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      Pambazuka News 467: Haiti: Microcosm of the crisis of development

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

      Pambazuka News (English edition): ISSN 1753-6839

      CONTENTS: 1. Features, 2. Comment & analysis, 3. Advocacy & campaigns, 4. Pan-African Postcard, 5. Obituaries, 6. Books & arts, 7. Letters & Opinions, 8. Blogging Africa, 9. Emerging powers in Africa Watch, 10. Highlights French edition, 11. Zimbabwe update, 12. African Union Monitor, 13. Women & gender, 14. Human rights, 15. Refugees & forced migration, 16. Social movements, 17. Africa labour news, 18. Emerging powers news, 19. Elections & governance, 20. Corruption, 21. Development, 22. Health & HIV/AIDS, 23. Education, 24. LGBTI, 25. Environment, 26. Land & land rights, 27. Food Justice, 28. Media & freedom of expression, 29. News from the diaspora, 30. Conflict & emergencies, 31. Internet & technology, 32. eNewsletters & mailing lists, 33. Fundraising & useful resources, 34. Courses, seminars, & workshops

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

      Highlights from this issue

      - Yash Tandon: Haiti is a microcosm of the crisis of development
      - Sir Hilary Beckles: Haiti didn't fail, it was destroyed by two of the most powerful nations on earth
      - Cynthia McKinney: US response to Haiti earthquake reminiscent of Hurricane Katrina
      - Marian Douglas-Ungaro: Does Africa care about recreating Haiti's socio-economic structures?
      - Peter Hallward: Securing disaster in Haiti
      + more

      - Journalist study tour to China 2010 - Fahamu China in Africa programme

      - Pan-African solidarity with Haiti
      - International Association of Health Policy and Federación de Asociaciones para la Defensa de la Sanidad Pública statement on health for Haiti
      - The social barriers to sustainability
      + more

      - L. Muthoni Wanyeki: Al-Faisal’s gone, questions linger

      - Kenyan citizens support withholding of Free Primary Education (FPE) funds by US government
      - Donors must keep up support for Guinea-Bissau
      + more

      - David Coetzee, progressive journalist and publisher

      BOOKS & ARTS
      - Vicensia Shule reviews Laura Edmondson's 'Performance and Politics in Tanzania: The Nation on Stage'ANNOUNCEMENTS: Journalist study tour to China – Call for applications
      ZIMBABWE UPDATE: Woza members arrested
      AFRICA UNION MONITOR: Guide to the AU launched
      WOMEN & GENDER: Documenting sexual violence in Kenya
      CONFLICT AND EMERGENCIES: Djibouti sends peacekeepers to Somalia
      HUMAN RIGHTS: Call for Morocco to ease restrictions on Sahrawi
      REFUGEES AND FORCED MIGRATION: Expulsions from EU rise sharply
      EMERGING POWERS NEWS: Emerging powers news roundup
      SOCIAL MOVEMENTS: WSF: Africa continues to draw inspiration
      AFRICA LABOUR NEWS: Tell Firestone to play fair!
      ELECTIONS AND GOVERNANCE: Kenyan MPs opt to scrap Prime Minister position
      CORRUPTION: US suspends Kenya school funding
      HEALTH & HIV/AIDS: Rotavirus vaccine making headway
      EDUCATION: Dreams of free education in Swaziland deferred
      DEVELOPMENT: Africa policy outlook 2010
      LGBTI: Kenya’s gays embrace inclusive Aids plan
      ENVIRONMENT: The problems with big dams
      LAND & LAND RIGHTS: Unraveling the land grab
      FOOD JUSTICE: Reclaiming autonomous food systems
      MEDIA AND FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION: Zambian government urged to prevent ‘information gap’
      NEWS FROM THE DIASPORA: New attacks on Afro-Colombians
      INTERNET & TECHNOLOGY: Google moves into Swahili
      PLUS: jobs, fundraising & useful resources, publications, courses, seminars and workshops

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


      Haiti: Microcosm of the crisis of development

      Yash Tandon


      cc Wikimedia Commons
      The 'failure of development' is to blame for the devastating effects of the recent earthquake in Haiti, writes Yash Tandon. Calling for democratic institutions accountable to the country's people to be put in place, Tandon argues that Haiti is ‘a microcosm of the disastrous outcome' of ‘development’ policies and the 'destructive effects of foreign interventionist policies’ in the affairs of the South.

      Haiti is a tragedy for us all. It is a tragedy for you and me. It is a tragedy for Africa, for the poor countries of Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean. An earthquake is a global phenomenon, it can happen anywhere. It can happen in the US, in Europe and in Japan. So why then is it so destructive in its effects in the countries of the South? It is because of the failure of development. Haiti is a microcosm of the disastrous outcome of the failed so-called ‘development’ policies of the last thirty years in the South, and the destructive effects of foreign interventionist policies in the affairs of the poor countries of the South – from Somalia to Bangladesh to Haiti.

      Jean-Bertrand Aristide, Haiti's first democratically elected president, in his passionate book, The Eyes of the Heart: Seeking a Path for the Poor in the Age of Globalization gives a graphic account of what happens when local economies and local initiatives of a poor country like Haiti are subordinated to the will of global finance and corporate power masked by the ideologies of ‘free trade’ and ‘development aid’. ‘In a world oriented only toward profit, it may be difficult for us to hear God's voice among the din and the racket of the moneychangers who have filled the world's temples’, he writes.

      He describes how he had to wrestle with his heart and mind to resist the Structural Adjustment Program (SAP) that was being forced on him as a condition for donor aid. When he remained faithful to his heart and mind, he was forced out of power. The government that replaced him relented to the pressure of the donors and the International Monetary Fund (IMF)/World Bank (WB). In 2004 in what he described as his ‘kidnapping’ with the connivance of France and the US, he was forced into exile. He was unceremoniously transported first to Jamaica and then, eventually, to South Africa.

      The so-called International Community (IC) of the North is organising a conference in Montreal, Canada, for Haiti. It will, for sure, fail to bring development to the people of Haiti for it will put Haiti back under the heel and control of the local power and economic elite which, in turn, is under the control of the very forces that have ruined Haiti’s economy; the IMF/WB imposition of SAPS and the ‘benevolent’ dictatorship of ‘donor aid’. This is behind the present tragedy of Haiti, and this is behind the tragedy of most of Africa, and the poorer nations of the South.

      An ‘Alternative International Community’ (AIC) of the South – an ad hoc body that should be set up comprising of individuals and intergovernmental organisations of the South and welfare-oriented organisations of the United Nations such as the FAO and the WHO – should organise its own counter conference in a spirit of genuine solidarity for the people of Haiti. It should aim at putting power in the hands of the people themselves. The initiative can come from, for instance, the government of South Africa, the South Centre in Geneva, or a body of sympathetic non-governmental organisations from the South and the North – or by all of these working in cooperation, under an initiative taken by one of them.

      The objectives of the conference should be:

      - To identify from among the Haitian population those community organisations and ad hoc groups which may have emerged from the ruins and which are engaged in self-help activities of relief, care of the injured bodies and souls among the survivors, and the rehabilitation and reconstruction of the society and economy
      - To help build the capacity of these groups to take charge of the relief assistance now being airlifted, shipped or sent via the Dominican Republic
      - To help institutionalise these efforts into a government of the people by putting in place self-governing councils at local levels going up to the apex at the national and state level
      - To expose the fake ‘solidarity’ of the Montreal initiative
      - To demilitarise the occupation of Haiti that is currently under way by the US and US-led NATO forces
      - To join and support Haiti peoples` demand for the return of Aristide, who still remains the beacon of hope for Haiti. He has the support of the poor. He has faith in his people's strength to oppose the domination of donors and the IMF/World Bank, and to put in place democratic institutions that are accountable to the people, and not to the false gods of ‘moneychangers who have filled the world's temples’.

      This is a call to all those who are inspired by a humane spirit and who wish to assist our brothers and sisters (‘our families’) in Haiti, from a sense of genuine solidarity.


      * Yash Tandon is the former executive director of the South Centre.
      * Please send comments to [email protected] or comment online at Pambazuka News.

      The hate and the quake

      Hilary Beckles


      cc Gloria Mundi
      ‘Haiti did not fail,’ writes Hilary Beckles, ‘it was destroyed by two of the most powerful nations on earth, both of which continue to have a primary interest in its current condition.' Buried 'beneath the rubble of imperial propaganda', says Beckle, is 'the evidence which shows that Haiti's independence was defeated by an aggressive North-Atlantic alliance that could not imagine their world inhabited by a free regime of Africans as representatives of the newly emerging democracy.’

      The University of the West Indies is in the process of conceiving how best to deliver a major conference on the theme ‘Rethinking and rebuilding Haiti’.

      I am very keen to provide an input into this exercise because for too long there has been a popular perception that somehow the Haitian nation-building project, launched on 1 January 1804, has failed on account of mismanagement, ineptitude, corruption.

      Buried beneath the rubble of imperial propaganda, out of both Western Europe and the United States, is the evidence which shows that Haiti's independence was defeated by an aggressive North-Atlantic alliance that could not imagine their world inhabited by a free regime of Africans as representatives of the newly emerging democracy.

      The evidence is striking, especially in the context of France.

      The Haitians fought for their freedom and won, as did the Americans fifty years earlier. The Americans declared their independence and crafted an extraordinary constitution that set out a clear message about the value of humanity and the right to freedom, justice, and liberty.

      In the midst of this brilliant discourse, they chose to retain slavery as the basis of the new nation state. The founding fathers therefore could not see beyond race, as the free state was built on a slavery foundation.

      The water was poisoned in the well; the Americans went back to the battlefield a century later to resolve the fact that slavery and freedom could not comfortably co-exist in the same place.

      The French, also, declared freedom, fraternity and equality as the new philosophies of their national transformation and gave the modern world a tremendous progressive boost by so doing.

      They abolished slavery, but Napoleon Bonaparte could not imagine the republic without slavery and targeted the Haitians for a new, more intense regime of slavery. The British agreed, as did the Dutch, Spanish and Portuguese.

      All were linked in communion over the 500,000 Blacks in Haiti, the most populous and prosperous Caribbean colony.

      As the jewel of the Caribbean, they all wanted to get their hands on it. With a massive slave base, the English, French and Dutch salivated over owning it – and the people. The people won a ten-year war, the bloodiest in modern history, and declared their independence. Every other country in the Americas was based on slavery. Haiti was freedom, and proceeded to place in its 1805 Independence Constitution that any person of African descent who arrived on its shores would be declared free, and a citizen of the republic.

      For the first time since slavery had commenced, blacks were the subjects of mass freedom and citizenship in a nation.

      The French refused to recognise Haiti 's independence and declared it an illegal pariah state. The Americans, whom the Haitians looked to in solidarity as their mentor in independence, refused to recognise them, and offered solidarity instead to the French. The British, who were negotiating with the French to obtain the ownership title to Haiti, also moved in solidarity, as did every other nation-state the Western world.

      Haiti was isolated at birth – ostracised and denied access to world trade, finance, and institutional development. It was the most vicious example of national strangulation recorded in modern history. The Cubans, at least, have had Russia, China, and Vietnam. The Haitians were alone from inception. The crumbling began. Then came 1825; the moment of full truth. The republic is celebrating its 21st anniversary. There was national euphoria in the streets of Port-au-Prince. The economy was bankrupt; the political leadership isolated. The cabinet took the decision that the state of affairs could not continue. The country had to find a way to be inserted back into the world economy. The French government was invited to a summit.

      Officials arrived and told the Haitian government that they were willing to recognise the country as a sovereign nation but it would have to pay compensation and reparation in exchange. The Haitians, with backs to the wall, agreed to pay the French.

      The French government sent a team of accountants and actuaries into Haiti in order to place a value on all lands, all physical assets, the 500,000 citizens were who formerly enslaved, animals, and all other commercial properties and services.

      The sums amounted to 150 million gold francs. Haiti was told to pay this reparation to France in return for national recognition.

      The Haitian government agreed; payments began immediately. Members of the cabinet were also valued because they had been enslaved people before independence. Thus began the systematic destruction of the Republic of Haiti. The French government bled the nation and rendered it a failed state. It was a merciless exploitation that was designed and guaranteed to collapse the Haitian economy and society.

      Haiti was forced to pay this sum until 1922 when the last instalment was made. During the long 19th century, the payment to France amounted to up to 70 per cent of the country's foreign exchange earnings.

      Jamaica today pays up to 70 per cent in order to service its international and domestic debt. Haiti was crushed by this debt payment. It descended into financial and social chaos. The republic did not stand a chance. France was enriched and it took pleasure from the fact that having been defeated by Haitians on the battlefield, it had won on the field of finance. In the years when the coffee crops failed, or the sugar yield was down, the Haitian government borrowed on the French money market at double the going interest rate in order to repay the French government. When the Americans invaded the country in the early 20th century, one of the reasons offered was to assist the French in collecting its reparations. The collapse of the Haitian nation resides at the feet of France and America, especially. These two nations betrayed, failed, and destroyed the dream that was Haiti; crushed to dust in an effort to destroy the flower of freedom and the seed of justice.

      Haiti did not fail. It was destroyed by two of the most powerful nations on earth, both of which continue to have a primary interest in its current condition. The sudden quake has come in the aftermath of summers of hate. In many ways the quake has been less destructive than the hate. Human life was snuffed out by the quake, while the hate has been a long and inhumane suffocation – a crime against humanity.

      During the 2001 UN Conference on Race in Durban, South Africa , strong representation was made to the French government to repay the 150 million francs. The value of this amount was estimated by financial actuaries as US$21 billion. This sum of capital could rebuild Haiti and place it in a position to re-engage the modern world. It was illegally extracted from the Haitian people and should be repaid.

      It is stolen wealth. In so doing, France could discharge its moral obligation to the Haitian people.

      For a nation that prides itself in the celebration of modern diplomacy, France, in order to exist with the moral authority of this diplomacy in this post-modern world, should do the just and legal thing.

      Such an act at the outset of this century would open the door for a sophisticated interface of past and present, and set the Haitian nation free at last.


      * Sir Hilary Beckles is pro-vice-chancellor and principal of the Cave Hill Campus, University of the West Indies.
      * Please send comments to [email protected] or comment online at Pambazuka News.

      Haiti 2010: An unwelcome Katrina redux

      Cynthia McKinney


      cc Wikimedia Commons
      What is happening in Haiti is, Cynthia McKinney observes, 'shades of Hurricane Katrina all over again’. McKinney depicts, step by step, the US response to Haiti’s crisis and lays bare its unashamedly military nature. McKinney explores the reasons for the US’s militarised rescue operation. She believes it is not only a consequence of US material and oil interests in Haiti, but also the ideological threat that Haiti poses to the Western world: 'Haiti is a light.' In defeating its colonisers, it inspired millions to follow in its footsteps. But McKinney concludes with a warning: 'Every plane of humanitarian assistance that is turned away by the US military … and the … arrival … of up to 10,000 US troops, are lasting reminders of the existential threat that now looms over the valiant, proud people and the Republic of Haiti.’

      President Obama's response to the tragedy in Haiti has been robust in military deployment and puny in what the Haitians need most: food; first responders and their specialised equipment; doctors and medical facilities and equipment; and engineers, heavy equipment and heavy movers. Sadly, President Obama is dispatching Presidents Bush and Clinton and thousands of marines and US soldiers. By contrast, Cuba has over 400 doctors on the ground and is sending in more; Cubans, Argentinians, Icelanders, Nicaraguans, Venezuelans and many others are already on the ground working, saving lives and treating the injured. Senegal has offered land to Haitians willing to relocate to Africa.

      The United States, on the day after the tragedy struck, confirmed that an entire marine expeditionary force was being considered 'to help restore order’, when the 'disorder’ had been caused by an earthquake striking Haiti; not since 1751, 1770, 1842, 1860 and 1887 had Haiti experienced an earthquake. But, I remember the bogus reports of chaos and violence the led to the deployment of military assets, including Blackwater, in New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. One Katrina survivor noted that the people needed food and shelter and the US government sent men with guns. Much to my disquiet, it seems, here we go again. From the very beginning, US assistance to Haiti has looked to me more like an invasion than a humanitarian relief operation.

      On day two of the tragedy, a C-130 plane with a military assessment team landed in Haiti, with the rest of the team expected to land soon thereafter. The stated purpose of this team was to determine what military resources were needed.

      An air force special operations team was also expected to land to provide air traffic control. Now, the reports are that the US is not allowing assistance in; shades of Hurricane Katrina all over again.

      On President Obama's orders military aircraft 'flew over the island, mapping the destruction'. So, the first US contribution to the humanitarian relief needed in Haiti were reconnaissance drones whose staff are more accustomed to looking for hidden weapon sites and surface-to-air missile batteries than wrecked infrastructure. The scope of the US response soon became clear: aircraft carrier, marine transport ship, four C-140 airlifts and evacuations to Guantanamo. By the end of day two, according to the Washington Post report the United States had evacuated to Guantanamo Bay about eight severely injured patients, in addition to US embassy staff, who had been 'designated as priorities by the US ambassador and his staff'.

      On day three we learned that other US ships, including destroyers, were moving toward Haiti. Interestingly, the Washington Post reported that the standing task force that coordinates the US response to mass migration events from Cuba or Haiti was monitoring events but had not yet ramped up its operations. That titbit was interesting in and of itself; those two countries are attended to by a standing task force, but the treatment of their nationals is vastly different, with Cubans being awarded immediate acceptance from the US government, and by contrast, internment for Haitian nationals.

      US coast guard Rear Admiral James Watson IV reassured Americans, 'Our focus right now is to prevent that, and we are going to work with the Defense Department, the State Department, FEMA [Federal Emergency Management Agency] and all the agencies of the federal government to minimize the risk of Haitians who want to flee their country’, Watson said. 'We want to provide them those relief supplies so they can live in Haiti.’

      By the end of day four, the US reportedly had evacuated over 800 US nationals.

      For those of us who have been following events in Haiti before the tragic earthquake, it is worth noting that several items have caused deep concern:

      1. The continued exile of Haiti's democratically elected and well-loved, yet twice-removed former priest, President Jean-Bertrand Aristide

      2. The unexplained, continued occupation of the country by United Nations troops who have killed innocent Haitians and are hardly there for 'security’ (I've personally seen them on the roads that only lead to Haiti's sparsely populated areas teeming with beautiful beaches)

      3. The US construction of its fifth-largest embassy in the world in Port-au-Prince

      4. Mining and port licenses and contracts, including the privatisation of Haiti's deep water ports, because certain offshore oil and trans-shipment arrangements would not be possible inside the US for environmental and other considerations

      5. The extensive foreign NGO (non-governmental organisation) presence in Haiti that could be rendered unnecessary if, instead, appropriate US and other government policy allowed the Haitian people some modicum of political and economic self-determination.

      We note here, therefore, the writings of Ms Marguerite Laurent, whom I met in her capacity as attorney for ousted president of Haiti Jean-Bertrand Aristide. Laurent reminds us of Haiti's offshore oil and other mineral riches and the recent revival of an old idea to use Haiti and an oil refinery to be built there as a trans-shipment terminal for US super-tankers. Laurent, also known as Ezili Danto of the Haitian Lawyers Leadership Network (HLLN), writes:

      'There is evidence that the United States found oil in Haiti decades ago and due to the geopolitical circumstances and big business interests of that era made the decision to keep Haitian oil in reserve for when Middle Eastern oil had dried up. This is detailed by Dr. Georges Michel in an article dated March 27, 2004 outlining the history of oil explorations and oil reserves in Haiti and in the research of Dr. Ginette and Daniel Mathurin.

      'There is also good evidence that these very same big US oil companies and their inter-related monopolies of engineering and defense contractors made plans, decades ago, to use Haiti's deep water ports either for oil refineries or to develop oil tank farm sites or depots where crude oil could be stored and later transferred to small tankers to serve U.S. and Caribbean ports. This is detailed in a paper about the Dunn Plantation at Fort Liberte in Haiti.

      'Ezili's HLLN underlines these two papers on Haiti's oil resources and the works of Dr. Ginette and Daniel Mathurin in order to provide a view one will not find in the mainstream media nor anywhere else as to the economic and strategic reasons the U.S. has constructed its fifth largest embassy in the world - fifth only besides the U.S. embassy in China, Iraq, Iran and Germany - in tiny Haiti, post the 2004 Haiti Bush regime change.’

      Unfortunately, before the tragedy struck, and despite the pleading to the administration by Haiti activists inside the United States, President Obama failed to stop the deportation of Haitians inside the United States and failed to grant temporary protected status (TPS) to Haitians inside the US in peril of being deported due to visa expirations. That was corrected on day three of Haiti's earthquake tragedy with the 15 January 2010 announcement that Haiti would join Honduras, Nicaragua, Somalia, El Salvador and Sudan as a country granted TPS by the secretary of homeland security.

      President Obama's appointment of President Bush to the Haiti relief effort is a swift left jab to the face in my opinion. After President Bush's performance in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and the fact that still today, Hurricane Katrina survivors who want to return still have not been provided a way back home, the appointment might augur well for fundraising activities, but I doubt that it bodes well for the Haitian people. After all, the coup against and the kidnapping of President Aristide occurred under the watch of a Bush presidency.

      Finally, those with an appreciation of French literature know that among France's most beloved authors are Alexandre Dumas, son of a Haitian slave, and Victor Hugo who wrote: 'Haiti est une lumière’ ('Haiti is a light'). Indeed, Haiti for millions is a light; a light into the methodology and evil of slavery, a light into a successful slave rebellion, and a light into nationhood and notions of liberty, the rights of man and of human dignity. Haiti is a light, and an example that makes the enemies of black liberation tremble. It is precisely because of Haiti's light into the evil genius of some individuals who wield power over others, and man's ability through unity and purpose to overcome that evil, that some segments of the world have been at war with Haiti ever since 1804, the year of Haiti's creation as a republic.

      I'm not surprised at 'Reverend’ Pat Robertson's racist vitriol. Robertson's comments mirror, exactly, statements made by Napoleon's cabinet when the Haitians defeated them. But in 2010, Robertson's statements reveal much more: Haitians are not the only ones who know their importance in the struggle against hatred, imperialism and European domination.

      This pesky, persistent, stubbornly non-Western, proudly African people of this piece of land that we call Haiti know their history and they know that they militarily defeated the ruling world empire of the day, Napoleon's France, and the global elite at that time who supported him. They know that they defeated the armies of England and Spain.

      Haitians know that they used their status as a free state to help liberate Latin Americans from Spain by funding and fighting alongside Simón Bolívar. Their example inspired their still-enslaved African brothers and sisters on the American mainland. Before Haitians were even free, they fought against the British inside the US during its war of independence and won a decisive battle in Savannah, Georgia, where I have visited the statue commemorating that victory.

      Haitians know that France imposed reparations on them for being free, and Haiti paid them in full, but that President Aristide called for France to give that money back (US$21 billion in 2003 dollar terms).

      Haitians know that their 'brother’, then Secretary of State Colin Powell, lied to the world about the kidnapping and second ousting of their president. (Sadly, it wouldn't be the last time that Secretary of State Colin Powell would lie to the world.) Haitians know, all too well, that high-ranking blacks in the United States are capable of helping them and of betraying them.

      Haitians know, too, that the United States has installed its political proxies and even its own soldiers onto Haitian soil when the US has felt it necessary, all in an effort to control the indomitable Haitian spirit that directs much-needed light to the rest of the oppressed world.

      While the tears of the people of Haiti swell in my own eyes, and I remember their tremendous capacity for love, my broken heart and wet eyes don't dampen my ability to understand the grave danger that now faces my friends in Haiti.

      I shudder to think that the 'rollback’ policies believed in by some foreign policy advisors to President Obama could use a prolonged US military presence in Haiti as a springboard to rollback areas in Latin America that have liberated themselves from US neocolonial domination. I would hate to think that this would even be attempted under the presidency of Barack Obama. All of us must have our eyes wide open to Haiti and other parts of the world now dripping in blood as a result of the relentless, onward march of the US military machine.

      So, on this remembrance of the birth of Dr Martin Luther King, Jr, I note that it was the US government's own illegal Operation Lantern Spike that snuffed out the promise and light of King. Every plane of humanitarian assistance that is turned away by the US military (so far from the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), Médecins Sans Frontières, Brazil, France, Italy and even the US Red Cross) – as was done in the wake of Hurricane Katrina – and the expected arrival on this very day of up to 10,000 US troops, are lasting reminders of the existential threat that now looms over the valiant, proud people and the Republic of Haiti.


      * Cynthia McKinney is the former 2008 presidential Green Party candidate and six-term congresswomen in the US.
      * This article can was originally printed on Cynthia McKinney’s official MySpace blog on 19 January 2010.
      * Please send comments to [email protected] or comment online at Pambazuka News.

      Haiti ‘Year Zero’: The Afro-Americas and Africa

      Time for a new kind of trans-Atlantic relationship

      Marian Douglas-Ungaro


      cc United Nations
      Haiti’s earthquake has provided the first opportunity since slavery for slavery descendants in the Afro-Americas to alter and recreate the country’s socio-economic structures and physical infrastructure, writes Marian Douglas-Ungaro. But will former slave-owners and colonial masters hinder or assist with the process, Douglas-Ungaro asks, and will continental Africa notice or care?

      I seem to be moving beyond the phase of waking up wondering if what happened in Haiti on 12 January 2010 was a terrible dream or a reality. It is all too real, and will remain so the rest of our lives.

      In the early to mid-1990s there was a sustained period in my life when I thought of Haiti, and the US-Haiti relationship, every day. Then somewhere in the mid to late 1990s I wound up working on the ‘other side’ of the world and didn't return to the Americas until 2005. But after 12 January 2010, I doubt that Haiti will ever again be out of my thoughts in quite the same way.

      For this writer it is hard to express what the people, nation and history of Haiti mean to many or most of us who are the Afro-descendants of the Americas. It seems it has taken an unprecedented catastrophic event within Haiti, under her very feet, for her and the Afro-Americas to finally get Africa to look west toward us on the Middle Passage side of the Atlantic Ocean.

      After the earthquake, on, I noticed Haitian radio broadcaster Carel Pedre (@carelpedre) was the first person I observed using this term ‘Haiti Year Zero’ in one of his tweets. It seems an appropriate reference to an event – now a series of events – at once cataclysmic yet creating an historic opportunity to re-set, to change, to re-build.

      For the Afro-Americas, what has happened in Haiti is the first time since slavery that we, the Slavery Descendants, have such an opportunity to alter and re-create socio-economic structures (which go back to slavery) as well as physical infrastructure. Hopefully without another sacrificial earthquake, we the Afro-descendants of the Americas need a new beginning – or at least an identifiable transition – as much in Colombia, Mexico, Bolivia and the United States of America – as we do in Haiti. And yet, since 1791 Haiti has carried the banner for the Afro-descendants. After 12 January, will the ex-slaveowners and colonial masters hinder or assist us? Will Continental Africa notice or care?

      We note hopeful signs: President Abdoulaye Wade has nominally offered Haitians re-settlement in Senegal. Yet he also publicly ridiculed our reparations for enslavement. More encouraging, Ghana has pledged several million dollars in assistance to Haiti. We thank Senegal for the thought, and Ghana for the pledge of material solidarity.

      At the same time too many people, countries and organisations still are most comfortable with, and often part of, a morbidly negative international dialogue and dynamic which re-ignites itself almost any time Haiti (or the Afro-Americas more generally) is mentioned.

      This tendency makes it challenging, at best, to make fundamentally hopeful or forward-thinking plans in almost any Black society of the Americas. Interacting with those outside our own communities is excruciatingly hard when so many people and institutions we encounter are used to getting what they want, and they have cultivated incredibly patronising and ultimately destructive ways of viewing and framing us, our societies and our experiences.

      Just as bad as the above is increasingly encountering the ‘history-neutral’ interlocutor for whom neither Haiti nor the Afro-Americas is a meaningful ‘reality’. In contradiction of her own, obvious history vis-a-vis the Afro-descendants of the Americas, in ways Continental Africa, de facto, falls into this category. ‘Out of sight, out of mind’, goes the saying in English.

      From my own experience – at home in the Americas, in Europe, and in Africa – I do not know that the history (whether post-Africa or when we still were in Africa) and status – in fact, the very existence – of the Black societies of the Americas are either serious or frequent topics of thought (let alone action), back on the Continent (i.e. Africa, not Europe).

      I'm not even convinced, for example, that there exists a pan-African and gender-inclusive journal about the Afro-Americas. While I admit not knowing which continental African country first sent a diplomatic delegation to my hometown, Washington, DC, I am pretty sure that up to the present, no African country has yet become an observer country at the Organization of American States. The OAS is the world's oldest regional international organisation and includes as its member countries almost all societies of the Americas (with the notable exceptions of several still possessed by Europe). And despite the US now having a president from (slaveowning) white American and Kenyan Luo families, Caribbean neighbour Cuba remains ‘on suspension’ in the OAS ever since the 1959 Cuban revolution.

      One can only hope that post-earthquake, Haiti, the Afro-Americas and continental Africa will work and cooperate to give a badly needed fresh, new meaning to the term ‘trans-Atlantic relationship’, and that Africa's gaze toward us – the Afro-Americas – becomes more consistent, more balanced, and will not fade yet again.


      * Marian Douglas-Ungaro is a writer and international consultant who has worked in Haiti, Burundi and elsewhere. She manages the Facebook group AFRO-AMERICAS, for the Afro-descendants of the Americas.
      * Please send comments to [email protected] or comment online at Pambazuka News.

      Securing disaster in Haiti

      Peter Hallward


      cc LINKS
      A fortnight after the devastating earthquake that struck Haiti on 12 January 2010, the initial phase of the US-led relief operation has conformed to three fundamental tendencies that have shaped the more general course of the island's recent history, writes Peter Hallward – the adoption of military priorities and strategies, the sidelining Haiti's own leaders and government, and disregard for the needs of the majority of its people. These same mutually reinforcing tendencies will continue to govern the imminent reconstruction effort too, Hallward cautions, unless determined political action is taken to counteract them.

      Nine days after the devastating earthquake that struck Haiti on 12 January 2010, it's now clear that the initial phase of the US-led relief operation has conformed to the three fundamental tendencies that have shaped the more general course of the island's recent history.[1] It has adopted military priorities and strategies. It has sidelined Haiti's own leaders and government, and ignored the needs of the majority of its people. And it has proceeded in ways that reinforce the already harrowing gap between rich and poor. All three tendencies aren't just connected, they are mutually reinforcing. These same tendencies will continue to govern the imminent reconstruction effort as well, unless determined political action is taken to counteract them.

      Haiti is not only one of the poorest countries in the world, it is also one of the most polarised and unequal in its disparities in wealth and access to political power.[2] A small clique of rich and well-connected families continues to dominate the country and its economy while more than half the population, according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), survive on a household income of around 44 US cents per day.[3]

      Mass destitution has grown far more severe in recent decades. Starting in the 1970s, internationally imposed neoliberal ‘adjustments’ and austerity measures finally succeeded in doing what no Haitian government had managed to do since winning independence in 1804: In order to set the country on the road towards ‘economic development’, they have driven large numbers of small farmers off their land and into densely crowded urban slums. A small minority of these internal refugees may be lucky enough to find sweatshop jobs that pay the lowest wages in the region. These wages currently average US$2 or $3 a day; in real terms they are worth less than a quarter of their 1980 value.

      Haiti's tiny elite owes its privileges to exclusion, exploitation and violence, and it is only violence that allows it to retain them. For much of the last century, Haiti's military and paramilitary forces (with substantial amounts of US support) were able to preserve these privileges on their own. Over the course of the 1980s, however, it started to look as if local military repression might no longer be up to the job. A massive and courageous popular mobilisation (known as Lavalas) culminated in 1990 with the landslide election victory of the liberation theologian Jean-Bertrand Aristide as president of Haiti. Large numbers of ordinary people began to participate in the political system for the first time, and as political scientist Robert Fatton remembers, ‘panic seized the dominant class. It dreaded living in close proximity to la populace and barricaded itself against Lavalas’.[4]

      Nine months later, the army dealt with this popular threat in the time-honoured way, with a coup d'état. Over the next three years, around 4,000 Aristide supporters were killed.

      However, when the US eventually allowed Aristide to return in October 1994, he took a surprising and unprecedented step: He abolished the army that had deposed him. As human rights lawyer Brian Concannon (director of the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti) observed a few years later, ‘it is impossible to overestimate the impact of this accomplishment. It has been called the greatest human rights development in Haiti since emancipation, and is wildly popular’.[5] In 2000, the Haitian electorate gave Aristide a second overwhelming mandate when his party (Fanmi Lavalas) won more than 90 per cent of the seats in parliament.


      More than anything else, what has happened in Haiti since 1990 should be understood as the progressive clarification of this basic dichotomy – democracy or the army. Unadulterated democracy might one day allow the interests of the numerical majority to prevail, and thereby challenge the privileges of the elite. In 2000, such a challenge became a genuine possibility: The overwhelming victory of Fanmi Lavalas, at all levels of government, raised the prospect of genuine political change in a context in which there was no obvious extra-political mechanism – no army – to prevent it.

      In order to avoid this outcome, the main strategy of Haiti's little ruling class has been to redefine political questions in terms of ‘stability’ and ‘security’, and in particular the security of property and investments. Mere numbers may well win an election or sustain a popular movement but as everyone knows, only an army is equipped to deal with insecurity. The well-armed ‘friend of Haiti’ that is the United States knows this better than anyone else.

      As soon as Aristide was re-elected, a systematic international campaign to bankrupt and destabilise his second government set the stage for a paramilitary insurrection and a further coup d'état, and in 2004, thousands of US troops again invaded Haiti (just as they first did back in 1915) in order to ‘restore stability and security’ to their ‘troubled island neighbour’. An expensive and long-term UN ‘stabilisation mission’ staffed by 9000 heavily armed troops soon took over the job of helping to pacify the population and criminalise the resistance. By the end of 2006, thousands more Aristide supporters had been killed.

      Over the course of 2009, a suitably stabilised Haitian government agreed to persevere with the privatisation of the country’s remaining public assets,[6] veto a proposal to increase minimum wages to US$5 a day and to bar Fanmi Lavalas (and several other political parties) from participating in the next round of legislative elections.

      When it comes to providing stability, today's UN troops are clearly a big improvement over the old indigenous alternative. If things get so unstable that even the ground begins to shake, however, there's still nothing that can beat the world's leading provider of peace and security.


      In the immediate aftermath of the earthquake that struck on 12 January 2010, it might have seemed hard to counter arguments in favour of allowing the US military, with its ‘unrivalled logistical capability’, to take de facto control of such a massive relief operation. Weary of bad press in Iraq and Afghanistan, US commanders also seemed glad of this unexpected opportunity to rebrand their armed forces as angels of mercy. As usual, the Haitian government was instructed to be grateful for whatever help it could get.

      That was before US commanders actively began – the day after the earthquake struck – to divert aid away from the disaster zone.

      As soon as the US air force took control of Haitian airspace, on 13 January, it explicitly prioritised military over humanitarian flights. Although most reports from Port-au-Prince emphasised remarkable levels of patience and solidarity by Haitians on the streets, US commanders made fears of popular unrest and insecurity their number one concern. Their first priority was to avoid what the US Air Force Special Command Public Affairs spokesperson Ty Foster called another ‘Somalia effort’[7] – which is to say, presumably, a situation in which a humiliated US army might once again risk losing military control of a ‘humanitarian’ mission.

      As many observers predicted, however, the determination of US commanders to forestall this risk by privileging guns and soldiers over doctors and food has only succeeded in helping to provoke a few occasional bursts of the very unrest they set out to contain. In order to amass a sufficiently large amount of soldiers and military equipment ‘on the ground’, the US Air Force diverted plane after plane packed with emergency supplies away from Port-au-Prince. Among many others, World Food Program (WFP) flights were turned away by US commanders on January 14 and 15, the New York Times reported, ‘so that the United States could land troops and equipment, and lift Americans and other foreigners to safety’.[8]

      Many similar flights met a similar fate, right through to the end of the week. Médecins sans Frontières (MSF) alone has so far had to watch at least five planeloads of its medical supplies be turned away.[9] On 16 January, for instance, ‘despite guarantees given by the United Nations and the US Defense Department, an MSF cargo plane carrying an inflatable surgical hospital was blocked from landing in Port-au-Prince and was re-routed to Samana, in Dominican Republic’, delaying its arrival by an additional 24 hours.[10] Late on 18 January, MSF ‘complained that one of its cargo planes carrying 12 tonnes of medical equipment had been turned away three times from Port-au-Prince airport since Sunday [17 January]’, despite receiving ‘repeated assurances they could land’. By that stage one group of MSF doctors in Port-au-Prince had been ‘forced to buy a saw in the market to continue the amputations’ upon which the lives of their patients depended.[11]

      While US commanders set about restoring security by assembling a force of some 14,000 marines, residents in some less-secure parts of Port-au-Prince soon started to run out of food and water. On 20 January people sleeping in one of the largest and most easily accessed of the many temporary refugee camps in central Port-au-Prince (in Champs Mars) told writer Tim Schwartz, author of the 2008 book Travesty in Haiti, that ‘no relief has arrived; it is all being delivered on other side of town, by the US embassy’.[12] Telesur reporter Reed Lindsay confirmed on 20 January, a full eight days after the quake, that the impoverished south-western Port-au-Prince suburb closest to the earthquake's epicentre, Carrefour, still hadn't received any food, aid or medical help.[13]

      The BBC's Mark Doyle found the same thing in an eastern (and less badly affected) suburb: ‘Their houses are destroyed, they have no running water, food prices have doubled, and they haven't seen a single government official or foreign aid worker since the earthquake struck.’ Overall, Doyle observed, ‘the international response has been quite pathetic. Some of the aid agencies are working very hard, but there are two ways of reporting this kind of thing. One is to hang around with the aid agencies and hang around with the American spokespeople at the airport, and you'll hear all sorts of stories about what's happening. Another way is to drive almost at random with ordinary people and go and see what's happening in ordinary places. In virtually every area I've driven to, ordinary people say that I was the first foreigner that they'd met.’[14]

      Only a full week after the earthquake did emergency food supplies even begin the slow journey from the heavily guarded airport to fourteen ‘secure distribution points’ in various parts of the city.[15] By that stage, tens of thousands of Port-au-Prince residents had finally come to the conclusion that no aid would be forthcoming, and began to abandon the capital for villages in the countryside.

      On 17 January, Al-Jazeera's correspondent summarised what many other journalists had been saying all week, ‘Most Haitians have seen little humanitarian aid so far. What they have seen is guns, and lots of them. Armoured personnel carriers cruise the streets’ and ‘inside the well-guarded perimeter [of the airport], the US has taken control. It looks more like the Green Zone in Baghdad than a centre for aid distribution.’[16] Late on the same day, the World Food Programme's air logistics officer Jarry Emmanuel confirmed that most of the 200 flights going in and out of the airport each day were still being reserved for the US military: ‘their priorities are to secure the country. Ours are to feed.’[17] By 18 January, no matter how many US embassy or military spokespeople insisted that ‘we are here to help’ rather than invade, governments as different as those of France and Venezuela had begun to accuse the US of effectively ‘occupying’ the country.[18]


      The US decision to privilege military over humanitarian traffic at the airport sealed the fate of many thousands of people abandoned in the rubble of lower Port-au-Prince and Léogane. In countries all over the world, search and rescue teams were ready to leave for Haiti within 12 hours of the disaster. Only a few were able to arrive without fatal delays – mainly it was teams, like those from Venezuela, Iceland and China, who managed to land while Haitian staff still retained control of their airport. Some subsequent arrivals, including a team from the UK, were prevented from landing with their heavy equipment. Others, like Canada's Heavy Urban Search Rescue Teams, were immediately readied but never sent – the teams were told to stand down, the Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon eventually explained, because ‘the government had opted to send Canadian Armed Forces instead’.[19]

      USAID announced on 19 January that international search and rescue teams, over the course of the first full week after the disaster, had managed to save a grand total of 70 people.[20] The majority of these people were rescued in quite specific locations and circumstances. ‘Search-and-rescue operations’, observed the Washington Post on 18 January, ‘have been intensely focused on buildings with international aid workers, such as the crushed UN headquarters, and on large hotels with international clientele.’ [21] Tim Schwartz spent much of the first post-quake week as a translator with rescue workers, and was struck by the fact that most of their work was confined to places – the UN's hotel Christophe, the Montana Hotel, the Caribe supermarket – that were not only frequented by foreigners but that could be snugly enclosed within ‘secure perimeters’. Elsewhere, he observed, UN ‘peacekeepers’ did their best to make sure that rescue workers treated onlooking crowds as a source of potential danger rather than assistance.[22]

      Until the residents of devastated places like Léogane and Carrefour are somehow able to reassure foreign troops that they will feel ‘secure’ when visiting their neighbourhoods, UN and US commanders clearly prefer to let them die on their own.

      Exactly the same logic has condemned yet more people to death in and around Port-au-Prince's hospitals. In one of the most illuminating reports yet filed from the city, on 20 January Democracy Now's Amy Goodman spoke with Dr Evan Lyon of Partners in Health/Zamni Lasante from the General Hospital, the most important medical centre in the whole country. Lyon acknowledged there was a need for ‘crowd control, so that the patients are not kept from having access’, but insisted that ‘there's no insecurity [...]. I don’t know if you guys were out late last night, but you can hear a pin drop in this city. It’s a peaceful place. There is no war. There is no crisis except the suffering that’s ongoing... The first thing that [your] listeners need to understand is that there is no insecurity here. There has not been, and I expect there will not be.’ On the contrary, Lyon explained, ‘this question of security and the rumours of security and the racism behind the idea of security has been our major block to getting aid in. The US military has promised us for several days to bring in machinery, but they’ve been listening to this idea that things are insecure, and so we don’t have supplies’.

      As of 20 January, the hospital still hadn't received the supplies and medicines needed to treat many hundreds of dying patients. ‘In terms of aid relief the response has been incredibly slow. There are teams of surgeons that have been sent to places that were, quote, ‘more secure’, that have ten or twenty doctors and ten patients. We have a thousand people on this campus who are triaged and ready for surgery, but we only have four working operating rooms, without anaesthesia and without pain medications.’[23]

      Almost by definition, in post-quake Haiti it seems that anyone or anything that cannot be enclosed in a ‘secure perimeter’ isn't worth saving.

      In their occasional forays outside such perimeters, meanwhile, some Western journalists seemed able to find plenty of reasons for retreating behind them. Lurid stories of looting and gangs soon began to lend ‘security experts’ like the London-based Stuart Page[24] an aura of apparent authority, when he explained to the BBC's gullible ‘security correspondent’ Frank Gardner that ‘all the security gains made in Haiti in the last few years could now be reversed... The criminal gangs, totalling some 3,000, are going to exploit the current humanitarian crisis, to the maximum degree.’[25]

      Another seasoned BBC correspondent, Matt Frei, had a similar story to tell on 18 January, when he found a few scavengers sifting through the remains of a central shopping district: ‘Looting is now the only industry here. Anything will do as a weapon. Everything is now run by rival armed groups of thugs.’ If Haiti is to avoid anarchy, Frei concluded, ‘what may be needed is a full-scale military occupation’.[26]

      Not even former US president (and former Haiti occupier) Bill Clinton was prepared to go that far. ‘Actually’, Clinton told Frei, ‘when you think about people who have lost everything except what they're carrying on their backs, who not only haven't eaten but probably haven't slept in four days, and when the sun goes down it's totally dark and they spend all night long tripping over bodies living and dead, well, I think they've behaved quite well... They are astonishing people. How can they be so calm in the face of such enormous loss of life and loved ones, and all the physical damage?’[27]

      Reporters able to tell the difference between occasional and highly localised bursts of foraging and a full-scale ‘descent into anarchy’ made much the same point all week, as did dozens of indignant Haitian correspondents. On 17 January, for instance, Ciné Institute director David Belle tried to counter international misrepresentation. ‘I have been told that much US media coverage paints Haiti as a tinderbox ready to explode. I'm told that lead stories in major media are of looting, violence and chaos. There could be nothing further from the truth. I have travelled the entire city daily since my arrival. The extent of the damage is absolutely staggering [but...] NOT ONCE have we witnessed a single act of aggression or violence ... A crippled city of two million awaits help, medicine, food and water. Most haven't received any. Haiti can be proud of its survivors. Their dignity and decency in the face of this tragedy is itself staggering.’[28]

      As anyone can see, however, dignity and decency are no substitute for security. No amount of weapons will ever suffice to reassure those ‘fortunate few’ whose fortunes isolate them from the people they exploit. As far as the people themselves are concerned, ‘security is not the issue’, explains Haiti Liberté's Kim Ives. ‘We see throughout Haiti the population themselves organising themselves into popular committees to clean up, to pull out the bodies from the rubble, to build refugee camps, to set up their security for the refugee camps. This is a population which is self-sufficient, and it has been self-sufficient for many years.’[29] But while the people who have lost what little they had have done their best to cope and regroup, the soldiers sent to ‘restore order’ treat them as potential combatants. ‘It’s just the same way they reacted after [Hurricane] Katrina’ in New Orleans, concludes Ives. ‘The victims are what’s scary. They’re black people who, you know, had the only successful slave revolution in history. What could be more threatening?’

      ‘According to everyone I spoke with in the centre of the city’, wrote Schwarz on 21 January, ‘the violence and gang stuff is pure BS’. The relentless obsession with security, agrees Andy Kershaw, is clear proof of the fact that most foreign soldiers and NGO workers ‘haven't a clue about the country and its people’.[30]


      True to form, within hours of the earthquake most of the panicked staff in the US embassy had already been evacuated, and at least one prominent foreign contractor in the garment sector (the Canadian firm Gildan Activewear) announced that it would be shifting production to alternative sewing facilities in neighbouring countries.[31] The price to be paid for such priorities will not be evenly distributed. Up in the higher, wealthier and mostly undamaged parts of Pétionville everyone already knows that it's the local residents ‘who through their government connections, trading companies and interconnected family businesses’ will once again pocket the lion's share of international aid and reconstruction money.[32]

      In order to help keep less well-connected families where they belong, meanwhile, the US Department of Homeland Security has taken ‘unprecedented’ emergency measures to secure the homeland this past week. Operation ‘Vigilant Sentry’ will make efficient use of the large naval flotilla the US has assembled around Port-au-Prince. ‘As well as providing emergency supplies and medical aid’, notes The Daily Telegraph, ‘the USS Carl Vinson, along with a ring of other navy and coast guard vessels, is acting as a deterrent to Haitians who might be driven to make the 681-mile sea crossing to Miami’. While Senegal's president Abdoulaye Wade offered ‘voluntary repatriation to any Haitian that wants to return to [the land of] their origin’, US officials confirmed that they would continue to apply their long-standing (and thoroughly illegal) policy with respect to all Haitian refugees and asylum seekers – to intercept and repatriate them automatically, regardless of the circumstances.[33]

      Ever since the quake struck, the US Air Force has taken the additional precaution of flying a radio-transmitting cargo plane for five hours a day over large parts of the country, so as to broadcast a recorded message from Haiti's ambassador in Washington. ‘Don’t rush on boats to leave the country’, the message says. ‘If you think you will reach the US and all the doors will be wide open to you, that’s not at all the case. They will intercept you right on the water and send you back home where you came from.’ Not even life-threatening injuries are enough to entitle Haitians to a different sort of US reception. When the dean of medicine at the University of Miami arrived to help set up a field hospital by the airport in Port-au-Prince, he was outraged to find that most seriously injured people in the city were being denied the visas they would need to be transferred to Florida for surgery and treatment. As of 19 January the US State Department had authorised a total of 23 exceptions to its golden rule of immigration. ‘It’s beyond insane’, O'Neill complained. ‘It’s bureaucracy at its worst.’[34]


      This is the fourth time the US has invaded Haiti since 1915. Although each invasion has taken a different form and responded to a different pretext, all four have been expressly designed to restore ‘stability’ and ‘security'‘ to the island. Earthquake-prone Haiti must now be the most thoroughly stabilised country in the world. Thousands more foreign security personnel are already on their way, to guard the teams of foreign reconstruction and privatisation consultants who in the coming months are likely to usurp what remains of Haitian sovereignty.

      Perhaps some of these guards and consultants will help their elite clients achieve another long-cherished dream: The restoration of Haiti's own little army. And perhaps then, for a short while at least, the inexhaustible source of ‘instability’ in Haiti – the ever-nagging threat of popular political participation and empowerment – may be securely buried in the rubble of its history.


      * This article first appeared at and was posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with the author's' permission.
      * Peter Hallward is professor of modern European philosophy at Middlesex University, member of the Radical Philosophy editorial collective and author of Damming the Flood: Haiti, Aristide, and the Politics of Containment.


      [1] An abbreviated version of this article first appeared in The National, January 21, 2010,
      [2] See Pål Sletten and Willy Egset, Poverty in Haiti (FAFO, 2004), 9.
      [3] IMF, Haiti: Interim Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (November 2006), 7.
      [4] Robert Fatton, Haiti’s Predatory Republic (Boulder: Lynne Rienner Publishers, 2002), 86-87, 83.
      [5] Brian Concannon, ‘Lave Men, Siye Atè: Taking Human Rights Seriously’, in Melinda Miles and Eugenia Charles, eds. Let Haiti LIVE: Unjust US Policies Towards its Oldest Neighbor (Coconut Creek FL: Educa Vision, 2004), 92.
      [6] See for instance Jeb Sprague, ‘Haiti's Classquake’, HaitiAnalysis, January 19 2010,
      [7] BBC Radio 4 News, January 16, 2010, 22:00GMT.
      [8] Ginger Thompson and Damien Cave, ‘Officials Strain to Distribute Aid to Haiti as Violence Rises’, New York Times, January 17, 2010.
      [9] ‘Médecins Sans Frontières says its plane turned away from US-run airport’, Daily Telegraph, January 19, 2010,
      [10] ‘Doctors Without Borders Cargo Plane With Full Hospital and Staff Blocked From Landing in Port-au-Prince’, January 18, 2010,
      [11] ‘America sends paratroopers to Haiti to help secure aid lines’, The Times, January 20, 2010,
      [12] Email from Tim Schwartz, January 20, 2010.
      [13] ‘No aid [in Carrefour]. In the morning at UN base they said they would distribute there, but it didn't happen’, Reed Lindsay, Honor and Respect Foundation Newsletter, January 20, 2010, Cf. Luis Felipe Lopez, ‘Town at epicenter of quake stays in isolation’, Miami Herald, January 17, 2010.
      [14] BBC Radio 4, News at Ten, January 18, 2010.
      [15] Ed Pilkington, ‘We're not here to fight, US troops insist’, The Guardian, January 18, 2010.
      [16] ‘Disputes Emerge over Haiti aid control’, Al Jazeera, January 17, 2010.
      [17] Ginger Thompson and Damien Cave, ‘Officials strain to distribute aid to Haiti as violence rises’, New York Times, January 17, 2010.
      [18] ‘Haiti aid agencies warn: chaotic and confusing relief effort is costing lives’, The Guardian, January 18, 2010,
      [19] Don Peat, ‘HUSAR not up to task, feds say: Search and rescue team told to stand down’, Toronto Sun, January 17, 2010,
      [20] USAID,, accessed on January 20, 2010.
      [21] William Booth, ‘Haiti's elite spared from much of the devastation’, Washington Post, January 18, 2010.
      [22] Tim Schwarz, phonecall with the author, January 18, 2010; cf. Tim Schwartz, ‘Is this anarchy? Outsiders believe this island nation is a land of bandits. Blame the NGOs for the `looting'‘, NOW Toronto, January 21, 2010,
      [23] ‘With Foreign Aid Still at a Trickle, Devastated Port-au-Prince General Hospital Struggles to Meet Overwhelming Need’, Democracy Now!, January 20, 2010,
      [24] Stuart Page is chair of Page Group,
      [25] Gardner then explained that, with the police weakened by the quake, ‘thousands of escaped criminals have returned to areas they once terrorised, like the slum district of Cité Soleil [...]. Unless the armed criminals are re-arrested, Haiti's security problems risk being every bit as bad as they were in 2004’ (BBC Radio 4, Six O'clock News, January 18, 2010). In fact, when some of these ex-prisoners tried to re-establish themselves in Cité Soleil in the week after the quake, local residents promptly chased them out of the district on their own (see Ed Pilkington and Tom Phillips, ‘Haiti escaped prisoners chased out of notorious slum’, The Guardian, January 20, 2010; Tom Leonard, ‘Scenes of devastation outside Port-au-Prince `even worse'‘, Daily Telegraph, January 21, 2010).
      [26] BBC television, Ten O'clock News, January 18, 2010.
      [27] BBC Radio 4, News at Ten, January 18, 2010. It sounds as if Clinton, in his role as UN special envoy to Haiti, may be learning a few things from his deputy – Zanmi Lasante's Dr. Paul Farmer.
      [28] David Belle, January 17, 2010.
      [29] ‘Journalist Kim Ives on How Western Domination Has Undermined Haiti’s Ability to Recover from Natural Devastation’, Democracy Now! January 21, 2010, Ives illustrates the way such community organisations work with an example from the Delmas 33 neighbourhood where he's staying: ‘A truckload of food came in in the middle of the night unannounced. It could have been a melee. The local popular organization was contacted. They immediately mobilized their members .... They lined up about 600 people who were staying on the soccer field behind the [Matthew 25] house, which is also a hospital, and they distributed the food in an orderly, equitable fashion. They were totally sufficient. They didn’t need Marines. They didn’t need the UN... These are things that people can do for themselves and are doing for themselves.’ Kershaw makes the same point: ‘This self-imposed blockade by bureaucracy is a scandal but could be easily overcome. The NGOs and the military should recognise the hysteria over `security' for what it is and make use of Haiti's best resource and its most efficient distribution network: the Haitians themselves. Stop treating them as children. Or worse. Hand over to them immediately what they need at the airport. They will find the means to collect it. Fill up their trucks and cars with free fuel. Any further restriction on, and control of, the supply of aid is not only patronising but it is in that control and restriction where any `security issues' will really lurk. And it is the Haitians who best know where the aid is needed’ (Andy Kershaw, ‘Stop treating these people like savages’, The Independent, January 21, 2010).
      [30] Andy Kershaw, ‘Stop treating these people like savages’, The Independent, January 21, 2010.
      [31] Ross Marowits, ‘Gildan shifting T-shirt production outside Haiti to ensure adequate supply’, The Canadian Press, 1January3, 2010,
      [32] William Booth, ‘Haiti's elite spared from much of the devastation’, Washington Post, January 18, 2010.
      [33] Bruno Waterfield, ‘US ships blockade coast to thwart exodus to America’, Daily Telegraph, January 19, 2010; ‘Senegal offers land to Haitians’, BBC News, January 17, 2010,

      Haiti can awaken from the dark night of the boar

      All together for the redemption of the country that showed us the light of freedom

      Amanda Huerta


      cc Billtacular
      Against the backdrop of the fundraising 'Hope for Haiti Now’ concert, Amanda Huerta reflects on the impact that it will have. She believes that it will at least draw the attention of 'those who, by commission or by omission, never cast their eyes on the "third world" because they got lost losing the "second" one'. Haiti has two potential paths, Huerta argues, to become even more quashed by the 'military boot’ or to be rebuilt in solidarity whereby 'We will construct among us the morning … that forever ends the night of the boar.’

      'The Haitian patriots walk with lights and colors in their hands, in bloom like the earth, showered by light rains and by songs. But they have fought alone, compañera, alone.’ Alí Primera, La Noche del Jabalí

      As I watch the solidarity concert, 'Hope for Haiti Now’, I can’t stop thinking that someone or 'many someones’ are emptying out their bank accounts, dialing with pain; and that probably won’t be the artists, it won’t be the sponsors, not them.

      I am absolutely certain that the enormous majority of those who sing there, or the thousands who call in to donate, do so with a sentiment of solidarity. It’s not bad when during a tragedy they remember or turn their eyes toward the misery in which many others live. Today we 'forgive’ them, if in some way this serves to bring something of the history of these suffering people to the eyes of those who, by commission or by omission, never cast their eyes on the 'third world’ because they got lost losing the 'second’ one.

      Although this story will never be completely told, dear friends, between the marketing of pain and the beautiful stage, they forgot to mention the empires’ gigantic responsibility for the poverty and hunger that has been imposed on Haiti, a small detail omitted by the big disinformation television chains.

      Now that that’s cleared up, what we cannot forgive is that above the red blood of the Haitian people, the boot of disgrace and darkness that tries to submit the heroic Haitian people to 'the night of the boar’ continues marching. History speaks to us through the eyes of the Haitian people, so many times photographed and distributed throughout the world during this tragedy. The current events bring with them the following news reports of history.

      The long political instability that came out of Haiti’s independence from the French empire in 1804 was the soup which the United States cooked, invading and exercising dominion until at least 1934. In 1957, when he was elected as president of Haiti, François Duvalier governed dictatorially with the military and financial aid of the United States. He was succeeded by his son, Jean-Claude Duvalier.

      In 1986, Duvalier Jr was toppled by a popular uprising, which saw the continuance of the dictatorship for two more years until, in 1988, Leslie Manigat was elected to the presidency of the republic. It was a noble government that was toppled by General Henri Namphy who was, in turn, replaced that same September by General Prosper Avril. Avril, in power until 1990, had to contend with new revolts. His resignation opened the path for elections under international control and an apparent normalisation of political life.

      Jean-Bertrand Aristide, a Catholic priest who had advocated for the poor, obtained a brilliant victory in December 1990. Coups d’état, forced exile and a return to power were all part of the first Aristide term. Aristide returned to power democratically, and in 2004 a coup d’état organised and covered by the US obligated him to resign and be succeeded by René Preval.

      In this brief summary of the history of Haiti I omitted 'small details’ like the economic embargos, assassinations, persecutions and so on. Since 2004, the Haitian people have lived, anew, under old and new military occupations at the hands of the US, a country that to this day remains in military control with the collaboration (by omission or commission) of the UN and allied countries.

      This same North American occupation force, which today controls the airport, is impeding and delaying the arrival of aid to Haiti, as has been denounced by the government of France and an infinity of journalists and reporters in Port-au-Prince.

      Before the earthquake, 75 per cent of the Haitian population did not have access to portable water, 56 per cent lived in absolute poverty, life expectancy was 58 years, 49 per cent of the children did not go to school and illiteracy was at 39 per cent. These are statistics reported by the UN and UNESCO.

      A scene like this, with the greatest natural disaster of the last 200 years in Haiti, could become the perfect excuse to deepen the footprint of the military boot, or the spark that awakens the conscience of sister nations, so that we may go all together for the redemption of the country that showed us the light of freedom.

      History shows us the renewing cycles of the hegemonic forces. It is, however, the same story that has shown us that the force of man, organised and conscious, can trip the triumphs of life’s greatest enemies.

      'We will construct among us the morning’, sang Alí Primera, 'that forever ends the night of the boar.’


      * Amanda Huerta, a Narco News 2010 School of Authentic Journalism scholar, is a Venezuelan journalist in Paraguay.
      * This article was first published in the Narco News Bulletin on 23 January 2010.
      * Please send comments to [email protected] or comment online at Pambazuka News.

      Letter to Honourable P.J. Patterson

      Norman Girvan


      cc WSPAInternational
      Norman Girvan writes to the Honourable P.J. Patterson, the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Secretariat’s representative to the Conference of Foreign Ministers on Haitian Relief, which was held in Montreal on Monday 25 January 2010. Girvan makes recommendations for a response which ‘should be based on the principles of solidarity, respect for [Haitians’] rights and respect for their country’s sovereignty'.

      Congratulations on your appointment as CARICOM’s representative on the committee organising the international conference for the reconstruction of Haiti to be held in Montreal beginning Monday. Your experience with Haiti while being prime minister will be an invaluable asset in bringing a much-needed perspective that respects the Haitian people’s own capabilities, leadership and initiative and the sovereignty of Haiti in the relief and rebuilding efforts.

      I have been following events closely and wish to share the following observations with you.

      While we must commend the speed and generosity of the international response to the Haitian disaster, we should also recognise that the international community, as a donor to Haiti for more than two decades, also bears responsibility for the ill-conceived and poorly-conducted development, political interference and unfulfilled promises in Haiti.

      I support the view that on this occasion the reconstruction of the country should be carried out in a way that is effective and accountable to all Haitians and assigns to Haitians themselves the responsibility for identifying their immediate and long-term needs and for creating and strengthening the structures required.

      I would argue strongly against an approach that is ’security-centred’, that militarises the relief and rehabilitation effort and that undermines Haitian ownership, initiative, responsibility and sovereignty. Rather, it should be based on the principles of solidarity, respect for their rights and respect for their country’s sovereignty.

      Here are some specific recommendations developed by the Canadian Council for International Co-operation, Oxfam Canada and Oxfam Quebec, which I fully endorse as being consistent with the above principles.

      International assistance should:

      1) Prioritise the delivery of humanitarian assistance by civilian agencies
      2) Ensure Haitian leadership, ownership and decision-making
      3) Protect the rights of vulnerable populations
      4) Focus on ending poverty.


      The challenges posed by the current operating environment in Haiti are huge, but reports indicate that aid efforts have been impeded by lack of access to airports and the slow delivery of supplies into the disaster site. The delivery and distribution of humanitarian assistance by civilian agencies should be considered the highest priority. There needs to be:

      - A clear delineation of roles between civilian aid workers and military personnel involved in the relief effort. Military forces currently on the ground are providing crucial logistical and operational support, while civilian agencies have the experience and expertise needed to deliver assistance. Assistance, which is currently being provided by military personnel, should be handed over to civilian agencies as soon as possible, leaving the military to focus on providing logistical and operational support.
      - Highest priority assigned to civilian humanitarian supplies for the arrival, offloading and dispatching of cargo at Haiti’s airports, ports and land borders
      - Responsibility of the coordination of relief operations given to the UN and the Haitian authorities. Coordination should be carried out in a way that rebuilds and strengthens the capacity of Haitian institutions.


      Haitians themselves were the first responders to the earthquake. Although local organisations have been affected by the earthquake, the considerable capacity and skills of Haitians themselves must be respected and included in relief efforts. Accordingly, foreign countries and international agencies should:

      - Work to ensure Haitians, wherever possible, are leading relief and reconstruction efforts
      - Fund Haitian organisations, particularly women’s groups, in relief, recovery and reconstruction
      - Seek opportunities for including the Haitian diaspora in relief and recovery efforts, particularly those with French and Creole language skills
      - Prioritise the rebuilding of Haitian government ministries and departments that are responsible for providing basic services
      - Support Haitian community-driven efforts to improve the educational, food security and livelihood status of Haitian citizens.


      Haiti’s vulnerable populations will require special protection measures. Thirty-six per cent of Haiti’s population is under 15 years old. Persons with disabilities, including those newly disabled by the earthquake, will find it difficult to access food, water and shelter. Women and girls are at an increased risk of sexual and gender-based violence. Donors, international agencies and civil society should:

      - Ensure that the principles of impartiality, neutrality, independence and humanity guide the ongoing relief effort and that humanitarian and development activities are consistent with international humanitarian and human rights law
      - Prioritise the delivery of humanitarian assistance to vulnerable groups such as unaccompanied minors, the disabled, elderly, and women and girls, and ensure that their needs and priorities are addressed in the planning for Haiti’s recovery, reconstruction, and longer-term development. To this end, donors, international agencies and civil society should:

      - Ensure shelter and emergency camps are planned and built with disability access in mind
      - Include persons with disabilities and organisations focused on disability rights in all initiatives and stages of relief, recovery, reconstruction and longer-term development planning
      - Establish rapid response mechanisms and measures to ensure the rights of all Haitian children are protected with priorities on preventing child trafficking and a moratorium on new international adoptions
      - Encourage all countries contributing to the United Nations Stabilisation Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) to train their personnel on preventing, protecting and responding to sexual and gender-based violence prior to their deployment.


      Poverty and fragility in Haiti is multifaceted and includes significant tensions between a wealthier elite and poorer Creole-speaking parts of the population. Much of Haiti’s gross domestic product (GDP) is allocated to annual debt service payments amounting to some US$60–80 million a year, limiting Haiti’s capacity to invest in its own development. Real and sustained recovery and reconstruction will not be possible without addressing Haiti’s longer-term development, environmental and governance issues. We should press for:

      - The immediate cancellation of all bilateral and multilateral debt owed by Haiti
      - The International Monetary Fund (IMF) to immediately convert the US$100 million emergency loan to Haiti into a grant provided without any conditions
      - Longer-term assistance to address both the immediate and structural causes of poverty in Haiti while working to provide relief and reconstruction to areas directly affected by the earthquake
      - Continuance of development aid to parts of the country not impacted by the earthquake, but still vulnerable to poverty
      - Support for environmental programmes spanning the recovery to development spectrum aimed at agriculture and reforestation.

      In conclusion, I strongly support the view that Haiti needs to be rebuilt ‘from the bottom up’. International donors and the Friends of Haiti group must ensure the voices and the perspectives of Haiti’s poor are heard and their rights respected. Haitian ownership and leadership, through the government, civil society, the diaspora and the majority living in poverty – women and men, girls and boys – must be central in all efforts.

      Yours in solidarity,

      Norman Girvan


      * Norman Girvan is a professorial research fellow at the Graduate Institute of International Relations at the University of the West Indies in St. Augustine, Trinidad and Tobago.
      * This letter was sent to the Honourable P.J. Patterson, the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Secretariat’s representative to the Conference of Foreign Ministers on Haitian relief, held in Montreal on 25 January 2010. It draws on a similar statement drafted by the Canadian Council for International Cooperation (CCIC), Oxfam Canada and Oxfam Quebec for the Conference. P.J. Patterson was the prime minister of Jamaica between 1992 and 2006.
      * Please send comments to [email protected] or comment online at Pambazuka News.

      Haiti's 'odious debt' must be completely and unconditionally cancelled

      Eric Toussaint and Sophie Perchellet


      cc Haiti Earthquake
      Eric Toussaint and Sophie Perchellet criticise mainstream commentary on Haiti for failing to look beyond the earthquake and to ask where Haiti's poverty is rooted. They depict the historical passage of political and economic exploitation and individual greed that has led Haiti into a hole of crippling debt. Haiti, they argue, 'needs to be rebuilt because it has been stripped of its means to rebuild itself'. Toussaint and Perchellet note that 'All current financial aid announced following the earthquake is already lost to the debt repayment!' They conclude that those most responsible for systematically exploiting Haiti, namely France and the US, must pay their compensation through a fund for the country's reconstruction.

      Haiti was partially destroyed by an earthquake measuring 7.0 on the Richter scale. We have all shed tears and the media, as it bombards us with apocalyptic images, reports on generous financial pledges that various states have made. Haiti needs to be rebuilt. But most mainstream comments fail to look beyond the terrible earthquake. While we are told that Haiti is one of the poorest countries in the world, no explanations of why that is so are provided. We are led to believe that poverty just happened, that it is a situation beyond remedy, that Haiti is an 'accursed land'.

      There is no doubt that this natural disaster has led to considerable and unforeseeable material and human damage. Emergency aid is, therefore, urgently needed and everyone can agree on this point. This earthquake, however, was not the root cause of Haiti's poverty and squalor. This country needs to be rebuilt because it has been stripped of its means to rebuild itself. Haiti is neither a free nor a sovereign country. In recent years, its domestic policy choices have been made by a government constantly under pressure and orders coming from outside the country and by manoeuvres carried out by the local elites.

      There are few political or media commentators who note Haiti's independence gained in 1804, after a hard-fought struggle against Napoleon's French armies. Rather than focusing on their fight for human rights, the traits attributed to Haitians are those of savagery and violence. Eduardo Galeano talks about 'the white curse': 'At the border where the Dominican Republic ends and Haiti begins, there is a large sign with the following warning: The bad path. On the other side, it is black hell. Blood and hunger, poverty, plagues.'

      It is therefore necessary to look back at the struggle for emancipation waged by the Haitian population, because in retaliation against this revolution – which was both anti-slavery and anti-colonial in nature – the country inherited the ransom France demanded for independence, amounting to 150 million francs (that is, France's annual budget at the time). In 1825, France decided that 'the current inhabitants of the French part of Santo Domingo will pay into France's Federal deposit and consignment offices, the sum of one hundred and fifty million francs, to be paid in five instalments, year after year, with the first term due 31 December 1825. The money will be used to compensate the former colonists who will demand compensation.'[1] That is equivalent to approximately US$21 billion today. From the outset Haiti had to pay a very high price. Debt became the neocolonial instrument used to maintain access to this country's many natural resources.

      The payment of this ransom is therefore the founding element of the Haitian state. In legal terms, this means that it was contracted by a despotic regime and this contract was used against the interests of the people. First France, then the United States, whose sphere of influence expanded to Haiti from 1915, are entirely responsible for this.

      Now, whilst it would have been possible to face up to their painful responsibilities of the past in 2004, the Régis Debray Commission report preferred to scrap the idea of repaying this sum on the pretext that it was 'legally unfounded' and that this action would open a 'Pandora's box'. The Haitian government's request was rejected by France; no compensation was warranted. Moreover, France does not recognise the role it played in the shameful present it gave to the dictator-in-exile 'Baby Doc' Duvalier, by granting him political refugee status and, thus, immunity.

      'Papa Doc' Duvalier's rule began with the help of the United States in 1957; the Duvalier dictatorship lasted until 1986 when his son Baby Doc was thrown out by a popular uprising. The violent dictatorship, broadly supported by Western countries, ravaged the country for almost 30 years. It was marked by an exponential growth in Haiti's debt. Between 1957 and 1986, foreign debt had multiplied 17.5 times. At the time Duvalier fled, it amounted to US$750 million. It then rose, through interest and penalties, to more than US$1,884 million.[2] This debt, far from serving the interests of the impoverished population, was actually aimed at enriching the ruling regime; it is therefore in legal terms an 'odious debt'.

      A recent inquiry reveals that the Duvalier family's personal wealth (well protected by their Western bank accounts) amounted to US$900 million, or in other words, a greater sum than the total debt of the country at the time Baby Doc fled. A trial is currently taking place before the Swiss courts for the restitution of goods and assets to the state of Haiti, embezzled during the Duvalier dictatorship. For the moment, these assets remain frozen by the Swiss bank UBS, which has put forward unacceptable conditions for the restitution of these funds.[3]

      Jean-Bertrand Aristide, by contrast, was enthusiastically elected by the people of Haiti. He was, however, soon accused of corruption, before being put back in office as a United States puppet and finally ousted by the US army. So Aristide, unfortunately, is not innocent in relation to debt and the embezzlement of funds. Furthermore, according to the World Bank, between 1995 and 2001 the debt service, that is to say capital and the reimbursed interests, had reached the considerable sum of US$321 million.

      All current financial aid announced following the earthquake is already lost to the debt repayment! According to the latest estimates, more than 80 per cent of Haiti's foreign debt is with the World Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank (IBD), with up to 40 per cent each. Under these institutions' instructions, the Haitian government applied 'structural adjustment plans', now disguised as 'poverty reduction strategy papers' (PRSPs). In exchange for contracting more loans, Haiti has been given some insignificant debt relief or cancellations, which cast the creditors in a positive light. The Highly Indebted Poor Countries initiative (HIPC), for which Haiti was accepted, is a typical odious-debt laundering manoeuvre, as was the case with the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).[4] Odious debt is replaced by new, so-called legitimate loans. The Committee for the Abolition of Third World Debt (CADTM) views these new loans as a key part of Haiti's odious debt as they are used to pay off the old debt. The offence continues to be committed.

      In 2006, when the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank and the Paris Club accepted that the HIPC initiative would include Haiti, the whole stock of public foreign debt totalled US$1,337 million. At the time of completion of the initiative (in June 2009), the debt totalled US$1,884 million. The cancellation of a debt totalling US$1,200 million dollars was decided so as to 'make the debt bearable'. Meanwhile, the structural adjustment plans wreaked havoc, especially in the agricultural sector, the effects of which reached their peak at the time of the 2008 food crisis. Haitian peasant farming suffered from US agricultural goods dumping.

      As CADTM stresses, 'The macro-economic policies supported by Washington, the UN, the IMF and the World Bank do not concern themselves at all with the need to develop and protect domestic markets. The only concern of their policies is to produce at the lowest price for exportation on the global markets.'[5] It is, therefore, a scandal to hear the IMF say that it is 'ready to play [its] role with the appropriate support in these areas of competence.'

      As stated in the recent international appeal, 'Solidarity and respect for popular sovereignty: Haiti is calling':

      'Together with many Haitian organizations, over recent years we have denounced the military occupation of the country by United Nations (UN) troops and the impacts of the domination imposed via the mechanisms of debt, free trade, the looting of its natural habitat and the invasion of transnational interests. The vulnerability of the country to natural tragedies – provoked to a large extent by the environmental devastation, the non-existence of basic infrastructure, and the systematic weakening of the state's capacity to act – should not be seen as something disconnected from these policies, which have historically undermined the sovereignty of the people.

      'Now is the time for the governments that form part of the MINUSTAH [United Nations Stabilisation Mission], the UN and in particular France and the United States, [and] the governments of Latin America, to revise this action that is contrary to the basic needs of the Haitian people. We demand of those governments and international organizations that they substitute the military occupation with a true mission of solidarity, and that they take action to ensure the urgent cancellation of the debt that is still being collected of Haiti.'[6]

      There is a great risk that one of the largest relief operations in history will be similar in nature to the tsunami relief efforts in 2004 unless a radically different approach to reconstruction is adopted. Irrespective of the debt issue, it is feared that the aid will take the same form as that provided after the tsunami hit several Asian countries at the end of December 2004 (Sri Lanka, Indonesia, India and Bangladesh) and also after cyclone Jeanne hit Haiti in 2004. Promises were not kept and a large part of the funds were used to line the pockets of foreign and local elites. The majority of these 'generous donations' came from the creditor countries. Rather than giving donations, it would be preferable that they cancel Haiti's debt, totally, unconditionally and immediately.

      Can we really speak of donations when we know that most of this money will either be used to repay foreign debt or to implement 'national development projects' decided on the basis of the interests of these creditors and local elites? It is clear that without these immediate donations, it will not be possible to secure repayment of this debt, at least half of which corresponds to odious debt. The major international conferences, whether G8, G20 or expanded to include the international financial institutions (IFIs), will not produce any progress whatsoever in terms of Haiti's development. Rather they will rebuild instruments to help them secure neocolonial control of the country. Their purpose is ensuring that debt repayments continue.

      In order for Haiti to rebuild itself in dignity, national sovereignty is the fundamental issue and a total and unconditional debt cancellation for Haiti must be the first step towards a more general course of action. A new alternative development model to the IFIs and the Economic Partnership Agreements (EPA signed in December 2009, the Hope II Accord) is necessary and urgent. The most industrialised countries, which have systematically exploited Haiti, beginning with France and the United States, must pay compensation towards a fund aimed at financing the reconstruction of the country, controlled by the Haitian people's organisations.


      * Eric Toussaint is president of CADTM Belgium (Committee for the Abolition of Third World Debt). He is the author of 'Bank of the South. An Alternative to the IMF-World Bank', 'The World Bank, A Critical Primer', 'Between The Lines' and 'Your Money or Your Life, The Tyranny of Global Finance'. Sophie Perchellet is vice-president of CADTM France (Committee for the Abolition of Third World Debt).
      * This article was first published in Links – International Journal of Socialist Renewal and was translated by Francesca Denley in collaboration with
Marie Lagatta.
      * Please send comments to [email protected] or comment online at Pambazuka News.

      [2] (page 43)
      [4] See the CADTM magazine, In favour of an audit of Congolese debt, Liège, 2007 online:
      [5] See

      Democracy before democracy in Africa

      Alemayehu G. Mariam


      cc caribbeanfreephoto
      Alemayehu G. Mariam attacks the common concept that economic democracy must be achieved before abstract political rights. Mariam holds that this ‘democracy before democracy’ notion is rooted in Kwame Nkrumah’s dangerous legacy of one-man, one-party rule designed to ‘avoid genuine multiparty democracy’ and buffer personal power. Mariam warns African rulers following Nkrumah’s ‘political formula’ that ‘Africans want Africa no longer to be the world’s cesspool of corruption, criminality and cruelty.’ Ghana is today, Mariam argues, ironically the best model of democracy in Africa. He concludes that in contrast to beliefs that economic needs precede political rights, Africa wants genuine multiparty democracy now.

      Since the dawn of African independence from colonialism in the early 1960s, African liberation leaders and founding fathers qua dictators, military junta and ‘new breed’ leaders have sought to justify the one-man, one-party state and avoid genuine multiparty democracy by fabricating a blend of self-serving arguments. These arguments converge on the notion that in Africa there is a democracy before democracy.

      The core argument can be restated in different ways: Before Africa can have political democracy, it must have economic democracy. Africans are more concerned about meeting their economic needs than having abstract political rights. Economic development necessarily requires sacrifices in political rights. African democracy is a different species of democracy, which has roots in African culture and history. African societies are plagued by ethnic, tribal and religious conflicts which can be solved not by Western-style liberal democracy, but within the framework of the traditional African institutions of consensus-building, elder mediation and conciliation. Western-style democracy is unworkable, alien and inappropriate for Africans because the necessary preconditions for such a system are not present. Widespread poverty, low per capita income, a tiny middle class and the absence of a democratic civic culture render such a system incongruous with African realities. Liberal democracy can come to Africa only after significant economic development has been achieved. Any premature introduction or misguided imposition of it by the West could actually harm Africans by destroying their budding faith in democracy itself.

      Stripped of rhetorical flourish, however, such self-serving arguments exploit manifest contradictions and deficits in African societies. They do this for the purposes of justifying the consolidation and fortification of the powers of the one-man, one-party state, and preventing the institutionalisation of a competitive, multiparty, democratic process with electoral and constitutional accountability. The claim of the primacy of ‘economic democracy’ is based on an impressionistic – not empirically substantiated – assumption that the masses of poor, illiterate, hungry and sick Africans are too dumb to appreciate ‘political democracy’. In other words, the African masses are apparently interested in the politics of the belly and not the politics of democracy and political rights. Africans live for and by bread alone. Elections, legal rights and liberties are meaningless to the poor and hungry masses.

      This assumption is pure nonsense as various well designed and executed empirical studies of democratic attitudes in Africa have shown. The claim of ethnic conflict to justify the one-man, one-party system is internally self-contradictory. If, indeed, the communalism and the institutions of traditional, pre-colonial African societies are the most effective means for dispute resolution and consensus-building, it is illogical to insist on investing a single leader and his party with sweeping and expansive powers.

      All the layered sophistry and paralogism of African dictators is intended to mask their insatiable hunger for power and to produce one set of self-serving, axiomatic conclusions: Africa is not yet ready for genuine multiparty democracy. The one-man, one-party system is the only means to save Africa from itself, and from complete social, economic and political implosion. The one-man, one-party system will evolve into a genuine multiparty democracy at some undetermined time in the future. In the meantime, the one-man, one-party show must go on.

      Post-independence African history is instructive to understanding the scourge of one-man and the curse of one-party rule in Africa. As the first sub-Saharan African country to gain its independence from colonialism in 1957, Ghana and the role played by its first prime minister and later president, Kwame Nkrumah, are central to understanding the pervasive problem of civilian and military dictatorships in Africa. At the time of independence, Ghana was undoubtedly the most economically and socially advanced country in sub-Saharan Africa, with an advanced educational system and relatively well-developed infrastructures. Nkrumah was a role model for the dozens of leaders of African countries that achieved independence in the 1960s and 1970s. Despite Nkrumah’s status as the unrivalled champion of Pan-Africanism and his strong advocacy for a united Africa, he was also the single individual most responsible for casting the mould for the one-man, one-party dictatorship in post-independence Africa. Barely a year into his administration, the once fiery anti-colonial advocate of political rights and democracy had transformed himself into a power-hungry despot. He enacted a law making labour strikes illegal. He declared it was unpatriotic to strike. Paranoid about his opposition, he enacted a preventive detention act which gave him sweeping powers to arrest and detain any person suspected of treason without due process of law. He even dismissed the chief justice of Ghanaian Supreme Court, Sir Arku Korsah, when a three-judge panel headed by Korsah acquitted suspects who had been accused of plotting a coup. Nkrumah amended the constitution making his party, the Convention People’s Party (CPP), the only legal party in the country. He capped his political career by having himself declared president-for-life.

      Other African leaders followed in Nkrumah’s footsteps. Julius Nyerere became the first president of Tanganyika (Tanzania) in 1962 and announced his brand of African socialism built around rural folk and their traditional values in a ‘ujamaa’ (‘extended family’) system. Millions of villagers were forced into collectivised agriculture. He modelled his constitution on Ghana’s and followed Nkrumah’s script. Nyerere established a one-man, one-party state around his Tanganyika African National Union (TANU), outlawed strikes, nationalised private banks and industries, duplicated Nkrumah’s preventive detention act to go after his opponents and greatly increased his personal power.

      With the exception of a few countries, Africa was incurably infected by Nkrumah’s one-man, one-party virus by the end of the 1960s. Most of the leaders of the newly independent African countries followed Nkrumah’s political formula by declaring states of emergency, suspending their constitutions, conferring unlimited executive powers upon themselves, and enacting oppressive laws at will, which enabled them to arrest, detain and persecute their rivals, dissenters, and others considered to be threats.

      By the end of the 1960s, the economic and political outcomes of the one-man, one-party dictatorships were dismal. Nkrumah’s programme of rapid industrialisation – to reduce Ghana’s dependence on foreign capital and imports – had a devastating effect on its important cocoa-export sector. Many of the socialist economic development projects that he launched failed. By the time he was overthrown in a military coup in 1966, Ghana had fallen from one of the richest African countries to one of the poorest. Similarly, Tanzania nose-dived from the largest exporter of agricultural products in Africa to the largest importer of agricultural products. The one-man, one-party state also proved to be ineffective in reducing ethnic tensions and preventing conflict. Civil wars, genocides, low-level ethnic conflicts and corruption spread throughout the continent like wildfire.

      Waiting in the wings were Africa’s soldiers. Accusing the civilian governments of corruption, incompetence and mismanaging the economy, and claiming a patriotic duty to rescue their countries from collapse, military officers knocked off these governments one by one. General Joseph Mobutu seized power in the Democratic Republic of Congo (Zaire) following a protracted political struggle between Patrice Lumumba and Joseph Kasavubu. Colonel Houari Boumedienne overthrew Ahmed Ben Bella in Algeria. A group of army officers overthrew the monarchy in Burundi. In the Central African Republic, Colonel Bokassa (later Emperor Jean Bedel Bokassa) overthrew David Dacko. General Idi Amin overthrew Milton Obote in Uganda. Nigeria flipped two coups, one by General Johnson Ironsi, who was overthrown by General Yakubu Gowon. Many other African countries suffered similar fates.

      There is overwhelming evidence to show that the one-man, one-party state has been a total failure in Africa over the past half-century. Under these dictatorships, African countries have faced civil and border wars and ethnic and religious strife. Famine, malnutrition and insufficient food production have caused the deaths of millions of Africans. Poverty and unemployment rates continue to rise despite billions in foreign aid and loans. Infant mortality is nearly 100 per 1,000 (compared to 5 in the United States). Africans have the lowest life expectancies in the world. After 50 years of independence, per capita income in much of Africa had declined so much that President Obama had to artfully remind Africans in his speech in Ghana that ‘Countries like Kenya, which had a per capita economy larger than South Korea's when I was born, have been badly outpaced.' Politically, the one-man, one-party dictatorships have brought neither ethnic harmony nor good governance, and they have failed to forge a common national identity for their people.

      Today we still hear the same rubbish about a democracy before democracy, recycled by a ‘new breed’ of silver-tongued African leaders. Meles Zenawi, the chief architect of the one-man, one-party state in Ethiopia, says that establishing democracy in Africa is bound to take a long time and that elections alone will not produce democracy and do not necessarily bring about democratic culture or guarantee a democratic exercise of rule. He holds that creating a democracy in poverty-ridden and illiterate societies, that have not yet fully embraced democratic values and are not yet familiar with democratic concepts, rules and procedures, is bound to take a long time and to exact huge costs.

      Similar arguments are made by Yoweri Museveni of Uganda and Paul Kagame of Rwanda. Even the wily old coyote, Robert Mugabe, pulls the same stunt at age 85 to justify clinging to power.

      The new-breed dictators are trying to sell the same old snake oil in a new bottle to Africans. But no one is fooled by the sweet-talking, iron-fisted new breed dictators who try to put a kinder and gentler face on their dictatorship, brutality and corruption. They should spare us their empty promises and hypocritical moral pontificating. For half a century, Africans have been told democracy requires sacrifices and pain; they must look inwards to their village communities, traditional elders and consensus dialogue to find the answers. Africans don’t want to hear that democracy takes time and they must wait, and wait, and wait as the new breed of dictators pick the continent clean right down to its bare bones. Africans want Africa no longer to be the world’s cesspool of corruption, criminality and cruelty.

      The fact of the matter is that there is no such thing as democracy before democracy. There could be either democracy or one-man, one-party dictatorships in Africa. We all know exactly what the latter means. The only question is how best to implement constitutional multiparty systems in Africa. On this question, there may be an ironic twist of history. As Ghana was the original model of the one-man, one-party state in Africa, Ghana today could be the model of constitutional multiparty democracy in Africa.

      As I have argued previously – in Abugida Ethiopian American Information and Ethiopia Media Forum – Ghana today has a functioning, competitive, multiparty political system guided by its constitution. Article 55 guarantees that ‘every citizen of Ghana of voting age has the right to join a political party’. Political parties are free to organise and ‘disseminate information on political ideas, social and economic programmes of a national character’. But tribal and ethnic parties are illegal in Ghana under Article 55 (4). This is the key to Ghana’s political success. The Ghanaians also have an independent electoral commission, which ensures the integrity of the electoral process and, under Article 46, that it is an institution ‘not subject to the direction or control of any person or authority’. Ghanaians enjoy a panoply of political, civil, economic, social and cultural rights. In 2008, Ghana (with a population of 23 million) ranked 31 out of 173 countries worldwide on the World Press Freedom Index. In contrast Ethiopia (with a population of 80 million) ranked 142 out of 173. There are more than 133 private newspapers, 110 FM radio stations and two state-owned dailies. Ghanaians express their opinions without fear of government retaliation. The rule of law is upheld and the government follows and respects the constitution. Ghana has an independent judiciary, which is vital to the observance of the rule of law and protection of civil liberties. Political leaders and public officials abide by the rulings and decisions of the courts and other fact-finding inquiry commissions. Ghana is certainly not a utopia, but it is positive proof that multiparty constitutional democracy can and will work in Africa.

      Africa’s and Ethiopia’s future in the 21st ‘brave new globalised century’ lie in genuine multiparty democracy, not in recycled one-man, one-party, pie-in-the-sky-promising dictatorships. Poverty, ethnic conflict, illiteracy and all of the other social ills will continue to haunt Africa for decades to come. Dealing effectively with these issues cannot be left to the failed-beyond-a-shadow-of-doubt, one-man, one-party dictatorships. If Africa is to be saved from total collapse, its ordinary people must be fully empowered in an open, pluralistic and competitive multiparty political process. For those who have any doubts about Ethiopia’s readiness for genuine multiparty democracy, let them look at the facts of the 2005 election: 26 million eligible Ethiopians were registered to vote in that election out of a population of 74 million. A stunning 90 per cent of the 26 million actually voted. No more one-man, one-party dictatorships in Africa. Genuine multiparty democracy now!


      * Alemayehu G. Mariam is 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.

      Stop 'mutilation' of Kenya's constitution

      Yash Ghai


      As the Kenya Parliamentary Select Committee conducts its review of a revised draft of the country’s constitution, Yash Ghai reminds the committee that its role is to ‘resolve contentious issues’ in the document, not to determine them.

      The Kenya Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) has started its review of the revised harmonised draft (RHDC), with gusto, by slashing some valuable provisions. One member said, even before the PSC had received the RHDC, that it intended to ‘mutilate’ the draft. Perhaps in its enthusiasm, the PSC forgot the limits of its mandate. The mandate is to resolve contentious issues. What are contentious issues is to be determined by the Committee of Experts (CoE), which identified three – the executive, devolution and transitional measures, after requisite consultation with the public. These had become contentious primarily because of differences among politicians and it was considered (incorrectly in my view) that consensus among politicians was necessary to resolve them. The PSC cannot re-open other provisions in the RHDC. The provisions that the PSC has already deleted, and some others that seem to be doomed, have appeared in the Constitution of Kenya Review Commission (CKRC) draft, Bomas, Wako draft and the CoE drafts, with the endorsement of Kenyans.

      An issue does not become contentious merely because a majority of the 27 members of the PSC does not like it. As it seems, they do not like human rights, such as the equal rights of women with men in marriage. Nor do they like gay marriages, and even though the RHDC explicitly prohibits gay marriages, the PSC has removed the general right to found a family (enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and sanctified by all major religions) lest it become the backdoor to gay marriages. Pray how? These legislators must explain how any reasonable person could reach this conclusion.

      Nor does the PSC like socio-economic rights, such as access to clear water, health, education, food and shelter. They say such rights are not enforceable –despite considerable evidence to the contrary. South Africa, Ireland, India and several Latin American states have enforced these rights without any jurisprudential difficulties – and despite the very careful and circumspect manner in which the RHDC has framed them. MPs who regularly, almost ritualistically vote themselves huge annual increases in salary and perks, have the audacity to withhold from millions of Kenyans the basic material needs without which they can experience little of human dignity.

      The PSC is reported to have removed the Human Rights and Gender Commission, and weakened the procedure for the enforcement of rights (while using the lack of enforcement as an excuse to delete rights). It is well known that some key members of the PSC have reason to detest the integrity and fearlessness with which the National Human Rights Commission has discharged its onerous tasks. Indeed some of them have gone to court to ‘nullify’ some of its findings inconvenient to them. Its funding has also been slashed in order to intimidate it. To say that there is already legislation on the commission is disingenuous, for they well know that without constitutional protection, it can be ‘mutilated’ or even removed altogether.

      The diminution of the value and status of rights is a serious indictment of the PSC. Accompanying this is its contempt for civil society, and the people in general. Provisions guaranteeing the role of civil society in political and state affairs have been deleted. They forget that but for the struggles for human rights and democracy that civil society waged, at great personal cost to its activists, we might still be in the dark age of one-party oppression. Procedures for participation of the people in law making – common in numerous countries – have also been removed, by people who claim the mandate of the people as they go about their hatchet job.

      Some of these deletions are justified on the ground that the draft is too long. What is the problem with a lengthy constitution? Undoubtedly redundancy or excessive detail should be avoided. But as we build trust in state institutions; fight the campaign to eradicate corruption; balance national identity with ethnic and religious identities; establish public accountability; ensure fairness in administration and provide an effective framework for the protection of our environment the creation of institutions of democracy, the question of length is banal, and an evasion of the responsibilities of constitution makers.

      Kenyans have long been fearful as to what would happen when the draft goes to politicians. Through the years when they struggled for the reform of our political and state, politicians stood in their way, even before the days of the Inter-Parties Parliamentary Group (IPPG). They are afraid that we are now once again witnessing the hijacking of reform, after all the efforts and commitment of the people. Politicians need to be reminded that they have no special purchase on the constitution making process. The constitution belongs to the people; it expresses their sovereignty. The PSC must stop this mutilation. Let people not have to choose between the current constitution that has served us poorly and a newly fashioned draft, from which all humanistic considerations have been deleted, in the interests of the privileged classes.


      * Yash Ghai is a professor of constitutional law. He is the head of the Constitution Advisory Support Unit of the United Nations Development Programme in Nepal and a special representative of the UN secretary general in Cambodia on human rights.
      * Please send comments to [email protected] or comment online at Pambazuka News.

      ANC shareholdings present conflict of interest

      William Gumede


      cc Wikimedia Commons
      From whichever angle you look at, it is simply wrong for a governing political party to own shares in a commercial company, let alone when such a company bids for government tenders, writes William Gumede.

      What is happening to South Africa’s African National Congress (ANC) and its leadership? There can be no doubt that for a ruling party to be a shareholder in a private company that tenders for state contracts represents a clear conflict of interest.

      The ANC has a financial arm, Chancellor House, which owns a 25 per cent stake in Hitachi Power Africa. Hitachi has been awarded a contract by Eskom, the electricity utility, to supply and install boilers for power stations.

      The ANC’s stake in the deal through Chancellor House was estimated in 2008 to be ZAR5.8 billion. For the sake of transparency, accountability and clean governance there has to be a firewall between the ruling political party and its leaders on the one hand, and state and private companies, on the other.

      It is hardly unlikely that when a company that is partially owned by the ANC is bidding for a government or parastatal tender, that such a company will not be awarded the contract. Soon after the ANC’s national conference in December 2007, then newly minted party treasurer Mathews Phosa promised, as part of a post-Polokwane spring-cleaning, to disinvest the party’s shares in Hitachi. This has not happened. The ANC must do so, and it must close down Chancellor House.

      Good ruling parties govern in the broadest public interest. Private companies have a narrow motive – that of expressly securing a profit for their shareholders. They rarely work for the benefit of the public interest. It would be a shame if the ANC leadership governs in a way that maximises its profits in its investments, rather than maximising the prosperity of the whole of SA Inc.

      If the party is a major shareholder in Hitachi, how can one be certain that the ANC leadership applied their minds objectively in the proposed 35 per cent tariff hike proposed by Eskom? The tariff increase is likely to hit the struggling economy, families and businesses at the worst possible moment. Ultimately, ordinary black South Africans – the ANC’s bedrock constituency, are going to suffer the hardest.

      To get our economy back on an even keel demands tough choices, difficult trade-offs and decisions. Some of these will no doubt be very painful. Knowing such decisions are taken with the best long-term interests of the country at heart, rather than for the profit of a few individuals, make such choices more palatable.

      Similarly, to award state contracts for critical services to black economic empowerment (BEE) companies on the basis of their owners’ political connections or liberal donations to the ANC, while knowing that they do not have the capacity to delivery, and so again robbing the poor of ‘a better life’, is equally wrong.

      Similarly, it is unacceptable that state-owned companies disburse finance or tenders to businesses linked to their own board directors. It is just silly for someone to say when the decision was made, ‘I recused myself from the meeting where the decision was made’. Neither is it enough for state-owned companies to say they have disclosed such transactions in annual reports. The point is: If your friends and comrades are on the board that will make the decision to award a tender to your company, you do not need to be physically there.

      Ultimately, we also need to bring greater transparency to the funding of political parties. Knowing which companies or individuals have donated to the ANC, Democratic Alliance (DA) or Congress of the People (COPE), is almost the only way to know whether they have secured their tenders solely on the basis of this, rather than merit.

      Almost every African liberation and independence movement lost the plot when they, or individual leaders, started to dabble in business, securing state tenders and contracts, trying to make profit, for themselves or the party leadership, rather than at all times governing in the broadest public interest.


      * This article first appeared in the Sowetan.
      * William Gumede is co-editor (with Leslie Dikeni) of recently released The Poverty of Ideas.

      Comment & analysis

      Pan-African solidarity with Haiti: Press release


      South African CIVICUS [the World Alliance for Citizen Participation], and its partners have announced the launch of the ‘Africa for Haiti’ campaign aimed at rebuilding Haiti in solidarity. The press statement, issued on 22 January 2010, states that ‘The objective of this campaign is not to provide immediate relief but rather to contribute toward the medium to long-term reconstruction of communities in Haiti.’ The press statement is accompanied by supporting statements for the campaign from Archbishops Desmond Tutu, Njongonkulu Ndungane, Malusi Mpumlwana, Thabo Makgoba, and businessman Stanley Subramony.

      The earthquake that recently struck Haiti has caused unprecedented devastation and suffering to the country and its people. Wednesday’s aftershock aggravated an already grave humanitarian crisis.

      Across Africa, governments, churches, businesses and civil society leaders are mobilising support for the people of Haiti. In South Africa, CIVICUS [the World Alliance for Citizen Participation] and its partners – African Monitor, TrustAfrica, the Southern Africa Trust, Charity Aid Foundation (CAF) Southern Africa, the South African Red Cross Society, the National Welfare Forum, and Ivan May through 1485 Radio Today on 1484 AM in Jozi and through SADC (also DStv 169), the Synergos Institute, the NEPAD Business Foundation and the African Women’s Foresight Network – have agreed to join what is known as the ‘Africa for Haiti Campaign’ and to help in co-ordinating efforts.

      The campaign has the support of churches, businesses and civil society leaders including Mrs Graça Machel, Archbishops Desmond Tutu, Njongonkulu Ndungane, Malusi Mpumlwana, Thabo Makgoba, and businessmen Trevor Ncube and Reuel Khoza.

      The Nelson Mandela Foundation hosted a press conference at its offices in Houghton on 22 January where more details were provided about the ‘Africa for Haiti’ Campaign.

      The ‘Africa for Haiti’ campaign will identify, in partnership with Haitian civil society organizations, initiatives in which it can assist. It also hopes to provide Africans from all walks of life an opportunity to demonstrate their collective solidarity and support for the people of Haiti thereby uniting Africans in compassion and giving.

      Addressing the press conference Mrs Machel suggested that the ‘Africa for Haiti’ campaign focuses its efforts on reconstruction in Haiti. The objective of this campaign is not to provide immediate relief but rather to contribute toward the medium to long-term reconstruction of communities in Haiti. As a result, it is estimated that fundraising for this campaign may continue for six months.
      The campaign also aims to unite individuals, NGOs and corporations across Africa behind this cause, by disseminating information and enlisting support from their extensive networks.


      Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu:

      ‘We were supported wonderfully by the international community when we struggled against the vicious policy of apartheid. Today the people of Haiti, struck twice by the earthquake, are in a worse predicament than we were. As South Africans, we especially cannot but want to do our bit to alleviate the immense suffering of our sisters and brothers in Haiti. I welcome the initiative by Graça Machel and others. It deserves our wholehearted and very generous support.’

      Archbishop Njongonkulu Ndungane:

      ‘Haiti’s worst earthquake that struck the Western Hemisphere’s poorest country on the 12th of January brought sadness and shock. As the people of Africa, we identify with and feel for the people of Haiti, particularly because of our own experience of the devastation of poverty. We comprehend that this earthquake has exacerbated an already desperate situation. When a brother or sister is in need, it is incumbent upon all of us to pool our resources to assist. The African Monitor family and I are solidly behind the ‘Africa for Haiti’ initiative, which seeks to assist the people of Haiti to recover from the destruction and devastation left by the earthquake. As Africa, we have been recipients of help in our time of need and we appreciate how this can alleviate desperate situations. Our continent can also make a big contribution towards restoring Haitian people through inner healing of hearts and memories for the traumatised people. This given that notwithstanding our own psychologically devastating past, we have picked up the pieces, healed and moved forward. I, therefore, appeal to Africans from all walks of life to take this as a call to action and an opportunity to verify to ourselves how we are people with proven love, compassion and sensitivity, particularly in times of need.’

      Archbishop Thabo Makgoba, Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town:

      ‘I am glad to give my wholehearted support to this important initiative. Across the continent of Africa over the years, so many of us have been the recipients of all manner of aid and support through many differing circumstances of need. Now it is Africa's turn to stand in solidarity with the country and people of Haiti, and offer whatever assistance lies within our ability, in the aftermath of the devastating earthquakes. In South Africa earlier this week, church leaders from across the Christian spectrum joined in calling for a generous response to this suffering which we can only begin to imagine, and we welcomed the commitments that our own government is making, alongside the growing help from individuals and organisations. Yet we can and must do far, far more. Now is the time for all Africans to join in helping these brothers and sisters of ours within the human family. We urge our political leaders not to be slow in joining the tide of compassion in response to this disaster. We too can show love and care, not only in words, but in providing financial and practical help, in sharing resources and expertise, especially in the challenging times of reconstruction that lie ahead. We look, therefore, to the African Union Summit to express what it means truly to be 'Africans for Haiti'. One of the great riches of Africa is the spirit of ubuntu — the spirit that says 'a person is a person through other persons'. Now is the time to demonstrate our humanity through selfless generosity and tangible action. It is, therefore, my prayer that the summit will have the courage and conviction to make specific and significant commitments, which are then swiftly and effectively implemented. And in this way, may God in his mercy use us as a channel of blessing and love to those who stand in such great need at this time. Amen.’

      Stanley Subramony, NEPAD Business Foundation:

      ‘It is time for Africa to play a meaningful role in assisting Haiti to rebuild its economic infrastructure. Support in industry, trade and agriculture will be central to the recovery and renewal of the Haitian nation. The tenacity and resourcefulness of the African people will be invaluable in creating a sustainable impact. This is indeed a difficult time for the people of Haiti but it is a time to face down adversity and proclaim that together with the rest of the world they will overcome these enormous challenges and rise to being a proud nation.’


      * To find out more on the ‘Africa for Haiti’ campaign or to make a donation visit
      * Please send comments to [email protected] or comment online at Pambazuka News.

      Health for Haiti

      International Association of Health Policy and Federación de Asociaciones para la Defensa de la Sanidad Pública


      The following is joint statement by the International Association of Health Policy and the Federación de Asociaciones para la Defensa de la Sanidad Pública calling on international health organisations to ethically establish proper social and healthcare systems for the people of Haiti.

      The International Association of Health Policy (IAHP) and the Federación de Asociaciones para la Defensa de la Sanidad Pública deeply regret the catastrophe that the people of Haiti are suffering at present as a consequence of the recent earthquake.

      The country’s social and health conditions before the earthquake were already below minimal standards, with most people living in extreme poverty and suffering endemic diseases related to malnutrition with the absence of minimal hygiene, healthcare structures and public health. These circumstances for centuries have led to one of the lowest life expectancies in the world.

      The powerful countries, such as the USA, have for years forsaken and even directly influenced the domestic politics of Haiti, highly contributing to this condition. The ‘generous’ aid given by neoliberal international institutions, such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, has also contributed. Even under the present circumstances they dare to offer loans with interest to a country that, for several years, has been in absolute bankruptcy. Haiti is a dramatic example of how neoliberal globalisation strongly impairs the health conditions of the poorest populations.

      The situation has been strongly worsened by the devastating earthquake, which has led to a total collapse of essential services in Haiti. It is foreseeable that, as the days pass, the country will be once more forsaken, as has been the case in the past with different human catastrophes in poor countries. Nevertheless, it is imperative to demand that the country should be rebuilt under policies based on social and economical justice that establish social and healthcare systems which are able to protect and cover the whole of the population. This system must also be able to respond to any new crises in the future. Rebuilding Haiti should not be an excuse for immoral business or for another episode of social exclusion.

      From the IAHP we appeal to the international health organisations, particularly to the World Health Organisation, to organise permanent plans to help Haiti without imposing any type of debt. These plans should contribute to the reconstruction of the country and to establishing a public health service that allows for all the citizens of this now devastated country to be treated efficiently and with dignity in the future.


      * The International Association of Health Policy (IAHP) is an international network of scholars, health workers and activists with the aim of promoting the scientific analysis of public health issues and a forum for international comparisons and debate on health policy issues.
      * The website of the Federación de Asociaciones para la Defensa de la Sanidad Pública can be found here.
      * Please send comments to [email protected] or comment online at Pambazuka News.

      Final declaration of the extraordinary meeting of the political council of the ALBA, 25 January 2010


      cc ¡Que comunismo!
      The following is the full text of the final declaration of last Monday's meeting at the Miraflores Palace between Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez, Prime Minister of the Commonwealth of Dominica Roosevelt Skerrit and the foreign ministers of the member countries of the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA).

      The member countries of the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America- Treaty of Commerce of the People (ALBA-TCP), an extraordinary meeting in Caracas, Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, are concerned about the grave situation in the sister Caribbean nation of Haiti.

      The countries of ALBA-TCP expressed their solidarity with the brotherly people and government of Haiti, and again expressed their deepest condolences for the loss of human lives resulting from the earthquake on Tuesday 12 January 2010.

      They stressed that efforts to rebuild Haiti must have the people and government of that country as the principal protagonists, respecting the principles of sovereignty and territorial integrity, as well as the broader, equitable, participatory and transparent joint work of the international community in the reconstruction of Haiti.

      They stressed the central role of coordination, harmonisation and management control, which corresponds to the Organisation of the United Nations in the international cooperative effort to address the emergency in Haiti and help rebuild and promote the development of that sister nation.

      They expressed concern over the excessive presence of foreign military forces in Haiti, with no reasons justifying precision and without her authority, purposes, responsibilities and length of stay, which threatens to further complicate the conditions on the ground and the realisation of the international cooperation.

      They approved the comprehensive ALBA project for emergency relief, rehabilitation and reconstruction of Haiti in the area of health, bringing together the efforts of countries of ALBA-TCP and leveraging the experience of cooperation with that country and conditions already established in the ground. This project provides the assurance from the viewpoint of logistics, infrastructure, transportation, technical support and supply.

      They agreed to send a high-level representation of the ALBA-TCP to hold a meeting with President René Préval, to move the willing cooperation of the NATO countries and propose the Comprehensive Cooperation Project, within which the area of health will be the central element.

      They confirmed the willingness of the ALBA-TCP to cooperate with other countries and groupings of countries in a position to help, always with a view to alleviating the situation of the Haitian people and contribute to their development requirements.

      They instructed the Bank of ALBA to establish the Humanitarian Fund of the ALBA-TCP for Haiti, which will be formed from contributions from member countries of the alliance.

      They revived plans to support the generation of electricity, ensuring all the necessary fuel supply to plants in Cape Haitian, Gonaives and Carrefour, as well as continued support through PETROCARIBE energy.

      They deployed a plan calling for priority attention to children, which combines educational infrastructure rehabilitation in Haiti and food aid programmes, school equipment and teacher training.

      They agreed to supply food to ease the crisis triggered by the collapse of production networks and distribution of food, caused by the earthquake, as well as revitalise and strengthen the food production plans that were being implemented within the framework of the ALBA Food.

      They considered a possible amnesty to regularise the immigration status of Haitians living in the countries of ALBA-TCP.

      They called in specialists from each of our countries to formulate their recommendations on the approach of a reconstruction plan in line with the actual capacity of the ALBA countries and with the deepest needs in the field, a plan for demolition and reconstruction.

      They agreed to utilise the logistical capacity of the CITGO oil company in the United States, for the acquisition and transfer to Haiti of inputs, materials and specialised equipment needed for the reconstruction plans, given the collapse of Haitian ports and geographical proximity of operational bases of this subsidiary of PDVSA.

      In Caracas, Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela on the 25th day of January 2010.


      * ALBA is an international cooperation organisation based on the idea of social, political, and economic integration between Latin American and Caribbean countries. The agreement was proposed as an alternative to the US proposed Free Trade Area of the Americas.
      * Please send comments to [email protected] or comment online at Pambazuka News.

      The social barriers to sustainability

      To avert climate change, we must outlaw inequality

      Bob Hughes


      cc kk+
      The modern global economy doesn’t just run on fossil fuels, writes Bob Hughes, it primarily driven by social and economic inequality. But as a growing number of studies suggests that this inequality also has a heavy environmental cost, Hughes argues that ‘a world without inequality is not just desirable, it is necessary, and urgently’.

      The modern global economy doesn’t just run on fossil fuels; above all, it runs on inequality: The principle that some people are worth more than others, while yet others are worthless. And an ever-growing mountain of evidence indicts inequality as the real driving force behind all the harms, and more, that have finally led to climate change. A world without inequality is not just desirable, it is necessary, and urgently. And it can be achieved. Outlaw inequality, and the emissions will fall away, as the pressure of the market’s hidden foot begins to ease off the accelerator.

      Inequality has recently ceased to be ‘just’ a moral issue: Hard data are appearing, in ever-greater abundance and coherence, on its material effects. The best-known of these, so far, are its health-effects within more-developed countries (not between countries – but we will come to that). Life in an unequal country, or region, is shorter and nastier than life in a more-equal one. In the USA (the world’s most unequal rich country), being among the least-wealthy 20 per cent takes 14 years off your life and diminishes its quality in ways that go too deep and wide to quantify. In Britain the penalty for being in that lower fifth is 7.5 years. In Oxford the penalty is 5.5 years. And it affects everyone: Even the rich die slightly younger, and lead slightly worse lives, in highly-unequal USA and UK than in more-equal Sweden or Japan. Knowing this means that anyone who tolerates inequality must now accept full responsibility for other people’s misery, illness and early death.[1]

      What is less widely discussed, so far, is the environmental cost of all this inequality. Here are some indicative findings:

      – Inequalities are far more costly, in environmental terms, than income-differences alone might predict. For example an Oxford University study in 2006 found that 61 per cent of all travel emissions came from individuals in the top 20 per cent (those earning £40,000 a year or more), while only 1 per cent of emissions came from those in the bottom 20 per cent (with incomes up to £10,000)[2]. Sheffield University’s Danny Dorling reckons that:

      ‘…it is almost certainly an underestimate to claim that the richest tenth of the world's population have a greater negative environmental impact than all the rest put together. [...] And, of the richest 10th of the world's population, the richest 10th consume more, even than the other half a billion or so affluent.’[3]

      This extraordinarily disproportionate impact is explained not by their wealth per se, but their wealth relative to the rest of the population. The whole idea of ‘wealth’ becomes disastrously skewed in an unequal society, as we will see below.
      - Rich countries generally have far greater ecological impacts than do poorer ones – but a country’s impact may not relate so much to its wealth, as to its wealth-inequality. The WWF’s 2008 Living Planet Report showed that the two countries with the greatest per-capita ecological impact were the United Arab Emirates and the USA, with ecological footprints, respectively, of 9.5 and 9.4 global hectares (Gha) per citizen in 2005, compared to a sustainable footprint of just 2.1 GHa. If wealth is defined in terms of human wellbeing and development, then this need not carry any ecological price at all, as shown by highly egalitarian Cuba, which had a footprint of just 1.8 Gha, and is even regenerating forests that were destroyed in the earliest days of imperialism. In 2006, Cuba was the only country to achieve both sustainability, and good-quality lives for its people (as measured by the UN’s Human Development Index – HDI – included in the WWF’s 2006 report). Some countries that are almost as wealthy in crude terms as the UAE and USA, but which are more equal, have nowhere near the ecological impact. Rich nations are deceptive units of comparison because they do less and less productive work, especially the dirty work, within their own borders. But even so, a striking relationship is observable – see Appendix 1.

      - In the USA, a strong relationship has been established between inequality and environmental degradation. A 1999 study by James K. Boyce at the University of Massachusetts found that more-unequal states (like Tennessee, Alabama and Mississippi) had several times more, and worse, pollution, and weaker environmental laws, than more-equal states (like Minnesota, Maine and Wisconsin)[4]. These are also the states where other ill-effects of inequality are most prevalent: From exposure to crime, to infant mortality, to suicide, to the chances of being incarcerated, to the chances of being washed out of your home by a passing hurricane.

      - Human impact grows when inequality grows, globally and within nations.[5] IPCC figures show that atmospheric CO2 equivalents increased more than twice as fast during 1995-2004 (the first ten years of the World Trade Organisation’s existence, when the brakes really came off neoliberal growth and world-wide inequality soared) as during 1970-1994.

      - The same pattern even appears in the archaeological and historical record. The first evidence of environmental degradation due to human activity is associated not with agriculture as such (as was widely assumed) but with the emergence some thousands of years later of intensely unequal, aristocratic societies in the Eastern Mediterranean around 5,000 years ago. The same sites also yield evidence of the human health problems associated with inequality: ‘the ordinary people have five times more dental lesions than their ruler and are up to 4 percent shorter. An average Bronze Age male farmer from the eastern Mediterranean would stand 167cm (five feet six inches); 6 cm shorter than his ruler and 10cm shorter than his hunting ancestors’.[6] This pattern of inequality, depletion of natural resources and human immiseration is the leitmotif of early-modern European history, reflecting the course of feudalism, helping explain the rise of capitalism itself in Northern Italy and the Low Countries, and culminating in the spectacular exodus of the European poor to the Americas and Australasia in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.[7] By 1914, the average British conscript was 5 inches (12.7 cm) shorter than his officer.[8] Europeans have only regained their hunter-gatherer stature in the last two or three generations – but only thanks to cheap fossil fuels and intensified exploitation of the rest of the world.

      This knowledge is new, and political dynamite for anyone with the courage to use it. The epidemiological studies (by the likes of Michael Marmot and Richard Wilkinson) only began in earnest in the 1970s; the archaeological evidence only began to emerge in the 1980s, so it is little wonder if the penny has taken a little while to drop among the broader community – especially when one reflects on how deeply and forcefully we have all been acculturated, over scores of generations, to accept inequality (with even militant trades unions setting their sights no higher than retention of relatively low-paid, unpleasant jobs, instead of demanding control of the work by workers themselves, and a fair share of the vast wealth produced).

      How does this damage happen?


      Inequality does its work in two ways – first, by the ‘emulative consumption’ described more than a hundred years ago by Thorstein Veblen in his Theory of the Leisure Class (1899 – not to mention by Adam Smith himself in 1759, in his Theory of the Moral Sentiments). In a unequal world, says Veblen, life becomes above all a battle for respect and to avoid ‘invidious comparisons’; ‘everyday life is an unremitting demonstration of the ability to pay’. Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett chart in detail its effects on health and to some extent on the environment in their recent book The Spirit Level: Why more equal societies almost always do better (2009). Le Monde’s environmental editor, Hervé Kempf, delivers a blistering account of it in How the Rich are Destroying the Earth (2008), and draws links between rising inequality and state violence and erosion of democratic rights. The rich not only spur each other on in their extraordinary feats of overconsumption, but also transform consumption all the way down the social pecking-order, turning whole societies into high-performance planet-trashing machines, as everyone is drawn into an intensifying struggle for ever-more fragile respect (and self-respect): From the billionaire who needs apartments in London, Paris and New York and a yacht with a helipad just to keep face with his peers; to the working-class families that must spend more than they can afford on a car that makes them look wealthier than they are, lest they be seen as ‘losers’; to their children, terrified of the scorn awaiting them should they turn up to school in the wrong trainers.


      Whereas emulative consumption is driven by frail human psychology, ‘positional consumption’ is 100 per cent material: Forced on us by factors that physically shape our lives. It was first described by British economist Fred Hirsch in Social Limits to Growth (1977). ‘Positional goods’ are ones whose value is reduced, or which cease to be luxuries and become necessities, if others have them too. Hirsch’s analogy is standing at a football match to get a better view; if everybody does it, nobody is any better off. Country cottages and ‘unspoiled Greek islands’ are classic positional goods, whose pursuit blights entire countries with terrifying speed. With private cars, positionality has become a central fact of life: Once enough people are using them, they become obligatory; and anyone who wants to continue leading a ‘normal life’ must find the money to play a game whose ante is continuously being raised. Likewise private schools and private healthcare: The more others use them, the more (and the more urgent) reason there is for you to use them too, or be left behind. Which is very good for GNP (the whole neoliberal project can be seen as one of turning as many goods as possible into positional goods) but of diminishing benefit to anyone or anything else. As Danny Dorling has observed, the English city of Bristol spends vastly more money on secondary education than does similar-sized Sheffield, because it has an extraordinary number of private secondary schools. Sheffield has hardly any. Yet both cities send almost identical numbers of children to university.

      Actually, to call these things ‘private’ is misleading: They have massive public impacts. A ‘private estate’ dominates and diminishes the lives of everyone it excludes, or who even tries to conduct their life in its vicinity. Private helicopters intrude on the lives of millions (and especially in hotspots of inequality like Sao Paulo, which has more private helicopters than Manhattan). These things are unlike genuinely private goods (such as a meal, decent clothing, or a good night’s sleep, whose enjoyment affects only the person enjoying them).

      Hirsch observes that even good A-levels are ‘positional goods’ when the supply of nice jobs (doctor, lawyer etc.) is restricted: Having straight As becomes no longer adequate; A-stars are needed, plus interesting extra-curricular accomplishments. And the education that provides these good things becomes positional, especially when it is dominated by an elite, private sector. Hence the Bristol taxi-driver who works double shifts from the time his daughter is two years old, to get her into and through one of that city’s five elite, private-sector all-girls schools – adding 2 extra tonnes of CO2 to the atmosphere every year[9], and wearing himself out. He is not necessarily driven by crude ambition, but by fear for his daughter if she has to go the disparaged, local, state secondary school.

      But being a doctor should not be a prize for which people fight each other: The more good doctors, the better, surely, and this is the approach taken in Cuba. There, doctors come to you rather than you to them. Their carbon footprints are about the same size as everyone else’s. They are not a species of aristocracy, as elsewhere, yet the profession still has no difficulty attracting recruits – and Cuba achieves almost the same health outcomes as the USA, for one twentieth of the expenditure. (Which while bad for GNP is good for the planet).

      Housing is possibly the most ridiculous positional ‘good’ of all. As Danny Dorling puts it: ‘In a more unequal society, everyone is less free to choose where they live’[10]. His 2007 Joseph Rowntree Foundation study ‘Poverty, Wealth and Place in Britain, 1968 to 2005’ showed how hard the ‘exclusive rich’ must now compete for diminishing numbers of desirable locations and to avoid undesirable ones, at huge and ramified energy cost throughout society: Extra hours must be worked to secure the same amount of housing (two salaries instead of one); extra journeys must be made as ‘islands’ of respectability and safety become smaller and more isolated. As the despised interstices of respectable society atrophy and become unproductive, more and more resources are sucked in from beyond the national borders. Hence foreign wars, intensified exploitation and corruption of resource-blighted countries, and ever stiffer, more militarised national borders. Parallels can be drawn between NATO’s beleaguered garrisons in Afghanistan, and Britain’s wealthiest 1 per cent: Both groups need increasingly to travel by helicopter. (And in Sao Paulo, the risk of kidnap makes the helicopter almost compulsory).

      Yet it is easy to see how housing becomes a public good if no house is allowed to be built that does not enrich its surroundings. This is how houses were once built (and the rich have snaffled most of the surviving specimens as charming rural hideaways). Such houses could be built again, starting tomorrow. But not by any market, only by people.

      Instead, in the unequal countries (and even more so, on this increasingly unequal planet), work of all kinds has been relocated, increasingly, to suit the rich.

      Within the national borders, this means more time must be spent in cars, a need for more reliable and safer cars, leading for example to a 20 per cent increase in the size of automobiles in the USA since 1985[11]; plus a vast increase in their numbers and a tripling of commuting time between 1983 and 2003. For an illustration of how this happens in the UK, see Appendix 2.

      Globally it means more migration: People must live, and to help them do that the bravest and ablest embark on trials and journeys that out-Odyssey Odysseus a million times over, every single day, wherever there are borders between rich and poor. Internationally there are thought to be about 300 million of them (and this does not include the hundreds of millions of ‘internal’ migrants, especially within China). They are the ‘dark matter’ of the neoliberal universe, without which no budget would ever balance; its ‘ragged-trousered philanthropists’, working almost for nothing (and often actually for nothing), doing the work the rich countries’ own paupers have been priced out of by the crippling costs of living. There are three-quarters of a million illegalised migrants in Britain alone, trapped here to a greater or lesser extent by the draconian anti-immigrant laws that made them illegal, and which have led to a lucrative revival throughout the UK of slavery, debt-bondage and death through overwork[12] – not to mention the increasingly acceptable racism that keeps the whole system going.


      In Hirsch’s analysis, positionality supercedes older and more limited notions of private and public wealth, and embraces Ruskin’s useful but hitherto ignored idea of ‘illth’[13]. The opposite of a positional good might be either a public good, which enriches everyone’s life, whoever it belongs to, or a private good, whose consumption is an entirely private matter, affecting nobody else. Warm clothes, decent food, leisure, creative activities and personal relationships come into that category, but most of what we currently call ‘private wealth’ certainly does not (see above). The industrial ‘private sector’ generally is anything but. And as for the private press and privately-owned media, these are nothing less than assaults on the public realm by private interests intent on controlling it.

      Clean water, a beautiful garden, a good sense of humour, or any skill you like to name, are or could be public goods. Public transport, housing, libraries, theatres, cafés, parks and schools of all kinds are clearly public goods – and the planet and its people need more of them. But there has never been an economic policy informed by this concept of maximising public good while eliminating the positional, and we need one now.

      Above all we need to reduce inequality because this, ipso facto, means less competitive and less positional consumption – and less of almost any type of morbidity you care to name, from homicide to obesity. We can do this rapidly when we want to:The UK government did it during World War II with great popular support – consumption fell to a fraction of its peacetime level, yet public health made its greatest advance of any period in British history.[14] Central to this project is the removal of all borders that, instead of properly defining zones of responsibility, have come instead to separate an ‘us’ from a ‘them’. The obscenity of EU and US border fortifications against the world’s poor, and the cancerous network of agencies and commercial interests serving them, is a terminal symptom of the divisive malaise the societies they pretend to protect have harboured for far too long: The divisions of class.


      Climate change is a social justice issue, but till now it has been presented as a problem of collective guilt. ‘We’ must repent and mend our ways. It spreads the blame in a way that mocks democracy, pretending that the poor and the rich are somehow equally responsible. Meanwhile the real crime – the very existence of rich and poor – continues to create havoc. There are powerful interests who are quite content if social justice stays out of the climate change debate and no doubt will fight tooth and nail to keep it out. There are also climate change activists who care nothing about their fellow-humans’ rights, let alone their happiness – but they had better start taking an interest in them, because until the grievous infringements of dignity most of humanity endures are addressed there will be no civilised end to the climate debate. But when people’s sense of injustice is engaged, mountains can be moved, and fast.

      - It links personal reality to global reality.
      - It speaks to the sense of social justice which we all share, and shows that it is relevant. It appeals to our desire for solidarity and hatred of injustice; not just personal guilt.
      - It opens up and informs a wealth of opportunities for action and engagement – wherever the poor are abused by the rich.


      * This article first appeared in Dust or Magic.
      * Bob Hughes is a campaigner on human rights issues, and senior lecturer in publishing at Oxford Brookes University.
      * Please send comments to [email protected] or comment online at Pambazuka News.

      APPENDIX 1:

      Examining the 2006 WWF figures, Danny Dorling found that although some of the more-equal countries do not on the face of it look particularly virtuous, when one corrects for these countries’ biocapacities (the amount or real, usable land they have within their own borders) their eco-footprints begin to fall into rank, with ecological impact and inequality closely matched. I have added Gini coefficients (where I could find them) to a selection of countries. (The Gini figure rises with inequality.):

      TABLE 1


      Some of the most powerful mechanisms driving positional consumption seem to happen just outside peripheral vision. For example, in Britain, many banks and building societies (mutual financial organisations) moved their headquarters out of drab town centres to new, ‘prestigious’ out-of-town settings during the 1980s and 1990s (the word ‘prestigious’ became a stock-epithet in UK advertising copy during that period, reflecting the growing importance of status). This was partly straightforward Veblen-consumption (corporate status became more important as competition intensified as regulations were relaxed) and partly to accommodate the needs of an enlarged, motorised sales-force (in turn, the consequence of turning pensions into positional goods, as marketised private pensions were promoted in opposition to state and job-based pensions).

      In one case, which I witnessed in the early 1990s, the Nationwide Building Society moved its headquarters out of its old premises in the centre of the lacklustre West of England town of Swindon into a new, steel-and-glass atrium-style building, amid landscaped carparks, close by the motorway. This meant that several hundred low-paid and mainly female clerical, catering and ancillary staff could no longer travel to work easily by bus, or do family shopping in their lunch-hours. So, between 1994 and 1997 (when I worked there) Nationwide’s car parks gradually became fuller and fuller – mainly with fairly old cars. Executives complained that they were being filled up with ‘bangers’. Tennis courts and flower-beds were paved over to make way for them. Even so it became necessary to arrive at work earlier and earlier to be sure of getting a place. Low-paid staff had been coerced into the automobile economy, to play their part in the monstrous ramping-up of carbon emissions that marked that decade, with impacts that left no corner of the planet untouched.

      This local saga seems to have been part of a general trend: Oxford University’s Amanda Root has found that in the UK there was a 90 per cent increase in women with driving licences during the 1980s and 1990s; for the first time there were as many female drivers as men (there had been only half as many in 1975-6); but the women only drove one fifth as many miles as the men[15] – reflecting a type of car usage, and the low status that went with it, that I witnessed in Swindon.


      [1] See Kate Pickett and Richard Wilkinson ‘The Spirit Level: why more-equal societies almost always do better’ Penguin 2009; Richard Wilkinson ‘The Impact of Inequality’ (Routledge, 2005); Inequalities Are Unhealthy; Vicente Navarro; Monthly Review Volume 56, Number 2;; Oxford data from NHS Health Profile for Oxford, 2006
      [2] Travelling in the right direction: lessening our impact on the environment; Brand, Preston and Boardman (2006) Final Research Report to the ESRC:
      [3] Danny Dorling, personal communication 28/9/2007, citing and WWF Living Planet Report data. See also Dorling; ‘Injustice: why social inequality persists’, Policy Press, April 2010 (in press).
      [4] James K. Boyce: ‘Is inequality bad for the environment and bad for your health?’; DifferenTakes 8, Spring 2001; Population and Development Program at Hampshire College, Amherst.
      [5] ’The rate of growth of CO 2-eq emissions was much higher during the recent 10-year period of 1995-2004 (0.92 GtCO 2-eq per year) than during the previous period of 1970-1994 (0.43 GtCO 2-eq per year); (Climate Change 2007: Synthesis Report, IPCC)
      [6] Martin Jones; ‘Feast: why humans share food’, p. 248
      [7] The phenomenon of land-exhaustion in Europe since the tenth century is described and analysed by (e.g.) Fernand Braudel ‘Civilization and Capitalism 15th – 18th Century’ (1981); Immanuel Wallerstein ‘The modern world system’(1974); Catharina Lis and Hugo Soly, ‘Poverty and capitalism in pre-industrial Europe’ (1979). Bob Sutcliffe has estimated that: ‘from the early nineteenth century to the 1920s, more than 60 million Europeans migrated to America and Australasia, of shom 5.7 million went to Argentina, 5.6 million to Brazil, 6.6 million to Canada, and 36 million to the United States.’ (quoted by Teresa Hayter in ‘Open Borders: the case against immigration controls’, Pluto 2001)
      [8] Andrew Marr, ‘A History of Modern Britain’, Macmillan 2009.
      [9] Calculation based on a taxi driver using 10 litres of diesel/shift, producing 7.15 kg of Carbon. If he does this 5 days/week for 10 years (260 days/year = 2,600 days) he produces 2600*7.15 = 18,590 kg of carbon (18.59 tonnes) into the atmosphere. Carbon figures from
      [10] Danny Dorling, ‘The trouble with moving upmarket’; Guardian 18th July 2007.
      [11] ’Falling Behind: how rising inequality harms the middle class’, Richard Frank, University of California Press 2007. The weight of a Honda Accord (an average car) increased from 2500 pounds in 1985 to 3200 pounds in 2007.
      [12] For example as described by Hsiao-Hung Pai in ‘Chinese Whispers: the true story behind Britain’s hidden army of labour’, Penguin 2008. See also Rahila Gupta: ‘Enslaved: the new British slavery’, Portobello 2007; and Dan McDougall: ‘When I hear of girls working in London who swallow acid, I know it could have been me‘; Guardian 24/5/2009
      [13] Ruskin developed this idea in his influential essay, ‘Unto this last’ (1860)
      [14] Development as Freedom; Amartya Sen, OUP, 1999
      [15]’Transport and Communication’; Ch 13 of Twentieth Century Social Trends, ed Arthur Halsey and Jo Webb, 2000.

      Dear most honorable MP

      Paul Mwangi Maina


      Dear most honorable MP,
      When will it ever end?
      When will it stop, people are crying, dying,
      When will it stop?
      It’s been called disgusting,
      Yet it still continues,
      When will it stop?
      It’s hard to imagine,
      It can be justified,
      With all these problems,
      Stop it,
      Stop now,
      Stop the slaps on the face,
      The vomiting on the shoes,
      The cold heartedness,
      To the hungry, sick, poor,
      Of our nation,
      By constantly increasing your pay packages,
      And failing to pay tax,
      We are FED UP,
      And on a day soon to come,
      We will show you how much.


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

      Why the nation-state is wrong for Africa

      Amira Kheir


      cc Wikimedia Commons
      The development challenges African countries face stem from their use of an inappropriate governance structure, the nation-state, writes Amira Kheir. The nation-state is an inherited system that does not match the continent’s needs and potential, says Kheir, arguing instead for a state that functions as an administrative centre for legislation and organisation but that remains free from ‘fictitious affiliations’ to a larger identity.

      Conflict. Ethnic Cleansing. Scrambles for resources. Uncontrolled environmental degradation. Endemic corruption. Dependency. Failed States. Nearly 60 years since the first African countries declared independence (Sudan 1956, followed by Ghana 1958), the continent continues on many fronts to be in a state of arrested development. We seem to be caught in a perennial deadlock of human progress, due to ineffective institutions and an inherent inability to circumvent them. Will this be Africa’s predicament in 2010?

      Perhaps it is time we re-examine the dilemma of African statehood through a different prism – as a crisis of inheritance rather than a crisis of capability. And by inheritance I am not predictably alluding to colonial legacy, rather to a very specific transition that occurred in the decolonisation era. While one is not independent of the other, pursuing a deterministic approach to the current status quo – one governed by cause and consequence, and not by simplistic notions of ‘nature’ – is perhaps where our answer lies.

      More precisely, what I am attempting to present is an alternative paradigm – that the reason the state of affairs is as it is could be a direct result of the subtle inheritance of a system that did not match African needs and potential. This is an inheritance that is often overlooked as a norm and that is taken for granted as the natural and certain structure of governance: The nation-state.

      While the state is symbolic of the physical structure and institutions of governance, the nation is something far less tangible. Its construction is essential in creating the allegiance, which ensures the nation-state’s longevity. It is in fact this relationship, which is at the basis of most successful nation-states – a robust linkage between the state and the nation, most commonly driven by a strong sense of nationalism propagated by the state.

      So what does the nation-state mean in present day Africa? What is the future of African countries when they are gripped by an instability that shakes the very foundations of the nation-state? And most importantly, is it not time we transcend the aesthetic discourses regarding clientalism and tribalism, and begin to ask the more relevant questions? These are questions regarding the current legitimacy of the remnants of this exogenous model of governance carried on from European occupation.

      Since independence, African politics have been characterised by conflicts at the root of which lie ethnic tensions. We need not look further than Rwanda, Nigeria and Mauritania (among many) to see evidence of this. Ethnicity has been, and continues to be, at the centre of the mainstream media debate on conflict and its repercussions.

      Africa’s ailment of conflict is not as simplistic a categorisation as we may be led to believe. Behind it lies an obscure question regarding the fundamental flaw in a structure taken for granted to be the only structure and not the model it was imported as, which articulates itself as a broken promise. The nation-state has birthed countless crises of nationalism, minority destruction and the creation of contrived national identities to sustain this structure. The enigma of nationalism, its affiliation to statehood and its detrimental relationship to citizenship pose a great threat to a future of egalitarian pluralism.

      According to Elie Kedourie (1960) the emergence of nationalism was a consequence of the moralisation of this new found ‘power to the people’-revolution. The nationalism doctrine was born out of European revolution by the start of 19th century. Consequently the introduction of an ideology of the nation as the sole natural political formation, upon which states can be built, set the nation-state as the ideal sum of all these parts. The derivation of the term ‘nation’ can be found in its Latin root ‘nasci’ to be born, which hence developed into the notion of a people from common origins.[1]

      As a result is easy to see how inevitably problematic this conception becomes once exposed in its new environment of the post-colony. The post-colony is an amalgamation of arrested development of internal political formations, fragmented identities and transitory realties all coming together to mould into what is appropriated from colonial powers as the model of statehood and political and economic development of post-enlightenment thought. The disconnection of this acquired model of sovereignty with localised forms of rule has not only interfered with the natural progression of power structures (as colonialism itself has), but has also hindered the unitary formation of identities in post-colonial states creating disparate and competing claims to nationhood.[2]

      Consequently the inheritance of the nation-state in the post-colony exposes the disjointedness of this appropriation as well as the fragmentation of identity through the destruction of minority consciousness implemented at the time of nation building. The crux lies in the specific transience of pre-colonial, colonial and post-colonial groups and the utilisation of assimilation, language and symbols to construct an identity deemed necessary for the formation of the nation-state – the national identity.

      Post-colonial territories inherit the nation-state, as a pinnacle of modernity and progress.[3] The establishment of the nation-state necessarily requires the destruction of minority consciousness to allow for the establishment of some type of national consciousness. As a result, the phenomenon of nationalism as a derivative of the nation-state is the platform on which struggles for identity become visible.

      The appropriation of the construct of the nation-state, used to regulate European models of society proves problematic when implemented in African and Asian realities of multi ethnic, racial, religious and linguistic societies. Nationalism conflicts with minority consciousness for three major reasons.

      Firstly the nationalism deriving from the ‘importation’ of the nation-state renders it illegitimate in the eyes of the masses comprised of minorities, as the nation-state carries the legacies of colonial administrative rule and exploitative occupation.

      Secondly, a particular variety of nationalism developed in the colonies as a response to colonial rule and was ultimately utilised as part of a struggle for liberation. As we will see this form of nationalism was never actually able to bind people together under the banner of a ‘nation’, but rather was instrumental in forging independence movements. As a result, once the objective of independence was met, it left the nation-state in a state of identity fragmentation resulting from a lack of real national linkages.

      Thirdly, citizenship and the enjoyment of equal rights becomes the measure of the modernity or antiquity of a nation. Granting citizenship and rights is an intrinsic facet of nationhood and draws the line of separation between a nation-state (state being that which institutionalises) and a community of another type such as an ethnic, religious or linguistic minority. There is also a fundamental prerequisite of perception – internal and external – as nations or groups are in relation to other bodies.[4]

      Consequently, Africa today is gripped by ailments whose roots lie in a structural flaw, which has by now become embedded in the system. Contrived nationalism – while not immediately acknowledged as an obvious discrepancy – is perhaps the most dangerous phenomenon that has secretly contaminated the 20th century.

      In the post-colonial era these nation-states are faced with major challenges of validation and the deciphering of identities. In the face of the governance challenges that emerge during and after this period, they have weak tools at their disposal to combat fundamental problems of re-emerging sectarianism coupled with economic and political demise as the political apparatus within which they operate does not enable natural assimilation. Rather it superimposes a forced model of assimilation and in doing so carves deeper the divides.

      In some cases, suppression of pluralism and minority rights becomes common in nation-states, where minorities are perceived to be a direct threat to the identity of the nation. In other cases where flagrant sub-groupism still exists and regulates society the nation-state still doesn’t fulfil the scope of effective governance on behalf of the whole. Yet both are examples of the same syndrome. This can be observed in countries like Sudan and Tanzania. In the former, ethnic ties still prevail over a larger national identity. In the latter, a fabricated national identity during independence is increasingly under threat from emerging competing affiliations.

      Paradigms of integration within national borders also begin to emerge and their repercussions are directly felt as mass migration flows, displacement, refugee crises and scrambling over resources leading to conflict all continue to increase. All these issues are reconfigured as group-based problems, when in reality their roots are in economic disparity. But they become integrated into already existing polarised group relations, which are themselves a syndrome of contrived nationalism, deriving from the adoption of the nation-state.

      So what could the alternative be to the nation-state? A state that is devoid of nation. A state functioning as an administrative centre for legislation and organisation, free from fictitious affiliations to a larger curtain identity.

      The irreconcilability of the realities of diverse ethnic, racial, religious and linguistic minority identities with the construction of the nation-state’s pre-requisite national identity is at the centre of the subsequent break down in structural management of the state. The inherited model of the nation-state in Africa (and its derivative nationalism) caused the destruction of minority consciousness in post-colonialism and has had far reaching repercussions of identity fragmentation in modernity.[5]

      This process, undergone at such a crucial time of state formation, undermined not only territorial authentication but also identity authentication and legitimate societal interactions and ties which themselves lay the foundations for statehood’s functioning. This fabricated toxic vacuum, which becomes embedded in political and social structures transcending time, could be a way of revisiting emerging phenomena, such as ethnicity substantiated conflict and religious extremism.

      In the wake of a new decade and in a world where our inherent interconnectedness is ever more exposed (and simultaneously ever more challenged) Africa – and the world at large – has to embrace its diversity, not only at a social level but at a political and economic one too. It has to acknowledge its legacy and shed fictitious notions of nationalism. Only this way, will every African citizen truly have the opportunity to shatter deceiving notions of identity and attain true freedom – of thought, association, sexuality, practice, and political and social affiliation. Only this way will it we be equipped to face the challenges of our merging future.


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


      [1] Kedourie, Elie 1971 Nationalism in Asia and Africa, London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson
      [2] Mbembe, Achille 1992 ‘The Banality of Power and the Aesthetics of Vulgarity in the Post-colony’ in Public Culture 4 (2)
      [3] Mamdani, Mahmoud 2001 ‘Beyond Settler and Native as Political Identities: Overcoming the Political Legacy of Colonialism’ in Society for Comparative Study of Society and History, Columbia University
      [4] Tivey, Leonard 1981 The Nation-State; The Formation of Modern Politics, Oxford: Martin Robertson
      [5] Chatterjee, Partha 1993 The Nation and its Fragments: Colonial and Post-Colonial Histories Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press

      Advocacy & campaigns

      Citizens’ statement in support of US Government withholding FPE funds

      Bunge La Mwananchi


      We the citizens of Kenya wish to issue this statement in support of the decision by the United States Government to withhold funds that had been earmarked towards Kenya’s Free Primary Education programme. As aggrieved citizens we agree and demand that those responsible for the misappropriation of free education funds not only be dismissed from office but be held accountable to the full extent of the law.

      We the citizens of Kenya wish to issue this statement in support of the decision by the United States Government to withhold funds that had been earmarked towards Kenya’s Free Primary Education programme. As aggrieved citizens we agree and demand that those responsible for the misappropriation of free education funds not only be dismissed from office but be held accountable to the full extent of the law.

      We wish to categorically state that:

      - It behoves the holder of any office, especially public office, to be and stand accountable for resources entrusted to them in carrying out their duties. The responsibility for the running of the Ministry of Education and the application of funds allocated to it lies squarely with Minister Professor Sam Ongeri and his Permanent Secretary Professor Karega Mutahi and they must therefore step up and face the consequences for their wanting leadership.

      - Since the alarm on the misappropriated funds was not sounded by the Miinister and his PS but by persons outside the ministry, it is a loud indictment they are not doing what they are supposed to be doing in their capacity as the principals of the education ministry. The Constitution of Kenya, the Government Financial Management Act and the Public Procurement and Disposal Act espouse the principle of transparency and accountability by obligating financial administrators, including ministers and their permanent secretaries to maintain proper records and adhere to financial guidelines and regulations.

      - If indeed they are not culpable as they wish us to believe, the only noble and patriotic thing left for Professors Ongeri and Mutahi to do, is to step aside and allow free and independent investigations to be undertaken at the Ministry. They clearly cannot preside over the audit of the Ministry and are a hindrance to independent investigations by remaining in charge of any evidence available at the Ministry.

      - Kenyans are gravely concerned and wish to remind our leaders that the disappearance of funds meant for our children’s education is but a part of the wider issues that bedevil the education ministry. Symptoms of such deeper problems have manifested repeatedly in the past in the form of student strikes, teacher strikes, rampant exam leakage and cheating, imbalanced admission process to secondary schools, mal-administered public schools, substance abuse and promiscuity amongst students and even sexual abuse of students by their teachers.

      We wish to state further that:

      - Kenyans are relentless in their war against impunity and corruption in Kenya and it is for this reason that we support the US and the UK Governments’ actions of withholding any further funds towards free primary education, although our children and poor parents who depended on this programme remain the innocent victims.

      - Kenyans are cognisant of the fact that these funds are not free and are therefore very keen that any debt incurred by our Government on our behalf be managed and administered in a transparent and accountable manner.

      - Kenyans are anxious that no more money should be poured into FPE unless and until a proper financial and management system is in place to ensure that the money is appropriately utilised.

      We hereby demand as follows:

      - That Professor Sam Ongeri and Permanent Secretary Karega Mutahi step aside with immediate effect and allow independent investigations to take place.

      - That the Government embarks on an urgent and immediate complete overhaul of the education ministry. This can begin with the excusing from duty of the two professors who have apparently been overwhelmed by the docket’s mandate.

      - That the President and the Prime Minister take a definitive and decisive action in this matter because if cannot and do not, their inaction makes them in our eyes complicit actors in the ongoing impunity and corruption. It is a high time that our leadership took notice of our discontent with the state of affairs and Kenyans wish to remind them that we will not tolerate the continued running of our country’s affairs in such a haphazard and rough shod manner. This FPE fiasco is indicative of Kenya’s ongoing political leadership problem since the Minister and his PS are political appointees. We are looking to the two principals to show leadership and give us firm guidelines on the way forward.

      - That the funds earmarked for free primary education be traced and retrieved and the perpetrators be dealt with to the full extent of the law.

      We renew our call for urgent and immediate action by Kenyans as the war against impunity can only be won battle by battle. It has been historically apparent to us that our leadership remains unresponsive to Kenyans’ real life, real time issues unless we are dramatic in making our demands upon them. We therefore call upon fellow Kenyans and the whole of the civil society to join the war against impunity and corruption by loudly dramatising our contempt of the misappropriation of public funds.

      We also call upon friends of Kenya and the wider diplomatic community to show solidarity with us and the US and UK governments in demanding transparency and accountability from our leaders.

      The country’s future lies in the hands of this crucial ministry and if the Minister Ongeri and PS Mutahi cannot match up to the job at hand, Kenyans shall not hesitate to kick them out of office by any means available to us as we have done in the past with other corrupt leaders.

      If no concrete and decisive action is taken in the next few days, Kenyans will be left with no option but to employ mass action countrywide and paralyse operations unless and until something happens towards dealing with the matter of the missing funds.

      We urge and rally Kenyans towards unrelenting resistance of the culture of impunity and corruption in Kenya.

      George Nyongesa

      For Bunge la Mwananchi
      +254 720 451 235

      Keep on supporting Guinea-Bissau


      This is a petition to reiterate the necessity for donors, European Governments and European NGOs not to give in to current trends of aid concentration that very clearly contribute to further marginalizing countries such as Guinea-Bissau, and to reconsider their present relationship with Guinea-Bissau.

      To: European governments, European NGOs, Donors

      Petition by the organizations CIDAC (Portugal), INTERPARES (Canada) and Solidarite Socialiste (Belgium)

      To the European Foreign Affairs Ministers
      To the leaders of European NGOs

      From the conquering and recognition of its independence in 1974, Guinea-Bissau has suffered political instability and demonstrated very little capacity to assure a minimum level of basic needs satisfaction for its 1,5 million inhabitants. Facing growing predatory exploitation of its natural resources, with environmental and social risks caused by mining operations without proper legislation and the State's inability to assume its regulator and referee role, along with recent waves of political unexplained murders, the country has additionally found itself tangled in the narcotraffic web over the last 4 years. Guinea-Bissau is part of a region where the sum of the instabilities represents a real risk to all Western Africa.

      Within this volatile context, Non-Governmental Organizations from Guinea-Bissau have played a fundamental role in maintaining minimum stability though their civic action, and systematically providing a number of basic services to the populations in the areas of health, education, agriculture, economy and environment... trough their interventions both in urban and rural areas. Following the legislative and presidential elections that took place in 2008 and 2009, witch have reestablished constitutional law in the country, Guinean Civil Society Organizations will additionally play a crucial part in ingraining the ideas of democracy, social justice, fight against poverty and for the environment, alongside with a government that remains fragile and with little means to reach out to all the population and territory.

      Facing this scenario and in a moment where the necessity for continuous support to Guinean Civil Society Organizations seems so obvious as well as a precondition for building and consolidating a true culture of peace in Guinea-Bissau, it is with unease we hear of the departure of long time allies of Guinean NGOs, especially in the cases of the withdrawal announcements made by historical partners such as OXFAM NOVIB, in the context of drastic changes in the Dutch cooperation policy framework.

      To allege lack of visible results in contrast with the effort and investments made by European States and NGOs in Guinea-Bissau, as well as being far from the truth, is a fundamental strategic error. Development is a long term process and attaining social justice is only possible though ties of solidarity which in turn need time to mature and become fruitful.

      The undersigned organizations and individuals support this petition and reiterate the necessity of
      - donors
      - European Governments and
      - European NGOs

      not to give in to current trends of aid concentration that very clearly contribute to further marginalizing countries such as Guinea-Bissau, and to reconsider their relationship with Guinea-Bissau, making funds available and weaving long term alliances and solidarity ties with Guinean CSO, thus assuring that CSO can continue to fulfill their vital role in the country's development.

      South Africa: Anti-gay appointment concerns us all


      If Uganda's anti-homosexuality bill becomes law, it will be little short of state-sponsored "genocide" against the gay community. So, the ambassadorial appointment of Jon Qwelane, well-know for his homophobic and derogatory statements against the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and intersex (LGBTI) community, was a shock to human rights and gay activists.

      If Uganda's anti-homosexuality bill becomes law, it will be little short of state-sponsored "genocide" against the gay community. So, the ambassadorial appointment of Jon Qwelane, well-know for his homophobic and derogatory statements against the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and intersex (LGBTI) community, was a shock to human rights and gay activists. However, given the usual acceptance of homophobia in South Africa, and all over Africa, perhaps this disregard for human rights should not come as a surprise at all.

      The Joint Working Group (JWG), a network of LGBTI organisations in South Africa, are deeply disturbed by the appointment. "The anti-homosexuality bill currently under discussion in that country is an entirely oppressive piece of legislation, not only does it seek to impose draconian punishments on people found guilty of homosexuality but it attempts to punish people who fail to report on homosexuals and activists working in the field of LGBTI rights among others."

      In a July 2008 article in South Africa's Sunday Sun entitled "Call Me Names, but Gay Is Not Ok," Qwelane, among other things, expressed support for Robert Mugabe's brutal and oppressive treatment of LGBTI people in Zimbabwe. Press Ombudsman Joe Thloloe received nearly 1,000 complaints, and subsequently ruled that the article had contravened the press code. There remains an open investigation and pending charges against Qwelane for hate speech at the South African Human Rights Commission.

      In a 2006 Article published by Media24, Qwelane, referring to his reaction if one of his children were gay, wrote, "And a big YES, I would condemn and disown them if they turned out to be homosexuals."

      The Ugandan bill, which recommends the death penalty for anyone repeatedly convicted of having gay sex and prison sentences for those who fail to report homosexual activity to the police, would breed violence and intolerance through all levels of society.

      The bill says that parents of homosexual children, and that pastors and counsellors who extend spiritual guidance and psycho-social support to homosexuals, will be regarded as "accomplices" in promoting and abetting homosexuality if they don't report them to police - now that's taking the law way too far!

      World leaders and human rights groups have condemned the bill, fearing it will trigger increased violence against the gay community, hinder the country's fight against HIV/AIDS among the gay community, and undermine freedom of expression and association. Numerous attempts to contact the Department of International Relations and Cooperation's spokesman, Saul Kgomotso Molobi, for comment proved unsuccessful.

      The proposed appointment of Qwelane seems to endorse Uganda's persecution of gays. President Zuma should be lobbying Uganda to drop plans to execute gays, but instead he appears to be ready to appoint a man whose record for promoting intolerance, homophobia and prejudice in South Africa is well established and largely unparalleled.

      I believe the reason why the hate campaign against LGBT continues is that most of those connected to state power are born-again, rigid, fundamentalist, revivalist Christians. They bring to the public policy process and the management of state affairs, their religious bigotry that they pass off as public morality and ethics. Christianity needs to get back to serving the marginalised and out of the business of attempting to control others' sexual orientation.

      A Nigerian blogger Anengiyefa thinks the bill is flawed and the panel who made the bill are ignorant about homosexuality. He says homosexuality cannot be an offense, "you cannot punish someone for having sexual feelings for another person." He contends that you cannot prove "homosexuality" in a court of law to the standard of proof that is required in a criminal court.

      Yet, there's a wave of homophobic incidents across Africa. Governments are laying down the law against homosexuality, 38 out of 53 countries have criminalised consensual gay sex, in what Human Rights Watch says is a method of "political manipulation."

      In Malawi, where discussing sex is taboo, an attempted marriage by a gay couple was labelled a matter of "gross indecency." A judge is expected to decide next week whether they will face trial.

      In Nigeria, northern Muslim states have the death penalty for homosexuality, while anti-gay incidents have flared in Senegal, where bodies of gay men have been exhumed and tossed out of Muslim cemeteries.

      Scott Long, Human Rights Watch director for gay issues, says anti-gay sentiment in Africa soared about 15 years ago when Mugabe started "manipulating the issue for political gain." Mugabe, who has called gays "worse than dogs and pigs," latched onto the issue to distract attention from economic and political crises and rally political support.

      Even here in liberal South Africa, legal protection has not made way for social acceptance. South Africa's post-apartheid constitution ensures equal rights for gays, but the recognition of same-sex marriage in 2006 followed months of heated protests by both the gay community and thousands of opponents. LGBTI people are often disowned by families. Black lesbian women face rape and battering in their neighbourhoods in a bid to "cure" them.
      While South Africa now has a prominent gay judge on its Constitutional Court, not so long ago in 2006 Zuma was pressed into apologising for saying hat same-sex marriages were "a disgrace to the nation and to God." According to Dawie Nel, director of OUT, a gay-rights group, South Africa is "not necessarily more advanced than the rest of Africa," adding that South Africa is "still a very homophobic society."

      Racism, heterosexism, misogyny and xenophobia are still invading our lives and shaping our world. Everyone should shout foul as loud as we can and not keep quiet the proposed Ugandan bill and the mute appointment of Qwelane. Sending out into the world a representative with such a questionable human rights record is surely a signal of just how far the country has to go.

      * Oliver Meth is based at the University of Kwa-Zulu Natal Centre for Civil Society. This article is part of the Gender Links Opinion and Commentary Service.

      South Africa: SOS: Civil society unites to challenge Public Service Broadcasting Bill (PSB)

      Amandla! Alternative Media


      Media and communication activists and organizations in South Africa have united into the strongest communication advocacy campaign since the collapse of formal apartheid: the SOS Support Public Broadcasting coalition. The coalition formed first in response to the governance and financial crisis at the SABC and then broadened to engage the Department of Communication's (DOC) bold steps to review Broadcasting legislation.

      Media and communication activists and organizations in South Africa have united into the strongest communication advocacy campaign since the collapse of formal apartheid: the SOS Support Public Broadcasting coalition. The coalition formed first in response to the governance and financial crisis at the SABC and then broadened to engage the Department of Communication's (DOC) bold steps to review Broadcasting legislation.

      Civil society has welcomed the Public Service Broadcasting Bill's acknowledgment that existing governance and funding policies have orientated broadcasters (the public SABC and community radio) with a social mandate to commercial practices where they are not accountable to their communities and the public at large, but rather driven largely by the pursuit of advertising.

      While civil society have welcomed the proposed Public Broadcasting Fund that promises to finance non-commercial programming they have rejected elements of the Bill that narrow the social mandate of broadcasters to serve the "developmental goals of the Republic" and undermine the independence of broadcasters. Rather than strengthening ICASA to regulate broadcasting, the Bill gives virtually unlimited powers to the Minister of Communications and other government officials. In the case of community radio, rather than strengthening mechanism that would ensure greater community participation and democratic governance, the Bill obligates stations to partner local governments, locate thier studios at municipal offices and have government officials serve on their boards. The Bill goes so far as to prescribe a Charter of Community Broadcasting. Civil Society assert that community broadcasters should develop their own Charter based on the principles already affirmed in the existing NCRF Charter.

      The SOS Support Public Broadcasting coalition is calling for though policy review process be followed, including a review of the Broadcasting White Paper, 1998.

      The SOS: Support Public Broadcasting coalition includes the following organizations:
      * AIDC (Alternative Information Development Centre)
      * BEMAWU (The Broadcast, Electronic Media and Allied Workers Union)
      * COSATU (Congress of South African Trade Unions)
      * Documentary Filmmakers Association
      * Ecumenical Services for Social and Economic Transformation (ESSET)
      * IDASA, an African Democracy Institute
      * The FXI (Freedom of Expression Institute)
      * The FXN (Freedom of Expression Network)
      * The IPO (Independent Producers Organisation)
      * The IAJ (Institute for the Advancement of Journalism)
      * The MMA (Media Monitoring Africa)
      * The South African Screen Federation (SASFED)
      * MISA South Africa (The South African National Chapter of the Media Institute of Southern Africa)
      * The NCRF (National Community Radio Forum)
      * The National Consumer Forum
      * SANGONET (The South African Non-Governmental Organisation Network)
      * SAHA (The South African History Archives)
      * The TAC (Treatment Action Campaign)
      * Workers World Media Productions
      * Writers Guild South Africa

      Join the SOS: Supporting Public Broadcasting coalition:

      Contact Kate Skinner, SOS Coordinator on (082) 926-6404 or email [email protected]

      Pan-African Postcard

      Al-Faisal’s gone, questions linger

      L. Muthoni Wanyeki


      cc Wikimedia Commons
      Following the arranged departure from Kenya of the Muslim preacher Abdullah al-Faisal back to Jamaica, L. Muthoni Wanyeki reflects on the curious circumstances behind the preacher's transportation out of the country.

      Abdullah al-Faisal, the Jamaican Muslim preacher dubbed the 'hate cleric' by the media, is finally gone.

      His government, or our government, or a combination of the two with external governments, finally found a private solution to transport him back to Jamaica. But his departure does not resolve the issues his presence brought to the fore.

      First, there is the issue of how and whether he should have come into the country. Let us be clear. Any criminal justice system – including here and in the United Kingdom – operates on the basis that one serves time for crimes one has committed, and that doing so ends the story. Al-Faisal apparently served time for propagating hate speech in the UK. His having done so means that that fact should have been irrelevant when he entered Kenya. He had paid his dues.

      What was relevant was whether he indeed features on any country’s so- called terrorist watch list. If he does, what is the policy of Kenyan immigration on this? Are immigration officials meant to deny entry? Or are they meant to allow entry while informing the relevant internal security agencies so that the person in question can, in fact, be 'watched'?

      But this is not what happened. Immigration officials at al-Faisal’s point of entry, apparently not being computerised and linked up to information available at the national airport, seemed to have no idea who this person was. How, suddenly, he ended up being found in breach of a simple immigration offence (preaching without the relevant entry permit) is a point of interest, as is the fact that he was essentially illegally detained for a fairly inordinate period of time before human rights advocates and organisations caught wind of it and decided to act on his behalf.

      Also of interest is, of course, the now typically hysterical over-reaction to their doing so. Nobody proffered evidence that he had been propagating hate speech here. Nobody proffered evidence that he had committed or was about to commit or was encouraging a terrorist-related crime. And even if they had, due process was still due to him.

      Second is the question of his deportation. I personally found it quite extraordinary that finding a commercial airline willing to transport him to Jamaica was apparently so difficult, especially given that most commercial airlines flying into and out of Africa seem to have absolutely no problem transporting would-be immigrants, shackled and under guard, out of Europe for equally minor immigration offences.

      Third, yet again, is the question of the demonstrations on his behalf. The notification had been duly given. The Kenya police were out of order in refusing to allow it (their job is to provide security for the demonstrators and others). Some of those who did assert their constitutional right to demonstrate were out of order in carrying firearms to the demonstration. The bystanders who decided to offer their services to the police in breaking up the demonstration were completely out of order. And many, many, many of those who commented afterwards were out of order. Some were and are, of course, but the Kenyan Muslim community, like all others, is not homogenous.

      Our security is critical. Our handling of it will determine, in the end, whether tolerance prevails or not.


      * L. Muthoni Wanyeki is executive director of the Kenya Human Rights Commission.
      * Please send comments to [email protected] or comment online at Pambazuka News.


      David Coetzee, progressive journalist and publisher


      Adrian Crewe


      David Coetzee, the founder of the alternative information bulletin SouthScan, for a number of years the most significant source of independent, uncensored information about what was going on in apartheid South Africa, passed away on 24 January 2010 at the age of 66.

      What will stand as the most obvious public core of David Coetzee’s contribution to progressive politics in Southern Africa and the UK will be nearly 1000 issues of SouthScan, the journal he launched in 1986. It helped to deliver a continuous stream of carefully - and often perilously-sourced - insider intelligence on the complex spider-webs of Southern African politics and the wider geopolitical eddies of cold war and post-cold war ‘influence’, and ‘counter-influence’ in the region.

      From the turbulent years running up to South Africa’s 1994 democratic breakthrough right until mid-2009, SouthScan was a thorn in the flesh of illegitimate power, a searchlight probing its dark corners and hidden secrets. Yet its analyses and powers of prediction were so acute that an extraordinary range of power-brokers worldwide became some of its most ‘loyal’ subscribers: intelligence services, securocrats, right-wing think-tanks, transnational corporations; all wanted to keep abreast of what SouthScan was digging up, revealing, thinking. It must have irritated the apartheid intelligence services (who at least once crudely burgled his home) that he always seemed to know more about the subterranean undercurrents of Southern African politics than they could hope to discover for themselves.

      Because of the unwavering quality of the output, the SouthScan body of work will remain an invaluable resource for scholars with an interest in ‘rubbing history against the grain’, as recommended by Walter Benjamin.

      But I would like to take this opportunity to salute David Coetzee the man, the mensch – a complex, subtle, modest, deeply ironic, warm and witty human being; with the frame of a stick of biltong and the heart of an elephant.

      It was my great privilege to be his friend from as far back as 1977. We first met in a smoky pub in Charing Cross Road, on a damp and gloomy London winter’s evening. He had just been appointed Foreign Editor of New African magazine. We had not known each other in South Africa, but were in different ways involved in the liberation movement politics of the period. We very soon discovered a communion of the spirit (which went beyond but was undoubtedly warmed by Stolichnaya) and began a long-term exploration of the obscure accidents of history that had taken us on our respective journeys out of the stifling and surreal parochialism of sixties white South Africa and dumped us where we now found ourselves. By the time we left the pub that evening David had deftly moved the conversation from matters South African to Lenin, Gramsci, Brecht, Benjamin - and the problems and pitfalls of ‘actually existing socialism’.

      David hated sectarianism and harboured a deep suspicion of triumphalist narratives, whether of the left or right. Some (very rare) people have an innate inability to think instrumentally. David was one such – and in spades. Think strategically, yes; think tactically, yes. But never deploy ‘historical materialism’ and ‘dialectical necessity’ to fabricate alibis for political greed and venal lust for power. David saw and aligned himself with the human objects of power, never with its manipulators. While he had strong political discipline – and great courage in often dangerous circumstances – he always seemed to be just that key degree ‘off-side’ from the political movements he supported. Call it historical irreverence - informed by knowledge, reading, insight and respect for real, living individuals in all the suffering of their difficult and messy life circumstances.

      David was a man with a profoundly tempered, continuously honed and re-thought grasp of the terrain of culture in all its richness, ambiguity and abjection - culture as the chemistry of artistic performance and sharing; culture as the simple rituals of everyday life; and culture as expressed in the ways social movements and individual identities are formed and textured in the vice grip of history’s twists and turns, leaps and dead-ends.

      On the one hand, his personal experiences of hardship and uncertainty fed into his capacity for empathy, solidarity and appreciation of what the human capacity for creativity, joy and self-sacrifice can deliver; on the other, his political experience and the uncompromising intellectual rigor he applied to it led him towards an austere, almost tragic sense of culture as the always oppressed and deformed body-servant of power.

      Walter Benjamin reappears here, in an aphorism I remember David quoting on a number of occasions: ‘There is no document of culture which is not at the same time a document of barbarism’. Benjamin of course still hoped, if a little wanly, that a revolutionary breakthrough might yet engender a new momentum of progress in which barbarism ceased to be the dominant driving force.

      But, 50 years on from Benjamin – and well before the fall of the Berlin Wall - David saw very clearly that this was no longer a viable utopian option and began to pose and develop a set of questions that I can try to gloss as best I can along the following lines:

      How, in today’s brutally resurgent conditions of accumulation, speculation, cynical environmental bargaining and mounting repression, can any striving for the economic and social gains that can lift millions of lives out of misery be re-imagined and pursued?

      And how can the required organisational forms, solidarities and emancipatory narratives be rediscovered – only, this time round, modestly, critically, and with the degree of irony and the degree of respect that would make them powerful, liveable and sustainable?

      I don’t think David had got to the answers yet. Who has? But his whole life was a shining testament to the fact that these are the only questions worth posing; and that they only retain their value to the extent that you attempt to live their solution in your own life - and in our own collective, shared, intertwined lives.

      David – the thinker, the activist, the steadfast friend - and the man who loved to take things apart and fix and re-build them with his hands - will remain a source of continuing strength and renewal to all those of us for whom he posed and lived these questions.


      *Adrian R Crewe is the national director of the Public Policy Partnership.
      * Please send comments to [email protected] or comment online at Pambazuka News.

      Books & arts

      Review of 'Performance and Politics in Tanzania: The Nation on Stage' by Laura Edmondson

      Vicensia Shule


      Vicensia Shule reviews Laura Edmondson's 'Performance and Politics in Tanzania: The Nation on Stage', a book which she regards as decidedly limited in its analysis of the evolution of Tanzanian theatre.

      'Performance and Politics in Tanzania: The Nation on Stage' is based on Laura Edmondson’s experience in Tanzania from 1993 to 1997. It is divided into two parts with six chapters. Part One comprises chapters one and two and is titled 'Imagining the Nation'. The author opens the book with a fascinating chapter on the history of theatre in Tanzania. The author has, to a larger extent, managed to show the evolution of theatre performances in Tanzania. Using various ‘popular’ theatre groups, Edmondson shows the complexity of the socialist government initiatives in building and institutionalising national culture through theatre.

      Part Two of the book is titled 'Sexing the Nation' (comprising chapters three and four) and elaborates the traditional dances (ngoma) which were core during the cultural rehabilitation process of the post-independence epoch. Edmondson compares this process of culture rehabilitation to ‘national erotica’. The author describes the message conveyed by traditional dances such as sindimba and lizombe as contradictory to the body movements since they ‘call for subdued sexuality’. Furthermore, Edmondson (p. 71) describes the dancing of lizombe as a process to ‘simulate intercourse on stage’. In Part Three – 'Contesting the Nation' with chapters five and six – she describes the competition model used by ‘popular’ theatre groups in Tanzania from the mid-1990s.

      While partly concurring with the author’s analysis of the performances in Tanzania, more issues need explicit questioning. In her description of traditional Tanzanian dances, she has simply concentrated on female dancing on the ‘erotic movement of hips and pelvis’ and male dancing on a ‘vigorous stamping of feet’. There were few cases of dancing patterns used when the socialist state was mobilising and motivating people to build or rehabilitate national theatre and a culture ruptured by slavery and colonialism. Generally, there are more than 120 ethnic groups in Tanzania with divergent origins. Many of these ethnic dances do not necessarily conform to the author’s selective analysis of ‘stamping feet’ and ‘hip/pelvis movements’. For example, it is likely that the Nyakyusa of southern Tanzania will have a different dancing style as compared to Maasai or Zanaki people. Such description of Tanzanian dances as 'national erotica' is derogatory since the existence of similar practices to non-African cultures, especially in Euro-America, is well known.

      Highly influenced by a ‘feminist’ standpoint, the author describes such dances as sexual simulations, erotic and derogatory to women. Edmondson (p. 68) further concludes 'the rural and the female body, other located on the margins of the Tanzanian state, serve as objects of obsession and uncertainty. As such, these bodies are subjected to state control in an effort to maintain a holistic vision of the unified nation.' It is unrealistic to narrow down the whole complex socio-political process of building national identity and the institutionalisation of traditional dances into such ‘flimsy’ feminist argumentation.

      Furthermore, Edmondson (p. 69) perceives these ngoma – which are susceptible to change – as a ‘canon of ngoma’, which are the only ones taught in the former Bagamoyo College of Arts. From her observation, students graduate knowing only such a canon, which has about eight traditional dances (p. 69). Again, Edmondson fails to understand the concept of susceptibility and adaptation, as well as the idyllic and utilitarian nature of ngoma in Tanzania. Historically, then Tanganyika (Tanzania) had hundreds of dances from all ethnic groups, each with at least three dances, which means there were more than 500 different dances. Slavery and colonialism destroyed some and those that survived were carried into the building of the national culture project. As the establishment of institutions such as the Bagamoyo College of Arts was based on fulfilling the national cultural agenda, there is no objection to the idea that the selected ‘literature’ is to reflect the same. The author also argues that the content of theatre performances is being solely dictated by the state. What Edmondson has left out is the capacity and the position of artists to explore their creative freedom within their own communities. As noted, dances like beni during colonial times were capable of deploying dual purposes, ‘praising’ the colonial government using military costumes and drilling acting while a ‘sending’ liberation message to the audience.

      There is a decade's gap between the time when the research was conducted and the book’s publication, which means that the theatrical landscape has diversely changed. To use decade-old findings to generalise could result in inadequate conclusions. Updated data and further synthesis were needed to actualise the arguments, which in most cases were missing. On the global perspective, Edmondson does not provide any relationship between Tanzanian theatre's transition and inventions by global dominant policies such as imperialism and neoliberalism. Instead she links the demise of ‘popular’ theatre groups such as Muungano, Mandela and others to the evolution of television. Though Edmondson has a point in her explanation of how the process of building and institutionalising the national culture was in fact a return to the pre-colonial past, she could have used a combination of perspectives in her analysis. Edmondson’s academic language, arguments and perceptions seem anomalous. The rest of the synthesis is left for the reader to contemplate and systematically conclude that the arguments which Edmondson provides in six chapters are contradictory.


      * 'Performance and Politics in Tanzania: The Nation on Stage', by Laura Edmondson, Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 2007, pp. x + 175 + photographs, US$65.00 cloth, US$24.95 paper.
      * Vicensia Shule is a performing artist working at the Department of Fine and Performing Arts, University of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.
      * Please send comments to [email protected] or comment online at Pambazuka News.

      Letters & Opinions

      Doubts on the veracity of Mutsinzi report

      René Lemarchand


      Anyone familiar with the basic provisions of the Arusha accords of 18 August 1992 is impelled to call into question Gerald Caplan's credentials in commenting on the merits of the Mutsinzi report, writes René Lemarchand.

      Anyone familiar with the basic provisions of the Arusha accords of 18 August 1992 (which among other things describes the composition of the transitional institutions agreed upon by the Rwandan Patriotic Front (FPR) and the Habyalimana government) is impelled to call into question Gerald Caplan's credentials in commenting on the merits of the Mutsinzi report. I refer to the crisply titled ‘Report of the Investigation into the Causes and Circumstances and Responsibility for the Attack of 06/04/94 against the Falcon 50 Rwandan Presidential Aeroplance, Registration Number 9x9-NN’.

      Caplan writes ‘It's never been entirely clear what motive Kagame would have had for murdering Habyarimana at the very moment when the president intended to implement the Arusha Accords. The RPF had been the huge winner at Arusha, about to receive substantial political and military power. Conversely Habyarimana's officials were the great losers.’

      I read the implications of article 55 and 62 of the protocol on the sharing of power very differently. In the Broadly Based Transitional Government (BBTG) the FPR and the pro-Habyalimana MRN Mouvement Revolutionnaire National pour le Developpement (MRND) each get five portfolios, Hutu-dominated Mouvement Democratique Republicain (MDR) and Parti Social Democrate (PSD), respectively four and three, the pro-Tutsi but ethnically split Parti Liberal (PL), three and the Hutu-led Parti Democrate Chretien (PDC) one. Furthermore the MRND ended up with the key ministries, i.e. Defense, Civil Service, Planning, whereas the FPR ended up with Interior, Health, Transport and Communication, Youth and Social Movements, Rehabilitation and Social Integration. With five ministerial chairs out of 21 it is hard to see how the FPR could be described as the big winner. So also with regard to its control of the armed forces, where the FPR ended up controlling 40 per cent of the troops and 50 per cent of higher ranks.

      In the Transitional Assembly the FPR, MRND, MDR, PSD, PL each received 11 seats, and the PDC four. Which in effect made it impossible for the FPR to block a piece of legislation, much less an amendment to the Arusha charter.

      Crucially, article 22 of the final protocol, dealing with ‘diverse questions and final disposition’, stipulates that the transition will last 22 months after the inauguration of the BBTG, only to be prolonged after a three fifths majority of the Assembly. At the end of the transitional period multiparty elections were to be held, which in all likelihood would have given the Hutu parties an overwhelming majority.

      Is this what Gerald Caplan calls the FPR's ‘huge victory’ at Arusha?

      I beg to differ. I also disagree that it was ‘extremely functional’ for Hutu extremists to shoot down Habyalimana's plane unless he means that killing some of the key members of the akazu, including the Chief of Staff, was to the advantage of Hutu extremists. His logic evades my grasp.

      I have yet to read the Mutsinzi report from beginning to end, but, pending a more sustained exploration, the misinformation conveyed by Dr Gerald Caplan is enough to cast the strongest doubts on its veracity.

      * René Lemarchand is emeritus professor of Political Science at the University of Florida.

      The evidence points in one direction only

      Gerald Caplan


      Gerald Caplan responds to Professor René Lemarchand's criticism of his article on the Mutsinzi Report into the assassination of Rwandan President Habyarimana in 1994.

      Professor Lemarchand is the doyen of the historians of Rwanda and Burundi, and we are all in his debt for his pioneering work.

      But in recent years he has been arguing, to the surprise of many of his admirers, that the evidence was leading him to believe that the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) had attacked Habyarimana's plane.

      Now I'm equally surprised that he would launch this criticism of me without having read the full Mutsinzi Report. If he had done so, he would have found, among other things, testimony from an abundance of eyewitnesses that leading Hutu extremists hated the Arusha Accords, were determined they never be implemented, and were ready to kill the president if he softened on this issue. Which is exactly what happened after Habyarimana formally declared on 2 April that he intended in six days to swear in the new broadly-based transitional government agreed at Arusha.

      Many in the military were especially vexed by the key Arusha article that Professor Lemarchand himself describes in his letter: ‘with regard to its control of the armed forces... the FPR ended up controlling 40 per cent of the troops and 50 per cent of higher ranks.’ As the report of the OAU-appointed International Panel of Eminent Personalities stated: ‘On the all-important question of military strength, the accords seemed a complete capitulation by the government team to the RPF. The two parties agreed to integrate the two armies [Habyarimana's FAR 35,000, the RPF's 20,000] into a single force of 19,000. 60 per cent were to be FAR, 40 per cent RPF. The officer corps were to be split 50-50. This meant that more than 2/3 of FAR troops faced demobilisation’ and fully half its officers would lose their positions.

      The report continues: ‘No one in the [Habyarimana] army, whether hardliners or not, would ever accept such a move. Indeed, the government's military advisers in Arusha made their disdain for the agreement abundantly clear at the time, and observers had little doubt they would do all in their power to prevent its implementation.’ I was present when a senior Tanzanian officer who had monitored the Arusha negotiations told the International Panel that FAR officers made little attempt to disguise their determination that the agreement would never be implemented. The RPF, by contrast, seemed quite satisfied with the outcome. After all, many in the two opposing camps saw everything in black-and-white ethnic/racial terms. From this perspective, the Tutsi, some 10-15 per cent of the population, had pulled off a gigantic coup. Hutu extremists were only too aware of this remarkable and unacceptable development.

      Professor Lemarchand wonders why some key extremist Hutu leaders were on the plane when it went down, if their own fellow plotters were responsible. I asked the same sensible question myself in my analysis. If they knew the plane was to be attacked, why did they make the trip at all? I have no good answer. It's not implausible that the attackers considered giving up the lives of a few colleagues a small price to pay for getting rid of the president. As for the unlucky victims, perhaps they thought the plane wouldn't be attacked with them on it, and perhaps they had no alternative but to board if the president ordered them to. Had they demurred, they would have given the plot away. But this is mere speculation, and I criticised the Mutsinzi commission for not addressing this question.

      Finally, as Professor Lemarchand will find when he actually reads the report, and as I stressed in my Pambazuka analysis, the commission treated their mandate as a typical criminal investigation. Who most plausibly had the motive, the opportunity and the means to attack the president's plane? Whose behaviour showed unusual, suspicious patterns? Whatever questions linger, such as why extremist leaders were aboard the doomed flight, the overwhelming preponderance of the evidence points in one direction only. It was not towards the RPF.

      * Gerald Caplan has a PhD in African history. He recently published The Betrayal of Africa.

      Rwandans deserve better than this

      Susan Thomson


      Given Rwanda's history of the elite manipulation of the past for political
      gain, Gerald Caplan's analysis of the Mutsinzi Report is dangerous and thoughtless, writes Susan Thomson.

      It remains shocking to me that reports like Caplan's are given such priority in respected publications. This is the type of incendiary reporting that characterises the Rwanda socio-political landscape. Much of what Caplan writes is unbalanced in favour of the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), and is a dangerous thing as the RPF tightens its grip on political life in Rwanda in advance of the August 2010 presidential elections.

      The Mutsinzi Report raises as many questions as it claims to resolve. Caplan supports the independence of the report without remarking on the one-sideness of the available evidence. As an academic, this is abhorrent. Good critical research is contextually situated and historically balanced. Instead, Caplan treats as solid the evidence ‘proving’ the complicity of Hutu extremists with little regard for any written or oral evidence pointing in the direction of the RPF.

      Knowing that the political situation in Rwanda is tense, and the free speech is virtually non-existent, it is difficult to accept wholesale the testimony of the hundreds of witnesses. Note the RPF's silencing of Joshua Ruzibiza, the man who claims to have affected Kagame's order to shoot down the plane. He was harassed and threatened into submission in late 2008. His recanting is available on YouTube. His book is titled, Rwanda: L’histoire secrète and was published in 2005 by Editions du Panama.

      Of identified informants, at least two dozen are members of the former government army, were interviewed under extreme pressure in the presence of RPF officials, in full awareness of what they were expected to say, and of the price to be paid if they did not. The validity of the narratives gathered by the report needs to be considered by any serious academic.

      The Mutsinzi Report sets up a straw man and then proceeds to attack Hutu extremists. This is exact same tactic that was used by those in power before the genocide to argue for its implementation! Caplan is but fodder in this debate that presents half-truths as facts and fails to substantiate any of its claims.

      Given Rwanda's history of the elite manipulation of the past for political
      gain, Caplan's analysis is dangerous and thoughtless. Rwandans deserve
      better than this.

      * Susan Thomson is a SSHRC postdoctoral fellow at the School of Political Studies, University of Ottawa.
      * Please send comments to [email protected] or comment online at Pambazuka News.

      Blogging Africa

      35 seconds that changed everything

      Sokari Ekine


      In this week’s round-up of the African blogosphere, Sokari Ekine is disappointed to find little commentary from Africa on the recent Haiti earthquake. She looks to bloggers in the diaspora instead, to shed light on events and to investigate the historical connections between Haiti and Africa.

      Given the severity of the earthquake in Haiti and the criticisms of the delivery of humanitarian aid and massive deployment of US and UN troops in the country, it is disappointing that there has been so little commentary from African bloggers. I did some research over the weekend to try to find out more on the historical connections between Haiti and Africa. It was just a cursory exploration but I found that the majority of enslaved people in the country came from what is now Nigeria, Ghana, Senegal/Gambia and Sierra Leone. These are important connections, which we need to acknowledge and further investigate. I am therefore moving beyond the continent itself into the diaspora and including a few posts from Haitians in this round up.

      Shailja Patel, Kenyan performance poet and activist, has published a number of excellent posts. The first one ‘Haiti: 10 Point Action Plan’, published two days after the earthquake, calls for the following (so far numbers one and nine have been implemented, with the IMF claiming the US$100 million originally given as a loan is to be a grant to Haiti):

      1) Grants, not loans
      2) Keep corporations and corporatist policies OUT. Stop disaster capitalism in its tracks
      3) Cancel ALL Haiti's debt to the Inter-American Development Bank
      4) Let Aristide return to Haiti
      5) Lift the ban on Aristide's Fanmi Lavalas political party
      6) Rip up the neoliberal pre-earthquake Clinton-Obama program for Haiti: tourism, sweatshops, privatisation, deregulation
      7) Do not allow US military or UN ‘peacekeepers’ to point guns at desperate Haitians.
      8) Allow all Haitians in the US to work, and remit money home
      9) Release all 30,000 Haitians held in US jails for deportation, and grant them Temporary Protected Status
      10) Demand that France start repaying the US$21 billion it extorted from Haiti in 1825, to ‘compensate’ France for loss of Haiti as a slave colony.

      The second of her posts I want to highlight speaks to the increased militarisation of Haiti:

      ‘When you store your brains in your weaponry, then every situation is a security threat. US military in Haiti, hyper-vigilant about securing emergency relief, obviously missed the central purpose – get the supplies out to save lives.’

      She goes on to make similarities between the response to Katrina and what she describes as the ‘paranoia, incompetence and criminalisation of disaster victims’ – and the ‘Superdrome Solution’.

      ‘And if you happen to be too injured to move, have infants or immobile elders you can't carry, if you just can't bring yourself to leave the bodies – bad luck. We've all got to make difficult decisions in disasters. Were you really expecting the relief to come to you? We've only got 10,000 troops here, lady! You want us to whip out maps and highlighters, mark off neighbourhoods and just send our guys out with supplies? Whaddaya think we are – Cubans? It's dangerous out there. We may have assault rifles, but we've heard about your Voodoo.’

      Nigerian Curiosity comments on the need for Nigeria to follow the response from other African countries in responding to the earthquake:

      ‘Currently, the African governments of Gabon, Ghana, Benin, Liberia Morocco, Rwanda and South Africa have pledged/donated money ranging from US$50,000 to US$1 million. Senegal's government has gone a step further of offering free land parcels and/or accommodation to Haitians who opt to repatriate and settle there. As more African countries will undoubtedly join in the global chorus to assist the Haitian people, the Nigerian government must use this opportunity to show kindness to Haiti.’

      African Loft reports on the comment made by US evangelical church leader Pat Robinson that Haiti had made a pact with the devil. Importantly AL also acknowledges the close relationship between continental Africa and the African Diaspora:

      ‘The people of Haiti are predominately descendants of Africa – ‘a key part of the African diaspora’, using the language of the Nigerian Nobel Laureate, Wole Soyinka. They were the sons and daughters of slaves that rebelled against the harsh slave-trade dependent society of their time. They fought for freedom; from the brutality of being a slave – a bought human being seen and treated like animals.

      ‘The forebearers of the present-day Haitians fought for liberty, and are catalysts that gave meaning to civil-rights as we know it today.

      ‘The conditions those men and women endured under the French rule in the 18th century couldn’t be described as godly, it was hellish! Then how could a good thing like seeking freedom from bondage and oppression of slavery be made possible by the devil? Yet, this is what Pat Robinson asserts!’

      Haitian blogger Ezili Danto asks whether mining and oil drilling contributed in any way to the earthquake:

      ‘Since the earthquake, I've had occasion to ponder, like many others, about what may have caused this heretofore-unknown natural disaster in Haiti? Was it a natural occurrence or man-made? Port-au-Prince, Haiti has not had an earthquake in 239 years. Why now? The nation of Haiti is only 206 years old, so Haitians in Port-au-Prince have no experience with earthquakes whatsoever. Did not know that for an earthquake you run away from the house. So, when the trembling started they did the worst possible thing – ran into their houses as they are used to, for protection, with hurricanes. The houses all collapsed on them.’

      The Haitian Blogger, written by Chantal Laurent, reports on the decision (after considerable pressure from activists across the world) by the IMF to change its loan of US$100 million to a grant:

      ‘Talk about shock and awe. In what is being termed a "breakthrough," yesterday, the IMF announced that Haiti would not be forced to take a loan out for rebuilding. The new $100 million dollar debt the IMF gave to Haiti for reconstruction will be cancelled.’

      She also comments on the media hype around ‘security’ stating that people on the ground see no reason for concern. I also spoke to people in Haiti last week who echoed the same feelings. So the question which still remains to be answered by the US government is – why the deployment of thousands of additional troops some of who are sand banked with automatic weapons on the ready. Repeat over and over, ‘There is no war in Haiti’.

      Black Looks has a number of posts including ‘So, Send in the Marines, OK?’ in which she discusses the increased militarisation of Haiti and the commercialisation of humanitarian aid.

      ‘From the very beginning it was clear that the tragedy of the earthquake would be used as an opportunity for the US to further militarise the country and control the political process. The silence of the puppet President, René Préval and the resulting absence of any leadership could also be seen as part of the justification for US intervention and involvement. It is not extreme to question whether the US had any influence in maintaining his silence. And then President Obama’s shameful act of calling President Bush and Clinton to oversee the military process – described by the London Daily Mail as the ‘American Invasion’.

      Finally Painful Thoughts by a young Haitian blogger has a series of moving and beautifully written personal thoughts on her much changed life. She begins with a moving account of her own earthquake experience.

      ‘You might not wanna know what happened to me. You might only be interested to what happened to you aunt or your grandpa that are in haiti and that you can’t reach by phone. I can’t blame you for that, though you can’t blame me for wanting to write all this, since there’s no one else but my blog that can sit and listen to it.

      ‘I was at school in PE class when all this happened going to get water with a friend. We felt the ground shaking, but we didn’t pay attention, because none of us had experienced that before, so we continued walking. but then it started shaking a lot more and we could hear the PE teacher screaming for us to lay on the ground. Then everyone got up and ran to go get their phones and try to call their parents… I tried to call my dad; the only thing i could hear was the ‘beep beep’ it does when it’s busy. and disconnected.. i got extremely worried about him. worried. Then i heard someone scream that phones weren’t working… and a few seconds after that first shaking, i saw my school three stories building become a 2 meters high pile of debris.’

      For her the earthquake and its aftermath is a wake up call to the realities of life and what really matters:

      ‘it’s good cause then you realize, none of all these stupidities everyone here wants, really mattered. partying never mattered, fancy clothes, making a big deal about how your hair is done, huge & expensive armored cars, summers at the beach in Miami, having a beautiful body, nice hair… you realize all this was BULLSHIT; that all this was going nowhere, a big nasty pile of POINTLESS time-wasting crap! Now you have to open up your eyes and face reality with all it’s details and find a way to compress years of growing up into these 35 seconds, that changed everything.’


      * Sokari Ekine blogs at Black Looks.
      * Please send comments to [email protected] or comment online at Pambazuka News.

      Emerging powers in Africa Watch

      Africa rising

      Ed Cropley and Ben Hirschler


      The International Monetary Fund believes growth in sub-Saharan Africa will be 1 percentage point above the global average, and puts eight African countries in its top 20 fastest-expanding economies in 2010, write Ed Cropley and Ben Hirschler. Oil-rich Angola and Congo Republic will lead the charge with growth rates of more than 9 and 12 percent respectively, both beating China, according to the IMF's most recent projections.

      With the stoicism demanded of all who hope to make money in Africa, Beauty Chama sits in her empty hair salon in a leafy town in northern Zambia's Copper Belt and looks forward to better times.

      "We are waiting patiently until the miners start making their money," she said, fingering the heavy gold chain around her neck that testifies to past fat years. "Then we shall start making our money. It's only a matter of time."

      Africa for the investor is like that: a story of boom and bust, where famine and disease are punctuated by coups and civil wars. For many, its tales of war and diamonds, tribal rivalries, plundered treasuries and secret Swiss bank accounts make it too risky.

      Somalia is fast approaching its third decade without a functional central government, and the prolonged ill-health of Nigerian President Umaru Yar'Adua has created a troubling power vacuum in Africa's most alluring frontier market.

      But after the implosion of such supposedly sophisticated or promising institutions as Lehman Brothers or Dubai World, the confidence of the Zambian hairdresser is finding echoes as far away as London, New York and Beijing.

      The International Monetary Fund believes growth in sub-Saharan Africa will be 1 percentage point above the global average, and puts eight African countries in its top 20 fastest-expanding economies in 2010. Oil-rich Angola and Congo Republic will lead the charge with growth rates of more than 9 and 12 percent respectively, both beating China, according to the IMF's most recent projections.

      "Africa," said Tara O'Connor of Africa Risk Consulting, "is the continent of the long game. It's not perfect, but the overarching trend is one toward entrenching political stability, which then allows businesses to operate much more consistently."

      For some African countries, particularly those helped by Chinese investment and its thirst for energy and minerals, another boom may be approaching.

      Investors with cheap cash needing to spice up returns in more obscure parts of the globe are asking whether Africa can shift from final investment frontier into the emerging market mainstream. Reflecting this interest, Africa gets top billing at the annual meeting of the rich and powerful in Davos this week.

      "Not investing in Africa is like missing out on Japan and Germany in the 1950s, Southeast Asia in the 1980s and emerging markets in the 1990s," said Francis Beddington, head of research at emerging market investment house Insparo Capital.

      He believes that in the long term, Africa has the potential to be home to a sizeable chunk of the factories and warehouses of tomorrow's world.

      The Africa of old -- aid-dependent, and with large tracts of the economy controlled by corrupt and capricious governments -- has not disappeared.

      But for all the previous false dawns, there is a growing belief that the continent -- home to 53 countries, a rapidly urbanizing young population of a billion people and as much as a third of the world's natural resources -- is changing.


      That is not to say it will be a smooth ride. Eric Chirwa, a 40-year-old miner, can tell you what a tough year it's been in Luanshya: its century-old copper mine was mothballed in the depths of the global slump, leaving 1,700 miners out of work and at the mercy of the banks with whom they had racked up huge debts in the boom years.

      He's been tracking world copper prices on a daily basis, and has seen them rebound: "In the past, we never used to know the copper price," he said. "Now I'm checking the price every day in the internet cafe."

      Internet access is one aspect of the technology driving changes in Africa that go far beyond letting a miner anticipate fluctuations in copper prices. In central Africa, Rwanda -- a republic more widely known for the genocide of 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus -- has invested heavily in broadband and is promoting itself as a business services hub.

      Far more visible, of course, is the cell phone. One person in three has one: in 2007 Africa had 270 million of them, according to industry association GSMA, up from 50 million in 2003. The uptake shows little sign of slowing as five years of annual growth above 5 percent swell the middle classes.

      Mobile money transfer systems such as M-PESA from Kenya's Safaricom (SCOM.NR) have allowed people with no bank accounts -- still the vast majority -- to ping money to each other for a fraction of the cost of transfers or a bus ride to deliver cash.

      The system has evolved to incorporate an array of payments from taxi fares to food, drinks and movie tickets, making it possible to spend a whole day in Nairobi without carrying cash. Cities, towns and villages are cluttered with billboards advertising the latest cell phone service or gimmick.

      The macroeconomic effect is huge.

      A World Bank study released in November suggested half the 5 percent growth Africa enjoyed from 2003-08 was due to improvements in infrastructure, mainly telecommunications.

      "Cell phones have already transformed many economies in Africa," said Arthur Goldstuck, head of Johannesburg-based technology research firm World Wide Worx. "But the cell phone will become far more important than it is now."

      Researchers of M-PESA's impact on Kenya say it is boosting rural incomes by as much as 30 percent, allowing small farmers to diversify out of subsistence agriculture.

      As browser-enabled "smart" cell phones go mainstream in the next 5-10 years, Africans will gain access to the internet-based services and information that have driven huge productivity gains in the rich world.

      The determination with which India's Bharti Airtel (BRTI.BO) unsuccessfully pursued an alliance with South Africa's MTN (MTNJ.J), the continent's dominant cell phone operator, shows the perceived value in the world's last major mobile growth market.


      Back in Zambia, where a rumbling procession of trucks laden with high explosives and earth-movers is bringing the Copper Belt back to life, the government has sold some of the closed mines to foreign buyers: Luanshya's new owners are, predictably, Chinese, in step with another major shift in the continent.

      China Non-Ferrous Metals Corporation took over in the middle of 2009 and officially started production in December with around 2,500 staff on its books -- more than at the height of the recent boom.

      Massive Chinese investment, in return for resources to fuel its own economic boom, has helped drag the awful roads in many parts of Africa into the 21st century. Trade with China now tops $100 billion a year, and China has overtaken the United States as Africa's main partner.

      In giving the countries where the resources lie an economic boost, China's need for oil and raw materials has transformed them into an investment proxy for the Asian giant's growth, and handed the continent as a whole unprecedented negotiating clout.

      China last year promised $10 billion in infrastructure funding over three years, amid talk by Chinese officials that Africa can experience a boom like the one in their country. But the challenges -- or opportunities -- are still vast.

      "In most African countries, particularly the lower-income countries, infrastructure emerges as a major constraint on doing business, depressing firm productivity by about 40 percent," the World Bank says.

      It estimates sub-Saharan countries need to spend $93 billion a year, or 15 percent of regional output, to upgrade their electricity grids, roads, railways and sewers. Only half of that is being spent at the moment. The lion's share is coming from the African taxpayer, and even with efficiency gains outlined by the Bank, the continent faces a funding shortfall of $31 billion a year.

      Besides making China's contribution look small, the sums -- which far exceed the continent's domestic or international borrowing capacity -- suggest economies rich in hydrocarbon or other mineral resources have the greatest chance of success.

      Nigeria, with its vast oil reserves and population forecast to grow to 290 million by 2050, is always top of the list for potential, despite its chaotic politics.

      "Nigeria to Africa is like China to the world in many respects. It's too big to ignore," said Russell Loubser, head of the Johannesburg Stock Exchange.

      "Are there problems in Nigeria? Absolutely. Are there problems in China? Obviously. Are the problems too big to force you to not look at either Nigeria or China? No ways. The problems are there, but the opportunities outweigh the problems."

      Coming from the head of the continent's biggest bourse, his comments in themselves reflect another change. Gone are the days when it was Nelson Mandela's post-apartheid South Africa that hogged the African limelight.

      Today, interest is broad.

      Angola is pushing Nigeria hard for the crown of Africa's biggest oil producer. Ghana is due to start pumping crude this year, while Uganda is aiming for production of 150,000 barrels a day by 2015, following the discovery of oil near Lake Albert.

      As Africa's top copper producer, Zambia also looks well placed: "The dollars come from the copper the miners produce," reflects the miner, Chirwa. "We should enjoy some of it."


      Besides new technology, Chinese involvement and resurgent commodity prices, another difference in the Africa of today is improved macroeconomic management.

      Major debt relief after the turn of the millennium helped many African countries spend on schools, roads and hospitals, while at the same time maintaining a tight grip on monetary policy with aggressive targeting of inflation. Double-digit inflation is rare.

      "In the past, when African countries were reforming, it was usually at the behest of the IMF," said Zambian central bank governor Caleb Fundanga. "These days, African countries are reforming because they know that reform is a good thing."

      As well as increasing domestic borrowing and widening their tax bases, African governments are looking to tap outside appetites for the high-yielding debt that rapid economic growth is able to offer.

      Following in the footsteps of Gabon and Ghana, which launched frontier Africa's first Eurobond in 2007, are planned bond issues from Angola, Kenya, Uganda and Zambia -- all switching to external private sector finance rather than relying on aid.

      Even in Zimbabwe, where President Robert Mugabe is locked in an uneasy coalition with arch-rival Morgan Tsvangirai, the central bank has stopped printing money, leading to an overnight drop in inflation of 500 million percent to virtually zero.


      Zimbabwe, though, is a reminder of the elephants remaining in Africa's room: political risk and corruption have not gone away, even though most African countries are now ruled by at least vaguely democratic administrations and the polarizing framework of the Cold War has gone, limiting the spread of conflict.

      Africa continues to exert a stranglehold over the lowest rungs of world governance and corruption indices. Two-thirds of African countries scored less than three out of 10 for probity in Transparency International's 2009 corruption perception survey -- a big negative which continues to hurt their economies, according to its managing director Cobus de Swardt.

      "The biggest risk is governance," said Paul Fletcher, a senior partner at private equity firm Actis and a Davos regular whose firm is doubling its investments in Africa. "But in many respects, Africa is more advanced in terms of governance than other emerging markets, including India and China."

      A controversial oil and gas reform bill on the books in Nigeria has raised wider concerns about resource nationalism. Kenya, the biggest economy in east Africa, is struggling under an unwieldy coalition government cobbled together after mayhem and bloodshed followed disputed elections at the end of 2007.

      A guerrilla ambush on the Togolese soccer team this month, traveling through the Angolan exclave of Cabinda to a soccer tournament, shows how fragile stability still is in many countries that have seen less than a decade of peace.

      And new challenges are constantly emerging: for example, now Nairobi is awash with talk of ill-gotten gains from Somali pirate gangs propping up the local property market.

      Nonetheless, for investors prepared for the long haul -- and most dedicated African portfolio managers talk in terms of three to five years -- Africa's growth remains a compelling attraction, especially given stagnant economies elsewhere. (Additional reporting by Serena Chaudhry in Johannesburg and Dominic Evans; Editing by Sara Ledwith and Jim Impoco)


      * This article was first published by Reuters as a Davos Special Report on January 26 2010.

      Namibian, Chinese trade enjoys rapid growth

      Chrispin Inambao


      Despite the financial crisis that has wrecked global economies, the volume of trade between Namibia and China has grown, resulting in commerce between the two countries exceeding US$550 million in 2009, writes Chrispin Inambao.

      Despite the financial crisis that has wrecked global economies, the volume of trade between Namibia and China has grown, resulting in commerce between the two countries exceeding US$550 million in 2009. Diplomatic ties between the two are sound.

      While Chinese businesses recorded a trade deficit, the balance of trade between the two countries favoured Namibian exporters who sold more goods mostly semi-processed minerals to China that in turn exported vehicles, trucks and equipment to Namibia.

      This was revealed in a recent interview that New Era had with Ren Xiaoping, the Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China to Namibia.

      She said while the volume of trade between China and other countries fell partly as a result of the global financial tsunami, with Namibia it increased in comparison to 2008.

      And contrary to perceptions that the bilateral balance of payment sheet favours Chinese business at the expense of Namibian business, Xiaoping said: “From January to September 2009, Chinese exports to Namibia stood at US$181 million, an increase of 27. 1 percent compared to 2008 while its imports from Namibia were US$240 million.”

      Minerals and other goods exported by Namibia to China valued at US$240 million represent an increase of 45.7 percent.

      “A lot of people have a wrong concept that Namibia’s imports from China are more. I think what this means is we import more from Namibia than we export to Namibia.

      While China has a trade deficit, the balance of trade in this case is to the benefit of Namibian exporters,” stressed Ambassador Xiaoping.

      “The main goods that China imports from Namibia are minerals and there are other things and the main goods that Namibia imports from China are vehicles, trucks, machinery and other daily necessities,” explained the senior Chinese diplomat.

      “In a nutshell, Namibia and China are very good friends. We trust each other. We support each other. We are described as ‘a friend in need is a friend indeed’. So, I just think that this traditional friendship between the two countries will definitely grow under the joint efforts of the two sides, and I hope the friendship between the two countries lasts forever,” she told New Era during an interview last Thursday at the Chinese Embassy.

      Namibia has been consistent in giving moral support to China and has been unwavering on its recognition of the One-China Policy and it gave “strong moral support” to China to host the 2008 Beijing Olympics and the Shanghai Expo to be hosted by China this year.

      This special relationship pre-dates Namibia’s independence and goes back to the 60s and 70s when China trained PLAN fighters while giving arms and material support to Swapo.

      Bilateral trade aside, the visit to Namibia in 2007 of Chinese President Hu Jintao during his historic tour of several African countries, resulted in China offering Namibia concessional loans amounting to RMB1 billion. And it also generously extended a preferential line of credit that is interest-free to the tune of US$100 million.

      From the concessional loan, an amount of RMB41 million was used for the procurement of software and for the implementation of the e-governance project for Namibia, while RMB300 million was used for the procurement of X-ray equipment from China.

      RMB645 million from the concessional loan funded three developmental projects including for the implementation of one of the phases of the Northern Railway Line as well as the upgrading of the Oshakati State Hospital in northern Namibia, which she noted: “was very run down and needed to be upgraded”.

      Part of these funds was used to give a facelift and expansion of the Namibian Broadcasting Corporation (NBC), whose facilities were built during the colonial era.

      “The Namibian side is satisfied with the implementation of these projects,” she said.

      She said since her deployment as Chinese Ambassador to Namibia, she has worked tirelessly to ensure that the eight areas of cooperation measures promised by President Hu Jintao at the China Africa Summit held in Beijing in 2006 such as the provision of full support to African countries, that such as assistance to rural schools and hospitals are fulfilled.

      “Since I came to Namibia, I have been working very hard to implement the eight measures promised by President Hu Jintao at the China-Africa Beijing Summit. Since my arrival, my job was to consolidate different relations and to further the friendship and areas of cooperation. Since my arrival, our mutual trust has grown,” she said.

      The eight measures announced by the Chinese president included the doubling of grant assistance and providing US$3 billion soft loans and US$2 billion preferential buyer’s credit in three years setting up a China-Africa development fund which will be injected with US$5 billion to encourage Chinese companies to invest in Africa.

      Other measures are: building a conference centre for the African Union, cancelling debts owed by heavily indebted and the least developed African countries, further opening up China’s vast market to Africa by largely increasing the number of African export items to China that receive zero-tariff treatment and strengthening cooperation in the fields of agriculture, human resource enhancement, health and education.

      The inception of the Forum of China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) brought tangible benefits to Namibia such as the building of the regional council buildings in Rundu and Outapi, the New State House, the fishery laboratory at Kamutjonga Inland Fisheries Institute in Kavango, the Defence Academy (Okahandja), and the Youth Training Centre.

      China also availed grants amounting to RMB20 million and it helped to fund a large hospital at Omuthiya where a groundbreaking ceremony has occurred.

      She said China has provided over 300 training opportunities to Namibians in various fields while at the same time it has seconded a medical team at the Katutura State Hospital. There are several Chinese experts working at grassroots level while rural women and youth empowerment projects have all benefited from China’s generosity.

      At current exchange rates, US$1 is equivalent to RMB6.8.


      * This article first appeared in the New Era on 25 January, 2010.

      Highlights French edition

      Pambazuka News 131: L'Afrique face au drame haïtien


      Zimbabwe update

      11 WOZA members arrested, beaten in Bulawayo for education protest


      At noon, January 25, a delegation of 200 women and men marched to Mhlahlandlela Government complex to deliver WOZA’s report on the education system in Zimbabwe entitled - Looking Back to look Forward. Once the Ministry of Education official had attended and received the report, members began to disperse. As they dispersed seven riot police officers ran out of the Police Drill hall, which is opposite the complex and started to beat the peacefully dispersing activists and innocent bystanders and vendors.

      EU: Keep sanctions on Mugabe’s inner circle


      The European Union should maintain its travel restrictions and asset freezes on President Robert Mugabe and his inner circle until Zimbabwe carries out the concrete human rights reforms set out in the 2008 Global Political Agreement, Human Rights Watch has said. The EU is currently reviewing its sanctions policy toward Zimbabwe.

      MDC seeks SADC intervention in power-sharing dispute


      Zimbabwe's Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) formation has called for urgent regional intervention to save the coalition government amid signs the country’s feuding parties are drifting further apart in efforts to resolve outstanding power-sharing issues.

      Tsvangirai calls on investors, donors to return to Zimbabwe


      Zimbabwe's Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai said he believed the process that led to creation of a unity government last February is irreversible and that it is time for Western donors and investors to return to the country.

      African Union Monitor

      Africa: AfriMAP and Oxfam launch guide to the AU


      A new guide to the African Union launched by the Africa Governance and Monitoring Project (AfriMAP) of the Open Society Institute and Oxfam International aims to ensure that Africa’s citizens can contribute more fully to the work of the
      inter-governmental organisation.
      A new guide to the African Union launched today by the Africa Governance and Monitoring Project (AfriMAP) of the Open Society Institute and Oxfam International aims to ensure that Africa’s citizens can contribute more fully to the work of the inter-governmental organisation. The guide, which comes at heels of a period of major reforms in the AU, aims to encourage civil society to fully engage with the African Union, whilst at the same time calling for greater openness and tolerance of public participation in the affairs of the organization.
      “African civil society organizations must work to support the African Union in its work, using the openings that exist to contribute to its decision-making processes and advocate for people-friendly policies.” said Ozias Tungwarara, AfriMAP Director. “It is also essential that the AU leaders embrace the idea of opening their doors and allow citizens to come to engage them. This guide allows for such a crucial
      exchange,” he added

      It has been almost a decade since the AU was established, and feelings remain mixed about its effectiveness and purpose. The Pan African organization has established two crucial organs enabling citizen participation (the Pan African Parliament, and the Economic Social and Cultural Council), but much work remains to be done to make them as effective as they could be. The Peace and Security Council has also recently adopted procedures enabling civil society organizations to appear before it, but few have yet done so.
      Meanwhile, the energy seems to have left the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) and the Africa Peer Review Mechanism (APRM), once among the most promising initiatives for a new commitment to good governance and participatory development on the continent.
      With the renewed commitment in 2008 by incoming Chairperson of the AU Commission, Jean Ping, some civil society organizations consolidated their efforts to engage with the AU, to a point where some had reoriented their programmes around AU priorities. As a result, the new guide adds to such a renewed commitment to engage with the AU as the primary inter-governmental organization for the African continent.
      “The guide aims to help civil society groups and ordinary citizens understand the workings of the AU, and assist them to positively and constructively engage with the organization,” said Oxfam’s Désiré Assogbavi.
      The guide looks at three key areas around the AU: a description of its organs and institutions; suggestions on influencing AU policy decisions and processes; and finally a summary of the debate on a Union Government.
      As the African Union expands to a bigger and more complicated organization, issues surrounding the union have expanded with it. The talk of a Pan African Parliament that is empowered to legislate, a stand by African Defence Force, an ever widening membership to the APRM and finally a Union Government, makes it fundamental for the AU to become more transparent and accountable to its citizens. After all, the ambition to accelerate African integration cannot be achieved by continental polices alone, but by African people. This has been the vision behind the birth of the AU, and the guide acts as a catalyst toward achieving such a vision.
      The African Union (AU) has committed to a vision of Africa that is ‘integrated, prosperous and peaceful … driven by its own citizens, a dynamic force in the global arena’ (Vision and Mission of the African Union, May 2004). ‘The guide to AU structures and processes’ is an effort to take up the challenge of achieving this vision. It is a tool to assist activists to engage with AU policies and programmes. It describes the AU decision-making process and outlines the roles and responsibilities of the AU institutions. It also contains a sampling of the experiences of those non-governmental organisations (NGOs) that have interacted with the AU.
      Much of the information in ‘The guide to AU structures and processes’ is drawn from the report Towards a People-Driven African Union: Current Obstacles and New Opportunities (AfriMAP, AFRODAD and Oxfam GB, January 2007, updated November 2007) available on the websites of the publishing organisations. Additional information is derived from the report of the Audit of the African Union presented to Heads of State and Government in January 2008 and information collected by consultant Rudo Chitiga, who prepared the first draft of the Guide.
      About the Publishers:
      AfriMAP, the Africa Governance Monitoring and Advocacy Project, is an initiative of the Soros foundation network’s four African foundations, and works with national civil society organisations to conduct systematic audits of government performance in three areas: the justice sector and the rule of law; political participation and democracy; and effective delivery of public services.

      The Open Society Institute works to build vibrant and tolerant democracies whose governments are accountable to their citizens. To achieve its mission, OSI seeks to shape public policies that assure greater fairness in political, legal, and economic systems and safeguard fundamental rights. At a local level, OSI implements a range of initiatives to advance justice, education, public health, and independent media. At the same time, OSI builds alliances across borders and continents on issues such as corruption and freedom of information.
      OSI places a high priority on protecting and improving the lives of people in marginalized communities.

      Oxfam International works with others to overcome poverty and suffering in 24 countries across Africa. Alongside its development and humanitarian work, Oxfam International supports regional African organisations and coalitions to effectively engage continental and international policy-making institutions to respond to poverty and exclusion. Recognising the next three years as a defining moment for the African Union, Oxfam GB has invested in partners and its own staff to support the African Union as a positive force for realising the social, economic, political and cultural rights of Africans.

      For more information please contact:
      Jeggan Grey Johnson – Mobile+ 27 836 200578- email: [email protected]

      Africa: Ministers urged to give real power to AU Authority


      Foreign ministers gathered for talks on the change of the African Union Commission into an Authority should focus on giving this proposed government real power, the Libyan Foreign Minister, Moussa Koussa, said.

      Women & gender

      Freedom of Information and Women’s Rights in Africa

      FEMNET/UNESCO book launch


      The African Women’s Development and Communication Network (FEMNET) with support from United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has launched a book titled: Freedom of Information and Women’s Rights in Africa. The book is compilation of five case studies from five African countries namely; Cameroon, Ghana, Kenya, South Africa and Zambia, will help women’s organisations as they organise around freedom of information in their respective countries.
      Addis Ababa, 24th January, 2010

      The African Women’s Development and Communication Network (FEMNET) with support from United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has launched a book titled: Freedom of Information and Women’s Rights in Africa. The book is compilation of five case studies from five African countries namely; Cameroon, Ghana, Kenya, South Africa and Zambia, will help women’s organisations as they organise around freedom of information in their respective countries.

      African Union Special Rapporteuer on the rights of women in Africa, Her Excellency Commissioner Soyata Maiga officially launched the book and commended FEMNET and UNESCO for the great initiative of linking freedom of information to women’s rights. She appealed to women’s civil society organizations and progressive governments in the continent to make Freedom of Information as part of the discourse in consolidation of democracy and promotion of socio-economic justice.

      “African women have for sometime now been lobbying for women’s rights to be recognized and upheld. Without freedom of information, it has been difficult to do so. Having freedom of information legislation and policies is very important for any democratic state as it is fundamentally related to good governance and sustainable development.” Commissioner Soyata Maiga.

      UNESCO Director for Addis Ababa Office Mr. Luc Rukingama said UNESCO is proud to be associated with the launch of the Freedom of information and women’s rights in Africa book and pleased to support gender equality issues and hoped that the book will be used to mainstream through use of ICTs.

      FEMNET Chairperson Mama Koite Doumbia said the launch of the book could not have come at better time than now when the Africa Union Summit theme is "Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) in Africa: Challenges and Prospects for Development” “ The book relates well with this years’ theme however ICTs can only enhance development if African government enact and implement Freedom of Information laws and urgently repeal restrictive media and other laws on freedom of expression” said Mrs. Doumbia.

      “This years’ theme carries a lot of weight in determining the future of the African woman and the continent with regards to use of ICTs in advancing gender equality. African governments need to promote use of ICTs to increase awareness among women on their rights and facilitate informed decision-making. This could include initiatives that enable citizens to use SMS helplines to report human rights violations and also support the use of ICTs in education (formal and informal) and literacy programmes so as to build ICT skills among young and adult women" added Mrs. Doumbia.

      For Further Information Contact:
      Carlyn Hambuba, FEMNET Communication Officer:
      Tel: + (254)20.2712971/2 or + (254)20.2341516/7 (Wireless)
      Cell: + (254)725.766932
      [email protected]

      The FOI book is available on

      For more information about the African Union visit the Website

      Kenya: Documenting sexual violence


      The testimonies of women who survived sexual violence during post-election conflict in 2008 should be heard, say advocates. The magnitude of the crimes committed against women because of their gender must be recorded and prosecuted to prevent such violence from occurring again.

      Mozambique: First woman speaker a step for equality


      Mozambique is continuing to see a steady stream of changes when it come to upping the gender mix in the country's political landscape. The most recent victory was the unanimous election of Veronica Macamo, a member of the ruling Frelimo party, who made history when she became the first woman speaker of parliament at a swearing in ceremony in the capital Maputo on 12 January.
      Mozambique is continuing to see a steady stream of changes when it come to upping the gender mix in the country's political landscape. The most recent victory was the unanimous election of Veronica Macamo, a member of the ruling Frelimo party, who made history when she became the first woman speaker of parliament at a swearing in ceremony in the capital Maputo on 12 January.

      Macamo was one of 106 women elected to Parliament during last October's elections, an increase from 96 in the previous parliament, which brought the gender balance to 42.4% women.

      Born on 13 November 1957 in Chissano locality in Billene-Macia district of Gaza Province, about 200 kilometres north of the capital Maputo, she studied law at the University Eduardo Mondlane university in the capital Maputo.

      At 37 years, Macamo was elected to parliament in the country's fourth legislation. At the end of her five year term, she took on the deputy speaker position, which she held until her latest appointment. Professionally, Macamo provides legal consultations for state-owned companies. She is also a founding member of the Mozambican Association of Women in the Judicial sector (AMCJ) and a member of the Frelimo central committee.

      In accepting her position, Macamo attributed her success to experiences that have allowed her to exchange information and training with other national and international parliamentarians. For many women, this is another signal of women's potential to achieve high ranks in the country, and they are celebrating the victory.

      "This is a step ahead for Mozambican politics, as there is continuity in women leadership," observed Julia Ucucho, a friend of mine during an informal conversation. "When Luisa Diogo (former Prime Minister) took office, most ‘doubting Thomases' on women's potential in Mozambique thought it was an end to the rise of women in the pearl of the Indian Ocean, but it was only a beginning."

      However, Veronica Macamo, like the other 106 women parliamentarians, will only be a real victory for women if they use their powers and influence to make positive changes for women and girls in the country.

      Politicians and decision-makers of all kinds, have a duty to work towards gender equality. The upliftment of all people is the only way to answer the call made by President Armando Emilio Guebuza, who said national unity and peace are foundations for the consolidation of multiparty democracy in Mozambique.

      "We invite all parties and coalition of parties in our political firmament and their leaderships and members, women and youths all Mozambican to participate in this process of consolidation of multiparty democracy, a process that also releases various creative initiatives for the success of our development programmes,' he said.

      Women leaders such as Luisa Diogo, a former World Bank economist who helped usher Mozambique's economy to positive growth during her tenure as Minister of Finance, show that gender equality makes good sense for a country's development. Diogo progressed to be Prime Minister under Guebuza's administration, where she played a leading role in sealing development project agreements for the country.

      And it is not only the political landscape that is changing in Mozambique. Go to any university or college in Mozambique and you will find the number of women determined to graduate with professional distinction on the rise.

      Women are not only being found in increasing numbers in sectors traditionally considered to be for women. They are also emerging into positions in sectors such as mechanics or as drivers for public transport, which have traditionally been reserved for men. Women are increasingly challenging traditional notions of gender. Indeed, the sisters are calling for change.

      Recent years have also seen legislative changes in the country, including
      the approval of the Family Law, as well as legislation to counter the trafficking of women and children. The yardstick of the next parliament reigning between 2010 and 2015 will include how far forward Macamo and the other women in Parliament with go with gender equality and women's interest.

      There is an urgent need to approve pending legal instruments that could protect women, put in place binding laws to counter violence against women, and implement the region-wide Southern African Protocol and Gender and Development. These women at the pinnacle of the country's decision-making can offer real hope for women and girls all around the country.

      * Fred Katerere is a freelance journalist based in Maputo. This article is part of the Gender Links Opinion and Commentary Service

      Sudan: Vulnerable girls risk sexual exploitation on Juba's streets


      In a large market in Juba, the regional capital of Southern Sudan, young women spend long afternoons lounging on beds in sweltering iron sheet rooms, waiting for men. One girl, no more than 17, wearing a tight tee-shirt with the words "I love beer" emblazoned on it, points us in the direction of a different set of rooms, with the really young girls.

      Women taking their place on the pitch


      The current football fervour resulting from the Africa Cup of Nations is just a small sample of what is to come when South Africa hosts the World Cup this coming June. Young footballers across the continent are watching and cheering on their local heroes. Some of the regions’ young women players are among the fans, even though they are often left out on the pitch.
      The current football fervour resulting from the Africa Cup of Nations is just a small sample of what is to come when South Africa hosts the World Cup this coming June. Young footballers across the continent are watching and cheering on their local heroes. Some of the regions’ young women players are among the fans, even though they are often left out on the pitch.

      Women soccer players do not enjoy the same prestige, fame and glamour that their male counterparts experience in the world’s most popular sports game. Women in soccer - referees, players and coaches - each have their battles in the game, often citing challenges and discrimination, both physical and emotional. Speaking to some young female players, they recall being labeled lesbians or accused of taking “men’s place” and forgetting “their place in the kitchen.”

      According to Acting Vice President of the South African Women’s Football Association (SAWFA), Molegadi Molelekoa, people know about women’s soccer but are not enticed to watch it because it has not been well developed as a sport. “They just go and laugh at them, they watch it with the wrong perception. They look at how big they are, how they are built. In sports we shouldn’t discriminate because of somebody’s physique,” Mololekoa said.

      According to Molelekoa more men than women attend women’s games because women do not want to associate themselves with soccer, due to the way they were brought up.

      On the other hand, Molelekoa also says some men are quite impressed by the level of professionalism in women’s games, which encourages them to return to more matches.

      For Neo Sello of the Chosen Few soccer team, soccer is where her “comfort zone” is. “I prefer soccer over netball. I’ve tried other sports but was not successful. People think only men are supposed to play soccer but women are equal to men and can play soccer too,” Sello said.

      Sello adds that although most women in her team are lesbian, “straight” women can also play the game. According to Sello, more women watch their soccer, while men just critisise. “Men need to be taught about women’s soccer,” she added.

      Aside from cultural and social stereotypes, lack of resources is a big challenge for women’s soccer. As a result, the sport has remained somewhat stagnant and informal.

      The media is also one of the main culprits contributing to current perceptions surrounding women’s soccer, by not affording it the necessary coverage. The media gives little or no coverage to women’s soccer, or if they do, it is negative.

      Malawian sports journalist Mabvuto Kambuwe recalls his country’s media reporting on female referees who failed the “Cooper Test,” initiated by FIFA, while all referees both male and female failed the test. “Coverage by these local papers also contributes to the increased abuse and intimidation of female referees as they reinforce stereotypes that women referees are failures and cannot handle matches at higher level,” Kambuwe added.

      The Malawian journalist also revealed that female referees are harassed in his country. Fans even beat one female referee after their team lost.

      Kaombona Kanani, a journalist from Botswana, also attributes blames the media for not promoting female soccer events, but adds that players themselves must take a more pro-active role. “I am not much of a soccer person, but I have never had a situation that encouraged me to want to watch a women’s game. Even the women themselves they do not promote their games,” he said.

      On a more positive note, Fran Hilton, Manager of Women’s International Teams and Women’s Football Administrator at the South African Football Association said women’s soccer is growing in popularity in the country, especially in the last year, because of sponsorships from big companies such as SASOL and ABSA.

      “There has been a huge upsurge in women’s football. Before 2000, women didn’t have any sponsor, until SANLAM came in with a minor sponsorship. Sanlam made huge profits out of the sponsorship and decided to stay on board, prompting others to come on board,” said Hilton.

      According to Hilton, the creation of the Women’s World Cup also contributed. “Parents are now allowing girls to play football, as women can now live off their soccer careers,” she pointed out.

      Hilton started an Academy for Girls football in Cape Town, the only one of its kind in Africa, coaching 25 girls fulltime from all over the country. The academy offers a fully paid opportunity including education, such as free university training, enticing parents to see the opportunity in soccer for girls.

      Hilton adds that historically girls had to look like boys to play football, but this notion has since changed in recent years. “This has changed. Many girls playing in Banyana Banyana are models; they are beautiful girls. Football is not a men’s sport only, like netball, football is all about a ball, but only netball is seen as the accepted sport for girls,” Hilton stated.

      According to Hilton, Banyana Banyana and Basetsane, the women teams in South Africa, attract lot men, because they are some of the most skillful women players in the world, thus both women and men watch it.

      Similar to the previous sources, Hilton also highlights challenges in the women’s game, saying it is a very difficult arena for women to venture into, especially with regard to coaching, where men grab all coaching opportunities.

      “Ninety percent of women teams are owned by men and they want to coach them, themselves,” she added. Hilton coaches both men and women and spends time all over the world, especially in developing countries. She noted that Southern Africa is coming along in women’s soccer, especially in Namibia and Botswana where the game is quite developed compared to the rest of the region.

      The issue of funding hampers the progress of the women’s game. Hilton stated that FIFA only spends about 15% of their budget on women’s sports, meant for development and not necessarily for taking part in tournaments.

      “Money plays a crucial role in women soccer, as teams often withdraw from tournaments, especially African teams. One international game costs about R600 000, thus funding is crucial,” Hilton. Africa has three spots in the Women’s World Cup, but only used one during the last event because of lack of funding.

      Despite talent, many young women are not jumping onto the pitch to the play. Hopefully, when it comes time for the next Women’s World Cup, we will see some of the same football fever we are seeing now for the men’s game.

      * Ingrid Hoaes is a journalist in Zimbabwe. This article is part of the Gender Links Opinion and Commentary Service, produced during a “Business Unusual” workshop.

      Human rights

      CAR: Paris demands fate of Charles Massi


      France has asked the Central African authorities to shed light on the fate of the Central African ex-minister and rebel leader, Charles Massi, reported to be dead by his family of the torture he underwent in prison after having been handed over to Bangui.

      Ethiopia: Oposition says jailed leader ignored by West


      The West is ignoring a jailed Ethiopian opposition leader to keep the Horn of Africa stable despite her being this week named on a United Nations list of arbitrary detainees, her party said on Friday. Birtukan Mideksa, leader of the Unity for Democracy and Justice party (UDJ), was first jailed with other opposition leaders when the 2005 election turned violent. She was pardoned in 2007 but re-arrested last year accused of violating that pardon.

      Global: Health care providers torture patients – World Report


      A Human Rights Watch report has revealed details of health care providers withholding care or engaging in treatment that intentionally inflicts pain on patients for no medical reason. World report 2010 details major human rights violations in more than 90 nations and territories worldwide. It is a record of investigative work carried out by the organisation in 2009.

      Kenya: Tackling the crisis of urban poverty


      Fridah Awour Agolla has sold vegetables in Nairobi's Mathare slum for 20 years. In better times, her stock sold out every day. But lately market forces have begun to bite even harder for the millions in Kenya who live in such squalid, neglected settlements.

      Morocco: Ease restrictions on Sahrawi - HRW


      The international human rights body has called on Moroccan authorities to cease a ban on foreign travel against selected Sahrawi activist, saying it hampers the freedom of movement. Human Rights Watch (HRW) said since August 2009, the government has revived an arbitrary and repressive measure, which it had used frequently more than a decade ago to bar Sahrawis’ from traveling abroad.

      Zimbabwe: Anglicans to hold protest prayer over persecution


      Members of the Anglican Church are planning to hold a prayer meeting this Sunday in protest against ongoing persecution from an ousted bishop who is using the police to disrupt their services.

      Zimbabwe: One million casualties of land reform


      The seizure of large commercial farms - almost all white-owned - has continued despite the formation of a unity government in Zimbabwe. The country's farm workers say they are the biggest losers. The workers say that Southern African Development Community (SADC) leaders must intervene immediately to stop the violence against them.

      Refugees & forced migration

      Global: Expulsions from EU rise sharply


      At least 1,570 individuals were removed from the EU's territory in 31 flights coordinated by the bloc's external borders agency Frontex between Jan. 1 and Dec. 15 last year. This represented a tripling in joint expulsions - involving authorities from two or more EU states - since 2007. Some 428 migrants were flown out in such operations that year, with the figure rising to over 800 in 2008.

      Global: Lancet article calls for changes in health care practice for conflict-afflicted


      An article in The Lancet medical journal, co-authored by a UNHCR expert, says health care for people in conflict settings needs to be updated. It calls for changes in four key areas: delivery of health services; treatment of chronic diseases; development of health services in urban areas; and surveillance, measurement and monitoring.

      Nigeria: Aid agencies “staggered” by IDP numbers


      Relief agencies are struggling to help the some 18,000 displaced people in 17 makeshift camps in and around the central Nigerian city of Jos. Most of the displaced do not have enough food and they lack access to toilet facilities and safe drinking water, Nigeria Red Cross (NRC) head Auwalu Mohammed told IRIN.

      Sudan: School project in Darfur helps to build bridges between communities


      Thanks to funding from the UN refugee agency, hundreds of primary schoolchildren in Sudan's volatile West Darfur state no longer have to study in the open. At the same time, UNHCR is helping to form bonds between different ethnic groups and avoid conflict in an area where hundreds of thousands of people have been forcibly displaced in recent years.

      Social movements

      Global: Third NYC Encuentro for Dignity & Against Displacement


      An echo that turns itself into many voices, into a network of voices that, before the deafness of power, opts to speak to itself, knowing itself to be one and many, acknowledging itself to be equal in its desire to listen and be listened to, recognizing itself as different in the tonalities and levels of voices forming it. A network of voices that resist the war that power wages on them. – Words of the Zapatistas at the “First Intercontinental Encuentro for Humanity and Against Neoliberalism.”

      Global: WSF: Africa Continues to Draw Inspiration


      The same kind of worldwide solidarity that helped bring down apartheid is necessary to free the global South from economic domination. "Global solidarity has proved to be the only sustainable mode of confronting global apartheid, as exemplified by the liberation struggles that were fought in the 20th century," says Dakarayi Matanga.

      South Africa: Help Zille-Raine Heights fight eviction


      On Friday the 29th of January, over 260 women, men, children and elderly will be represented in court for our appeal trial against forceful relocation from Zille Raine Heights informal settlement in Grassy Park to Happy Valley, 35 kms away from Cape Town.

      South Africa: What is happening in Kennedy Road after the Attack on AbM?


      After the 26th September 2009 attack on Abahlali baseMjondolo in Kennedy Road by the shebeen owners and the ANC the life of the people has changed into misery. Everything is out of their control and some people are even abandoning the area due to a high level of crime activities making it unsafe. These activities are being started in the shebeens which are operating right through the night again.

      WSF: Back seat driver of social change


      The World Social Forum (WSF) is only "a tool" and must not be confused with the global movement for another world, says Chico Whitaker, one of the founders of this meeting which is celebrating its tenth year with a seminar to assess its track record Jan. 25-29, in its southern Brazilian place of origin, Porto Alegre.

      Africa labour news

      Liberia: Tell Firestone to play fair!


      As sports fans gear up for the NFL Super Bowl next week, the Halftime show sponsor, Bridgestone/Firestone, continues to exploit workers on its rubber plantation in Liberia. The majority of workers who labor as “rubber tappers” must carry two heavy buckets of raw latex weighing 75 pounds each on both ends of a stick on their back for miles.

      Zambia: Lumwana workers win pay rise


      Lumwana Mining Company has signed the first collective agreement with Mine Workers Union of Zambia (MUZ) and National Union of Miners and Allied Workers (NUMAW) and awarded a 21 per cent salary increase to its unionised employees across the grades.

      Emerging powers news

      Emerging powers news roundup

      Sanusha Naidu


      In this week's emerging powers news, south-south cooperation is cemented in new partnerships, Africa seeks frameworks for managing new resource-driven weatlh, BRIC and South Africa commit to mitigating climate change, and the AU keen to forge closer ties with China.

      Economic News

      Increasing dynamics in South-South cooperation- Economic recovery after world recession powered now in deals among the relatively disempowered: To NAFTA there is now a CAFTA. (3rd article) More

      Foreign Direct Investment Faces Modest Recovery, but long term investor remain cautious. More

      Despite failed large-scale telecom deals, Africa is still an active investment destination for international telecom investors More

      Emerging-market stocks fell for a sixth day, but „Emerging markets are the most attractive places to invest“ More

      Africa, inching toward stability, becomes the continent of the long game and holds great investment opportunities More

      How is Africa to manage its new wealth? The search is on for a framework to manage countries' resource-driven wealth. More

      Nigeria and Angola- the two top African petroleum producers- compete for prime supply contracts at high export prices More

      Bilateral Relations and Investment


      Activists, Researchers Raise Alarm on Africa's 'Land Grab' More

      Ministers from the "Basic Four" countries, which include South Africa, India, China and Brazil, have re-emphasised their commitment to working together to mitigate climate change More


      The African Union keen to forge closer ties with China More

      China is willing to use its super power clout to enhance peace and security in the eastern DRC More

      China’s march in Kenya upsets local firms More

      China will reschedule Ziscosteel's debt to 2013 and signs an agreement with Harate on several investment projects in return More

      China's ZTE gets $378m South Africa deal More

      State-owned Chinese oil company may enter Uganda’s oil sector in a partnership with Tullow Oil More

      China expands relations with and investment in Ethiopia More

      China to aid Somalia anti-piracy force: diplomat More

      Chinese in Africa 'For Simple Profit'? China's ambassador to SA: „If business investments were made for political reasons, they would hardly be sustainable.“ More

      Nigeria Crude Oil Export to India Hits $10bn in 2009. More

      ComAfrique initiative launched in Gambia:a basic sustainable solar rural lighting project in co-operation between the government and the Indian Embassy in Gambia. More

      India set for heavy investments in Nigeria's energy sector and signs agreement with Angola to bid jointly for oil and gas projects andoffered to set up a refinery. More

      Tanzania to Revoke Railway Pact with Rail India Technical and Economic Services (RITES) More

      India offers assistance for development of Uganda's oil, gas sector More


      Australia seeks to strengthen ties with South Africa More

      Australia takes a softer approach on Zimbabwe and agrees to assist the country. More

      Nurses from India, Singapore and the Pillipines cure staff shortage in South Africa More

      Latin America and China have a mutual interest to build the bridges that will bind „their vital, though still awkward, partnership“- obstacles and chances in Latin American-Chinese relations. More

      Egypt's Orascom Construction Industries (OCI) has formed a 50/50 joint venture with Morgan Stanley to develop and invest in infrastructure in the Middle East and Africa More

      Upcoming Events and Summits

      The 2nd Africa CemenTrade Summit takes place in Dakar, Senegal, providing an in-depth view into cement trade and investment opportunities from more than 10 major African cement markets. More

      Key Industry Players gather in South Africa for Mining Indaba in the beginning of February 2010. More

      Ghana to host 7th Africa Investment Forum in February 2010 with a focus on the theme 'Accelerating Intra-African Trade and Investment'. More

      * Sanusha Naidu is the research director of Fahamu's China in Africa programme.
      * Please send comments to [email protected] or comment online at

      Elections & governance

      Guinea: Junta leaders 'should be barred from unity government'


      Guinea's interim government should exclude key military officials suspected of involvement in the 28 September massacre of pro-democracy activists in the West African nation, an African Union lobby group has said.

      Kenya: MPs opt to scrap prime minister position


      Kenyan MPs have agreed to scrap the position of prime minister in a draft constitution being drawn up as part of a power-sharing deal. The role was created following post-election riots in 2007 to allow coalition partners to share power.

      Liberia: Mixed reaction over Sirleaf's 2011 participation


      Mixed reactions have marred Liberia following the recent announcement by President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf that she will run for re-election in 2011. Ms Sirleaf has said that she had not realised before the 2005 polls how much rebuilding work needed to be done in Liberia. She became Africa's first elected female head of state after winning 53 percent of the vote.

      Nigeria: Senate and cabinet at odds over ill Yar'Adua


      Nigeria's Senate and cabinet are at loggerheads over President Umaru Yar'Adua, who has spent two months in hospital in Saudi Arabia. The cabinet has declared that he is still capable of governing the country.

      Sudan: Abuses undermine impending elections


      Violations of civil and political rights by Sudanese security forces throughout the country are seriously undermining prospects for free, fair, and credible elections in April 2010, Human Rights Watch has said.

      Sudan: South Sudanese name poll candidate


      South Sudan's former rebels have chosen a northern Muslim as their candidate in April's presidential election, the country's first multiparty poll since 1986. The candidacy of Yassir Arman was announced by the Sudan People's Liberation Movement, which leads the government in the semi-autonomous south, on Friday after lengthy talks among party officials.


      Kenya: US suspends school funding


      The US has suspended $7m of funding for free primary schools in Kenya until fraud allegations are investigated, the US ambassador in Nairobi has said. Michael Ranneberger says "credible action" must be taken on claims that 110m shillings (£900,000; $1.4m) were siphoned off a free-education fund.


      Africa: Africa Policy Outlook 2010

      Africa Action


      One year after President Obama was sworn in to office, and less than a week before his State of the Union address, Africa Action has released its Africa Policy Outlook 2010, also published by Foreign Policy in Focus. The Outlook is an annual publication forecasts the key issues and developments in Africa policy, such as climate change, the global economic crisis, HIV/AIDS, foreign aid and other country topics, and it analyzes trends in U.S. relations with Africa under the current administration.

      Africa: Barriers on cash sent home retarding growth from 'trade not aid'


      There is something dismally familiar about the tide of news concerning Africa's increased suffering in the face of the recent global financial crisis. But there is another side to the story. African countries locked out of international capital markets for most of the past five decades have largely been spared the financial turmoil and economic downturn.

      Africa: ECA says continent shaking off effects of recession


      The Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) has said Africa was slowly shaking off the effects of the global financial crisis, but warned the road to full recovery would still be painful and require adjustments to economic management.

      Africa: Weak infrastructure plans limit financing: AU


      African countries must develop clear infrastructure improvement plans to tap soft finance available for investment in the transport and energy sectors, an African Union official said on Friday.

      East Africa: New trade platform to boost EAC ties with US


      The East African Community (EAC) is set to boost business ties with the United States in a new trade platform that is to be launched in February. Operating under the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (Tifa), the arrangement will help EAC member countries to utilise existing trade opportunities such as the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA).

      Global: IFAD President urges Davos leaders to invest in developing countries


      As business, government and private sector leaders gather in the Swiss town of Davos this week for the World Economic Forum, global food security and poverty will be among the key challenges they will need to tackle.

      Global: New paper from HBF criticizes direction of World Bank lending


      Nancy Alexander's new report finds several worrying trends in how the World Bank spends its money, namely that it is increasing its lending to middle income countries while loans and grants to low income countries stagnate, that DPOs with less stringent safeguards are outpacing project lending, and that the Gender Action Plan is not achieving its goals.

      Global: WTO to establish chairs at 14 developing country universities


      The WTO Secretariat has launched a new programme of support for teaching, research and outreach activities at 14 universities in the developing world. The WTO Chairs Programme (WCP) will assist national academic institutions in providing students with a deeper understanding of trade policy issues. Through analytical input into the formulation and implementation of trade policy, the WCP will help strengthen the participation of the beneficiary countries in international trade.

      West Africa: World Bank president visits Côte d'Ivoire


      The president of the World Bank group, Robert Zoellick, has begun a visit in Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire, with working sessions with the Ivorian government and civil society organisations. According to Mr. Zoellick, the aim of his visit to Côte d'Ivoire is to listen and learn.

      Health & HIV/AIDS

      Africa: Rotavirus vaccine making headway


      New vaccination programmes against rotavirus are starting to have a positive impact, and could eventually prevent hundreds of thousands of child deaths a year, according to a new report.

      Nigeria: Adherence partners give short-term boost, but no long-term benefit - study


      People with HIV who selected treatment partners to support their adherence were more likely to return to the clinic to collect further doses of antiretrovirals, and showed a higher rate of viral suppression after six months of treatment, but showed no longer-lasting advantage in terms of viral suppression, CD4 cell counts or mortality, Nigerian and American researchers report in the Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes.

      Rwanda: Circumcision more cost-effective in newborns than adults


      An analysis of the cost-effectiveness of male circumcision for HIV prevention in Rwanda has concluded that circumcising newborn babies would be cheaper and prevent more infections than providing the operation to adolescents or adults.

      Senegal: Twitter helps save thousands of lives


      An epic collaboration involving one of the world's most popular social networking media, Twitter, and Malaria No More, an international body fighting against Malaria, is poised to save over 80, 000 lives from the deadly effect of malaria.

      South Africa: Huge cuts in aid ahead for HIV/AIDS treatment


      South Africa faces potentially huge cuts in donor support for its HIV/AIDS programme over the next five years, yet it needs an extra R2-billion a year to reach all those who need antiretroviral treatment. “US government funding is going to come down dramatically over the next five years,” warned Dr Roxana Rogers, USAID South Africa Health Team leader last week.

      South Africa: Military gets new HIV policy


      The announcement in late 2009 that the government had approved a new HIV/AIDS policy in the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) was widely welcomed by AIDS and human rights lobbyists as long overdue. A November 2009 statement by the SANDF noted that the new policy made provision for the "recruitment and selective deployment of HIV-positive members" of the military and complied with a High Court ruling in May 2008, which found the previous policy of excluding HIV-positive people from recruitment and foreign deployment unconstitutional.

      Sudan: Battling HIV in a post-conflict army


      The evidence of five years of peace is everywhere in Juba, regional capital of Southern Sudan - in the brisk trade in the city's markets, its packed bars and nightclubs, and in the relaxed gait of the soldiers of the former rebel Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA).


      Swaziland: Dreams of free education deferred


      Ten-year-old Tembuso Magagula sat outside her classroom with her shoulders hunched against the cold today, tears streaming from her eyes. Her long-awaited first day of school had turned into a nightmare. Magagula expected to start grade one this year - four years late - as a beneficiary of the Free Primary Education programme which started on Jan. 26 in all public schools.


      Ethiopia: Conference to tackle sexuality


      Gender based violence, sexual orientation, gender equality and sexuality of people living with HIV/AIDS will be issues discussed at the upcoming Africa Conference on Sexual Health and Rights, 8-12 February in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. This fourth conference is expected to open up discourse about sexuality in Africa and to source possible insights of reducing the spread of HIV and Aids in Africa.

      Global: Urgency Required: Gay and lesbianrights are human rights


      The book Urgency Required focuses on urgent issues of gay and lesbian liberation, taking a historical perspective and reflecting worldwide geographic diversity. Employing the term ‘LGBT-persons’, the acronym used for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender, it explores concepts and strategies for taking steps towards decriminalization and equal rights and treatment regarding sexual orientation and gender identity.

      Kenya: Gays embrace inclusive Aids plan


      Gay rights groups are pleased with the third National Aids Stategic Plan by the National Aids Control Council (NACC), which caters for men who have sex with men (MSM) as most at risk populations, launched by Prime Minister Raila Odinga on 12 January 2010.

      Southern Africa: Condemnation of Malawi's discriminatory laws


      Civil society organisations have expressed strong opposition to the imprisonment of Steven Monjeza and Tiwonge Chimbalanga, a gay couple, in Malawi. More than 40 African civil society organisations have called for the immediate release of this couple, and for the repeal of discriminatory laws against same-sex relationships.

      Uganda: Bill 'latest chapter in long story of fight and flight for LGBT protection'


      From the opinion pages of the world's most influential newspapers to the hallways of high schools in Oregon and beyond, globally people are taking a fresh look at an old problem - the persistent and pervasive discrimination faced by the world's lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) population.

      Uganda: Kill the gays or kill the bill?

      A Compilation by the Coalition on Human Rights & Constitutional Law


      This is compilation by the Civil Society Coalition on Human Rights & Constitutional Law of recent articles, opinions and press statements related to the Anti-Homosexuality Bill currently before Uganda's Parliament.
      As many of you will be aware, the Bill poses a substantial threat to human rights in Uganda, both the rights of same-sex attracted and trans-gendered people and of anybody who fails to report them and the rights of those who seek to work in a supportive manner. Whether it be in terms of protecting LGBTI rights, working on HIV/AIDS prevention, providing counselling, or simply providing information on sex and sexuality, civil society organisations, academics and health workers are all under threat should this bill be passed.

      Some of the Refugee Law Project's refugee and asylum seeker clients will be placed at further risk if the Bill passes, and the day-to-day work of providing legal aid and counselling will also be substantially jeopardised.

      Since the Compilation was published in late December, there have been further developments: The Catholic Archbishop has described the Bill as Un-Christian, the President has suggested to the ruling party that it should go slow on passing the Bill as it has become a foreign relations issue which is jeopardising important relationships between Uganda and its supporters, and the Speaker of Parliament has responded by saying that the President cannot stop Parliament from debating the Bill.

      We urge you all to read through this Compilation, and forward any comments you may have to [email protected] ; these will be forwarded to all Coalition members for further discussion. Please also contact us if you require hard copies or if you are a Civil Society organisation wishing to join the Coalition.

      Due to the difficulties of sending and receiving large files in Uganda and many other countries in the region, we have broken the document down into four parts which are all available on our website. We trust you are able to download them without problems.

      The four parts of the document can be accessed as follows:

      However, for those with very good internet connections this compilation can be downloaded as a single document here


      Africa: Greenwashing hydropower: The problems with big dams


      Big dams have frequently imposed high social and environmental costs and long-term economic tradeoffs, such as lost fisheries and tourism potential and flooded agricultural and forest land. According to the independent World Commission on Dams, most projects have failed to compensate affected people for their losses and to adequately mitigate environmental impacts.

      Global: Can the rainforests be saved without a plan?


      The West wants to direct billions toward protecting forest lands, but the lack of any standardized rules and enforcement methods could lead to disaster. Experts warn that the wrong people might benefit from the money and argue indiginous peoples, not bureaucrats, should watch over the rainforests.

      Land & land rights

      Africa: Activists, researchers raise alarm on Africa’s ‘land grab’


      Activists and researchers in the United States are raising the alarm on what they call the “land grab” in Africa. Outside governments and foreign corporations have been turning increasingly to African countries to purchase large areas of land, to the dismay of activists, who say economic mistakes of the past should not be repeated.

      Global: Unravelling the Land Grab

      How to protect the livelihoods of the poor?


      Oxfam Novib wants to come to grips with the land issue – trying to understand the implications of the capital-rich countries and companies endeavouring to purchase or lease large tracts of agricultural land in resource-rich developing States. Some general questions that have come up in internal debates start even from the premises whether this is a good or a bad thing.

      Food Justice

      Africa: Farmers 'jury' voices agricultural research concerns


      Agricultural researchers should spend more time improving local seeds and less time developing hybrids from "outside", farmers in West Africa have said. And research should broaden from narrow concerns such as improving a single crop to wider studies that take into account the environment in which farmers operate, they said.

      Global: Towards food sovereignty: Reclaiming autonomous food systems

      Multimedia publication by IIED


      ‘Towards Food Sovereignty’ is an online book with full color photo illustrations and linked video and audio files. It describes the ecological basis of food and agriculture, the social and environmental costs of modern food systems, and the policy reversals needed to democratize food systems.

      West Africa: Act now to stem Sahel food crisis, donor says


      Governments, aid agencies and donors must join forces now to ensure that severe food insecurity in the Sahel does not lead to famine, says the European Commission humanitarian aid department (ECHO).

      Media & freedom of expression

      Global: Top Documentary Films


      Top Documentary Films offers direct or indirect access to hundreds of documentaries - many of them socially critical - with reviews from trusted sources. The content here is created with a passion for documentary films, the site is in open form and allows readers to add comments about documentary films they like or dislike. This is a useful resource for educators, the socially critical and, indeed, anyone bored out of their minds by the inanity and poverty of mainstream TV and commercial cinema.

      North Africa: 'Waves of the Mediterranean' radio project unveiled in Tunis


      Regional radio professionals and an international organisation promoting cross-cultural dialogue joined together to launch a Mediterranean-wide radio station from Tunis on Tuesday (January 19th).

      Zambia: Digital switch: MISA urges government to prevent 'information gap'


      The Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) Zambia Chapter has observed that Zambia is running out of time to prepare for the mandatory migration of broadcasting services from analogue to a digital platform.

      News from the diaspora

      Global: New murders and fumigations in ancestral Afro-Colombian territories


      In only two weeks, four Afro-Colombian leaders have been murdered, and several subjected to death threats. Fumigations have caused the internal displacement of more than 100 Afro-Colombians. The violation of Afro-Colombian fundamental rights continues to escalate. Effective and structural measurements must be taken by Colombian government in order to guarantee the safety and integrity of Afro-Colombians, and promote the respect and observance of their rights.

      Conflict & emergencies

      Africa: "Strong risk" of 2010 famine in Sahel, says EU


      Millions in West Africa's arid Sahel belt could face famine this year unless the world acts quickly to help, the European Union's humanitarian aid arm has said. The warning came as Niger confirmed the veracity of a leaked government forecast that half its population will face food shortages this year after a dive in grain production, but said it had enough food stocks to care for the most needy.

      Cote d'Ivoire: UN council OKs short force renewal in Ivory Coast


      The Security Council on Thursday sought to nudge Ivory Coast into holding much-delayed elections soon by extending the mandate of U.N. peacekeepers there by four months instead of the usual six. The West African nation that is the world's top cocoa producer has missed a series of deadlines for a presidential poll originally due in 2005 to resolve divisions that fueled a 2002-03 civil war that split the country in two.

      Global: Armed violence reduction: Enabling development


      Integrated, comprehensive and inclusive armed violence reduction (AVR) programmes are an emerging and growing area of development practice around the world. This paper, published by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, discusses the components of a multi-level AVR approach.

      Global: New report urges UN to learn lessons on resource-fuelled wars


      The lack of a coherent and committed international approach to tackling the role of natural resources in conflict is costing lives in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and heightening the risk of further unrest in other fragile states such as Côte d'Ivoire and Guinea, according to a new report from Global Witness.

      Somalia: Djibouti sends peacekeepers


      Djibouti has announced to send 450 troops to Somalia next month as to join the African Union peacekeepers mission in that country, the foreign ministry said.

      Somalia: Fighting kills at least 12 in capital


      Fighting between Islamist insurgents and African Union peacekeepers that started late on Thursday and continued into Friday killed at least 12 people in Somalia's capital, health services and witnesses said.

      Internet & technology

      Africa: Google moves into Swahili


      Google has sponsored a contest to encourage students in Tanzania and Kenya to create articles for the Swahili version of Wikipedia, mainly by translating them from the English Wikipedia, according to an article appearing in the New York Times. Swahili, because it is a second language for as many as 100 million people in East Africa, is thought to be one of the only ways to reach a mass audience of readers and contributors in the region.
      “The farmer and the cowman should be friends” is the hopeful refrain of Oklahomans in the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical “Oklahoma.” After all, their activities rhyme: “one likes to push a plow; one likes to chase a cow.”

      Alas, the cultivators and the grazers seem destined for conflict. The largest online grazer of them all, Google, has repeatedly come upon fences as it roams the Internet seeking new material for search results.

      There is China’s corner of the Internet, for example. The government there allowed Google to enter but insisted that its computers ignore writing and photographs about the Tiananmen Square crackdown in 1989, say, or the status of Tibet or political dissent in general.

      Google agreed to those conditions — that material simply doesn’t show up when someone looks for it at — though it says it is now refusing to abide by those rules in light of a hacking attempt emanating from China.

      Another barrier Google recently ran up against involves authors and publishers concerned by the company’s effort to digitize books in university libraries. Many of these are so-called orphan works, for which copyright holders could not be found, and so without securing permission, Google unleashed its page scanners. Only recently has it tried to settle with the authors and publishers so it can put the works online.

      Then there are the gaps in the Internet, barren because large populations in the Arabic world, Africa and much of India lack the means or education to create Web sites and other online content.

      But Google can do something that cowboys can’t: create more real estate. The company is sponsoring a contest to encourage students in Tanzania and Kenya to create articles for the Swahili version of Wikipedia, mainly by translating them from the English Wikipedia. The winners are to be announced Friday, with prizes including a laptop, a wireless modem, cellphones and Google gear.

      So far the contest, Google says, has added more than 900 articles from more than 800 contributors.

      “Our algorithms are primed and ready to give you the answer you are looking for, but the pipeline of information just isn’t there,” said Gabriel Stricker, Google’s spokesman on search issues. “The challenge for searches in many languages for us no longer is search quality. Our ability to get the right answer is hindered by the lack of quality and lack of quantity of material on the Internet.”

      Sitting in a Google cafeteria, Mr. Stricker outlined all the ways information eludes the search engine — wrong language, not digitized, too recent, doesn’t exist but should. Feeding the maw is clearly an obsession of Google’s. After all, the search engine’s comprehensiveness is an edge against a new, well-financed competitor, Bing from Microsoft.

      In e-mail interviews, two of the finalists in the Swahili contest said the arrival of Google on their campuses changed them from passive users of Wikipedia to active contributors. Still, they expressed mixed feelings about receiving material rewards for sharing knowledge.

      One of the finalists, Jacob Kipkoech, a 21-year-old from the Rift Valley of Kenya who is studying software engineering at Kenyatta University in Nairobi, has created 17 articles so far that were given points. Among the topics were water conservation, Al Qaeda and afforestation, the process of creating forests.

      “Wikipedia has been a good online research base for me,” he wrote, “and this was a way I could make it possible for people who can’t use English to benefit from it as well.”

      Another finalist, Daniel Kimani, also 21, is studying for a degree in business information technology at Strathmore University in Kenya. He said that contests were an effective way to attract contributors but that “bribing,” or paying per article, “is not good at all because it will be very unfair to pay some people and others are not paid.”

      “I believe in Wikipedia,” he said, “since it is the only free source of information in this world.”

      Swahili, because it is a second language for as many as 100 million people in East Africa, is thought to be one of the only ways to reach a mass audience of readers and contributors in the region. The Swahili Wikipedia still has a long way to go, however, with only 16,000 articles and nearly 5,000 users. (Even a relatively obscure language like Albanian has 25,000 articles and more than 17,000 contributors.)

      Mr. Kimani and Mr. Kipkoech represent one of the challenges for creating material in African languages. The people best equipped to write in Swahili, or Kiswahili as it is sometimes known, are multilingual university students. And yet Mr. Kimani wrote that he used “the English version more than Kiswahili since most of my school work is in English.”

      Translation could be the key to bringing more material to non-English speakers. It is the local knowledge that is vital from these Kenyan contributors, the thinking goes, assuming that Swahili-English translation tools improve.

      Mr. Kimani wrote one entry in English and Swahili about drug use in Mombasa, the second-largest city in Kenya. It says that the “youth in this area strongly believe that use of bhang or any other narcotic drug could prevent one from suffering from ghosts attacks.”

      Now the article lives in English and Swahili, although the English Wikipedia editors have asked for citations and threatened to remove it.

      It is yet another obstacle as Google the cowboy becomes Google the farmer.

      * this article was first published by the New York Times on January 24, 2010.

      Africa: New telecoms tax epidemic sweeps across Africa


      A new telecoms tax epidemic is sweeping across Africa adding to the already high tax levels imposed on operators on the continent. This time the tax is being levied on inbound international calls and will increase their costs by between 20-100%. This will make the cost of doing business with Africa rise significantly in a time of global economic downturn.

      Africa: Website launched to share SME success stories


      In any economy, a vibrant SME sector is essential for sustainable job creation, poverty reduction and private sector development. It plays a catalytic role in the development of any country. All accept that poverty-elimination in Africa can only come about through investment-driven economic growth.

      East Africa: Malili: Kenya’s planned technopolis


      Malili – a 5,000 acre East African technopolis – is a city built up for technology firms and it’s the Kenyan government’s way of creating a regional ICT brand. The Malili project is modeled off of other large technology and research parks around the world. One often cited in comparison is Smart Village Cairo, which currently hosts 120 companies and 20,000 professionals and they’re expecting that to increase to 500 companies and 100,000 professionals by 2012.

      Ethiopia: International fibre companies want to get new connections


      Ethiopia has become a market for owners of high bandwidth fibre optic cable systems; at least four foreign companies are aiming to get all or a slice of this vast potential market, reliable sources disclosed.

      Global: OLPCorps


      OLPCorps is OLPC’s official field volunteer program. It is a worldwide community dedicated to transforming education for children who have had little or no access to modern information technology. OLPCorps gives young people the opportunity to contribute their minds, bodies, time and skills to delivering better education for children living in some of the world’s most disadvantaged communities.

      eNewsletters & mailing lists

      Rwanda: Beyond Reasonable Doubt

      AfricaFocus Bulletin Jan 24, 2010 (100124)


      "The April 6, 1994 assassination of Rwandan President Habyarimana was the work of Hutu extremists who calculated that killing their own leader would torpedo a power-sharing agreement known as the Arusha Accords. The landmark deal would have ended years of conflict by creating a broad-based transitional government and an integrated Rwandan army.

      Fundraising & useful resources

      CODESRIA Small grants programme for thesis writing 2010


      The Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa (CODESRIA) is pleased to announce the eighteenth competition under its Small Grants Programme for Thesis Writing. The grants are designed to contribute to the development of the social sciences in Africa, and the continuous renewal and strengthening of research capacities in African universities through the funding of primary research conducted by post-graduate students and professionals.
      OBJECTIVES: The Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa (CODESRIA) is pleased to announce the eighteenth competition under its Small Grants Programme for Thesis Writing. The grants are designed to contribute to the development of the social sciences in Africa, and the continuous renewal and strengthening of research capacities in African universities through the funding of primary research conducted by post-graduate students and professionals. In this connection, candidates whose applications are successful are encouraged to use the resources available under the grants to cover the cost of their fieldwork, the acquisition of books and documents, the processing of data which they have collected and the printing of their thesis/dissertation. As the Council has a strong interest in encouraging African researchers to engage one another on a sustained basis, recipients of the small grants will also be supported to order books and journals produced by African scholarly publishers, including CODESRIA itself. They will also be encouraged to apply to attend CODESRIA research methodology workshops.

      ELIGIBILITY: The Programme is open to graduate students and professionals currently registered in African universities preparing their theses and dissertations in all social science fields and in other disciplines involving social or economic analysis. Preference is given to those registered for Doctoral Studies (PhD or equivalent). with fewer grants dedicated for Masters and Mphil theses.

      APPLICATION PROCEDURES: Grants are awarded solely on the strength of the applications received by CODESRIA. All applicants are required to use the application forms designed by CODESRIA and available with this announcement. The application forms can also be downloaded from the CODESRIA website ( In filling out the forms, applicants are requested to keep the following guidelines in mind:

      RESEARCH PROPOSAL: The presentation by candidates of their research proposals should contain a clear statement of the research hypotheses, a critical review of the existing literature, the methodology to be used, the expected results of the work, and a detailed work plan and timetable. The research proposal should be based on an innovative problematic which sets out the originality of the theme in relation to on-going research in the same area; the proposal should not be more than 6 pages, single spacing, font size 12;

      BUDGET: Applicants should present a detailed budget with expenses clearly linked to specific phases of their research. The budget should not exceed USD 3000 for those preparing a PhD/Doctrate, USD 2500 for those preparing an MPhil, and USD 2000 for those preparing an MA or MSc. Apart from trips for fieldwork in the country in which the research is actually conducted; travel abroad is not funded under the grant.

      STATEMENT OF INSTITUTIONAL SUPPORT: A statement is required from the applicant’s institution of affiliation giving approval for the proposed research and an assurance of continued institutional support throughout the preparation of the thesis/dissertation. This statement of institutional support should be done on the institutional letterhead and must carry the official stamp; contact details of the person issuing the statement must be included and will be contacted by CODESRIA if any queries arise.

      LETTERS OF REFERENCE: Two letters of reference must accompany each application, one from the thesis/dissertation supervisor assessing the applicant’s research proposal and abilities and another from a faculty member assessing the applicant in relation to other graduate students and commenting on the scientific merit and validity of the proposed research; contact details of the thesis or dissertation supervisor must be included in the letter of reference;

      CURRICULUM VITAE: Applicants should include a current curriculum vitae which, among other things, indicates their discipline and nationality, and provides a list of their recent publications and on-going research activities in which they are involved.

      Please note that any application which is submitted without applications forms will be automatically disqualified.


      Small Grants Programme for Theses Writing

      Application Form

      File No.: ………………….. (To be completed by the CODESRIA Secretariat)

      1. Name of Applicant: ( Start with your surname in Capitals followed by your name in small caps):


      2. Institutional Address of Applicant in Full:


      3. Tel: ………….Fax: ………………………………...

      Email (of institutional person who can be contacted): ...………………………………………………………….…………...

      4. Gender: ..Nationality (please indicate your nationality as indicated on your passport, not that of the country where you reside)......................................................……..

      5. Circle Degree:

      a. PhD (or equivalent) 

      b. Mphil 

      c. Masters 

      c. Other (Specify): …...…………………………………………….…..

      6. Field of Specialization:………………………………………...

      7. Project Title: ...………………………………………………………………



      Please complete the following Sections - Spacing should be 1.5, using 12 pts. Please adhere strictly to the Guidelines

      1. Statement of Research Problem (To include Literature Review): (1000 words):
      2. Objectives of the Study (Not more than 200 words):
      3. Theoretical Framework for Study (1000 words):
      4. Hypotheses (To be derived from the Theoretical Framework) (Not more than 200 words):

      5. Methodology:

      5a. Research Design (Describe in full your Methods for data Collection -Sample/Sampling; Materials, Sources etc.) (Not More than 1000 words):
      5b. Analysis of Data: Describe How you intend to Analyse data) (Not More than 350 words):

      6. Expected Outcomes (Not More than 350 words):
      7. Significance of the project (Not more than 300 words):

      7a. Time Frame (Use a Chart to Illustrate, indicating activities and time):

      7b. Budget (Use a Table which indicates expenditure Items and Cost in Local and US Dollars):

      8. References (Cite only those used in the Proposal):

      Signature of Applicant:…………………………………………………………


      Name and Full Address of Supervisor:…………………………………………...



      E-mail of Supervisor: ……………………………………………………………...

      Telephone and Fax Number(s) of Supervisor:……………………………………


      Other Referees:

      1. Name and Full Contact Details (Postal Address, E-mail, Telephone and Fax): …………………………………………………………………………………………….…………………………………………………………………………………………….…….…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….………………………………
      2. Name and Full Contact Address (Postal Address, E-mail, Telephone, and Fax): …………………………………………………………………………………………….…………………………………………………………………………………………….…….…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….………………………………

      Documents to be attached to Application:

      a) An original and duly stamped copy of the letter of institutional affiliation;

      b) Two letters of reference; and

      c) A copy of current Curriculum Vitae

      (NB : Please note that your proposal MUST not be more than six pages)

      All applications should be submitted to:

      The Small Grants Programme for Thesis Writing


      BP 3304, CP 18524,

      Dakar, Senegal.

      Tel.: +221-825 9822

      Fax: +221-824 1289

      E-mail: [email protected]

      APPLICATION DEADLINE AND SELECTION PROCEDURES: The deadline for the receipt of applications is Friday 18th June, 2010. Applications found to be incomplete or which arrive after the deadline will not be taken into consideration. The independent Selection Committee charged with screening all applications received will meet in Dakar, Senegal, from 19 to 23rd August, 2010 and the results of its deliberations will be announced shortly thereafter.

      All applications should be submitted to:
      The Small Grants Programme for Thesis Writing
      BP 3304, CP 18524,
      Dakar, Senegal.
      Tel.: +221-33 825 98.22/23
      Fax: +221-33 824 12.89
      E-mail: [email protected]

      Courses, seminars, & workshops

      CODESRIA Comparative Research Networks (CRNs)

      Call for Proposals for 2010


      Within the framework of its strategy for building comparative knowledge on Africa produced from within the African continent, the Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa (CODESRIA) invites proposals from researchers based in African universities and centres of research for the constitution of Comparative Research Networks (CRNs) to undertake studies on or around any of the themes identified as priority research themes within the framework of the CODESRIA strategic plan for the period 2007 – 2011.
      Within the framework of its strategy for building comparative knowledge on Africa produced from within the African continent, the Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa (CODESRIA) invites proposals from researchers based in African universities and centres of research for the constitution of Comparative Research Networks (CRNs) to undertake studies on or around any of the themes identified as priority research themes within the framework of the CODESRIA strategic plan for the period 2007 – 2011. The primary purpose for which the CRNs have been introduced is to encourage the development and consolidation of a comparative analytic perspective in the work of African social researchers. In so doing, it is hoped to establish a strong corpus of comparative studies produced by African scholars and which could help to advance theoretical knowledge and discussion. Priority research themes for the constitution of CODESRIA CRNs include the following:

      1. Re-thinking (African) Development;
      2. Re-thinking Democracy (in Africa);
      3. Engendering Democracy and Development;
      4. Transitions in African Higher Education;
      5. Reforming the African Public Sector: Retrospect and Prospect;
      6. The Changing Political Economy of African Natural Resources;
      7. African Encounters with the Global System;
      8. The Popular Arts, Identity and Culture in Contemporary Africa;
      9. Health, Politics and Society in Contemporary Africa;
      10. Migration Dynamics and the Making of New Diasporic Communities;
      11. Changing Rural-Urban Linkages;
      12. New Regionalist Impulses in Africa;
      13. New Institutions of Transitional Justice;
      14. Conflict and Reconstruction in Africa;
      15. Law, Politics and Society;
      16. State, Political Identity and Political Violence;
      17. Political Pluralism and the Management of Diversity;
      18. Water and Water Resources in the Political Economy of Development and Citizenship;
      19. Ecology, Climate and Environmental Sustainability in Africa; and
      20. Transport and Transportation Systems in Africa;
      21. Africa and the “Emerging” Powers of the Global South (China, India, Brazil...)
      22. Religion, Spirituality and Power in Africa

      Interested researchers are requested to highlight clearly the comparative question which they wish to pursue. Each proposal should include:-an introduction, a problem - a literature review, the objectives of the study - the research methodology - the results - the outline of the proposed budget and time frame knowing that the total duration of the study is 18 months from the date of launch. Furthermore the proposal should indicate, the membership of the network, including the coordinator(s) of the group; the biodata and institutional affiliation of the network members; a copy of the curriculum vitae of the coordinator(s) and members of the network; the budget outline for the activity that is proposed. Apart from the CVs of members of networks, proposals should not exceed 12 pages (font Times New Roman, size 12, line spacing: single).

      Authors of proposals submitted for consideration are urged to pay close attention to the comparative methodology which they will be applying and to demonstrate a proper understanding of the challenges of carrying out comparative studies. The independent Selection Committee that will be reviewing proposals received will be mandated to eliminate all proposals that are either silent on the comparative question that will be researched and the corresponding comparative methodology that will be employed or which show an inadequate understanding of the challenges of comparative research.

      Each CRN will be entitled to organise three meetings during its lifespan, one methodological; the second to evaluate the progress of the work of the members of the group and the final. Although the budget that will be approved for the CRNs to be supported will vary from group to group, prospective applicants may wish to note for indicative purposes only that the grants that have been awarded by CODESRIA in the recent past have ranged from USD10,000 to USD35,000. Similarly, although no specific format is required for the presentation of the budget for the work that is proposed, authors may wish to note that resources will be allocated by the Council to cover the following costs:
      i) a methodological workshop for the members of the CRN;
      ii) a review workshop at which the progress of the work of the members of the CRN will be assessed;
      iii) the field work to be undertaken by the members of the network;
      iv) books to be purchased for the work of the CRN;
      v) the honorarium to be paid to the members of the CRN for the work undertaken.
      vi) Final workshop

      The size of a CRN will vary from proposal to proposal but on average, most of the groups sponsored by CODESRIA have had an average of four to six members. It is advantageous to ensure that a proposed CRN is multidisciplinary in composition, sensitive to gender issues, and accommodating of younger scholars.

      For the 2010 competition, CODESRIA will be open to receive proposals up to 30 June, 2010. Notification of the result of the selection exercise will be made by 31 July, 2010. Proposals for the constitution of CRNs should be sent to:

      CODESRIA Comparative Research Networks,
      BP 3304, CP 18524
      Dakar, Senegal.
      Tel: +221-33825 98 22/23
      Fax:+221-33824 12 89
      E-mail: [email protected]
      Web Site:

      Public Interest Law Fellows Program seeks candidates from West Africa

      2010-2011 fellowship announcement


      The Public Interest Law Institute (PILI) is pleased to invite applications for its Public Interest Law Fellows Program for 2010-2011. The program will select qualified lawyers from West Africa for ten months of study and practical experience in New York and Budapest. We will be accepting applicants from the following countries: Benin, Burkina Faso, Cote d’Ivoire, Cape Verde, Cameroon, Chad, The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Mauritania, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone and Togo. The program endeavors to target future leaders in various fields of public interest advocacy.

      Public Interest Law Fellows Program seeks candidates from West Africa

      The Public Interest Law Institute (PILI) is pleased to invite applications for its Public Interest Law Fellows Program for 2010-2011. The program will select qualified lawyers from West Africa for ten months of study and practical experience in New York and Budapest. We will be accepting applicants from the following countries: Benin, Burkina Faso, Cote d’Ivoire, Cape Verde, Cameroon, Chad, The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Mauritania, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone and Togo. The program endeavors to target future leaders in various fields of public interest advocacy.

      PILI Fellows will join other public interest lawyers from around the world. They will reside a total of eight months in the U.S. The first semester will include study at Columbia University School of Law and additional public interest advocacy training. In the spring, Fellows will participate in a three-month period of internships at New York-based public interest law organizations and a two-month study visit based out of PILI’s Budapest office. Fellows return to their home countries after the Fellowship, with the aim to implement the project developed during the Fellowship.

      PILI will cover the cost of a round-trip coach airfare to the U.S. and Budapest, housing in New York and Budapest, a monthly stipend, a textbook allowance and accident insurance. Selected candidates for the fellowship are required to sign an agreement to the terms of the fellowship, stating that they will complete it in full.

      Selection Criteria:

      * Public interest leadership potential of the candidate in his or her country (minimum of two years working experience with the organization is required);
      * The nature of the candidate’s relationship with the nominating organization;
      * Track record of the nominating organization in promoting public interest advocacy; and
      * The quality of the Fellowship Project proposal and its potential for promoting public interest law and human rights.

      Application Requirements:

      Applicants must submit the following documents:

      * A completed program application form.
      * A curriculum vitae or resume.
      * A nominating letter from the organization where they are employed, supporting their application to the program and indicating how the Fellowship would be a benefit to the organization/institution.
      * Two recommendation letters, one from an individual outside the nominating organization
      * A description of a project that the applicant would like to work on during the first semester of the program, ideally with practical significance to their work upon return home.
      * A copy of the applicant’s law school transcript.
      * A copy of the applicant’s bar association membership, if available.
      * Information on the nominating organization/institution and additional recommendations are also encouraged, although not required.

      Submission via e-mail of application materials is strongly encouraged, though materials may also be submitted via regular mail. INCOMPLETE APPLICATIONS WILL NOT BE CONSIDERED. If an application is submitted without one of the required components, it will be disqualified, unless the applicant can justify why he/she cannot obtain the required information.

      The DEADLINE for receiving applications at PILI is March 31, 2010. For more information and application forms, please contact Jessy Teicher, Program Coordinator, by e-mail: [email protected], or by clicking here Printed applications can be sent via mail to the address on the application.

      Please note, PILI cannot provide any financial or logistical assistance for accompanying family members, including securing suitable family housing. Moreover, Columbia University requires evidence of financial support for accompanying family members prior to issuing official invitations to them. Providing proof of the requisite financial support for accompanying family members will be the responsibility of the applicant.

      Tanzania: Upcoming courses - MDF Eastern & Southern Africa


      MDF-ESA designs and delivers courses in the sphere of Project and Programme Management, Organisational Development, Human Resource Development, Resource Mobilisation, Facilitating Processes, Dealing with Contextual Changes and Rapid Skills Development.
      MDF-ESA designs and delivers courses in the sphere of Project and Programme Management, Organisational Development, Human Resource Development, Resource Mobilisation, Facilitating Processes, Dealing with Contextual Changes and Rapid Skills Development. Our courses are tailored to the needs of participants and organisations working in the field of international co-operation: Civil society organisations, international and regional NGOs, governments, donors and private sector companies.

      Our approach at MDF is to blend modern management theory and tools with practical experience in development programmes and projects worldwide. Our training courses are highly participatory, practical in nature and rich in visual elements. Some examples:

      Outcome mapping
      Arusha, 22 – 26 February 2010
      Building learning and reflection into joint development

      Nowadays, most of the work in development processes focuses on the identification of problems and tackling them with a cause-effect approach. Outcome mapping is a new planning, monitoring and evaluation method that focuses on the social changes which ultimately facilitate development.

      Training of Trainers
      Arusha, 1 – 5 March 2010
      How to design and deliver effective trainings and workshops

      If your organisation strives for quality, it cannot do without training. Knowledge of professional training methods and corresponding skills will greatly enhance capabilities of people who design and deliver participatory training in your organisation.

      Information and registration
      More information can be found on the website, clicking on the title of the course. For a complete overview of courses, use the link on the left.
      Do not hesitate to contact us on [email protected]

      The dynamics of legal pluralism in Mozambique

      Call for papers


      The Aquino de Bragança Social Studies Centre (CESAB) and the Danish Institute for International Studies (DIIS) co-organizes this International Conference in collaboration with DANIDA and Friedrich Ebert Stiftung. It will bring together researchers, practitioners and policy-makers to engage in an open debate of the current state of justice provision and public safety in Mozambique.
      State and Non-State Public Safety and Justice Provision
      The dynamics of legal pluralism in Mozambique

      International Conference
      Indy Village, Maputo, April 28-30, 2010


      Deadline for abstracts: March 5.
      Deadline for papers: April 20.

      Conference premise
      Access to justice and security are of core concern to the majority of Mozambican citizens, and central topics of policy and media debates. The police and the judiciary have undergone comprehensive reform efforts as part of the democratic transition since the war ended in 1992. Through such efforts international development partners and the government have placed much emphasis on professionalising formal state institutions in accordance with the rule of law and human rights. However, despite some improvements, the police and the judiciary face many challenges in providing adequate justice and public safety, especially to the rural and urban poor. To many poor Mozambicans the official courts are viewed as hard to access, associated with high costs and as providing forms of justice that do not fair well with local socio-cultural norms and practices of justice. Support to paralegals and other kinds of civil society-based legal aid providers has gone some way in improving access to formal justice, but efforts have been unevenly distributed across the country. The police are often accused of being partisan, ineffective, indifferent to the security and public safety needs of the poor, corrupt and lacking the capacity to prevent crime. While efforts to establish forms of collaboration between local citizens and the police, for example through schemes such as community policing councils, have had some effect, lack of popular confidence in the police, and by extension the judiciary, prevails.

      In many instances poor rural and urban citizens rather turn to non-state institutions or seek other informal mechanisms, including mob-justice, to have their social problems and crimes resolved. Justice is frequently dispensed by traditional authorities, community courts, village secretaries, community policing actors and/or traditional healers, who in one way or the other are recognised by the Mozambican state. While embraced by the 2004 constitutional recognition of legal pluralism, their roles in justice provision and policing nonetheless remain largely informal and legally detached from the formal system. During the past few years there has also been an increase in mob-justice especially in poor urban areas, exemplified by excessive punishments and lynching of criminals and suspects by ordinary citizens. These incidences can be understood as symptoms of Mozambique’s dysfunctional formal justice sector and of popular dissatisfaction with the state police. Equally relevant is to ask to what extent such incidents reflect the fragility of local non-state institutions and the lack of clear formal coordination between these and the formal state institutions.

      While there seems to be a desire for better and more effective formal state policing and justice provision in Mozambique, much of what goes on in practice in this field is highly informal and involves a range of actors whose mandates and roles are not always clear from a legal perspective. The fact that many poor rural and urban citizens tend to use local solutions rather than attend the formal courts raises important questions about the current state of formal justice provision, state policing and performance of public safety. It also raises questions about different conceptions of justice – punitive, compensational and reconciliation – among the population and with regard to state and non-state systems. Furthermore, it is widely known that even formal law-enforcers, such as police officers and state administrative personnel, frequently engage in informal solutions: outside of official legal procedures they act as judges in civil as well as criminal cases, at times in close collaboration with non-state institutions and at times in competition with them. In fact, a variety of forms of articulation between state and non-state providers exist in practice, however with wide variety across the country. This de facto state of affairs points to the dynamics of legal pluralism ‘on the ground’, which however is only poorly reflected in current legislation.

      Since the turn of the new Millennium official efforts have been made to embrace the dynamics of the legal pluralism that exists de facto in Mozambique. However, this is surrounded by ambiguity and unclear elements. As reflected in the 2004 Constitution and the Government’s Integrated Strategic Plan for the Justice Sector (PEI II, 2008-2012), non-state and semi-formal institutions are receiving increased attention from policy-makers and donors. Improved articulation between the informal and formal justice systems is a stated priority of the government and its development partners. While this marks a clear change from the almost exclusive focus on reforming the formal state institutions in the 1990s, it has not yet been followed up by a coherent legal framework for bringing this articulation to pass. Meanwhile, policy-making at the national level has been overtaken by developments on the ground. Many forms of articulation exist in practice, but these are poorly documented and understood at the national level. Within the area of local policing a similar situation prevails. Citizen involvement in policing through community policing councils is now widespread across the country. However, community policing takes a wide variety of forms and are differently embraced by the local state police and citizens alike due to lack of any law.

      There is currently a void in accumulated knowledge of the de facto dynamics of legal pluralism in Mozambique and of the varied experiences resulting from reform-related programs on the ground, especially since the mid-1990s. There is an urgent need to engage various stakeholders in a debate on the current state of public safety and justice provisions in the country, including not only what reform has so far meant in practice, but also what the future challenges and prospects are for legal pluralism as a guiding reform principle.

      Conference Objectives and themes
      The Aquino de Bragança Social Studies Centre (CESAB) and the Danish Institute for International Studies (DIIS) co-organizes this International Conference in collaboration with DANIDA and Friedrich Ebert Stiftung. It will bring together researchers, practitioners and policy-makers to engage in an open debate of the current state of justice provision and public safety in Mozambique. The overall aim is to discuss the present dynamics of legal pluralism, from both a policy and a practice perspective, and to do so by approaching the justice and security sectors, i.e. the police and the judiciary, as interlinked. The conference will focus on the roles of the range of informal, non-state and semi-formal institutions that in one way or the other engage in policing, in solving conflicts, and in providing justice and how these relate to or interact with formal state institutions. It will also engage with conceptual issues around the theme of legal pluralism, conceptions of justice and state/non-state dynamics. Finally it will address issues of reform and legislation that embraces legal pluralism and how different programs and policies can and do engage with this.

      Core questions
      Six years have passed since the 2004 constitutional recognition of legal pluralism, but there has so far been no comprehensive debate on or accumulation of knowledge and experiences on what this recognition has meant for different kinds of legislation, programs and practices ‘on the ground’. What implications has it had for the articulation between different state and non-state providers? What is the situation in terms of potential new legislation supporting legal pluralism and what are the different pros, cons and interests involved? What are the challenges and advantages of legal pluralism? How can it support improved access to justice and security for the rural and urban poor? What does it imply for local providers, including police officers, court judges and community authorities etc.? How is legal pluralism actually practiced on the ground, in terms of how non-state providers operate and link up with state institutions?

      The conference aims to address such questions from not alone a policy-maker perspective, but also from the perspective of the challenges that state and non-state providers of justice and public safety face ‘on the ground’.

      Policy-makers, practitioners and donors/NGOs will participate to particularly engage in a discussion of the current status of police and justice sector reform efforts, with an emphasis on the results achieved between 1992 and 2010, the lessons learned and the challenges ahead. This will include not only a focus on policy developments and larger sector support programs through the government, but also the range of NGO initiatives related to access to justice, human rights and policing.

      Themes for papers by researchers
      Researchers from different disciplines are invited to present papers that address legal pluralism from an empirical and/or a conceptual perspective. Invited international key note speakers will address overall conceptual issues and bring forth empirical examples from outside of Mozambique. A number of researchers working in the SADC region and in Sub-Saharan Africa in general will present papers to invigorate the debate on Mozambique and to bring a comparative perspective to the conference.

      Specifically the conference calls for papers that address the following themes, but paper abstracts that bridge the themes or bring new dimensions to the fore are also welcome:

      This theme will address how the concept of legal pluralism has been employed in Mozambique as a basis for legislation and reform of the justice sector, including the police, and what practical implications this has had so far. It will particularly address the following questions: What are the advantages of embracing legal pluralism and what are the pitfalls from an access to justice and improve public safety perspective? What implications has the recognition of legal pluralism in the constitution had for the state legal system in practice, and what has it meant for non-state providers for example in terms of how they operate and how they assert authority? How far should future legislation go in integrating non-state institutions into the formal state system? What aspects of non-state justice should be recognised and what aspects should not? What are the advantages and consequences of supporting new hybrid institutions, such as community courts, community policing and community mediators that can act as intermediaries between formal state institutions and citizens? The conference also invites papers that addresses legal pluralism from a more conceptual and theoretical perspective, but which do so in relation to the Mozambican situation.

      This theme will cover in-depth empirical case studies on the dynamics of legal pluralism in practice with a specific focus on non-state institutions. The aim is to bring together different insights of actual practices on the ground, including how the plural landscape differs from region to region in the countries. Papers can address one particular non-state institution – for example traditional leaders or chiefs, community courts, healers (curandeiros), religious leaders, community policing councils, community mediators, NGOs engaged in conflict resolution and justice issues etc. – but it can also focus on the relationship between different non-state providers and their relationship to the state in specific provinces or districts of Mozambique. The conference will particularly welcome papers that address the following questions: how do non-state providers operate in practice, i.e. the procedures they use and the forms of justice they dispense? How are non-state institutions organised in practice and what is their basis of authority? How are non-state providers linked to wider power relations and economic networks and to what extent do they constitute political actors? Who are the users of non-state institutions and why and to what extent do they use such institutions?

      It is today widely known that various forms of collaboration, often combined with competition, exist between state and non-state institutions, despite the fact that there is no clear legal framework for such articulation. This theme calls for papers that address the practical forms of articulation that exist between different state and non-state providers in specific local contexts. This could for example be a focus on de facto forms of collaboration around case resolution such as referral mechanisms, informal forms of regulation or control of non-state providers by the local state institutions, competition over authority and clients, borrowings and/or mergers of the norms and procedures that state and non-state providers employ etc. We welcome papers that focus more broadly on these issues with regard to a range of crimes and social conflicts, but papers that address specific rights issues are also welcome, such as forms of articulation around land issues. Moreover we would like papers to consider the following questions: How can practical forms of collaboration with advantage help to draw up legislation on official articulation between state and non-state institutions? What could be the potential benefits and pitfalls of legislation that more profoundly formalises the articulation between state and non-state institutions, such as codification of customary law, inclusion of custom and community-based norms into state law, regulation of non-state institutions by the state, referral mechanisms etc.

      It may be that non-state providers of justice and public safety play a significant role due to the lack of a well-functioning formal state system. Many people may prefer to take their problems and conflicts to non-state providers because state institutions are too far away, lack capacity or are seen as corrupt. However, non-state institutions may also be preferred because they tend to apply norms and procedures that are more in line with local socio-cultural beliefs and the economic situation people are in. Such local notions of justice and order may conflict with state legal norms and procedures, for example incarceration and punitive justice as opposed to compensational justice and reconciliation. Spiritual beliefs and occult practices may also influence why non-state institutions are preferred, as may fears of social ostracism if people turn away from local institutions. This theme calls for papers that address local notions of order and appropriate justice, as well as the socio-cultural or religious frameworks that inform such notions. This could for example include papers on sorcery and witchcraft, and the role played by traditional healers and chiefs in this domain, and it could also address religion-based non-state providers. Particularly we invite papers that discuss: what are the discrepancies between state legal and non-state justice procedures and outcomes seen from the perspective of local citizens’ needs and views? Are there ways of reconciling these differences or making them complementary as part of a wider reform of the justice system?

      The increase in mob-justice especially in poor urban areas, calls for attention to the inadequacy of both state and non-state institutions to provide what local populations regard as sufficient justice and public safety provision. This theme invites papers that empirically engage with situations where citizens or groups of citizens take the ‘law into their own hands’ and thereby disregard or put into question established state and non-state institutions. Moreover the excessive kinds of punishments of criminal perpetrators or suspects that characterise mob-justice in Mozambique raise important questions about the relationship between violence, disorder and justice. Particularly the conference invites papers that address: to what extent does mob-justice reflect the fragility of local non-state institutions and the lack of clear formal coordination between these and the formal state institutions? How is mob-justice informed by wider issues of poverty and exclusion of certain groups of citizens from formal rights to justice and security? The papers could also link these questions to the above theme of different notions of justice and (dis)order.

      This theme calls for papers that address legal pluralism and the provision of justice and public safety from an historical perspective. Mozambique has a long history of non-state or informal provision of justice and public safety, especially in areas where the majority of the poor live. This includes colonial indirect rule through traditional leaders or régulos, and the socialist period from 1975 until 1990 where popular justice and popular vigilantism implied a strong involvement of ordinary citizens in providing public safety and justice. In both periods the involvement of citizens and/or non-state authorities has also been used politically to boost or protect state power. How does this history affect the present? What are the continuities and discontinuities in terms of actual practices as well as of local perceptions of safety and justice? What can be drawn on from the past? How does the past inhibit desired developments in the present?

      This theme calls for papers that address the human rights challenges that face legal pluralism in Mozambique (as is the case in other countries too). Papers could for example look into the extent to which non-state justice and public safety provision can be reconciled with international human rights standards, which today guide the reform process in Mozambique. For example: what convergences and divergences exist between human rights standards and those applied by non-state providers from structural, normative and procedural points of view? Papers could also address in which ways human rights standards can be applied to the provision of justice and public safety through non-state mechanisms. International human rights standards may often be associated with demands to satisfy “maximalist” human rights standards as a precondition to any kind of recognition or support. On the other hand, recognition of cultural rights or the need to satisfy basic needs for security and social order can justify other perspectives, so that the presence of non-state mechanisms may be seen as providing greater protection of human rights than their absence. This is often a core dilemma not only for states, but also for donors and NGOs supporting justice and security sector reform. The conference welcomes papers that address this theme either more generally, or in relation to specific rights realisation or issues such as land rights, women’s rights, family law, violence/physical integrity, fair trial etc.

      Conference Outputs
      The conference will aside from invigorating an open debate on justice and public safety that is informed by in-depth research, practices on the ground and policy experiences, produce 4 central outputs:

      1. A clearer vision, amongst a range of stakeholders, of the principal obstacles and challenges facing the different formal, informal and semi-formal institutions directly involved in justice provision and the performance of public safety and what implications this has for Mozambican society at large. It should also help identify research gaps or areas for further study that can aid the legal reform process and donor supported programmes in the field.

      2. A publication in the form of a book anthology that contains a collection of the papers presented at the conference, including empirical case studies, best practices and lessons learned in programming, and policy developments. It will be published in Portuguese and English, using a Mozambican publisher (possibly CFJJ (Centro de Formação Jurídica e Judiciária). The organisers will function as editors of the anthology and will write an introduction that brings together the main findings of the conference and introduces the overall theme.

      3. Exchange of knowledge and experiences with other countries in the SADC region and in Sub-Saharan Africa in general, and networking for future collaboration with other institutions, national and international, operating in the fields of justice and public safety.

      4. Conference results will inform the planning of and the development of a curriculum for an executive course on ‘Public Safety and Justice Provision’ to be delivered under the framework of the Southern African Defence and Security Management Network’s (SADSEM) executive courses. Participants will include people from the justice sector, the police and other relevant institutions engaged with public safety and justice provision.

      Conference format
      The three-day conference will be divided into two main parts, two conference days with a broad-based stakeholder participation and one closed workshop day for scholars presenting papers. The format for each of these parts will be as follows:

      1. 1st and 2nd Day: Two panel sessions each morning (9:00-13:00) and group workshops in the afternoons (14:30 – 17:00). Panel sessions will follow selected themes and each will include 3-4 presentations from amongst invited key note speakers, invited paper presenters & one practitioner per session to speak about experiences on the ground. One panel session will be devoted specifically to papers on other African countries. Workshops (14:30 – 15:00) will take place during the afternoons and will serve to take up specific questions and challenges (as ‘Scenarios’) related to the themes of the panels during the morning sessions (the organisers will give each group the questions to address). The results of the workshops will be presented in plenary at the end of the day (15:30 – 17:00).

      2. 3rd Day: Closed workshop for paper presenters as a preparation for the book publication. Those who have not already presented during the 1st and the 2nd day will present their papers. Keynote speakers and the conference organisers will serve as commentators on individual papers that will help make them suitable for a quality publication. Paper presenters from the 1st and 2nd days will take part in discussions.

      Confirmed keynote speakers

      Anne Griffiths, Professor of Anthropology of Law at the School of Law, University of Edinburgh. She is a distinguished, internationally recognised scholar who has worked extensively on the theme of legal pluralism. Her research focuses specifically on anthropology of law, comparative and family law, African law, gender, culture and rights. In pursuit of these interests Professor Griffiths has carried out fieldwork in Botswana, southern Africa in the 1980’s and more recently, in Scotland.

      Bruce Baker, Professor of African Security and Director of African Studies Centre, Coventry University. He has published several articles and books on non-state policing and has a high international recognition within this field. His research covers African democratisation, governance, policing, security sector reform, popular justice and informal justice. His current research focus is informal and formal policing in post-conflict African states. He has conducted fieldwork in Zimbabwe, Mozambique, South Africa, Rwanda, Uganda, The Gambia, Sierra Leone, Cape Verde, Seychelles, Liberia and Southern Sudan.

      There are 2-3 more keynote speakers invited to the conference, but these still have to be confirmed.

      Conference organisers and convernors
      Conference organisers: CESAB and DIIS in collaboration with DANIDA and FES.
      Conference convenors: João Carlos Trindade (CESAB) and Helene Maria Kyed (DIIS).

      Contact and submission of abstracts/papers
      Abstracts should be submitted by March 5 2010 and be maximum 350 words. Replies for participation will fall on March 10. Full papers should be submitted no later than 20 April 2010 and be maximum 10.000 words.

      Abstracts/papers should be submitted to: Helene Maria Kyed ([email protected]) and Amelia Souto ([email protected]). Papers can be submitted in either Portuguese or in English (translation will be provided during the conference and in the publication process).

      UNICEF - GPIA 2010 International Conference

      Call for papers


      UNICEF and the Graduate Program in International Affairs (GPIA) at The New School will host an international conference on adolescent girls in April 2010. With an emphasis on reviewing existing evidence and policies, the conference will focus on the role and potential agency of adolescent girls in meeting emerging global challenges.

      Fahamu - Networks For Social Justice

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