa has received increased attention over the past number of years. Since the inception of the first FOCAC summit in 2000 the trade relationship has increased from US$ 10.5 billion to US$ 106 billion in 2008. Africa has been wooed for its provision of raw materials to fuel China’s impressive economic boom which recorded over 9% growth annually. The trade relationship has seen Africa supply these materials in exchange for Chinese manufactured and electronic imports- a skewed relationship that has drawn criticism over its lack of import diversification from Africa over time.
The effects of the global economic crisis have been felt from North to South. On the back of domestic consumer demand, the Chinese economy has however seen significant signs of recovery. So much so, the World Bank recently increased its previous estimate of 6.5% growth to 7.2%. The Asian giant’s traditionally export driven economy slowed as its manufacturing sector suffered due to lower demand for goods. The government acted swiftly in reaction to the global recession by focusing attention instead on growth through the domestic economy with the provision of a US$ 585 billion stimulus package. The package focused specifically on the development of domestic infrastructure projects, while the effects of the lowering of taxes and issuing of subsidies has been seen with economic growth figures up from 6.1% in the Q1 2009 to 7.9% in Q2 compared with the same period last year.
Domestic demand for raw materials from Africa would undoubtedly continue through the economic downturn as a result of infrastructure developments being identified as a priority sector within the stimulus plan. However new investment opportunities have also continued to be sought for China’s state-owned enterprises (SOEs) and private sector alike to expand activities. With over US$ 1 trillion in foreign reserves, Chinese banks have remained eager and willing to provide financing towards these endeavours, no doubt also to continue with the expansion of China’s ‘Go Global’ strategy. Deals in 2009 have continued to be signed throughout the continent for projects in countries including Liberia, Tanzania and Senegal. A prominent feature of future deals will be those investment agreements signed though Standard Bank, Africa’s largest bank, and the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC), China’s largest bank. ICBC acquired a 20% stake in Standard Bank in 2008 and their first jointly-financed deal was signed earlier this year. The deal will see a US$ 1.6 billion investment in the Morupule B coal-power station in Botswana and is one of over 60 deals currently being considered through the partnership.
China has continued however to place emphasis on its relationship with the United States of America. The two countries are now more than ever intertwined in achieving economic recovery and growth in the current global climate. Diplomatic ties have deepened in the face of economic challenges illustrated with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s visit to Beijing, Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi to Washington and a proposed visit by President Obama to China later this year.
President Hu and President Obama established the US-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue (SAED) in April this year. The first meeting took place in China in July where discussions focused on stabilizing bilateral trade, addressing America’s budget deficit and promoting further economic and financial cooperation to address the global financial crisis. Increased negotiations have been witnessed between China and America on issues such as nuclear non-proliferation and climate change since the newly elected US administration come to power. However, although The United States has seen its trade deficit decrease from US$ 56.8 billion in June 2008 to US$ 27 billion in June 2009, this is up from US$ 26 billion recorded in May this year. The United States is China’s largest trading partner while it also the largest holder of US treasury bonds. It is this bilateral trade and investment relationship that will remain foremost in the minds of Chinese policy makers, however its relations with Africa could play a strategic role in investment and trade opportunities for the Asian country as the US economy remains vulnerable and global demand for imports suffer.
China’s interest in Africa has not waned under current economic conditions. This was confirmed during Chinese President Hu Jintao’s visit to Tanzania in February this year, at which time he stated the need for China and Africa to work together in the face of prevailing harsh economic realities and the effects of the financial crisis particularly on the developing South. Indeed, China’s Ministry of Commerce announced an 81% increase in foreign direct investment from China to Africa in the first six months of 2009 totalling US$ 552 million compared with the same period in 2008. This is in stark contrast to a drop of over 30% in Sino-Africa trade to a value of approximately US$ 37 billion in the first six months of 2009, compared with the same period in 2008.
Africa thus remains an important strategic partner for China. Africa’s infrastructure needs amount to approximately US$ 75.5 billion annually to maintain and construct necessary structures according the Africa Infrastructure Country Diagnostic study conducted by the World Bank. However this amount is sure to increase as a result of the financial crisis and depleting funding for such needed projects from the West. Africa therefore provides a good hunting ground for SOEs looking for deals to expand their operations. This attention could thus serve Africa’s interests as it faces a decrease in demand for commodities from the continent and simultaneous lack of demand for China’s manufactured goods which ultimately fuels its demand for resources from Africa. This as a growth rate of 2.8% is expected in 2009 for Africa, down significantly from 5.7 % in 2008.
A NEW CHAPTER IN SINO-AFRICAN RELATIONS?
It is under these circumstances that FOCAC will play itself out in November 2009. In the run up to the meeting a number of high level visits have taken place. President Hu Jintao conducted a significant four nation Africa tour to Mali, Senegal, Tanzania and Mauritius in February 2009 where he reiterated an unwavering commitment to the continued implementation of the 2006 Beijing Action Plan, further aid provisions, debt forgiveness and trade and investment activities. He also alluded to “pragmatic cooperation” and a “new strategic partnership” perhaps highlighting a more cautious approach under current economic conditions.
Furthermore, Chairperson of the Commission of the Africa Union (AU) Jean Ping visited China in September 2009 during which time he participated in a strategic dialogue between China and the AU. Regional organizations have also received ongoing attention as highlighted through a trade pledge of US$ 100 billion to be reached by China and the East Africa Community by 2010. A meeting was also conducted in March this year between the China-Africa Development Fund and representatives from the African Union Commission, NEPAD, African Development Bank and Economic Commission in Ethiopia to outline areas of mutual interest and possible partnership.
Relations between China and Africa have clearly not waned and 2009 FOCAC will certainly prove to further consolidate ties. There are signs however that it could usher in a new direction within this strategic partnership, as mentioned by President Hu during his tour of Africa. First, state-owned enterprises have gained increased experience in establishing themselves and operating in Africa over the past number of years, while the growing trade relationship, which continues to burgeon, has highlighted an unfavourable dependence on the exporting of raw materials from the Continent. Comments by President Hu suggest that while its commercially driven approach in Africa will continue, the PRC government would also need to promote greater employment opportunities for local African communities, transfer of technology and social responsibility through their operations.
Second, a more people-centred approach would serve to deepen the engagement between the China and Africa as cultural and language barriers continue to provide challenges across the spectrum of activities by Chinese activities on the Continent. Private firms and state owned enterprises alike highlight cultural misunderstandings, miscommunication clashing with profit making and provision of efficient services. Perceptions of Chinese operations on the ground have been forged through lack of understanding of local labour laws and other communication challenges. People-to-people exchanges must serve to bridge the cultural divide which will otherwise continue to shroud commercial gains if mutual learning and understanding is not advanced. Social issues should thus be advanced at FOCAC 2009 and President Hu’s emphasis in his February speech on developing greater exchanges in the fields of health, culture, education, tourism and amongst youth could serve as an indication of this.
Third, African representatives need to forge direction in matching Chinese engagement with policy priorities towards the final Action Plan for 2009. The next three years should have greater concern and focus on African priorities as a result. Corresponding needs with commitments made will ensure synergy toward mutually beneficial goals. Furthermore, accountability needs to be maintained towards implementation of commitments made. Commitments in the 2006 Beijing Action, such as those listed below, should be adequately reviewed, with constraints and challenges being identified by both African and Chinese stakeholders.
Part of this African response should be directed at African participation in the follow-up and implementation of actions agreed to at the FOCAC meeting. A greater focus on African participation will necessitate greater African ownership of the agreements made. It is under the backdrop of these previous set of commitments that African politicians need to address pitfalls in order to progress and implement lessons learned towards the next set of commitments made at FOCAC 2009 and thus have direct involvement in the implementation of the commitments made:
- Doubling of China’s 2006 aid commitments to the continent by 2009;
- Provision of US$3 billion in preferential loans and US$2 billion in preferential buyer’s credits over 3 years;
- Establishment of the China-Africa Development Fund providing US$5 billion towards Chinese companies investing in Africa;
- Cancelling debt arising from all the interest-free government loans that matured at the end of 2005 owed by heavily indebted poor countries and the least developed countries in Africa that have diplomatic ties with China;
- Increasing from 190 to 440 the number of export items from Africa to China receiving zero-tariff treatment from the least developed countries in Africa that have relations with China;
- Providing training for 15,000 African professionals;
- Sending 100 senior agricultural experts to the continent and establishing 10 agricultural demonstration centres;
- Building of 30 hospitals;
- Providing a RMB 300 million grant towards anti-malaria drugs and construction of 30 malaria prevention and treatment centres in Africa;
- Building 100 rural schools and increasing the number of Chinese Government scholarships to 4,000 per year by 2009;
- Dispatching 300 youth volunteers to the continent;
- Establishing three to five overseas economic and trade cooperation zones.
Fourth, greater synergy between policy priorities and commitments made will ensure African stakeholders create a partnership towards sustainable economic benefits for ordinary citizens. The Millennium Development Goals are often reiterated by both African and Chinese policy makers as a common developmental priority and this was also reinforced by President Hu during his African tour in February. However if these Goals are to indeed be targeted and achieved though engagement between China and Africa, activities will need to filter down to Africa’s grass roots level, beyond the remits of Africa’s elites. African ownership over the implementation of FOCAC commitments must not be understated. For a new strategic partnership to be witnessed however, buy-in from both sides will be needed to ensure its success. African stakeholders need to take advantage of this multilateral forum to learn from China’s domestic developmental experiences, and transfer such lessons to Africa. In order to move beyond the traditional relationship based on Africa’s provision of minerals and natural resources, practices towards sustainable development need to be sought.
The success of Sino-African relations will lie in addressing the current imbalances that exist. Mechanisms to improve and promote African investments in China, development of Africa’s manufacturing sector and food security must be fostered. African leaders will need to be vocal in stressing the benefits for the African people.This was illustrated most recently at the World Economic Forum in Dalian. Zimbabwean Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara was outspoken regarding China’s exploitation of raw materials on the Continent, and emphasised the need to focus on manufacturing and agricultural investments in order to foster real economic growth in his country. As he stated “we are not going to produce raw materials in Zimbabwe for China. China will come on our own terms as partners”- a sign perhaps that the growing imbalance in Sino-Africa relations needs to be addressed in order for a real “win win” partnership to prevail.
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* Hayley Herman is the research manager at the Centre for Chinese Studies, Stellenbosch University
* Please send comments to [email protected] or comment online at http://www.pambazuka.org/
Indian and Chinese investment in Africa
From ‘no alternative’ to ‘many alternatives’
Renu Modi and Seema Shekhawat
The ‘there is no alternative’ (TINA) discourse, to the IMF/World Bank as the major source of funding, that prevailed through out the 1980s has changed with the discovery of mineral and oil resources on the African continent. This has set off a ‘new scramble’ for the assets that are much in demand globally. Africa has been on the move and the centre of world stage for positive reasons. It is the world’s powerhouse as it has massive reserves of oil and natural gas that are yet to be explored and utilised. In addition, ‘it has 99 per cent of the world’s chrome resources, 85 per cent of platinum, 70 per cent of tantile, 68 per cent of its cobalt, and 54 per cent of its gold and other minerals. It also has the largest reserve of gem quality diamond in the world.’ (Tom Nevin, 2008:18)
Africa has resources and investment opportunities to offer and therefore in academic discourse it is called the ‘new frontier’. In addition to Africa’s traditional trading allies from the West, India and China, the two main Asian drivers have emerged as the major trading partners and investors since the 1990s. The two emerging economies are now an integral part of the international market and formidable financial powers with sustained growth rates of about 7-8 per cent. The demand for Africa’s natural resources and their imports to these two Asian drivers, in addition to other factors, has spurred the prices of primary commodities on the continent. This has in turn buoyed the economy of several African countries that are enmeshed in the global economy through their exports of natural resources.
In the 1980s several African governments were victims of the disastrous structural adjustment programmes (SAPs) that were economic conditionalities imposed by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), primary lenders that attempted to reorient the African economies to the free market model. In addition, the tenets of the Washington Consensus – understood in common parlance as a term that includes liberalisation, privatisation and globalisation (LPG), the deregulation and fiscal austerity that were expected to lay the basis for economic reforms and lead to economic growth and prosperity, insisted on the introduction of western style multiparty democracy, good governance and human rights in Africa. However, the African governments did not appreciate the audits, but there was a kind of complacency and acceptance to this consensus in the absence of any other major avenues of funding, until the post Cold War era.
Currently, Indian and Chinese economic engagements are a part of this alternative source of trade and investment scenario.
The surge was in large part related to investments in extractive industries, though FDI rose in service industries as well (WIR07: 35). FDI to Africa amounted to US$36 billion in 2006. The following year Africa registered a FDI growth of US$53 billion in 2007 mainly because of booming commodity markets (WIR 08: xvii). The FDI investments rose to US$88 billion in 2008, despite the global financial and economic crisis.(WIR 09) The resources were in high demand globally in general, and in countries like China and India in particular, that have made massive investments in mainly the extractive and mining sector. FDIs have brought to Africa not only capital for development but new technology and managerial skills as well.
AFRICA, CHINA AND INDIA: MUTUAL INTERESTS
There is a significant increase in the trade and investments between Africa and its Asian partners China, India, Singapore, Malaysia, South Korea and Japan. However, its recent economic engagement with the dragon and the elephant are of particular significance because of the complimentarity of interest between the two emergent Asian partners. The Africans – who are impressed with the sustained growth rates achieved by their long term, mainly ideological allies, India and China – have welcomed the increased economic interactions with these two emergent Asian economic powers in particular.
For Africa, the Indian economic model offers lessons in how democracy and development are not antithetical but in fact complement each other. The GDP growth rate of India is projected at 7-8 per cent in 2008-2009 – at a time when the IMF had projected the global growth in 2008 at 3.7 per cent, showing the strength of her economy (RBI, 21 April 2009).
For several countries in Africa that are trying to rebuild their economic and political systems, achieve high growth rates, overcome income inequalities and shore up the democratic credentials of their political systems, India is certainly a model to emulate.
China’s economic achievements on the other hand are considered spectacular the world over. The most impressive and inspiring achievement that Africa wishes to emulate is China’s success with poverty alleviation and the manner in which the country can turn an adverse situation into an opportunity.
It is estimated by the World Bank that China has lifted 300 million people out of poverty. Studies suggest that a number ranging from 250 to 400 million have been lifted from earnings of US$1 per day. (For details see Francois Bourguignon, 2003, cited in Ramo J.C: 11)
The manner in which China used the shocking Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) crisis to its advantage was impressive. Though the country was shut down for about eight weeks, it registered a record growth for 2003. SARS sent alarm bells ringing and the country acknowledged the cracks in their decrepit public health system and worked towards overhauling it. It gave the fourth generation leaders, Hu Jintao and Wen Jiabao a chance to establish themselves.
Based on mutuality of interests, the African engagement with the two Asian drivers has been upbeat and reshaped the world’s investment landscape to the point of no return. (Ramo: 11-12) For China and India, Africa is a preferred investment destination. It offered the highest profitability among the developing regions in 2006- 2007 and a more conducive investment environment, in relative terms, due to improved policies adopted by several African countries.
CHINA IN AFRICA
Africa has always been interested in China as a source of funds for its major infrastructure and development projects that the continent so desperately needs. In its endeavour to build its own support base, China provided funds for infrastructural projects such as for the 1,860 kilometre long Tanganyika–Zambia Railways (known as the TANZAM or TAZARA), sent medical missions and extended diplomatic and military support to anti-colonial movements in southern Africa. This was done to garner the support that it needed against its two powerful adversaries and to lobby and claim for itself a seat at the United Nations Security Council (UNSC).
China’s willingness to provide a US$500 million loan, free of interest charges in the early 1970s, was welcomed by Mwalimu Nyerere’s government in Tanzania following the refusal by the Western donors, the World Bank and the United Nations to finance the project. ’The news was greeted with alarm in the West. The Wall Street Journal warned that “the prospect of hundreds and perhaps thousands of Red Guards descending upon an already troubled Africa is a chilling one for the West”. One US Congressman luridly described it as a “great steel arm of China thrusting its way into the African interior.”’ (Jamie Monson, 2009)
The TAZARA was built with expertise from the People’s Republic of China, an anti imperialist power at the height of the Apartheid years; the railroad provided an alternative route for the transportation of copper from the landlocked state of Zambia through the Tanzanian seaports. The rail line was complete in 1975 and operational a year later in 1976, two years ahead of schedule. In the1970s, the TANZAM was the largest aid project in Africa and China’s most spectacular aid intervention in the Third World. In return the newly independent states had to contend with Sino-Soviet rivalry for influence on the continent as well as support China on the vexed question of Taiwan.
However, with the disintegration of the USSR into its independent constituents in 1991 and the collapse of the Cold War, the scramble for ‘ideological influence’ in international relations effectively ended. Subsequently in the 1990s, following the massacre at Tiannamen Square, China too metamorphosed decisively its political, economic, social and its outlook on foreign policy. The post Deng Xiaoping generation led by Jiang Zemin steered the country through economic liberalisation and accelerated the reforms, though the process had already begun post 1978.
China’s economic engagement with Africa in the 1990s has been driven by pragmatism of the market. In the 1990s the Chinese medicos and aid workers were replaced by the gigantic State backed Chinese multinationals or small entrepreneurs that traded in cheap consumer goods or ran Chinese eateries across Africa, for instance on the streets of Kariakoo in Dar es Salam or Kamawala in Lusaka. This matched and suited the concerns of African states that welcomed a more economically oriented engagement, though the influence of China in Africa had continued in the 1970s and 1980s through the African’s enthusiasm for the Chinese martial arts movies. Most of the states desperately needed to diversify their source of funding to run their beleaguered economies and come out of poverty and stagnation.
Africa–China relations have been on the upturn since 1996, when the former Chinese President Jiang Zemin went on a tour to six African countries. He did the spadework for the establishment of the Forum on China–Africa Co-operation (FOCAC) in October 2000. It marked the 50th anniversary of the diplomatic, economic, political and ideological engagement between the two partners. The Beijing FOCAC summit of 2006 pledged a ‘new type of strategic partnership’ and a package of aid, investments, debt cancellations, technical trainings and scholarships for Africans. It defines the contemporary phase of Africa-China co-operation, mainly economic and political, based on inter-alia, ‘mutual trust’, ‘friendship’ and a ‘win-win economic co-operation’. (Hu Jintao’s Speech at the opening ceremony of the Beijing Summit, 4 November 2006, See also Modi Renu, November 2006-January 2007)
As its economy booms, China is intent on getting the resources needed to sustain its rapid growth, and procure sources of oil and other necessary raw materials across the globe. In addition China has investments in the non energy sector as well, that include infrastructure telecommunications, agriculture and the manufacturing sectors. Over the past few years, China has become Africa’s important partner for trade (exports and imports) and economic cooperation. Trade between Africa and China increased from US$11 billion in 2000 to US$56 billion in 2006. China’s FDI stock in Africa had reached US$1.6 billion by 2005, with Chinese companies present in 48 African countries, although Africa still accounts for only 3 per cent of China’s outward FDI. A few African countries have attracted the bulk of China’s FDI: Sudan is the largest recipient (and the ninth largest recipient of Chinese FDI worldwide), followed by Algeria (eighteenth) and Zambia (nineteenth). (UNCTAD/PRESS/PR/2007/005, 27/03/07) As per UNCTAD and UNDP sources, China is the third largest trade partner, following the United States and France and in 2007, China invested US$50 billion in 48 African countries and it aims to raise its trade to US$100 billion 2010. (China Daily, 2007, cited in Ibid)
More recently, in Guinea on the west coast of Africa, on 9 October 2009, the minister of mines Mohammed Thiam announced that the Hong-Kong based China International Fund (CIF) signed a US$7-9 billion deal for the extraction of minerals, oil and natural and infrastructure projects, with Captain Moussa Dadis Camara's military junta in Guinea. This is the same junta that open fire and killed 157 people who were demonstrating against the military regime in September.
This gross violation of human rights by the Camara regime has drawn severe criticism from the domestic and well as international states and the International Criminal Court. Though the ministry of foreign affairs in China has denied any formal agreement with between the CIF and the Guinean regime, international observors are sceptical about China’s denial. (Africa- Asia Confidential, October 2009)
Beijing’s military and financial links to other controversial regimes such as Guinea, Sudan and Zimbabwe – which are considered as pariahs by the West – have brought to light the scant regard that Beijing has for human rights on the African continent.
China’s current relations with Africa are purely market driven and pragmatic with little concern for any other factor, including human rights. Chinese investments have turned a full circle in Africa, from its investments in TAZARA in the 1970s for ideological reasons to its current investments to overhaul it for market reasons.
In 2008, China invested US$100 million to rebuild the TAZARA that was falling apart due to underinvestment and poor maintenance. (Perege Gumbo, 30 September 2008)
The purpose is to link two of China's Special Economic Zones (SEZs) in Chambishi (Zambia’s copper belt where China has huge investments) with SEZs in Dar es Salaam, where China has invested in the modernisation and extension of the port. The reconstructed TAZARA will link up in Zambia with the Benguela line crossing Angola to the Atlantic coast, which is also being rebuilt by China. The Beneguela and the TAZARA will create a first-ever functioning east-west corridor across the continent and facilitate the free movement of goods from the landlocked interiors of Zambia to the sea port of Dar es Salaam. ( See Jamie Monson, 2009)
INDIA IN AFRICA
India–Africa engagement has moved beyond the context of Afro-Asian solidarity, on grounds of a shared historical background of colonialism and the common ideological stance on the Non Aligned Movement as showcased by the Bandung Conference of 1955 and the Group of 77 (G–77). Since the early 1990s, in keeping with the changed domestic and international post Cold War scenario, there has been a marked shift in the diplomatic language as well, from that of historical, cultural links with the continent to one that is economic in content. The ministry of foreign affairs pursues an active economic diplomacy on the African continent, as exemplified by the India–Africa Summit of April 2008.
Africa is seen as a frontier for energy resources – because of its massive oil and natural gas resources in mainly the Gulf of Guinea, Nigeria, Sudan and Angola. India imports about 70 per cent of its oil and sources a significant percentage its oil imports from Africa. (RBI, 2008) Two aspects of this contemporary engagement are of essence.
First, as stated earlier, over the past decade the economic content of the India–Africa relationship has risen. This is evident from the fact that India’s trade with Africa has soared from US$965 million in 1991 to US$35 billion in 2008 due to rises in both exports to and imports from African countries and is expected to triple to reach US$100 billion over the next five years. (EXIM Bank cited in Indo- African Business – 8 November-January 2009: 5)
Second, the government of India has made a concerted effort to bolster trade with Africa and the range of products are diversified. The Government of India launched the ‘Focus: Africa’ programme under the Export–Import (EXIM) Bank in the period 2002-2007 and the ‘Go Global Policy’ to boost India’s trade with the sub Saharan African region. In the first phase of the ‘Focus: Africa’ programme, the target countries identified were Nigeria, South Africa, Mauritius, Kenya, Ethiopia, Tanzania and Ghana. These seven countries accounted for nearly 70 per cent of India’s total trade with the sub Saharan African Region during 2000-2001. Cotton yarn, fabrics and other textile items; drugs and pharmaceuticals; machinery and instruments; transport equipment; and telecommunication and information technology were exported.
The EXIM Bank has extended lines of credit (LOC) to facilitate exports to Africa that are diversified. The share of Africa in India’s total exports has risen from 4.8 per cent in 2003 -04 to 7.1 per cent in 2007-08. India’s imports from Africa rose from 3.5 per cent to 5.9 per cent of the country’s total imports in the same period. (CII- EXIM Bank Conclave, 22-24 March 2009: 10)
A wide array of private and the public sectors operate on the Africa continent. Some of the major private sector players, inter-alia, are the Angelique International (agriculture), Apollo Group of Hospitals (healthcare), Kirloskar Brothers Limited (KBL) (agriculture equipments), ESSAR Group (infrastructure/ telecommunications), Fortis Escorts Hospitals (healthcare), Infrastructure Alliance (OIA) (infrastructure), WAPCOS (water resources, power and infrastructure), Larsen and Toubro Limited (engineering), Mahindra and Mahindra Limited (agricultural equipment), NIIT (information technology), Shapoorji Pallonji and Company Limited (construction), Tata Group (automobiles, chemicals and others). In fact, the Tata group was one of the first Indian companies that entered Africa almost six decades ago and Tata Motors was a well known brand in the truck segment way back in the 1960s. Today, through its affiliate TATA-Africa, the company has significant investments and has a presence in eleven African countries. (Indo- Asian News Service ( IANS),19 September 2008)
The Government of India (GOI) enterprises that have a presence in Africa are Telecommunications Consultants India Ltd (TCIL), Indian Telecom Industries (ITI) Limited, Rail India Technical and Economic Services (RITES), Konkan Railways, IRCON International Limited, Oil and Natural Gas Corporations (ONGC) Videsh Limited (OVL), Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited (BHEL) amongst others. More recently a laudable initiative by the by the ministry of external affairs (GOI) has been the US$500 billion worth investment in the Pan African e-network, the distance telemedicine programme launched in February 2009 as a part of its ‘Aid to Africa’ programme.
Two issues are of essence. First that the continent as whole is on the move as indicated by the increase in FDI to Africa, that has risen from US$6 billion in 1995 to US$36 billion in 2006.(WID, 2008). It rose further to US$88 billion in 2008 despite the global financial and economic crisis. This increased the FDI stock in the region to US$511 billion. Primary commodities have been the major source of investment attraction in the region. In 2008, of the total flows, southern Africa attracted a third of the total FDI inflows while West Africa recorded the largest percentage increase (63 per cent), while North Africa registered a decline. Developed countries were the leading sources of FDI in Africa, although their share in the region’s FDI stock has fallen over time. (WIR09: 15) However, this has been compensated largely due to increased investments from developing countries such as China, India, Singapore, Malaysia, South Korea and Japan, significant Asian investors to Africa.
The second issue worth noting is the fact that Africans have a basket of options from which they can choose their investors, for their oil fields, mines, agriculture, manufacturing and health, among other sectors. The African leaders, weary of the conditionality laden trade and aid with the West, have found the Chinese ‘no strings’ attached approach to trade and aid and without the sermons on human rights and good governance, as a bracing alternative to the ‘ Washington consensus’ (WC) and welcomed the Beijing consensus (BJC) wholeheartedly.
However, China’s investments with scant regard to human rights issues on the continent in ‘pariah’ states such as Guinea, Sudan, Zimbabwe for instance, has been controversial and much criticised on the continent and internationally.
The Chinese have the advantage of ‘deep pockets’, and a bulk of massive investments are backed by their state-owned enterprises (SOEs). However, the Chinese investments are largely in the extractive, oil and mining sector or in the informal sector, though lately there has been diversification to other sectors such as apparel, agriculture and telecommunications as well.
In the extractive sectors, China has flown in Chinese labourers instead of employing the local Africans Thus, several Chinese investments, such as in the extractive sector, have benefited the corrupt state elite and not the people at large, as they have not resulted in the transfer of skills or employment generation for the common man. The informal sector has been flooded with Chinese fake products at throw-away prices on the streets of Kamwala or Karikoo, and deprived the local African producer of their share of the market.
It is in this context the ‘New Delhi Consensus’ assumes significance. In contrast, Indian investments are more diversified in the agriculture, floriculture and manufacturing related, small and medium enterprise, health, telecommunications, infrastructure sector etc., can create job opportunities for the local populace as Indian companies do not import Indian labour and thus transfer of skills and generate employment for the African populace.
Africa’s outlook can be summed up in the words of the Africa Union (AU) Commission president Alpha Oumar Konare, who stated: ‘Resource-hungry economies that desire to extract the continent's resources will have to commit themselves to real investment that benefits Africa’. Konare’s asserts that ‘the terms and conditions should be set by us’. (cited in Elizabeth Sidiropoulous, October 2006:8)
Today the continent is on the move and ‘there are many alternatives’ (TAMA – to use the populist coinage of the World Social Forums) for Africa to fund its economic growth and development. It is for Africa to harness the available options to their advantage and prevent the misuse of resources by the scrounging state elite that amasses the proceeds of the country’s assets. Several countries are working towards upgrading their business environment facilitated through a code of conduct for investors, transparency in business deals that can encourage the utilisation of resources for employment generation for the common man.
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* Dr Renu Modi is director of the Centre for African Studies at the University of Mumbai. Dr Seema Shekhawat is a research associate at the University of Mumbai.
* A longer version of this article is forthcoming in Africa Quarterly (ICCR, New Delhi) in December – January, 2009-2010.
* Please send comments to [email protected] or comment online at Pambazuka News.
Plans advanced for FOCAC conference
In the final week before the fourth ministerial FOCAC meeting in Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt, on November 8 and 9, China has been intensifying its effort to put across the‘win-win’ view of its African engagement, with a barrage of new announcements, trailers of the new measures to be unveiled at the summit, and facts and figures to rebut the most common criticisms and fears.
Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, and leaders from other African countries will attend the opening ceremony. Participants will review how the consensus of the Beijing Summit had been implemented, on which China’s Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi will make a report.
The meeting will also adopt a Sharm el-Sheikh declaration and an action plan to chart the path for further China-Africa cooperation from 2010 to 2012,. China will also announce new measures to help African development.
A senior officials' meeting will be held on Nov. 6, and the third meeting of Chinese-African entrepreneurs will be held on Nov. 7.
According to China’s Assistant Minister of Foreign Affairs Zhai Jun, preparations for the meeting had been carried out ‘smoothly’, and t’he two sides have reached a consensus on the agenda and drafts of the meeting's documents’
There are also official hints of ‘far-reaching plans to help the livelihood of Africans’ to be unveiled by Premier Wen. According to one Commerce Ministry official ‘"We will pay more attention to the buildup of Africa's capability of independent development...We will further push China-Africa cooperation forward in various fields such as agriculture, food safety, infrastructure construction, trade, investment and healthcare."
In a recognition of Egypt’s dual African and Arab role, Premier Wen will also visit the Cairo-based headquarters of the League of Arab States. He will sign a package of cooperative agreements with his Egypt, which Chinese sources remind us was ‘the first Arab and African country to have established diplomatic relations with China’.
CHINA'S ECONOMIC PACKAGE
The Ministry of Commerce has released figures showing that in the first six months of 2009 China’s direct investment in Africa grew by 78.6 per cent year on year. In 2008 China’s direct investment in Africa had totalled $5.49 billion, representing nearly 10 per cent of China’s total overseas direct investment.
Africa has also become China's second largest engineering contracting market. By late 2008, China had made deals for contract projects worth $126.3 billion in Africa and completed a turnover of $68.1 billion . And in the first three quarters of 2009, China completed a contract engineering business turnover of $17.84 billion, up 41.2 percent year-on-year.
Sensitive to claims that Chinese investments fail to create local jobs, the Ministry also points to the 1,216-km-long Chinese-built Algeria East-West Expressway which it claims has created some 100,000 jobs in Algeria. And Chinese contracts to lease sugar plants or refineries in Togo, Madagascar, Sierra Leone and Benin have not only brought these countries a total of $20 million in tax income but also created an additional 8000 jobs, the Ministry official claimed.
The Ministry also boasts that China has actually exceeded its 2006 FOCAC committment to make $2 billion available in preferential credit for infrastructure development, claiming that China has to date arranged 11 infrastructure projects under the scheme, including housing estates, highways, power stations, harbors, ports and telecommunication facilities, with a total value of $2.784 billion.
In advance of the summit, China is claming to have fulfilled, or be on target for fulfilling, all eight pledges made by President Hu Jintao at the last FOCAC sumit held in Beijing in 2006. including a pledge to double China's aid to Africa in three years. It claims that by the end of September 2009, it had finished more than 90 percent of the pledges and, by the end of the year, will have completely fulfilled or exceeded them all.
According to Peoples Daily, China has helped train a total of 13,757 professionals 91.7 percent of the number pledged. Eighty-seven Chinese agricultural experts had already reached Africa, while other experts arrived in late October. So, in all, 104 Chinese agricultural experts are now working in 33 African countries.
China promised to set up 10 special agricultural technology demonstration centers in Africa three years ago. To date, construction of all of them has been launched.
China pledged to assist African nations in building 30 hospitals, including the provision of medical equipment or facilities for two of them. At present, 16 hospitals are being built, the construction for 10 other hospitals will commence late this year, and pre-construction preparations or designing for the remaining two hospitals are underway.
China also stresses that its investment in Africa has continued to grow despite the global economic downturn. China's FDI in Africa amounted to 875 million dollars in the first three quarters of 2009, representing a year-on-year increase of 78.6 percent
Meanwhile, Africa has become China's second largest engineering contracting market. By late 2008, the country had inked deals with Africa for contract projects worth $126.3 billion and completed the turnover of $68.1 billion. From January to September this year, China’s contract engineering business in Africa reached a turnover of $17.84 billion up 41.2 percent year-on-year.
China also boasts of its investment in agrobusiness in Africa, now claimed to total 72 enterprises with a total investment value of $134 million. Aware of the sensitivity of the issue, it is at pains to present its agribusiness investment as aimed at increasing domestic African food supplies and agricultural productivity.
FOCAC – let your voice be heard:
In the wake of the FOCAC meeting, Emerging Powers in Africa Briefing will be opening its columns to a range of analyses and reactions to this crucial event. Your comments are welcome.
BROUGHT TO YOU BY PAMBAZUKA NEWS
* Stephen Marks is research associate and project co-ordinator with Fahamu’s China in Africa Project
* Please send comments to [email protected] or comment online at http://www.pambazuka.org/
Scramble for Africa: Brazil gaining on China
China is leading the pack in the 21st century ’scramble for Africa’ but anybody who thinks Beijing has the continent sewn up need only glance at the passport of Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.
By the time he first visited the European Union in 2007, four years after coming to office, Lula had racked up six trips to Africa, covering 16 countries.
Then, in July, he was guest of honour at an African Union summit in Libya, a reminder to Beijing ahead of its second Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) in Egypt on November 8-9 that it is not alone in courting the continent and its raw materials.
Reflecting Lula’s push, Brazil’s annual trade with Africa has jumped from $3.1-billion (R24,5-billion) in 2000 to $26.3-billion last year, a rate of growth outpaced only by China, which has seen two-way commerce soar tenfold this decade to $107-billion.
China has now eclipsed the United States as the continent’s biggest trading partner.
“The balance of commercial power has shifted entirely,” said Martyn Davies of Frontier Advisory, a South Africa-based consultancy for investors in emerging African markets.
“This is not something new – it’s just been accelerated by the economic crisis. It’s towards inter-emerging market trade, rather than the traditional north-south trade.”
It is not only Brazil and China that are muscling in on Africa. The two other members of the so-called BRICs grouping – India and Russia – are also setting up stall in a region that for generations European powers regarded as their own back yard.
Indian trade with Africa has jumped from $4.9-billion to $32-billion this decade, a similar growth trajectory to Brazil.
However, in terms of foreign direct investment in the last six years, India leads the way with 130 projects, compared to 86 from China and 25 from Brazil, according to research by South Africa’s Standard Bank.
Both Brazil and India are also happy to use their cultural and linguistic links to advance their causes. Besides sharing a language with Mozambique and Angola through common Portuguese heritage, nearly one in two Brazilians claims some African ancestry, while South Africa is home to more people of Indian origin than anywhere outside the subcontinent.
THE RUSSIANS ARE ALSO COMING
In the last 12 months, Russia has also launched a major diplomatic and trade offensive in Africa, with Mikhail Margelov, its envoy to Sudan, declaring in January that Russia was “back in Africa” and ready to play a “more active role”.
His comments were followed within six months by a high profile visit by President Dmitry Medvedev to Egypt, Nigeria, Namibia and Angola to shore up Russian energy, mining, construction and telecommunications deals.
“These forays and the commercial deals which follow them are for the first time in 50 years forcing Western countries to play catch-up on a continent in which they have always maintained unlimited commercial access,” Standard Bank said last month.
The rise of competing sources of trade and investment also fulfils the ambitions of many African countries to free themselves from overdependence on commercial ties to one or two Western partners, in particular the United States.
Besides energy and minerals, which make up the lion’s share of African exports to the BRICs countries, there is growing interest in its arable land – less than 25 percent of which is cultivated – as a source of food for export.
Probably typical of the deals of the future is the $1-billion China lent Angola in March to develop a farming sector devastated by a 27-year civil war that only ended in 2002.
“Africa’s agricultural potential will become an increasingly potent driver of the BRICs commercial engagement with the continent,” Standard Bank said in a report.
* Ed Cropley is African investment correspondent for Food Crisis and the Global Land Grab. This article was first published on 4 November 2009.
* Please send comments to [email protected] or comment online at http://www.pambazuka.org/
Trade falling between China and Macau Forum countries
Trade volumes between China and Portuguese-speaking countries have not been immune to the global crisis. Between January and August this year, trade between China and the other members of Forum Macau fell by 31.64 per cent compared to the previous year to US$36.49 billion. Given that they are both heavily commodities-oriented in their trade with China, Angola and Brazil, China’s two largest trading partners in the group, recorded the biggest falls, 50.3 per cent and 22.8 per cent respectively. Chinese imports from Portuguese-speaking countries reached US$25.60 billion, down 31.33 per cent, and exports US$10.88 billion, down 32.35 per cent. In the years before the crisis, 2006 had seen the tripling of China’s trade with Forum Macau to US$34 billion, with trade increases of 46.9 per cent and 66 per cent in 2007 and 2008 respectively. In 2008, total trade reached US$77 billion, surpassing the trade target of US$50 billion by 2009 a year early. Despite the drop this year in an otherwise impressive trade increase, from June figures have already shown signs of recovery, marking an increase of 17 per cent on the previous month. Some of the smaller economies, such as East Timor (119.6 per cent), Guinea-Bissau (43.4 per cent) and Cape Verde (29.8 per cent) recorded impressive trade increases in the first half of this year, mostly due to a growth in imports from China.
Macau will seek to leverage its position more aggressively to promote trade and investment between China and the Portuguese-speaking countries, and nowhere is this more evident than in the 14th Macao International Fair (MIF), held in October. This year recorded the highest ever participation by Portuguese-speaking countries, seven of which were represented at the fair: Angola, Brazil, Cape Verde, Guinea-Bissau, Mozambique and East Timor. Ambassadors from each country were in attendance, accompanied collectively by over 100 officials from the seven countries. According to the head of the Institute for Promotion of Trade and Investments of Macau (IPIM), Lee Peng Hong, Macau is seeking to leverage itself as a services hub for Portuguese-speaking business interests. While only approximately 2 per cent of the local ‘Macanese’ speak Portuguese at all, Macau has worked hard to use the weight of its cultural connections to reach out to particularly those Portuguese-speaking countries in the developing world. Setting its sights further than a regional scope, this year’s MIF saw a 20 per cent increase in participation, largely from the EU and ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations), with 288 delegations from all over the world.
Under the banner of 'Diversity – key to extending a decade of prosperity', Macau is seeking to promote and consolidate its role as a trade, investment and services platform, particularly given that this year marks the 10-year anniversary of Macau’s return to China. Boasting an annual average growth rate of 10 per cent over the last decade, Macau is also looking to coordinate ‘integration’ with the special administrative region Hong Kong and special economic zones in Guangdong to promoting small and medium enterprise (SME) development in these areas.
According to the vice-president of the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade, Zhang Wei:
'Macau has an "irreplaceable role" in serving as a channel for Chinese SMEs, particularly those hailing from the Pearl River Delta, to enter the Portuguese-speaking markets. This newfound official enthusiasm for SME development seems to be derived from the realisation that, particularly in the wake of the economic crisis, they are the "most active factor in development of the economy and the biggest drivers of economic growth and social development". This would appear to be true. China is home to more than 42 million SMEs, which absorb 75 per cent of the urban workforce and reportedly generate 60 per cent of China's GDP [gross domestic product] in goods and services.'
Macau Secretary for Economy and Finance Francis Tam Pak Yuen is quoted as saying that Macau’s future economic development was to 'promote sustainable growth of the gaming industry, expand and upgrade related service sectors, facilitate diversification, and reinforce regional cooperation in order to make Macau become a global leisure and tourism hub and a regional trade and investment services platform'.
It appears these efforts run parallel to Macau's limiting the further expansion of the gaming industry. Macau’s government met with the city’s six casino operators in October, reportedly to ‘review the size and growth of the industry’. This is despite restrictions on Chinese nationals visiting Macau having recently been relaxed. The industry has experienced a massive turnaround since August after having suffered during the economic crisis. It currently outstrips takings in Las Vegas by almost three to one.
Brazil continues to be China’s largest trading partner among the Macau Forum member countries, and China overtook the United States to become Brazil’s largest trading partner in 2008. A clear indication of the importance of this strategic relationship came when the China Development Bank in May this year announced a US$10 billion to Brazilian national oil company Petrobras. As with a similar loan arrangement through Exim Bank in Angola, oil is the collateral on this deal. Brazil will supply China with 200,000 barrels per day, almost 7 per cent of China’s current oil needs. There are also signs that Brazil and China are cooperating in areas of technology including deal-water oil exploration, commercial aviation and satellite technology. Brazil hosted the Forum on Economic Cooperation with Portuguese-speaking Countries in Rio de Janeiro in August and the Portuguese Language Business Meeting (VEENLP) in Fortaleza in September. It appears that amid concerns to the contrary, the president of the Brazilian Investments Promotion Agency (Apex) was forced to declare at the former event that ‘Brazil and China were not competitors in Africa’. Brazil is eager to promote the export of its agro-industries equipment and technologies to Africa. China seems keen to invest in the same sector. The China Development Bank, China’s largest policy bank, has recently been active in securing investments in agriculture, having in March this year announced a deal of US$1 billion with Angola for agricultural development.
BROUGHT TO YOU BY PAMBAZUKA NEWS
* Lucy Corkin is a PhD candidate at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) and resident Macau Forum analyst for Fahamu’s Emerging Powers in Africa Watch programme.
* Please send comments to [email protected] or comment online at Pambazuka News.
Pambazuka News 121: Nyerere, dix ans après
Tsvangirai calls off unity government boycott
Zimbabwe's Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai on Thursday said he had called off a boycott of power-sharing ties with President Robert Mugabe that had paralysed the fragile unity government for three weeks. His announcement comes after a Southern African leaders' emergency summit aimed at ending the power-sharing deal impasse in the country.
Update on arrested ZESN staff
The Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN) staff member Thulani Ndhlovu who was arrested on Wednesday 28 October in Dete, Hwange has been granted bail out of custody by Magistrate Ms I. Munamati Madzorere. Madzorere ordered Thulani to pay $200 bail and report twice every week (Monday and Friday) at Bulawayo Central police station.
The Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN) staff member Thulani Ndhlovu who was arrested on Wednesday 28 October in Dete, Hwange has been granted bail out of custody by Magistrate Ms I. Munamati Madzorere.
Madzorere ordered Thulani to pay $200 bail and report twice every week (Monday and Friday) at Bulawayo Central police station. Last night the police interviewed a local Chief who also attended the workshop and confirmed that he had personally informed the district administrator and even the Dete Police Officer in Charge.
ZESN officials from Harare who were present when the Chief was being interviewed also confirmed that the Chief was stunned by the action of the police and who argued that the event was a communal workshop and as the Chief he actually assisted in convening the workshop while ZESN’s major role was to facilitate and impart information to his subjects.
PROMOTING DEMOCRATIC ELECTIONS IN ZIMBABWE
FOR COMMENTS AND FURTHER DETAILS CONTACT
Zimbabwe Election Support Network
TINOZIVA BERE, ZESN BOARD CHAIRPERSON 
+263 (04) 791443, 798193, 791803
Africa: "Africa Rising" - New film on FGM
Equality Now, a New Field partner, is releasing a new film about female genital mutilation (FGM) entitled “Africa Rising.” The film is showing this week in New York, San Francisco, and Boston, USA. The film is not currently available for sale, but a trailer can be immediately viewed online.
Africa: Africans urged to fight obstetrical fistula
The reproductive health expert of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), Fanding Badji has called on African governments to show more political will in the fight against obstetrical fistula in Sub-Sahara Africa.
Global: Water key to reducing maternal mortality
Improving water quality and access can help lower maternal mortality rates, say advocates. Now a new fellowship program is being launched to explore various solutions to the maternal health problem in the world's poorest nations.
Global: Why is violence against women on the increase?
In the 21st century it may seem ludricrous to even consider the possibility of an increase in violence against women. The fact that we have come so far in terms of creating really good legislation, has not necessarily resulted in the scale of impact envisaged. In most countries, on any given day newspaper headlines alerts us to the reality that women still face attacks on their bodies on a daily basis.
Africa: African debt crisis: a human rights perspective
This article explores how globalisation is challenging activist groups that use a human rights framework that has traditionally been used to hold national governments accountable for human rights violations.
DRC: ICC trial of former leader to start next April
The International Criminal Court (ICC) has announced that the trial of Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo, a former senior official of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) who has been charged with war crimes, will begin in April 2010. Mr. Bemba, the former Congolese Vice President, faces charges for alleged crimes committed in the Central African Republic (CAR) between October 2002 and March 2003, including rape, murder and pillaging.
Kenya: ICC to investigate violence
The International Criminal Court's chief prosecutor says he will request ICC judges to open an investigation into Kenya's post-election violence. Luis Moreno-Ocampo made the comments after meeting Kenya's president and prime minister, who said they would co-operate with the ICC probe.
North Africa: Slavery still persists in Mauritania
Despite strong efforts by the toppled democratic government of Mauritania, slavery has yet to be rooted out in the country, a UN report documents. Under the new government, little progress is made to fight slavery.
Sierra Leone: Fury at 'forced adoption'
A group of parents in Sierra Leone has accused a charity of sending more than 30 children abroad for adoption without consent during the country's civil war. The parents say they have no idea what happened to their children after they were handed over to Help a Needy Child International (Hanci).
Sudan: UN hails successful rescue of abducted children in South Sudan
The UN Deputy Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Southern Sudan, Lise Grande, has welcomed the first-ever rescue, by the Southern Sudan Police Service, of 28 abducted children in Pibor County, Jonglei State. The children, aged between 2 and 14 years, were released on late last month.
Tanzania: Court convicts albino killers
A Tanzanian court has sentenced four men to death by hanging for the murder of a 50-year-old albino man. Local media late on Monday reported the case, which brings to seven the number of people sentenced for murdering albinos following the first conviction of three people in September.
DRC: UN refugee agency rushing aid to expelled Angolans
The United Nations refugee agency has rushed relief items to help tens of thousands of Angolans expelled from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) last month. A Boeing 747 jet from Johannesburg, South Africa, touched down in Angola’s capital, Luanda, over the weekend carrying thousands of tents, sleeping mats and blankets, as well as a prefabricated warehouse.
Kenya: Flooding deluges Somali refugees
A camp housing thousands of mainly Somali refugees in north-eastern Kenya has been completely flooded following almost three weeks of constant rain. Reports indicate that the main road into the area has been cut off by flooding.
Libya: IOM expresses concern over stranded immigrants
The Head of the country office of the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) in Libya, Laurence Hart, has declared that the issue of migrants stranded in the North African country on their way to Europe was "seriously" worrying the organisation.
Africa: Civil society presses states for ICC support
A network of African civil society and international organizations today called upon African Union (AU) states to use the AU's upcoming session about the International Criminal Court (ICC) to promote the court's ability to prosecute the world's worst crimes fairly and effectively.
Africa labour news roundup, 3 November 2009
Emerging powers news roundup
Chinese investment is now flooding into Africa on such a scale that it has outstripped the ability of state-run banks to provide low-interest finance, according to a report from Reuters. As a result Chinese investors are forced to turn to commercial lending at higher rates, and therefore require more guarantees from African governments before committing themselves, the report claims. More
At the same time the Financial Times reported that China Development Bank has turned away from its previous strategy of transforming itself into a commercial bank. In future, according to an anonymous CDB official, the bank will ‘continue its "central task" of lending to favoured government infrastructure projects and supporting Beijing's key policies’. More
Voice of America gave a generally positive advance account of this weekend’s FOCAC meeting in Egypt. More
A new study argues that he increasing investment, foreign aid and diplomatic ties with China will hurt Kenya in the long run because of limited joint ownership or local capital in Chinese investments. More
Two Ethiopian academics have a more positive view of China’s impact on their country. More
In the West ‘We still like to see ourselves as saviours, and anxiety about Chinese investment is bound up with the politics of aid’ argues Peter Guest in ‘Why the west fears China in Africa’. More
A black contestant on a Shanghai TV talent show has attracted a barrage of internet abuse because of her skin colour. More
Qatar Holding, the direct investment arm of the Qatar Investment Authority, will soon open an office in China as it seeks to boost its growing investment portfolio in the Far East, its chief executive says. More
In India there are complaints of illegal Chinese workers ‘flooding’building sites. More
Africa leads on climate change
The industrialised countries came under fire on the first day of Barcelona climate talks with African countries, in an unprecedented move, blocking all negotiations on Kyoto Protocol unless the rich nations provided concrete and unconditional targets for greenhouse gas emissions for the mid-term. More
China has warned the European Union not to abandon the principle that rich nations bear a heavier burden in tackling climate change than their developing world counterparts. Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao telephoned European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso on 2 November to say that for a successful deal to be reached at December's UN climate conference in Copenhagen, technology transfer and sufficient funding from the global north is required. More
Brazil’s president has challenged other world leaders to attend next month’s climate talks in Copenhagen to break the deadlock in negotiations to cut greenhouse gas emissions. Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva said he would speak to Barack Obama, US president, next week to urge him and other leaders to go to Copenhagen on December 16-17, the final days of the talks, to save them from failure. Lula also called on rich countries to promise more money to help poorer countries cut their emissions. More
However a German activist is challenging the assumption that vast sums are needed to pay for poor countries to adopt ‘green technology’. Many of the patents for today's low-carbon technologies -- including some used in wind power and hybrid cars -- are already in the public domain, David Martin argues
‘To big business, Martin is a nuisance because he questions the very validity of some of the vast profits expected from a new climate deal. To governments, his truth is inconvenient because it threatens a delicate relationship with corporate giants they want backing their climate goals’. More
Global economy and China
China is accused of hoarding its stocks of rare earths and precious metals.
Deng Xiaoping, China's legendary reformer, is quoted on a plaque in the lobbyof the main Chinese company in this sector as saying: "The Middle East has oil, China has rare earth."
But there is another side to the story As an article in the German magazine Spiegel points out; ‘It is not, however, due to some quirk of geology that China enjoys a virtual monopoly on special industrial metals. These sought-after resources are also found buried underground elsewhere in the world. In fact, geologically speaking, there should be no shortages at all. The availability of rare metals is more of a question of price. Smelting companies in the West are reluctant to make the substantial investments needed to obtain a few tons of exotic metals, in processes that are both labor and energy intensive. China, with its cheap labor force and lax environmental laws, can afford to extract the materials, however.’ More
Nonetheless, as the Financial Times reported on 5 November, the US, European Union and Mexico have asked for a World Trade Organisation dispute panel to investigate Chinese restrictions on exports of specialised raw materials used in industry. They claim that China’s restraints on exports of bauxite, magnesium and other raw materials, which are used to make steel, aluminium and some chemicals, is driving up the price of end products.
China continues to be slated for tying its currency to the Dollar, thus ensuring that it devalues along with the US currency, with negative inpacts for the EU and for poorer countries. The Financial Times quoted one EU official as summing the situation up thus; “The Americans get the toys, the Chinese get the Treasuries and we get screwed.” However China’s central bank governor Zhou Xiaochuan argued again this week that the policy was a temporary one during the current economic crisis, and reform would continue when it was over. More
The US hit China with another big trade action as it imposed preliminary anti-dumping duties on $2.6bn worth of Chinese pipe imports.The commerce department’s decision to impose duties of up to 99 per cent on imports of some steel pipes is the latest in a string of trade spats between over tyres, cars and chickens. It comes less than a fortnight before President Barack Obama’s first visit to China.
The decision was a victory for steel companies, including US Steel Corporation, that petitioned for the duties in April. The United Steelworkers union said the decision was “an overdue message for thousands of American laid-off workers that trade laws are being enforced”. It says nearly half the domestic industry’s workers have been laid off. More
BROUGHT TO YOU BY PAMBAZUKA NEWS
* Stephen Marks is research associate and project coordinator with Fahamu's China in Africa Project.
* Please send comments to [email protected] or comment online at Pambazuka News.
Madagascar: AU Chair charges political leaders over crisis
AU Chairperson Jean Ping Tuesday called on the four Malagasy political leaders here to put the interest of the people before every agenda of their crisis talks to resolve the political crisis in the country.
Madagascar: Rajoelina walks out of power-sharing talks
Madagascar's leader stormed out of internationally mediated power-sharing talks in the early hours of Friday, threatening to derail attempts to form a national unity government and end months of turmoil. Andry Rajoelina, who seized power in a March coup, insisted his leadership of the Indian Ocean island, increasingly eyed by investors for its oil and minerals, was not up for negotiation.
Mozambique: Elections: EISA & SADC join chorus of critics
Mozambique political process bulletin
EISA, the Electoral Institute for Southern Africa, has added to the criticism of Mozambique's National Elections Commission (CNE) . The problem started with the selection of civil society CNE members. “The transparency in the selection of CSO [civil society] representatives was questionable, thereby casting doubt over the integrity, impartiality and independence of the CNE”
EISA, the Electoral Institute for Southern Africa, added to the criticism of the National Elections Commission (CNE) in a statement issued yesterday. The problem started with the selection of civil society CNE members. “The transparency in the selection of CSO [civil society] representatives was questionable, thereby casting doubt over the integrity, impartiality and independence of the CNE”
Using an identical phrase to that used by the Commonwealth and European Union observers, EISA said “improvements are required to level the playing field, afford equal opportunity to all, and improve the transparency of the electoral process.”
EISA went on to “encourage the CNE to demonstrate more transparency in the management of the electoral process. Decisions must be explained in a timely manner to all stakeholders where necessary.”
And in a press conference this morning the SADC Parliamentary Forum said that the CNE had failed to share information with stakeholders in good time. SADC experience is that elections are more successful when “these matters are fully discussed so that they are well understood far in advance”. The exclusion of parties was partly due to lack of information and consultation.
Transparency at heart of criticism
International observers have been genuinely surprised by the high level of secrecy and lack of information in the Mozambican electoral process, and stress that Mozambique really is unusual in this respect.
Mark Stevens of the Commonwealth team argued that more transparency should not be a problem. He noted that Mozambique is a member of the Commonwealth and that “elsewhere in the Commonwealth, such transparency is easily provided.”
He stressed that the “the work of the National Elections Commission, as a public institution, must be public. It is the only way to ensure confidence. The CNE may be acting perfectly properly, but it must show that to the public by being transparent.”
COMMENT: Mozambican media, notably television and radio, have all reported observers’ praise for polling day. But there has been little reporting of the harsh criticism of the CNE, nor of the general view that there was not a level playing field. And there has been no explanation that Mozambique’s electoral process is quite unique in its lack of transparency, which means that Mozambican citizens do not understand that the lack of transparency and information is not normal in many other Commonwealth and SADC elections. jh
More media coverage of Guebuza
European Union observers monitored the media from 5 to 29 October. There was praise for providing sufficient information, and for making positive efforts to include the small parties. The coverage of the campaign by Radio Moçambique, Notícias and Domingo “was balanced and generally presented in a neutral tone”
But the volume of coverage was not balanced. Notícias and Domingo gave Guebuza 67% and 76% of the space for presidential candidates, compared to 18% and 17% for Afonso Dhlakama and only 15% and 7% for Daviz Simango. Similarly, Radio Moçambique gave Guebuza 63% of presidential airtime, compared to 23% for Dhlakama and 14% for Simango.
Lichanga: Voting til midnight, counting til morning
In Lichinga, Niassa, in many polling stations the count did not start until just before midnight. Polling stations closed very late, because queues had moved very slowly, because polling station staff were dealing with voters very slowly. In addition, people who came after 1800 were permitted to join the queue and vote.
At Escola Secundária de Muchenga, counting continued until Thursday morning. Staff took breaks to rest, leaving the polling stations for 10 to 15 minutes purely under the guard of the police.
Polling station staff demonstrate in Nampula
Riot police (Polícia de Intervenção Rápida) used tear gas to disperse demonstrating polling station staff in Nampula on the night of 29 October. Staff of many of the 266 polling stations were demanding an increase in salaries. They claimed, allegedly from talks with international observers, that they were supposed to be receiving a food subsidy of 150 meticias (Mt) a day (about $5.50) for three days of work at the polling station, and Mt 1000 ($36) for the 10 days of training, but in fact STAE (Secretariado Técnico da Administração Eleitoral) was paying them only Mt 50 and Mt 500. Polling station staff refused to had over voting material until they were paid the higher amount.
The demonstration took place outside the Commercial and Industrial School (Escola Instituto Comercial e Industrial) where they were scheduled to hand in the material and receive their pay. The demonstrators and the tear gas disrupted night classes at the school. Three polling station staff were hospitalised because of the effects of the tear gas.
Sudan: Poor start to Southern voter registration
Sudan has started registering voters for presidential, legislative and regional elections, but officials in the south and international observers say the process has begun on a flawed note.
West Africa: Ghana, Cote d'Ivoire call for peaceful vote
West African neighbours, Ghana and Cote d'Ivoire, have called for national reconciliation in Cote d'Ivoire to ensure a peaceful vote to climax peace efforts in the country that was torn apart by civil war about a decade ago. They have also expressed appreciation about arrangements towards the forthcoming elections which Ivorian Preident Laurent Gbagbo said would take place in December 2009 or January 2010.
Global: 141 governments for decisive meeting on corruption
As a key United Nations meeting approaches involving 141 countries, governments are deadlocked about meaningful monitoring of their compliance with the United Nations Anti-Corruption Convention. The meeting will be held in Doha, Qatar on 9-13 November. Decisions made or avoided there could mark a turning point – for better or worse – in global efforts to curb corruption and its destructive impact on millions of people.
Kenya: Attorney General confirms his US ban
Kenyan Attorney General Amos Wako confirmed Wednesday November 4th 2009 that he is banned from travelling to the United States and announced his intention to sue for defamation.
Nigeria: Ruling party backs corruption conviction of top member
Seeking to minimise the perceived damage done to it by the recent conviction of one of its top members, Bode George, Nigeria's ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has endorsed the conviction. George, a former deputy national chairman of the PDP, was sentenced to two-and-a-half years imprisonment, along with five others, last week for a contract scam while he served as the chairman of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA).
Africa: 'Pick up your money with your groceries'
Of the many proposals on how to combat poverty in Africa, the United Nations' International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) is championing what must be one of the simplest - make it cheaper and easier for migrants to send money home.
Africa: Efforts to achieve anti-poverty goals in peril
Africa’s efforts to meet the global anti-poverty targets known as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by their 2015 deadline are threatened by the impact of the global financial crisis on the continent’s economies, said Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro.
Namibia: EU's trade stance 'very regrettable', says Pohamba
Namibia President Hifikepunye Pohamba, earlier this week likened the European Union's trade negotiations with Namibia to the days of apartheid, saying the powerhouse is refusing to treat the country as an equal and listen to its concerns about the controversial economic partnership agreement (EPA).
Zimbabwe: The social impact of diamonds extraction in Chiadzwa, Marange
There have been many reports in recent times on diamond extraction and trade in Marange from national, regional and international organisations. Most of these reports have focussed on the role of government in trying to halt the illegal extraction, on networks of powerful political figures that control the trade, and on the impact on the economy of the country and compliance with the Kimberley Process.
Mauritania: Don’t abandon us, HIV-positive community tells donors
People living with HIV in Mauritania are voicing their concerns about the suspension of HIV/AIDS funding by the World Bank and the Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. They feel powerless in the face of the decisions, of which they are suffering the consequences.
South Africa: Mortality crisis overcome
Mortality rates, which have been increasing in South Africa since the 1990s, are on their way back down, reflecting a downturn of the AIDS epidemic and signalling longer lifespans for South Africans, statistics published today reveal.
Southern Africa: Funding retreat a threat to AIDS achievements - MSF
A retreat from international funding commitments for AIDS threatens to undermine the dramatic gains made in reducing AIDS-related illness and death in recent years, according to a new report by Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF).The MSF report highlights how expanding access to HIV treatment has not only saved the lives of people with AIDS but has been central to reducing overall mortality in a number of high HIV burden countries in southern Africa in recent years.
Sudan: Violence masks huge health needs - WHO
Three quarters of people in South Sudan have no access to medical care, and 10 percent of children there and in Darfur die before their first birthday, a World Health Organisation (WHO) official has said.
Uganda: Bill threatens progress on HIV/AIDS
A proposed Ugandan law on HIV/AIDS promotes dangerous and discredited approaches to the AIDS epidemic and would violate human rights, a group of more than 50 Ugandan and international organizations and individuals said in a report released today. The HIV and AIDS Prevention and Control Bill could be taken up by Uganda's parliament shortly.
Uganda: Counterfeits Bill threatens access to medicine
Uganda is considering an anti-counterfeit bill which analysts say will impair the country’s ability to import and export cheap but effective generic medicines. Activists fear that the bill, once enacted, will deny Ugandans access to safe, effective, quality and affordable generic medication which currently forms the bulk of Uganda’s medicine imports.
West Africa: Dengue epidemic paralyses Cape Verde
A first-ever outbreak of dengue fever in Cape Verde, already causing four deaths and infecting 9,000 persons, has caused panic on the archipelago. Tomorrow, everybody is urged to kill mosquitoes instead of going to work, and both the police and army are sent out to root out the disease.
Morocco: Strike shuts public schools
Four Moroccan teachers' unions paralysed public schools nationwide on Thursday (October 29th) by striking to protest problems that include shortages of instructors and overcrowded classrooms. The unions are also protesting poor infrastructure and changes in the promotions process.
Cameroon: LGBTI activist detained without charge
Cameroonian LGBTI activist and Deputy President of the Association pour la Défense de l’Homosexualité (ADEFHO), Sébastien Mandeng was allegedly a victim of homophobic slurs and discrimination in the hands of Douala police station officials on Saturday 31 October, following an altercation with a taxi driver.
Global: Lutheran council shuns homosexuality
The International Lutheran Council (ILC) a world wide association of Lutheran churches has unanimously adopted a statement against homosexuality at the recent international gathering held in Seoul, Japan 26-31 August. Themed “In Christ: Living Life to the full” and held in Seoul, Japan, 26-31 August, the conference was organised with the aim to confront the homosexual debate which according to the council has divided and brought bewilderment within various congregations including the Lutheran Church.
Kenya: Two arrested on bogus charges
Two Kenyan lesbians have been released on bail after being allegedly arrested for lesbianism, and later being charged with stealing, an offence which the women refuted suggesting it was blackmail. According to the co-ordinator from the Solidarity with Communities in Distress (SOLCODI) Program which advocates for the gay and lesbian community, the women are being blackmailed because they are lesbians.
Uganda: The implications of the anti-homosexuality bill
On 14 October 2009 a bill entitled the 'Anti-Homosexuality Bill' was tabled before the Ugandan parliament titled the . The bill is aimed at increasing and expanding penalties for 'homosexual acts' and for all institutions (including NGOs, donors and private companies) who defend the rights of people who engage in sexual relations with people of the same gender.
Africa: Climate change and mining in southern Madagascar
A new online collection of testimonies reveal that while communities in Anosy, southern Madagascar have been living with the challenges of increasing drought for some time, it is the impact of an ilmenite mining operation that has exacerbated their feelings of powerlessness and fears for the future.
Cote d'Ivoire: Court freezes Trafigura compensation
Nearly 30,000 victims of toxic dumping in the Ivory Coast may be deprived of £30m compensation after an African court froze the bank accounts into which the money has been paid. British lawyers for the victims are concerned that the legal action is the first step in the expropriation of the funds, released to the claimants this year by Trafigura, a London-based international oil trading company.
East Africa: Snows of Kilimanjaro could melt in 20 years
The snows of Mount Kilimanjaro – the highest mountain in Africa – may soon be falling on bare ground following a study showing that its ice cap is destined to disappear entirely within 20 years, due largely to climate change. The vast ice fields of Kilimanjaro in Tanzania are melting at a faster pace than at any time over the past 100 years and at this rate they will be gone completely within two decades or even earlier according to one of the world's leading glaciologists.
Gabon: Government to ban gas flaring, unprocessed log exports
Oil firms operating in Gabon will be banned from flaring gas in 2010, the government said in a statement. Exports of unprocessed timber will also be banned next year in an effort to increase employment by making logging companies mill and add value to wood locally, according to a statement issued after a cabinet meeting late on Thursday.
Nigeria: Shell ignites new gas flare at Gbarantoru
Shell’s commencement of a new gas flare at a time when the routine gas flaring has received global condemnation, and with the full knowledge that gas flaring is an illegal activity in Nigeria, is seen by the locals as an act of impunity and total disregard for their health. Gas flaring is a major contributor of global warming greenhouse gases. The commence this destructive activity a few weeks from the climate negotiations in Copenhagen indicates Shell’s disregard for the welfare of humanity and our climate.
Africa: Ethiopia targets 3 million ha for commercial farms
Ethiopia plans to offer 3 million hectares of land over the next two years for investors to develop large-scale commercial farms, a government official has said. Countries in Asia and the Gulf — such as China, India and Saudi Arabia — have rushed to buy farmland abroad to grow crops for their own people after food price inflation last year highlighted the need for greater food security.
Africa: Global protocol could limit Sub-Saharan land grab
Aggressive moves by China, South Korea and Gulf states to buy vast tracts of agricultural land in sub-Saharan Africa could soon be limited by a new global international protocol. A scramble for African farmland has in recent years seen the equivalent of Italy’s entire arable land hoovered up by businesses from emerging economies.
Africa: Agencies renew effort to fight hunger
Rome-based UN agencies have resolved to work together to revamp the fight against hunger, PANA reported from here. The senior managers, drawn from the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), International Food for Agriculture Development (IFAD) and the World Food Programme (WFP), were led by among others, the FAO Director General Jacques Diouf.
Kenya: Government to launch pilot food subsidy project for urban poor
One hundred thousand poor people in Nairobi, the Kenyan capital, will benefit from a Kshs. 600 million pilot programme to be undertaken b y the government and development partners to transfer cash to the vulnerable poor, the Prime Minister's Office has said in a statement.
Guinea: Soldier assaults TV newscaster in Conakry
Fana Soumah, a television newscaster with the state-owned Guinean Broadcasting Corporation, was violently assaulted by a soldier in Conakry, the Guinean capital, the sub-regional rights body, Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA), said in a statement.
Morocco: Courts jail journalists, shut newspaper
Moroccan courts on Friday (October 30th) convicted two journalists of desecrating the national flag and failing to show proper respect for a member of the royal family. Editor Taoufik Bouachrine and caricaturist Khalid Gueddar were put on trial after the daily Akhbar al-Youm published a cartoon of Prince Moulay Ismail's wedding in its September 27th edition.
Rwanda: Journalist released from jail
Rwandan journalist, Amani Ntakandi of the bi-monthly Rus hyashya published in Kigali, has been released by the people's courts, 'Gacaca', of Mbazi in the south of the country, after serving a three-month sentence for "illegally" reporting on the proceedings of these courts.
South Africa: Legislation undermines free expression
Media professionals in South Africa say a possible new bill is in reality a form of censorship, obstructing journalists from doing their jobs, reports the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA). Meanwhile, the Freedom of Expression Institute (FXI) is concerned about another bill already signed into law that has introduced a system of pre-publication censorship.
South Africa: Remember the right to communicate?
"All shall call." This phrase was popularised by Pallo Jordan in the mid 1990's, and became a catchphrase of telecommunications transformation in South Africa. It echoed the idea espoused by Jordan at the Plenipotentiary meeting of the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) that access to telecommunications was a right, not a privilege.
Togo: New law threatens freedom of expression
The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has denounced the vote on Friday October 30, 2009 by the National Assembly of a legislation reinforcing the powers of the High Authority of Audio-visual and Communication (HAAC) and which seriously threatens press freedom and freedom of expression in Togo.
Angola: How France fuelled Angola's civil war
The convictions of Pierre Falcone, Arcadi Gaydamak, ex-president's son Jean-Christophe Mitterrand and Charles Pasqua in a French court for arms trafficking to Angola have exposed the impunity with which arms traffickers supplied weapons to Angola during its 27-year civil war.
DRC: Fish war prompts thousands to flee
At least 16,000 civilians have fled deadly clashes in western Democratic Republic of Congo and are now languishing, many without food or shelter, in neighbouring Republic of Congo, according to the UN and local officials.
DRC: Surge in army atrocities in the east
Congolese armed forces in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo have brutally killed hundreds of civilians and committed widespread rape in the past three months in a military operation backed by the United Nations, Human Rights Watch has said.
Sudan: WFP airdrops food aid to over 155,000 hungry people
The United Nations has begun to parachute food aid into isolated areas of conflict-ridden southern Sudan with the aim of reaching more than 155,000 people cut off from road access by heavy rainfall, the World Food Programme (WFP) has announced.
Uganda: LRA rebel surrenders in DR Congo
A senior commander of Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army rebels has surrendered in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Charles Arop, believed to be behind a brutal attack last Christmas, handed himself in to the Ugandan military.
Global: The Internet goes multilingual
The challenges for Africa and African diasporas
On October 30, the internet opened a new chapter in its long march towards internationalization. It entered a new era of multilingual globalization. Up to now, web addresses could only be displayed using Latin characters. This increasingly makes little sense as more than half of the world's 1.6 billion internet users employ non-Latin scripts including Arabic, Chinese, Hindi, Korean, and Russian.
Rwanda: Policy vacuum could mean trouble for broadband
Whatever else it is, information and communications technologies (ICTs) policy-making can often be symbolic, especially in poor countries. The vision is one of social upliftment, and a new golden age of possibilities brought on by technological roll-out.
Africa: 2010 Archbishop Tutu Fellowship - Nominations
The goal of the African Leadership Institute (AfLI) is to nurture and enhance leadership capability across Africa, with particular focus on the promising leaders of the future. AfLI’s aim is to create a network of high potential young Africans who have attended our programmes, and who are expected to rise to top leadership positions in their sphere of activity over the next 5-20 years.
The goal of the African Leadership Institute (AfLI) is to nurture and enhance leadership capability across Africa, with particular focus on the promising leaders of the future. AfLI’s aim is to create a network of high potential young Africans who have attended our programmes, and who are expected to rise to top leadership positions in their sphere of activity over the next 5-20 years. AfLI will provide leadership learning activities that enhance their experiences, insights, tools and confidence, and provide a support network that will better enable them to become drivers of the transformation of Africa.
Archbishop Tutu Leadership Fellowships
The flagship programme of the Institute is the Archbishop Tutu Leadership Fellowship Programme (ATLP), whereby each year 20-23 high potential individuals from across sub-Saharan Africa are awarded the prestige Archbishop Tutu Fellowship, following a rigorous competitive selection process. The Awards are aimed at the cream of the continent’s future leaders, as indicated by the demanding selection criteria below, specifically targeting the next generation of Africa’s leaders in all sectors of society, between the ages of 25 and 39.
The ATLP is a multi-faceted leadership learning experience, whose focus is “African leadership in a Global context”. It is a 5 month part-time programme run in partnership with Oxford University and African institutions. The world class faculty and guest speakers are drawn from both Africa and outside, and the programme incorporates modules in Africa and at Oxford, reflecting the African/Global duality of the leadership that will be required of future African leaders.
The ATLP involves two 9 day workshops, the first in South Africa on April 24 to May 1, 2010, while the second will be held at Oxford University and in London at the beginning of September. Tasks are also assigned to be completed between the two workshops – with proper planning these can easily be accomplished outside normal work hours. The candidate’s costs of travel, accommodation and tuition at the workshops will be covered by the Fellowship. The ATLP has been designed specifically for Africans in consultation with Oxford and our African faculty and advisors, and incorporates a combination of theory, sharing the experiences of successful leaders, experiential learning, varied practical applications and assignments, conducted in an Oxford style tutorial environment. A balance is maintained in the various sessions between personal development & self awareness, the African context of leadership, values and ethics of leadership – the hard and the soft elements of leadership. An integral part of the ATLP is that the participants will be required to apply their learning to a “community project”, and in so doing extend the benefit of their learning to the broader community. Emphasis is placed on peer interaction and feedback, as well as tutorial style internalisation of the learning. The Fellows place a great deal of value on being able to share pan-African experiences and becoming a member of an exclusive network which is established across the continent.
At the end of the programme, successful participants will graduate as Archbishop Tutu Leadership Fellows and will be admitted into the AfLI network where Fellows can interact, engage in dialogue on leadership and strategic issues, and organise meetings and civic engagements. With the help of our sponsoring corporations, the network is planned to become a platform to challenge, encourage, and support Fellows to become active leaders in society.
The ATLP provides participants with an intensive learning and broadening experience on the principles and application of leadership, and an opportunity to explore the issues and specific characteristics of African leadership, as well as the global challenges and dimensions of leadership. The programme places emphasis on learning and experiencing, not teaching, offering a variety of formal and informal learning opportunities to enhance the leadership capabilities of the candidate. At the end of the ATLP, the Fellow will have achieved:
* Membership of an elite network of leaders throughout Africa and beyond, committed to leading change and development on the continent.
* A self formed view of leadership principles and values that are most appropriate to the future African context and his/her own circumstances, which will be the model he/she will apply to his/her own leadership endeavours
* A breadth and depth of understanding of leadership – what has been successful and unsuccessful (and what that means) in different contexts, at different times, and in different cultures – and the complexity of demands on leaders.
* A broader understanding of how leadership functions in the global arena, and the complexity of issues facing global leaders
* A global perspective on the challenges and application of leadership within an African context, and confidence in the role he/she can play as a leader in both Africa and the global arena
* Practical experience of leading a project through which he/she will have enhanced the capabilities or circumstances of at least 25 young Africans.
* Interaction with African and global leaders
* A breadth of understanding of the regional and global forces and issues that will influence the decisions and behaviours of future leaders in Africa.
* A broad, systemic, strategic and visionary approach to addressing leadership issues
* Practical experience and feedback from working as part of a team of high calibre individuals
* A better understanding of his/her own strengths and weaknesses as a future African leader in a global environment
* He/she will be a more confident and wiser leader, with experiences, tools and insights that will enable him/her to “play” in both the African and global arenas.
Comments from previous Fellows
Typical comments from the previous Fellows in their feedback at the end of the Programme:
* “This has been a truly life changing experience”
* “It gave me the most extraordinary opportunity to meet Africans who inspired me now and will for many years to come and to be exposed to thinking and learning that made fireworks go off in my brain.”
* “This has made me rethink my role as a leader, and I will be taking time out to refocus my efforts”
* “It has been a life changing experience. Spending time with successful fellows from the continent and from different professional backgrounds has given me perspectives on leadership and African challenges I would never have had otherwise. The faculty has been exceptional, and most leadership programmes do not bring together such a diverse and top class group of speakers into one programme as this programme has done.”
* “I do not look at Africa and its people, the same way I used to anymore. My allegiance to the continent has increased multifold; and I have high hopes for Africa and its people and its future. I now know that there is indeed a space for me to play a role in changing the lives of my fellow Africans. I have been inspired more than I could have imagined.”
* “It has been a wonderful journey of self discovery, learning, inspiration, motivation and interaction. I am a different person, and my path forward has been greatly influenced by what this course has made me think about.”
* “The program has made me feel that I have a responsibility. It’s made me realize that my leadership is null and void if it doesn’t affect and touch the people around me. The whole program made me conscious about the issues that our continent has and it made me start asking myself – about how and what can I do to make a small difference. A question I had never thought of asking before. It used to be all about me and my success but the whole dynamics have changed now, it’s now all about who else can benefit from what I am doing – within my community, industry, church and the continent.”
* “I spent last week at (a brains trust meeting of SA’s top business leaders). Other participants included very senior people in SA business and civil society. It was facilitated by the best, and had the best minds contributing. And it couldn’t touch my AfLI experience in any way! Somehow you have achieved an excellent mix of providing direction but leaving enough space for participants to wander; you have mixed lecture with participation; and – so importantly – you created a forum where everyone can contribute. “
* “A great strength of the programme is its ability to attract the most senior, in terms of occupation, young persons from different parts of Africa and from different fields”
* “I had thought that issues on leadership were meant for the politically inclined, but this program taught me why we are all leaders in our own spheres, how to prepare for leadership, what leaders must know and how to avoid the usual pitfalls.”
* “It was an honour and a privilege. The quality of the experiences, and the people we met were exceptional and the programme gave me many opportunities to reflect on my own leadership styles and growth as an individual. I have grown enormously as a result.”
* “The programme is inspiring and life changing. I have been taken to a higher level of touching lives and changing people positively”
* “I learned on the programme more than I could ever have been taught by any group of lecturers – the presenters on the programme were facilitators who provided the oxygen for the experiential aspect of the programme. I learned how to step back and take a “Napoleon glance” at my own leadership and followership style, as well as those of my colleagues, in a productive way.”
* “A powerful experience which made me think of life differently, especially given the fact that it afforded me the opportunity to interact with people beyond my borders, it was an eye opener – an experience which kind of said do not let your potential get to your head but rather harness it for the betterment of the broader society.”
* “The impacts of the two workshops have been profound in the areas of self assessment and critical evaluation of continent wide issues and how complicated and dependent on collective ideologies solutions are”
* “The program is mind-set changing in terms of inspiring me into knowing that I can make a significant impact on Africa through my leadership”
* “The best thing about the programme is that it was not just focusing on developing me as a leader in my current organisation or chosen career, but it was focused on building enhancing me as a person to be a more effective leader in all facets of my life, including my role in the community, which is often neglected.”
* “I have attended a lot of professional training programmes and I think that the ATL fellowship programme will have the biggest impact on my career moving forward.”
Without exception the previous Archbishop Tutu Fellows have stated they would definitely recommend the programme to other high potential young Africans.
Selection of Candidates
The ATLP is designed to be a prestigious and highly selective programme. The Fellowships will be limited to a maximum of twenty selected participants who will be chosen by a selection panel from a set of nominated individuals from across sub-Saharan Africa. These 20 will attend workshops in South Africa and Oxford, and must be available for both. They should also be prepared to commit time out of normal work hours to tasks required to be completed between the two workshops
Preferred candidates are people, who, by their actions and achievements, and the values and principles by which they conduct their affairs, have demonstrated their potential to be a leader. They will be between 25 and 39 years of age (under 40 on 1 April 2010). Candidates can come from any sector of society – business, government or civil society. Candidates nominated and selected for the programme must demonstrate many of the following characteristics:
* Confident, Optimistic, with high Expectations and high Energy
* Courage to take Risks – be prepared to fail; challenge the status quo; do things which may be unpopular
* Determination and strong professional will
* High Values, Standards and Ethics
* Ability to Inspire others to believe in themselves and the cause; to Liberate and Empower others to succeed
* Committed to Serving his/her constituency (stakeholders/cause) ahead of self-gratification
* Humility – chosen to lead rather than self imposed leader
* Visionary, Strategic and Forward thinking – leading for a better future
* Systemic thinker – ability to assimilate, simplify and channel complex inter-connected forces to advantage
* Empathy and strong Relationship builder
Candidates must also be currently living in Africa, or temporarily placed abroad by their employer or completing further education abroad. They should be committed to living in Africa and to actively contributing to its long term success. We are keen to seek candidates who may not otherwise have access to such a leadership training opportunity.
Only nominated candidates will be considered for admission into the ATLP programme. Nominators are required to complete the Nomination Form for a proposed candidate and return it to the email address advised. The prospective candidates will then be sent an Application Form to complete and return by email before the closing date for applications of 16 January, 2010. For more information, contact Peter Wilson ([email protected]) or Olugbenga Adesida ([email protected]).
The decision of the selection panel will be final and no correspondence will be entered on the selection or not of individual candidates.
2010 ARCHBISHOP TUTU FELLOWSHIP
The Nominator is requested to please complete the information required on this Nomination Form in support of the Candidate you are nominating, and submit it to us by e-mail to [email protected] (copied to [email protected]). If you do not have e-mail access, you may fax it to (44)-1932-874501.
Following the receipt of your form , we will contact the Candidate to request him/her to complete an Application Form, which we will send to him/her. Up to date contact details are thus important.
The essential information we require from you are those asterixed *, the remainder is very useful. Your motivation of the candidate provides very valuable information to the selectors, and we respectfully request that if you do have time, please fill this in.
Male or Female:
Country of Residence:
*Candidate’s e-mail address:
Brief Comment on the Candidate to motivate the Nomination
Your motivation of the candidate is very valuable to the selectors
Relationship to Nominee, if any:
African Journals OnLine (AJOL)
African Journals OnLine (AJOL) is an online service to provide access to African-published research, and increase worldwide knowledge of indigenous scholarship. AJOL is a Non Profit Organisation based in South Africa.
Historically, scholarly information has flowed from North to South and from West to East. It has also been difficult for African researchers to access the work of other African academics.
In partnership with hundreds of journals from all over the continent, AJOL works to change this, so that African-origin research output is available to Africans and to the rest of the world. AJOL hosts over 350 African-published, peer-reviewed journals from 26 countries. The AJOL website is visited each month by over 80,000 researchers from all over the world and allows near instant download of full text articles from its partner journals.
Interface - A journal for and about social movements
Call for papers - Issue 3: Crises, social movements and revolutionary transformations
Interface is a new journal produced twice yearly by activists and academics around the world in response to the development and increased visibility of social movements in the last few years - and the immense amount of knowledge generated in this process. Interface welcomes contributions by movement participants and academics who are developing movement-relevant theory and research.
Interface - A Journal For and About Social Movements
Call for papers - Issue 3:
CRISES, SOCIAL MOVEMENTS AND REVOLUTIONARY TRANSFORMATIONS
Interface is a new journal produced twice yearly by activists and academics around the world in response to the development and increased visibility of social movements in the last few years - and the immense amount of knowledge generated in this process. This knowledge is created across the globe, and in many contexts and a variety of ways, and it constitutes an incredibly valuable resource for the further development of social movements. Interface responds to this need, as a tool to help our movements learn from each other's struggles, by developing analyses and knowledge that allow lessons to be learned from specific movement processes and experiences and translated into a form useful for other movements.
We welcome contributions by movement participants and academics who are developing movement-relevant theory and research. Our goal is to include material that can be used in a range of ways by movements - in terms of its content, its language, its purpose and its form. We are seeking work in a range of different formats, such as conventional articles, review essays, facilitated discussions and interviews, action notes, teaching notes, key documents and analysis, book reviews - and beyond. Both activist and academic peers review research contributions, and other material is sympathetically edited by peers. The editorial process generally will be geared towards assisting authors to find ways of expressing their understanding, so that we all can be heard across geographical, social and political distances.
Our third issue, to be published in May 2010, will have space for general articles on all aspects of understanding social movements, as well as a special themed section on crises, social movements and revolutionary transformations.
CRISES, SOCIAL MOVEMENTS AND REVOLUTIONARY TRANSFORMATIONS
"In every country the process is different, although the content is the same. And the content is the crisis of the ruling class's hegemony, which occurs either because the ruling class has failed in some major political undertaking, for which it has requested, or forcibly extracted, the consent of broad masses . or because huge masses . have passed suddenly from a state of political passivity to a certain activity, and put forward demands which taken together, albeit not organically formulated, add up to a revolution. A "crisis of authority" is spoken of: this is precisely the crisis of hegemony, or general crisis of the state"
So wrote the Italian revolutionary Antonio Gramsci from behind the walls of Mussolini's prison, in his famous notes on "State and Civil Society". His words aptly describe the trajectory of crises in modern history - these are periods when the wheels of economic growth and expansion grind to a halt, when traditional political loyalties melt away, and, crucially, when ruling classes find themselves confronted with popular movements that no longer accept the terms of their rule, and that seek to create alternative social orders.
The clashes between elite projects and popular movements that are at the heart of any "crisis of hegemony" generate thoroughgoing processes of economic, social and political change - these may be reforms that bear the imprint of popular demands, and they may also be changes that reflect the implementation of elite designs. Most importantly, however, crises are typically also those moments when social movements and subaltern groups are able to push the limits of what they previously thought it was possible to achieve in terms of effecting progressive change - it is this dynamic which lies at the heart of revolutionary transformations.
Gramsci himself witnessed, organised within and wrote during the breakdown of liberal capitalism and bourgeois democracy in the 1910s through to the 1930s. This was a conjuncture when tendencies towards stagnation in capitalist accumulation generated the horrors of the First World War and the Great Depression. Movements of workers and colonized peoples threatened the rule of capital and empires, old and new, and elites turned to repressive strategies like fascism in an attempt to secure the continuation of their dominance.
Today social movements are once again having to do their organizing and mobilizing work in the context of economic crisis, one that is arguably of similar proportions to that witnessed by Gramsci, and a political crisis that runs just as deep. The current crisis emerged from the collapse of the US housing market, revealing an intricate web of unsustainable debt and "toxic assets" whose tentacles reached every corner of the global economy. More than just a destruction of "fictitious capital", the crisis has propelled a breakdown of world industrial production and trade, driving millions of working families to the brink and beyond. And, far from being a one-off, this crisis is the latest and worst in a series of collapses starting with the stock market crash of 1987, the chronic stagnation of the once all-powerful Japanese economy, the Asian financial meltdown of 1997 and the bursting of the dot.com bubble.
The current conjuncture throws into question the fundamentals of the neoliberal project that has been pursued by global elites and transnational institutions over the past three decades. Taking aim at reversing the victories won by popular movements in the aftermath of the Second World War, neoliberalism transferred wealth from popular classes to global elites on a grand scale. The neoliberal project of privatizing the public sector and commodifying public goods, rolling back the welfare states, promoting tax cuts for the rich, manipulating economic crises in the global South and deregulating the world's financial markets continued unabated through the 1980s and 1990s.
As presaged by Gramsci, neoliberal policies have whittled away the material concessions that underpinned social consensus. Ours is a conjuncture in which global political elites have failed in an undertaking for which they sought popular consent, and as a consequence, popular masses have passed from political passivity to a certain activity.
Since the middle of the 1990s, we have seen the development of large-scale popular movements in several parts of the globe, along with a series of revolutionary situations or transformations in various countries, as well as unprecedented levels of international coordination and alliance-building between movements and direct challenges not only to national but to global power structures. The first stirrings of this activity were in the rise of the Zapatistas in Mexico, the water wars in Bolivia, and the protests on the streets of Seattle. On a global scale we saw dissent explode in the form of opposition to the wars waged by the US on Afghanistan and Iraq. In terms of sheer numbers, the mobilisation of against the latter invasion was the largest political protest ever undertaken, leading the New York Times to call the anti-war movement the world's "second superpower".
Each country has had its own movements, and a particular character to how they have moved against the neoliberal project. And for some time many have observed that these campaigns, initiatives and movements are not isolated occurrences, but part of a wider global movement for justice in the face of the neoliberal project. An explosion of analysis looking at these events and movements has occurred in the academic world, matched only by extensive argument and debate within the movements themselves.
In this issue of Interface, we encourage submissions that explore the relationship between crises, social movements and revolutionary transformations in general and the character of the current crisis and how social movements across different regions have related and responded to it in particular. Some of the questions we want to explore are as follows:
- What are the characteristics of the current economic and political crisis, what roles do social movements - from above and below - play in its dynamics, and how does it compare to the political economy of previous cycles of crises and struggle?
- What has been the role played by social movements in moments of crisis in modern history, and what lessons can contemporary popular movements learn from these experiences?
- What kinds of qualitative/quantitative shift in popular mobilisation we might expect to see in a "revolutionary wave"?
- Are crises - and in particular our current crisis - characterized by substantial competitions between different kinds of movements from below? How does such a dynamic affect the capacity to effect radical change?
- What goals do social movements set themselves in context of crisis and what kinds of movement are theoretically or historically capable of bringing about a transformed society?
- What are the criteria of success that activists operate with in terms of the forms of change social movements can achieve in the current conjuncture?
- Is revolutionary transformation a feasible option at present? Is revolution a goal among contemporary social movements?
- What are the characteristic features of elite deployment of coercive strategies when their hegemony is unravelling?
- How have global elites responded to the current crisis in terms of resort to coercion and consent? Have neoliberal elites been successful in trying to reestablish their legitimacy and delegitimizing opponents?
- Are we witnessing any bids for hegemony from elite groups outside the domain of Atlantic neoliberalism?
- How is coercion in its various forms impacting on contemporary social movements and the politics of global justice?
The deadline for contributions for the third issue is January 1, 2010.
Please contact the appropriate editor if you are thinking of submitting an article. You can access the journal and get further details athttp://www.interfacejournal.net/.
Interface is programmatically multilingual: at present we can accept and review submissions in Afrikaans, Catalan, Croatian, Danish, English, French, German,
Hungarian, Italian, Maltese, Norwegian, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Serbian,
Spanish, Swedish, Turkish and Zulus. We are also willing to try and find suitable referees for submissions in other languages, but cannot guarantee that at this point.
We are also very much looking for activists or academics interested in becoming part of Interface, particularly with the African, South Asian, Spanish-speaking Latin American, East and Central European, Mediterranean, Oceanian and North American groups.
Interface is not a traditional, centralised journal with a single key editor! Because we are a global journal, and movements (and their relationships to academia) are organised so differently in different parts of the world, the basic structure of the journal is as a network of regional or linguistically-defined groups, each of which organises its own editorial processes and tries to find an appropriate way of working with its own local realities. Articles and queries should go to the contact person listed below for the relevant region:
Movements in Africa
Please submit papers in Zulu, Afrikaans or English to Richard Pithouse ([email protected]); in English to Mammo Muchie ([email protected]); and in Portuguese to Ana Margarida Esteves ([email protected]).
Movements in the Arab world
Please submit papers in Arabic or English to Rana Barakat ([email protected]) or Abdul-Rahim al-Shaikh ([email protected]); or in Arabic, English, German or Hebrew to Magid Shihade ([email protected]).
Movements in Central and South America
Please submit papers in Spanish to Sara Motta ([email protected]) or Adriana Causa ([email protected]) and in Portuguese to Ana Margarida Esteves ([email protected]).
Movements in Eastern Europe
Please submit papers in Croatian, English, German, Hungarian, Latvian, Romanian, Russian, Serbian or Turkish to Steffen Böhm ([email protected]) or Andrejs Berdnikovs ([email protected]).
Movements in North America
Please submit papers in English to Ray Sin ([email protected]) or Lesley Wood ([email protected]).
Movements in South Asia
Please submit papers in English to Alf Nilsen ([email protected]). We are currently looking for another regional editor to work with Alf.
Movements in Southeast Asia and Oceania
Please submit papers in English to Elizabeth Humphrys ([email protected]), in Spanish to Cristina Flesher Fominaya ([email protected]) and in Portuguese to Ana Margarida Esteves ([email protected]).
Movements in Western Europe
Please submit papers:
. in English to Cristina Flesher Fominaya ([email protected]) or Laurence Cox ([email protected]) or
. in French or Italian to Laurence Cox ([email protected])
. in German to Steffen Böhm ([email protected]) or Laurence Cox ([email protected])
. in Portuguese to Ana Margarida Esteves ([email protected])
. in Spanish to Cristina Flesher Fominaya ([email protected])
We can also accept papers in Catalan, Maltese and Norwegian: please contact Laurence Cox ([email protected]) in relation to these.
Please submit papers in English, Dutch, French and Spanish or with special reference to labour or social forums, to Peter Waterman ([email protected]); in English, with special reference to dialogue-based movements, to Richard Moore ([email protected]); in Arabic, English, German or Hebrew to Magid Shihade ([email protected]); or in English, French, Italian or German to Laurence Cox ([email protected]).
In English: please contact Aileen O'Carroll ([email protected]).
Movements in Central Asia and East Asia
We are hoping to expand our intellectual and linguistic capacity to include these areas, but at present do not have sufficient editorial expertise to review papers on movements in these regions. Expressions of interest from potential regional editors, willing to help assemble a regional subgroup of academics and activists to review papers on movements in any of these regions, are very welcome.
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