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      Back Issues

      Pambazuka News 504: Biopiracy, biodiversity and food sovereignty

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

      Pambazuka News (English edition): ISSN 1753-6839

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

      Highlights from this issue

      - ZIMBABWE UPDATE: Development foundation launched
      - AFRICAN UNION MONITOR: Human rights NGOs urge ratification of good governance charter
      - WOMEN & GENDER: Third African feminist forum in Senegal
      - HUMAN RIGHTS: New revelations on anniversary of Ken Saro Wiwa’s death
      - REFUGEES AND FORCED MIGRATION: South America becomes new migration route
      - EMERGING POWER NEWS: Emerging powers news roundup
      AFRICAN LABOUR NEWS: Nigerian unions call off strike
      - ELECTIONS AND GOVERNANCE: Democracy, civil society and the right to dissent
      - DEVELOPMENT: Civil society urges G20 to take action on financial transaction taxes
      - HEALTH AND HIV/AIDS: Invest now or pay later on TB
      - LGBTI: Coalition concerned as AU observer status refused
      ENVIRONMENT: Egypt no longer the jewel of the Nile
      LAND AND LAND RIGHTS: The vultures of land grabbing
      - MEDIA AND FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION: Egyptian blogger beaten and kept in detention
      - CONFLICT AND EMERGENCIES: Osama bin Laden and the Sahel
      PLUS: Internet and Technology, Jobs, Fundraising & useful resources, Courses, Seminars and Workshops


      Patent grab threatens biodiversity and food sovereignty in Africa

      Hope Shand


      cc Peter Blanchard
      ‘Under the guise of developing "climate-ready" crops, the world’s largest seed and agrochemical corporations are pressuring governments to allow what could become the broadest and most dangerous patent claims in intellectual property history.’ Hope Shand unpacks the findings of ETC Group’s new report into patent claims on ‘genes, plants and technologies that will supposedly allow biotech crops to tolerate drought and other environmental stresses'.

      Under the guise of developing ‘climate-ready’ crops, the world’s largest seed and agrochemical corporations are pressuring governments to allow what could become the broadest and most dangerous patent claims in intellectual property history. A new report by ETC Group[1] reveals a dramatic upsurge in the number of patent claims on ‘climate-ready’ genes, plants and technologies that will supposedly allow biotech crops to tolerate drought and other environmental stresses (i.e. abiotic stresses) associated with climate change. The patent grab threatens to put a monopoly choke-hold on the world’s biomass and our future food supply, warns ETC Group. In many cases, a single patent or patent application claims ownership of engineered gene sequences that could be deployed in virtually all major crops – as well as the processed food and feed products derived from them.

      The patent grab on ‘climate-ready’ crops is a bid to control not only the world’s food security but also the world’s yet-to-be commodified biomass. In the fog of climate chaos, the ‘Gene Giants’ hope to ease public acceptance of genetically engineered crops and make the patent grab more palatable. It’s a fresh twist on a stale theme: Crops engineered with ‘climate-ready’ genes will increase production and feed the world, we’re told. Plants that are engineered to grow on poor soils, with less rain and less fertiliser will mean the difference between starvation and survival for the poorest farmers.

      To gain moral legitimacy, the Gene Giants are teaming up with high-profile philanthro-capitalists (Gates and Buffett Foundations), big governments like the USA and UK and big-box breeders (Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research) to donate royalty-free genes and technologies to resource-poor farmers – especially in sub Saharan Africa. The quid pro quo is that African governments must ‘ease the regulatory burden’ that might hinder the commercial release of transgenic crops and embrace biotech-friendly intellectual property laws.


      ETC Group’s report identifies 262 patent families (subsuming 1663 patent documents worldwide) published between June 2008 and June 2010 that make specific claims to abiotic stress tolerance (such as drought, heat, flood, cold and salt-tolerance) in plants. Just six corporations (DuPont, BASF, Monsanto, Syngenta, Bayer and Dow) and their biotech partners (Mendel Biotechnology and Evogene) control 201 or 77 per cent of the 262 patent families (both issued patents and applications). Three companies – DuPont, BASF, Monsanto – account for 173 or 66 per cent. The public sector has only 9 per cent. A detailed list of the patent documents is available here (see Appendix A).


      A patent family contains a set of related patent applications and/or issued patents that are published in more than one country or patent office (including national and regional patent jurisdictions). Issued patents and/or applications that belong to the same family have the same inventor and they refer to the same ‘invention.’

      In a recent interview with Business Week, Syngenta’s CEO, Michael Mack, explains the corporate grab on climate-ready traits: ‘Farmers around the world are going to pay hundreds of millions of dollars to technology providers in order to have this feature [drought-tolerant maize].’[2]The global market for drought tolerance in just one crop – maize – is an estimated US$2.7 billion, but the US Department of Agriculture predicts that the global bio-based market for chemicals and plastics alone will top US$500 billion per year by 2025. For the Gene Giants, the goal is to become the world’s ‘biomassters.’ The aim of corporate plant breeding is no longer to feed people, but to maximize biomass.

      The term refers to material derived from living or recently-living biological organisms: including all plants and trees, microbes, as well as by-products such as organic waste from livestock, food processing and garbage. ETC Group warns that the bio-economy is a catalyst for the corporate grab on all plant matter and the destruction of biodiversity on a massive scale. An estimated 86 per cent of global biomass is located in the tropics and subtropics. With extreme genetic engineering, the world’s largest corporations are poised to manufacture industrial compounds – fuel, food, energy, plastics and more – using biomass as the critical feedstock.


      The patent grab on climate ready crops is not limited to food and feed crops – the major players also support research related to biofuels and industrial feedstocks (i.e. biomass).

      In 2007 BASF and Monsanto initiated the world’s largest agricultural research collaboration, jointly investing US$1.5 billion to develop stress-tolerant maize (corn), soybean, cotton and canola crops. In July 2010 BASF and Monsanto announced an additional investment of US$1 billion – which now extends to abiotic stress tolerance in wheat – the world’s second most valuable crop commodity after maize. Monsanto and BASF claim that the world’s first-ever genetically engineered, drought-tolerant maize variety will be the first product to emerge from their joint pipeline – scheduled for commercial release around 2012. Monsanto also is engineering drought tolerant cotton, wheat and sugar cane.

      In January 2010 BASF announced a new collaboration with KWS (Germany-based, top 10 seed company) to develop sugar beets with improved drought tolerance and 15 per cent higher yield. Agrofuels – including genetically modified trees – are one of the big targets: BASF also collaborates with Brazil’s Centro de Tecnologia Canavieira (CTC) to develop sugarcane with better drought tolerance and 25% higher yield.[3]

      Mendel Biotechnology, collaborating with Monsanto since 1997, is a major player in climate-ready crop genes. Monsanto has exclusive royalty-bearing licenses to Mendel technology in certain crops and vegetables. Mendel also partners with BP and Bayer. Since 2007, Mendel has been working with BP on second-generation biofuels.

      DuPont (Pioneer Hi-Bred) refers to its work on drought tolerance technologies as ‘the next great wave of agricultural innovation.’ Pioneer focuses on both conventional breeding as well as transgenics. Pioneer also collaborates with Israeli biotech company, Evogene, on maize and soybean drought stress and with Arcadia Biosciences.[4] In August 2010 Evogene revealed its ‘Athlete 3.0’ – a proprietary computational technology for ‘cross-species discovery of genes, based on genomic data of over 130 plant species.’[5] The company claims it holds over 1,500 novel genes for key plant traits.

      Arcadia Biosciences (Davis, California), founded in 2002, is collaborating with some of the world’s largest seed companies to develop genetically engineered, stress-tolerant crops. Although Arcadia is privately held, BASF’s venture capital fund has invested in the company since 2005. In 2009, Arcadia entered a partnership with Vilmorin (world’s fourth largest seed company, owned by Groupe Limagrain) for the development of nitrogen use efficient wheat. Arcadia has agreements with Monsanto, DuPont, Vilmorin, Advanta (India) and the US Agency for International Development (USAID) on projects related to nitrogen use efficiency, drought and salinity tolerance.

      Syngenta unveiled its first generation drought-tolerant maize (‘water optimized hybrids’) in July 2010 – the result of conventional breeding (non-transgenic). According to Syngenta, the product offers the ‘potential to deliver 15% yield preservation under drought stress.’ Syngenta predicts that its second-generation maize hybrids – genetically engineered for drought tolerance – will be available post-2015.


      Many patent claims related to climate-ready DNA are sweeping in scope. Most of the Gene Giants are staking claims on key nucleotide sequences – trying to convince patent examiners that the same bits of DNA identified in one plant are responsible for endowing similar traits across other plant genomes (known as homologous DNA). Because of the similarity in DNA sequences between individuals of the same species or among different species – ‘homologous sequences’ – the companies seek monopoly protection that extends not just to stress tolerance in a single engineered plant species, but also to a substantially similar genetic sequence in virtually all transformed plants. Armed with genomic information, Gene Giants are making claims across species, genera and classes.

      The patent grab on key gene sequences in the world’s major crops is neither trivial nor theoretical. A decade ago, genomic companies and Gene Giants were routinely filing ‘bulk’ claims on huge numbers of DNA and amino acid (i.e. protein) sequences – over 100,000 in some cases – without specific knowledge of their function.

      In 2002, rice (Oryza sativa) became the second plant genome to be published, and the first major crop genome to be fully sequenced; it quickly became the target of monopoly claims. In 2006, Cambia, an independent non-profit that promotes transparency in intellectual property, used its ‘Patent Lens’ project to conduct an in-depth analysis of US patents and patent applications that make claims on the rice genome. Patent Lens revealed that, by 2006, roughly 74 per cent of the rice genome (Oryza sativa) was named in the claims of US patent applications – due, in large part, to bulk sequence applications. They discovered that every segment of the rice genome’s 12 chromosomes was recited in patent applications – including many overlapping claims. Patent Lens’ remarkable visual display is available here.

      Fortunately, Cambia’s 2006 analysis concluded that the corporate quest to win monopoly patents on molecular-level chunks of the world’s most important food crop had only partially succeeded – so far – and that most of the rice genome remains in the public domain. That’s due, in part, to recent decisions (by courts and patent offices) that attempt to restrict the number of DNA sequences claimed in a single patent application.


      In 2001 and 2007 the US PTO put a brake on ‘bulk claims’ by issuing new rules requiring that claimed inventions must have ‘well-established’ utility, and then limiting the number of sequences claimed in each patent application. In July 2010, Europe’s highest court – the European Court of Justice (ECJ) of the EU – made a ruling that significantly restricts the reach of agricultural biotech patents on DNA sequences – and specifically reigns in the breadth of Monsanto’s monopoly on herbicide tolerant soybeans. The European Court affirmed that the purpose (function) of the DNA sequence must be disclosed in the patent, and protection of the sequence is limited to those situations in which the DNA is performing the function for which it was originally patented.

      Recent rulings to restrict monopoly claims on DNA sequences are significant, and a major upset for Monsanto, but that hasn’t stopped the scramble for gene-based patents. In the words of one patent lawyer, ‘The challenge for patentees in this area will be to find alternative ways to protect these products.’[6]

      Although some of the most egregious examples of sweeping patent claims identified by ETC Group are found in patent applications that have not yet been issued, there’s ample reason for concern. According to Patent Lens, applications alone may be used to scare off potential infringers, or used as leverage in licensing negotiations. The mere existence of the designation ‘patent pending’ is a powerful deterrent that may discourage others from using, making or selling a technology that is claimed in a patent application. The practice of over-reaching patent claims and unjust monopolies is far from over.


      To gain desperately needed moral legitimacy, Gene Giants like Monsanto, BASF, Syngenta and DuPont are forging high-profile partnerships with public sector institutions that aim to deliver proprietary technologies to resource-poor farmers – especially in sub Saharan Africa. The public/private partnerships are hosted by a growing web of South-based non-profit institutions that exist primarily to facilitate and promote the introduction of genetically engineered crops. The immediate impact of these partnerships is to enhance the public image of Gene Giants that are donating royalty-free genes to needy farmers. But the longer-term goal is to create the ‘enabling environments’ (biosafety regulations, intellectual property laws, positive media coverage to promote public acceptance) that will support the market introduction of genetically engineered crops and related technologies. It’s a package deal – wrapped in a philanthropic façade – and it comes with strings attached.

      ’What we need in order to effectively contribute…are enabling business environments.’ - Gerald Steiner, Executive Vice President, Sustainability and Corporate Affairs, Monsanto Company, testifying before the U.S. Congress, July 2010.[7]

      The Nairobi-based African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF) is one of the primary deal-brokers in the South. Launched in 2003, AATF is a non-profit organisation that promotes public/private partnerships to ensure that resource-poor African farmers have royalty-free access to proprietary agricultural technologies that improve their productivity. Start-up funds were provided by the Rockefeller Foundation, the US Agency for International Development, and the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID). Two of AATF’s five projects are dedicated to the development of abiotic stress tolerance in crops:

      1) Water efficient maize for Africa (WEMA)
      2) Rice varieties suitable for soils that are low in nitrogen, and for drought and saline tolerance.

      In addition to its role as African-based broker of public/private deals, AATF aims to ‘continuously monitor and document the evolution of regulatory frameworks for GM crops in African countries.’ AATF plays a major role in promoting and facilitating regulatory frameworks, by influencing public opinion and ‘overcoming the misconceptions about genetically modified organisms that slow down the adoption of biotechnology products’ in Africa.[8]

      Water Efficient Maize for Africa (WEMA) is one of AATF’s five projects. The public/private partnership involves Monsanto; BASF; the CGIAR’s flagship research centre – the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT); and national agricultural research systems in Kenya, Mozambique, South Africa, Tanzania and Uganda. Launched in 2008 with US$47 million from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Howard G. Buffett Foundation, WEMA’s goal is to develop new drought-tolerant maize varieties that are adapted to African agro-ecologies using conventional breeding as well as transgenics. In addition to proprietary germplasm, advanced breeding tools and expertise, Monsanto and BASF announced in March 2008 the donation of royalty-free drought-tolerant transgenes. Monsanto describes its donation as a ‘gem’ in its technology pipeline and predicts it could result in new white maize varieties that increase yields 20-35 percent during moderate drought.[9]

      According to AATF, during the project’s first two years, more than 60 scientists have worked together to build ‘the necessary scientific testing, regulatory procedures and protocols for the proper evaluation of the maize in this project within each of the five countries.’[10] Non-transgenic water-efficient maize varieties (conventionally-bred) are now in the second year of field trials in Kenya and Uganda, and Tanzania recently planted trials for the first time.

      As of September 2010, South Africa is the only one of five WEMA countries to conduct field trials of transgenic, drought tolerant maize. WEMA’s first transgenic maize varieties were planted in November 2009 at Lutzville, a testing site in the Western Cape of South Africa, to screen for drought-tolerance performance. According to AATF, ‘In the next 12 months pending necessary regulatory approvals, it is expected scientists will be able to proceed with the planting of biotech trials in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda. Mozambique will take steps towards completing the development of testing sites and secure regulatory approvals with a goal of planting in 2011.’[11]

      Monsanto’s drought tolerant gene in adapted African maize lines will undergo ‘preliminary testing’ in Kenya and Uganda in late 2010.[12] According to AATF, WEMA partners are parties to the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety and ‘they have all committed to building functional national biosafety frameworks for managing GMOs.’[13] As of this writing, however, Uganda’s government has not yet approved its biosafety bill.

      Another AATF project related to climate-ready crops seeks to develop rice varieties suitable for soils that are low in nitrogen, and for drought and saline tolerance. The project claims that rice varieties with these traits will help African farmers increase yields by up to 30 per cent. Partners include USAID, Arcadia Biosciences (USA), National Agricultural Research Systems in Ghana, Burkina Faso, and Nigeria, the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (Colombia), and PIPRA (USA).[14] Arcadia will provide a technology license to make the new rice varieties royalty-free to smallholder African farmers.

      In February 2010 Pioneer (DuPont) announced its collaboration with ‘Improved Maize for African Soils’ (IMAS), a partnership that aims to increase maize yield’s in Africa by 30-50 per cent over currently available varieties – with the same amount of fertiliser. The project is led by CIMMYT, with US$19.5 million in grants from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and USAID. Other partners include the Kenya Agricultural Research Institute (KARI) and the South African Agricultural Research Council. Maize varieties developed with the technologies and intellectual property donated by Pioneer (transgenes and molecular markers associated with nitrogen-use efficiency) will be made available royalty-free to seed companies that sell to the region’s smallholder farmers (meaning that the seed will become available to farmers at the same cost as other types of improved maize seed.) The project will initially introduce conventional maize varieties (non-GM). Varieties with transgenic traits will be available in approximately 10 years.

      In April 2009 the Syngenta Foundation for Sustainable Agriculture, and the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA) signed a 3-year, US$1.2 million agreement ‘to strengthen the capacity for safe biotechnology management’ in sub Saharan Africa. The project is managed by FARA and implemented by the National Agricultural Research System in Burkina Faso, Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya, Uganda and Malawi. As Ghana Web reports, FARA is urging Ghanaians ‘to embrace the use and application of modern biotechnology to effectively solve food insecurity and the likely impact of climate change on farming.’[15]


      The extreme complexity of engineering abiotic traits in plants is a technical feat that far surpasses what genetic engineers have achieved over the past quarter century. Fourteen years after commercial sale of the first genetically engineered crops, the Gene Giants have brought to market only two major single-gene traits – herbicide tolerance and insect resistance – in a handful of countries. A 2010 study points out: ‘The acclimation of plants to abiotic stress conditions is a complex and coordinated response involving hundreds of genes.’[16] The authors point out that a plant’s response to abiotic stress is affected by complex interactions between different environmental factors. The timing of the abiotic stress, the intensity and duration of the stress, and the occurrence of multiple stresses in the field must all be taken into consideration.

      Setting aside the adverse social and environmental impacts of these products, the advantages of GE crops – even for industrial-scale farmers in the North – are elusive. In October 2010 the New York Times acknowledged that industry analysts are questioning whether ‘Monsanto’s winning streak of creating ever more expensive genetically engineered crops is coming to an end.’[17] The company’s newest product, ‘SmartStax’ maize – loaded with eight foreign genes for insect resistance and herbicide tolerance – has been deemed a commercial flop. But that’s not all. A huge percentage of the global area devoted to biotech crops contains at least one engineered gene for tolerance to Monsanto’s Roundup – the company’s blockbuster herbicide. But Roundup-resistant weeds are popping up all over the world, a reality that is ‘dimming the future of the entire Roundup Ready crop franchise.’[18]


      The world cannot rely on technological fixes to solve systemic problems of poverty, hunger and climate crisis. A highly centralised agro-industrial food system controlled by a handful of corporate Gene Giants is incapable of providing the systemic changes needed to re-structure agricultural production and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Proprietary research on genetically engineered abiotic stress tolerance is already diverting scarce resources away from more affordable and decentralised approaches to cope with climate change. Meanwhile, peasant farmers, civil society and social movements are actively building alternative food systems built on resilience, sustainability and sovereignty.

      Climate resilience ultimately depends on agricultural biodiversity, local seed systems and agro-ecological processes in the hands of farming communities. Support is needed for breeding work with under-utilised crops and with plant diversity that offers natural tolerance to harsh conditions. Indigenous and local farming communities have developed and managed that diversity and their role in developing strategies for climate change adaptation must be recognized, strengthened and protected. Instead of being on the receiving end of corporate-inspired, high-tech ‘hand-outs’ – farming communities must be directly involved in setting priorities and strategies for climate adaptation and mitigation.


      The Gene Giants are leveraging the climate crisis to win monopoly control of key crop genes and gain public acceptance of genetically engineered seeds. The corporate agenda focuses on proprietary, high-tech seeds that won’t be accessible – or suitable for – the vast majority of the world’s farmers. There is no societal benefit when governments allow a handful of corporations to monopolize climate-related genes and traits. Genetically engineered, climate-ready crops are a false solution to climate change, and the patent grab must be stopped.

      * Hope Shand is former research director at ETC Group. She writes on issues related to technology, development and diversity, and continues to work closely with ETC Group on special projects.



      [2] Kaskey, J. and Ligi, A. ‘Monsanto, Dupont Race to Win $2.7 Billion Drought-Corn Market,’ Business Week, 21 April 2010, available at:
      [3] Peter Eckes, President of BASF Plant Science, ‘A grounded approach to agricultural sustainability,’ Media Summit, Chicago, Illinois (USA), 9 June 2010.
      [6] Ibid.
      [7] Statement of Mr. Gerald Steiner, Executive Vice President, Sustainability and Corporate Affairs, Monsanto Company, before the House Foreign Affairs Committee, July 20, 2010, available on Monsanto’s website:
      [8] Bernard Muthaka, ‘New maize variety to counter drought,’ The New Vision website, 21 July, 2009.
      [9] Statement of Mr. Gerald Steiner, Executive Vice President, Sustainability and Corporate Affairs, Monsanto Company, before the House Foreign Affairs Committee, July 20, 2010, available on Monsanto’s website:
      [10] African Agricultural Technology Foundation, News Release, AATF Marks Second Anniversary Since Formation of WEMA Project, 19 March 2010.
      [11] Ibid.
      [12] Personal communication with Grace Wachoro, AATF, September 17, 2010.
      [13] Ibid.
      [14] PIPRA is an organization that supports intellectual property and commercialization strategies for non-profit and humanitarian projects.
      [15] General News of Africa (GNA), ‘Experts urge Ghanaians to use and apply modern biotechnology,’ 26 August 2010.
      [16] Mittler, Ron and Blumwald, Eduardo. ‘Genetic Engineering for Modern Agriculture: Challenges and Perspectives,’ Annu. Rev. Plant Biol. 2010. 61:443–624.
      [17] Andrew Pollack, ‘After Growth, Fortunes Turn for Monsanto,’ New York Times, 5 October 2010.
      [18] Ibid.

      Time to end war against the earth

      Vandana Shiva


      cc DMK
      ‘When we think of wars in our times, our minds turn to Iraq and Afghanistan. But the bigger war is the war against the planet. This war has its roots in an economy that fails to respect ecological and ethical limits – limits to inequality, limits to injustice, limits to greed and economic concentration,’ writes Vandana Shiva. ‘Making peace with the earth was always an ethical and ecological imperative. It has now become a survival imperative for our species.’

      When we think of wars in our times, our minds turn to Iraq and Afghanistan. But the bigger war is the war against the planet. This war has its roots in an economy that fails to respect ecological and ethical limits – limits to inequality, limits to injustice, limits to greed and economic concentration.

      A handful of corporations and of powerful countries seeks to control the earth's resources and transform the planet into a supermarket in which everything is for sale. They want to sell our water, genes, cells, organs, knowledge, cultures and future.

      The continuing wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and onwards are not only about ‘blood for oil’. As they unfold, we will see that they are about blood for food, blood for genes and biodiversity and blood for water.

      The war mentality underlying military-industrial agriculture is evident from the names of Monsanto's herbicides – ‘Round-Up’, ‘Machete’, ‘Lasso’. American Home Products, which has merged with Monsanto, gives its herbicides similarly aggressive names, including ‘Pentagon’ and ‘Squadron’. This is the language of war. Sustainability is based on peace with the earth.

      The war against the earth begins in the mind. Violent thoughts shape violent actions. Violent categories construct violent tools. And nowhere is this more vivid than in the metaphors and methods on which industrial, agricultural and food production is based. Factories that produced poisons and explosives to kill people during wars were transformed into factories producing agri-chemicals after the wars.

      The year 1984 woke me up to the fact that something was terribly wrong with the way food was produced. With the violence in Punjab and the disaster in Bhopal, agriculture looked like war. That is when I wrote ‘The Violence of the Green Revolution’ and why I started Navdanya as a movement for an agriculture free of poisons and toxics.

      Pesticides, which started as war chemicals, have failed to control pests. Genetic engineering was supposed to provide an alternative to toxic chemicals. Instead, it has led to increased use of pesticides and herbicides and unleashed a war against farmers.

      The high-cost feeds and high-cost chemicals are trapping farmers in debt – and the debt trap is pushing farmers to suicide. According to official data, more than 200,000 Indian farmers have committed suicide in India since 1997.

      Making peace with the earth was always an ethical and ecological imperative. It has now become a survival imperative for our species.

      Violence to the soil, to biodiversity, to water, to atmosphere, to farms and farmers produces a warlike food system that is unable to feed people. One billion people are hungry. Two billion suffer food-related diseases – obesity, diabetes, hypertension and cancers.

      There are three levels of violence involved in non-sustainable development. The first is the violence against the earth, which is expressed as the ecological crisis. The second is the violence against people, which is expressed as poverty, destitution and displacement. The third is the violence of war and conflict, as the powerful reach for the resources that lie in other communities and countries for their limitless appetites.

      When every aspect of life is commercialised, living becomes more costly, and people are poor, even if they earn more than a dollar a day. On the other hand, people can be affluent in material terms, even without the money economy, if they have access to land, their soils are fertile, their rivers flow clean, their cultures are rich and carry traditions of producing beautiful homes and clothing and delicious food, and there is social cohesion, solidarity and spirit of community.

      The elevation of the domain of the market, and money as man-made capital, to the position of the highest organising principle for societies and the only measure of our well-being has led to the undermining of the processes that maintain and sustain life in nature and society.

      The richer we get, the poorer we become ecologically and culturally. The growth of affluence, measured in money, is leading to a growth in poverty at the material, cultural, ecological and spiritual levels.

      The real currency of life is life itself and this view raises questions: How do we look at ourselves in this world? What are humans for? And are we merely a money-making and resource-guzzling machine? Or do we have a higher purpose, a higher end?

      I believe that ‘earth democracy’ enables us to envision and create living democracies based on the intrinsic worth of all species, all peoples, all cultures – a just and equal sharing of this earth's vital resources, and sharing the decisions about the use of the earth's resources.

      Earth democracy protects the ecological processes that maintain life and the fundamental human rights that are the basis of the right to life, including the right to water, food, health, education, jobs and livelihoods.

      We have to make a choice. Will we obey the market laws of corporate greed or Gaia's laws for maintenance of the earth's ecosystems and the diversity of its beings?

      People's need for food and water can be met only if nature's capacity to provide food and water is protected. Dead soils and dead rivers cannot give food and water.

      Defending the rights of Mother Earth is therefore the most important human rights and social justice struggle. It is the broadest peace movement of our times.


      * This article was first published in The Age (4 November 2010).
      * Dr Vandana Shiva is an Indian physicist, environmentalist and recipient of the 2010 Sydney Peace Prize. This is an edited version of her speech at the Sydney Opera House.
      * Please send comments to [email protected] or comment online at Pambazuka News.

      cc FRANCODUS: This egg is doomed, unless...!

      The battle against biopiracy

      Khadija Sharife


      cc MLB
      As multinational food processor Nestlé attempts to patent the well-known benefits of South Africa’s fynbos plants, Khadija Sharife explains the role tax havens play in enabling corporations to protect the value of intellectual property rights.

      Here in South Africa, consumption of rooibos tea, rusks and biltong (dried and spiced beef), is a national past-time. Sure, we engage in other activities – work, procreation, exercise, showering. But really, when it comes to chowing on homegrown grub, its safe to say that all other 'musts' take second place to our quest to be good citizens.

      Of the three, it is rooibos (or 'red bush') endemic to South Africa – grown only in the Cederburg Mountains of the Western Cape – that is renowned amongst South Africans for its magical properties. The fynbos plants' extraordinary properties range from curing acne to slowing ageing, inflammation and hair loss, thanks to at least one of its known – and most active, antioxidant ingredient: Aspalathin. Most scientists believe the property is available only in the rooibos plant.

      Recently, Nestec SA, a subsidiary of Nestlé, based in Switzerland, applied for five patents, using water or alcohol extraction, for conditions much the same i.e.: rooibos being the 'discovered' property, in addition to that of the honeybush, another endemic plant.

      Nestlé, which holds 30.5 per cent shares in L'Oréal (the world's largest cosmetic producer), and 50 per cent in Inneov (a joint venture with L’Oréal), claims that it had no intention of making commercial use of the plants in the future – though it hopes for the 20 year patent. The company further claims to have contravened no national laws (despite stipulating the need for prior informed consent) or international frameworks.

      Thanks to the effort of Natural Justice in South Africa, a local organisation comprised of attorneys 'for communities and the environment', the issue is now on the table. Thankfully, this is sooner rather than later as in Switzerland, applications are publicly available 18 months after filing. Filing the patent costs CHF200, with another CHF500 for the examination process. The European Patent Convention allows for applicants to file across more than 30 European states, with a single application.

      Several obvious questions come to mind, such as whether the well-known benefits of rooibos can be patented and the value of such property rights. According to the Swiss Federal Institute of Intellectual Property, ‘To be patentable, an invention must be novel. This means it must never have been seen in any form by the public before you apply. So don’t tell coworkers about it or show it at an exhibition too early. Owning a patent gives you the exclusive right to prevent others from commercially using your invention for up to 20 years. During this period you can prohibit others from using it – i.e., producing, using, selling or importing – without your permission.’ A company like 'Research Disclosure' is used by 90 per cent of the world's major companies to selectively disclose information about their 'inventions' in a bid to hit the jackpot first.

      Yet while the battle against bio-piracy, that invisible theft of the living continues, another more pervasive question arises: Why Switzerland?

      As most disreputable African dictators and terribly respectable multinationals will attest in the privacy of their mansions, Switzerland is the world's premier secrecy vault and low tax state, depending on the aggressiveness of the corporation's 'tax planning'. Ceding ownership of intellectual property and other intangible assets to entities in tax havens allows for companies to retain profit from royalties etc, without having to cough up taxes, as well as allowing companies to act as remote 'contracted' parties rather than manufacturers. McDonalds did the same following the UK's new tax rules in 2009, while SABMiller, one of the world's five leading beverage companies, has long since used the Netherlands for the same purpose.

      Tea anyone?


      * This article first appeared on the Tax Justice Network.
      * Khadija Sharife is a journalist, visiting scholar at the Center for Civil Society (CCS) based in South Africa, and contributor to the Tax Justice Network.
      * Please send comments to [email protected] or comment online at Pambazuka News.

      Kenya’s complicated transition and the lessons for Zimbabwe

      Cyprian Nyamwamu


      © S 1
      When it comes to Zimbabwe’s transition, the experience in Kenya shows that reforms must be on paper and in the real world. And the logic of reform must be for the people and not to maintain power for the ‘big boys’, Cyprian Nyamwamu says.

      Zimbabwe and Kenya have for a long time been compared and contrasted in terms of their political history and post independence developments, even before the 2007/08 political crises in the two countries. Apart from Kenya and Zimbabwe sharing the destiny of being settler colonies which won their independence through armed struggle, the two countries seem to have inherited social and economic structures that have influenced their politics and transformations ever since.

      The post-election crises ‘bonded’ the two countries further together and many Zimbabweans think that there is a lot to learn from the Kenyan post-crisis experience in all its dimensions, but particularly the political management of the transition from crisis to where Kenya is at the moment.

      Kenya has embarked on a new journey of opportunity towards solving its four principal challenges. Institutional capture of the state led to the entrenchment of the culture of impunity. Impunity having pervaded the state and society, there followed serious inequality that has led to great intolerance, violence and insecurity.

      Zimbabwe is undergoing a very complicated and slippery political transition not very dissimilar to that of Kenya. It is institutional capture of the state in Zimbabwe that has led to an entrenched culture of impunity in the state and society. Impunity leads to lack of accountability and this leads to inequality in the nation. Those close to the state have access to economic, political and social goods that those who are outside the state may never access.

      These inequalities create a sense of grievance and injustice, which leads to intolerance and instability. This is the characteristic of a patrimonial state. Zimbabwe like Kenya and most African countries now live under the burden of patrimonial states which are largely deprived of political legitimacy given the narrow elite base they tend to serve at the exclusion of the majority of the population. The cost of sustaining such a state of affairs keeps increasing as its capacity to deliver on its social and political obligations diminishes.

      Under such circumstances, it becomes necessary that an agenda of reforms, reconstruction and reconciliation is undertaken through national democratic projects. There are two challenges in constructing sustainable national democratic projects. The first challenge is on how to construct sustainable national democratic projects in situations where certain sections of the population have grievances against the ruling class and the ruling class have fears of losing power and influence. The second challenge, which is related to the first, has to do with the absence of a national elite consensus in most African societies. The lack of national elite consensus explains the reason why the actions of the ruling class most of the time threatens not only the very survival of the nation-states but also even the every economic and strategic interests of the elite.

      The national accord in Kenya offered the basis of the Kenyan national democratic project in its imperfect form and progress has been made. However, democratic governance and economic development remains a huge headache for Kenya, as it is for Zimbabwe. Kenya has a new democratic constitution which in itself offers a firm foundation for Kenya’s transition where as Zimbabwe is struggling with its constitutional reform agenda.


      The Grand Coalition Government was a product of negotiations and an agreement between the President’s Party of National Unity (PNU) and the now Prime Minister’s Orange Democratic Movement (ODM). The coalition was formed as a necessary step to avert the total implosion of the Kenyan nation after the dispute over the results of the presidential election spiralled into a civil war that saw more than 1,300 Kenyans killed and more than half a million others displaced from their homes. The agreement to share power was arrived at as a strategy of constructing a Kenyan national democratic project where the coalition government was to be a facilitator of the implementation and delivery of the much desired national reconciliation, democratic and just government and socio-economic development.

      The National Accord Agreement tasked the coalition government with ending hostilities; resettling the internally displaced persons (IDPs); resolving the political crisis through the establishment of a coalition government of national unity and dealing with the underlying problems of the nation that led to the crisis.

      These items of agenda in the national accord therefore form the basis of a national democratic project. The Grand Coalition was to be the facilitator and implementer of the National Accord whereas the people of Kenya through their various platforms were to play both the refereeing and monitoring roles to ensure that the government performed its mandate under the National Accord. The African Union through its Panel of Eminent African Personalities was given a unique monitoring and evaluation status in this epic process of national renewal in Kenya.

      Under the National Accord framework, Kenya has made progress towards democratic consolidation and political reforms. However the National Accord agenda is far from being delivered upon. In a performance report released by the Panel of Eminent African Personalities led by Annan in March 2010, the Panel generally noted that without a sound constitutional foundation, the political, institutional, legal and socio-economic reforms -such as land reforms envisaged under the National Accord - could hardly be realisable.

      The successful referendum on 4 August 2010 that ratified a new constitution therefore marked a major milestone in the democratic consolidation in Kenya. The delivery of the new constitution is therefore the most glowing of the successes of the coalition government.

      Apart from the ratification of a new democratic constitution, the performance of the coalition government has been dismal. The civil society, the private sector and the democratic movement outlined that for the coalition government to perform in delivering the agenda of the National Accord, there was need to have in place a clean, lean, effective, accountable and responsive (CLEAR) government. A clean, lean, accountable and responsive government is significant if Kenya is to witness progress on the delivery of the National Accord agenda. Overall the following assessment illustrates the state of the coalition government in Kenya:

      - The grand coalition government is largely not clean. Evidence published by governance and accountability think tanks and bodies in Kenya show that more than 60 per cent of the cabinet consists of ministers on both the PNU and ODM sides who have been involved in corruption, who have been accused of misuse of office, or are individuals who have been involved in the violation of the rights of Kenyans or condoned the same. It is public knowledge that some cabinet ministers are suspects who may be on the list of the International Criminal Court. Parliament has been used as a forum for corrupt dealings where huge bribes are offered to MPs by corrupt ministers and interests to obtain votes from them.

      - The coalition government is not lean; Kenya’s 42 minister-cabinet is a recipe for poor government performance. Such a bloated cabinet and government turns out as highly wasteful with nearly 75 per cent of the national budget being allocated to sustaining government operations and administration. Large government is always non-effective because coordinating 42 ministries that are perceived as either ODM or PNU trophies is futile. The coalition government is highly fragmented and that has fertilised a climate of factionalism, mediocrity, nepotism and cronyism. It has been said that the glue that holds a coalition government together is theft of public coffers. The coalition has been called a coalition of impunity.

      - The coalition is largely not effective; the coalition government has failed to implement the reform agenda as it blames the lack of a new constitution. With a new constitution, it has started to emerge that there is lack of political goodwill to undertake painful reforms, which will affect individuals in government or their friends. The much-rumoured harmonised PNU-ODM Manifesto has never been published so the people of Kenya simply do not know what the policies of the coalition government are. The five-year development plan based on the vision 2030 does not seem to be the basis of government policy whatsoever.

      This lack of effectiveness has become one of the greatest justifications for the demand for a credible free and fair election in August 2012 to usher in a government that can deliver the National Accord agenda in full. Most Kenyans do not believe that the coalition government is capable of delivering the National Accord agenda.

      - The Grand Coalition government is largely not accountable. Corruption cases that are reported frequently in the media, in government audit reports and through civil society investigative reports are never dealt with. Both vertical and horizontal accountability is hardly enforced. Public officials involved in corruption at the local councils, parastatals, in ministries or at State House hardly get punished. They are instead rewarded.

      - The government is largely not responsive to the needs of the majority of the people: extra-judicial killings by the police remain rampant, general unemployment, poverty and lack of quality services continues to characterise the public sector.

      In this context of a Grand Coalition government with these qualities, the hope for sustained reforms, reconstruction, reconciliation and therefore national renewal has remained fickle. Kenyans are generally being cumulative as they make steps forward.


      The central objective and spirit of the whole reform agenda in Kenya is to transform Kenya from an administrative predator state into a democratic and developmental one. The administrative state structure that was inherited from the colonial administration has undermined the national aspirations and values of the people of Kenya. The administrative state was deigned to give power to a limited number of people, which leads to the institutional capture of the state, impunity and massive inequalities. These have led to great divisions in the Kenyan nation along ethnic, political, regional, racial and ideological and class lines.

      The administrative state structure has for nearly five decades of independence been operated as a predator state - which essentially applies the machinery of the state to deprive citizens of rights and freedoms. The socio-political divisions have created a nation that is at war and in conflict with itself.

      With a captured state system and the attendant culture of impunity, those who offer competition or threaten the ruling class always suffer great violations and deprivations. In Kenya whole ethnic communities who did not vote in large numbers for the sitting presidents face ethnic cleansing, forcible displacement from ancestral lands, gross human rights violations and even massacres.

      Rights activists and opposition politicians in Kenya were subjected to political assassinations, torture, humiliating assaults, detentions without trial and economic deprivation of opportunity. There are many Kenyan exiles abroad to show for this era of state terror.

      Political transition therefore has to engender transitional justice pillars which include:

      a) the need for criminal prosecutions through mechanisms including the Special Tribunal for Kenya and trials within the international system such as through the International Criminal Court
      b) a truth-telling mechanism
      c) memorialisation processes and honouring of victims of injustice
      d) institutional reforms and reconstruction
      e) constitutional reforms
      f) rehabilitation, restitution and restoration

      Within the National Accord framework, Kenya did form a Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission (TJRC) that has failed fundamentally to move the process of healing and reconciliation forward. Kenya has also established a National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC) whose main objective is to promote national dialogue and education as well as punish those who promote hate speech and other acts of incitement among citizens based on ethnic, religious, racial or political identities.

      The success of the agenda of national healing and reconciliation requires that all the pillars of transitional justice outlined above are applied together, since national healing is a product of steps taken by the state to establish the truth about what happened to citizens, give justice to victims and take steps to ensure that such injustices and violations will not happen in the future. Healing is not a task but an outcome of tasks.

      In the Kenyan example, the coalition government has failed to give the leadership required to heal the nation and ensure that a cohesive nation emerges from the several decades of colonial and post independence violations, deprivations and injustices.


      Countries that are emerging from conflict or that have suffered authoritarian rule for a long period under a patrimonial and predator state such as Kenya should not see elections as the most important step towards effecting political and democratic transition. Meaningful political transition into democracy requires that the building blocs within a national democratic project are carried out. Without fundamental reforms to the state structure, elections risk becoming a ritual where one group of the elite replaces the other elite as a formal succession or change of guard without substantive democratic change. Such elections can further de-legitimise the state rather than strengthen it. Such elections can end up weakening national cohesion and the integrity of the nation.

      In Kenya, the return of multiparty politics in 1990 and the subsequent first multi-party election in 1992 showed that state formation and transformation may not be achieved through elections alone. Multi-party elections did not transform the monolithic character of the administrative and predator state that had evolved since Kenya’s independence in 1963. The opposition parties attracted 63 per cent of the election combined, but KANU with its control of the state machinery emerged the winner with 37 per cent of the vote at the presidential level but with 51 per cent control of Parliament. The 1992, 1997, 2002 and 2007 elections were indeed preceded by debilitating and cynical state sponsored ethnic based political violence and terror whose aim was to ensure that the opposition strongholds never cast ballots.

      Once a national democratic project is put into place, which underpins a democratic transition, the objective of the subsequent elections is to facilitate the formation of a democratic government through which the will of the people shall be materialised.

      The enactment of a democratic constitution in Kenya shall now hopefully offer the opportunity for electoral reforms which shall ensure that the management, environment and system of elections is democratic, inclusive, accountable and fair to all.

      It is expected that the two years from August 2010 to August 2012 will offer Kenya the ample space to establish a credible and dependable Independent Elections and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) and delineate boundaries in a fair manner to ensure that the representation of the people and interests is as fair as possible. It is also hoped that the reforms shall create a political and socio-economic environment where fair political competition is tenable.

      Noting the need for massive civic and voter education to prepare the electorate to meaningfully participate in the electoral process, it is expected that the Electoral Commission, civic, faith based and professional organisations shall step up efforts to ensure effective programming of voter and civic education.


      Monitoring and enforcing accountability in government must be made a systematic process that is carried out by political non-state actors. The state cannot be left to reform on its own. It is the role of forces outside and inside the state to escalate the demands for reforms. This requires a deliberate construction of a democratic movement that galvanises the energies to force democratic negotiations about the future of our democracies, be it in Kenya or in Zimbabwe. Innovative strategies for ensuring sustainable reforms can only be realised if reforms are held within a political and transitional justice framework where reforms are broad rather than confined to some formal changes that do not open up the state to concerted reforms.

      In Zimbabwe, like in Kenya, democratic reforms and political transition shall not be sustainable without a transitional justice agenda where public and private citizens, officers and groups get to account for violations and injustices that may have been committed in the past. A new democratic state and cohesive nation cannot be expected in countries where victors’ justice is the order of the day and where impunity has taken root. There is need for the inclusive government of Zimbabwe to be sustained even with its inherent limitations until the national democratic project is delivered.

      It is our view that elections in Zimbabwe before 2013 shall not add value to the Zimbabwe democratic deficit. It is feared that elections before 2013 may precipitate a return to the multiple socio-economic, humanitarian and political crises that were witnessed in the aftermath of the 2008 elections. It is hoped that the democratic forces in ZANU-PF, MDC, civil society, the private sector and other sectors of the political economy shall adopt an attitude of ‘no reforms no elections’. Reforms here must mean both reforms on paper and in the real world. Reforms cannot happen if the only logic of the political actors is power for the big boys. Those in power must be convinced, including through positive sanctions, to embrace and champion reforms for the sake of the people and the nation.

      SADC must construct a better national democratic reform framework for Zimbabwe than the current one. In the 1989 Polish political transition, the President was offered assurances and immunities and Western European countries invested economic incentives into the reform pact that saw the end of the monolithic one-party state rule. This is important seeing as is the case that unlike Kenya, the international community seems ready to leave Zimbabwe to suffer on the ropes for longer. In the Kenyan case in the wake of the post election crisis, the international community made it clear that Kenya was too important to be left to Kenyans alone.


      * Presented by Cyprian Nyamwamuto the Zimbabwe’s Transition in Comparative Perspective Conference. This paper was first made available on the website of the Kubatana Trust.
      * Cyprian Orina Nyamwamu is a Pan African human rights, governance and democracy worker and consultant currently working as the executive director of the National Convention Assembly (NCA) and its Executive Council (NCEC) in Nairobi (since 2005). NCEC is one of Kenya’s leading human rights civil society organisations working for the promotion of human rights, good governance, policy and constitutional reforms and deepening democracy and social justice.
      * Please send comments to [email protected] or comment online at Pambazuka News.

      Peace more in Kenyan hands than the ICC’s

      Leigh Brownhill and Kiama Kaara


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      While the ICC (International Criminal Court) may do its part in ending an entrenched culture of impunity in Kenya, write Leigh Brownhill and Kiama Kaara, it is the Kenyan people, not the ICC, that will play the bigger part in achieving the noble but elusive goal of peace.

      It is no coincidence, in our minds, that the promulgation of the new constitution in Kenya on 27 August 2010 was soon followed by the signing of 16 articles of understanding by the Kenyan government and the International Criminal Court (ICC). For it was against social movements’ 20-year pursuit of the new law that the state had begun to retaliate with election violence.

      When, in the early 1990s, democracy activists established peaceful social movements for human rights and a new constitution, the state responded with collective punishment. This state violence continued in a pattern of acute repression and brute force, setting in place a cycle best exemplified by the calculated and deliberate occasioning of ethnically orchestrated election-related violence. The final passage of the constitution in August 2010 and the launching of investigations into election violence by the ICC have emerged organically from this shared, tumultuous history of peaceful social movements for democracy and violent state repression.

      Before delving any further into this history (in order to find lessons for the present and future), let’s return briefly to the last referendum held on the constitution in 2005, for the parties and political personalities who featured prominently then have remained central to political developments since that time. Some have broken ranks and are forming new alliances, and quite a few find their political futures clouded by court cases, including the ICC’s cases. Despite this, the personalities of 2005 are key to the immediate political future of the country. Moreover, the 2005 referendum set the stage for 2007. The question of whether communities that have been so sharply polarised since 2005 are on a path of reconciliation or revenge is key to what unfolds in the years leading up to, and following, Kenya’s 2012 general election.

      The draft constitution put to a referendum in 2005 had its genesis in the constitutional conference at Bomas of Kenya, established in earnest in 1997. Between 1997 and 2004, parliamentarians and citizens sat in committees and together drafted a new constitution that promised a new political dispensation. The Bomas draft came to be referred to as the ‘Wanjiku draft’ (signifying a typically ordinary, hardworking woman, sometimes portrayed as a hawker), after former President Daniel arap Moi’s snide remark that Bomas was a marketplace for all manner of people and could not be trusted to make a constitution.

      Within a context of tensions amongst government officials and a wedge between most parliamentarians and the citizens of the constitutional conference, the government withdrew its support for the Bomas draft and locked citizens out of the process. The constitution became ‘a government project,’ as noted by the then justice and constitutional affairs minister. President Mwai Kibaki took the document behind closed doors and the Attorney General Amos Wako redrafted it. The Wako draft was then offered to voters.

      The 2005 referendum mobilised the population into two large voting blocs, one supporting the government with a ‘yes’ vote, the other supporting the opposition politicians and democracy activists with a ‘no’ vote.

      The no vote prevailed. With their referendum victory, the no team, succinctly referred to as the Orange Movement, rode public momentum and tried to capture state power in the 2007 elections under the banner of the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) party. The yes team, though defeated in the referendum, moved towards the 2007 election under the coalition of the Party of National Unity (PNU), with the advantage of incumbency.

      We will not here rehash the details of the tragic days of January 2008. Instead, we wish to understand the events of 2008 by reconsidering the violence that accompanied previous elections.

      The International Criminal Court has committed to making the Kenyan case an example to the world of ‘managing violence’, ending impunity and preventing the recurrence of election-related crimes against humanity. If it is to succeed in doing so, then the historical context of the crimes the ICC is investigating need likewise to be seen and understood. It is our contention, however, that the Kenyan people, not the ICC, will play the bigger part in achieving the noble but elusive goal of peace.

      The analysis to follow is not merely an exercise in hindsight. It aims instead to provide a grounded vantage point from which to offer a prospectus on future directions of change. Such a future-oriented perspective is prudent considering the coming elections of August 2012.

      The violence that accompanied the 2007 election differed from previous cycles of election-related turmoil in at least three ways:

      1) Previously, violence was one-sided and clearly state-orchestrated.
      2) Previously, violence was confined to the pre-election period and subsided after the elections.
      3) Previously, little effort was made to prosecute individuals responsible for violence, and the country remained more or less cocooned from international scrutiny.

      First, in previous election seasons, including 1988, 1992 and 1997, politicians and officials of the ruling party, KANU (Kenya African National Union), were more or less openly engaged in organising, funding and arming criminal gangs and individuals to harass, beat, rape, kill and evict members of ethnic communities perceived to be aligned with the democracy movement and opposition politicians. In this sense, the violence was one-sided and emanated from state officials’ crimes of commission and omission.

      In the 2007–08 case, violence was not so one-sided. The PNU and ODM stood toe to toe. Their supporters, largely though not exclusively organised along ethnic lines, attacked and counter-attacked with equal brutality and scorched-earth intensity. It became a tit-for-tat downward spiral of vengeance.

      The names and faces responsible for the mayhem that ensued are legion. They include politicians, businessmen, police and mercenary gang members. Only those that investigators find bore the highest responsibility will be indicted by the International Criminal Court. What will happen to the rest is not clear. What is clear, however, is that the old tactic of rule by force of arms was no longer confined to the officials and mercenary supporters of a dictatorial KANU. It had permeated the ‘democratic’ parties in power and in opposition as well.

      Second, in the three previous instances, violence was more or less confined to the period before the election. Once the elections were over, the status quo quickly returned, even if with some adjustments to the faces included in Parliament. The 2007–08 case followed a similar pattern up to a point.

      Hate speech and threats were widely used in 2007 election campaigns across the political divide. But there were no mass evictions and raids on villages as had been common in the past elections.

      What was new was the intensity of propaganda campaigns couched in ethnic overtones and the confident presentation by both parties that their side was going to win. The ODM cast the election as ‘The republic versus the long-ruling Kikuyu’. The PNU, on the other hand, cast it as ‘The rest versus us’. Political lines and allegiances were clearly demarcated among politicians and the general public.

      A report by the National Security and Intelligence Services written before the elections was shared with both the government and leading opposition figures. The report detailed campaign-related offences across the board, called for a cessation of hostilities and recommended exploring an option of postponing the election or having separate elections at different times for different levels of government. It concluded by warning that violence was very likely to occur after the elections, regardless of who won.

      It was later shared with both to the Independent Review Commission, the ‘Kreigler Commission’ and the Commission of Inquiry into the Post Election Violence, the ‘Waki Commission’.

      Widespread and sustained violence broke out after the contentious poll results were announced on 29 December 2007. Attacks and counter-attacks threatened to drive the country into complete collapse. Meanwhile politicians on both sides of the political divide failed miserably to intervene effectively (if at all) to stop their constituents’ downward spiral of destruction.

      The rest, as they say, is history, though this history continues to haunt Kenyans of all walks of life, from those who continue to live and die in squalor in IDP (internally displaced person) camps to politicians under scrutiny by the International Criminal Court.

      And that brings us to the third difference between violence in the 2007–08 period and previous episodes. In the past, the ruling party was so firmly entrenched and ruled with such impunity and secrecy that the very idea of prosecuting those responsible for the violence was anathema to the very survival of the state, composed as it was of a cabal of fiercely loyal men who had secured immense wealth for themselves.

      In addition to the failure on the part of the Kenyan government to punish perpetrators, there was too little attention given to these cases in the international legal arena. Kenya’s election-related injustices were eclipsed by the even more massive crimes that had taken place in Rwanda and Yugoslavia, where special temporary International Criminal Tribunals had been established to try the accused.

      The International Criminal Court was then established by the Rome Statute in July 1998, which came into force in July 2002, with the mandate to act as a permanent global court to try the most serious crimes against humanity, war crimes and genocide. There was no ICC during the 1988, 1992 and 1997 Kenyan elections. But more than one global spotlight was to shine down on Kenya in January 2008.

      For the first time in a Kenyan election, international arbitrators were invited to assist in the resolution of the political crisis at the level of the state and to appeal for the cessation of hostilities on the streets. It was in the context of this international effort to stabilise the situation that legal efforts to hold responsible those culpable for fanning or failing to prevent the troubles were first mooted by Kofi Annan and then by prosecutors at the International Criminal Court itself.

      By the end of January 2008, Annan had helped craft a grand coalition of the rival political parties to resolve the election dispute. This, and a vigorous women-led grassroots peace movement, eventually brought open hostilities to an end on the streets. As for legal redress for the crimes committed, more time was needed.

      When, on the third try, Parliament refused to authorise the establishment of a local tribunal, the International Criminal Court, which will not act if a case is investigated or prosecuted by a national judicial system, stepped in. While the court has done much preliminary work and investigation since 2008, its big push came only after the country had adopted its new constitution in August 2010.

      What does this history tell us about the prospect for violence in the coming years? If the same politicians dominate the political scene in 2012, what is to stop the same tactics from being used? ICC prosecutions promise to dampen politicians’ use or acceptance of violent electioneering. And a vigilant country-wide peace movement holds the power to de-escalate tensions on the ground. Another positive development is the entrance into electoral politics of a whole new crop of candidates dedicated to peace and unwilling to use ethnicity as leverage.

      Still the situation remains extremely unpredictable. But it will be difficult for politicians to fan violence around the next election if international spotlights – including from media, election observers and grassroots peace movements – remain trained on the Kenyan scene from now until the peaceful conclusion of the next election season.

      The 4 August 2010 referendum was an historic victory for the democracy movement in Kenya. This time the electorate overwhelmingly voted yes. The no team conceded defeat. The constitution was signed into law. When the streamers and firecrackers in Uhuru Park had been swept up after the celebrations, the International Criminal Court investigators and prosecutors came to town to seek evidence and suspects for their case.

      The coincidence of the timing of the two events cannot be ignored. The government was on a stable footing, citizens’ commitment to a break from the past was clear, and moreover, the legislative instruments for the resolution of historic injustices had been drafted and adopted and were awaiting implementation.

      But the deeper significance of the ICC’s arrival in Kenya just at that moment lies in the stated goal of the ICC in this case, that is, to ‘manage violence’, end impunity and reconcile communities. What action is the ICC taking to try to achieve the ultimate goal of building peace in Kenya?

      By the start of November 2010, the ICC had nearly completed its investigations. It had begun the process of taking statements from security officials. It had invited at least three cabinet ministers to record statements. Minister after minister and suspect after suspect began volunteering to present themselves and their evidence to the ICC investigators in the Hague. In the meantime, the ICC was reportedly scrutinising suspects’ assets for the purpose of seizing them for payment of reparations should they be found guilty. It had also scheduled a second Pre-Trial Chamber for December this year to advance the case and issue indictments.

      Prosecutors had planned to put on trial between three and six highly placed individuals in two separate cases. With the new evidence being submitted, these numbers might be subject to change. But, should all go as the ICC plans, it will, after trials that may take years to conclude, imprison the guilty and seize all or part of their wealth to distribute among a number of victims of the crimes for which the perpetrators are found legally culpable.

      The process seems relatively clear. What remains uncertain is the extent to which these actions will contribute to preventing the recurrence of political violence in Kenya.

      We first must at least acknowledge what many commentators have already flagged: the potential for violence to erupt as a response to the indictments of the high-level politicians. Before considering means of addressing this problem, let us first consider the effect on community reconciliation of another aspect of the ICC’s work: the eventual payment of reparations to individual violence victims.

      In Samburu in 1999, when individual land-mine and munitions victims were paid reparations for their losses, the money was quickly spent, dissipated and drained away from the community. Marriages broke up. Families were split. Friends became enemies. Yes, individuals were compensated. But the results within the community indicate that division and competition, rather than unity and healing, were the lasting legacies of these payments.

      This should serve as a lesson in cases such as the ICC’s, in which the prevention of further outbreaks of election violence is a key goal. This is not to say that victims should not receive reparations. Rather it is to recognise that reparations come with certain perils, and should be considered as only one part of a larger process by which problems simmering within affected communities are resolved.

      All Kenyans should be compensated for the harm inflicted upon them after the 2007 election. Such compensation will not come in the shape of wealth confiscated by the ICC from those perpetrators who are found guilty in the Hague. It will come only through the reintroduction of ordinary people into the process of implementing the new constitution such that the social reparations and redistributive justice it promises can be realised.

      Peace and the reconciliation of communities require the redress of absolute deprivation. This can be achieved through such measures as the redistribution of land and other resources, prioritisation of land use for domestic food consumption and the return to citizens of their sovereignty and decision-making power.

      So we return, once again, to the convergence of constitution-making and the redress of election violence. In brief, the redress of election violence lies in the people-centred implementation of the constitution.

      Action from two directions may lower the potential risks of unrest at the next election and at other sensitive times, such as the announcement of indictments or verdicts in the ICC case. The first is the public pressure on suspects themselves to refuse to stand idly and silently by as others are harmed in their names. Key suspects’ voluntary cooperation with the ICC is an encouraging sign. But it is not enough. The second and perhaps more powerful action to minimize risks of unrest is found among the initiatives of the ordinary people of Kenya who are committed to peace.

      In fact, the single most important social force mitigating against the risk of a recurrence of political violence can be found neither in the Hague, in parliamentary committee chambers nor in the wishes for continued cooperation and goodwill of suspects. It lies instead in Kenya’s vibrant and active peace movement. This grassroots movement sees the convergence of dozens of community-based organisations, religious groups and human rights networks in country-wide grassroots campaigns of peace and reconciliation.

      While the ICC may be able to do its part in ending an entrenched culture of impunity in Kenya, without the peace movement and the participation of citizens in the implementation of the constitution, the ICC’s prosecutors may fail to actually make Kenya a global example of managing election violence. Ordinary Kenyan citizens have organised for more than two decades to realise a fundamental transformation of their country through peaceful social movements. It is to these quarters that we should be looking for the capacity and the deep cultural and historical groundings to generate a real and lasting peace.

      With their new constitution in hand, they have the means by which to bring forth this change. And now, with an active peace movement that cuts across ethnic boundaries to unite Kenyans on the basis of life-centred values, they also have the unity and organisational power to do so.


      * Leigh Brownhill is a Canadian teacher and food sovereignty researcher. She is the author of the 2009 Africa World Press book ‘Land, Food, Freedom: Struggles for the Gendered Commons in Kenya, 1870-2007’.
      * Kiama Kaara is a researcher and analyst with the Kenya Debt Relief Network – KENDREN, based in Nairobi.
      * Please send comments to [email protected] or comment online at Pambazuka News.

      Are you saying we are not human?

      Sokari Ekine


      cc TNTB
      The African Commission for People and Human Rights (ACPHR) has declined to give observer status to the Coalition of African Lesbians (CAL). Outraged LGBTI activists have described the decision as a huge setback by the highest body supposed to promote and protect human rights on the continent. This week’s blog roundup focuses on LGBTI news and issues.

      Behind the Mask publishes a statement by the CAL in which they demand an explanation from the ACPHR:

      ‘CAL asserts that there is a “myriad” of actions that have been taken to demonstrate to the Commission that there is punitive violence going on against Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI) people on the continent and that it must be stopped urgently.

      ‘“In order to do that, it is important for the Commission to build a formal relationship with organisations like CAL to work together towards the protection of sexual orientation and gender identity rights in Africa. One way of doing that is to grant observer status to organisations working on sexual orientation and gender identity rights”, says CAL.

      ‘CAL further added “It is important to have the African Commission as an African Union human rights instrument to take a stand and create mechanisms to protect and promote rights based on sexual orientation and gender identity and to end violence to this effect. One way to demonstrate that would have been to grant observer status to the Coalition of African Lesbians.”’

      Black Looks publishes a statement by Sokari Ekine and Mia Nikamiso on the denial of observer status to CAL by the African Commission on People and Human Rights:

      ‘We are angry at the grotesque indifference exercised by these charlatans whose misogyny, xenophobia, homophobia, lesbophobia, transphobia due to heteronormativity whatever the origin, is being unleashed against us. Acting with hysterical fear in the face of a simple request by CAL to hold observer status, the ACPHR, as it represents and discusses issues of importance to all African citizens, is the mark of irresponsibility and shameful viciousness. And of course it is in violation of the treaties and international agreements to which it and its member countries are signatories.

      ‘The questions here are immense, ‘on what grounds does the ACPHR’s act on?‘ “In whose interest is it acting’? How is it that this small group of people are able to hold power over millions of African people and put their lives at risk? Or are they merely dancing to the sick orgy dictated by religious and political warlords back home? Or is it their post colonial heritage which makes them feel justified in exerting quasi powers of exclusion in this way? What progress do they hope to make piggy backing deeply held indifferences and prejudices in a bashful lack of transparency? When will all this hypocrisy end? Have they considered any of these or are they just too intransigent to fully consider what is meant by, “human rights?” “Are they saying that LGBTI people are not HUMAN? Because, there is no one, not a living soul on this continent who can prove to anyone that LGBTI people are a minority and who are not as firmly steeped in these lands as any other person.’

      African Activist reports on the trial of Millicent Gaika’s rapist. Millicent showed extraordinary bravery in testifying against the rapist in a South African court.

      ‘I’ve never been as tired as yesterday; we arrived at Wynberg Court at 8.30am ~ Millicent was ready to take the stand, and was called in at 10am; we were not allowed to enter the court as they said the journalists were going to write a false story. I then spoke to Millicent about that and she was fine with getting everybody in, including the journalist.

      ‘They then again persuaded her not to allow any body in while she was testifying; not even her own mother was allowed to get in inside. We all sat in the bangers, with Andile Ncoza, the guy who raped Millicent, sitting next to us! He just sat staring at me with those angry eyes ~ last week while i was driving passing his house he was standing outside, and when he saw my car he was swearing at me and shouted “I’m gonna get you, Bitch!”.

      ‘Milly was very nervous testifying as she was alone, and the court was surrounded with cameras … She told me that when she was standing in front of the magistrate facing Andile Ncoza she re-lived the whole ordeal!’

      Gay Kenya reports on a statement by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights which speaks directly to the denial of observer status by the ACPHR:

      ‘Homophobia, like racism and xenophobia, exists to varying degrees in all societies. Every day, in every country, individuals are persecuted, vilified or violently assaulted, even killed, because of their sexual orientation and gender identity. Covert or overt, homophobic violence causes enormous suffering that is often shrouded in silence and endured in isolation.

      ‘It is time we all spoke up. While responsibility for hate crimes rests with the perpetrators, we all share a duty to counter intolerance and prejudice and demand that attackers be held to account.

      ‘The first priority is to press for decriminalization of homosexuality worldwide. In more than 70 countries, individuals still face criminal sanctions on the basis of their sexual orientation. Such laws expose those concerned to the constant risk of arrest, detention and, in some cases, torture or even execution. They also perpetuate stigma and contribute to a climate of intolerance and violence.’

      Gay Uganda discusses questions around LGBTIQ ‘believers’ and ‘non-believers’ deal with issues of Faith and God. GU is not a believer and asks why is it so difficult for people who believe to accept that one can be human as well as ‘unbeliever’. This makes perfect sense when you consider some of the most hateful people are men and women of God. He then goes on to give examples of both. Bishop Christopher Ssenyonjo who is a gay activist but not gay and has put himself at great risk for his stance. Then there is Bishop Ssempa who wants Bishop Ssenyonjo and LGBTI people hanged. So there you have two men of God, one acting most ungodly whilst the other acting in the interest of humanity.

      Afro Gay hits out at African American director and producer, Tyler Perry on his admission he was sexually abused as a child. There is a great deal of anger in AfroGay who is unable to reconcile Tyler’s huge wealth with the possibility that he has been hurt and damaged by the abuse. His anger centres around his belief that Perry is a closet homosexual who will eventually come out and use the child abuse as a basis for his sexuality. I think this is more an attack on Perry’s wealth in that as a soon-to-be billionaire, whatever happened to him in his childhood is of no consequence. I don’t agree but admit that dealing with child abuse is exacerbated by poverty, but does wealth really wash away everything?

      ‘So, when Perry went on the Oprah Show and waxed indignant about an abusive dad, AfroGay was totally incensed. It is one thing for these celebrities to hide their sexuality - everyone deserves to have their privacy. But it is quite another for them to try and perpetrate a fraud in order to justify why they are of a queer sexual persuasion. That I find a problem, a big problem with.

      ‘You see, I am totally convinced that Perry is preparing his following for the admission of the open secret that he is homosexual. But he doesn't want to make a simple admission of what everyone who sees him can see; he has to find a reason why it is someone's fault that he is homosexual. And that incenses me no end.’

      I am going to end with Kenne’s Blog. His post ‘Stuck at Homophobia’ points out the Queer’s obsession with homophobia – ‘the set principles, ideals and standards which get us there and the after effects of such’:

      ‘We obsess about homophobia, queer or not, people turn to this sensation time and time again in a bid to justify it, nourish it, speak/act against it in themselves and in others and finally conclude on it in a way that is curiously devoid of the aggrieved party, queers. I am yet to come across a mainstream view whereby a middle way approach, conscious indifference, is exercised.’

      Kenne has decided to no longer take homophobia seriously, to no longer respond to it or obsess over it. How does this change the way he relates and interacts with the world? There is a case for refusing to feed into the hate and giving voice to those spouting homophobia. I feel the same way each time some religious or political leader somewhere repeats the same old rhetoric – do you report it, comment on it or just ignore it? I agree with Kenne – we need to stop obsessing over homophobia and deal with other topics affecting Queer Africa:

      ‘Over the past twelve months, many incidences have come out to point out that queer Africa exists and is vibrant but only went as far as showing how homophobic Africa is. This stuckness on homophobia by queers and non-queers and the media takes away the much needed attention to more pertinent issues such as HIV/AIDS, queer rights and so on. As we advocate for queer rights in Africa, as we call ourselves gay, lesbian, bisexual or gender non-conforming, in a word- queer; let’s cut out the homophobia part, it’s not us- it’s them.’

      But as like Kenne, ‘I’m stuck’ on whether to be unstuck or stuck...


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

      Competitive devaluation and financial warfare

      Horace Campbell


      cc Downing Street
      As G20 leaders mull the global consequence of quantitative easing in the US, Horace Campbell highlights the need for a democratised international body that can hold major powers accountable. ‘Without such a body, the kind of competitive devaluation that has been initiated by the US could be a recipe for full-blown warfare.’

      Last year in Kenya, when my African friends were discussing the depression and financial crisis, they asked why is it that people in the West, especially the US workers, are now only grasping the dangers of the power of the banks? African working peoples have faced the onslaught of the capitalist’s financial war against ordinary people for the past 30 years. The most obvious evidence has been high rates of unemployment and underemployment, massive hollowing out of industrial capacity, destruction of social services, and millions of deaths orchestrated by the IMF (International Monetary Fund)-imposed currency devaluation and liberalisation policies. These neoliberal strictures have been most evident in the areas of health care and education. In a continent where over 7,000 persons were dying everyday from preventable diseases, the IMF was also arguing that African economic recovery could only come from the complete opening of African markets and currency devaluations.

      The experiences of Africans over the past 30 years are most pertinent within the context of the Group of Twenty (G20) meeting in South Korea. This meeting has four main items on the agenda, namely:
      1) Building a framework for strong, sustainable and balanced growth
      2) Strengthening the international financial regulatory system
      3) Global financial safety nets
      4) Modernising the international financial institutions.
      If we look at the language and orientation of this agenda, we can see that the political leasers have not really learnt that the world is in a transition into a new international system. The other lesson that has not been learnt is that the West cannot keep exploiting the former colonised peoples forever. The structural adjustment policy measures that were initiated by the Bretton Woods Institutions against the oppressed nations and peoples are now being promoted in the West in the name of ‘austerity measures’ for global economic recovery. The escalation of the impact of the depression from Africa, Asia, and Latin America has now reached the working peoples of Western Europe and North America. When the managing director of the IMF referred to currencies as a weapon of war, many interpreted his statement as a volley against China. But could it be that he was addressing US leaders when he said, ‘Many do consider their currency as a weapon, and this is not for the good of the world economy.’ Robert Zoellick, the head of the World Bank followed in October by reminding the world that, ‘If one lets this [currency war] slide into conflict or forms of protectionism, we then risk repeating the mistakes of the 1930s.’

      One of the challenges at this moment is for working peoples to begin to see that their interests converge so that they can develop a new sense of international solidarity. It is such sense of solidarity and internationalism that can ensure a formidable network for effective organisation and mobilisation against the toll of this capitalist depression and drum beats of war.

      G20 SUMMIT

      This international solidarity requires that we pay attention to local struggles and connect to international struggles, whether in New Orleans, Port-Harcourt, Guangdong, Quito, Madrid, or in Rouen, France. In these struggles, the workers and the youth, bit by bit, are regaining confidence in their own power and in their capacity to fight back. These forces are learning new lessons as the political leadership succumb to the power of the bankers who want to divert this growing solidarity to weaken the new alliances across borders.

      We particularly need to closely watch the balance of forces arrayed as world leaders meet in South Korea. This is the meeting that is called the Group of Twenty (G20). It emerged as a response to the financial crisis of the 1990s, and the realisation that the former colonial masters who comprised the G7 could no longer dictate terms to the world. The summit in South Korea will be the 5th meeting of the G20 heads of governments to contemplate ways forward on the crisis arising from the failure of capitalism. Because the G20 has been conceived in a moment of crisis, it remains a holding operation until there is a process of deepening the democratisation of the international political system.

      The G20 is a successor international formation to the G7 that was established in 1976 at another moment of international crisis when the USA foisted the system of flexible exchange rates on the countries that were defending Western capitalism. The G7 comprises Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, UK, and the US. This gathering was convened one year after the US was defeated in Vietnam and five years after the Nixon administration had devalued the dollar. As an instrument of Cold War politics, economics, and diplomacy, the G7 bolstered the political authority of the US and the centrality of the dollar. In the face of the profligate spending and indiscipline of the US capitalist classes, the German and French leaders set about the creation of a competitive currency under the umbrella of the political formation that matured to become the European Union. The Euro became a competitor to the US dollar. This tenuous alliance of the G7 survived in the context of the Cold War. It was in this context that Reagan told the leaders of Germany and Japan that they had to support the US as long as they would want to be protected from the Soviet Union.

      The G20 meeting is taking place twenty-five years after the Plaza Accords of 1985 when Ronald Reagan and James Baker bullied the Germans and the Japanese to subsidise the US military build-up. The yen appreciated and the Japanese economy never fully recovered from the economic consequences of the Reagan bullying in 1985. The end of the Cold War shattered the justification for the G7 and through the 1990s, the Russians were invited to the table, thus changing the G7 to G8.When Russia joined the G7 the neoliberal hawks descended on the society dismantling social programmes, with years of economic devastation for the peoples of Russia.

      US unilateralism was hidden behind the G8. The limits of this unilateralism exploded on the world stage with the deepening of the capitalist crisis, following which there was a hurriedly-called G20 summit in November 2008. It was at this summit that President George W. Bush started to show some humility in relationship to the real position of the US and the rising power of states such as India, Brazil, and China.


      Unilateralism and the language of the world’s only superpower had been premised on the ‘containment’ and encirclement of China and a national security doctrine that motivated some US security officials to see China as an enemy. This is despite the fact that there had been an alliance between sections of the Chinese capitalist class and the US financial barons. Top US multinationals (such as Walmart) saw China as a place where they could get around labour laws and safety standards. In January 2009, speaking in the capital of the People’s Republic of China, Zbigniew Brzezinski called on the Chinese to make a G2 alliance between the US and China. This invitation to the Chinese leaders to become co-imperialists with the USA was presented under the banner of moving toward a ‘reconciliation of civilizations’.

      At the moment when the rest of the world was saying that a new financial architecture was needed to break the power of the US-backed IMF and World Bank, Brzezinski was calling for infusion of Chinese capital to prop up the US. From Bolivia, Eva Morales said it was a mistake to revive the IMF, claiming that, ‘[i]t is like giving money to wolves, or entrusting it with the care of the flock: the wolf is not going to keep the sheep; it will devour them. It is not possible that the countries of capitalism which have caused the financial crisis are now the same from where comes the solution.’ Morales was responding to the decision of the G20 summit in London in April 2009 when the leaders promised that a trillion dollar infused in the IMF would restore confidence, growth and jobs.

      The challenge outlined by Eva Morales to the recapitalisation of IMF to the tune of US$1.1 trillion stands before the G20 meeting at this moment because the very agenda follows the same script of dealing with global financial safety net instead of confronting the suffering and death of human beings and the ecological war against the planet earth. I do not agree with those who argue that the G20 is merely a group of countries appointed by the G8 to represent the rest of the world. It is also true that the G20 in its present constitution is unrepresentative of the peoples of the world. Why should Italy, Germany, France, and the UK be members of the G20 at the same time that the EU is a member? Who appointed the South Africans to be the representative for Africa? Was it because South Africa remains the beachhead for international capitalism with its promulgation and drive for Africans to go on their knees through NEPAD (New Partnership for Africa's Development)?

      From the standpoint of the peoples of the world, the democratisation of international bodies such as international financial institutions will only come about through new international mobilisation and victories in what they call the Third World that would shake the complacency of workers in Western Europe and North America. Shaking the complacency is not meant to be vindictive but to awaken the working peoples of the major capitalist countries to the vulnerability of their ruling classes. This vulnerability will be heightened by the class-consciousness of the working people of Europe and North America. When the working peoples see the bankers as the problem, perhaps they will not willingly send their children to die in unjust and unnecessary wars meant to protect the global interests of the financial oligarchs.


      The issue of the democratisation of international organisations was brought into sharper focus this week when the president of the USA promised to support the candidacy of India for a seat in the UN Security Council. This sounded like a hollow promise because it is the same USA that has been at the forefront of opposition to the democratisation of the United Nations. This promise should not be the substitution for rigorous debate for the genuine democratisation of the UN so as to become a more efficient international body for world peace. There is need for an international body that can hold the US and other military occupiers accountable. Without such a body, the kind of competitive devaluation that has been initiated by the US could be a recipe for full-blown warfare. It was none other than the dean of the Press Corps in Washington who has been calling on the USA to attack Iran in order to for the US to recover. David Broder of the Washington Post wrote in ‘The War Recovery’ that:

      ‘Look back at FDR and the Great Depression. What finally resolved that economic crisis? World War II. Here is where Obama is likely to prevail. With strong Republican support in Congress for challenging Iran's ambition to become a nuclear power, he can spend much of 2011 and 2012 orchestrating a showdown with the mullahs. This will help him politically because the opposition party will be urging him on. And as tensions rise and we accelerate preparations for war, the economy will improve.’

      While David Broder and top politicians were promoting a military confrontation for recovery, Michael Hudson was explaining that the USA was using competitive devaluation (called quantitative easing) as a weapon of war:

      ‘Finance is the new form of warfare – without the expense of a military overhead and an occupation against unwilling hosts. It is a competition in credit creation to buy foreign resources, real estate, public and privatised infrastructure, bonds and corporate stock ownership. Who needs an army when you can obtain the usual objective (monetary wealth and asset appropriation) simply by financial means?’


      QE2 is a second iteration of the current financial war being waged by the USA against the rest of the world. On 3 November 2010 there was a further devaluation of the US dollar by the Federal Reserve which is the central bank of the US. This devaluation by which the US printed US$600 billion of its currency is another manifestation of the present currency war. The term, ‘currency war’ is another way of referring to the competitive devaluation of the top capitalist currencies. The reason for the devaluation is to make a country’s exports cheaper in order to rebuild the economy.

      In the US, there is an assumption that US manufacturing would recover if the dollar were devalued. The top leaders of the US know this to be fiction because they understand that the productive capability and the competitiveness of the economy have been hollowed out by the emphasis on finance and financial services industries. One commentator said clearly that the US$600 billion would not assist the US economy: ‘That meant that the money Washington is pouring into the economy will go to those who need it least – banks, business, and families with strong balance sheet are in the best position to take advantage of the cheap money flooded into America. The unemployed – who figured prominently in the Fed statement and were one of the direct targets of last year’s financial stimulus – for much further down the food chain, as will the Americans grappling with foreclosure.’

      This realisation of the impact of quantitative easing is also clear to most leaders of the world. South African foreign minister said the move ‘undermined the spirit of multilateral cooperation.’ The Brazilians critiqued QE, saying that it will hurt the efforts of Brazil to control its currency. The German chancellor also opposes this QE, saying that the US policy was ‘clueless’. Central bankers all across Asia are now considering measures for capital controls to minimise the negative effects of US capitalists rushing into their countries with cheap dollars to buy up productive assets. By the time the G20 started, the USA was so isolated that even South Korea stepped back from signing a free trade agreement with the USA.


      The financial war, as manifest in the statements and actions from Brazil, South Africa, Thailand, India, South Korea and Germany, has been lost to many citizens of the North who had been faced with the barrage of misinformation that the imbalance in the world economy stems from the undervaluation of the Chinese currency. Western leaders have been explicit that they want to pressure China to revalue its currency. The Chinese political leadership which has agreed to a gradual revaluation has explicitly stated that the demand for massive revaluation is a demand meant to trigger instability and unrest leading to the break up of China as we know it today. Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao recently warned: ‘[D]o not pressurize us on the renminbi rate. Exporters would close; workers would lose their jobs… If China saw social and economic turbulence then it would be a disaster for the world.’ It is precisely this kind of disaster that the conservatives probably want in order to save capitalism. But this could be a recipe for another world war. One of the challenges of the Chinese people is to make their capitalists accountable so that the present alliance between sections of the Chinese finance capital and US finance capital is broken. The world doesn’t want new superpower, whether from the West, East, North, or South.

      We want to reiterate that the G20 is a holding operation until there is a democratisation of the international system. This democratisation must also include the political literacy of the working people throughout the world and the internationalisation of the control of capital. Africa remains the most vulnerable in these currency wars and already South Africa has seen its currency appreciate to the highest level in the past five years. This crisis sharpens the push for African Unity and the creation of a common currency in Africa, backed by the vast resources (human and material) of Africa. We started out by making reference to the fatal bullets that were, for 30 years, shelled upon Africans from the barrels of the financial weapons of forced currency devaluation and neoliberal policies of the US-backed Bretton Woods institutions. These conditions await citizens of the Western world unless there is a break with the present mode of economic organisation.


      * Horace Campbell is a teacher and writer. His latest book is 'Barack Obama and 21st Century Politics: A Revolutionary Moment in the USA', published by Pluto Press.
      * Please send comments to [email protected] or comment online at Pambazuka News.

      When the poor become powerful outside of state control

      S'bu Zikode


      The power of the poor becomes evident when the poor are able to organise – a moment of great promise, but also danger, S’bu Zikode told an audience in the United States recently.

      It gives me great pleasure to be invited into the United States of America to speak, not only my mind but a collective mind of many Abahlali members. I only get these invitations because of the movement I am part of, so I thank Abahlali baseMjondolo Movement SA. I also thank the National Economic and Social Rights Initiative and I thank all friends of Abahlali based in the US.

      The power of the poor starts when we as the poor recognise our own humanity - when we recognise that in fact we are created in the image of God and are therefore equal to all other human beings. But the recognition of our humanity without action to defend our humanity is meaningless. It is very important that we as the poor begin to define ourselves before someone else from somewhere else begins to define us. It is very important for the poor to say, this is who we are, this is where we are and this is what we want. In our movement, as in many movements around the world, we say that we are the poor, those who do not count. We say that we are the excluded and the disrespected. We say that we want our full humanity, that we want justice, that we want dignity and full participation in the planning of our communities.

      The more of us that stand together the more our humanity is fulfilled. The power of the poor becomes evident when the poor are able to organise ourselves for ourselves. When we begin to achieve this it is always a moment of great promise and great danger. Frederick Douglass, the great hero of one of the greatest American struggles, the struggle against slavery, said: ‘Power concedes nothing without a demand.’ This is why a collective demand, a demand backed by organisation, determination and courage is a moment of great promise. But it is also a moment of great danger because the power of the rich and the politicians always takes the legitimate demands of the oppressed to be criminal and illegitimate. This is one reason why we need to stand together across the sea. We can only redeem the promise of our struggle if we can survive its dangers and none of us can do that on our own. I have been sent here by Abahlali baseMjondolo to build a living solidarity with the movements in America. We want to look for ways in which we can support each other to realise the promise of our struggles.

      There is also a real danger for the organised poor if we do not define ourselves. If we allow others to define us and to define our struggle we risk being defined as people who are not able to struggle for ourselves - as people who need leaders and not comrades, as people who must be spoken for and not to. But when we succeed in defining ourselves, and in escaping the danger of not defining ourselves, we have to face a new danger. There is another kind of danger for the organised poor when we do define ourselves. Our movement is going through a tough time after successfully defining itself. We are under attack from the state, the rich and even a few individual leftists who are all divided in their economics but united in their politics - in their belief that it is their duty, the duty of elites, to speak for and to represent the poor.

      As Abahlali we have successfully represented our struggle both nationally and internationally. This has been a crisis for some of those who have employed themselves to speak, write and decide for the poor. The refusal of our movement has been met with a huge campaign to discredit and rubbish our movement’s effort to build a just society where everyone matters. We have learnt that there is a very big difference between those forces in civil society and the left that are looking for followers and those that are looking for comrades. We have learnt that there is a very big difference between those forces in civil society and the left who think that they are the only ones that can liberate the poor and those that are willing to work with the poor as we liberate ourselves. We remain committed to a bottom up politic, a living politic, an every day politic of the political empowerment of ordinary women and men.

      The state has many strategies to silence the poor. Leaders are offered money and jobs. There is quiet diplomacy through which the movement is given some acknowledgment. There are meetings that lead into all kinds of technical debates and away from the simple politic of our demand for land and housing. There is intimidation. But when all these efforts by the state to silence the poor fail they send in the police. The police do not come, as we have asked, to protect the poor but to beat us, arrest us and even shoot us. We have braved all that and survived brutal attacks. Our popular activism in action has made our movement grow rapidly despite repression.

      Our movement has faced many challenges. When we started to become a powerful force in society and began to win many victories. We stopped evictions, forced interim services in some of the settlements and won some kind of recognition. The state then went to try its legal means of attacking the shack dwellers and the poor. The state came out with a new legislation called KwaZulu-Natal Elimination, Eradication and Prevention of Re-emergence of Slums Act of 2007. The new legislation was created to legitimise these attacks. To be poor and homeless meant to be criminal and you could be imprisoned for up to 25 years for resisting an eviction. Abahlali mobilised all kinds of resourced people including lawyers to challenge the constitutionality of this legislation. The poor South Africans were represented by Abahlali who were represented by the Centre for Applied Legal Studies at Wits University.

      When our case was heard in the Constitutional Court it was clear that the state couldn’t answer our case. The state was humiliated by the inevitability of a serious defeat by shack dwellers. There was a long moment of silence. We continued to feed our orphans, to look after our sick. We continued to build crèches and vegetable gardens as projects of self help. We continued to discuss our living politic at our University of Abahlali baseMjondolo. All these good efforts of trying to build an equal society became a major threat to authority. Some state institutions have good people who we kept engaging while being very careful to always keep our autonomy. We carefully managed different negotiations without being co-opted into the system so that we could claim victories from the state while continuing to build our power outside of the state.

      But as we kept building a strong movement the state was busy preparing itself to destroy our movement. On the 26 and 27 September 2009 a group of about 40 armed men violently attacked our head quarters in the Kennedy Road settlement. The police failed to protect us. As people tried to defend themselves there was fighting and two people were left dead and others injured. The homes of our leaders, their families and friends and the general membership of Abahlali were destroyed and we were driven out of the settlement and forced out to hiding. The attack was openly endorsed by the provincial leadership of the ruling party and the provincial government. Up until today our attackers were never made to answer to their crimes committed on the day of the attack. Abahlali called for the Independent Commission of Inquiry into the attack, but this call fell on deaf ears. A short time after the attack we won a historic victory against the constitutionality of the Slums Act.

      This attack is the sort of heavy price that a movement of the poor may have to pay for the prize of a human world, a world of equality and dignity, a world where the land and wealth are shared. This sort of attack happens when a movement continues to organise, to think and to grow outside state control. A living politic is not built in one day. It is built in prayer, humility, sacrifice and courage. Our struggle is a class struggle. It is the struggle of the poor - those who are living in shacks, selling on the streets, doing domestic and security work. To build a fair world where everyone matters we need allies amongst those in a similar class and amongst those with better resources and opportunities.

      The time will come when the poor, the uneducated but human, will be required to play a humane role in society. A time will come when the humanity of every human being is recognised in society. This time may or may not be the judgement day. When this time comes will depend on our commitment and courage. It will also depend on how well we can support each other’s struggles. History will judge us all.


      * November 2010. This was a presentation to the National Economic and Social Rights Initiative delivered to various part of the United States of America.
      * S’bu Zikode is the president of Abahlali baseMjondolo.
      * Please send comments to [email protected] or comment online at Pambazuka News.

      Ethiopia: Remember the Slaughter of November 2005

      Alemayehu G. Mariam


      cc A H
      Alemayehu G. Mariam remembers the victims of the June and November 2005 massacres in Addis Ababa, where hundreds of people were killed by police for protesting the result of the general election. The author examines the use of police brutality by the government of Meles Zenawi to silence political opposition. He argues that the culture of impunity must stop and that it is imperative that the world continue to bear witness to the killings. ‘The Ethiopian massacre victims now belong to the whole of humanity,’ Mariam writes, remembering the men and women who died. ‘They must be remembered by all freedom-loving peoples throughout the world, not just Ethiopians.’


      November is a cruel month. Bleak, woeful, and grim is the month of November in the melancholy verse of Thomas Hood:
      ‘No warmth, no cheerfulness, no healthful ease,
      No comfortable feel in any member—
      No shade, no shine, no butterflies, no bees,
      No fruits, no flowers, no leaves, no birds,

      And no justice for the hundreds massacred in Ethiopia in November 2005.
      No redress for the countless men, women and children shot and wounded and left for dead.
      No apologies for the tens of thousands illegally imprisoned.
      No restitution for survivors or the families of the dead.
      No trace of those who disappeared.
      No atonement for the crimes of November.
      No absolution for the slaughter of November.
      November is to remember.
      How Does One Remember the Slaughter of November?

      Elie Wiesel, a Nobel laureate and Holocaust survivor, said we remember the innocent victims of evil by bearing witness for them:

      'For the survivor who chooses to testify, it is clear: his duty is to bear witness for the dead and the living. He has no right to deprive future generations of a past that belongs to our collective memory. To forget would be not only dangerous but offensive; to forget the dead would be akin to killing them a second time. The witness has forced himself to testify. For the youth of today, for the children who will be born tomorrow. He does not want his past to become their future.'

      For the past three years, I have chosen to bear witness for the hundreds of massacre victims of dictator Meles Zenawi in Ethiopia.[1] Wherever evil triumphs, all of humanity is victimised. I have never met any one of the massacre victims of June and November 2005, but that does not matter. I remember each and every one of them. So I bear witness once more on behalf of Tensae Zegeye, age 14; Habtamu Tola, age 16; Binyam Degefa, age 18; Behailu Tesfaye, age 20; Kasim Ali Rashid, age 21. Teodros Giday Hailu, age 23. Adissu Belachew, age 25; Milion Kebede Robi, age 32; Desta Umma Birru, age 37; Tiruwork G. Tsadik, age 41; Elfnesh Tekle, age 45. Abebeth Huletu, age 50; Regassa Feyessa, age 55; Teshome Addis Kidane, age 65; Victim No. 21762, age 75, female, and Victim No. 21760, male, age unknown and hundreds more shot and killed or wounded while protesting stolen elections.[2]

      Once again, I point an accusatory finger at the policemen who pulled the triggers, the invisible hands that pulled the fingers of the policemen who pulled the triggers and the mastermind who orchestrated the whole bloody carnage.


      There are two astonishing facts about the massacres of June and November 2005. The first is that the policemen sent out to contain the ‘disturbances’ literally had a riot shooting up anything that moved in the streets. The second is the manifest undercount of the actual fatalities and casualties of the massacres. When an Inquiry Commission was established by Zenawi under Proclamation 478/2005 to investigate post-election ‘disturbances’, its investigation of incidents was limited to specific dates and places, namely: violence that occurred on 8 June 2005 in Addis Ababa; and violence that occurred from 1 to 10 November 2005 and from 14 to 16 November 2005 in identified locations in Addis Ababa and other specifically designated towns and cities outside the capital.

      In public presentations, Inquiry Commission chairman Judge Frehiwot Samuel has indicated that the commission’s charge prevented it from including evidence of casualties and fatalities that occurred in close proximity to the dates and places set forth in the Proclamation. There is little doubt that a full and comprehensive investigation of the post-election ‘disturbances’ in 2005 would reveal casualty and fatality figures that are many times the number reported in the commission’s report.

      In its investigation, the Inquiry Commission examined 16,990 documents, and received testimony form 1,300 witnesses. Commission members visited prisons and hospitals, and interviewed members of the regime's officialdom over several months. In the end, the commission determined that the police shot and killed 193 persons and wounded 763 others on the specific dates and in the specific places identified in the Proclamation.[3]

      Further, the commission documented that on 3 November 2005, during an alleged disturbance in Kality prison that lasted 15 minutes, prison guards fired more than 1500 bullets into inmate housing units leaving 17 dead, and 53 severely wounded. Frehiwot commented, ‘Many people were killed arbitrarily. Old men were killed while in their homes, and children were also victims of the attack while playing in the garden.’ Over 30,000 civilians were arrested without warrant and held in detention.

      By an 8-2 vote, the commission made specific factual conclusions about the ‘disturbances’:
      1) The persons killed or wounded during the violence were unarmed protesters. ‘There was not a single protester who was armed with a gun or a hand grenade (as reported by the government-controlled media that some of the protesters were armed with guns and bombs)’.
      2) No property was destroyed by the protesters.
      3) The shots fired by government forces into crowds of protesters were not intended to disperse but to kill by targeting the head and chest of the protesters.
      4) There was no evidence that any security officers involved in the shootings were attacked or killed by the demonstrators: ‘Security forces which are alleged to be killed by demonstrators were not taken to autopsy, even there is no evidence of either photograph or death certificate showing the reason of death and couldn't be produced for police as opposed to that of civilians.’


      In 2008, a ‘think tank that met regularly at the Ethiopian Embassy in London’ commissioned an ‘internal security study’ to counter criticism by various international human rights organisations following the 2005 elections. In a report entitled ‘Modernising Internal Security in Ethiopia’[4] (see fn. 4 for copy of original study), counterterrorism expert Col (Rtd) Michael Dewar of the British Army revealed some shocking facts about the federal police, detention facilities and riot control capabilities and procedures in Ethiopia. One of the most surprising facts revealed by Dewar was the existence of a certified list of policemen involved in the massacres. Dewars stated in his report that ‘after three hours of one to one conversation’, Werkneh Gebeyehu, the Director General of the Ethiopian Federal Police, told him that ‘As a direct result of the 2005 riots, he [had] sacked 237 policemen.’

      The Director General's admission to Col. Dewars conclusively establishes the existence of a list of names of at least 275 policemen who are prime suspects in the massacres of unarmed protesters in June and November of 2005. These criminals must be brought to justice immediately for prosecution on charges of murder and crimes against humanity.


      On 21 March 1960, South African police without provocation slaughtered 69 unarmed black protesters in the township of Sharpeville and wounded 180, exposing the savagery of the apartheid system for the world to see. In 2005, security forces loyal to Meles Zenawi slaughtered 193 unarmed protesters and wounded 763 others. As the Ethiopian protesters were ‘targeted in the head and chest’ and shot, as documented by the Inquiry Commission, nearly all of the black South Africans in Sharpeville were shot in the back as they tried to flee the scene. The Sharpeville incident played a decisive role in the ultimate dismantling of apartheid rule in South Africa over three decades later.

      Sharpeville and the massacres in Ethiopia were not random events. Both the apartheid and Zenawi's regimes used cold blooded massacres as a deliberate tactic to ruthlessly crush and wipe out all political opposition. It was their way of saying that they will do anything to stay in power. The Sharpeville massacre was intended to ‘teach the kaffirs a lesson’ they will not forget. Zenawi intended to teach his opposition a lesson they will not forget by indiscriminately massacring men, women and children in the streets or in their homes, as the Inquiry Commission has documented. It was a deliberate and calculated act designed to break the backbone of the opposition and make sure that no opposition will ever rise again.

      It is characteristic of dictatorships to massacre their opposition as a demonstration of strength. History, however, shows that massacres are often manifestations of weakness, vulnerability and fear of popular uprising by oppressive regimes. South Africans were not intimidated by the Sharpeville massacre; they came out in full force to challenge the pass laws in every major city in South Africa as the masters of apartheid unleashed unspeakable violence against them. Sharpeville caused the apartheid regime to intensify its repression by tightening the pass laws (pass books required for black South Africans to travel within their country) and rigidly enforcing regulations to keep black South Africans in the Bantustans (black African ‘homelands’ or ‘reservations’).

      Sharpeville also stoked the imagination of black South African youth and energised and inspired all freedom-loving South Africans to fight against apartheid with determination.
      Following the 2005 elections, Zenawi went on a rampage. He jailed nearly all of the leading opposition leaders, civic society organisers, human rights advocates and journalists in the country on trumped up treason charges. He passed ‘laws’ clamping down on independent journalists and newspapers and criminalised civil society institutions. Zenawi even jailed and put in prolonged solitary confinement Birtukan Midekssa, a young woman – indeed a highly respected former judge, learned lawyer and a much admired and loved opposition leader – openly and unequivocally committed to peaceful change and constitutional governance. A few months ago, Zenawi declared he had won the election by 99.6 per cent.

      Sharpeville marked a defining moment in the South African struggle for liberation from apartheid. The June and November massacres (and many others that have yet to be investigated) will in the same way mark a watershed in the march towards democracy and resistance to dictatorship in Ethiopia.

      One of the most important lessons of Sharpeville is the role that massacre played in mobilising international support for ending the apartheid regime. It was after Sharpeville that international efforts to isolate and sanction the apartheid regime began to roll unstoppably. Sharpeville gave the first signal to the foreign investors that apartheid is no longer tenable and a transition to majority rule absolutely necessary. Shortly after Sharpeville, foreign investors pulled out tens of millions of dollars out of South Africa draining that country's reserves and bringing the economy to the verge of collapse. In the years that followed, as more countries adopted trade and financial sanctions and significant amounts of foreign investments began to be withdrawn from South Africa, it became clear to the apartheid regime that political change was inevitable and it had to accept majority rule.


      There is an entrenched and pervasive culture of impunity in Ethiopia as I have written previously.[5] Gross and widespread abuses of human rights are perpetrated without so much as a preliminary investigation being done to identify and hold the criminals accountable. Those in power feel that they can commit any act or crime and get away with it. The leaders of the ruling regime believe they are above the law, indeed they are the law. This culture of impunity must end, and a new civic culture based on strict observance of the rule of law must be instituted.

      There is much to be learned about accountability from the recent history of a neighbouring country. In the 2007 presidential election in Kenya, over 1,500 people were killed. Over 300,000 people were displaced as a result of the violence. The Waki Commission which investigated the violence fingered some high-level government officials as prime suspects in the perpetration of the violence. The Waki Report which was passed on to Luis Moreno-Ocampo, the chief prosecutor at the International Criminal Court (ICC), identified 19 politicians on a list of 219 alleged perpetrators including six cabinet ministers of the Kibaki government for possible prosecution for crimes against humanity.

      ICC investigations cannot be initiated at the request of private parties. The ICC Prosecutor could initiate investigations only if he receives a referral from States or the U.N. Security Council. He could also initiate an investigation on his own. Despite the procedural hurdles, an organised and sustained demand for an investigation by the Prosecutor's office could play a decisive role in persuading Moreno-Ocampo to consider launching a comprehensive inquiry into the massacres of 2005 in Ethiopia.


      In November 2005, hundreds of Ethiopian men, women and children paid with their lives for the causes of freedom, democracy and human rights. Truth be told, the world does not remember the massacres of June and November, 2005. That is in good part because many of us in the Diaspora have done a poor job of remembering them ourselves and publicising their cause and creating awareness worldwide. Thanks to so many dedicated individuals and groups that is changing. In this month of November, Ethiopians the world over are commemorating the 5th anniversary of Ethiopian election massacres.

      The Ethiopian massacre victims now belong to the whole of humanity. They must be remembered by all freedom-loving peoples throughout the world, not just Ethiopians. In the U.S., we often hear members of Congress delivering stirring floor speeches in remembrance of massacres that took place half way across the globe. We have seen official proclamations and statements in memoriam for massacre victims in remote corners of the world. We have even read statements issued by U.S. Presidents reflecting on the historic significance of such events. American newspapers report on massacres that took place decades ago; houses of worship offer special prayers and even school children do special memorial projects in remembrance of massacre victims in different parts of the world.

      Perhaps next year, we may be able to do more things that will help create greater international awareness of the crimes against humanity that were committed in Ethiopia in June and November 2005. By remembering the atrocities and spreading word about gross human rights abuses in Ethiopia, we not only keep alive the memory of the innocent victims of 2005 but also hasten the day when the criminals will be brought to justice.


      It seems to me that in the course of human events, most people face their own ‘defining moments.’ Often that ‘moment’ is a point in time when we gain a certain clarity about things that may have eluded us in the past or cloud our judgment. These moments are often random events beyond our control but define us as the persons we truly are. They come to us in the form of a choice: to be or not to be; to do or not to do; to speak up or not to speak up. By making the right choice we define the moment; and by making the wrong choice or not choosing at all, we allow the moment to define us. Frehiwot Samuel, Woldemichael Meshesha and Mitiku Teshome had their defining moments when they completed their report in 2006. They could have turned in a whitewash and received riches from Zenawi beyond their imagination. They chose to carry the truth into exile at extraordinary risk to their lives and began uncertain futures in foreign lands. When the modern history of Ethiopia is written, their names will be listed at the very top for displaying courage under fire, audacity in the face of despair, bravery in the face of personal danger, and unflinching fortitude in the face of extreme adversity. We can only thank them. ‘Never have so many owed so much to so few!’

      Tyrants also have their defining moments and their lasting legacy for which they will be remembered in history. Adolf Hitler will be remembered for the Holocaust. Pol Pot will be the eternal symbol of the killing fields of Cambodia; and Saddam Hussien’s name will live in infamy for his poison gas massacre in Halabja. Omar Bashir of Sudan, an indicted war criminal, will be remembered (and one day face prosecution in the ICC) for this his genocidal campaigns against the Fur, Marsalit and Zaghawa ethnic groups in Darfur. Mengistu Haile Mariam, the former military dictator in Ethiopia, will be remembered for his ruthless Red Terror campaign; and Meles Zenawi will forever be defined by the massacres of June and November 2005 and many others that history will reveal.

      The massacres of June and November 2005 were defining moments for me as an individual. I had to make a choice. The easy thing for me to do at the time was to shake my head in disbelief, cover my eyes in horror, roll my eyes in disgust and purse my lips in sorrow and move on to something else. That would have been tantamount to capitulating to evil and turning a blind eye to monstrous crimes committed against innocent human beings in my native homeland. My other choice was to muster the energy and courage to stand up and speak up against the personification of pure evil. I now live by the timeless maxim: ‘All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men and women to do nothing.’ Affirmatively stated, I believe all that is necessary to triumph over evil is for all good men, women and young people to do something.

      The slaughter of 2005 must be made a warning to each new generation of Ethiopians of what happens when human rights are abused, the rule of law trashed, democracy trampled and freedom crushed. To paraphrase Elie Weisel, we must seek justice for the victims of yesterday not only because it is the right thing to do, but also to protect the youth of today, and the children who will be born tomorrow from similar injustice and wrong. We do not want the past to become the future of our children and grandchildren. That is why all of the criminals responsible for the 2005 massacre must be held accountable. Delaying justice to the Ethiopian massacre victims is to invite the harsh verdict of history upon ourselves and future generations: ‘Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.’



      * Alemayehu G. Mariam is a professor of political science at California State University in San Bernardino, USA.
      * This article was originally published by the Huffington Post
      * Please send comments to [email protected] or comment online at Pambazuka News.


      [3] ][4]

      Rejuvenating the Mozambican knowledge factory

      Luca Bussotti


      cc Afronie
      Firing up the local production of knowledge is crucial to escaping the ‘industry of development’, writes Luca Bussotti.

      Mozambique has been hailed as a model in the application of economic principles proposed by the financial system and international donors. Macroeconomic data are positive: in 2009 the growth was between four and five per cent. Seeing that data, many observers said that Mozambique would escape the international crisis, but unluckily this has been totally wrong, as demonstrated by the recent violent uprising against the government and the government’s incapacity to manage the rapid rise in the price of basic foods and utility costs. This is a consequence of the associated effects of the international crisis with the politics of structural adjustment, which tended to emphasise the quantitative instead of the qualitative factors of development, such as education, public services and so on.

      This logic - imposed by the international donors but accepted by Mozambican governors - caused a greater interest in ‘helping’ Africa rather than making it autonomous. In such a way, this gave secondary importance to knowledge and the local dimension. From this emerges the paradox that, ‘African studies in the US specifically, dominates the production of knowledge on Africa’.[1]
      The very crucial point is the following: what is the relationship between the strategies of development delineated for and in Mozambique and knowledge production?


      Let me begin with a paradoxical observation: in the period of the hardest Marxist regime, the academic and intellectual debate in Mozambique was quite rich. The Centre of African Studies, that, even if rather tiredly, is still functioning today inside the ‘Eduardo Mondlane’ University, represented the point of an iceberg that had its own roots in a discussion that involved local communities, cooperatives and associations.

      Today, with a multiparty system, freedom of the press, expression and religion, the production of knowledge is very weak and it seems that this issue has been completely situated inside the formal structures of teaching, excluding - with rare exceptions - the local and community levels. The intellectual fervour of the ‘golden years’ embodied by the Centre of African Studies has disappeared. The result is that Mozambican society is, still today, very little known, considering that very few social scientists are prepared to try to understand Mozambican people in their daily lives.

      During the ‘second phase’ of the liberalist Mozambican era that symbolically begins with the first free elections (1994), the country has seen large investments. Even if many people, including members of the party in power (Frelimo), express perplexity because of the scarce advantage these investments bring, this tendency doesn’t seem to stop. Just some quantitative data invites a deeper reflection on the sustainability of that pattern of development.

      In 2005, the illiteracy rate in the north of the country was above 50 per cent, with the province of Cabo Delgado at 70,1 per cent. In the south (Maputo) it was at 12,4 per cent. At the same time, in 1991, the number of students in universities was just 7,000. In 2007 this reached 22,256, of which 15,000 were at Eduardo Mondlane University. In 2005, 218 books were published, in 2006, 226, in 2007, 278, and in 2008 only 175 - demonstrating the existence of a semi-monopolised market where the public entities do not intervene.

      From this point of view it appears rather obvious that few people have an interest in promoting local knowledge and knowledge in general as a key to exiting structural dependence. Rather, as Mozambican sociologist Elísio Macamo wrote, the ‘industry of development’ continues to work, and it doesn't seem to be in the interest of the leading classes to get rid of it.

      Analysing how the debate on the research problem has unfolded since 1998 at Mozambique’s main university - the University of Eduardo Mondlane (UEM) - it’s possible to note that the debate has been interesting but absurd at the same time. The academic social actors have detected all the main problems, but they admit to not having solved them.

      On the occasion of the second research seminary, held in Maputo from 28-30 April 1998 and organised by UEM, an important effort was made to understand and find solutions to the principal obstacles in order to improve investigation at UEM.

      It emerged that research occupies a marginal position because of the lack of controls and the lack of a body that evaluates finished works. Planning within scientific research was non-existent and there was no reason that stimulated (or obligated) a lecturer to conduct research. The students themselves usually made out their academic presence more as a passport to privilege than as a way of improving their culture, and this prevented them from wondering about the scientific ability of the teacher.[2] In parallel, lecturers were very frequently heralding a closed minded and possessive attitude to knowledge.

      Considering that senior staff at UEM were aware of the problems, it would be logical to think that a good part of the trouble had been identified and, for this reason, solved. In reality, the same obstacles have remained until today, as other researchers underline. For instance, in a text published in 2003, with the support of the Partnership for Higher Education in Africa, it is said: ‘Our opinion is that we are observing in Mozambique what in Brazil has been called the cultures of repetition’. Change is possible only if one presupposes a change in the academic culture as a whole that defines the attitudes of teachers and their students toward the educational process.[3]

      In the years that immediately followed the 1998 seminar, the UEM had to face competition from other universities, mainly private, like UCM (the Catholic University, in Beira), ISCTEM (the Institute of Science and Technology of Mozambique, in Maputo), and ISPU (the University Polytechnic Superior Institute, in Maputo). The comparison, in some decisive parameters, is constantly to the disfavour of the UEM, from the satisfaction with the availability of books and the learning environment to the quantity and quality of teachers, the intellectual satisfaction, and the use of new technologies.

      This brief survey in the comparative analysis of sectors is not exactly tied up with research (is it possible, today, however to conduct research with poor Internet access?) but offers further witness of how the UEM, during the years, has been unable to solve the underlined problematic aspects in a rational way.

      AND TODAY?

      In truth, the situation has not changed and from ‘a structural’ point of view it has even worsened. I will try to explain why:

      1. The fact that there are 38 universities can be interpreted in various ways. The positive aspect is by now represented by the great didactic offer present in many parts of the country, and not only in Maputo. To this it is necessary to add that some of the main universities, both public and private, have launched a definite politics of ‘expansion’ to provincial level. For this reason, the number of ‘places’ in which ‘they do’ academics is greater than 38.

      Nevertheless, some situations certainly do not favour research, but contribute rather to excluding it: the ‘formed’ teachers are still few, and only a part of them develop their activity in universities. In 2005, those in possession of a Ph.D made up only 14,8 per cent of the teaching staff. The consequence is that the quality of teaching is, at the best, mediocre, so it is almost impossible to think about developing the activity of research. This is much more evident in the case of private universities, which, besides the vocation ‘for profit’, don't have a stable teaching staff and borrow teachers from the other institutions.

      2. The ‘function’ of academics in Mozambique is, at present, very clear: it’s a way of distributing titles that improve working positions in the public administration either for those already in the public service who attend evening classes or as a starting point for a professional career. Very few students are concerned with quality, even less with the progress of scientific research.

      3. In contrast to the rest of the academic world, in Mozambique it is the Mozambican president that appoints the rectors of the UEM, UP and ISRI. And this is not conceived as a simple ‘ratification’ of inner decisions coming from the various universities, but a clear signal of the strong centralisation of that decision. The fact is that the rector has to answer - in a direct way - to the president and not to his internal academic peers. Subsequently, he appoints the two deputy-rectors, the directors and vice-directors of all the faculties, besides a large part of the technical apparatus. In short, till today, inside the UEM, there is no electoral mechanism related to the most important positions, with the partial exception of the academic council, which has predominantly advisory functions.

      4. This favours the affirmation of the ‘principle of authority’ in comparison to that ‘of competence’. Inside UEM all the mechanisms related to career progression do not follow scientific criteria of competence, but almost exclusively seniority. Career progression is not a consequence of a teacher producing knowledge, but of whether he or she stays for a certain number of years inside the institution, which warrants almost automatic passage.

      5. The bureaucratic structure of the UEM often constitutes an almost insurmountable obstacle to the speediness of procedures, included those related to research. The following data testifies how the Mozambican government conceives the public university as a part of the state, with the aim to make uniform all what is managed by the state in term of salary, carrier progression, ways of evaluation, bureaucratic structure and so on. In 2005, there were, at UEM, 1,160 teachers, against 2,367 administrative workers, a fact that favours the heaviness and lack of functionality of the whole apparatus. This creates a scarce sensibility for matters inherent to research, but also - as it happens in almost all of the Mozambican public administration - low rhythms of productivity, so provoking the paralysis of any rationalised procedure.

      This is even more valid if we consider the pyramidal structure of UEM, in which the bureaucratic processes very often ‘belong’ to a specific person and the absence of the said person paralyses everything.

      6. Another worrying aspect is the lack of an academic magazine from the UEM. This represents a limit to research and an easy justification for teachers not to worry about research, considering that if they do they will have great difficulty in getting published.

      7. Finally - and this topic characterises almost all local academic realities and not only UEM - there is a tendency to emphasise formal aspects, a fact that imprisons any thesis or methodology of a certain originality. The result is a constant repetition of practices and themes that hardly succeed in bringing noteworthy results from a scientific point of view, especially in the area of the social and humanistic sciences. The same structure with which every dissertation must have introduced - conceived according to a positivistic and purely hypothetic-deductive logic - doesn't leave any space for possible ‘alternatives’ which, on the contrary, are usually bitterly criticised, with the author considered as scientifically undisciplined and immature.


      I believe that it is very hard to imagine that a similar structure can tend towards a process of self-reform. As a great American sociologist, Parsons, has sustained, the systems and the social sub-systems act generally for inactivity, and I believe that, in the case of Mozambican academics (and also of other countries, not only African countries), this is particularly true. There will therefore have to be external factors that threaten such a sterile (at least for the production of knowledge) equilibrium. My affirmation seems well supported enough by the fact that at least since 1998 UEM had full conscience of its limits and, above all, of the possible solutions. And nevertheless nothing has happened.

      Recently, the new rector, Filipe Couto, has tried to break this stasis in an abrupt and unpredictable way, imposing that all the faculties adjust the respective curricula to the Bologna Model, with a different subdivision of the courses of graduation and post-graduation (3+2+3) and the introduction of the credit system. Beyond the enormous difficulties (who will teach in the post-graduation courses, considering that to do so it's necessary to have a Ph.D degree, something that only a few lecturers at UEM have), he has laid the basis for a possible radical change. The local academic world will be forced to try to get closer, in terms of quality standards and the production of knowledge, to other international universities. This fact could, from a systemic point of view, be able to overturn the inner logics that I have tried to describe here, even if UEM is not an isolated entity, but is very deeply immersed in the political and state context of the country. Some transformations could be obtained.

      For example, to reward (and to force) the teachers that want to publish, but at the same time give them a real possibility to do it by creating magazines, in paper or on-line and opening new spaces of discussion. And, consequently, to change the criteria for the progression of careers, so that it is coherent with what is happening in almost all of the rest of the world. This would mean passing from the logic of ‘seniority’ typical of public employment to one based on competition through scientific production - giving research and publication a reward also from an economic point of view.

      Certainly, no measure in itself can have a decisive character. If, in fact, the Mozambican state won't understand the necessity ‘to unhook’ the academic world from political logic concerning the system of nominating academic staff and the notion of ‘public employment’, the Bologna model will be able to provoke tensions inside the weak equilibrium of the UEM structure. We are speaking of great challenges that deal with the same philosophy of what should be, today, a public university in Mozambique and, maybe, in Africa, able to produce a ‘profit’ knowledge, both from the theoretical and from the practical point of view.


      * Luca Bussotti is a lecturer of general and communication sociology and methods of research in social sciences at ‘Eduardo Mondlane’ University (Mozambique), and a member of the Ph.D Council in geopolitics at Pisa University (Italy). He is scientific director of the ‘Lusitanica’, series devoted to Lusophonic African countries, published by l'Harmattan Italia, Torino (Italy) and a collaborator in the Lusophonic program of Codesria in social sciences.
      * Please send comments to [email protected] or comment online at Pambazuka News.

      [1] A. Mama, Is It Ethical to Study Africa? Preliminary Thoughts on Scolarship and Freedom, ‘African Studies Review’, vol. 50, n. 1 (April 2007), p. 4.
      [2] J. Forjaz, Investigação e Ensino, in Ibidem, p. 102.
      [3] M. Mário/P. Fry/L. Levey/A. Chilundo, Higher Education in Mozambique, Imprensa e Livraria Universitária, Maputo, 2003.

      Mercedes-Benz and influence peddling in Angola

      Rafael Marques de Morais


      cc J G
      Following investigations by Maka, Rafael Marques de Morais writes of the role of ‘foreign investment in broadening, consolidating and institutionalising corrupt dealings’ with Angola’s political leaders. Marques de Morais stresses that: ‘It has become normal for foreign investors to ignore anti-corruption laws thanks to the impunity that they enjoy through their association with the regime’s most corrupt and abusive figures.’

      The investigations published by Maka so far have prompted an increasing interest in bringing to light new corruption cases, as was hoped from the beginning.

      The most recent case that has come to our attention illustrates the role of foreign investment in broadening, consolidating and institutionalising corrupt dealings with the country’s political leaders. This case involves the ‘general distributor of Mercedes-Benz cars for Daimler in Angola’.

      On 12 July 2009, the minister of state and head of the Military Bureau in the presidency of Angola, General Manuel Hélder Vieira Dias Júnior ‘Kopelipa’, set up the company Auto-Star Angola, making himself the majority shareholder. The deputy director of the Office of National Reconstruction (GRN), Manuel José Cardoso do Amaral Van-Dúnem, and the faithful depository of General Kopelipa’s businesses, were each granted a 10 per cent shareholding. The businessmen Herculano Adelço de Morais and António de Lemos received 30 per cent and 10 per cent of the shares respectively.

      The website of the Belgian company Société de Distribution Africaine (SDA) announced the creation of Auto-Star with the intention of setting up ‘a Belgian and Angolan joint-venture that officially represents Mercedes and Evobus in Angola’. The website describes Auto-Star Angola as a subsidiary of SDA and as having modern facilities, including offices and salesrooms on a 2,000m site in the Viana industrial area in the suburbs of Luanda. The company’s own publicity brochure says the site is 89,000,000m in size with facilities ‘planned by Mercedes-Benz’s Architectural Office’. The site is in the special economic zone in Viana, which falls under the jurisdiction of the GRN. Until last April the director of the GRN was General Kopelipa himself, while Manuel Van-Dúnem, his partner in Auto-Star Angola, is still the GRN’s deputy director.


      Société de Distribution Africaine is a company created by its CEO, the Belgian Philippe de Moerloose. The Report of the United Nations Group of Experts on the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), in November 2009, mentioned De Moerloose as having flouted UN Security Council Resolution nº 1807 (a, 5). This resolution provides that any consignment of weapons or related material to the DRC must be reported in advance to the UN, in accordance with its peace mission mandate in that country.

      According to the report, Philippe de Moerloose holds 70 per cent of the shares in Hewa Bora Airways, which was used to transport arms and ammunition to the Congolese army in 2008 and 2009. The same Philippe de Moerloose is also quoted in his capacity as founder and chairman of Demimpex, a company that served as an intermediary in the sale of military vehicles to the Congolese government in 2008. The experts confirmed with the Belgian authorities that Demimpex, now associated with Auto-Star Angola, has no licence for the import, export or transport of weapons, ammunition, military equipment and associated technology. The experts stressed that the relevant Belgian legislation applies to its citizens and companies, regardless of whether or not military material passes through Belgian territory.

      On 12 August 2010, the German ambassador to Angola, Jorgen-Werner Marquardt, gave an interview to Semanário Económico, the Angolan business weekly, in a move to promote German business interests. This newspaper belongs to the Media Nova group, owned by General Kopelipa in partnership with his current top adviser, General Leopoldino Fragoso do Nascimento, and Manuel Vicente, the chairman and CEO of Sonangol, the Angolan national oil company.

      During the interview, Marquardt highlighted the investments of the German automobile industry in Angola: ‘Mercedes has opened in Viana with a sales dealership and repair shop. It will also have the capacity to assemble trucks on a 500-hectare site. I hope to visit the location soon. There is also a similar project by Volkswagen, which is taking place.’

      The chairman of the board of Auto-Star Angola is Jörgen Nührmann, who among other posts at Daimler, the parent company of Mercedes-Benz, was previously director of after-sales service in Mexico.

      From the legal point of view, Angola’s current Law on Probity defines the receiving of economic advantage by a public official, in the form of a percentage of a business deal, as an act leading to illegal enrichment (article 2, 1, a). This is exactly what General Kopelipa and Manuel José Cardoso do Amaral Van-Dúnem did when, as officials in the GRN, they acted in favour of Auto-Star’s business.

      SDA and Mercedes-Benz, for their part, engaged in acts defined by law as of active corruption of public officials (article 21 of the Angolan Penal Code). It has become normal for foreign investors to ignore anti-corruption laws thanks to the impunity that they enjoy through their association with the regime’s most corrupt and abusive figures. Angolan law nevertheless incorporates international treaties against corruption, such as the United Nations Convention against Corruption. Belgium, SDA’s home country, became a signatory to the same convention on 25 September 2008.

      The Law on Probity (article 31, 1, b) provides for several penalties such as seizure of the ill-gotten assets and their incorporation into state ownership, dismissal from public office and the surrender of goods acquired illegally by the public servants involved. The same article states that companies who break this law may be punished by being barred from entering into further contracts with public entities. This could apply to Auto-Star Angola.


      This is not the first time that the German car industry has been involved in influence-peddling in Angola. Volkswagen has already set a serious precedent. The Council of Ministers, in its Resolution 39/04 of 23 December 2004, authorised the National Private Investment Agency (ANIP) to enter into an investment contract with the American company Ancar World Investments Holding for the installation of an assembly plant for Volkswagen and Skoda cars in Viana, Luanda, an investment valued at US$48 million. The agreement was signed on 26 January 2005 and included an undertaking to concede 49 per cent of the shares in Ancar to five Angolan entities, namely:

      - ACAPIR Lda., a company owned by the Angolan president’s daughter, Welwitchia dos Santos, usually known as Tchizé dos Santos
      - Mbakassi & Filhos, official representative of Volkswagen in Angola
      - GEFI, a company owned by the MPLA (People's Movement for the Liberation of Angola - Labour Party)
      - Suninvest, the investment arm of the Fundação Eduardo dos Santos (FESA), the president’s private concern
      - Tchany Perdigão Abrantes, the president’s niece.

      The businessman António Mosquito objected to the arbitrary transfer of 16 per cent of the shares that had belonged to his company, Mbakassi & Filhos, to Tchizé dos Santos who took on the role of vice-chair of Ancar’s board.

      In an effort to settle the dispute, Ismael Diogo, the chairman of FESA, held a meeting at the president’s foundation headquarters. The minutes of the meeting stated that he did so on behalf and ‘according to a mandate from His Excellency the President of the Republic, Engineer José Eduardo dos Santos, to clarify the circumstances and the reality that ACAPIR Lda. would have to participate in the Ancar – Automoveis de Angola joint-venture, owing to the fact that one of the shareholders was the daughter of the head of state, to obtain his favour for the approval of the investment project’.

      The meeting, according to the minutes, concluded that ‘at no moment did Ancar Worldwide Investments Holding justify the offer of 16 per cent to ACAPIR Lda. in order to benefit from the favours of His Excellency, the President of the Republic, in the approval of the project’.

      Consequently, according to reports in the German press, the Volkswagen head office delayed the building of the vehicle production line in Angola. More details are contained in the report ‘MPLA Ltd’, which can be read at .

      In the words of an Angolan political analyst, who preferred to remain anonymous, ‘when it comes to doing business with the Angolan regime, foreign investors do not want to be left out from the corruption schemes.’


      * This article was originally published by Maka Angola.
      * Rafael Marques de Morais is an Angolan journalist and writer with a special interest in Angola's political economy and human rights. In 2000 he won the distinguished Percy Qoboza Award for Outstanding Courage from the National Association of Black Journalists (US). In 2006, he received the Civil Courage Prize, from the Train Foundation (US) for his human rights activities.
      * Please send comments to [email protected] or comment online at Pambazuka News.

      Haiti 2010: Exploiting disaster

      Part I

      Peter Hallward


      cc National Guard
      ‘For the last twenty years, the most powerful political and economic interests in and around Haiti have waged a systematic campaign designed to stifle the popular movement and deprive it of its principal weapons, resources and leaders,' writes Peter Hallward. January’s earthquake ‘triggered reactions that carried and that are still carrying such measures to entirely new levels.’

      Just before 5pm on Tuesday 12 January 2010, Haiti's capital city and the surrounding area were devastated by the most catastrophic earthquake in the history of the hemisphere. The scale of the destruction was overwhelming. According to the most widely cited estimates, around 220,000 people perished and more than 300,000 suffered horrific injuries, leading to many thousands of amputations.[2] Stories told by the bereaved defy summary. Perhaps as many as 200,000 buildings were destroyed, including 70 per cent of the city's schools. Today, more than half a year after the disaster in which they lost their homes and virtually all their belongings, around 1.5 million people continue to live in makeshift camps with few or no essential services, with few or no jobs, and with few or no prospects of any significant improvement in the near future.

      Although the earthquake has no precedent in Haitian history, the factors that magnified its impact, and the responses it has solicited, are all too familiar. They are part and parcel of the fundamental conflict that has structured the last thirty years of Haitian history: The conflict between pèp la (the people, the poor) and members of the privileged elite, along with the armed forces and international collaborators who defend them. If the 1980s were marked by the rising flood that became Lavalas, by an unprecedented popular mobilisation that overcame dictatorship and raised the prospect of modest yet revolutionary social change, then the period that began with the military coup of September 1991 is best described as one of the most prolonged and intense periods of counter-revolution anywhere in the world. For the last twenty years, the most powerful political and economic interests in and around Haiti have waged a systematic campaign designed to stifle the popular movement and deprive it of its principal weapons, resources and leaders. The January earthquake triggered reactions that carried and that are still carrying such measures to entirely new levels.

      So far, this ongoing counter-revolution has been grimly successful. Rarely have the tactics of divide and rule been deployed with such ruthless economy and efficacy as in Haiti 2000-2010. A small handful of privileged families are now wealthier and more powerful than ever before; once the post-quake reconstruction begins in earnest, in early 2011, they are set to become wealthier still. More than a million homeless and penniless people, by contrast, are likely to spend the reconstruction years in a sort of squatters' limbo, as foreign technocrats, multinational executives and NGO consultants decide how best to rebuild their city. The majority of their compatriots will remain destitute and forced to endure the most harrowing rates of exploitation in the hemisphere. The majority also know that if current tendencies prevail, their children, and their children's children, can expect nothing different. Today, with the battered remnants of the Lavalas movement more divided and disorganised than ever before, with the country firmly held in the long-term grip of a foreign 'stabilisation' force, the majority of Haiti's people have little or no political power. At the time of writing, in late summer 2010, many foreign observers of the Haitian popular movement were struck above all by a widespread sense of resignation and impotence. For the time being, suppression of Lavalas has left the people of Haiti at the mercy of some of the most rapacious political and economic forces on the planet. For the time being, at least, it looks as if the threatening prospect of meaningful democracy in Haiti has been well and truly contained.

      In these intolerable circumstances, nothing short of popular remobilisation on a massive scale, more powerful, more disciplined, more united and more resolute than before – nothing, in other words, short of the renewal of genuinely revolutionary pressure – holds out any real prospect of significant change for the majority of Haiti's people. Of course, this is precisely the prospect that those who have managed the country's recent political development, and who are managing its post-earthquake reconstruction to this day, are most determined to avoid. Just a few days after the immediate trauma of 12 January, it was already clear that the US- and UN-led relief operation would conform to the three main counter-revolutionary strategies that have shaped the more general course of the island's recent history. (a) It would foreground questions of 'security' and 'stability', and try to answer them by military or quasi-military means. (b) It would sideline Haiti's own leaders and government, and ignore both the needs and the abilities of the majority of its people. (c) It would proceed in ways that directly reinforce and widen the immense gap between the privileged few and the impoverished millions they exploit. Even a cursory review of the first six months of reconstruction in 2010 should be enough to show that the ongoing application of these strategies is best described as an intensification of the measures that have undercut the power and autonomy of Haiti's people over the two preceding decades.


      The basic political question in Haiti (as in a few other places), from colonial through post-colonial to neo-colonial times, has always been much the same: How can a tiny and precarious ruling class secure its property and privileges in the face of mass destitution and resentment? In Haiti (as in a few other places), the elite owes its privileges to exclusion, exploitation and violence, and only quasi-monopoly control of violent power allows it to retain them. This monopoly was amply guaranteed by the Duvalier dictatorships through to the mid 1980s, and then rather less amply by the military dictatorships that succeeded them (1986-90). But the Lavalas mobilisation threatened that monopoly, and with it those privileges.

      What has happened in Haiti since Aristide was first elected in 1990 should be understood first and foremost as the progressive clarification of this basic alternative – democracy or the army. It's not hard to see that unadulterated democracy might one day allow the interests of the numerical majority to prevail, and thereby challenge the position of the elite; in such a situation, only an army, or the equivalent of an army, can be relied upon to guarantee the 'security' of the status quo. Crucially, the democratic mobilisation that took shape in the 1980s in opposition to dictatorship and neo-liberal 'adjustment' was strong enough to overcome and indeed eliminate the domestic armed forces arrayed against it. It was able first to 'uproot' Duvalier and his Macoutes (in 1986) and then, after a long army crackdown that killed another thousand people or so, to overcome direct military rule (in 1990). Much of the momentum of this mobilisation survived the murderous coup of 1991, and Aristide was finally able, at great cost, to disband the army in 1995. When Aristide then won a second overwhelming mandate in the elections of 2000, the resounding victory of his Fanmi Lavalas party at all levels of government raised the prospect, for the first time in Haitian history, of genuine significant 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 all through the past decade has been to redefine political questions in terms of 'stability' and 'security', i.e. the security of the wealthy, their property and their 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 abundantly armed 'friend of Haiti' that is the United States knows this better than anyone else.

      In this context, the defining event of contemporary Haitian politics remains the intervention that was designed to restore long-term 'security' by killing off the Lavalas mobilisation once and for all: The coup of 2004. If the most popular thing that Aristide ever did was to disband the army that deposed his first government, perhaps the most significant achievement of the 2004 coup was to return effective political control to a military force.

      In the absence of an available domestic option, the 2004 coup gave power to a foreign army: First a US-French-Canadian invasion force, and then a UN pacification force. (The next time the people of Haiti had a chance to express their opinion, in the elections of February 2006, the main military and political leaders associated with this coup scraped no more than 1 or 2 per cent of the vote). As anyone could have predicted, Aristide's Fanmi Lavalas, the party elected with a landslide in the last elections to be held in un-occupied Haiti, has been blocked from participating in all subsequent elections, in 2006, in 2009 and now again in 2010. Its leaders have been scattered or imprisoned, and its main spokesman remains in involuntary exile on the other side of the world. If Haiti's international minders succeed in preserving this pattern of exclusion, it looks as if Haitian democracy is now finally set to proceed in line with the imperial expectations that were so rudely thwarted twenty years ago, when the local voters chose the wrong man and the wrong agenda.[3]

      In and after 2004, the only way to persuade these voters to accept the coup and its consequences – the systematic and explicit reassertion of foreign and elite domination of their country – has been to ram it down their throats. Ever since the coup, Haiti has been under international military occupation. Year after year, from 2004 through to 2010, at an annual cost (around US$600m) larger than the entire national budget during the pre-coup years, thousands of foreign troops have patrolled the country and obliged its people to accept the end of the Lavalas sequence. During these years, the UN authorities behind this extraordinary 'stabilisation mission' have resorted to levels of violent coercion without parallel in UN operations anywhere else in the world. They have been reinforced by thousands of re-armed and re-trained Haitian police, along with thousands more private security guards hired to protect wealthy families, their businesses, and the foreign contractors and NGOs they do business with. Dozens of anti-occupation demonstrations held on the streets of Port-au-Prince during these years have had little or no political effect.

      You might have been forgiven for thinking, a year ago, that only an earthquake could loosen this armed grip on the country.


      Sure enough, one of the first things to wobble on the afternoon of 12 January 2010 was the coercive power of the state.[4] The headquarters of the UN mission collapsed, along with 27 of 28 federal government buildings. Perhaps a fifth of government employees were killed. If a revolution requires paralysis of the state's capacity to suppress popular protest, then as Kim Ives points out, in a sense 'the earthquake accomplished half a revolution by literally destroying the Haitian state', leaving popular forces on the one hand and elites forces on the other 'scrambling to array their "alternatives" to fill the void.'[5] The US embassy immediately rushed to evacuate its staff, along with a few of the people its government is most determined to protect. For a moment or two, no doubt, the Haitian elite and their international minders must have contemplated the apocalypse: The prospect of mass unrest, in the absence of adequate levels of coercive force. The result was a near-instantaneous military response on a scale rarely if ever matched by a 'peacetime' operation.

      In the immediate aftermath of the earthquake, few tried to counter arguments in favour of allowing the US military, with its 'unrivalled logistical capability', to take de facto control of the 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 Wednesday 13 January, they explicitly prioritised military over humanitarian flights. Although most reports from Port-au-Prince emphasised remarkable levels of patience and solidarity 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 spokesman (Ty Foster) called another 'Somalia effort'[6] – 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 mainly 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. The earthquake took place on Tuesday; among many others, World Food Program flights were turned away by US commanders on Thursday and Friday, the New York Times reported, 'so that the United States could land troops and equipment, and lift Americans and other foreigners to safety.'[7] Many similar flights met a similar fate, right through to the end of the week. Médecins sans Frontières (MSF) alone had to watch at least five planeloads of its medical supplies be turned away.[8] Late on Monday 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,' 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.[9]

      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 hundreds of impromptu IDP (internally displaced people) camps in Port-au-Prince, in the Champs Mars area of Port-au-Prince, told writer Tim Schwartz that 'no relief has arrived; it is all being delivered on other side of town, by the US embassy.'[10] The same day, a full eight days after the quake, Telesur reporter Reed Lindsay confirmed 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.[11] 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.'[12] As a Reuters report confirmed six weeks after the quake, 'the 9,000 uniformed U.N. peacekeepers stationed in Haiti when the quake struck on Jan. 12 were the logical "first responders" to the disaster', but 'none of the peacekeepers appeared to be involved in hands-on humanitarian relief in what emergency medical experts describe as the critical first 72 hours after a devastating earthquake strikes. Their response to the appalling suffering was limited to handling security and looking for looters after the magnitude 7.0 quake levelled much of the capital.'[13] This too was business as usual: The countries controlling the UN stabilisation mission had always voted against any extension of its mandate to include economic development, and from 2004 through to January 2010 it spent its annual US$600m budget almost exclusively on military and security priorities.

      On Sunday 17 January, Al-Jazeera's correspondent Sebastian Walker 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.'[14] 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.'[15] By Monday 18 January, no matter how many US embassy or military spokesman 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.[16] 'Together with geopolitical control', observed Camille Chalmers a few weeks later, 'we believe that the militarization of Haiti responds to what Bush called a "preventive war" logic. The U.S. fears a popular uprising, because the living standards in Haiti have for so long been intolerable, and this is even more so the case now; they are inhumane. So the troops are getting ready for when the time comes to suppress the people.'[17]

      The US decision to privilege military over humanitarian traffic at the airport sealed the fate of 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 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 moving equipment. Others, such as Canada's several 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', forces that subsequently played no significant role in the relief operation.[18]

      USAID announced on 19 January that international search and rescue teams, over the course of the first week after the disaster, had managed to save a grand total of 70 people.[19] 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 U.N. headquarters, and on large hotels with international clientele.'[20] 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 and the elite but that could be snugly enclosed within 'secure perimeters.' Elsewhere, he observed, UN troops did their best to make sure that rescue workers treated onlooking crowds as a source of potential danger rather than assistance.[21] No foreign rescue workers, for instance, were dispatched to the site with perhaps the single highest number of casualties, the Carrefour Palm Apparel factory contracted to the Canadian company Gildan Activewear, which collapsed with hundreds of workers still inside.[22] (Gildan responded to the disaster, within hours, with a reassuring announcement that it would be shifting production to alternative sewing facilities in neighbouring countries.[23]).

      Exactly the same logic condemned yet more people to death in and around Port-au-Prince's hospitals. In one of the most illuminating reports filed from the city, on 20 January Democracy Now's Amy Goodman spoke with Dr Evan Lyon of Partners in Health/Zanmi Lasante from the General Hospital, the most important medical centre in the whole country. Lyon 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 [...]. 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.’[24]

      Almost by definition, in post-quake Haiti it seemed that anyone or anything that could not be enclosed in a 'secure perimeter' wasn't worth saving. In their occasional forays outside such perimeters, meanwhile, many 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[25] 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.'[26] 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', he said. '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.'[27]

      Scores of Haitian and Haiti-based correspondents boiled over with indignation in the face of such grotesque misrepresentation. On 17 January, for instance, Ciné Institute director David Belle tried to counter international distortion. '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 were concerned, however, 'security is not the issue', Kim Ives explained soon after the earthquake. 'We see throughout Haiti the population themselves organizing 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.' While the people who have lost what little they had have done their best to cope and regroup, it's the soldiers sent to 'restore order' who provoke confrontation, by treating them as potential combatants. 'It's just the same way they reacted after Katrina. The victims are what's scary.'[29] 'According to everyone I spoke with in the centre of the city', confirmed Schwarz around the same time, 'the violence and gang stuff is pure BS.' The relentless obsession with security, agreed 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]

      In order to help keep these people where they belong, meanwhile, the US Department of Homeland Security took 'unprecedented' emergency measures to secure the homeland during the first post-quake weeks. Operation 'Vigilant Sentry' made full use of the large naval flotilla the US quickly assembled around Port-au-Prince. 'As well as providing emergency supplies and medical aid', noted 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', American 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.[31] Over these same weeks, to be on the safe side, the US Air Force took 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 said. 'If you think you will reach the U. S. 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 were enough to entitle Haitians to a different sort of American 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.[32] As of 19 January the State Department had authorised a total of 23 exceptions to its golden rule of immigration. Six months later, moreover, no less than 55,000 Haitians (with family members living in the US) who had already been approved to come to the US before the earthquake struck would still be languishing in a legal limbo, because of rigid US adherence to immigration quotas.[33]

      With breath-taking cynicism, US President Obama appointed his predecessor George Bush (whose administration was responsible for the 2004 coup in Haiti and whose 'relief effort following Hurricane Katrina in 2005 amounted to an ethnic cleansing of many of New Orleans's black population'[34]) to help Bill Clinton front US fund-raising for the relief effort. When US ambassador to Haiti Kenneth Merten paid a visit to Washington in mid February he declared himself satisfied with the work in progress. 'I believe that this will be something that people will be able to look back on in the future as a model for how we've been able to sort ourselves out as donors on the ground and responding to an earthquake.'[35]


      * This article is continued in Pambazuka News (Issue 505).
      * Peter Hallward is professor of Modern European Philosophy at Kingston University, London.
      * Please send comments to [email protected] or comment online at Pambazuka News.

      [1] A slightly earlier and shorter version of this text will appear next month as an Afterword to the 2010 reprinting of Damming the Flood: Haiti and the Politics of Containment (Verso, 2010). I'm grateful to Roger Annis, Isabeau Doucet, Kim Ives and Tim Schwartz for their comments on an earlier draft. Two of the most usefully consolidated sources of information about post-earthquake Haiti are the CEPR's invaluable 'Haiti Relief and Reconstruction Watch',, and the Canada Haiti Action Network website (
      [2] See for instance Peter Beaumont, 'Haiti Earthquake: Six Months On', The Guardian, 10 July 2010. 'The number of the dead most often cited is 250,000', wrote Beverly Bell six weeks after the earthquake, 'but that is utterly meaningless. No tally was taken of the corpses buried in people’s yards or dumped in mass graves. Countless people are still missing. And multi-storied buildings everywhere contain flattened bodies – tens, hundreds each, who knows? You drive down the street and someone points. “You see that building? There are still 200 people inside there; they never got them out.” City blocks are cemeteries' (Beverly Bell, 'Grasses of Ginen', Huffington Post, 25 February 2010). Six months after the quake, most press, government and NGO reports continue to cite casualty figures ranging from 200,000 to 250,000. Writer Tim Schwartz, however, is sceptical of the official numbers, and his own research suggests that the actual number of people killed may have been closer to 60,000 (email from Tim Schwartz, 14 October 2010).
      [3] Cf. Hallward, Damming the Flood, 29-33.
      [4] This second section is an abbreviated version of an earlier article, ‘Securing Disaster’, which appeared in MRZine on 24 January 2010,
      [5] Kim Ives, 'How the Earthquake has Affected Haiti's National Democratic Revolution and International Geopolitics', talk delivered at the University of Aberdeen, 12 March 2010.
      [6] Quoted on BBC Radio 4, Ten O'clock News, 16 January 2010.
      [7] Ginger Thompson and Damien Cave, 'Officials Strain to Distribute Aid to Haiti as Violence Rises,' New York Times, 17 January 2010.
      [8] 'Médecins Sans Frontières says its Plane Turned Away from U.S.-run Airport', Daily Telegraph, 19 January 2010.
      [9] Giles Whittell and Jacqui Goddard, 'America Sends Paratroopers to Haiti to Help Secure Aid Lines,' The Times, 20 January 2010.
      [10] Email from Tim Schwartz, 20 January 2010.
      [11] Reed Lindsay, Honor and Respect Foundation Newsletter, 20 January 2010; cf. Luis Felipe Lopez, 'Town at Epicenter of Quake Stays in Isolation,' The Miami Herald, 17 January 2010.
      [12] BBC Radio 4, Ten O'clock News, 18 January 2010.
      [13] Tom Brown, 'Haiti Aid Effort Marred by Slow U.N. Response', Reuters, 26 February 2010.
      [14] 'Disputes Emerge over Haiti Aid Control,' Al Jazeera, 17 January 2010. Roger Annis notes the resemblance of the Canadian relief effort to its more prominent US counterpart. 'The principal Canadian government response to the earthquake was to dispatch two Canadian warships loaded with nearly 2,000 soldiers and sailors. They arrived offshore from Léogâne and Jacmel on Jan. 19 and 20. At the time, this was touted by the government as a major earthquake relief operation. But as the Mar. 12 Halifax Chronicle Herald later reported, the ships carried relatively few earthquake relief supplies and equipment. They were instead loaded with military personnel and supplies. The military operations performed only peripheral aid and supply tasks. The medical teams the ships brought did not perform a single surgery, according to a study by John Kirk and Emily Kirk in April ( When the ships departed six weeks after arriving, they took with them their vital air traffic control and heavy lift equipment' (Annis, 'Canada's Failed Aid', Haïti Liberté, 4 August 2010).
      [15] Ginger Thompson and Damien Cave, 'Officials Strain to Distribute Aid to Haiti as Violence Rises,' New York Times, 17 January 2010.
      [16] Chris McGreal and Esther Addley, 'Haiti Aid Agencies Warn: Chaotic and Confusing Relief Effort is Costing Lives,' The Guardian, 18 January 2010.
      [17] Camille Chalmers, cited in Beverly Bell, 'Haiti: "Post Disaster Needs Assessment" - Whose Needs? Whose Assessment?', Other Worlds, 26 February 2010.
      [18] Don Peat, 'HUSAR Not up to Task, Feds Say: Search and Rescue Team Told to Stand Down,' Toronto Sun, 17 January 2010.
      [19] USAID,, accessed on 20 January 2010.
      [20] William Booth, 'Haiti's Elite Spared from Much of the Devastation,' Washington Post, 18 January 2010.
      [21] Tim Schwarz, phone call with the author, 18 January 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, 21 January 2010.
      [22] Meg Laughlin, 'At Stricken Haitian Factory: Prayers for the Dead and New Jobs', St. Petersburg Times, 13 February 2010, .
      [23] Ross Marowits, 'Gildan Shifting T-shirt Production Outside Haiti to Ensure Adequate Supply,' The Canadian Press, 13 January 2010.
      [24] 'With Foreign Aid Still at a Trickle, Devastated Port-au-Prince General Hospital Struggles to Meet Overwhelming Need,' Democracy Now!, 20 January 2010.
      [25] Stuart Page is chairman of Page Group,
      [26] Gardner then explained that, with the police weakened by the quake, 'Thousands of escaped criminals have returned to areas they once terrorized, 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, 18 January 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, 20 January 2010; Tom Leonard, 'Scenes of Devastation Outside Port-au-Prince "Even Worse",' Daily Telegraph, 21 January 2010).
      [27] BBC television, Ten O'clock News, 18 January 2010. An extreme instance of the quasi-military emphasis on security led to an armed police response to a failed prison breakout in Les Cayes on 19 January, killing between 12 and 19 inmates and wounding another 40 (Deborah Sontag and Walt Bogdanich, 'Escape Attempt Led to Killings of Unarmed Inmates', New York Times, 22 May 2010).
      [28] David Belle, Ciné Institute, 17 January 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 illustrated the way such community organizations work with an example from the Delmas 33 neighbourhood. 'A truckload of food came 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.' Andy 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 recognize 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. [...] Any further restriction on, and control of, the supply of aid is not only patronizing 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; cf. Ansel Herz, 'As Aid Efforts Flounder, Haitians Rely on Each Other', IPS 15 January 2010).
      [30] Andy Kershaw, 'Stop Treating these People Like Savages,' The Independent, 21 January 2010.
      [31] Bruno Waterfield, 'U.S. Ships Blockade Coast to Thwart Exodus to America,' Daily Telegraph, 19 January 2010; 'Senegal Offers Land to Haitians,' BBC News, 17 January 2010.
      [32] James C. McKinley Jr., 'Homeless Haitians Told Not to Flee to United States,' New York Times, 19 January 2010.
      [33] Cf. 'The U.S. Should Welcome Haitians In', Washington Post, 29 January 2010; 'President Obama Could Rapidly Aid Haitian Immigration Seekers', Washington Post, 26 June 2010.
      [34] John Pilger, 'The Kidnapping of Haiti', New Statesman, 28 February 2010.
      [35] Cited in Reed Lindsay, 'Haiti's Excluded', The Nation, 11 March 2010,


      Call for papers on ACHPR decision on African Lesbians

      Coalition of African Lesbians


      The African Commission on Human and People's Rights denied observer status to the Coalition of African lesbians. Their reason as set out in the report to the AU is that the organisation does not seek to protect rights guaranteed under the charter.

      This is not true. CAL works to protect the human rights of human beings. The charter confers the rights to all human beings.

      A special issue of Pambazuka News focusing on the implications of the decision on people who are vulnerable to human rights violations of human rights because of their real or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity will be published shortly.

      Please send your contributions to natasha [AT] amsher [DOT] net

      Journalist Study Tour to India 2011: FAHAMU Emerging Powers in Africa Programme

      Call for applications


      The Fahamu Emerging Powers in Africa Programme is pleased to announce a call for applications for its Journalist Study Tour to India. Four successful applicants will be chosen to participate in a 6 day study tour. African media professionals in print, broadcast, radio and online fora throughout Africa are encouraged to apply for this study tour. African lecturers from journalism schools and media programmes on the continent may also apply.

      Call for applications

      Journalist Study Tour to India 2011: FAHAMU Emerging Powers in Africa Programme

      The Fahamu Emerging Powers in Africa Programme is pleased to announce a call for applications for its Journalist Study Tour to India. Four successful applicants will be chosen to participate in a 6 day study tour. African media professionals in print, broadcast, radio and online fora throughout Africa are encouraged to apply for this study tour. African lecturers from journalism schools and media programmes on the continent may also apply.

      1. Introduction

      There is a growing need for independent inquiry and investigation into the engagement of India in Africa from African media sources- this as media coverage has been largely dominated and influenced by Western media reports. This becomes particularly important as Indian corporate interest, aid, bilateral trade and investment in Africa continues to grow. Furthermore, India will host the forthcoming India Economic Summit in November 2010, while the second India-Africa Forum Summit will take place in Africa in 2011 following the first Summit concluded in April 2008 in India. These events will provide important outcomes related to both India and Africa’s development path, with consequences relevant to both Africans and Indians alike. Within this context the need for greater collaboration and interaction amongst African and Indian media will become ever more pertinent.

      The Fahamu Emerging Powers in Programme is therefore pleased to announce a call for applications for its Journalist Study Tour to India. Four successful applicants will be chosen to participate in a study tour to India that aims to:

      - Strengthen the capacity of African media commentators on India's engagement with Africa
      - Facilitate greater understanding of perceptions of India in Africa, and vice versa
      - Expand on knowledge amongst African media of India’s political, economic, societal and media landscape
      - Create an opportunity for African media organisations and journalism schools to develop long-term relationships, collaborations and exchanges with representatives from Indian media organisations and institutions
      - Provide a platform to facilitate the implementation of capacity building projects and greater media coverage amongst African media on India's activities in Africa
      - Include greater media participation in discussions and advocacy in India and in Africa about India's role in Africa
      - Include visits to various Indian media organisations, associations, research institutes and journalism schools.

      2. Call for Applications

      Media professionals in print, broadcast, radio and online fora throughout Africa are encouraged to apply for this study tour. Lecturers from journalism schools and media programmes in Africa may also apply. Applicants must:

      -Provide frequent reports to their national, regional, or local print media, radio, television channels or online fora on topics related to India's activities in Africa; or lecture at a journalism school or training programme at a higher education institution in Africa

      -Have 8- 10 years experience as a journalist or journalism lecturer

      -Be fluent in English

      -Have a valid passport and comply with their country's visa criteria for travel to India.

      The following costs will be reimbursed:

      - Return ticket, economy class to India
      - Accommodation in India for the duration of study tour,
      - Visa costs,
      - Meals and transport for duration of study tour.

      The study tour will take place in January 2011.

      Applications close on 1 December 2010 and successful applicants will be notified in second week of December 2010.

      3. Requirements

      All applications are to be submitted electronically and must include:

      - A current resume including professional work history

      -A 500 word article on a topic that is currently relevant to the India-Africa engagement

      -A brief proposal in English outlining a story you wish to cover in Africa related to Africa-India relations and that will be of interest to your target audience

      - A letter of recommendation from your organisation head/faculty head . If journalist applicants are not employed directly through a media organisation, please provide a letter of support from the organisation to which you are affiliated, including your relationship to the organisation

      - A letter, signed by your (affiliate) organisation or faculty head, motivating how participation in the study tour will benefit your professional work and the work of your organisation. This should include an action plan detailing how your experience in India will be incorporated into further capacity building and knowledge development within your organisation/journalism school in the three months following completion of the study tour

      - Provide samples of three or four professional pieces of written work/manuscripts that have been printed or broadcast in the last 12 months; or an outline of courses taught if a lecturer in a journalism school/programme.

      -Please ensure that all documents are compressed and/or zipped in compressed files to ensure all applications can be uploaded.

      -Applications must be submitted in English

      4. Concluding Remarks

      A contract will be signed by participants requiring the following obligations to be met following conclusion of the tour:

      - Produce a commentary piece for the Fahamu Emerging Powers in Africa Newsletter based on their experience in India incorporating topical issues related to Africa-India relations

      - Make regular contributions on civil society issues for publication in the Fahamu Emerging Powers in Africa Newsletter

      - Provide a follow up report detailing the implementation and outcomes of a capacity building activity completed through the participants (affiliate) organisation or journalism school within three months of completing the study tour.

      Please direct all queries and applications to:

      Ms Hayley Herman
      Programme Officer
      Emerging Powers in Africa Programme
      Email: [email protected]

      Jindal School of International Affairs seeks Africa specialist


      The JSIA is seeking a PhD candidate who has just finished or who is already on the job market with a specialisation in comparative politics and foreign relations of Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean. The candidate should be interested in coming to India for this exciting new school.

      Professors / Associate & Assistant Professors / Visiting Faculty in Jindal School of International Affairs (JSIA)

      Faculty members will teach core degree programme courses and conduct scholarly research at JSIA’s Research Centres. Applicants must have a Ph.D. degree in International Relations or related sub-fields of Political Science. Candidates with advanced knowledge of social science methods, IR theory and its applications, Comparative Foreign Policy, International Security, International Political Economy, International Economics, International Development, and International Institutions will be preferred.

      Area specialists in emerging economies, Africa, Latin America, the Caribbean and the Middle East will be favourably considered.

      Applicants should have an outstanding academic record commensurate for the position and an impressive range of research and publications. International teaching experience and qualifications are highly desirable.

      Salary and Conditions of Service: Internationally-competitive salary and benefits will be provided, depending on academic standing, experience and position held by the applicant.


      Eligible and interested candidates should send their CVs, including teaching and research profiles, to Chair, JGU Faculty Appointment Committee, via email at [email protected] and [email protected]

      Advocacy & campaigns

      Uganda: LGBTI activists sue the Rolling Stone tabloid

      Uganda High Court issues an interim order to cease publication


      A group of civil society organisations have called on the Ugandan government to take all appropriate measures to ensure the full respect of fundamental human rights and adequate protection from violence for people suffering discrimination based on sexual orientation.

      10 November 2010

      On 1 November 2010, the Ugandan tabloid ‘Rolling Stone’ published an article entitled ‘Men of Shame Part II’ with the names and pictures of 10 alleged gay men. The article follows the infamous article published on 2 October 2010, which asked the general public to ‘Hang the Homes’ in Uganda. The paper’s first article resulted in direct attacks on at least eight people whose names and pictures were published in it, including a woman who was forced to flee her home after neighbours
      pelted it with stones.

      Following a civil suit filed against the tabloid by a coalition of Uganda civil society organisations, the High Court of Uganda issued, on 1 November 2010, an interim order to cease any further publication by ‘Rolling Stone’ that identify by name or picture or any relevant implication of the person perceived by the respondents as to be gay, lesbian or homosexual in general, pending a full hearing, scheduled
      for 23 November 2010.

      On 13 October 2010, the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) expressed its grave concerns about this ongoing homophobic media campaign as well as widespread human rights violations faced by LGBTI people in Uganda, since an Anti Homosexuality Bill was submitted to the Parliament of Uganda one year ago. If adopted, that legislation would introduce life sentences or even the death penalty for homosexual acts.

      The Ugandan delegation headed by Ms Rukia Isanga Nakadama, Minister of State for Gender and Cultural Affairs, attempted to reject any responsibility on the part of the Government of Uganda, as the Bill was introduced as a Private Member’s Bill and had not been formally sponsored by members of the Government. Similarly, Uganda denied any responsibility for the publication by the Ugandan newspaper ‘Rolling Stone’, claiming that it was an issue of freedom of expression and that the police would be responsible for dealing with any consequences that may arise. Nevertheless, the United Nations Committee found these claims not convincing, stating that this was 'a very unacceptable situation and a case of incitement to violence'.

      No Peace Without Justice (NPWJ), Certi Diritti, the Nonviolent Radical Party, Transnational and Transparty (NRPT) and Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG) welcome the decision by the High Court of Uganda to issue an interim order to cease further publication by ‘Rolling Stone’ tabloid, pending a full hearing on 23 November 2010, and calls on the High Court to uphold the rule of law and reaffirm the clear line between freedom of expression and to incitement to hate crimes.

      NPWJ, Certi Diritti, the NRPTI and SMUG call on the Government of Uganda to take all appropriate measures to ensure the full respect of fundamental human rights and adequate protection from violence for people suffering discrimination based on sexual orientation. This is particularly urgent for those who have decided not to be silent in front of this new episode of harassment and discrimination and have taken civil action in the courts against the ‘Rolling Stone’ tabloid.

      These human rights defenders should be considered champions of the rule of law, who have taken this decision at great personal risk but for the benefit of all Ugandan citizens.

      For further information, please contact Elio Polizzotto (NPWJ), email: [email protected], phone: +32 2 548 39 21 and Advocacy Litigation Officer (SMUG) phone: + 256 773104971. Website:

      Books & arts

      Between defiance and empathy: A battle cry for justice

      US launch of Shailja Patel's 'Migritude'


      Internationally acclaimed Kenyan poet, playwright and activist Shailja Patel has launched 'Migritude' in the US. 'Part memoir, part political history, part performance tour-de-force', the project 'weaves together family history, reportage, and monologues of violence, colonisation, and love, to create an achingly beautiful portrait of lives and migrant journeys undertaken in the boot print of Empire.’

      Migritude is the US debut of internationally acclaimed Kenyan poet, playwright and activist Shailja Patel. Part memoir, part political history, part performance tour-de-force, Migritude weaves together family history, reportage, and monologues of violence, colonisation, and love, to create an achingly beautiful portrait of lives and migrant journeys undertaken in the boot print of Empire.

      Shailja Patel was born and raised in Kenya, has lived in London and San Francisco, and now divides her time between Nairobi and Berkeley. Trained as a political economist, accountant and yoga teacher, she honed her poetic skills in performances that have received standing ovations on three continents. She has been described by the Gulf Times as ‘the poetic equivalent of Arundhati Roy’ and by CNN as ‘the face of globalization as a people-centered phenomenon of migration and exchange’.

      Patel has appeared on the BBC World Service, NPR and Al-Jazeera. Her work has been translated into twelve languages. She is a recipient of a Sundance Theatre Fellowship, an African Guest Writer Fellowship from the Nordic Africa Institute, the Fanny-Ann Eddy Poetry Award from IRN-Africa, the Voices of Our Nations Poetry Award, a Lambda Slam Championship, and the Outwrite Poetry Prize. She is a founding member of Kenyans for Peace, Truth and Justice, which works towards a just and equitable democracy in Kenya.


      ‘Illuminates with artistry and eloquence the shameful secrets of empire's history.’
      – Howard Zinn, A People’s History Of The United States

      ‘A vibrant, gendered, wordsmith's voice, speaking Africa, Asia, the metropole, history, the present – the world. Shailja Patel is that rare thing – an activist poet in prose and verse.’
      – Professor Gayatri Spivak, Columbia University, Can The Subaltern Speak?

      ‘A work of unwavering moral conscience, a battle cry for justice, expressed through a poetic talent that deserves a global audience.’
      – Dennis Brutus

      ‘Shailja Patel's voice rings as stunning, expansive, and true as her journeys across three continents. Migritude is in constant motion between history and biography, defiance and empathy, ambition and fortitude, pain and joy—a powerful book of our global now that lingers with you long afterward.’
      – Jeff Chang, Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop: A History of The Hip-Hop Generation

      ‘Migritude is a doorway, a book that lets us feel and begin to understand the consequences of colonial history and the legacy of domination.’
      – Susan Griffin, Wrestling With The Angels Of Democracy

      ‘Shailja's legendary performances are captured in these pages, which convey the tastes of oppression, exile and resistances – her 'grit on the tongue' – in a diary so impassioned it made me cry.’
      – Annie Leonard, The Story of Stuff

      ‘Migritude is poetry as documentary. It is non-fiction as testimony. It is authorship as survival. Of course Migritude defies categorization - the best art always does.’
      – Raj Patel, The Value Of Nothing

      ‘Her singular and lyrical voice captures truths about migrants and empire: truths of injustice and pain, perseverance and will, irony and hope. Master storyteller and artist, Shailja conjures women and men who are unforgettable. Migritude is, simply put, brilliant.’
      – Helen Zia, author, Asian American Dreams: The Emergence of an American People

      ‘What is happening here in East Africa is a social experiment that could re-educate the world about race, ethnicity, nationality, masculinity. This new resolution will not be shouted from the political steeples - it will be sung in the voices of artists. An Asian African, an African Asian, a world citizen, Shailja Patel’s work is an invitation to us to enter that complexity and be enriched by it. She is breaking boundaries. She is the face of the new globalization, the new multi-racial, cross-border fluidity that many of us are living but have not yet found words for.’
      –Tade Aina, Program Director, Higher Education In Africa, Carnegie Corporation

      ‘Shailja Patel has written a searing cross-genre story about how imperialism and racism have affected the lives of subaltern women. The voices in Migritude are memorable in their perseverance, their blazing anger, and their unflinching intellect. I’m amazed by the
      scope in which Patel confronts the brutal history of British Empire, the Ugandan dictatorship, and the current US warfare against Iraq, all the while maintaining a personal narrative that is both lyrical and full of compassion. Throughout Migritude, the image of the sari returns again and again as tradition, as Orientalist ornament, and a way of dress that is at turns both feminine and feminist. From the thicket of history’s atrocities, Patel reclaims a migrant voice that is provocative and triumphant.’
      – Cathy Park Hong, Dance Dance Revolution

      ‘Migritude, Shailja Patel's stunning poetic debut and memoir is a bullet train ride into the 21st century. Her portrait of migration breaks through the trance of affluence to display its price -- the loss of meaning in everyday life. The stories in Migritude explode with life, vibrant, succulent and fragrant. Although she writes of rage, real and held back, calculated and adamantine, only love can distill language into light that rolls across the page, breaks over us like a warm ocean wave. Read Migritude and rejoice that Shailja Patel has brought her voice to these shores.’
      – China Galland, Love Cemetery, Unburying the Secret History of Slaves


      * Shailja Patel’s ‘Migritude’ is published in the US by Kaya (ISBN 9781885030054).
      * Please send comments to [email protected] or comment online at Pambazuka News.

      Letters & Opinions

      Parents should encourage children to read

      Susan Najjuma



      The campaign to build a reading culture should start in the home, writes Susan Najjuma.

      This article is quite revealing. It paints the dilemma of many an African nation. In my view, this reading campaign should begin in the homes.

      Parents should start by nurturing this culture among the children, using whatever few reading materials they have – old news papers (which they can collect from other places – in case they cannot afford to buy), the bible – at least most homes in Christian dominated communities tend to have one etc.

      However, this can only be done if all parties get to appreciate the beauty of reading and developing a reading culture. Schools could also pick it up from where the parents stop. In Uganda, we are trying to build that culture, we may not be there yet but at least there is some progress. In most communities, especially in the central region, it is quite common to find several people reading a newspaper written in their local dialect.

      Two things stand out from the article that need to be addressed; availability of materials and having them at affordable prices – but even then, people need to begin with the little that they already have, if the culture of reading is to be nurtured, they need to understand that reading empowers and emancipates citizens, and it brings people together.

      As a way of improving the image of reading, children need to know that reading can not only be fun, but that it is also a great way to spend your leisure time and that it is valuable and rewarding. Reading communicates life and hope and the belief in the potential to grow and change. Failure to read breeds ignorance and ignorance is the mother of all evils.

      Guides needed for journey to African unity



      Achieving ‘the Pan-African dream will take some great men of character and courage that have the will to take the lead’, writes Waiswa.

      This is one, if not, the best analysis/article I have read on the subject of African unity.

      For one, the author offers a really clear idea on how to embark on this long journey. For another, he makes clear analysis of and connection between historical events and present ones.

      My view is that achieving the Pan-African dream will take some great men of character and courage that have the will to take the lead and this discussion to the next level.

      This means doing two things:
      1) Aggregating all these ideas into a single or a few practical approaches/solutions through deliberation and organization
      2) Organizing progressive a group with numerous sub-groups around these ideas.
      3) Once a common understanding is reached or even just approximated, then take the message to the masses. That is, start mobilizing people on the continent and the diaspora around this goal.

      We do not have to have a perfect plan; we just need something to set the engine of change in motion. Concrete plans and idea will come as we confront and assess the realities on the ground.

      The problem with Africa is not the lack of ideas, but rather the absence of ambitious yet visionary, judicious and selfless men to commit to the pursuit of these ideas.

      It is a shame that we have only had less than a handful of such individuals in the entire history of the continent. It is time for young Africans to renew this African promise!

      Come clean about geoengineering

      Mathieu Hamaekers


      Data about experiments conducted must be disclosed, and their effects on the environment assessed, writes Mathieu Hamaekers.

      For some years I was very concerned about the reality of atmospheric experiments above our heads. So I'm pleased to hear, that these experiments are forbidden from now on.

      The next step must be to design a professional study group, to map all the experiments that where done in the past. No nonsense. All the data of any geoengineering experiment must be on the table and studied how far they had effect on the environment.

      In extent of there effect, conclusions have to be made how to clean the mess and who is going to pay the bill. By study the effect on the environment, we can gather enough scientific data to prove the negative effects of these experiments and to ban any geoengineering once and for all.

      All the data of previous geoengineering have to be disclosed for the public, so that those, once ridiculed for their statements about ongoing arial experiments, are given back their dignity.

      African Writers’ Corner

      Going to Moshoeshoe

      To the people of Lesotho

      Natty Mark Samuels


      In a time of complete chaos, when disaster came stomping through the land, grabbing what it wanted…

      In a time of complete chaos, when disaster came stomping through the land, grabbing what it wanted, devastating the rest; his name became an amulet to thousands, a talisman for the terrorised. They flocked to see him, to see if the lighthouse was real.

      In a time when children did not play, their parents prayed for Moshoeshoe.

      They dreamt of Thaba Boisu, the mountain stronghold of Moshoeshoe. Of a heaven in hell. Where skeletons could replace the flesh that had disappeared. The orphans could once again grasp stability. Where drought and famine were not victorious. The ragged refugees could rest their war-torn feet. And when war came, it did not leave as conqueror.

      There's an exodus from everywhere, leaving night and day; going to Moshoeshoe.

      Blessed with the skill of diplomacy, admired by foe as well as by friend. This man could fight, this man could talk. Man of the crocodile clan, his totem on the flag of Lesotho. Founder of the Sotho state, icon of African freedom.

      Because of his wisdom, the children returned to play; singing songs of Moshoeshoe.


      * Moshoeshoe is pronounced 'Mo-shway-shway'.
      * © 2010 Natty Mark Samuels.
      * Please send comments to [email protected] or comment online at Pambazuka News.


      Abdulqadir A. Nassir


      The Lioness is a mother
      a friend, a sister
      She's a teacher…

      The Lioness is a mother
      a friend, a sister
      She's a teacher
      a hunter, a mentor
      She loves justice and peace

      She'll raise her claws
      to anyone putting her strength
      to the test

      With her claws she'll write
      leaving the blood of her pain
      and the rain of her tears
      on paper

      Her claws are hidden
      in the gentle caress
      of a newborn cub
      or the loving embrace with a friend

      She's the protector
      of the helpless
      The provider for the pride
      She's the voice
      of the voiceless
      and the friend of the needy

      Her roar, resounding on the plains
      Is fierce
      For when her pride is in trouble
      or her home is threatened
      She will not hesitate to fight
      She will die before her home is taken

      The lioness
      is every woman who's stood
      up for herself or her family
      for her neighbours and her country

      She is the woman struggling to feed
      her children on a shoestring budget
      She's the woman sitting up late at night
      tending to a sick husband
      She is the revolutionary fighting
      for what is right

      She is Mekatilili wa Menza,
      She is Mary Nyanjiru
      She is me
      She is you


      * © 22 Jan 2007 Poetess of the People.
      * Please send comments to [email protected] or comment online at Pambazuka News.

      Highlights French edition

      Pambazuka News 166: Après le rapport sur le génocide au Congo, que faire !



      Kikwete's level playing field



      Newly re-elected Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete receives calls to level the political playing field, suggests Gado.


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

      Museveni's 'You want another rap' (remix)


      As Yoweri M7, Uganda's Yoweri Museveni launches a hip hop appeal to the Ugandan electorate…


      * This picture is in response to the Museveni rap [YouTube video clip].
      * Please send comments to [email protected] or comment online at Pambazuka News.

      Zimbabwe update

      Development foundation for Zimbabwe launched


      In December of last year, the Institute for Justice and Reconciliation (IJR) hosted a public lecture by Zimbabwean Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai in Cape Town on 'The State of Zimbabwe’s Economy', as well as a dialogue with members of country’s diaspora. Emerging from that dialogue, diaspora members recently launched the Development Foundation for Zimbabwe – ‘a non-profit, non-partisan organisation created and driven by Zimbabweans’. The Foundation aims to ‘provide a platform for constructive engagement between Zimbabweans in the Diaspora and fellow compatriots in the Zimbabwean government, business, civil society and the general public’.

      More economic reform needed, says IMF


      Zimbabwe's economy will grow for the second successive year in 2010 due to positive policies and strong commodity prices, the International Monetary Fund said on Monday, while calling for more reforms to sustain the recovery. An IMF team that visited between Oct 25 and Nov 3 for routine discussions with government and the private sector said Zimbabwe would have a budget surplus this year, among other signs of improved economic conditions.

      Soldiers go on rampage in Chipinge East


      Heavily armed soldiers wearing military fatigues on Wednesday launched a lunchtime raid on Green Valley farm in Chipinge East, in an operation in which they took away MDC officials. One of those ‘abducted’ by the soldiers, who were brandishing AK47 rifles, is Solomon Mazvokwadi, an MDC-T ward youth chairman for the area. The soldiers were deployed in Chipinge East three months ago and have been patrolling the area, allegedly intimidating MDC supporters.

      African Union Monitor

      Human rights NGOs urge ratification of good governance charter


      The Director of the Banjul-based African Centre for Democracy and Human Rights Studies, Hannah Forster, on Sunday emphasised the need for African governments to ratify and implement the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance in order to reinforce the highest principles of democratic governance in Africa. Speaking at the opening ceremony of the forum of the participation of NGOs on the 48th Ordinary Session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples Rights, in Banjul, the Gambian capital, Forster lamented that impunity has become so entrenched in our countries that much thought should be given to the development of strategies to combat the phenomenon.

      Kenya: Community refers land dispute To AU court


      The Endorois community is seeking the intervention of the African Commission to compel the Government to implement a ruling delivered early this year. The community has dispatched a delegation of 10 members to the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights (ACHPR) meeting in Banjul. Gambia, to express displeasure over Government's failure to honour its ruling. In the landmark ruling, the African Commission found the Government guilty of violating the human rights of the Endorois, by evicting them from their land to pave way for creation of Lake Bogoria Game Reserve, between 1974 and 1979.

      Women & gender

      DRC: New trades help women rebuild from conflict


      After years of armed conflict, women in southeastern Democratic Republic of Congo are playing a leading role in its economic recovery with the help of vocational training centres which keep them fed while they learn new skills. Famiya Omari, a 50-year-old mother of five, once trudged for miles each day to ply fresh cassava. Now, she sells the bread and soap that she has learnt to make at a vocational centre run by a local NGO, the Reflection Committee For Development and Social Promotion (CORDPS).

      Rwanda: Encouraging police to tackle violence against women


      The Rwandan authorities are trying to tackle gender-based violence by addressing the role of security personnel in ending the scourge. 'Violence of any sort is an affront to society, an abomination that is simply unacceptable,' Rwandan Prime Minister Bernard Makuza said. 'Security forces in Africa must recognise gender-based violence as a crime.' The prime minister, who was speaking at a recent high-level conference in the Rwandan capital of Kigali on the role of security bodies in ending violence against women and girls, called for community involvement in efforts to root out the vice.

      Senegal: The third African feminist forum


      From 21- 24 October 2010, close to 180 feminist activists from all African sub-regions met in Dakar, Senegal for the third African Feminist Forum. The forum focused on the theme of communities, connecting discussions about women’s citizenship, state accountability, the market, the environment and our individual roles as activists.

      Uganda: Over 200 girls to be circumcised


      Elders in Bukwo and Kapchorwa districts are preparing to circumcise over 200 girls next month despite a new law banning the practice. The practice, commonly referred to as female circumcision, is mostly practiced among the Sabiny, who occupy Bukwo and Kapchorwa districts on the northern slopes of Mt Elgon. The United Nations categorises it as female genital mutilation (FGM) because it damages a woman’s sexuality and leads to various complications. FGM refers to the removal of the external female genitalia.

      West Africa: Research shows women own two per cent of arable lands


      Although responsible for about 80 per cent of the agricultural production for the supply of households and markets, women own less than two per cent of arable lands in West and Central Africa. This was the finding of a study conducted by the West and Central African Council for Agricultural Research and Development (WECARD), published in Dakar, Senegal.

      Human rights

      Cameroon: The political assassination of Felix Moumie


      This year marks the 50th anniversary of the independence of most of the French-speaking African states and has been so celebrated in France and in the former French Sub-Saharan African states. The independence of North Africa followed a different course, but the 1954-1962 Algerian War heavily influenced French policy in Sub-Saharan Africa - usually referred to as Afrique Noire (Black Africa). Less celebrated are the political assassinations which were carried out in the lead up to the 1960 independences. Thus the November 3, 1960 death of Felix Moumie, the Cameroun independence leader, by poison in Geneva, merits attention to remind us that State-sponsored murders have terrorism of population as an aim.

      Global: Action day highlights abuses by European companies


      The European Action Day is an initiative of the European Coalition for Corporate Justice (ECCJ –, a European network bringing together over 250 civil society organisations present in 15 European countries to take measures that will stop corporate abuses and provide access to justice for victims of these abuses. 'From mercury poisoning in South Africa to child labour in India, companies, including European ones, continue to get away with breaches of environmental and human rights standards,' states Ruth Casals, ECCJ’s coordinator.

      Kenya: Now Ruto wants Kenya's principals charged by ICC


      Eldoret North MP William Ruto wants the International Criminal Court to indict President Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga for the roles he says they played in the post-election violence. In a statement that could form the core of Mr Ruto’s defence at The Hague, one of the suspended minister’s lawyers says the process of securing justice would have no credibility if Mr Kibaki and Mr Odinga are not charged.

      Nigeria: New revelations on anniversary of Ken Saro Wiwa’s death


      Fifteen years ago Ken Saro Wiwa and eight other Ogoni activists who led protests against Shell Oil company were hanged by the Nigerian government after a sham trial on trumped up charges. Justice in Nigeria Now remembers Ken Saro Wiwa and his colleagues, noting new revelations about Shell’s PR strategy after the deaths of the Ogoni activists.

      Nigeria: When oil companies volunteer


      Some oil companies, including Shell and Chevron, have signed up to what is known as Voluntary Principles, by which they declare how they would change their corporate practices in the area of security and human rights. See the principles at This Environmental Rights Action article asks whether these principles have resulted in any positive change, touches on the principles behind them and how they can be applied to Nigerian oil fields.

      Southern Africa: SADC review 'denies citizens redress'


      A recent decision by the Southern African Development Community (Sadc) summit means an 'effective suspension' of the SADC tribunal, which will deny SADC citizens redress, nongovernmental organisations (NGOs) said last week. The challenge by NGOs including the Southern Africa Litigation Centre and the Africa regional office of the International Commission of Jurists, comes after a decision by the Sadc summit in August that the tribunal would not hear new cases. The tribunal hears cases between citizens of SADC member states and the states themselves, when the citizens have exhausted all domestic legal avenues.

      Sudan: Minors sentenced to death


      Four minors are among nine people who have been sentenced to death for a carjacking in Khour Baskawit in South Darfur. The case has raised fresh concerns over protection for children's rights in Sudan. Sudan is a signatory to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, which prohibits the execution of minors. In line with this, Sudan reformed its laws in January 2010, raising the age at which an offender can face capital punishment from 15 to 18.

      Uganda: Human rights violations in Karamoja region guarantees impunity


      Amnesty International says it is concerned that the government of Uganda has failed to date to ensure thorough, prompt and independent investigations into frequent reports of human rights violations, including possible unlawful killings, by the Uganda Peoples’ Defence Forces (UPDF), in the Karamoja region thereby ensuring impunity for the perpetrators. The alleged violations have been committed in the course of an ongoing disarmament process in the area.

      AI Index: AFR 59/013/2010

      1 November 2010

      Uganda: Failure to investigate alleged human rights violations in Karamoja region guarantees impunity

      Amnesty International is concerned that the government of Uganda has failed to date to ensure thorough, prompt and independent investigations into frequent reports of human rights violations, including possible unlawful killings, by the Uganda Peoples’ Defence Forces (UPDF), in the Karamoja region thereby ensuring impunity for the perpetrators. The alleged violations have been committed in the course of an ongoing disarmament process in the area.

      Most recently, sections of the media report that up to 40 corpses have been discovered in Kalosarich near the border of Moroto and Kotido. They were allegedly suspected cattle rustlers killed by UPDF soldiers.

      There have been other reports of human rights violations by UPDF soldiers in the last ten months, which the government has dismissed as untrue, and not investigated.

      · In January up to 20 people were allegedly killed during a UPDF helicopter gunship military attack targeting cattle rustlers in Kotido district of Karamoja. It is not clear if these people were armed or were members of armed cattle rustling groups.

      · In April up to 30 people were apparently killed by UPDF soldiers during a raid in Regen sub-county of Kotido district. This raid was ostensibly to recover animals from members of suspected Jie cattle rustlers.

      · Between January and June up to 15 people were said to have been killed by UPDF soldiers under unclear circumstances in different instances where the soldiers were engaged in fighting with and/or disarmament exercises targeting alleged armed cattle rustlers in Moroto district.

      During these and other security operations UPDF soldiers have allegedly used torture and other ill-treatment especially while undertaking searches. There have been reports of UPDF soldiers removing suspects’ teeth, burning suspects using hot metals and hitting the muscles and veins of men around the anus and the testis. According to these reports such treatment is used against people suspected of being cattle rustlers and/or who the UPDF suspect are opposed to the disarmament exercise.

      President Yoweri Museveni, the Minister for Defence, UPDF Spokespersons and the Minister of State for Karamoja have all, at different times, denied the persistent reports and allegations of human rights violations as wholly untrue.

      The Uganda Human Rights Commission (UHRC) announced in May that it was investigating the reports of human rights violations perpetrated by UPDF soldiers. The Commission also added that its “preliminary findings confirm[ed] that a number of people, including children and the elderly, were killed in various (cordon and search) operations carried out by the UPDF in Kotido between January and April, 2010”. The Commission called for investigations into these allegations.

      Subsequent to the UHRC’s announcement, the President ordered an inquiry into the alleged human rights violations. Amnesty International is concerned that the inquiry is not independent or impartial, and as such will not result in ensuring that those responsible for committing human rights violations are held accountable. Sources have told Amnesty International that the inquiry, which is investigating allegations against the UPDF, is exclusively comprised of and headed by members of the UPDF. The progress and results of its investigations are yet to be made public.

      Amnesty International calls on the government of Uganda to order an investigation into the killings and other alleged human rights violations in Karamoja region, which is consistent with international law and standards requiring thorough, prompt and impartial investigation of all suspected cases of unlawful killings, as well as other human rights violations. Whichever body undertakes this investigation must be independent of those allegedly responsible for the violations; should have the necessary powers and resources; and its findings should be made public.

      The government should ensure that persons identified by the investigation as having been responsible for human rights violations are brought to justice in trials which comply with international fair trial standards. The families and dependents of those killed should be entitled to reparation, including fair and adequate compensation within a reasonable period of time.

      Amnesty International also calls on the Ugandan authorities to ensure that the UPDF soldiers engaged in the ongoing disarmament exercise strictly comply with human rights law and standards.

      The Karamoja region of north eastern Uganda comprises the five districts of Abim, Kabong, Kotido, Moroto and Nakapirpirit. It is a semi-arid region of the country mainly inhabited by pastoralist communities. The region has been afflicted by insecurity for many years – mainly as result of the activities of a number of armed cattle rustling groups, from communities including the Jie and Dodoth, who steal cattle from neighboring communities. The current and previous governments have had successive security operations in the area to disarm these groups. The current disarmament exercise started over 10 years ago and involves a number of operations including: a call for voluntary handing in of illegal arms to the UPDF; cordon and search operations to confiscate illegal arms and military operations against armed groups or cattle rustlers who refuse to disarm voluntarily. More than 27,000 illegal guns have reportedly been collected and hundreds of suspects prosecuted as a result of the disarmament operation. According to the government thousands of small arms remain in the hands of cattle rustlers and other people in the area. Small arms and ammunition have proliferated from previous armed conflicts and continue to flow into the surrounding countries to be traded illegally across the border as well as inside Uganda.

      Under international law the government is obliged to respect and protect the right to life of everyone within its jurisdiction. This includes taking effective measures to protect people against acts of violence and to bring the perpetrators to justice. Such measures must comply with international law, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights to which Uganda is a party, and international standards on law enforcement such as the UN Code of Conduct for Law Enforcement Officials and the UN Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials. Under international human rights law anyone arrested on suspicion of committing a criminal offence has the right to a fair and public hearing without undue delay by a competent, independent and impartial tribunal established by law. The obligation to respect the right to life of everyone, including criminal suspects, requires that law enforcement officials use force only when strictly necessary and only to the minimum extent required under the circumstances. Intentional lethal force should not be used except when strictly unavoidable in order to protect life.


      Zimbabwe: Time to rethink the Kimberley Process


      The two authorised sales of Marange diamonds make clear the Zimbabwe government has no reason to feel threatened by a Western diamond import ban, says this commentary from the International Crisis Group. Emerging powers are challenging the rules and becoming more influential. Buyers, especially from India, have been more than willing to fill the gap resulting from the absence of most Westerners. Chinese buyers could also potentially compete. With world diamond production falling by 24 per cent since 2009 and increased competition, buyers are becoming readier to push human rights and governance standards aside.

      Refugees & forced migration

      Africa: Africans and Asians attracted to Latin America


      Yakpaoro is part of a new trend in South America. The refugee from Guinea is one of a growing number of Africans and Asians, many of them refugees, making their way to the continent before joining mixed migration routes from the south to the north. UNHCR statistics show that so far this year between five and 40 per cent of total asylum applications submitted in various Latin American countries were lodged by nationals from Asia and Africa.

      Angola: Senior UN official calls for probe into reported rape of expellees


      A senior United Nations official has urged the national authorities in Angola and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) to investigate reports that women were raped when large numbers of people were expelled from Angola and forced to return to the DRC recently. 'I call upon the authorities of both countries to investigate these allegations and to proceed in compliance with relevant legislation,' said Margot Wallström, the Secretary-General's Special Representative for Sexual Violence in Conflict.

      Kenya: 8,000 Somalis pushed out of Kenya


      Approximately 8,000 Somalis, who fled across the Kenyan border from the Somali town of Belet Hawo following intense fighting there, were ordered to return to Somalia by the Kenyan authorities between 1 and 2 November. On 4 November about 3,000 were forced further into Somalia by Kenya's administrative police, where they are at risk of serious human rights abuses. Amnesty International is urging those concerned by the development to write to the Kenyan authorities.
      Urgent Action Office Amnesty International Canada
      5 November 2010

      Kenya: 8,000 Somalis pushed out of Kenya

      Approximately 8,000 Somalis, who fled across the Kenyan border from the Somali town of Belet Hawo following intense fighting there, were ordered to return to Somalia by the Kenyan authorities between 1 and 2 November. On 4 November about 3,000 were forced further into Somalia by Kenya's Administrative Police, where they are at risk of serious human rights abuses.

      Following violent clashes that began on 17 October in the Somali border town of Belet Hawo between the armed Islamist group al-Shabab and the pro-Somali government armed group Ahlu Sunna Wal Jamaa, a reported 60,000 people were forced to flee their homes. Some of those forced to flee stayed in Somalia, while others crossed the border into Kenya. Around 8,000 Somalis fled to a makeshift site known as Border Point 1 near the Kenyan border town of Mandera, in north-eastern Kenya, where they were registered by the UN Refugee Agency, UNHCR.

      On 31 October, the District Commissioner (DC) in Mandera ordered the recently arrived Somalis who had found temporary refuge at Border Point 1, to leave the area by 2 November. Some 8,000 refugees left the site. As a result they no longer have access to humanitarian assistance. Though some reportedly remain with friends or family in Mandera town and others crossed into the Ethiopian town of Dolow, approximately 3,000 crossed about 1km into Somalia, where they are within range of Belet Hawo and therefore at risk of falling victims to any renewed fighting. Despite the fact that they said they did not feel safe to return to Somalia, on 4 November, Kenyan Administrative Police are reported to have moved them even further inside Somalia.

      The majority of refugees within the group were women, children and the elderly, including vulnerable persons such as pregnant women and disabled people. Though the refugees had received some humanitarian assistance while they were staying in Border Point 1, the Kenyan authorities did not allow humanitarian assistance to reach them while they were camped just inside of the Somali border. Now that they have been pushed even farther inside Somalia, the risk of human rights abuses against them is even higher and they have no access to aid.


      * Urge the Kenyan authorities to comply with their non-refoulement obligations and immediately halt all forcible returns to Somalia, where there is a risk that returnees would face serious human rights abuses, including being killed or maimed in the fighting and of torture or other ill-treatment.
      * Ensure that all Somalis fleeing the conflict in Somalia are able to access refuge and protection in Kenya, and allow those recently forcibly returned to re-enter Kenya again and reach safety in an area sufficiently far from the clashes and where they can receive humanitarian assistance.
      * Call on the Kenyan authorities to instruct all security forces, border officials and provincial officials that forcible returns to Somalia contravenes Kenyan and international law and train security forces to respect the principle of non-refoulement.

      Minister of State for Provincial Administration and Internal Security:
      Hon. Prof. George Saitoti
      Office of the President
      Harambee House, Harambee Avenue
      PO Box 30510
      Nairobi, Kenya
      E-mail: [email protected]
      Fax: 011 254 020 313 600
      Salutation: Dear Minister

      Minister of State for Immigration and Registration of Persons:
      Hon. Gerald Otieno Kajwang
      Ministry of Immigration and Registration of Persons
      Nyayo House, Off Kenyatta Avenue
      PO Box 30191
      Fax: 011254 2 220 731
      E-mail: [email protected]


      Somalis refugees in Kenya are usually recognized as prima facie or de facto refugees.

      All Somalis are at risk of being injured or killed in the generalized violence and indiscriminate and disproportionate attacks that occur in southern and central Somalia, given the consistent failure of all parties to the ongoing conflict to respect international humanitarian law. No individual should be forcibly returned to southern and central Somalia.

      UNHCR opposes all forced returns of Somali nationals to southern and central Somalia.
      In the context of the internal armed conflict between the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) of Somalia and armed groups opposed to it, civilians have been victim to indiscriminate and disproportionate attacks by all parties to the conflict, resulting in death and injury to thousands. The fighting has provoked massive displacement and disruption of access to humanitarian aid. Civilians living in areas controlled by armed opposition groups are also increasingly subjected to abduction, torture and unlawful killings. Individuals have been stoned to death, publicly executed, had parts of their bodies amputated and been flogged on the orders of quasi-judicial bodies operated by local leaders linked to armed groups. Total impunity for those who violate international humanitarian law continues to prevail.

      In January 2007, the Kenyan authorities closed the country's 682 km border with Somalia, and the main transit centre in Liboi operated by UNHCR for those crossing the border, following the resurgence of armed conflict in Somalia between the Transitional Federal Government of Somalia (TFG), supported by Ethiopian troops, and the Islamic Courts Union (ICU) in December 2006. The Kenyan government said that ICU fighters, whom it suspected of links with al-Qa'ida, might enter Kenya and endanger national security.

      Following the border closure, reports of Kenyan security forces extorting bribes from Somali asylum-seekers or forcibly returning them to Somalia have increased. At the same time, the Kenyan authorities have turned a blind eye to the flow of Somali asylum-seekers who continue to cross the border despite its official closure, failing to respond to their protection needs. Amnesty International has long called on the Kenyan government to ensure that Somalis fleeing armed conflict and human rights abuses in Somalia are able to cross the border and seek refuge and protection on Kenyan soil.

      Urgent Action Office Amnesty International Canada
      1992 Yonge St, 3rd floor Toronto, Ontario M4S 1Z7
      Tel. (416) 363 9933 ext. 325
      Fax (416) 363 3103

      Somalia: Fight over water, pasture sends hundreds fleeing


      Fighting between two sub-clans over grazing pasture and water has left 20 dead and thousands of families displaced from several villages in central Somalia, say locals. 'In my own town of Galinsor, about 1,300 families [7,800 people] have been displaced, out of a total population of 5,500 families,' Osman Abdi, an elder, told IRIN on 9 November. 'Many of the families have fled to surrounding villages and are living in the open or sheltering under trees.'

      Sudan: UN to assist IDPs return to Darfur


      UN aid Chief Valerie Amos said that United Nations is to help the voluntary return of people displaced by the conflict in Darfur. During her six day tour of the region, Amos said the decision would also be based on whether 'there is some provision of basic services that the security situation is such that their safety has been considered.'

      Africa labour news

      Nigeria: Labour unions suspend strike


      Labour unions suspended their three-day warning strike aimed at forcing the government to enact into law and implement a national minimum wage of 18,000 naira (about $120). The strike was called off Wednesday after an emergency meeting between the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) of Nigeria. They agreed to suspend the strike for three weeks on the understanding that President Goodluck Jonathan would place the Minimum Wage Bill before the National Assembly for speedy legislative process after the National Council of State meets on it November 25.

      Emerging powers news

      Latest Edition: Emerging Powers News Round-Up


      In this week's edition of the Emerging Powers News Round-Up, read a comprehensive list of news stories and opinion pieces related to China, India and other emerging powers.

      1. General

      U.S. Backs India Seat on U.N. Council
      President Barack Obama, in a speech to the Indian Parliament, for the first time publicly backed India's inclusion as a permanent member in the United Nations Security Council, albeit after the council undergoes a broad restructuring that could takes years, if it happens at all. "The just and sustainable international order that America seeks includes a United Nations that is efficient, effective, credible and legitimate," Mr. Obama said. "That is why I can say today—in the years ahead, I look forward to a reformed U.N. Security Council that includes India as a permanent member."
      Read More

      Beijing looks at laws on philanthropy
      The first national charity law is likely to be legislated in three years in China, a former official of the Ministry of Civil Affairs told China Daily. Wang Zhenyao, former director of the Ministry of Civil Affairs' social welfare and charities department, said the draft was submitted to the Legislative Affairs Office of the State Council last year for further revision. "The legislation is highly possible in next three years as both the National People's Congress and the society have a lot of concern on the matter," said Wang, who was in charge of drafting the charity law when he worked for the ministry.
      Read More

      2. China in Africa

      Ghana taps China loan for $2.85 billion road project
      Ghana will use the first $2.85 billion of a $13 billion Chinese loan facility to fund a road improvement project, the government of the West African country said on Wednesday. The first phase of the project will begin in early 2011 with an initial investment of $1.9 billion, and the second phase will start later in the year, Ghana's finance ministry said in a statement on its website. Ghana President John Atta Mills signed a loan agreement with China's Exim Bank and the Chinese Development Bank in September totaling nearly $13 billion -- one of China's largest financial commitments in Africa to date. Ghana's government said the total agreed loan facility will be drawn down gradually as projects arise, with terms set on a project-by-project basis.
      Read More

      China to Spend $350 Million Building Road From Ugandan Airport to Capital
      China will invest $350 million to build and manage a toll road from Uganda’s Entebbe International Airport to the capital, Kampala, said Syda Bbumba, the East African country’s finance minister. The new road will help ease congestion as the existing 36- kilometer (22-miles) link is regularly blocked with traffic, Bbumba told reporters today in Kampala, the capital. Talks on details about the project are continuing, she said.
      Read More

      Sundance hires CITIC for funding help
      Sundance Resources has appointed China's largest investment Bank, CITIC Securities, to help secure debt and equity funding for its Mbalam iron ore project in West Africa. CITIC will take over current talks between Sundance and several Chinese investment groups which are interested in the project.
      Read More

      Parliament to play greater role in overseeing international government commitments
      Parliament’s National Assembly (NA) is set to play a greater role in monitoring and overseeing government’s international commitments with China. The nine-day official visit to China this month by NA Speaker Mr Max Sisulu, NA House chairperson for international relations Ms Mildred Oliphant and a delegation of senior Members of Parliament drawn from eight NA committees is laying the basis for more focused oversight of government’s international commitments with China.
      Read More

      China Merchants to buy stake Nigeria port operator
      China Merchants Holdings International has agreed to form a joint venture that will buy a 47.5 percent stake in a container-terminal operator in Nigeria from Israel's Zim Integrated Shipping for $154 million. China Merchants will own 60 percent of the venture, with China-Africa Development Fund (CADF) taking a 40 percent stake after obtaining approval from Chinese regulators, the Chinese port operator said in a statement.
      Read More

      3. India in Africa

      US, India to help African food security: Obama
      President Barack Obama on Monday announced a U.S.-Indian partnership to promote food security in Africa, harnessing technology to battle starvation in a part of the world where China has boosted its presence."We are going to share Indian expertise with farmers in Africa," Obama said in a speech to India's parliament. The project will link U.S., Indian and African universities to spread knowledge and boost innovation, while deploying technology to improve drought-resistant farming.
      Read More

      India seeks more oil, gas from Nigeria
      Union Minister for Petroleum and Natural Gas Murli Deora on Thursday said Africa's largest crude oil and gas producer — Nigeria — was willing to increase oil exports to India besides liquefied natural gas (LNG). “Nigeria is our close friend and willing to help us in meeting our growing energy requirements. This is a positive development for securing India's energy security,'' Mr. Deora said.
      Read More

      India gifts 25 buses to Liberia
      India has donated some 25 buses to Liberia to transport students to and from the only institution of higher learning in the West African nation, as also general commuters in and around capital Monrovia. This is part of India's efforts to build more bridges with Africa in ways that directly benefit its people. According to official sources in Monrovia, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has asked the authorities at the National Transport Authority to distribute these 90-seat buses among the nation's 15 political sub-divisions and ensure they are protected and maintained.
      Read More

      4. In Other Emerging Powers News

      Lula: I’ll Make Sure Brazil-Africa Cooperation Continues
      Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva said Wednesday in Maputo that he would be the guarantor that his country’s cooperation with Africa will continue after he leaves office in January. “Brazil’s policy (of cooperation) with Africa, and in particular with Mozambique, will continue and will strengthen itself with the president-elect, Dilma Rousseff,” Lula said at an official banquet offered for him by the president of Mozambique, Armando Guebuza. Lula emphasized the good relations between Brazil and Africa, where the South American country has 34 embassies in the continent’s 53 nations, and he added that his successor, Rousseff, “has the same commitments as I do with Africa.”
      Read More

      Gazprom Discovers Algerian Gas; Eyes Nigerian Assets
      OAO Gazprom, Russia’s state-owned natural gas export monopoly, made its first commercial African gas discovery in Algeria, a move that could enable it to expand gas sales into Spain and Portugal. Algeria “is extremely important” as it could enable Gazprom to expand to the only remaining areas of Europe where it’s not present, Boris Ivanov, head of the company’s global exploration and production unit Gazprom EP International B.V. said in an interview at the Africa Upstream conference in Cape Town today. Gazprom controls about 30 percent of Europe’s gas supplies and has the world’s largest gas reserves.
      Read More

      Opportunity for SA firms
      There are a lot of trade opportunities for South African small businesses in developing countries such as Brazil and India. This was revealed yesterday during a two-day conference at Nasrec, Johannesburg. The D3 Africa Conference was organised by Emergent Africa Development to promote access to international markets for emerging and aspiring entrepreneurs. Emergent Africa Development provides training and business linkages for entrepreneurs. Brazil and India have formed strong bilateral relations with South Africa after the recent visits by President Jacob Zuma. Mari Gerpe, head of trade section at the embassy of Brazil, told entrepreneurs that her country was a growing economy with a variety of opportunities for South African businesses.
      Read More

      5. Blogs, Opinions, Presentations and Publications

      Corporate India Finds Greener Pastures—in Africa
      Indian billionaire Ravi Ruia has flown to Africa at least once a month for the past year and a half. He's invested in coal mines in Mozambique, an oil refinery in Kenya, and a call center in South Africa. Soon, he may also have a power plant in Nigeria. "Africa looks remarkably similar to what India was 15 years ago," says Firdhose Coovadia, director of African operations at Essar Group, the $15 billion conglomerate headed by Ruia and his brother, Shashi. "We can't lose this opportunity."
      Read More

      Some challenges ahead as SA's new 'partnership' with China takes shape
      It is alleged that, in 1800, General Napoleon Bonaparte (then First Consul and not yet Emperor of France) said: “China? There lies a sleeping giant. Let him sleep! For when he wakes, he will move the world.”Now historians are having great difficulty in tracking down this quote (some people claim it dates from 1803) and it is beginning to look as if he never said it. Be that as it may, China has certainly awoken, and is most definitely moving the world – including South Africa. During August, it became clear that China had become the second-biggest economy in the world, after the US. In 2009, China became South Africa’s largest single country trade partner, overtaking the US. That year, the Asian giant became this country’s biggest source of imports. This year, China also became South Africa’s biggest export market.
      Read More

      Africom Watch

      Mali: US supports Mali's fight against terrorism


      The United States will continue its support for efforts by the Malian government in the fight against terrorist threats in the north of the country, said the US envoy with the Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC), Rashad Hussain, at the end of his 5 to 7 November visit to Mali. 'We support Mali in terms of training and military maneuvers. The process that has been underway for some time will continue,' Hussain said, adding that 'terrorist threats are cross-border threats that claim victims.'

      Elections & governance

      Africa: Reviving democracy in Africa requires Europe to do the same


      Idasa's executive director Paul Graham has warned that reviving democracy in Africa requires Europe to do the same. At the Netherlands Institute for Multipary Democracy conference held in Brussels earlier this month, Graham spoke of the need to understand the revitalisation of democracy as a global concern, focusing on the challenges that emerge as Europe cooperates with Africa to help us with our democratisation agenda.

      Gambia: Jammeh backs out of Gambia's 2011 presidential race


      Urging his compatriots to remain grateful to him for his 'numerous developments and the transformation that has taken place in the country', Gambian leader Yahya Jammeh on Monday declared that he would not run for presidency in the 2011 elections, which will mark the end of his third five-year term. Jammeh told local authorities, politicians and other stakeholders drawn from all the regions in the country at the State House in Banjul, that democracy must be respected in the country, PANA reported from here Monday.

      Guinea: Vote passes peacefully


      Residents in the West African state of Guinea have voted in a presidential runoff election described as the country's first free polls since independence from France in 1958. The runoff pitted Cellou Dallein Diallo, the former prime minister, against Alpha Conde, a veteran opposition leader - each representing one of Guinea's two most populous ethnic groups, the Peul and Malinke respectively.

      South Africa: Democracy, civil society and the right to dissent


      'An elected government that does not accept that people have a right to form new parties and to contest its hold on power may be a "democratically elected" government, but it is not a democratic government. In a democracy, everyone has the right to form parties and to contest for state power at the polls and any limitation on that right is a limitation on democracy,' writes Richard Pithouse about ANC comments criticising a recent civil society conference convened by COSATU and the Treatment Action Campaign.

      Sudan: Will Africa give birth to a new nation in 2011?


      Will Africa give birth to a new nation in 2011? Southern Sudan will hold an a referendum on whether or not it should remain as a part of Sudan on 9 January 2011 as part of the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement between the Khartoum central government and the Sudan People's Liberation Movement. A simultaneous referendum will be held in Abyei on whether to become part of Southern Sudan. Global Voices carries a roundup of posts that discuss Sudan.

      Tanzania: Election results a wake-up call for ruling CCM party


      Tanzania’s ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi’s stranglehold on power received a major knock in the just-concluded elections. CCM candidate Jakaya Kikwete won the presidential race comfortably with some 61 per cent of the vote. But that in Tanzania amounts to a massive setback in a system where the party candidate is routinely guaranteed close to 90 per cent of the vote and the opposition can barely gather a handful of MPs.


      Africa: French appeals court reopens assets case


      France's highest appeals court has authorised judges to proceed with an investigation into assets held in the country by three African leaders. The anti-corruption group Transparency International has accused the three of using African public funds to buy luxury homes and cars in France. The three leaders, one of whom is now dead, had denied wrongdoing. They are Denis Sassou-Nguesso of the Republic of the Congo and Teodoro Obiang Nguema of Equatorial Guinea, as well as the late Gabonese leader, Omar Bongo.

      Kenya: Anti-graft agency targets 80 top officials


      The Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission is investigating up to 80 politicians and top government officials in the intensified war against corruption. Those targeted by detectives include Cabinet ministers, past and present permanent secretaries and parastatal chiefs and several MPs. A list seen by the Sunday Nation details the nature of the charges the politicians and government officials are likely to face if the Attorney-General's office decides to prosecute. The offences range from abuse of office to embezzlement of public funds, fraud, conflict of interest and outright theft.

      South Africa: UK Audit firm launches new arms deal probe


      South African politicians and businessmen who pocketed R1-billion from the arms deal are set to be named in a new investigation by Britain's auditing watchdog. The Accountancy and Actuarial Discipline Board (AADB) is to investigate KPMG, which advised BAE Systems on offshore companies that were used to pay 'commissions' to influence the awarding of lucrative contracts in South Africa's R47.4-billion defence procurement package.

      Zimbabwe: Civil society group probes tax regime


      The African Forum and Network on Debt and Development (Afrodad) is undertaking research to critically evaluate Zimbabwe’s tax system to determine its role and impact on the development agenda. The move comes against the backdrop of reports that the country is losing billions of United States dollars in corporate tax through evasion and externalisation as institutions seek to evade a punitive tax regime. The Washington-based Global Financial Integrity revealed in February this year that Zimbabwe was among the world’s top five countries with the largest tax revenue losses as a percentage of total government revenue at 21,5 percent.


      Africa: EPA talks will miss latest deadline


      While a trade deal between the European Union (EU) and Southern African countries is close it will not be concluded before the end of this year. In the meantime, South Africa remains in pursuit of an ambitious regional integration agenda. Namibian trade minister Hage Geingob has confirmed that the December 2010 deadline for a economic partnership agreement (EPA) with the EU that Southern African states had set themselves in Gaborone, Botswana, earlier this year will not be met.

      Africa: Leaders agree self reliance is the answer


      Delegates drawn from African governments, international organisations, parliaments and civil society agreed on Friday, 5 November 2010 in Tunis that the time had come for African countries to rely more on their internal resources, such as taxation, the capital markets and better prices for their valuable commodities, and less on international aid for development. The second Regional Meeting on Aid Effectiveness, jointly organised by the African Development Bank (AfDB), the African Union and NEPAD, convened on 4 and 5 February 2010, in preparation for the fourth High-Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness, to be held in Busan, Korea, in November 2011.

      Africa: New rural poverty report released


      The Rural Poverty Report 2011 contains updated estimates by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) regarding how many rural poor people there are in the developing world, poverty rates in rural areas, and the percentage of poor people residing in rural areas. The report says 1.4 billion people continue to live in extreme poverty – and more than 70 per cent of them are living in rural areas of developing countries, while the latest measurements show that 925 million of them are undernourished.

      Global: Civil society urges G20 to take action on Financial Transaction Taxes


      'We, the undersigned civil society organisations from 23 countries, urge G-20 leaders to make concrete progress towards the introduction of an internationally coordinated financial transactions tax (FTT) at the upcoming summit in Seoul. Our organisations have long advocated that such taxes are a practical way to generate revenues needed to fill domestic and international financing gaps, discourage the type of short-term financial speculation that has little social value but poses high risks to the economy and serve as a desperately-needed and sustainable source of financing for health and development. In recent months, the case for an FTT has been strengthened with new inputs from sometimes unexpected sources.'

      Global: Financial system fails to prevent crisis


      The current turmoil in the world economy has demonstrated once again that the international arrangements lack mechanisms to prevent financial crises with global repercussions, writes Yilmaz Akyüz, the special economic adviser of the South Centre. Not only are effective rules and regulations absent to bring inherently unstable international financial market and capital flows under control, but there is no multilateral discipline over misguided monetary, financial and exchange rate policies in systemically important countries despite their disproportionately large adverse international spillovers.

      Global: G20 should ensure recovery fights poverty


      World leaders have an historic opportunity to reform the global economy to ensure that the one in six people who live in extreme poverty benefit from economic recovery, international agency Oxfam said today ahead of the G20 summit in Seoul. Oxfam is calling on the G20 to forge a new Seoul Development Consensus to replace the failed Washington Consensus of the past. The new consensus should combine financial support for health, education and poor farmers in developing countries with action to make the global economy work in the interests of poor countries.

      Global: Reforms fail to shake up IMF


      International Monetary Fund (IMF) managing director Dominique Strauss-Kahn called recent agreements reached on IMF governance reform 'historic'. However, a closer analysis reveals that the shifts in votes are smaller than claimed and though the basic power structure of the IMF will better incorporate large emerging markets, it will also continue to see dominance of the US and Europe, says the Bretton Woods Project.

      Global: Why the IMF and the international monetary system need more than cosmetic reform


      This South Centre report argues that the G20 agenda misses some of the key issues that need to be dealt with in order to effectively reform the international monetary system so as to avert future global financial crises. The missing issues include enforceable exchange rate and adjustment obligations, orderly sovereign debt workout mechanisms and the reform of the international reserves system. The paper also points out that there are no effective rules to control the unstable global financial market, no multilateral discipline over misguided monetary and exchange rate policies, and national policy makers are preoccupied with resolving crises by supporting those responsible for these crises rather than introducing measures to prevent future crises.

      Kenya: Why the poor pay more for water and the rich less


      Absence of a formula based approach to budget allocation at the Ministry of Water and Irrigation has led to large inequities for water access in Kenya, with the poor paying more compared to the rich, and millions going without adequate access everyday. This finding is contained in a new analytical brief released by Twaweza titled 'It's Our Water Too! Bringing Greater Equity in Access to Water in Kenya.' Uwazi analysts have aggregated facts from a range of credible sources that demonstrate that persistent inequalities in access to water services in Kenya can be quickly reduced if an approach that links investments and resource allocation to needs rather than political weight is adopted and implemented.

      Nigeria: Youth unemployment - a timebomb waiting to explode


      Of Nigeria’s 150 million population 40 million are unemployed. 'A capitalist Nigeria is finding it difficult pulling Nigerian youth out of the frustration caused by unemployment simply because it is based on the profit motive. At the base of capitalism are greed and inhuman neglect of the unfortunate condition of the masses in general and the working class in particular,' writes Ola Balogun in an article on the Centre for Civil Society's website.

      Swaziland: Jobs to be cut to secure international loan


      Thousands of public servants in Swaziland are due to lose their jobs in cutbacks as part of a government bid to gain approval from the International Monetary Fund for a loan. But some Swazis would rather see the budget slashed for the country’s autocratic royals. The civil service of the tiny Southern African monarchy comes with a high wage bill, as 50 per cent of national spending going towards 35,000 state posts.

      Health & HIV/AIDS

      Africa: Invest now in TB or pay later


      Unless the money needed for tuberculosis is invested now the world will face a drug-resistant epidemic that will affect everyone in the world, warned Dr Nils Billo, Executive Director of the International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease (The Union). Speaking at the launch of the World Health Organisation’s Global Tuberculosis Control Report, Billo said that TB very often fell between the cracks even though it was a critical problem in many countries, including the former Soviet Union, Russia and Asia.

      Africa: Malaria vaccine to protect the most vulnerable


      As nearly 25 years of development of a malaria vaccine come to fruition, health authorities across Africa will need to come to grips with how to effectively introduce it. Phase III testing of a malaria vaccine involving up to 16,000 infants in seven African countries has begun; success could see a vaccine ready for use by 2013.

      Africa: The great malaria debate


      In 2007, Bill and Melinda Gates committed their foundation to eradicating malaria. It was, said Richard Feachem, director of the Global Health Group, part of the University of California, San Francisco, 'a shock to the system for the malaria community, because for a couple of decades the ‘E’ words, eradication and elimination, were not used in polite company'. That reticence was due to the very public failure of elimination campaigns, but the debate has been re-opened with the publication by the medical journal, The Lancet, of a special series on the subject.

      Congo: Eight killed by epidemic akin to polio


      An epidemic akin to polio, which has raged for nearly two weeks in the main commercial city in southern Congo, Pointe-Noire, has already killed eight, and several dozen cases have been reported, say health officials. 'Patients admitted to hospitals have flu-like symptoms. They are also presenting with paralysis starting in the lower limbs which spreads to the upper limbs,' said Director-General of Health Alexis Elira Dockekias.

      Egypt: Black cloud season sees rise in health problems


      Every year a noxious black smog hangs over Egypt as the seasonal burning of rice straw by farmers begins, and with it comes a surge in allergic reactions and lung infections. The inky haze lasts from October to November; it is a time when hospitals see a rise in patient numbers, and parents consider keeping their children out of school to avoid the worst of the throat-burning smog. 'Straw burning-induced pollution causes acute health problems,' Mahmud Abdel Meguid, chairman of the state-run Abbasiya Chest Hospital, told IRIN.

      Egypt: Newlyweds learn about healthy families


      If people don’t receive comprehensive sex education growing up, what is another option for disseminating critical sexual and reproductive health information to them? By targeting young married couples in Egypt, The Mabrouk! ('Congratulations!') Initiative strategically focuses efforts on young couples preparing to start a family. Established in 2004, the initiative combines a multimedia campaign with interpersonal and community empowerment approaches as part of the Communication for Health Living (CHL) project to create sustainable social change related to health practices.

      Kenya: Mobile phone messages improve adherence and HIV control


      A text message from a clinic each week resulted in better adherence and a higher level of viral load suppression among people with HIV after starting antiretroviral treatment in Kenya, a randomised controlled trial has shown. The results were published in the Online First section of The Lancet this week. The trial was sponsored by the US President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR).

      Kenya: Need to reduce HIV risk among health workers


      The Kenyan government is working to reduce health workers' risk of HIV infection but experts say there is a need for greater focus on providing health workers with proper safety equipment and education. According to government statistics, an estimated 2.5 percent of new HIV infections annually are health-facility related. Poor medical waste disposal, needle stick injuries and unsafe blood transfusions are some of the factors that put medical workers at risk.

      Tunisia: Maghreb patients prefer Tunisia hospitals


      Tunisia is becoming the number one medical haven for its Algerian and Libyan neighbours. The Health Ministry reported that Tunisian health institutions received more than 140,000 Libyan and Algerian patients last year. 'In Libya, we suffer from the bad treatment of medical professionals and from their indifference to the health problems that worry us,' frequent visitor of Tunisian clinics Bouajila Fakhri told Magharebia.

      Zimbabwe: Crisis in health as shortage of doctors grows


      The shortage of doctors in Zimbabwe has reached crisis levels with the country having only 21 per cent of the required medical practitioners amid other frightening statistics on the worsening health situation, a Parliamentary report has revealed. 'Child health status indicators are worsening with infant mortality and under-five mortality rising from 53 percent to 77 per 1 000 live births in 1994 to 67 and 94 per 1 000 live births respectively in 2009,' a Parliamentary report said.


      South Africa: Adult education organisation hit by funds crisis


      Project Literacy, the largest provider of adult basic education and training (ABET) in South Africa, has been forced to shut down its provincial offices and retrench more than half its staff after the government withdrew a major contract. Project Literacy chief executive, Andrew Miller, points out that the former director-general of the Department of Higher Education and Training, Mary Metcalfe, had awarded the contract, on behalf of the National Skills Fund (NSF), in September but that it had been withdrawn three weeks later.

      Uganda: President promises university bursaries


      President Museveni has promised free university education for all science students from northern Uganda. Addressing a campaign rally at Akura in Alebtong on Sunday, Mr Museveni said the programme will include all students who are not on government sponsorship. Education ministry officials, many of whom admitted to being taken by surprise by the President’s campaign promise, were unable to offer any details on how the programme would be funded, how much it would cost, and what services would be sacrificed to fund the free A-level programme. Education is a key campaign plank for the ruling NRM party.


      Africa: Coalition of African Lesbians concerned as AU observer status refused


      The Coalition of African Lesbians (CAL) has denounced the decision by the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights (ACHPR) to refuse them observer status. 'We have finally received a formal letter from the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights that our application for observer status has been declined. It [letter] has no reasons why our application has been declined. The immediate thing that comes to mind for me is that they must provide reasons for their decision and that we must appeal the decision,' said Fikile Vilakazi, Director for the Coalition of African Lesbians.

      Cameroon: Same-sex relations bring attacks, arrests


      Cameroonians are attacked by police, politicians, the media, and even their own communities if they are suspected of having sexual relations with a person of the same sex, four human rights organisations said in a joint report. The government should take urgent action to decriminalise such consensual conduct and to ensure the full human rights of all Cameroonians, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity, said Alternatives-Cameroun, l'Association pour la défense des droits des homosexuels, Human Rights Watch, and the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission.


      Africa: Governments urged to consider climate change in disaster planning


      Governments in West and Central Africa should learn from this year's flooding - which has disrupted the livelihoods of nearly two million people - by urgently factoring climate change into their disaster prevention and response plans, aid groups say. Extreme weather linked to climate change, including heavy rainfall, is expected to cause increasing damage in the region. In West Africa alone this year, the number of people who lost their homes and property due to floods doubled from around 800,000 in 2009 to 1.6 million.

      Egypt: No longer jewel of the Nile


      Four of the seven upstream Nile Basin Initiative countries have decided to sign a new Nile deal. Despite strong Egyptian and Sudanese opposition, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda and Ethiopia signed a new water-sharing agreement. The other three countries, Kenya, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo are expected to sign the new deal within the next 12 months as allowed by the accord. Global Voices presents a wide variety of opinions on the deal.

      Mozambique: Climate-hit rural women 'hope for the best, plan for the worst'


      Every planting season, the women of Mapai-Ngale village near the Limpopo River in Mozambique face a tough dilemma. 'If we cultivate small fields on the extremely fertile lowlands near the Limpopo, we risk losing our whole crop to frequent floods. If we cultivate the infertile land on higher ground, we face losing our crops to drought,' said Maria Antonio Namburete, a 52-year-old widow and mother of five.
      In recent years, climate change has wreaked havoc on this village of 500 people.

      North Africa: Ensuring positive development outcomes from energy investment


      As the World Bank pushes forward with a massive investment in North Africa’s energy sector, it is up to the institution to ensure that this program benefits those who need it most, says the Bank Information Centre. In December 2009, the Clean Technology Fund (CTF), under the leadership of the World Bank, approved a $750 million Investment Plan for Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. The plan aims to invest in CSP projects in Algeria, Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia and Jordan and to mobilise an additional $4.85 billion from other sources bringing the total cost of the program to $5.6 billion.

      Land & land rights

      Africa: The vultures of land grabbing


      Despite mounting concern publicly raised by civil society about the growing phenomenon of land grabbing, very little attention has been drawn so far to the specific role of private equity funds, says a new report. Most of the private equity funds aggressively involved in land grabbing are related to US financial markets However, European financial players haven’t just watched these developments silently and have become actors in the field of land grabbing too.

      Uganda: Oil discovery sparks land grab in Buliisa


      Oil has not even started flowing but, already, it is causing conflict in Bunyoro, western Uganda where land disputes have erupted. The two billion barrels of oil discovered in the Lake Albert area have drawn speculators hoping to cash in on rising land values in the area and sparked conflicts in many villages, particularly in the district of Buliisa.

      Food Justice

      Africa: Fresh warnings against EU bio-fuels policy


      Massive increases in carbon emissions will worsen climate change if the European Union does not urgently revise its energy policy, experts warn. The EU plan to increase its share of bio-fuels to 20 per cent by the year 2020 constitutes a major mistake, according to a new study. 'In Africa, we expect to see prices of food increase due to the new production of bio fuels,' Chris Coxon, Brussels-based spokesperson for ActionAid International, an anti-poverty organisation, told IPS in a telephone interview.

      CBD did not stop the commercialization of biodiversity

      Via Campesina


      La Via Campesina delegates attending the conference of the Convention on Biodiversity (CBD) in Nagoya from 19 to 29 October 2010 regret that the conference failed to achieve a radical decision to halt the mass commercialization and destruction of biodiversity.

      La Via Campesina delegates attending the conference of the Convention on Biodiversity (CBD) in Nagoya from 19 to 29 October 2010 regret that the conference failed to achieve a radical decision to halt the mass commercialization and destruction of biodiversity.
      Despite the positive decisions to impose a moratorium on geo-engineering and conserve the moratorium on Terminator technology, the conference failed to take the decisive measures needed to stop the biodiversity loss that threatens our survival.
      Via Campesina celebrates the moratorium on geo-engineering as this technology is regarded as a false and damaging proposal for reversing climate change. It does not have the potential, as claimed, to reduce the production of green house gas emissions. Modifying the earth’s surface, oceans and atmosphere in this way is instead likely to have devastating impacts on biodiversity. We encourage the delegates at the upcoming COP16 climate change talks in Cancun at the end of this year to endorse the moratorium imposed at Nagoya.
      Despite these positive steps however, the CBD failed to reject several other initiatives currently threatening biodiversity in the name of the new “green economy”. The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB) that promotes the commercialization of biodiversity by assigning it an economic value was strongly opposed by some delegations such as Bolivia. However, although a specific proposal was not adopted, the CBD decided to continue developing the economic aspects of ecosystem services by building on TEEB. The CBD even seeks cooperation on this issue with other UN organizations and the World Bank. This is a very negative development that Via Campesina strongly rejects.
      Moreover in Nagoya, the governments of Australia, Canada, Finland, France, Germany, Japan, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom and United States of America pledged to support the operational costs of REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation), negotiated at COP15. This mechanism allows developed countries to continue polluting while paying developing countries to capture carbon in projects such as monoculture plantations. REDD+ initiatives’, strongly rejected by farmers’ movements, compound the trend of “land grabbing” across the global south, expelling farmers from their land in the interests of agribusiness.
      According to Guy Kastler of La Via Campesina "We clearly saw in Nagoya that the prior consent of the communities for the agreements on access and benefit sharing (ABS) will not work because patent holders are refusing to disclose the sources of their “inventions”. It makes it impossible for the local populations to claim any benefits from the plants and the knowledge that they have cultivated for centuries. Other mechanisms are clearly needed".
      The Aichi Target, proposed in Nagoya as a means of limiting biodiversity loss within protected areas is also far from satisfying. The creation of protected areas has in the past been used to evict farmers and indigenous peoples from their land when they are actually the ones defending diversity in the first place.
      La Via Campesina delegation observed during the COP10 of the CBD that the role of small farmers and indigenous people as main defenders of biodiversity was not clearly recognized by the institution. The interests of transnational companies, who were able to finance hundreds of lobbyists, have been more accommodated than the rights of these inherent defenders of global biodiversity. While many western governments sent lobbyists from TNCs to negotiate on their behalf, not one of them sent an indigenous person or a farmer. The French government, for example, included in its official delegation representatives from the seed industry while the Brazilian delegation included lobbyists from the petroleum industry.
      Coleen Ross from the National Farmers Union in Canada said: "Biodiversity is life. Wherever biodiversity is destroyed, human life is in danger. Long-term solutions to the dramatic loss of biodiversity will ultimately remain in the hands of small farmers and indigenous peoples and not in the commercialization of biodiversity that destroyed it in the first place". It is therefore crucial to reject all market solutions and to recognize and support the sustainable agriculture of family farmers and indigenous people as a way of maintaining global biodiversity.

      International Operational Secretariat
      La Via Campesina
      Jl. Mampang Prapatan XIV/5
      Jakarta Selatan 12790, Indonesia
      Tel: +62-21-7991890

      Media & freedom of expression

      Egypt: Blogger beaten and kept in detention


      Reporters Without Borders has condemned the mistreatment of Abdel Kareem Nabil Suleiman, better known by the blog name of Kareem Amer. The detained blogger should have been freed on 5 November on completing a four-year jail sentence. Kareem Amer was transferred from Burj Al Arab prison to Alexandria on 6 November with the apparent aim of releasing him. But last night, an official reportedly gave him a severe beating at the headquarters of the internal security department in Alexandria. Detained since 6 November 2006, he has been held illegally for the past four days.

      Gambia: Civil society concerned over freedom of expression


      Dozens of NGOs have expressed their 'concern about the continued deterioration of freedom of expression in many parts of Africa in 2010' in a resolution adopted this week at a major gathering of civil society from across the continent. The 'Resolution on Freedom of Expression and Protection of Journalists' came out of the Forum on the Participation of NGOs held in Banjul, The Gambia, in advance of the start of the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights ordinary session.

      Libya: Gaddafi orders release of 19 journalists


      A group of journalists arrested in Libya have been released on the order of Libyan leader Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, Libyan media report. Authorities had arrested 19 journalists and a senior media executive, reportedly as part of a power struggle inside the ruling elite.

      Morocco: Blogger reaches Tunisian TV stardom


      When Oussama Benjelloun was a child, he wrote to Majid magazine about his ambition to become famous. He never heard back. Now the 26-year-old has realised his childhood dream by entering the world of media. His gateway to fame came by starting a blog. Today, Maghreb viewers can find him on Nessma TV, where he hosts a segment on new developments concerning the internet.

      Somalia: Puntland journalist freed after 86 days in jail


      Radio Horseed Media FM director Abdifatah Jama Mire has been released after 86 days of detention in Bosaso, in the semi-autonomous northeastern region of Puntland. Sentenced to six years in prison for broadcasting an interview with the head of a rebel group linked to Al-Qaeda, he was pardoned by Puntland President Abdirahman Mohamed Farole.

      Zimbabwe: Warrant of arrest for UK-based Zimbabwean editor


      The police have reportedly issued a warrant of arrest against Wilf Mbanga the London-based editor of The Zimbabwean newspaper following publication of a story linked to the death of a senior official with the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) in 2008. Mbanga is accused of publishing a story after the 2008 elections 'which undermined President Robert Mugabe'. According to The Zimbabwean, the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) reported that the police want to question Mbanga over an article published in The Zimbabwean following the death of ZEC director for polling, Ignatius Mushangwe.

      Conflict & emergencies

      Haiti: Cholera now in Haiti capital, rapid spread feared


      A cholera epidemic that has killed nearly 600 people in Haiti has gained a foothold in in earthquake-ravaged Port-au-Prince and is expected to spread widely and quickly in the sprawling city of three million people, health authorities said on Tuesday. The three-week-old epidemic, which had mostly hit Haiti's rural central regions so far, now menaced crowded slum areas of the capital, as well as tent and tarpaulin camps there housing more than 1.3 million survivors of the 12 January quake.

      Nigeria: Gunmen attack oil rig, take hostages


      Gunmen have attacked an off shore oil rig operated by exploration firm, Afren, kidnapping five crew members including foreigners and injuring two others, the company said on Monday. The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) made no immediate claim of responsibility but threatened to carry out new attacks on oil infrastructure in the country. A resurgence of violence in the Niger Delta would be an embarrassment for President Goodluck Jonathan, who is the first Nigerian President from the region.

      Nigeria: Security blames Okah for oil delta bombs


      The main suspect behind twin car bombings in Nigeria's capital Abuja last month was also responsible for bomb attacks in the southern oil city of Warri in March, the secret service alleged on Wednesday. The State Security Service (SSS) said Henry Okah, who is facing conspiracy and terrorism charges in South Africa over the Abuja attacks on 1 October, travelled to Warri and wired the car bombs which were detonated on 15 March outside government talks about an amnesty programme.

      North Africa: Osama bin Laden and the Sahel


      In an audio-tape released to Al Jazeera on October 27, Osama bin Laden castigated France for its intervention in the affairs of Muslims in North and West Africa. It is likely to have profound implications on the so-called war on al-Qaeda in the Sahara and Sahel, as well as on French and European policies in the region, writes Jeremy Keenan, a professorial research associate at the School of Oriental and African Studies, London University, and author of 'The Dark Sahara: America's War on Terror in Africa'.

      Sahel: Al-Qaeda looks to Sahel for new funding sources


      The turn of al-Qaeda in Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) to new sources of financing, including kidnapping foreigners, extorting smugglers, and dealing in drugs is raising alarm among security agencies of the greater Maghreb. The countries of the region have officially committed themselves to co-ordinating their efforts to tackle the al-Qaeda threat in the region. Algeria, Mauritania, Niger and Mali have already set up a joint military headquarters in Tamanrasset, in southern Algeria and a joint intelligence centre in Algiers.

      Somalia: Pirates 'outpace' crackdown


      Pirates off the coast of Somalia are keeping ahead of attempts by international authorities to stop them, capturing ever more hostages and bounty, a UN official has said. B Lynn Pascoe, the UN undersecretary-general for political affairs, said on Tuesday that more viable economic alternatives are needed to prevent the migration of young Somalis into piracy. More than 438 crew and passengers and 20 ships are currently being held hostage at sea near Somalia, according to latest International Maritime Organisation figures.

      Somalia: UN condemns growing use of child soldiers


      The United Nations envoy for children and armed conflict has condemned the increasing number of children being recruited as soldiers by various armed groups in Somalia. Speaking on Monday, Radhika Coomaraswamy, the UN special representative for children and armed conflict, also highlighted the growing practice of forcing young girls into marriage and other forms of gender-based violence.

      South Africa: Study on the violent nature of crime


      The Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation has released a major study on violence in South African society, recommending that government define its response to violence more clearly. The report notes that whilst it is clear that dealing with the problem of illegal firearms is a central pillar of government’s efforts to address crime, the argument for a focus on armed violence goes beyond this. 'This is partly through the fact that it motivates that knife violence also become a focus of attention, but also because it challenges government to reconceptualise its approach to how it defines violent crime priorities,' says the report.

      South Africa: UN experts to discuss the regulation of private military and security companies


      The United Nations Working Group on the use of mercenaries will carry out an official visit to South Africa from 10 to 19 November 2010 to examine the regulatory and oversight system in place to monitor the activities of private military and security companies. The UN expert body will hold discussions with government authorities, parliamentarians, civil society organizations, representatives of the diplomatic community, as well as representatives of the private military and security industry based in South Africa. In these discussions, the Working Group will focus, among other things, on the content and possible impact of the relevant legislation adopted in 2006.

      Southern Africa: Gearing for heavy rains as La Niña strengthens


      Dominicano Mulenga, national coordinator of Zambia's Disaster Management and Mitigation Unit, goes through his to-do list as the rainy season sets in: Industrial pumps to suck water out of the roads serviced. Tick. Enough stocks of tents and mosquito nets. Tick. Mobile phones delivered to communities living along the upper catchment areas of the River Zambezi. Check. 'We do not want a repeat of the situation from last year, when 1,000 people were displaced in Lusaka [the Zambian capital] alone because of poor drainage,' said Mulenga. Mulenga is one of several officials in Southern Africa gearing up for the rainy season which normally goes on until the end of March 2011.

      Western Sahara: Moroccan forces, Sahrawis clash in Laâyoune


      The visible aftermath of violence is easy to see at the tent camp of Gdaim Izik and the Western Sahara city of Laâyoune, still reeling from two days of deadly clashes with Moroccan troops, less clear is a death toll or the actual circumstances surrounding the military action. The crisis began early Monday (November 8th), when Moroccan forces intervened to disperse a tent camp near Laâyoune set up three weeks ago to protest against Morocco's social policy in Western Sahara.

      Internet & technology

      Africa: Funding still an uphill struggle for academics


      African academies are still battling to obtain funding and recognition from policymakers despite several efforts to strengthen them. This message came out of the sixth meeting of the African Science Academy Development Initiative (ASADI) taking place in Somerset West near Cape Town, South Africa, this week (7–11 November).

      Africa: Is social media affecting African politics?


      The BBC website is encouraging comments from its readers on whether social media outlets such as Facebook, Youtube and blogs are having an impact on politics in Africa? The post points out that a rap record using the voice of Uganda's President Museveni is currently proving popular on websites like youtube. But a reader raises concern about whether such use of social media sidelines the real meaning of what political campaigning should be about. 'Instead of raising awareness of ideals to be fulfilled, and issues to be overcome, the parties are busy churning out entertainment schedules instead.'

      Africa: Scientists create African banana Wiki


      Soon all information on bananas in Africa, including the banana growing areas, yield, socio-economic status of the farmers and spread of pests and diseases, will be available on a scientist-driven online dictionary. The website (, developed by Philippe Rieffel a student of applied geography at the University of Münster, Germany, under supervision of scientists at the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), hopes to make a wide range of reliable spatial information on banana readily available to researchers, policy makers and development workers.

      Africa: The benefits of open source software


      Software piracy is becoming unnecessary. Open source software packages are becoming as user-friendly and adding as many features as proprietary packages - even in scientific circles. Africa should embrace open source scientific software, argues this article.

      South Africa: Google launches voice search for SA


      Google has launched Google Voice Search in South Africa to enable internet users to use their natural voice to speak into their cell phones for Google searches. Google senior staff engineer Johan Schalkwyk has said 'you speak into your phone and it sends your voice over the network where it's analyzed and you get your search results.'

      Uganda: Mobile phones help end violence against women


      Women in Uganda’s rural areas will learn about domestic violence against women through the use of different ICT tools to build awareness around the issue, but they will also learn to report and prevent it - and the mobile phone will be playing a big part in their campaigns - from frontline SMS, to around-the-clock hotlines. Other tools being used include web 2.0 and online publishing tools, as well as radio.

      eNewsletters & mailing lists

      Latest issue of Angola Monitor available


      The Angola Monitor covers the politics, economics, development, democracy and human rights of Angola. It is published quarterly by Action for Southern Africa (ACTSA). This issue covers Angola's progress in measures of poverty and governance, forced evictions and housing demolitions, international cooperation and the latest economic developments.

      Latest issue of the Kakuma News Reflector now available


      The latest issue of the Kakuma News Reflector is now available online. The Kakuma News Reflector (or KANERE) is a refugee free press devoted to independent reporting on human rights and encampment.

      Zabalaza No. 11 now available online


      The Zabalaza Anarchist Communist Front (ZACF) has announced that issue number 11 of 'Zabalaza: A Journal of Southern African Revolutionary Anarchism' is available. It includes:
      - At the End of the Baton of South African Pretentions - Warren McGregor (ZACF)
      - Electricity Crisis in Protea South - Lekhetho Mtetwa (ZACF)
      - Conned by the Courts - Sian Byrne, James Pendlebury (ZACF), Komnas Poziaris
      - Death and the Mielieboer - Michael Schmidt
      - The Crisis Hits Home: Strategic Unionism or Revolt? - Lucien van der Walt
      - Sharpening the Pangas?: Understanding and Preventing future Pogroms - Michael Schmidt
      - Riding to Work on Empty Promises - Jonathan P. (ZACF)

      Fundraising & useful resources

      African Humanities Program

      Ghana, Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania, and Uganda


      The American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS), with financial support from the Carnegie Corporation of New York, announces competitions for:
      - Early career postdoctoral fellowships in Ghana, Nigeria, Tanzania, Uganda, and South Africa
      - Dissertation completion fellowships in Ghana, Nigeria, Tanzania, and Uganda (no dissertation fellowships in South Africa)
      Stipends are $9,000 for Dissertation Completion Fellows and $16,000 for Postdoctoral Fellows.

      East Africa legal defense manual available


      In light of the growing East Africa integration, International Bridges to Justice has embarked on a new project which aims at institutionalizing best defender practices among East African lawyers. IBJ is teaming up with the East Africa Law Society (EALS), the premier regional bar association, to develop an East Africa Legal Defense Manual that will help lawyers improve their skills and knowledge in the area of criminal law and defense.

      Free online course on creating podcasts


      ALISON, the online learning website, has officially announced the release of a new free online course on how to create your very own Podcasts. The course is ideal for anyone looking to record and share audio and video podcasts with others over the web.

      Courses, seminars, & workshops

      Gender Festival: Enhancing women's leadership roles

      25-27 November, 2010, Nairobi Railways Grounds


      Kenya’s Gender Festival is an open forum which brings together feminist and gender-focused groups, and other development actors working at various levels. Join us to share experiences and build capacity on gender equality, feminism and the intersections between these and power.

      Media advocacy training for women in politics


      Inter Press Service (IPS) Africa with support from UNIFEM Southern Africa Regional Office will host the second Women in Politics Training of Trainers workshop in Flic en Flac, Mauritius, from 9 to 12 November 2010. Nomcembo Manzini, UNIFEM Southern Africa regional director says 'the capacity building programme will seek to nurture a pool of trainers spanning women in politics support organisations and political parties that have the skills and tools to train women in advocacy around gender, democracy and governance.'
      Inter Press Service (IPS) Africa

      Press Release: 04/11/2010

      Media advocacy training for women in politics

      Evidence from the SADC region demonstrates that political
      participation and effective representation of women in positions of
      power and decision making at all levels is a result of focused and
      concerted efforts to build and inculcate the democratic governance
      ideals of effective participation and contribution.

      In this regard, Inter Press Service (IPS) Africa with support from
      UNIFEM Southern Africa Regional Office will host the second Women in
      Politics Training of Trainers workshop in Flic en Flac, Mauritius,
      from 9 to 12 November 2010.

      Nomcembo Manzini, UNIFEM Southern Africa regional director says 'the
      capacity building programme will seek to nurture a pool of trainers
      spanning women in politics support organisations and political parties
      that have the skills and tools to train women in advocacy around
      gender, democracy and governance.'

      Participants have been selected from political parties and advocacy
      organisations from the Comoros, Mauritius, Seychelles and Madagascar.
      A similar workshop was held for the English and Portuguese-speaking
      Southern African countries during September 2010 in Johannesburg
      (South Africa).

      'Despite the SADC Protocol on Gender and Development signed in August
      2008 and other regional, continental and international commitments,
      there is slow progress towards the attainment of set targets for
      ensuring a critical mass of women in decision-making at all levels,
      especially regarding political participation,' says Kudzai Makombe,
      Programme Manager for IPS ‘Women in Politics’.

      Lessons from the project will be shared through the ‘Women in
      Politics’ website page,, and will include
      stories, opinion columns and resources for women politicians.

      * For more information or media interviews, please contact Tafadzwa
      Rafemoyo, IPS Africa, on Tel: +2711 325 2671, or Email:
      [email protected] .

      [UNIFEM's work in Africa focuses on enhancing public accountability to
      gender equality and women's human rights. UNIFEM supports women's
      leadership in democratic governance and peace building, and promotes
      the transformation of policy processes to reduce women's poverty, end
      violence against women and address HIV and AIDS. UNIFEM has its
      headquarters in New York City and works worldwide out of 4 liaison
      offices, 15 sub-regional offices, 10 country programme offices, and 46
      project offices. Visit for more details.]

      [IPS Africa ( is a leading and credible source
      of information about Africa, with a network of more than 100 writers
      reporting from almost 50 countries. IPS Africa provides a constant
      flow of news features, analyses, commentary and opinion on the major
      economic, social and development challenges of the continent to more
      than 800 media outlets across the continent. Focusing on Africa’s
      untold stories, IPS strives to produce regular features focusing on
      development issues such as poverty, women’s empowerment, governance,
      access to water, research and trade. IPS Africa's journalistic output
      is primarily available in English and French, with translations in
      Swahili and Portuguese. The IPS Africa headquarters are based in
      Johannesburg, South Africa and is part of the IPS international News
      Agency ( registered in Rome, Italy]

      Round-table on gender and regional economic integration


      The gender unit of Third World Network-Africa is hosting a round-table on gender and regional economic integration in Africa on 18-19 November 2010, in Accra, Ghana. The meeting will bring together scholars, feminist economists and gender experts, as well as policy-makers, to discuss issues of gender equity and Africa’s economic integration.

      Transitional Justice, prophetic role of the church and the challenge of peace in Kenya


      Event: Transitional Justice, Prophetic Role of the Church and the Challenge of Peace in Kenya
      Location: Hekima College off James Kagethe Road,
      Date: Tues 16 November 2010, 2.00pm – 4.30pm
      Speakers: Tom Kagwe, Kenya Human Rights Commission; Dennis Oricho, Nairobi Peace Initiative; Anne Kiprotich, Regional Coordinator TJRC, Rift Valley Region; Fr. Elias O. Opongo, SJ: AFCAST Member & Conflict Analyst
      This forum is organised by the African Forum for Catholic Social Teachings (AFCAST) & Jesuit Hakimani Center: Tel: 3597097

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