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    Ruto ICC witness: Murdered by the state?

    Highlights from preliminary human rights NGOs report on the disappearance and death of Meshack Yebei

    Ken Wafula


    c c KT
    Human rights groups in Kenya are conducting their own investigation into the mysterious disappearance and death of a man linked to the crimes against humanity trial of Deputy President William Ruto at the International Criminal Court. In their preliminary findings, the groups say Meshack Yebei was murdered in a carefully planned scheme to obstruct justice in the Ruto case.


    Meshack Yebei was buried last Saturday at his Kaptebee Village in Uasin Gishu County, western Kenya, more than two months after mysteriously disappearing from home on 28 December 2014. There is still confusion about whether Yebei was a defence or prosecution witness at the International Criminal Court where Kenya’s Deputy President William Ruto is charged with crimes against humanity connected with his alleged mastermind role in the post-election violence of 2007-8 in Kenya. He denies the charges. Ruto and Yebei come from the same area, which witnessed some of the worst violence during the crisis.

    In January when Yebei’s family claimed a body that was found in River Yala to be his, Ruto’s lawyer Karim Khan announced that Yebei was a “critical” witness for the defence. He wrote to Kenya’s Directorate of Criminal Investigations boss Ndegwa Muhoro seeking a speedy investigation into Yebei’s presumed death. But the ICC said Yebei was implicated in efforts to corrupt prosecution witnesses in the case against Ruto.

    The body found in River Yala turned out to be of someone else. Yebei’s body was later discovered inside a national park some 600 kilometers away from his home. The cause of his death remains unknown.


    As human rights groups we have been carrying out parallel investigations since the disappearance of Meshack Yebei. The following remarks are excerpts and highlights from our preliminary report.


    This is a question that has remained unanswered. By the time of his death, Meshack was neither a prosecution or defense witness.

    Initially he was one of those individuals who met with ICC investigators. Later he backslid for personal reasons as well as differences with his prosecution handlers and agents.

    Later along the way in 2013, a meeting was held by five people at Kaptagat Hotel – that meeting was attended by Meshack Yebei, Philip, Joseph Kering and two others who we can’t name because of their security situation. The agenda of this meeting was to find out ways of influencing and convincing ICC prosecution witnesses who were abroad and those who were still around to recant their statements and withdraw the case against Deputy President William Ruto.

    Subsequent meetings were held in Spring Park Hotel, Turbo, where some parents of known witnesses attended.

    Two witnesses who were abroad demanded Ksh50 million each when they were approached. Joseph Kering said the amount was too much and requested them to be reasonable.

    The relationship between Meshack, Philip and Joseph Kering went on for a few weeks, then one Walter Baraza was brought on board.

    The witnesses began to recant their statements after being promised between Sh1.5 and 5 million.

    Problems came up after the recanting witnesses were shortchanged after signing affidavits recanting statements. They were given less than 10 per cent of their earlier bargains.

    The activities of Meshack with the defense team brokers put him on a collision course with the ICC prosecution who summoned him to Tanzania for interrogation over his role in what they called witness bribery and interference. According to Meshack, who talked to Ken Wafula after returning,

    “Things are not good. A warrant of arrest similar to that of Walter Baraza is to be issued against me. I am confused. These guys seem to have used me. They promised to pay me Sh5 million but they have just given me peanuts. I think I would have to cooperate with the prosecution.”

    Mid-last year at Hotel Cicada in Eldoret, Meshack met with Walter Baraza in the presence of three other people. A bitter exchange ensued between Meshack and Walter. Meshack stormed out of the meeting. One of the participants remarked as Meshack was leaving: “This guy is becoming stubborn. We will finish him before he finishes us.”

    We have also been told during our investigations that ever since Meshack came back from Tanzania after meeting ICC prosecution investigators, he constantly engaged in phone arguments with Philip and Joseph Kering. One such conversation and which was listened to by a close relative of his went like this: “Agoi awe ICC, a kwanyun aratepik che chang kabisa.” (I will go to the ICC and mark you I am likely to have many people jailed.)

    The bitter differences between Meshack and the defense team were so bad and therefore there was no way Meshack could be a defense witness as claimed by Karim Khan, Ruto’s lawyer at The Hague.


    The people who killed Meshack Yebei were:

    a. Afraid that Meshack was planning to go to the ICC and become a witness on the possible charge of witness bribery and interference. They are all known. They all worked with Meshack and they knew what they had done. We have given out their names to the police.

    b. Some of them are neighbours; others are leaders while some of them are security agents from the Flying Squad and Special Crimes Unit of the CID. Indeed eye-witnesses attest to having seen two vehicles belonging to the Flying Squad group of police on the 27th and 28th of December 2014. One was stationed in Turbo township while the other was at Jua Kali township. A double-cabin vehicle believed to belong to the Special Crimes Unit of the CID in Nairobi was also seen around Turbo and Eldoret towns a few days before the kidnap incident. One of the key suspects in the murder of Meshack was seen in the company of local police exactly four days before the disappearance of Meshack Yebei.


    On that day it could not have been possible for a normal, ordinary kidnap to happen in a village like Turbo. The state and some of its security agents were involved. Why?

    On that day the Deputy President of the Republic of Kenya was at his village home. So the entire Turbo area was saturated with security personnel. A kidnap by normal criminals would not have succeeded. The area Member of the County Assembly was at home. The area Member of Parliament was at home. All these people are Meshack’s neghbours. Joseph Kering was at home. Philip was at home too. He actually moved around that particular day trying to find out the whereabouts of Meshack Yebei.


    The investigations into the kidnap, disappearance and death of Meshack Yebei have not only been shoddy but also suspect. The Special Crimes Unit of the CID which is headed by John Kariuki was interested only in coming over to prove that the body that was earlier found was not that of Meshack Yebei but of Hussein Yusuf. After that they left for Nairobi. The group is only interested in knowing who knows what so that they can be silenced.

    Instead, key witnesses with information on why and who might have killed Yebei have begun receiving death threats and some black saloon car with armed occupant has been spotted around Turbo area with intentions to kidnap some of the witnesses.

    John Kariuki took away the phone and SIM cards belonging to Meshack. He promised to use the information for investigations and return it in a week’s time. To date he has not returned it. Why?


    When the first body, that of Yusuf, was found lawyer Karim Khan placed a call within 24 hours to a close relative of Yebei. He asked that they check the shirt , the trouser and shoes and possibly conduct a DNA test. This man does not live in Kenya. More so he does not live in Turbo or Kaptebee. He had not set his eyes on Meashck that Sunday to know what he was wearing! What does he know about Yebei’s death? Especially the fact that Meshack’s body was retrieved from Tsavo National Park without clothes? We insist that Karim Khan should be invited to Kenya to record a statement. Funny enough, when the Voi body was found he went mum!


    a. The police should arrest the killers of Meshack Yebei and arraign them in court in the next one week. They are all known. There is overwhelming evidence and motives. There are many witnesses to sustain such charges.

    b. The suspects and their networks should stop intimidating and threatening witnesses who have recorded statements with the police.

    c. The police should be honest and carry our investigations without fear; otherwise we would want the National Police Service Commission and the Directorate of Public Prosecutions to set up a multi-faceted team to carry out this work.

    d. The local police officers who were with one of the suspects in Turbo a week before the kidnap and killing of Yebei should be interrogated.

    e. The ICC should take keen interest in the killing of Yebei and set its independent investigations to inform the ongoing cases at The Hague.

    f. Human rights groups to continue with deeper investigations that could build enough evidence to sustain a private prosecution of the suspects.

    Aluta continua!

    * Ken Wafula is Executive Director, Centre for Human Rights and Democracy. (This report was compiled on behalf of the Human Rights Consortium, Justice for Yebei.)



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    No longer the party it used to be: The ANC’s stranglehold on justice

    Douglas Schorr


    c c DS
    The tactics that the once revered liberation party ruthlessly deploys to protect its corrupt bigwigs and their business associates from justice are simply shameful. President Zuma and allies have now become fully untouchable by anti-graft prosecutors and investigators.

    The African National Congress is not the party it used to be. Jacob Zuma, now into his second term as President of South Africa, is spearheading a new movement in South African politics. The President and his party are conducting a war on the judiciary and in the process making corruption unprosecuteable - a new word for a new political practice.

    In 1995 General George Fivaz was appointed by President Nelson Mandela as the first National Commissioner of the new South African Police Service (SAPS). Mandela required that the General’s first task was to transform the many Apartheid forces into one and to tackle crime. Fivaz lasted his term but only just. By coincidence my neighbour at the time, I recall him saying something about the interference becoming too much to tolerate. In 2000 out of the bag came a Mr Jackie Selebi[1] to replace him.

    A former head of the ANC youth league and holder of the Human Rights Award from the International Service for Human Rights, Selebi took corruption by the horns. A report by Rademeyer and Wilkinson states that it was on Selebi’s orders that the police’s Anti-Corruption Unit (ACU) was shut down, seven years after it was instituted. In that period (1996 – 2001) the unit received 20,779 allegations of police corruption. Between 1995 and 1999 an average of 1,320 polic men and women were convicted each year on criminal charges. As of June 2014, and with no terminations in sight, 1,448 serving police officers were convicted criminals, among them a major-general, ten brigadiers, 21 colonels, ten majors, 43 lieutenant-colonels, 163 captains, 84 lieutenants and 716 warrant officers.[2]

    Given that the police force numbers nearly 160,000 officers that isn’t a big number at all, except for the type of crimes those 1,448 committed. They range from murder and attempted murder to rape, assault, corruption, theft, robbery, house-breaking, drug trafficking, domestic violence and aiding escapees. The report concludes, ‘The record suggests police crime higher than police admit.’

    Selebi wasn’t to last. In 2008 he was charged with corruption, put on extended leave and in 2009 replaced by former Member of the Executive Council for Transport, Safety and Security in KwaZulu-Natal, Bheki Cele - a man who had already proven a liking for treating government money as an entertainment and advertising fund for the ANC in support of Zuma in rural KwaZulu-Natal.[3]

    Cele has an odd background in the party. He always appeared high on the party lists yet never made it into either Mbeki or Zuma’s cabinet, except here. Compared to a cabinet post, National Commissioner of Police is administrative and normally, at least in the British system, a career appointment. Cele assisted Zuma until his own double-dealing came to light. It seems he authorised gross overpayments to the tune of R1.7 billion on two building leases, at least allegedly. Zuma declared Cele ‘unfit for office’ and in the same breath installed him in the easier to skive and dive job of Deputy Minister for Agriculture. In July 2012 Cele launched a court application to contest the findings (alleging) ‘the president’s decision was actuated by ulterior motivates’[4] but it seems to have fizzled out and the two have called a truce. Cele is still going strong. In 2013 he was placed on the ANC's list of preferred candidates to go to parliament. In 2014 he attempted to delay the South African Public Protector's report on wasteful expenditure at Nkandla, President Zuma’s private homestead.

    Out with Cele then, in with Ms Riah Phiyega (full name Mangwashi Victoria Phiyega), a more sophisticated proposition. With a BA in Social Work, an MA in Social Sciences and a post-graduate diploma in Business Administration Phiyega was a fire-cracker who had held some high-powered posts including Group Executive for corporate affairs of ABSA and separately of Transnet, jobs reserved for the crème de la crème.

    It didn’t take Phiyega long to get sucked into controversy. At the Marikana commission of inquiry, where the deaths of 34 protesting miners at the hands of police were being investigated, she did a sterling job of being evasive - fuelling speculation that she was protecting Police Minister Mthethwa.[5] She has also been fingered in the tipping off of Western Cape police commissioner Arno Lamoer, regarding a probe against him carried out by crime intelligence.[6]

    ‘In the 18 months or so since her appointment, Phiyega and the SAPS have stumbled from one crisis to the next’, reported the Mail and Guardian in a sad account of her performance so far.[7] It’s important to note too that the saga surrounding Transnet for pension plundering during Phiyega’s tenure is ongoing.[8] ABSA is but a part of the world’s biggest bank, Barclays, an institution not adverse to criminal activity either. ‘Ed Miliband demands criminal probe into Barclays interest rate rigging scandal as £3.2bn is wiped off bank in share plunge’, roared a recent Daily Mail news story.[9] The fine the bank got amounted to a tee-hee-hee slap on the wrist; relatively speaking black folk in South Africa have been hit far harder for nicking bread to eat. Of course both instances are damning by association only, but certainly a murky background worth noting if only for the standard business practice and the fluid line between business and politics.

    While the police are at the front line of crime prevention, behind them are other bodies set up to further combat specialised crime. An excellent idea in theory, but one that has been violated in practice.

    In January 2001 the Scorpions, brainchild of the Fivaz/Mbeki era, were formed. They were different from the everyday prosecution service. Through the National Prosecution Authority (NPA) they reported direct to the Minister of Judiciary and Correctional Services, meaning that they were independent, as independent as the judges and magistrates were. Their charge was to gun for crimes of national priority. President Mbeki showed he was serious by making sure they were kitted out with the best brains and equipment.

    Soon, with a prosecution success rate of over 90%, the Scorpions were proving the principle of equality before the law in South Africa. However the national priority targets were all too often ANC and business aligned. Included among many dropped cases were the arms deal connections and high profile types like Mac Maharaj, Jacob Zuma and Shabir Shaik.

    In 2008 Mbeki was to go and Kgalema Motlanthe, the stand-in while Zuma was being cleared (taking a step from the dock and a pesky rape trial to Government House), decided Mbeki’s Scorpions would be better placed to serve if it were a subordinate member of the police force, despite Mbeki’s original mandate having been “to deal with all national priority crime, including police corruption".[10] In 2009 the Scorpions were disbanded, ANC Chief Whip Mthethwa was a principal agent in their demise.[11] Yes, he is the Minister of Police referred to above.

    The Hawks replaced the Scorpions. Its CEO Mr Anwa Dramat was also the police Deputy Commissioner, creating a cozy arrangement with the SAPS which manifested itself in the close-down of all Scorpion investigations and on-going prosecutions. The new Hawks were out to tackle ‘serious crime referred to it by the National Commissioner of the South African Police Service’,[12] making the already proven corrupt now in charge of investigations on their own.

    In 1996, Act No. 108 of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa created a single National Prosecution Authority (NPA), a body with the power to institute criminal proceedings on behalf of the State, accountable to the Minister of Justice and Correctional Services. The first man chosen to head up the NPA was multi-millionaire Bulelani T Ngcuka, described by opposition Democratic Alliance spokeswoman Sheila Camerer as being "… a tough-minded crime-buster who played rough and acted without fear, favour or prejudice when pursuing criminals as required by the constitution and therefore he was the right man for the job.”[13] But after 10 years and having investigated Jacob Zuma to the point of declaring “there was prima facie evidence to suspect Mr. Zuma of corruption in a multi-million dollar arms deal, but not enough to prosecute him”[14] , he suddenly resigned. It was a film script written for Zuma; he was able to immediately proclaim Ngcuka’s action robbed him of the opportunity of proving his innocence. Further factions of the ANC accused Ngcuka of being an Apartheid spy and a stooge.

    Ngcuka’s actions after leaving the NPA have openened a new perspective on the man, however. He became Chairman and co-incidentally had a substantial holding in Basil Read, one of the 15 major construction companies fined R1.46 billion ‘for “rampant” collusive tendering’, cheating all South Africans, between 2006 and 2011. To give perspective, that fine is roughly equavilent to being fined R2 for stealing R10, not even a slap on the wrist.

    In 2005 Ngcuka was succeeded by advocate Vusumzi "Vusi" Pikoli, a man who earned his degree from the University of Zimbabwe and completed military training in Angola as part of the ANC’s armed resistance. Pikoli the firebrand instituted criminal charges against Selebi as well as Zuma. He was first suspended and then fired. However the Ginwala Commission recommended he be restored to his post once “sensitized to the broader responsibilities of his office and in particular to enhance his understanding of the security environment in which that office should function.”[15] While the tussle was on public prosecutor and longtime advocate Mokotedi Mpshe stood in as Director of the NPA. In April 2009, Mpshe ‘decided to drop more than 700 corruption and other charges against Jacob Zuma.’[16]

    Pikoli wasn’t re-appointed. Zuma had found someone else. In 2009 former justice director general Menzi Simelane was given the job by the president. But the High Court found differently, declaring Simelane unfit to hold office. Importantly, the court found Zuma’s subjective appointment was ‘not in keeping with the constitutional guarantee of prosecutorial independence’. Significant here is that the ANC knew before the appointment that Simelane was tainted. The Ginwala inquiry had already severely criticised his abilities while justice director general, his conduct found to be “irregular” and his action of drafting a letter to Pikoli instructing him to abort the imminent arrest of former police boss Jackie Selebi held to be a potential contravention of the NPA Act.[1]7 Simelane’s removal has so far stood, but he’s not bothered as he’s been moved to another lucrative spot; legal advisor to the Minister of Public Service and Administration – it is good work when it’s offered.

    As Stephen Grootes pointed out, once Zuma had control over the NPA he had no need to challenge the judges – they can only hear what is brought to be heard and to that extent it would have been a smart move to get Simelane’s appointment through.[18]

    While the legalities were being attended to Nomgcobo Jiba, wife of former Scorpions member Booker Nhantsi (who was convicted of the theft of R193,000 in trust funds), held the top post. Her man is crucial to the tale since Jiba’s claim to fame - the attempted arrest of ex-Scorpion Gauteng Head Gerrie Nel just as he was to prosecute Selebi in January 2008 - is still seen as an act of revenge against Nel who was instrumental in prosecuting her husband. Nel won that tussle; Selebi got a 15-year prison sentence[19] and the City Press story “Jiba wanted Nel ‘by hook or by crook’” of 4 August 2012[20] indicates the attempt was all part of the political hit to get rid of the Scorpions.

    Incidentally, President Zuma had Nhantsi’s record expunged. Incidentally also, Richard Mdluli, then crime intelligence boss, signed an affidavit putting his support behind Jiba in the matter, instrumental in allowing her to keep her job. Ms Jiba has since claimed she was ‘innocently involved in the Nel matter and not the main driver of it.’ Perhaps so, but it doesn’t detract from the assault on South Africa’s legal integrity. Nor does it answer why Jiba went after Natal Hawks head Major General Johan Booysen, on, as Judge Trevor Gorven described it, charges that ‘did not meet even the barest of minimum requirements.’[21]

    In May 2013 the well-followed Breytenbach case finally came to a head, perhaps the most damning indictment of the NPA’s rotten core. NPA prosecutor Glynnis Breytenbach was diligently at work on several high profile prosecution cases, including one against Richard Mdluli - the details of which hinged around a letter Mdluli wrote to Zuma where he offered to use his position as crime intelligence head to assist Zuma in achieving a second presidential term. Another case on Breytenbach’s docket was the mineral rights quarrel between the Sishen Iron Ore Company and Imperial Crown Trading (ICT). ICT is partly owned by the Guptas and Duduzane Zuma – one of the President’s sons.[22]

    The trauma Breytenbach was put through was serious but more so the long-term outlook for equality before the law. Constitutional Law expert Pierre de Vos wrote: ‘The acquittal of prosecutor Glynnis Breytenbach on all 15 charges brought against her by her superiors at the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) raises serious questions about the independence and impartiality of the NPA and its leadership. It will strengthen the increasingly widely held perception that senior NPA leaders are appointed because of their political loyalty to the dominant faction inside the ANC and not because of their personal integrity, independent attitude and ability to act without fear, favour or prejudice (as required by the Constitution).’[23]

    Next up to bat for the NPA was Mxolisi Sandile Oliver Nxasana, effective 1 October 2013. It appears all was fine, Nxasana was getting on with the job and then suddenly ‘a character who was fit for high office is shown to be flawed. Comrades of decades feign surprise, condonation becomes condemnation.’[24] Nxasana had been through a thorough selection phase only to have the ANC and President’s office turn on him. The debate is ongoing. The opposition Democratic Alliance says: ‘We believe that Nxasana’s attempts to reinstate charges of murder, kidnapping and defeating the ends of justice against disgraced crime intelligence head, Richard Mdluli, have put his job on the line.’[25]

    Why it is good to be a part of the ANC? This was explained at a gala dinner held in Durban on Friday 11 January 2013, one that raised R21 million for the party. “Support is fine, we love it. But if you just go beyond that and become a member, you’ll realise everything of yours will go very well. If you are a businessman business will thrive. Everything you touch will multiply” said Zuma, quoted in the City Press. All of the self-made billionaires and millionaires present confirmed.[26]

    How far is corruption going to go? The spider’s web between the ANC’s main political players and big business’ stand-out personalities only grows thicker. Eskom and water affairs were long ago lined up for privitisation – allow it to fail a little longer and its processing will be ready for Zuma and Co’s picking. Mr Ramaphosa is the likely man for the job. It seems South Africans need not worry about switching off the lights; they’ll only come on when paid for.

    I end with a summary from P Smith of Africa Confidential. I can’t phrase it better. He calls it ‘No-Fly Zone For Legal Eagles’, written in 2015: ‘The presidency is working to remove police and prosecutors who refuse to suspend actions against highly influential people. The decline in independence of South Africa's top criminal justice institutions is accelerating as President Jacob Zuma redoubles his efforts to immunise himself and his entourage from prosecution over corruption. That is the verdict of a growing number of legal experts as more and more senior police officers and prosecutors are removed. Corrupt business links with the governing African National Congress and the Presidency are mounting, so the pressures on prosecutors and investigators to be soft on them multiply. State officials are increasingly facing administrative suspension if they do not comply.’

    * A former soldier and District Commissioner in then Rhodesia, Douglas Schorr is today a committed critic of capitalism and colonial legacies, citing them as the source of poverty in Africa. His first book, The Myth of Smith, an autobiographical account of his awakening to the reality of the Rhodesian Bush War while involved in it, is available for sale on []Amazon Kindle[/url]. He is currently at work on his second book ‘God Chose Mugabe?’, dealing with the global economic and political forces that played a part in Robert Mugabe’s election, and how those forces continue to shape the destiny of Zimbabwe and other countries in the region. Schorr blogs at and can be found on [url=


    [2] ...
    [3] ‘Institutionalizing Elites: Political Elite Formation and Change’ by Suzanne Francis ‘Even back in those days, 2009, the government was doing extensive project and promotion work for the people of the Nkandla area specifically – Zuma’s birthplace’ (p163).
    [14] ‘South Africa's crime-buster quits’ …
    [24] ‘Control over comrades’ @



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    * Please send comments to editor[at]pambazuka[dot]org or comment online at Pambazuka News.

    Party militias and election-related violence in Tanzania

    Dastan Kweka


    c c DB
    Tanzanians will go into an election likely to be very competitive this October. One key concern is that the top political parties keep well-trained militias, despite the law prohibiting this. This has caused security fears around the election.

    All three major political parties in Tanzania today have militias. For the ruling party, CCM [Chama cha Mapinduzi, Party of the Revolution), that phenomenon isn`t new. But for opposition parties, notably CUF [Civic United Front] and CHADEMA [Chama cha Demokrasia na Maendeleo, Party for Democracy and Development], that initiative is relatively nascent. I intend to argue in this article that the decision by opposition political parties to institute their own militias isn`t an act of mere emulation. Rather, it is a protest against how the ruling party and government have been handling democratic transition in the country, at least, and a failure of the establishment to uphold the constitution, at most.

    In early 1970s, the then ruling party, Tanganyika African National Union (TANU), commissioned the establishment of a militia known in Swahili as Mgambo. To understand the context that led to the establishment of the people’s militia and its role in stabilizing the country soon after independence, one has to revisit the 1960s decade and its worrying events.


    Tanzania`s achievement of independence in 1961 coincided with the advent of the cold war on the one hand and peaking of the liberation efforts, on the other. Moreover, civil-military relations were fragile and the political leadership wasn`t in full control of the army.[1] The establishment of the Organization of African Unity in 1963 and the subsequent decision to locate the Liberation Committee in Dar es Salaam translated into a more systematic involvement of the country in liberation struggles across the continent. That involvement increased the risk of external attack from embattled colonial powers especially in sub-Saharan Africa.[2] At this point, it was clear to the ruling party that the country had to revamp its security system since the weak army inherited from the colonial powers could neither properly defend the country nor support the liberation of other countries. To initiate such a change, there had to be a trigger.

    The trigger came in January 1964 in the form of army mutiny, which lasted for three days. The mutineers protested against their difficult living and working conditions, demanded promotions and a complete takeover of the army leadership by African and Tanzanian commanders (complete Africanization of the army).[3] Barely a week before the mutiny, a revolution had taken place in Zanzibar ousting a sultanate and replacing it with an Afro-Shirazi Party government. In April of the same year, Tanganyika and Zanzibar united to form the United Republic of Tanzania. While a debate about the forces behind the union remains open, it was very clear then and now that the union was important for the security of Zanzibar and Tanzania, in general.[4] Although it is widely argued that the 1964 munity wasn`t a coup attempt as it did not question the legitimacy of the government, it raised questions about the place of the military in an independent Tanzania and the consequences of its monopoly of military training and warfare skills. The need to end this monopoly is understood to be one of the reasons for forming the people’s militia.[5]

    Nevertheless, the munity provided an opportunity to rebuild the army, `almost from scratch`, as Nyerere was once quoted remarking.[6] More important is the fact that all new recruits had to be obtained through the TANU youth wing, a mechanism devised to ensure the party exerted influence and control over the new military. The party played a role of indoctrinating new recruits and equipping them with a liberation ideology. At this time, late 1964, the country was already a de facto single party state. That arrangement was formalized in 1965 when an interim constitution was enacted. Under it, Zanzibar was allowed to keep ASP for a little longer until when a merger took place in 1977 to form CCM.[7]

    Another important event towards the establishment of the people’s militia was the adoption of the Arusha Declaration in 1967, which laid the ideological foundation upon which the creation of the party militia was based. The Declaration under `The People and Agriculture` section bears the following quotation: ` And for the defense of our nation, it is necessary for us to be on guard against internal stooges who could be used by external enemies who aim to destroy us. The people should always be ready to defend their nation when they are called upon to do so`.


    The role played by civilian militias in repelling the Portuguese invasion of Guinea in 1970, though contested, was keenly observed by the ruling party, TANU, to the extent that it was reflected in the party guidelines of 1971 which sought to establish similar militia in the country.[8] In this period, external threats in the region included those from Uganda especially after the government of Milton Obote was overthrown by Id Amin in January of that year. Such party guidelines referred in here were adopted by an emergency National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting which convened in Dar es Salaam in February.[9] The people`s militia received military training from the army and proceeded to form a pool of reservists ready to reinforce the army in times of war.[10] The militia played a key role along with the army during the Kagera War in 1978-79. However, the evolution of its roles came to mean involvement in other tasks such as mobilizing participation in national development programs, for instance villagization, and performing some policing roles.

    Following the winds of change that blew across Africa in 1990s, just like in other parts of the world, Tanzania experienced the pressure to change accordingly. As a result, then President Ali Hassan Mwinyi appointed a commission headed by Judge Francis Nyalali and tasked it with looking into whether the nation should stick to the single party rule or adopt a multi-party political dispensation.[11] Among other findings, the commission recommended the adoption of a multiparty system and identified 40 laws which had to either be repealed or reformed to suit the new political arrangement. At this juncture, it is important to note that the establishment of the people`s militia had been commissioned by the ruling party (TANU) and there wasn`t a specific law in that respect. This didn`t sound legally awkward at the time possibly due to supremacy of the party but the Nyalali Commision Report (1992) hinted that, although the people`s militia was recognized by law, it was not legally established.[12]

    Sungusungu was another type of a community militia which fell into this category. Sungusungu emerged in early 1980s in the lake (Victoria) zone of Tanzania especially in Kahama as a community vigilante group in response to high levels of cattle rustling and armed robbery.[13] As such, it was established by citizens themselves.

    The Nyalali report further revealed that by the manner of their establishment, Sungusungu and Mgambo, violated Article 147 of the constitution (1977), sub-section 1, of the 2005 version which states, ‘It is hereby prohibited for any person or any organization or any group of persons except the government to raise or maintain in Tanzania an armed force of any kind’. Sub-section 2 states that, `The Government of the United Republic may, in accordance with law, raise and maintain in Tanzania an armed force of various types for the purposes of the defence and security of the territory and the people of Tanzania’. The current practice whereby political parties own and maintain militias, as this article will show in the coming sections, may amount to a breach of the constitution.

    The recommendations of the commission were also central to the civil-military relations reforms which took place in the 1990s decade. The entrenched party-state structure that had characterized the political platform for more than three decades was considered inappropriate under the multi-party system.[14] Also, the direct influence exerted by the ruling party onto the security forces had to be reversed.[15] It is worth noting that, despite the obvious need for thorough reforms, it is the ruling party control of the armed forces, militia and national police service that partly facilitated its grip on power. As such, reform in terms of separating the party from state to pave the way for smooth operation of the multi-party system wasn`t and hasn`t been easy.


    Strong ties between the ruling party and security forces have continued and partly helped CCM to remain in power. Although the people`s militia still exists today, participation is mainly voluntary and the number restricted.[16] It is not uncommon to see the people`s militia (Mgambo) collaborating with the police in providing security at political rallies held by opposition parties. Ironically, the ruling party has sought to augment its dwindling control of the security forces through a different party outfit referred to as the Green Guard.

    Analyses of previous elections in Tanzania (2005, 2009 and 2010) indicate that election related violence and cases of electoral misconduct have been increasing in tandem with the increase in political competition especially in the mainland. Several scholars have postulated that the 2010 general election experienced increased competition and unprecedented levels of violence in that part of the country.[17] Apart from the clashes between the state especially through its police and citizens, a clearly unique pattern of violence related to political rivalry is emerging in the mainland in the form of the clashes between ruling party militia (Green Guard) and opposition parties militia ; Red Brigade for CHADEMA and Blue Guard for Civic United Front (CUF).

    While it is not exactly clear when the ruling party started the green guards initiative taking into consideration the fact that the party`s constitution does not bear a provision establishing it, circumstantial evidence indicates their existence as early as 2000. Besides, their deployment gained momentum in 2010 elections and subsequent by-elections in 2011 and 2012. It is in this period that records of clashes with similar militia from other political parties especially CHADEMA emerged.[18]

    To highlight the intensity of the violence and its consequences, three cases are worth revisiting. One happened in Kalenga by-election (Iringa region) in March 2014 whereby the ruling party guards allegedly kidnapped CHADEMA special seats parliamentarian, Rose Kamili, from an internal party meeting and whisked her into the ruling party offices where she claimed to have been tortured and sexually harassed.[19] The ruling party guards claimed to have arrested her because she was distributing bribe money. Police initiated two cases, one regarding the bribe and another torture. The progress has since then faltered.[20]

    Other two cases involved the Igunga (Tabora) and Arumeru (Manyara) by-elections. The latter was so tense to the extent that the then Deputy Commissioner of Police, Issaya Mungulu, announced publicly that he had `banned` political parties` militia. He was quoted saying, ‘I admit we have realized this rather too late in the ongoing campaigns in Meru District, but after this, the police will not allow CCM's Green Guards or CHADEMA's Red Brigades because these unofficial armies have been causing chaos, conflicts and other election-related inconveniences’. [21] Issaya Mungulu is now the Director of Criminal Investigation (DCI). There is evidence already that violence prior to elections is affecting turn out.[22]

    Green guards receive tailor-made training which involves weapon-use skills and are used to guard party contestants during campaigns and ensure security in political rallies. The ruling party claimed that its green guard youth only received entrepreneurship trainings.[23] Such claims were vehemently rejected by CHADEMA. It is normal for high ranking ruling party officials, including the president, to inspect a guard of honour staged by green guards in their various visits across the country. Research shows that the ruling party prefers them because they are card-holding members and thus more likely to keep party secrets.[24]

    In contrast to CCM`s discreet approach to party`s militia, CHADEMA included a clause that establishes Red Brigade in its 2006 constitution, which, according to the party officials, was approved by the registrar of political parties.[25] Records show that in 2004, CHADEMA wrote to the registrar of political parties requesting for permission to establish self-defence training camps for its Red Brigade members but the registrar replied that doing so would be going against the law.[26] The registrar went a step further by challenging such a leading opposition party to present evidence that backed the claims that even the ruling party was doing the same.


    For the ruling party, CCM, whose approach to the subject under discussion has been very discreet, one can only discern the reasons for establishing a party militia from its supremacy during the single party days and recent occasional and symbolic words from its leaders. As the background detailed in this article shows, CCM`s grip on power partly depended on its influence and control of the security forces. That advantage is waning and proves difficult to let go since competing on equal footing with opposition parties may lead to total defeat. Highlighting a concern and possibly fear that emanates from the declining party influence on the security forces, the party`s Youth wing (UVCCM) secretary responsible for youth mobilization, Paul Makonda, once remarked, ‘If you come to our party, we do not have police, we do not have army, we have the Green Guard whose task is to protect leaders’.[27] The fact that the ruling party owns party guards despite the influence it still wields on state security organs through the incumbent government shows the extent to which it is not ready to play by the standard rules.

    CHADEMA has always made its reasons for establishing the militia open and public. From the party`s constitution (2006 version, Section 7, Subsection 7.7.5), it states: `There shall be a security system for the party`s assets, leaders and interests which shall be known as Red Brigade`.[28] On top of that, CHADEMA has repeatedly blamed the police for acting unprofessionally by using excessive force, causing the death of opposition members especially in a series of demonstrations over the years and of favouring the ruling party.[29] As such, the party acts on the basis of the argument that, both the state and its security organs have failed to guarantee their security, and that the constitution gives each and every citizen the right to act in ways that ensure their own security.[30] Section 16 of the constitution (1977) confers the right to personal security while Article 20 provides the right to associate freely and peaceably.

    In this election year, the main role of the party guards, according to CHADEMA, will be protecting its share of votes against usual thievery from the ruling party. Several thousand youths took their oaths early this year.[31] The police force was keen enough to notice and promise action.[32] It is hard to tell how many youths CCM has mobilized, again because of their discreet approach.


    It is a principle that in all liberal democracies, the state exercises monopoly over the use of force through its exclusive right to raise and maintain armed forces. Tanzania is no exception. As a country in transition that monopoly is very important since any deviation, as the evidence in this article has shown, is likely to ruin the whole process. Unfortunately, the response from the government in terms of addressing this worrying development has been fraught with contradictions and confusion.

    After chaotic by-elections in Igunga (2011) and Arumeru (2012) in which political party militias played a central role, CHADEMA resolved to strengthen its Red Brigade.[33] In 2013, CHADEMA announced that intention at various public meetings to the extent of attracting a response from the Registrar of Political Parties. But that response was contradictory and confusing. The registrar responded that CHADEMA was never allowed to establish self-defence training camps but security groups.[34] This statement meant that the party could keep the group so long as it didn`t establish training camps. As it has been shown elsewhere in this article, the then registrar challenged the opposition party to provide evidence that the ruling party was running training camps to enable his office to take appropriate measures. In response CHADEMA commented, ‘Why is it that when it is CHADEMA doing what the ruling party CCM has done for years, it has suddenly become illegal?’[35]

    There is no doubt that all three leading political parties in the country maintain party guards. However, the mock ignorance invoked by the then registrar of political parties (John Tendwa) in regard to the ruling party as evidenced is a testimony of the lack of impartiality that opposition parties constantly complain about. Double standard has repeatedly manifested itself in all attempts by the ruling party and government (police and Registrar of Political Parties) to address this matter.

    The current registrar, Judge Francis Mutungi, who took over in 2013 after his predecessor John Tendwa retired, seems not to mince words. He is on record saying that, the Political Parties Act (1992) does not allow parties to form security groups but politicians have been misinterpreting it. He remarked ‘this matter is sensitive...but politicians are taking it lightly without considering its consequences’. He added, ‘There must come a time when political parties follow the dictates of the law because it is the law that governs the country, without doing so we will be breaking the law everyday’.[36] But judge Mutungi has been in that position for more than a year now and there is no sign that he will muster the courage to confront the ruling party, let alone the opposition.

    Failing to uphold the constitution

    Nobody knows when the time referred above by the current Registrar of Political Parties will come but as things stand, it is clear that the ruling party and its government are not ready to abandon their old ways of organizing without witnessing serious repercussions. Analysts forecast the 2015 general election to be very competitive.[37] It is expected that political party militias will play a central role in that competition and perhaps the repercussions will bring about a turning point.

    The level of mobilization and training of party guards currently exercised by the leading political parties in Tanzania especially in the mainland amounts to the breach of the constitution. The ruling party and government jointly shoulder the responsibility for failing to uphold the constitution. One sees an institutional weakness of a high degree in this matter.

    * Dastan Kweka is a researcher based in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. He is grateful to Shangwe Juma Beria for reading and commenting on the draft.


    [1] Lupogo H (2001) Tanzania : Civil-Military relations and Political Stability,
    [2] Ibid
    [3] The Citizen Reporter (2014) How the 1964 Tanzania Rifles Mutiny gave birth to TPDF Accessed on 10th March, 2015.
    [4] Othman H (2009) Tanzania: Beyond Sectarian Interests, Pambazuka, Accessed on 28th Feb, 2015.
    [5] Brennan J.R (2006) Youth, The TANU Youth League and Managed Vigilantism in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania quoted in Cross C (2013) Community Policing through Local Collective Action in Tanzania: Sungusungu to Ulinzi Shirikishi.
    [6] Lupogo H (2001) Tanganyika Rifles Mutiny section in the same article quoted elsewhere in this paper.
    [7] The Interim Constitution of Tanzania (1965), Accessed on 5th Feb, 2015.
    [8] International Crisis Group (2010) Guinea : Reforming the Army, Accessed on 2nd March, 2015.
    [9] Shivji I, et al (2013) Miongozo Miwili, Kupaa na Kutunguliwa kwa Azimio la Arusha, Accessed on 8th March, 2015.
    [10] Cross C (2013) Community Policing Through Local Collective Action in Tanzania : Sungusungu to Ulinzi Shirikishi. Accessed on 9th March, 2015.
    [11] Rupiya M.R () The Nyalali Commission and Security Sector Reform, 1995-2005
    [12] The Law Reform Commission of Tanzania (1994) Final Report on Designated Legislation in the Nyalali Commission Report, Available online. Accessed on 20th Feb, 2015.
    [13] Heald S (2002) Domesticating Leviathan : Sungusungu Groups in Tanzania, Available online and accessed on 20th March, 2015, Accessed on 20th March, 2015.
    [14] Ibid
    [15] Luanda N () A Changing Conception of Defence : A Historical Perspective of the Military in Tanzania, Institute of Security Studies, Accessed on 17th Feb, 2015.
    [16] Cross C (2013) ibid, Page 58 on Peoples Militia (Jeshi la Mgambo).
    [17] Heilman B and William J (2012) countries at the Crossroads: Tanzania, Freedom House, See also See also Overseas Development Institute (2014) East African Prospects Report, An Update on the Political Economy of Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda. Accessed on 6th March, 2015 at
    [18] Makore R (2012) Nipashe Newspaper : NEC – Arumeru kumechafuka, Accessed on 4th March, 2015.
    [19] Meena N (2014) Mbunge wa CHADEMA alia (Mwanachi),, Accessed on 21st March, 2015
    [20] Mwafongo H (2014) Majalada Kesi ya Rose Kamili (Mwanchi newspaper), Accessed on 21st March, 2015.
    [21] Nkwame Marc (2012) Police ban Political Party Armies (Dailynews), Accessed online on 18th March, 2015.
    [22] Saiboko Abdulwakil (2012) Daily News paper - Study Reveals Reasons for Low turn Out in 2010 Elections. Acccessed on 20th March, 2015.
    [23] Mwananchi Newspaper (2013) Vita Kali Chadema,CCM Accessed on 20th March, 2015.
    [24] Mwaikenda R (2010) Mabaunsa Marufuku Kulinda Wagombea, Accessed on 6th March, 2015.
    [25] CHADEMA (2006) Katiba ya CHADEMA, Available online,, Accessed on 7th March, 2015.
    [26] The Citizen Newspaper (2013) Tendwa`s No to CHADEMA Red Brigade, Accessed on 6th March, 2015.
    [27] Mwananchi Newspaper (2014) UVCCM: Green Guard Iwashighulikie UKAWA ikiwa…, April 22nd, Accessed on 6th March, 2015.
    [28] Author's translation. The original text is in Swahili.
    [29] IPP Media (2012) CHADEMA wants JK to act on Killings, Chaos, Accessed on 7th March, 2015.
    [30] The Citizen (2013) Why Tanzanians Turn to Private Security, Accessed on 8th March, 2015.
    [31] Jambo Leo (2015) Nape awajia juu walinzi wa Chadema , Accessed on 7th March, 2015.
    [32] Mwananchi (2015) Polisi Kuchunguza vyama vya Siasa, Accessed online on 15th March, 2015.
    [33] CHADEMA (2013) RED BRIGADE, Available online, Accessed on 9th March, 2015.
    [34] The Citizen (2013) Registrar warns CHADEMA, Accessed on 10th March, 2015.
    [35] The Citizen (2013) CHADEMA, CCM Rivalry rages on over party guards.
    [36] Mwananchi (2015) Polisi Kuchunguza vyama vya Siasa, ibid.
    [37] Mbaku J, et al (2014) African Elections in 2015: A Snapshot for Cote d`ivoire, Tanzania, Burkina Faso and Sudan. Brookings Institution,, Accessed on 7th March, 2015.



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    US and NATO policy underlines instability in Libya and Tunisia

    Imperialist states debate over future course of action in dominating region

    Abayomi Azikiwe


    c c NPR
    The EU along with NATO and led by the US are responsible for the current chaos in Libya. This pattern of sanctions, massive bombings, ground interventions through direct occupation or proxy forces have failed throughout the entire region of North Africa and the Middle East.

    Attacks on March 18 at the Bardo Museum in Tunis resulting in the deaths of 24 people have been credited to Islamic State.

    Just two days prior to the 59th anniversary of the national independence of Tunisia from France in 1956, two gunmen took over a major tourist destination resulting in a police response that led to another high-profile incident that was utilised as propaganda to escalate the so-called “war on terrorism” in North Africa.

    Of the 24 people killed almost all of them were foreign nationals from Poland, Germany, Spain, Italy and other countries. The recently-elected veteran politician President Beji Caid Essebsi criticised the security forces for being lax in their efforts to protect the museum, which is a vital resource in the tourism sector; one of the most lucrative industries for earning hard currencies.

    "There were failures … the police and intelligence [services] was not systematic enough to ensure the safety of the museum,” the president told the Paris Match weekly in an interview on March 21. Nonetheless, he went on to praise the police by saying they "responded very effectively to quickly put an end to the attack at the Bardo, certainly preventing dozens more deaths if the terrorists had been able to set off their suicide belts."

    However, the Deputy Speaker of Parliament Abdelfattah Mourou reportedly told the French Press Agency on March 20 that the guards hired to protect the museum and the parliament building located close by were drinking coffee at the time of the firing of gunshots by the assailants. Prosecution spokesperson Sofiene Sliti said: "There are developments in the case, but to protect the secrecy of the investigation we prefer not to provide any details.” (AFP)

    Although Tunisia is often cited by the Western media as the most stable state among those that experienced upheavals and regime-changes in 2011, the country has experienced political unrest and assassinations. Two leading left-wing politicians, Mohamed Brahmi and Chokri Belaid, members of the same Popular Front alliance, were killed by gunmen just months apart during 2013.

    In the aftermath of the assassination of Brahmi the country erupted in mass demonstrations led by youth and workers demanding the resignation of the government, which took over after the forced exile of Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali. Although the then Prime Minister Ali Larayedh refused to resign, the post-uprising government dominated by the Ennahda Party did eventually dismiss the cabinet setting the stage for new elections and the appointment of a so-called “technocratic” administration.
    During the period after the assassination of the two leftist leaders, Interior Minister Lotfi Ben Jeddou stated in a press conference that "The same 9mm automatic weapon that killed Belaid also killed Brahmi." The individual targeted in both assassinations was said to have been Boubacar Hakim, a Salafist who was sought in connection with the illegal transport of weapons from Libya.


    With reference to the March 18 attacks in Tunis, the government and Western states have linked the museum assault with Islamic State fighters based in neighbouring Libya. Since the beginning of the war of regime-change against the government of Col. Muammar Gaddafi the North African state has fallen into political instability and internecine conflict.

    IS forces are said to have training camps in Libya while engaging in several high-profile attacks in the capital of Tripoli as well as in the eastern and southern regions of the country. The two men involved in the museum incident were killed when security forces stormed the building.

    One of the gunmen involved in the attack, Yassine Laabidi, was said to have been known to intelligence services although they claim he had no formal links to a particular organisation. These extremist organizations based in Libya are a direct outcome of the foreign policy of Washington, London, Paris, Ottawa and their allies, which coordinated the advances of these groups across Libya in 2011 through its massive aerial bombardments that lasted for over seven months.

    During the course of the war between February 17 and October 31, some 26,000 sorties were flown and approximately 10,000 bombs were dropped on Libya. Tens of thousands were killed and millions more were displaced amid the destruction of the national infrastructure and the plundering of the country’s wealth.

    Yet the Western states that carried out the destruction of Libya and empowered the extremist groups now wreaking havoc on the country are never cited for their culpability in the current Western media reports, which ponder how stability can be restored to the oil-rich state on the Mediterranean. These armed rebel groups are spreading out from Libya into neighbouring and regional states in North and West Africa.


    At present the European Union (EU) is deliberating over whether it should establish another military force to supposedly secure the Libya-Tunisia borders and challenge IS and other rebels in operating in both countries. The EU plan as reported in the media would involve a stronger naval presence in the region as well as the deployment of ground troops backed up by air power.

    However, it was announced on March 20 that the EU would continue to seek a political solution to the Libyan crisis and plans to send in troops were unsubstantiated. United Nations brokered talks between the two competing rebel regimes in Libya have failed to bring about the creation of a government of national unity.

    Adherents to the former Jamahiriya political system under Gaddafi are barred from participation in the current US-imposed political dispensation in Libya. Neither faction based in Tripoli or in the eastern city of Tobruk represents the aspirations of the workers and youth inside the country or throughout Africa, which under Gaddafi was the focus of the nation’s foreign policy.

    An article published by on March 20 reported: “The High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs Federica Mogherini, said on Friday [March 20] that the EU is not planning a military intervention in Libya, but advocated the 28 EU countries to devote all possible means of support to the country, including security and defence measures, if Libya can create a unity government. Upon arriving at the European Council held in Brussels on Friday, the senior representative said that there is no plan for a European military intervention, but that Europe is ‘planning all possible ways of supporting, even on the plan of security,’ all of which is contingent on whether Libya can create a national unity government.”

    Yet a progressive national unity government can only come about with the advancement of the revolutionary democratic forces inside the country to establish a political system that places the interests of the majority within Libyan society above those of the bourgeois classes that are allied with multi-national oil interests and financiers. Such a system of national self-reliance and regional integration was the basis of the Jamahiriya, which was destroyed by imperialist intervention.

    The EU along with NATO and led by the US are responsible for the current chaos in Libya. This pattern of sanctions, massive bombings, ground interventions through direct occupation or proxy forces have failed throughout the entire region of North Africa and the Middle East. Any real reversal of the political crisis in the regions must take on an anti-imperialist character stressing the necessity of genuine political independence and territorial sovereignty designed to break with the legacy of imperialism.

    * Abayomi Azikiwe is editor, Pan-African News Wire.



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    ‘Under no circumstances’ clause is inviolable

    On Rwanda’s presidential terms limit in the 2003 constitution

    Charles KM Kambanda


    c c IN
    There is no legal instrument or method to circumvent the presidential terms limit under Article 101 of Rwanda’s constitution, save for a coup which would suspend or abrogate the constitution in its entirety. By the letter and spirit of the 2003 constitution, while the length of a presidential term may be decreased or increased from the current seven years, the two terms limit cannot be legally lifted.

    A systematic move to drop presidential terms limit to allow the incumbent Paul Kagame to run for the same office after his two constitutional terms expire in 2017 has gained momentum in Rwanda. Top Kagame regime officials are on a crusade to ‘popularize’ dropping terms limit from the constitution arguing that no Rwandan but Kagame is capable of leading the country. It appears the Kagame regime wants to give an impression that ‘the people’ are begging Kagame to stay in power, yet the people passed their verdict in the 2003 constitution, Article 101, that ‘Under no circumstances shall a person hold the office of President of Republic for more than two terms’.


    The gist of the Kagame regime argument is that ‘the people’ have powers to change any provision of the constitution at any time ‘the people’ believe a provision, or a combination of provisions, in the constitution has/have been overtaken by events. The common stanza in Kagame’s camp is that no Rwandan is capable of leading the country; Kagame cannot go just because the constitution dictates so. The constitution must be amended to save Kagame for the country’s First Office.

    It appears to me that the First Office is Kagame’s shield from prosecution for his alleged crimes of international concern in Rwanda and in DR Congo. In addition, Kagame has allegedly butchered both the Hutu and Tutsi way too much that he believes – and rightly so – that no Rwandan, Hutu, Tutsi or otherwise, would take power and keep him as a free man. Kagame has harassed, tormented and incapacitated his predecessor, President Bizimungu. President Kagame probably fears that if he leaves the First Office, his successor will treat him in the same way he has treated his predecessor. It is evident that the Presidency is to President Kagame what water is for fish in the pond. Kagame will probably stop at nothing to hold on to power as long as it is possible for him to hold on to power. Kagame took power by the gun and he rules by the gun. It is obvious that his preoccupation is not rule of law.

    It is my submission that regarding presidential terms limit, under Rwanda’s constitution, Kagame has only two options: either to abide by the Article 101 provision that ‘Under no circumstances shall a person hold the office of President of the Republic for more than two terms’, or overthrow the constitution and his government, which would allow him to write a new constitution.


    Article 101 of Rwanda’s constitution provides that: ‘The President of the Republic is elected for a term of seven years renewable only once. Under no circumstances shall a person hold the office of President of the Republic for more than two terms’. This constitutional provision is categorical on three major things:

    (a) No circumstance – external or internal, political or social, present or future by any institution or individual - may be the basis for allowing any person to be president if that person has served two terms. Clearly stated, no amendment to this provision is possible because any reason or ground to amend the two terms cap under Article 101 would amount to ‘circumstances’ hence triggering the ‘under no circumstance’ clause of Article 101.

    (b) Whether one serves two presidential terms uninterrupted or interrupted, two terms is the cut-off point; no person can hold that office beyond two terms under the 2003 Rwanda constitution.

    (c) Serving more than two terms is as prohibited as amending Article 101. Consequently, as long as the 2003 constitution is in force, no circumstance – including ‘the people’s’ zeal to keep Kagame - is permitted to modify this provision.


    Article 193 provides that: ‘The power to initiate amendment of the Constitution is vested concurrently in the President of the Republic upon the proposal of the Cabinet and each Chamber of Parliament upon a resolution passed by a two-thirds majority vote of its members. The passage of a constitutional amendment requires a three quarters majority vote of the members of each chamber of Parliament. However, if the constitutional amendment concerns the term of the President of the Republic or the system of democratic government based on political pluralism, or the constitutional regime established by this Constitution especially the republican form of the government or national sovereignty, the amendment must be passed by referendum, after adoption by each Chamber of Parliament…’ Apparently, the Kagame regime wrongly believes that the constitutional amendment procedure under Article 193, including a referendum, applies to Article 101 on presidential terms limit as well.

    Articles 101 and 193 of Rwandan constitution are distinguishable. First, Article 101 has two distinct parts (sections). The first part deals with the number of years each term lasts: ‘The President of the Republic is elected for a term of seven years renewable only once’. This part is clearly amendable under Article 193 because Article 193 provides that, ‘The power to initiate amendment of the Constitution is vested concurrently in the President of the Republic upon the proposal of the Cabinet and each Chamber of Parliament […] However, if the constitutional amendment concerns the term of the President of the Republic or … the amendment must be passed by referendum, after adoption by each Chamber of Parliament…’. The second part (section) of Article 101 deals with the number of terms a person can be in office, thus, ‘Under no circumstances shall a person hold the office of President of Republic for more than two terms’. Therefore while Article 193, which provides for the 2003 constitution amendment procedure, provides for amendment to the number of years per presidential term, Article 193 does not tamper with the presidential terms limits (the two terms) because Article 101 itself sealed off presidential terms limit from amendment with the “under no circumstance…” clause as long as the 2003 constitution is in force. In Article 193, like Article 101, the word term (singular form) refers to the number of years per presidential term while the word terms (plural form) refers to the number of terms a person can be a president.

    Second, whereas under Article 193 the president and parliament may initiate an amendment to the constitution, Article 101’s ‘under no circumstance’ clause prevents the president or parliament from initiating amendment to Article 101 section on presidential terms limit because any reason(s) and/or circumstance(s) for such amendment would trigger Article 101 ‘under no circumstances …’ clause.

    Third, whereas Article 193 provides for amendment of other provisions of the constitution for the constitution to adopt to changing circumstances, using any circumstance thereof would be inconsistent with Article 101 ‘under no circumstance’ clause. Consequently, any law that seeks to amend Article 101 to reflect changing circumstances (political or social) - to the extent that it is inconsistent with Article 101 ‘under no circumstance’ clause - is null and void under Article 200 of Rwanda’s constitution, which provides that: ‘The Constitution is the supreme law of the State. Any law which is contrary to this Constitution is null and void’.


    Article 101 of Rwanda’s constitution cannot be amended by referendum because such a referendum or circumstance leading to it would amount to circumstance which Article 101’s ‘under no circumstance …’ clause prohibits.

    A referendum on Rwanda’s constitution is provided for to amend, inter alia, the number of years one presidential term can last as provided for under Article 193: ‘… if the constitutional amendment concerns the term of the President of the Republic or the system of democratic government based on political pluralism, […] the amendment must be passed by referendum, after adoption by each Chamber of Parliament…’.

    Therefore, while one presidential term can be increased or decreased to any number by referendum, the two presidential terms limit under Article 101 can never be changed under the 2003 constitution because ‘Under no circumstances shall a person hold the office of President of Republic for more than two terms’.

    Article 193 of Rwanda’s constitution is wrongly cited by the Kagame government as the basis for overriding Article 101 which slaps a complete ban on a person’s stay in power after serving two terms. The Kagame government’s appreciation of the two articles of the country’s constitution is erroneous because the two articles address different issues. There is no inconsistence between Article 101 and Article 193. In any case, the framers of Rwanda’s constitution could not have intended that one article of the constitution invalidates another provision of the same constitution.

    Article 101 of Rwanda’s constitution cannot be amended. The framers of Rwanda’s constitution worded the article in such a way that any reason or circumstance anybody or a group of people might have against the presidential terms limit cannot be used to amend Article 101 because the article foresaw all those possible ‘reasons’ and circumstances and concluded that ‘under no circumstance…’ and, accordingly, Article 200 puts it clearly that any law or act to tamper with Article 101 or any other provision of the constitution is null and void.

    The intention of the framers of the 2003 Rwanda constitution in sealing off presidential terms limit from amendment was to make sure that no Rwandan is president for an indefinite period of time and, possibly, for life. Rwandans are aware of the dangers of one group of people holding on to power indefinitely. Rwandan’s political history is characterized by extreme violence and militant rulers loading it over their subjects indefinitely. This has always led to wars and horrific crimes.

    * Charles KM Kambanda, PhD, is Attorney and Counsel-at-law, New York, US.



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    Ivory Coast needs a transition phase

    With a sluggish reconciliation process, nation is not ready for a presidential election

    Eric Edi


    c c PLU
    The apparent calm in the West African nation is deceptive. Many unresolved issues have created seething tensions that make the likelihood of renewed violence real. A transitional phase is required, for all actors to prioritize the birth of a new contract and prepare a new electoral cycle by building on past failures.

    Although the national reconciliation process is a fiasco, the deeply fractured Ivory Coast is mulling a presidential election in 2015. The subject is raising a lot of controversies as some argue that a presidential election is inappropriate and others claim that it would end the current crisis. At least seven candidates have already made known their intentions to contest the ballot if it takes place. While it is not surprising that Alassane Ouattara is one of them, it is confusing that Essy Amara, Charles Konan Banny and Kouadio Konan Bertin intend to run, whereas on 1 February 2015, the political party they are members of, the PDCI, endorsed Alassane Ouattara. Not only do they object to the decision of the political bureau of the PDCI, but also they are opposing the same person they helped into power in 2010 in the most unconstitutional manner. Other potential candidates like Ahipeaud Martial and Mamadou Koulibaly also offer contradicting postures. They lambast the government for violating the rule of law but they want to contest the ballot. All this is puzzling and debilitating.

    No one denies that the constitution of the Ivory Coast requires that a presidential election take place every five years to elect the president, consolidate democracy and strengthen national cohesion. But can this requirement be fulfilled this year? For many pressure groups like the Committee of Actions for Ivory Coast in the United States (C.A.C.I-USA), there cannot and should not be any election in Ivory Coast in 2015, unless the political body wants to trigger new violence and erase the democratic gains that Ivorians have enjoyed starting April 1990.


    The first reason to refrain from a presidential election in 2015 is that the disputes over the results of the 2010 presidential election and the unprecedented violence that followed it have not yet been elucidated. The UN Secretary General, who was deeply involved in the dispute, has been silent if not ambiguous about the true result of the 2010 presidential election, but hurriedly declared that all records were destroyed. Meanwhile, the International Criminal Court (ICC) has been unable to gather evidence to support the charges against Laurent Gbagbo. Consequently, Laurent Gbagbo’s trial has not yet started, though it has been more than three years since he was transferred to The Hague. Is there any legal basis that can account for this long detention? For many Ivorians, Laurent Gbagbo’s case underlines the pervasiveness of the question: Who won the presidential election of 2010? Until this question is answered, hopes of a successful reconciliation and return to political normalcy are slim.

    The second reason is that accepting a presidential election in 2015 would legitimate the regime in power, condemn Laurent Gbagbo, approve violence as a means to access power, and negate Ivory Coast’s right to sovereignty and democracy. It is worth emphasizing that many groups like the C.A.C.I-USA and mostly the Front Populaire Ivoirien (FPI), the main opposition party, continue to refute Alassane Ouattara’s legality and legitimacy on the basis that he did not win the 2010 election. This claim was repeated by the individuals and dignitaries of Laurent Gbagbo’s administration, who faced trial in Abidjan for charges related to the post-2010 presidential election violence. Ake Ngbo, Bro Gregbe and Simone Gbagbo, just to mention these three defendants, said that Laurent Gbagbo won in 2010, was regularly sworn into office by the Constitutional Council, and that they did nothing wrong by serving in his administration or supporting his regime. What is thought-provoking is that a great majority of Ivorians have firmly stood on the conviction that Laurent Gbagbo won the election and the feeling that the charges against him, his entourage, and supporters are unfair and lopsided.

    This feeling has increased since a tribunal in Abidjan sentenced the defendants. It is obvious that the sentences, which may include a possible 20 years in jail for Simone Gbagbo, are baseless and a new obstacle to the reconciliation process. For four years, this reconciliation has stalled. The Dialogue, Truth, and Reconciliation Commission concluded its mission in 2014 without appeasing prevailing tensions. The chairman of this defunct commission, who is himself a potential candidate, has acerbically critiqued the regime in power for not taking the required steps to end political violence. There are sufficient grounds to claim that the prevailing tensions will lead to new waves of violence, perhaps more dramatic than what happened in 2010. In fact, no one should mistake the current quietness for a regained political normalcy. The truth is that Alassane Ouattara is exercising severe repression on opposition parties, leaders and ordinary citizens.

    Under Alassane Ouattara, political repression is the new political order. It consists of freezing opponents’ assets, detaining opponents without trial, torture, impunity, protecting warlords, rebels, and fighters who forcefully took lands and farms from their rightful owners, forcing Ivorians into exile, denying political parties public funding, prohibiting opposition parties’ rallies, and operating an unjust judicial system. The rebel fighters, who helped Alassane Ouattara into power, still possess their weapons. Nearly 18,000 of them are reported missing, and those who were inserted in the national army continue to threaten security by holding major cities and towns to a stand still to request the money due to them. The government temporarily won their appeasement by promising to pay them lump sums instead of proceeding with the disarmament and demobilization program. Peace is therefore fragile and does not guarantee a transparent and fair election.

    Another reason has to do with the old-new or new-old debate about Alassane Ouattara’s Ivorian citizenship and eligibility to contest a presidential election in Ivory Coast. Predictably, the debate has resurfaced. It has never been put to rest anyway! The debate about changing or not changing Article 35 of the Constitution, which defines the criteria of eligibility to the position of President of the Republic, illustrates the relevance of the subject. In reality, Alassane Ouattara has not renounced the intention to alter this article although he recently declared that it would not happen until after the election. It shall be remembered that in 2003, Alassane Ouattara, the rebels and some opposition leaders blamed the Ivorian crisis on Article 35. They claimed it discriminated against members of the ethnic groups from the northern part of Ivory Coast.

    If, despite his access to power, the debate over Article 35 has resumed, it means that Alassane Ouattara’s answers and handling of questions about his Ivorian-ness have been critically opaque. Therefore, if in 2010, Laurent Gbagbo used Article 48 of the Constitution to authorize him into the presidential election, nothing similar can be done in 2015, unless the intention is to perpetuate the violations of the constitution of Ivory Coast. Unfortunately, Alassane Ouattara is not ready to clarify the muddy waters around him, which will fuel more tensions.

    A final reason is that the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) and the Constitutional Council are not transparent and fair as they currently stand. The IEC is chaired by Youssouf Bakayoko, the same person who sabotaged the 2010 election and pushed the country into an unprecedented political stalemate and violence. His continued presence at the head of this institution illustrates the weakness of political institutions and the preparation of massive electoral frauds. Next to him is the unconstitutional appointment of Mr. Kone Mamadou, a former rebel leader, to the chairmanship of the Constitutional Council.


    “Each generation must, out of relative obscurity, discover its mission, fulfill it, or betray it.” Frantz Fanon

    The relative obscurity for Ivory Coast is the uncertainty of durable peace and independence. There are two ways to end this obscurity: refraining from a presidential election in 2015 and installing a political transition. There are ample constitutional reasons to object to the presidential election now. The most important is avoiding further chaos and giving the political body sufficient time to install a political transition. Indubitably, a political transition is the golden alternative for peace in Ivory Coast. This strategic alternative is based on the premise that Alassane Ouattara is the instigator and beneficiary of the political violence, ethnic hatred, and unimaginable fracture that Ivory Coast has been undergoing and that his exit from power through street pressure is opportune.

    Civil disobedience and street mobilizations are two ways to pressure Alassane Ouattara out of power. Pro-democracy forces have used these tactics all over the world and more recently in Burkina Faso, where the “Balai Citoyen,” opposition political parties, and civil society organizations mobilized to prevent Blaise Compaoré from changing the constitution to ensure a new term in office. The pressure concluded with the peaceful exit of the ruler after 27 years in power. The countries of the international system acknowledged the street movement, the power shift and asked Blaise Compaoré to capitulate to the will of the citizens. If these countries accepted the fall of Blaise Compaoré as a victory of democracy, there is no reason to believe that they would not do the same thing if a similar movement was to take place in Ivory Coast, where the rule of law does not exist anymore.

    Organizations report that human rights and economic democratization have fallen to low levels under Alassane Ouattara. This means that the economic emergence that Alassane Ouattara boasts about is a mirage. According to the World Bank, the double-digit economic growth rate has not yet increased average households’ purchasing power. Rampant poverty and soaring unemployment rates keep the chances of renewed political violence very high. It is unbecoming to say that the success of the national soccer team at the last African Cup of Nations is a sign of national reconciliation.

    The prevailing tensions and likelihood of renewed violence are the rationale for a political transition, that is to say, a political interval during which political and social actors will prioritize the birth of a new contract and prepare a new electoral cycle by building on the failures of the 2010 experience. The aim of the political transition is to put the constitution back at the core of Ivorian political discourses and behaviors, restore the national army in its pre-Ouattara nature, disband all para-military groups and militia born of the rebellion and the post-election crisis of 2010, and create a political spectrum that will allow political actors to exercise their constitutional rights and obligations without restraints.

    The aim of the transition is also to achieve national reconciliation via a new culturally, regionally, and politically sensitive reconciliation commission. The imperative for this commission is to free Laurent Gbagbo, end political detentions and tortures, return all the refugees and exiles home and facilitate their re-entry into work force, give the stolen goods, properties and lands back to their rightful owners, unfreeze all assets, audit the results of the 2010 presidential election, and seek the truth about who did what and why. When these reconstructive steps are complete, Ivory Coast will have built a safer state to hold a free, open, and transparent presidential election.

    * Eric Edi, PhD, is with the Committee of Actions for the Ivory Coast. See blog (French).



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    Women up in arms

    Zapatistas and Rojava Kurds embrace a new gender politics

    Charlotte Maria Sáenz


    c c LC
    Working towards a radical way of relating to each other, men and women traverse spaces of war as well as of pastoral, agricultural and domestic care - learning with and from each other whether in the battlefields or making food.

    Resistance and strength manifest like weeds through cracks in Chiapas, Mexico, and transnational Kurdistan where the respective Zapatista and Kurdish resistance movements are creating new gender relations as a primary part of their struggle and process for building a better world. In both places, women’s participation in the armed forces has been an entry-point for a new social construction of gender relations based on equity.

    While the Kurds have been fighting for their survival against ISIS in the Syrian/Turkish border town of Kobane, the Zapatistas put down their arms over 20 years ago and have maintained a non-violent struggle since. In both cases, women have fought alongside men against their own collective obliteration while making radical changes in their gender relations. Working towards more equity makes possible more direct democracy in building greater autonomy from the state.[1] In both efforts, there is also a deep connection to land[2] that regards the value of women and the environment as essential to life itself.

    In both resistances, women took up arms to fight alongside their male counterparts showing both willingness and capacity to fight as soldiers. However their principal objective in the mountains is not military. Rather, their most important task is to form new persons: men and women in a more equitable relationship to each other--a relationship that is also anti-capitalist.

    “Above everything, we want for our militancy to create a new personality, one that is in complete contradiction to capitalism,” says a representative of the Kurdish Committee of Jineology (a committee of and for women founded by the transnational PKK (Partiya Karkerên Kurdistanê), the Kurdish Workers Party.[3] Theirs is a commitment to building democracy, socialism, ecology and feminism.

    The Zapatistas made a similar commitment to more equitable gender relations. One of the first things to come out of their armed uprising in 1994 was the Revolutionary Law of Women. This law spelled out 10 new rules giving women unprecedented power over their lives, including choosing whether and whom to marry, the right to serve on governing councils, and the right to bear arms as milicianas, militia fighters, in the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN in Spanish). Zapatista women also asked for the law to include a prohibition of drugs and alcohol, in order to address one of the main causes of domestic violence. After the ceasefire only twelve days after the uprising, many women soldiers transitioned to a non-military political life taking unprecedented positions of governance, education, administration, and decision-making—another way of taking up in arms, this time with each other and with men.

    For the last 21 years, both men and women have been in a process of unlearning old gender norms, relearning how to be and relate to each other anew, sharing both domestic and public duties. Although the construction of gender equity is still in progress, these new relations between men and women have been a fundamental component of the construction of Zapatista autonomy itself.

    These radical changes in gender relations are occurring in contexts of tremendous violence and war of both high and low intensity. In Kobane, near the Turkish border, Kurds have been upholding a heroic resistance to the ravages of ISIS on the one hand, and the racist and repressive manipulations of the Turkish State on the other. In Chiapas, the Zapatistas have been building their autonomy within the increasing violence of a narco-state that dominates much of the nation, where it is hard to discern the difference between government and drug traffickers.

    In nearby Guerrero--a southwestern state in Mexico also known for its rich natural resources, intense drug trafficking, resistance movements and community policing--women have also joined the armed ranks of the policia comunitaria. These armed patrols have risen to fill the vacuum left by corrupt police on the narco-payroll, and are on the rise in various other communities across the country. Men and women are fighting together on these different frontlines, sometimes crossing state and national borders to join in combat, like the many young anarchist women from Turkey who crossed in busses into Syria to help the Kurds in Kobane resist ISIS in the past months.

    Certain parts of the 30 year-old Kurdish resistance have also taken on the project of forging more equal relations between men and women as a crucial part of their political project. With Kurds spread across Turkey, Syria and Iraq, the geopolitical concept of Kurdistan has been expanded trans-nationally into what some are describing as a “Democratic Confederalism” that transcends nation-state borders. This is an aspiration as of yet, not a fully developed reality, nor one embraced by all Kurds. These ideas are mainly derived from the evolving writings of the leader of the Kurdish Workers Party (PKK), Abdullah Öcalan, who has been imprisoned in Turkey since 1999. His “Democratic Confederalism” aims to build a new system that works towards the just distribution of resources as well as the conservation of the environment. It seeks to create a society free of sexism, replacing traditional patriarchal societies, religious interpretations, and capitalist merchandising of women. The movement has undertaken an intense societal and educational labor to combat the patriarchal mentalities implanted in women, as a form of submission, and in men, in form of domination.[4]

    Zapatista and Kurdish resistances have taken on a radical paradigm shift that changes everything. In the Zapatista autonomous municipal administration center called “Caracol de Oventic”, there is an “Office for Women’s Dignity” where women gather to discuss the successes and failures of the Revolutionary Law of Women. Similarly, the PKK’s “Jineology Committee” studies women’s histories to understand the construction of hierarchies and nation-states that erode women’s power in society. Both communities come from intense patriarchal histories and contexts, so there is still a long way to go in both movements. Yet in a short time they have made extraordinary gains. Women are increasingly represented on governing councils and active in their armed ranks, but the real revolution is seen within the domestic sphere, where caring for children, health and home are shared labor between men and women. Both Kurds and Zapatistas offer a living example of what is not only possible, but of what is already being practiced and grown.[5]

    Working towards what the Zapatistas would call an “Other” way of relating to each other, men and women traverse spaces of war as well as of pastoral, agricultural and domestic care--learning with and from each other whether in the battlefields or making food. It is in these everyday practices of building autonomy that we begin to unearth the possibility of another kind of life, of another way of knowing, being with and relating to each other that can create and nourish better ways of living. It starts with making patriarchal habits visible. Constructing more equitable relations means a daily practice of better, kinder ways of relating between men and women. This is the learning for all of us to put into practice within our own places and with our own people, not only up in arms, but also arm in arm…abrazándonos, embracing each other.

    * Charlotte Maria Sáenz is Media and Education Coordinator for Other Worlds and teaches at the California Institute for Integral Studies in San Francisco.


    [1]For example, Mesoamerican asambleas or the first Sumerians and the decentralized organizations of clan and tribal configurations as described in “El confederalismo democrático: propuesta libertaria del pueblo kurdo.” ALB Noticias en Mar, 17 septiembre 2013.
    [2] “Land and Liberty” has been the rallying cry of the Zapatistas, both then and now, while “Land or Death” the slogan heard in the Botan district today as reported by Heysam Mislim in “Kobane Diary: 4 Days Inside the City Fighting an Unprecedented Resistance Against ISIS,” Newsweek, October 15, 2014.
    [3] Committee of Jineology as quoted by Jorge Ricardo Ottino, writing for Resumen Latinoamericano from mountains of Xinêre, areas of media defense, South Kurdistan, Republic of Iraq, 3rd July 2014.
    [4] “El confederalismo democrático: propuesta libertaria del pueblo kurdo.” ALB Noticias en Mar, 17 septiembre 2013.
    [5] For a more in-depth description of the Kurdish Women’s movement see



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    Ethiopian classics: The case of vinyl records

    Amira Ali


    c c PZ
    Ethiopia’s rich heritage in music immortalized in vinyl records is vanishing into the international collector scene alongside other artifacts. There is a need to reclaim and honor the vinyl classics as part of the ancient nation’s cultural memory.

    As the harsh sun baked the earth, no less scorching the grass, this one Saturday in Addis-Ababa, Ethiopia, from late afternoon hours into the evening was for Ethiopian Classics.

    Mama Mia, a restaurant on the lower side of Addis-Ababa’s Kasanchis, specializes in Italian food. Besides the palatable food, the owner has created an appealing ambiance. In a classic Addis-Ababa architectural design, in the main dinning room of the house food is served. The aesthetical house, in a homelike way, situated on a generous amount of land, its front yard is well groomed surrounded by tree-shaded patches to cool off the sun.

    The setting appeared to be suitable for a day/evening ‘blankets and wine’ kind of party. Less the blankets, the tone, with wine and more, was set against a backdrop of Jazz and music from around the world to start off with, and with the sunset approaching Ethiopian classics were spinning. Guests were entertained while eating Italian food delight. Some, probably the better part, came out for the soiree –listening to vinyl records, and perhaps, waxing poetics about wax over drinks. The few Ethiopians from the older generation, while simultaneously listening to the recordings and hearing the memories, seemed to be holding on to the past, lost in nostalgia. And alone or together, regardless of age, with the felt nostalgia, we were all taking a trip in time.

    Taken on a spin, the evening was an experience in space and time stirred by vintage vinyl records.

    By 5:30 pm, a fair number of people had started arriving; the casual crowd brought with it a relaxed mood. It seemed most were familiar with one another, perhaps a regular “Mama Mia crowd,” or otherwise. They mingled naturally. Expats predominated the space.

    Interestingly, a clear division between the majority expats and minority Ethiopians was evident. An exception was a table that entertained the founder of Amha Records, Amha Mulatu, and the man behind the production of the Ethiopiques series, Francis Falceto, attributed for exporting Ethiopian music from the 1960s and 1970s on to the world stage, during an era when a musical vacuum was evident in Ethiopia. The rich sounds of the evening presented them as aficionados of Ethiopian music. Thus, the atmosphere held them in high regards; hats were tipped to the man behind Amha records.

    As the evening’s sky began to radiate above with an orange-gold sunset, poetically in sync with nature, rich sounds of Ethiopia imbued the air. And with the sun surrendering, habitual for Addis-Ababa’s weather, the drastic change in weather could be felt. The cold breeze started to ruffle the leaves and chill the skin. Though the music was enough to warm the body and soul, the blankets (Gabee) would have come in handy, after all. Instead, chunky firewood came out to burn fire for heat.

    While the campfire burnt with nightfall, the crowd increased one by one, hour by hour.

    Encircled by campfires, sitting under the glow of the full moon, the crowd appeared to be in clover, together with being mesmerized by sounds of Ethiopia. A party entertained by the sounds of legends: sounds possibly considered vintage. In a richer way the party traveled back in time, and once again, Addis was swinging.

    The times, a central component to the experience, to bring about the full spirit the background to the scene reflected the music. Music videos from the golden era were projected on a segment of the brick wall of the restaurant. Though the videos were hardly noticeable, even if short on positioning, the concept seemed to have been curated with an artistic vision.

    In command of the evening’s sounds, scratching the stylus around the record plate, were two resident deejays –a visiting DJ, and the other, a Norwegian native residing in Addis-Ababa. Completely rapt by their music collection, and the memory and cultural meaning associated – from what I remember of my mother’s love for these legends – and as a light vinyl record collector, I approached one of them to recommend a local vinyl record supplier or a retail shop. I was taken aback by the response.

    Halfway between cynicism and mockery, the DJ responds, “You wouldn’t like my supplier, he spits when he talks. He’ll spit khat (a flowering plant native to the horn of Africa and the Arabian Peninsula) in your face.” A smirk followed his words.

    He seemed like an obsessive collector/audiophile, or perhaps he was exuding what people call “a perfect fidelity”.

    Additionally, and obviously, he was thoroughly unaware that my family traces back to the land of khat. On top of that, I guess the so-called humorous statement was meant to repel and discourage me; to make me feel like the foreigner and he the gatekeeper of Ethiopian culture.

    To make matters worse, “We’re in the same position; I’m a collector and so are you,” he goes on to say.

    Not very sure what we were competing for or against, a competitive setting was created. It was as if we were rivals of some sort, and maybe unknowingly we were. Or else, it may conceivably be the idea of being in competition of expanding our vinyl record collection, or so it seems. Or perhaps it’s the story of rare collectibles.

    Nonetheless, slightly agitated with the sense of self-privilege he formed, I parted my lips to say, “What matters most about my personal vinyl collection is not it’s market value, but the memorable value, and with most, the symbolic cultural meaning.” But it felt pointless.

    But still curious to understand why such a condescending demeanor was needed, after composing myself and shaking off the offense, I attempted another round of civility. I started to make clear I was not in the same profession as he was (assuming he’s a professional DJ), that I was simply looking for two or three Ethiopian classic records. He dismissed my words with an air of arrogance. I guess I should have gathered from his last few words that the stakes –whatever the stakes are– seem too high for him; and what’s more, he made it known with an exaggerated sense of importance that the vinyl privileges were his.

    Besides the awkward sneered exchange, for a moment, I thought I was in the diamond business trying to locate a mine to dig.

    I walked away from the conversation determined to dig up, (re)discover, and ascertain the state of vinyl records in the city: Ethiopia’s cultural memory in material. Even more, the evening was a provocation of cultural disregard, a reminder that vinyl artifacts, beyond the big album art, are footprints of culture and a mediation of memory. Nothing less than how artifacts, including the music we listen to become part of the things that give meaning to culture. And surely, as Jose van Dijck indicates, “Music memories become manifest at the memory of the intersection of personal and collective memory and identity.” They play a role in a substantive personal and social way; they become part of our collective memory that is to be treasured.

    c c PZ

    Assuming that these treasures are thrown out or unkept; supposing the suppliers don’t realize the cultural value of this real art treasure, I began to wonder how the vinyl record market operates. And whether there is even a vinyl record market in Addis-Ababa. If so, who are the real owners of these treasures, realizing that the appeal of vinyl has extended well beyond the narrow market of purist DJs?

    Encouraged by an eager friend with some connections, we went on a hunt for vinyls. As we were going in and out of stores in Merkato [the largest open-market in East Africa located in Ethiopia’s capital Addis-Ababa], talking to various shop owners who were identified as record suppliers, we realized the process was rather shadowy. We were talking to most of them as if we were chasing to buy illegal goods or blood diamonds. None of them had the vinyl records close at hand. They were hidden away, in their homes or some obscure place. Arrangements had to be made to meet and buy at later time. It seemed like an ambiguous adventure.

    After exploring for sometime, we found reliable contacts. This one vinyl record retailer was telling us that he only had 70 records left after a clean up from a regular foreign collector. On top of that, the price of a vinyl record in Birr [Ethiopian currency] has rocketed. The suppliers were sitting on a goldmine with foreign buyers who will pay any price for African vinyl records. “They want them, there is a high demand for East African music. That’s all they keep asking for and they’ll pay any price,” the supplier said, with a nonchalant attitude, arms crossed across his chest.

    As it turns out others count at a high price cultural material we discount.

    We were stunned, even more when we realized that the highly inflated market price didn’t respond to haggling. To a point of reckoning that vinyls, in this town, presumably have become a fetished commodity. The wondering wouldn’t stop: could it be that prices are based on real value, or on the assumption of dealing with rarefied artifacts, or is the market merely dictated on high demand against low supply? Nonetheless, regardless of what the market says, it can’t be ignored that “predilection for vinyls is criticized as an antiquated, expensive, elitist practice of compulsive hoarding, which in turn fuels dubious and artificially inflated markets dealing in rarefied artifacts of technology and media”.

    In the end, regardless of an “elitist practice or compulsive hoarding,” or not, evidently, vinyl records matter after all. There are people who collect, at any cost, cultural artifacts that cultural owners disregard as unimportant memory, or throw out as ancient materiality of culture. Thus, what matters most is being cognizant of the importance of creating and preserving heritage collections from ephemeral artifacts, conscious of their value to cultural history and heritage. Being that our heritage is who we are and what we will leave behind for our children as knowledge, we can’t take our cultural artifacts for granted, not even ephemeral artifacts like vinyl records.



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    Comment & analysis

    Buhari: The burden of expectations

    Abdulrazaq Magaji


    Nigerians are already looking beyond the March 28 presidential election, which the opposition All Peoples’ Congress and its presidential candidate General Muhammadu Buhari are expected to win.

    At critical times when nations found themselves at crossroads, it has almost always been a General that stepped forward to check a certain slide into anarchy. Nigeria is at a crossroads and gradually being run aground by an inept and clueless government at the centre. But, all hope is not lost because one incorruptible General is full of assurances to Nigerians that, with the right leadership, things can get better.

    General Muhammadu Buhari, GMB to his admirers, is more than the ordinary Nigerian as he prefers to describe himself. Respected and eulogised by many just as he is falsely accused and suspected, the former Nigerian head of state represents the face of the new leadership the country is desirous of. He has been sincere enough to admit that, under his presidency, things won’t change within the first year but four years should be enough to get the country working again. In a country where ill prepared people corner political power and are only happy at the executiveness of office even when they are clearly overwhelmed by its trappings, General Buhari represents a race horse in the midst of cart horses; an oasis in an inhospitable desert.

    Behind his permanent scowl is a man with an unquenchable love for country: a patriot, a wonderful democrat, a committed teacher and a dedicated student with eyes for details. At a point, you begin to wonder what such an incorruptible Nigerian is doing in the shark-infested water of politics. But GMB is steeled by his belief that the emergence of transformational leadership will remain a mirage if rare-breeds quit the stage for evil people. This is where he differed with his former deputy and another rare-breed, the late General Abdulbaaqi Babatunde Idiagbon. Few seconds in the General’s company reveals the real GMB: a man of honour and full of humour! He does not only bring down the roof; GMB joins in the ensuing general laughter!

    At each point in his meritorious career, GMB resisted the urge to steal. This is an unusual trait in public life in Nigeria. As a military governor, petroleum minister as well as chairman of Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, a General Officer Commanding, then Head of State and Commander in Chief and later as chairman of the Petroleum Trust Fund, GMB could have been the richest retired general today. He had every opportunity to loot the treasury and amass enough wealth to take care of his needs but never did. He never would, if he had to live his exemplary life all over again!

    As with all standard bearers, GMB’s main crime is not refusing to steal when he had all the chances in the world to loot the treasury! No! After all there are many other Nigerians like him in that regard. His crime, and for which many have vowed to fight him for life, is that he would not even allow others to steal! No unrepentant thief would wish a man who will expose and sanction them around! When GMB pledges to stop treasury-looters from running the nation aground, all he is saying is that he will plug all holes deliberately bored in the system through which thieves got away with their loot. All he asks for and all he believes Nigerians deserve is a dedicated, committed and exemplary leadership which he is prepared to provide. Nigerians can no longer afford to beat about the bush by hoping a certified failed leadership can redeem itself. Nigerians cannot afford to wait for the opportunity to describe General Buhari as another best president Nigerians did not get!

    It is just as well that GMB, despite initial misgivings from certain quarters, did not give up on his desire to serve his fatherland. At 72, the General is in good shape, focused and unfazed by the boast of treasury-looters who insist they will rule for ever. If they cared to check, they would have discovered that Africa’s political highway is littered with carcases of leaders who told opposition politicians to go stew in their own juice. In Ivory Coast, Alassane Ouattara upstaged Laurent Gbagbo, the man who thought he had the whole country in his pockets and who shifted elections at his whim. Edgar Lungu and his predecessor, Michael Sata, once trod that frustrating and humiliating albeit weather-beaten path in Zambia. Mamadou Yusufu was once told by some God- rivalling men in Niger Republic that he would only rule in his next life! In Senegal, Macky Sall easily drubbed Abdoulaye Wade even after he was told to forget the presidency!

    Nigeria’s situation, pathetic as it is, will rise to that level. On March 28, a fumbling and bungling government, more out of balance of fear, will be forced to acknowledge that it has been roundly drubbed by a committed opposition! For Nigerians, it will be the end of a long, bad dream…and the beginning of a glorious era!

    * Abdulrazaq Magaji is based in Abuja and can be reached at [email protected]


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    Nigeria: President Obama got it wrong on unity

    Osita Ebiem


    Obama is wrong to say that the country must remain united at any cost because he does not understand that underlying the fear of violence is the fact that Nigeria is a failed colonial fiction. Break up is the only way.

    Nigeria is going to the polls to elect a president in less than one week. Understandably, there is a high level of apprehension, hence American President Barack Obama’s intervention in calling for a fair and peaceful election. This fear has remained a permanent feature in Nigeria since the inception of the country fifty-something years ago. The country has never been united. It is a forced marriage of incongruent peoples with irreconcilable cultural and religious differences. The fear of disintegration remains a permanent specter that continues to pervade and dog every social fabric and all events of nationwide proportion. The truth is that one (united) Nigeria is a fluke while a divided Nigeria is more realistic.

    In less than ten years after its independence from the British in October 1, 1960 Nigeria descended into a bloody war of genocide and ethnic cleansing of its Igbo population. The war was fought along ethnic/religious divide. It was known as Biafra-Nigeria war or Biafra War. Before the war began in 1967 there was a pogrom. The Nigerian government in the year preceding the war directly through its military, paramilitary establishments and a mobilized citizenry carried out the mass murder of a section of its citizens: the Igbo population and the other easterners. In this 1966 massacre more than 100,000 Igbo people and some other easterners were killed. They were killed simply for who they are and not for any crimes committed by them.

    The massacre forced the people to embark on the quest for self-determination and independence since they had been driven out of every part of Nigeria back to their ancestral homeland. They determined that since they were no longer accepted in Nigeria and their safety was no longer guaranteed by the Nigerian government; therefore they should be able to find safety and a home within their own place. So they seceded and declared their homeland, the former Eastern Region, independent from Nigeria and called the new country Republic of Biafra. The ethnic people that made up the majority of the new country are the Igbo. And they were the people that the other Nigerians wanted to exterminate from the face of the Earth.

    Unfortunately, Nigeria declared a war of aggression against Biafra after their secession. But it was actually something like swiping a fly with a sledge hammer because the Nigerian government was armed to the teeth and well supplied with weapons by the British government of Prime Minister Harold Wilson and the USSR. Biafrans were practically unarmed and only fought back because they were faced with imminent total annihilation.

    Nigeria went into the war with a central slogan – “To keep Nigeria one is a task that must be done.” And this is the same slogan that President Obama borrowed to use in his address when he was urging Nigerians to conduct a fair and peaceful election. The President was misled by whoever that let him use that slogan. The slogan was born out of crisis; how can anyone call for peace while using a phrase that stinks of blood, hatred and destruction? The President may have meant well but he got it all wrong by using the slogan. That phrase is a genocidal slogan that led to the unjust slaughter of more than 3 million Igbo people some fifty years ago.

    "To keep Nigeria one is a task that must be done" was used by the Nigerian state and its citizens to commit genocide against Igbo people and the other Biafrans. For every Igbo person alive today the sound of that phrase opens up an old festering wound and it’s very painful. Igbo people will demand for an apology from President Obama for hitting them at their weakest point. For President Obama to have used that slogan it shows that he is either insensitive about a people's pain or that he was being plain ignorant of their pain. Whichever way, the impact is the same, President Obama pricked the Igbo wound and it is only right that the President of the United States of America should correct this mistake. The President must convince the Igbo and Biafrans that he does not support genocide or any other form of crime against humanity as was committed by Nigeria against Igbo people. That slogan reminds every Igbo person about the genocide and war crime they suffered through and it does not befit the use of by any world leader, and not the President of the United States of America.



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    Vendors just got a new defender

    Fambai Ngirande


    The intervention by President Mugabe’s wife in vendors’ clashes with the police is just talk. Vendors have become the vanguard of Zimbabwe's informal economy, but they lack recognition, support or protection from a State that disproportionately invests more in the formal economy and draws resources away from the poor.

    Let's play a guessing game. Guess who emphatically warned the mighty Zimbabwe Republic Police not to harass vendors? Is it Japhet Moyo the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions Secretary General? Or perhaps Mai Chisamba the people-centred talk show host? Or maybe it was Alick Macheso the people's favourite artist? Or could it be the first lady herself?

    Pause for thought. Take your time. Now, state your pick.

    Sorry folks, it's not Japhet, (though he should be speaking out more in defence of our embattled vendors) but it's the first lady. Yes, she did it. Told them in no uncertain terms, "Mapurisa please mapurisa… ngatiregerei kutorera vanhu zvinhu zvazvo" (police please police… desist from confiscating people's goods.)

    We wait to see the full effect of this warning though we won't be holding our breath for urgent change. It's hard to believe though, that a renowned world class shopper with documented exquisitely high end tastes could possibly understand the defenceless state of our vendors. It's even harder to believe that chief amongst the myriad threats to vendors livelihoods are the constant threats, harassments and property seizures frequently orchestrated by our very own Republic Police and their counterparts in the Municipal Police. It matters less to them that vendors are predominantly defenceless citizens striving to earn a living in a harsh economy as it does that the imposition of archaic council by-laws present opportunities for some police officers to loot with impunity.

    Whereas vendors have become the vanguard of Zimbabwe's informal economy sustaining the health, education and welfare needs of the majority of the population, they do so without recognition, support or protection from a State that disproportionately invests more in the formal economy and draws resources away from the poor through drastic cuts in public service delivery, corruption and taxation. In many ways vending has come to represent not only a lifeline for many people struggling to make headway in an economy that bleeds jobs but the preferable lifestyle for generations long convinced of the futility of writing an application letter for a job. After all, the few that are fortunate to be in formal employment are either not getting paid at all or are not getting paid on time.

    In political terms the fate of the vendors has become a landmine of sorts for a regime that once destroyed hundreds of thousands of so-called illegal shelters and places of work under Operation Murambatsvina for the purposes of restoring order. This time it's no longer feasible to restore order without first creating alternatives for people's livelihoods. Crowded disorderly streets with commerce are definitely preferable to crowded disorderly streets with turmoil. Hence the default position seems for politicians to oscillate between giving token incentives to vendors and restraining law enforcement from implementing existing laws that are hostile to the very existence of the current vendor class. Embrace the vendor seems to be the catch phrase and the first lady certainly got the memo.

    We could perhaps take solace from the fact that the message has finally reached upstairs; that this country, this nation of vendors, requires high-level protection from the police. But that will only be a start; what this nation of vendors needs is job creating economic growth and poverty reducing redistributive policies. In Zim Asset terms it's the 2.2 million jobs and improved public service delivery that we need.

    I am curious though as to just how the message reached upstairs. I mean: it’s hard to imagine the typical Shef bargain hunting downtown from table to table, negotiating prices. And since it's highly unlikely that the first lady witnessed for herself the deplorable conditions that vendors earn their living I thought it prudent for us to take her on a trip downtown - a sort of meet the vendors mini trip if you don't mind. We could have gone to Mbare Musika but we are told the crowd control requirements would distort her from getting a good view of the vendor in natural habitat.

    And so we drop out of the stately presidential limousine aka Zim1 at Copacabana terminus, (big Phil would not lend us that $500 000 egotistic monstrosity of a Hummer Limousine on account of the occasion not being glamorous enough). Thankfully Zim1 has space to spare and we did not have to sit four-four and nobody had to stick out the front a bit, or wiggle in to make room. And, yes, Mr Briggs we did not feel a single pothole. No more questions - we have an important person to take on tour.

    The first thing that hits you when you arrive downtown is the complex medley of competing voices, cajoling, haggling, announcing and persuading in some of the most spirited tones witnessed in the history of making a sell. The competition is fierce. Most people are vendors in some way or the other selling to the next person who is also trying to sell. It's the second hand vendors for example at corner Speke and Cameron that take the prize for animation as they jump and shout all day to keep small crowds engaged long enough to check their wares. Only through them does the term dollar-for-two assume a musical tone attracting waves of crowds all day to gobble up all sorts of clothes from used underwear to shoes. A distant second are the insect poison vendors with their hailers on repeat with such creative messages as "you are the landlord not the roaches so claim your house back." Perhaps a fitting metaphor for what has occurred over the past few years, the massive occupation of open spaces by vendors. They are now the landlords of the streets and doubt if they will be eager to leave without viable alternative being put in place.

    There is literally no more walking room on the streets of downtown Harare and most other cities too. Everywhere you turn is a vendor with goods on the floor or a makeshift table doing the business of surviving. The distance between Albion Street and Robert Mugabe street along Chinhoyi street for example is home to an average 30 vendors selling an assortment of goods ranging from fresh produce spread on the floor, to hand made shoes, to small electrical goods. Others like Mai Jessy will have various toiletry items including skin lightening crèmes and libido boosting tablets plus ideas on how to improve skin tone and performance in bed to share.

    Those are just the regulars; time and again someone with some goods to sell will pick an empty spot and trade for the day. It's truly an open market. There is space too for those with special skills like auto-electricians installing car radios whilst you wait or cell phone technicians who can fix any phone. These skills honed in a formal setting somewhere, are found on the streets amongst hundreds of thousands others retrenched, displaced or let go and now at the street's disposal at a fraction of their true worth. Accompanying these vendors in some instances are toddlers who have made the street a second home and will soon make it their place of work just as they found it: crowded, without toilets, without protection and without security but still better than staying at home.

    Calling the police off will certainly help. But the true defenders of the vendors will focus on doing things that grow the economy, things that create new jobs and things that meaningfully protect the rights of those that will choose to remain vendors.

    [With thoughts of Itai Dzamara and all those victimised for exercising their right to speak. #bringbackItai]

    *Fambai Ngirande writes what he likes.



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    RIP SA human rights

    Vanessa Burger


    The South African police force still carries with it the brutally violent culture and practices which characterised apartheid policing. These trends are unlikely to be reigned in by a government that is progressively paranoid of people power, leaving the boys in blue to become further removed from the law that they are supposed to uphold.

    ‘Bafana, bam seater nikhulumane iqiniso nyakunya!’
    [‘You boys had better start talking the truth because you’re going to shit yourselves.’]

    These may be the last words he heard when the ‘plastic’ was forced over his head by members of the SAPS, and secured tightly around his throat. As he struggled, his breath was replaced by the soft clinging plastic of the bag, flattening his nose and stretching his mouth wide as he gasped in vain.

    Suffocation does not kill quickly, especially when the process is repeated, again and again, to extract information from a victim who simply cannot provide it. He died during the month in which we are told we must celebrate our human rights – just another victim of our increasingly brutal boys in blue.

    Since then, many more people have died and an incalculable number intimidated, assaulted and tortured by police. Used depressingly often by dictatorships to instill fear on society as a whole, torture - particularly ‘tubing’, ‘bagging’ or ‘waterboarding’ - was used regularly by the apartheid regime on political prisoners. It didn’t stop after 1994. It couldn’t when ‘Black Jack’ mentality was accommodated in the force. ‘Tube’ survivors have described the unspeakable terror and utter humiliation of their torture experience – a lifelong psychological trauma that, in the absence of closure brought by justice, is borne in silent alienation.

    Police sources who admit to using this popular interrogation technique claim ‘only the inexperienced kill their victims by mistake’, or ‘stupidly’ leave evidence behind - like the bag or a body. Don’t get caught is the message they’ve clearly received.

    When a police officer was asked if he ever thought about the impact of his actions on the victim’s family while ‘tubing’ a suspect, he replied, ‘No, we’re under pressure to get the info, it’s in the heat of the moment, we can’t wait for an investigation which goes nowhere. These are bad guys.’

    The decomposition of our criminal justice system has produced police who don’t believe in the law – they have become the law, often unto themselves. And anyway, policing now is all about meeting targets instead of good investigative work. As long as extrajudicial ‘justice’ doesn’t cause too much embarrassment or is on the right side of ruling party priorities, all is well with the world - if not the populace.

    But the act of torture dehumanizes the perpetrator as much as it does the victim. At what stage do killer cops become victims themselves? When they melt down and turn their service revolvers on themselves and their families? Or when they turn to serious crime, morphing seamlessly into truck-jackers and rapists, products of increasingly criminal state enterprise?

    A government progressively paranoid of people power is unlikely to reign in increasingly unlawful law enforcement. It’s democracy down the barrel of a gun while credulous assurances from cop top brass, float away like tear gas over service delivery protests and the only ‘book’ to which the police are brought, is the one used in sermons for those they have killed.

    It will take much more to repair our broken police service than disingenuous platitudes that echo hollow as a grave. Strident declarations by police spokesperson, Solomon Makgale, in response to the Right2Know’s Human Rights Day campaign against police brutality, that SAPS management is really on top of its game and ‘has always acknowledged instances where the police had acted outside the boundaries of the law’, should have us falling about laughing if we could only see a better future through our tears.


    In memory of: Zinakile Fica who died while being tortured by members of the eMlazi SAPS on 13 March 2014, leaving destitute a young wife, four children and five-months-old baby;

    And in solidarity with police brutality survivors Thulani Kati and Tsepo Jali who were tortured on 2 October 2014, allegedly by members of the Public Order Policing Unit, deployed by KZN Premier, Senzo Mchunu, four days after he declared ‘peace’ at Glebelands Hostel;

    And the woman who cannot be named, also tortured by eMlazi SAPS members and detained at the station’s cells for forty hours without being charged or accused of any crime.

    To date, despite SAPS and IPID investigations, no police members implicated in these crimes have been suspended, arrested, charged or sentenced. It is rumoured that one officer may have received a promotion.

    For Dalisu Sangweni - a brave man who fought state corruption and paid the ultimate price.

    May your voices live on…



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    Have US human rights violations soared in the 9/11 aftermath?

    Joash Ntenga Moitui


    Since the events of 11 September 2001, US policies that were supposed to prevent further atrocities have in fact encouraged them. The US, aided by its ally nations, has committed untold numbers of human rights violations under the guise of ‘the war on terror’. These policies need to be re-examined.

    US President George W. Bush declared war on terrorism on 12 September 2001. The previous day had witnessed an infamous terrorist attack that ended thousands of lives. The attack was unique not because of the act itself but because of the response to it, beginning with the declaration of war on terror. Hundreds were rounded up. Their fundamental constitutional rights were suspended. There was a rush to legislate even greater restrictions to their freedom. They were detained indefinitely without charge or trial. They were denied legal advice and representation. There were suggestions that torture was permissible. The declaration of war on terror unleashed a global commitment to combat terrorism with no regard for national boundaries or international law. The US received worldwide sympathy. There was global condemnation of terrorism in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks. Nobody disputed the nature of terrorism or its inherent evil. However, there is serious disagreement about the manner of the response to terrorism, as manifest in relation to the ensuing war against Iraq.

    The hundreds of immigrants detained by the United States were of West Asian or North African origin. They were Islamic in belief. Very few of them were charged with a criminal offence. Most were detained for many months on the grounds of immigration. These detainees were denied their constitutional rights to silence, access to legal advice and representation and even the right to contact their families. They were dealt with secretly before closed courts. The US led the way with new legislation to restrict human rights: the USA PATRIOT Act. This new approach was in evidence at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba, where captured Taliban and al-Qaeda suspects were held without the protection of international humanitarian, or human rights, laws. The US administration stated that the provisions on treatment of prisoners in the Geneva Conventions did not apply to these detainees.

    Detainees in Guantanamo Bay have been denied the protection of rights provided under the US constitution. They are imprisoned under inhumane conditions, subjected to degrading treatment and even to torture. They have been denied due process rights such as the right to legal representation and the right to be tried openly before a court. Many have been held for dozens of months and still await the determination of their fate.


    The attacks on 11 September by al-Qaeda led to the declaration of a global war on terror by the Bush administration. The prompt development of more rigorous counter-terrorism initiatives has had an adverse effect of exacerbating human rights violations. This holds true not only in the United States but also in other countries that joined the global war on terror as partners. Some countries that routinely contravene in the human rights of political prisoners received indirect support from the US to expand their brutal practices. Other nations renowned for respect of human rights by institutional monitoring of excessive state power also used the occasion to erode such measures. This resulted in laxer checks on state activities that might undermine the human rights of suspected terrorists (Hammarberg 2011).

    Observers have accused the Bush administration of undermining these rights. European nations have also been accused of restricting civil liberties for terror suspects. Human rights organizations have accused the European Union of facilitating the illegal transport of suspected terrorists to prisons in developing countries where they are likely to undergo torture. Human Rights Watch asserts that many countries used the 9/11 attacks to justify their own hard line treatment of political opponents. They also used the occasion to advance their restrictive and punitive treatment of refugees and other foreigners.

    The Constitution Project’s bipartisan Task Force on Detainee Treatment has reported that the US government partook in the widespread torture of suspects detained during the ‘War on Terror’. The report details widespread abuses against detained suspects including prolonged detention, physical abuse, rendering to undisclosed locations and other inhuman and degrading treatment, including torture. Observers have called for the creation of a truth commission by the US government to provide a comprehensive view of the practices behind rights violations. The apparent reluctance of the Obama Administration to do so has dismayed them. The current government stresses the need to look to the future rather than dwell on the past.

    Observers have pointed the finger at the US Central Intelligence Agency’s (CIA) Rendition, Detention and Interrogation (RDI) program. This RDI policy has allegedly entailed systematic human rights violations. Through this program, the CIA allegedly captured terror suspects in foreign lands, oftentimes with assistance from local security agencies, and transported them to some third-world states for interrogation. This placed the suspected perpetrators beyond the reach of any justice system, rendering them vulnerable to mistreatment.


    Soon after the 9/11 attacks, most European nations are said to have signed up for blanket approval for access to airfields under the NATO framework. Many governments also engaged in secret joint operations with US military and intelligence agencies. Sweden allegedly handed over two Egyptian political refugees to CIA personnel. The team then went on to blindfold, beat up and photograph the men, before carrying out further abuses. They then forced them aboard a waiting plane that took them back to Egypt where they were detained and tortured. This pattern of abuse was subsequently repeated in other European states in the next three years.

    Even though security agencies have acknowledged many such renditions as being ‘mistakes’, no proper investigations have been carried out. Cover-ups have been the typical responses of governments. For instance, the Swedish government deceived a parliamentary commission that was seeking clarification of the facts. Furthermore, the government gave out erroneous information to a UN human rights organization. Many other governments have moved to keep undesirable revelations from the public sphere.

    In carrying out its global war on terror, the US relied on assistance from a variety of other countries. A notable example of US collaboration with other governments in carrying out abuses is their cooperation with Pakistan. Pakistani intelligence agencies worked closely with the CIA to make terrorist suspects disappear. They were held in secret detention where they were subjected to torture and other abuses that were in violation of their basic human rights. Some governments perpetrated abuses at the behest of the US in order to gain favour or funding. Nevertheless, this collaboration was often genuine due to the apparent interests of the two nations being in alignment. For instance, Libya took custody of some Libyan nationals rendered to them by the CIA between 2004 and 2006. Even though the detention and questioning of these suspects supposedly served US interests, the Libyan government had its own reasons for detaining them.

    The forms of collaboration ranged from sharing of intelligence to prisoner transfers. Some allowed US authorities to detain prisoners on their territory. Many of these collaborators received millions of dollars in US military assistance. Some governments embraced abusive practices due to direct pressure from the US. For instance, the US encouraged some countries to pass harsh counterterrorism legislation that often expanded police powers while reducing due legal process guarantees. Many governments mimicked the Bush administration’s use of ‘war on terror’ to justify their abuses, especially the idea that eliminating terrorism trumps any opposing human rights commitments.

    *Joash Ntenga Moitui is a Fellow at the Pan-African University, Institute of Governance and Regional Integration.

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    Putting power on the grid: An Alternative lesson in development

    Fumani Mthembi


    The development of South Africa’s renewable energy sector provides a case study for understanding the inter-relationship that exists between social and economic development.

    In 2011, the South African government initiated a renewable energy procurement programme with the view to achieve a few aims: the diversification of its energy sources away from coal; liberalisation of the sector through the introduction of independent power producers and augmenting supply to fuel economic growth and limit the impact of blackouts owing to aging power generation facilities.

    By introducing technologies for exploitation of wind and solar power, the programme required that experienced foreign entities be invited to design, construct and operate these new generation facilities. Additionally, the space requirements of these new power plants opened up an opportunity to locate infrastructure in typically under-developed, rural areas. Therefore, the internationally lauded programme has, since inception, attracted ‘over R120 billion in foreign direct investments’ (Finweek, 7 August 2014); secured 2220MW of electricity (if the round 4 allocation is not exceeded) and perhaps most importantly, it has generated social benefits that range from job creation to the generation of 20-year annuity incomes that will flow from the energy projects directly to the communities in which they are located.

    As a model, what the programme demonstrates is that social and economic objectives can be pursued simultaneously. Even more importantly, that social investment can be generated through a system of entitlements rather than charity or aid. The question that emerges then, is how this form of development, which promises a much higher level of sustainability, will be incorporated into the Sustainable Development Goals?


    South Africa’s Renewable Energy Procurement Programme requires independent producers to submit proposals into a competitive bidding process. Independent Power Producers are necessarily consortia comprised of senior partners, who are typically foreign energy utilities with extensive track records in renewable energy and junior partners, who are a combination South African entities aspiring to become utilities as well as Community Trusts who hold shares on behalf of the communities in which power plants are to be established.

    In submitting their bids, these consortia are judged on two criteria: Economic Development and Financial/technical robustness Economic Development (ED) comprises 30% of the score that is ultimately allocated to a bidder. Making up the ED score are seven elements: job creation; management control; ownership; local content; preferential procurement; enterprise development and socio-economic development.

    All these sub-elements of ED concern themselves with the extent to which investments are made into various, previously disadvantaged categories of South Africans: Black people, women, youth and people with disabilities. Therefore, a project’s score is dependent on the extent to which it commits itself to making these social investments. Critically, all successful projects are bound to the commitments made in their plans and are subjected to financial penalties in the event that they fail to fulfil their obligations.

    From the perspective of sustainability, the most aggressive obligations are those linked to community development because they guarantee two income streams for communities: a share in annual revenues as well as a share in project dividends. Given that the power plants are awarded 20-year licenses, what this means is that communities are also provided with a 20-year revenue stream to fund local development.


    The programme is of course not without its weaknesses. Although designed to address both infrastructure and social development concerns, the inability to monitor the quality of social investments has proven to be a drawback. As a result, one of the missed opportunities that has come with the job creation process is insufficient skills development. By emphasising job creation, the State has incentivised the creation of high volumes of short-term jobs, which are typically of a very basic nature for the purpose of power plant construction. These jobs last, at most, for 24 months. What this means then, is that the real opportunity is not in enabling a family to have income for 24 months, but rather to ensure that the employment period improves employability in future, which is dependent on an improvement in or diversification of one’s skills.

    Another challenge has come from an ownership requirement that looks only at the identity of the owners and not their role in the power plant. The result then is a fairly passive class of Black owners of power plants who are oblivious to the actual operations. Their role is thus limited to raising funds and then waiting for dividends, which denies the economy what it really needs: Black industrialists who are capable of organising all elements of production for the purpose of constructing and operating renewable energy power plants. Therefore, one of the key lessons of South Africa’s experience is that development requires a monitoring system that measures not just crude participation but also the substance of that involvement.


    However, the broader development lessons from this experience provide an alternative and arguably more sustainable approach to what is generally touted. First of all, it is clear from this programme that there is massive potential in development investments that marry social objectives to economic and political goals. For in committing to a certain level of social investments, private companies can be held accountable by both the state and communities for their choices. This then goes beyond corporate social responsibility, which sees private sector players accounting only to shareholders for their actions.

    Furthermore, by virtue of owning shares, communities are empowered to directly drive the social investment agenda rather than receiving development as charity or aid. In other words, development as an entitlement can be fostered through government-regulated investments made by the private sector.

    And this type of model is of even greater relevance given the massive infrastructure needs across the African continent. Therefore, what we’d like to see in the Sustainable Development Goals is a framing of development objectives that goes beyond social objectives, and rather locates the social in a context that is linked to economic and political objectives. This requires the new development goals to draw to clear linkages between the state, the private sector and society.

    This kind of approach, which is found in the traditionally unlikely case of energy procurement in the South African context, is critical for improving accountability amongst local actors, which is ultimately vital for strengthening democracy. What it also promises is independence from international aid, which should, in the first place, be the main goal of sustainable development.

    * Fumani Mthembi is Managing Director of Knowledge Pele, a social research and development advisory firm based in Johannesburg, South Africa.



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    Improving the investment architecture for Africa’s youth in 2015 and beyond

    Emmanuel Edudzie


    Changing the situation of Africa’s youth will require high levels of commitment both within the nations of Africa and the rich countries of the world. Fortunately, across Africa, there is growing recognition of the centrality of youth issues in the development agenda

    Despite their numerical majority, young people in Africa are still confronted with significant obstacles to participating in economic, social and political circles. The challenges of getting an education, earning a productive and sustainable livelihood, and having a healthy lifestyle continue to draw back progress towards tapping the potential of Africa’s youth for the continent’s development in the face of low life expectancy, weak infrastructure, and poor economic development in the region.

    Yet, Africa’s youth are the key to the continent’s renaissance and will remain players in and advocates of social transformation and development in many spheres. The enormous benefits that youth can contribute can only be realised when investment is made in their education, employment, health care, empowerment and effective civic participation.

    Changing the situation of Africa’s youth will require high levels of commitment both within the nations of Africa and the rich countries of the world. Fortunately, across Africa, there is growing recognition of the centrality of youth issues in the development agenda, and how improving the situation of Africa’s youth will make them part of the solution to Africa’s development challenges. Likewise, within the development community, recognition of the importance of investing in young people in Africa has grown rapidly as a number of bilateral and multilateral donors, as well as foundations and other global institutions have published policies and strategies, commissioned research and analysis, and launched a range of programmes and initiatives targeting Africa’s youth.

    This is rightly so because young people constitute the majority of the population on the continent. With little education, diminishing chances of earning a livelihood, and blurred prospects of a meaningful future, youth in Africa may become a breeding pit that may fuel migration, radicalisation and instability. Thus, considering Africa’s youth as a demographic cohort, rather than merely as the sum of individuals with different needs (of employment, health, education, etc.) is recognition of youth as a collective actor, capable of influencing society’s direction and pace through their actions.

    This donor momentum has obviously increased the profile of Africa’s youth across all domains of global development discourse. However, more needs to be done to ensure that donor policies and strategies are matched by an increase in funding and specific programming to effectively and efficiently meet youth needs on the continent in 2015 and beyond.

    Across Africa, as part of a division of labour between donors and partner governments, several donors have moved towards greater sectoral concentration, both at an overall regional level and in specific countries. This has in most cases led to a diminishing focus on youth development as a sector in its own right; either because it is considered as cross-sectoral or because it has been dropped in favour of other key sectors such as education, health or economic growth.

    The aid effectiveness agenda has also led to most donors increasingly shifting from the old ‘project’ modality towards larger-scale programmatic sector-wide approaches. This shift has increasingly resulted in multi-donor programmes in which the national government or a UN agency is the main in-country partner. While this may achieve better alignment of aid, it also reduces the scope for donors to fund smaller catalytic projects such as those which work with youth at a community level. At the same time, the move towards alignment with partner country priorities has created the opportunity to achieve greater impact in key sectors but has reduced opportunities to work in other key sectors that the government might not prioritise – such as youth. In several African countries for example, for a variety of reasons, governments only pay lip service to youth issues, and, as a result, youth development programmes do not receive significant funding.

    To improve the investment architecture for Africa’s youth in 2015 and beyond, donors should work to delineate ‘youth’ (or ‘children and youth’) as a sector on its own and then invest in gathering youth-specific funding data both at individual donor level and as part of a donor community. Further steps should be taken to invest in age-disaggregated data gathering in African countries through support to national statistics bureaus and other national data collection organisations as well as ensuring the collection of disaggregated data and analysis in programme design, monitoring and evaluation. Developing a system to enable specific monitoring of commitments and expenditure on youth will ensure that policy commitments are matched by programming commitments and funding.

    For more efficiency and coordination, donors should also create specific youth units with advisors that have responsibility for driving policy and programming on youth. The youth units and their advisors could provide more explicit guidance to different country and sectoral programmes on why, when and how to focus on youth with examples of best practice for analysis, programming, monitoring and evaluation. In the absence of this, youth issues risk being de-prioritised.

    Donors should also give more overall priority to youth development in Africa. For Africa’s youth to receive the much needed programming and funding they deserve, there needs to be a more systematic approach to analysing their situation, and when appropriate, including more explicit objectives related to youth development in key donor policies, strategies and programmes.

    Undoubtedly, more funding is needed to demonstrate donors’ recognition of the importance of investing in youth for Africa’s development. Both large and small programmes are encouraged. But in particular, smaller, catalytic projects on youth development in African countries can be critical to supporting the piloting of new approaches particularly at community level. Large-scale programmes can be executed through multi-donor pool-funding mechanisms, while small projects can be funded through mechanisms like challenge funds and small grants initiatives managed by third parties.

    In order to provide a fuller picture to form the basis for investments in Africa’s youth, further research is required to provide context-specific analysis of the situation of youth in each African country. Such research should explore the specific risks and challenges faced by different groups of youth and the opportunities that exist for engaging with them to meet their needs and enhance their role in peace building and development.

    Finally, regular systematic review of experience and good-practice in implementing youth programmes is required with a view to understanding how best to address youth issues across programming in general and in Africa in particular. This can draw on various comparative scenarios including mainstreaming youth development in other sectors such as education in order to draw best practices, targeting specific youth groups such as those with disability for particular interventions, supporting youth ministries and youth-led organisations and individual youth as part of efforts to strengthen the youth sector, or a hybrid approach that combines mainstreaming youth in some sectors and targeting youth development as a sector in its own right.

    * Emmanuel Edudzie is Executive Director of Youth Empowerment Synergy based in Ghana. For 12 years he has been at the forefront of youth development policy, practice and research at all levels.

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    Africa Rising: Debunking the imagery

    Blessol Gathoni


    Africa has been rising a long time. This is the continent that liberated itself from the shackles of European colonialism. It is the land of glorious ancient civilizations. But the new ‘rising’ parroted around nowadays is merely about the monetary fortunes of foreign looters and their local lackeys.

    It is time we analyzed or cracked open the narrative that is ‘Africa rising’. It has been very appealing at the surface - with African clothing, art and innovation penetrating the global scene, but is gravely condescending with the underlying exploitation of the continent’s resources by any Tom, Yong, Ojeifo, Zuma or Wolfgang who sees it fit to rip, rape and take from our people.

    Above all else, this narrative has had a few pressing priorities to focus on. The first has been infrastructure, which has loosely translated to any European [failed and/dysfunctional systems] or Chinese [Imports of throw away technology and prison workers to advance our paths] or whoever else’s idea of development is - far from our own socio- economic and political transformation and the definition of it.

    Then there is the one-sided narrative on terrorism – “the war on terror”, which beyond any reasonable doubt has been seen as only achievable by having autocratic controls, state repression, increased militarism and discrimination of economically marginalized people with immigration backgrounds who adhere to a particular religion. Not even with the proof of these same models not having worked out so well for their advisors and funders e.g. in Europe- ISIS, America- Al-shabaab etc., can you deter their minds. They are set.

    And lastly agriculture. ‘Smart Agriculture.’ That spells out [even without use of info-graphs] multi-national corporations’ control on food production with devastating lessons from India, Malawi and Monsato’s own backyard - that have shown both its retrogressive “progress” in sustaining food sovereignty and failure in offering climate change solutions.

    However, this ‘Rising’ – universe help us- is inevitably coming, if not long here already. The vehement travelling by our African leaders and statements across the continent even globally is more around cementing structures that will sustain their survival and that of the narrative.

    The newest interesting statement has been the appointment of Robert Mugabe as the chairman of AU post-2016. This symbol hasn’t been noted at multiple local contexts as a ‘negative’ or ‘positive’ thing necessarily, that is, if it is a thing at all. Nor has it raised alarms on how catastrophic its outcomes are - while the global community is wailing. The existence that is African at the local /communal level has been orchestrated, designed and maintained as damning and apocalyptic as possible since time immemorial. This one move shouldn’t come as a surprise, but as a product of this testament.

    Whatever it is that the political and economic African elites do to annoy their imperialist masters, always comes as a trivial move - if not antics and tantrums to prove “something” or seek approval or better yet manipulation of bigger economic related issues at hand. It is rarely an attempt to protect the sovereignty of their people. It has its implications like being referred to as ‘a bad example’ or ‘a stream of never-ending threats on sanctions’ or ‘being rendered poor in public,’ or ‘access/denial of space at the grown-ups table’, e.g. the G8/G20 invites-only meetings. They remain another sub-existence of human beings who remain highly interested in “the globalized market” and how to ease the slave-wage system for maximum profits other than the ‘welfare’ or ‘freedoms’ of and at the very least African governed people.

    Looking at this from a basic level the African leaders’ emancipation rants are more or less like the post-2000s ardent ranting of university students that visibly allows them to stop regular activities for a few hours/day utmost. They piss off their deans, society, the authorities and the State until they finally pretend to hear them. Then, the following year, the students go out again in demand of almost the same things as previously and the cycle continues. It’s a tedious thing to watch.

    This new framing of Pan- African solidarity rhetoric to serve Africa’s economic and political elites’ interest is a mere succession of rule from the former colonial masters, collaborators and their offspring - a more painful ‘white supremacist’ legacy. It’s a long existing business, micro- managed by people with different shades of black. It’s an abuse of freedoms, being spoilt of choices or a demonstration of a nuptial relationship between the imperialist controls and our African so called leaders- or whatever tickles their fancy.

    These leaders and their rhetoric remain irrelevant to the harsh socio- economic, political and cultural realities affecting we Africans’ day-to-day life.

    An alternative, but almost similar existence to this ignoring of complex issues that come with Africa, are the Non-governmental Organizations (NGOs) and “development partners” who have acted complementary to our African Heads of State and their blunders. Daily, it has become easier for them to copy-paste happenings across the board to narratives that best suit their budgets as they address the symptoms of these issues, and not really the root cause. From their other privileged existence, they have developed a syndrome of assuming they hold a more, charitable humanistic answer to most of our social problems. Their priorities are very specific thematic areas of focus- to get us ‘there.’

    ‘Lack of sanitation’ has of course no relation to privatization of water or the redirection of it for industry use.

    ‘Lack of health care’ has no connection whatsoever to systems of control over resource and taxation money, deplorable working condition and ghettoization of a people.

    ‘Lack of education’ is by no means related to economic deprivation, let alone a globally corrupted understanding of knowledge based on white supremacy.

    And of course, ‘Lack of housing’ must be isolated from commercialization of land, massive landgrabs in the name of development and resource mobilization by MNCs and governments. The list of successes is also endless, i.e. ‘poverty eradication’, more Africans are now living on 2$ a day!

    Anyone with an insanely sane mind cannot loose sight of an ailing continent. Just like USA and Europe, we are looking to implode from the inside. We always have been, are becoming a continent related with being dark and criminal from our mere existence. Literally. A small example is the scope of Africa and its people at a Global context- both exotically and as a tool of trade.

    With our need to live up to our reputation the aggression that is mounting at local contexts is beginning to call for more actions than an African court to deal with its gangsters at the State level. There is never ending proof that we are a very patient society- if not dead. We have overwhelming capacities to allow, watch, agree, take, accept, trust and pretend to not see these reprehensible changes that deny us of our self determination or at the very least our dignity as Africans at local, regional and continental levels. This beats anyone’s logic and remains an insult to the injury our continent has sustained for the last 500 years.

    Africa has been rising a long time. In its reclaiming of its history- and existing within the harsh realities, Africans have had more consciousness, questioning, organizing, alternative progressive writing and they have constantly challenged the norms of suppressing their spirit, wisdom and dignity.

    But these voices have long been oppressed and are being suppressed even more at this point. If we’d listen carefully to these voices, they seek reparation, healing and a narrative that is around self- determination and emancipation, not manipulation of realities. The Africa we deem as Rising, is far from doing it from a liberated point. And in this neo- liberal framing it will become a damning stagnation. Designed to be that way.

    The dream of Africa Rising, as it should- is far from being realized. With the ailing of her people.

    * Blessol Gathoni is a Queer social justice activist.



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    Egypt: Dreams and tales of building nuclear industry

    Kester Kenn Klomegah


    Russia is looking to extend its footprint in Africa by supporting the construction of a huge nuclear power plant in Egypt. Nuclear energy is seen as a viable option for African economies.

    Egyptian authorities have always dreamed of having a complete nuclear power industry to solve the energy shortage (deficit) in the country. Boosting electricity generation has long been a priority for Egypt, where shortages lead to frequent blackouts in cities, especially in the summer, which have stoked popular anger.

    Early February 2015, Russian President Vladimir Putin and President Abdel Fattah Al Sisi signed an agreement to set up a nuclear plant in Dabaa, on the Mediterranean coast west of the port city of Alexandria, where a research reactor has stood for years. The deal was signed on the heels of talks held between Putin and Al Sisi, where both expressed high hopes that Russia would help construct the country's first nuclear facility.

    After signing the agreement on nuclear plant construction, reports said Moscow and Cairo might take three months to draft the deal on NPP in Egypt. Experts, however, said the agreement needs more time to be studied and implemented.

    Unreservedly, Putin has offered Egypt Russia's full-scale assistance in building the country's first nuclear energy facility. "If the final agreements are reached, we will not only help build a nuclear power plant but will be able to assist (Egypt) in creating an entire nuclear power industry…including through training of personnel and help with scientific research," Putin said.

    Egypt intends to build the Dabaa plant in the country's north. The power plant is expected to have a capacity of between 1,000 and 1,200 megawatts. Egypt began its nuclear program in 1954 and in 1961, acquired a 2-megawatt research reactor, built by the Soviet Union. Plans to expand the site have been decades in the making but repeatedly fell through. In 2010, that reactor suffered a breakdown, though no radiation was reported to have leaked out.

    Sergey Kiriyenko, the head of Russia's Rosatom state-controlled nuclear corporation, a member of the Russian delegation, said the agreement signed envisages a power plant with four reactors producing 1,200 megawatts each.

    In assertive remarks carried by local Russian news agencies, Kiriyenko said that technical and commercial details of the project have yet to be finalized. He said it envisages new technology with strong safety measures that take into account lessons learned during the March 2011 Fukushima disaster in Japan, as well as a loan for its construction.

    Along with the reactors, the plant will also have desalination capacities, Kiriyenko said, adding that Rosatom will provide its fuel, personnel training, and build necessary infrastructure.

    The United States supports peaceful nuclear programmes as long as they abide by the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT), it announced in response to Egypt's plans to build a nuclear facility. U.S. State Department Spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters in a press briefing that her government lacks detailed information about the signed agreement, adding that she understands the matter is under discussion.

    "We support peaceful nuclear power programmes as long as obligations under the NPT to which Egypt is a signatory and obligations to the International Atomic Energy Agency are fully met and the highest international standards regulating security, nonproliferation, export controls, and physical security are strictly followed," she said.

    Nuclear experts have also shown some concern. "Lack of electricity supply is a huge restraint on African economies and I think nuclear power could be an excellent source of large-scale grid electricity. Nuclear is not expensive compared with other energy sources. To develop nuclear power, the country must first establish the necessary legal and regulatory framework. This is absolutely essential," Andrew Kenny, who is a professional engineer with degrees in physics and mechanical engineering, has 16 years of experience in the energy industry, including working for Eskom, the state-owned utility, and a researcher at the Energy Research Centre at the University of Cape Town, South Africa, told Buziness Africa media in an email.

    Andrew Kenny pointed out further that "the project must comply with all international standards and regulation on nuclear power. Africa has a shortage of skills for nuclear power. However, Africa has a shortage of skill for any energy technology, so developing nuclear power would necessarily mean increasing African skills, which is in itself a good thing."

    Interestingly, Egypt's dreams of building nuclear plant has spanned with agreement that was signed (as far back in March 2008) during an official visit to the Kremlin by the ousted Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, and then through another former Egyptian leader Mohammed Morsi who discussed the same nuclear project with Putin in April 2013 in Sochi, southern Russia.

    The tender for construction of that nuclear power plant was estimated to be worth up to $2 billion dollars. The same agreement was signed between Sergey Kiriyenko, head of Rosatom, the state nuclear energy corporation, and Egyptian energy minister Hassan Younes. It also envisioned personnel training at nuclear facilities in Egypt and nuclear fuel supplies to the country.

    It is well-known fact that Egypt had long ties with the former Soviet Union. Those bilateral diplomatic ties resulted in several development projects in late 1950s including the building of the Aswan dam. During the Soviet times, many specialists were trained for Egypt. Mubarak, a former pilot, received training in what is now Kyrgyzstan, and further studied at the Soviet Military Academy in Moscow in the 1960s.

    Sourcing for finance for the project seems still on the negotiation table. Interfax News Agency reports, quoting Rosatom chief Sergei Kiriyenko, that Russian-Egyptian cooperation in building a nuclear power plant envisions the issuance of an intergovernmental loan by Russia to finance the project.

    "This is comprehensive cooperation. Moreover, it presumes that Russia will also provide relevant financial support in the form of an intergovernmental loan," Kiriyenko told journalists during media briefing session.

    Further, Russian Economic Development minister Alexey Ulyukayev also said Russia may grant Egypt a loan for the construction of a nuclear power plant. "I can give the well-known example of the construction of a nuclear power plant in Finland, which is beginning and will be financed, as is known, from the National Welfare Fund. If the project is qualitative, then possibilities exist for its financing," Ulyukayev said.

    The Russian minister suggested, however, the allocation of funds for the Egypt's nuclear project from the National Welfare Fund should be examined separately. "But so far, no one has raised the issue of financing from the National Welfare Fund. When this issue was raised relative to the nuclear power plant in Finland, a positive decision was made," Ulyukayev said.

    While visiting Moscow in April 2013, Mohammed Morsi's delegation sought $4.8 billion dollars loan from International Monetary Fund (IMF) and also had asked for an unspecified amount of loan from Russia to build the nuclear power plant. The same year, following the revolutionary events and after a wave of mass anti-government actions, the army outsted the Moslem Brotherhood and their leader Mohammed Morsi, resulting in postponing or suspending the nuclear construction agreement.

    The questions now are what next, why Russia could not continue the project despite the political change and if Russia can now deliver on its promises.

    According to Viktor Polikarpov, the newly appointed regional vice-president of Rosatom International Network for Africa Projects, modern Russian nuclear projects correspond with all international, including post-Fukushima safety requirements and the IAEA safety standards. Rosatom is the world's only company of a complete nuclear power cycle. Rosatom may offer a complete range nuclear power products and services from nuclear fuel supply, technical services and modernization to personnel training and establishing nuclear infrastructure.

    Polikarpov, whose key responsibilities include overseeing, implementing and managing all Russian nuclear projects in Sub-Sahara African region, told Buziness Africa Media Group's researcher in an interview that "the advantages of nuclear, among other things, is the procurement of local suppliers to partner with Rosatom. This will have a powerful impact to the development of local businesses contributing to the country's economy and international investment which will boost the country's Gross Domestic Product (GDP)."

    While avoiding to give detailed information regarding the building of nuclear plants in Egypt, Polikarpov explains simply: "As far as I know, the deal has not been completed yet due to the known political events in Egypt. The new leadership of the country, however, is quite positive to continue. Negotiations are still under way."

    Despite the long technical negotiation process, Rosatom expects to begin pre-design work on the Egyptian nuclear power plant in 2015. It anticipates that towards the end of this year to begin initial implementation of these projects, that is, surveying and pre-design work. The four blocks of the nuclear power plant will cost about $20 billion.

    The Egyptian political leadership continues to regard nuclear power plants as an important and indispensible source of energy that will underpin sustainable growth of the country's economy. But,there is still one technical requirement. Egypt has yet to make an official announcement of the tender for the contract to build its nuclear plant. Media reports have also revealed that nuclear companies from China, the U.S., France, South Korea and Japan seek to take part in international tender.

    Anton Khlopkov, director of the Center for Energy and Security Studies (CENESS) and Dmitry Konukhov, research associate at the Center for Energy and Security Studies (CENESS), wrote recently in an opinion report to Valdai Discussion Club, part of RIA Novosti Agency, that success of the Egyptian nuclear project will depend on three key factors: stabilization of the political and security situation in Egypt, a viable financing mechanism that reflects the country's economic situation, and the government's ability to secure support for the project among the local residents of El Dabaa, the site chosen for Egypt's first nuclear plant back in the 1980s.

    In conclusion, Khlopkov and Konukhov believe that moving the plant project to another site would mean a delay of four or five years. Meanwhile, instability in Egypt and the wider region could push the project back even further. Even under the optimistic scenario, the first reactor of the future El Dabaa nuclear plant is unlikely to be launched before 2025.

    *Kester Kenn Klomegah is an independent researcher and writer on African affairs in the EurAsian region and former Soviet republics.



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    Fact Sheet on police violence in the Jane-Finch community of Toronto

    Ajamu Nangwaya


    In spite of communities such as Jane-Finch being in the low-to-medium range for violence-related requests for law enforcement’s intervention, they are targeted and over-policed by the cops, especially the Toronto Anti-Violence Intervention Strategy police division, an occupation army-like formation.

    • According to Glen Stewart, a former lawyer with the Community and Legal Aid Services Program whose service area includes the Jane-Finch community, “Concerns around policing were one of the focal points ([31] years ago) and, unfortunately, they've never really gone away. Recently there have been some incidents where youth have been subjects of violence at the hands of police. That, I think, has brought concerns to the forefront again.”[1]

    • In 2002, a survey of youth’s sense of safety in the Jane-Finch, Malvern, Regent Park and Parkdale communities identified police violence and drug trade activities as their number one fear.

    • Edward Keenan and Jennifer Besner reported, “The report shows that, among young males in those communities, 54.4 per cent felt that police treatment of youth had a “medium-high impact” on youth safety. By comparison, only 42.2 per cent rated gang violence in the same way.”[2]

    • On May 2007, Fitzroy Osbourne, a 29-year-old Afrikan Canadian resident of Jane-Finch, was detained without justification in the Driftwood Avenue and Driftwood Court area by Constable Judy Grant of 31 Division. The cop charged Fitzroy with assaulting police and causing a disturbance. The judge dismissed the charges against Fitzroy and condemned the cops for exceeding “the proper scope of their authority” in wrongfully detaining Fitzroy.[3]

    • On December 10, 2008, residents in the Jane-Finch community carried out a protest against allegations of police brutality by the cops at 31 Division. The residents wrote about their experience of police violence, “Our youth are currently more scared of the police violence than they are of ‘street’ related issues. The over-policing of this community has led to increased levels of targeting, harassment, racial profiling and created a fear of persecution amongst residents.”[4]

    • On December 13, 2008, Damien Buckley, a 22-year-old Afrikan Canadian man was waiting for a friend in the Jane Street and Sheppard Avenue West area. Constables Nelson Cheechoo and Judy Grant of 31 Division physically confronted Damien and charged him with possession of marijuana, assault with intent to resist arrest and disarm a peace officer. Justice Paul M. Taylor dismissed the charges against Damien. The judge ruled that Damien had the right to resist arrest since the cops did not promptly give a reason for arresting him.[5]

    • On May 5, 2010, Junior Alexander Manon, a healthy 18-year-old Afrikan Canadian resident of Jane-Finch, died while being forcefully accosted by Constable Michael Adams and his partner. The province’s Special Investigations Unit cleared the cops of any wrongdoing. While a coroner’s jury ruled that Junior accidentally died from restraint asphyxia. According to the Manon family’s lawyer, "The officers said Junior Manon was never on his stomach and they never applied any pressure to his back. The jury’s verdict speaks otherwise."[6]

    • A community-based research project carried out with 50 youth between the ages of 16 and 29 in the Jane-Finch community summarized their experience of police violence, “When speaking about police, most youth were critical. Youth spoke from personal experience or what they heard from peers. They felt that rather than being helpful, police sometimes make things worse by interrogating people, invading their privacy and not treating community residents with dignity.”[7]

    • On June 8, 2012, Superintendent David McLeod of 31 Division, an uninvited participant, entered a meeting of the Jane-Finch Crisis Support Network and allegedly accused one of its co-chairs, Sabrina “Butterfly” Gopaul, of making a statement in an interview that was “borderline criminal.”

    • According to a letter from the Jane Finch Action Against Poverty to the Toronto Police Services Board, the continued “inappropriate behaviour” led to many members leaving the room, some participants were reduced to tears, and the eventual premature adjournment of the meeting.[8]

    • Heavily racialized, working-class communities such as Jane-Finch and Jamestown have long complained about being over-policed. Toronto’s downtown core gets the greatest amount of violence-related calls. Communities such as Jane-Finch, Jamestown and Kingston-Galloway fall within “the low-to-medium range for the same calls.”[9] The downtown area receives eleven per cent of crime-related news coverage, while thirty-three per cent goes to areas such as Jane-Finch.

    • In spite of communities such as Jane-Finch being in the low-to-medium range for violence-related requests for law enforcement’s intervention, they are targeted and over-policed by the cops, especially the Toronto Anti-Violence Intervention Strategy (TAVIS) police division, an occupation army-like formation.[10] In the true fashion of an occupation army, TAVIS has its own “hearts and minds’’ programme in these working-class, racialized communities. TAVIS provides recreational activities, engages in beautification projects, gives free bicycles and helmets to children, sponsors and/or participates in barbecuing initiatives and supports playground construction or rehabilitation projects.[11]

    • Lola Lawson, a resident of Jane-Finch and fourth-year Afrikan Canadian student at York University, speaks of her experience with police violence, “Even when I’m just driving around there, I get pulled over all the time. There are just so many police on the Jane strip and Finch strip that I get pulled over for no reason. Well, because of where I live. I am being profiled because of my address.”[12]

    • In November 2014, the Community Assessment of Police Practices survey revealed that 31 Division cops were grossly violating the carding policy of the Toronto Police Services Board that were designed to protect the rights of residents.[13]

    • On January 25, 2015, 19-year-old Michael Duru, a Jane-Finch resident, was stopped, questioned and compelled to hand over the papers for a parked rental car. In the process of filming the name tag of Constable A. Keown, Michael was assaulted by the cop and charged with two criminal offences.[14]

    * Ajamu Nangwaya, Ph.D., is an organizer with the Network for the Elimination of Police Violence, a network of organizations and individuals who coordinate community-based responses to police violence.


    [1] Tamara Cherry, “Area protests police 'siege mentality',” Toronto Sun, December 10, 2008. Retrieved from

    [2] Edward Keenan and Jennifer Besner, “Police value plummets when communities are afraid of them,” Eye Weekly, April 1, 2004. Retrieved from

    [3] Betsy Powell, “Police went too far, judge rules,” Toronto Star, March 20, 2008. Retrieved from

    [4] City New Toronto, “Jane And Finch Residents Allege Police Brutality In 31 Division,” City News, December 10, 2008. Retrieved from; A video of the protest action -

    [5] Roger Rowe, Allegations of Profiling: How Much Disclosure of Investigative Records is Appropriate? Pg. 10. Retrieved from

    [6] CBC News, “Coroner's jury says Junior Manon's death was accidental,” CBC News, May 8. 2012. Retrieved from

    [7]Ollner, A., Sekharan, A., Truong, J., & Vig, V. (2011). Jane-Finch Youth Speak Out: Turf Violence Well-Being. The Assets Coming Together For Youth Project. Retrieved from

    [8] Jane-Finch Action Against Poverty, “Jane-Finch org publishes open letter against Toronto police intimidation of local activist-community leader Sabrina ‘Butterfly’ Gopaul,” BASICS Community News Service, July 25, 2012. Retrieved from

    [9] Eric Mark Do, “Crime, coverage and stereotypes: Toronto's Jane and Finch neighbourhood,” J-Source, September 17, 2012. Retrieved from

    [10] Ellie Kirzner, “Now it's cops playing race card,” NOW, August 16, 2012. Retrieved from

    [11] Neighbourhood TAVIS Initiative, Neighbourhood TAVIS Initiative Community Newsletter, September 27, 2010. Retrieved from

    [12] Carina Samuels, “Debunking the myths of Jane and Finch,” Excalibur, February 11, 2014. Retrieved from

    [13] Logical Outcomes, “This issue has been with us for ages”: A Community-Based assessment of Police Contact Carding in 31 Division. November 2014. Retrieved from

    [14] Natalie Alcoba, “Video of alleged violent takedown by officer being investigated by Toronto police,” National Post, January 28, 2015. Retrieved from



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    Advocacy & campaigns

    SA academic banned by French universities from speaking on Palestine


    A petition has been launched demanding that French universities not succumb to pressure to ban anti-apartheid activist and scholar Prof Farid Esack.

    26 MARCH 2015

    University of Johannesburg PSF has learnt that former anti-apartheid activist, renowned international academic, Chairperson of the UJ Academic Freedom Committee and Head of the Religious Studies department at UJ Professor Farid Esack has been banned from speaking on the topic of Palestine by various French Universities.

    Professor Esack is due to start a French speaking tour tonight (Thursday 26 March) on the topic of Palestine for and as part of Israeli Apartheid Week (Israeli Apartheid Week takes place in France this week). French Univeristies, as our French comrades have communicated, must be custodians of all freedoms, especially the freedoms of expression and assembly. Professor Esack has been banned from speaking at tonight's Israeli Apartheid Week event at the University of Sorbonne-Paris 1. The banning comes after certain pro-Israeli French Zionist groups, including the UEJF (Union of French Jewish students) and the BNVCA (the so-called National Bureau for Vigilance Against Anti-Semitism) wrote letters accusing Professor Esack of hate speech, anti-semitism and espousing violence. These groups openly claim on their websites and social network accounts, that they have put pressure on the French Education Ministry and on university administrations, by making bogus and slanderous allegations as well as the usual false accusation of anti-Semitism.

    Conflating criticism of Israel's colonial policies of Apartheid can not and should not be equated with anti-Semitism, to do so is a disservice to the real victims of anti-Semitism. Professor Esack has consistently opposed anti-Semitism, for example, in his position as a Board member of the Palestine solidarity and human rights organisation BDS South Africa, Professor Esack spoke at a UJ PSF and BDS South Africa Holocaust Remembrance Day event in 2014. Click here for his speech from that event.

    A petition has been launched demanding that French universities not to succumb to pressure to ban Anti-Apartheid Activist and Scholar Farid Esack from Speaking on Palestine. The petition has been signed by over 150 academics from across the world. The petition reads:

    “It has come to our notice that various French Universities are coming under pressure to refuse Professor Farid Esack, a prominent figure in the South African anti-apartheid struggle for liberation, a leading gender justice activist and one of the most eminent international scholars on religious pluralism to speak on their campuses on the issue of Palestine. We understand that objections have been raised against his presence on the grounds that he is an alleged anti-Semite and espouses violence. Professor Esack has in all his written work and speeches displayed a remarkable principled commitment to justice and the struggle against all forms of racism – including anti-Semitism, sexism, economic exploitation and homophobia. His commitment to the struggle of justice for the Palestinian people is but an extension of a life-long commitment to justice. He has consistently opposed anti-Semitism in all its manifestations and has been a beacon for religious pluralism and non-violence.

    As academics, social activists, politicians and other members of civil society we may or may not share all of Professor Esack’s views on everything. This is the nature of our work. We, however, protest against any attempt to silence this principled voice for justice. We urgently request that Professor Esack be allowed to speak at his scheduled events taking place in France.”

    Click here for the petition and full list of signatories.

    Despite the ban, French organisers are pushing ahead with the various Israeli Apartheid Week events featuring Professor Farid Esack. The events are as follows:

    - Thursday 26 March: Conference in Paris at18h30 (Centre Mendès France - Sorbonne Paris 1 - 90, rue de Tolbiac, 75013 Paris - Metro Olympiades line 14)
    - Sunday 29 March: Conference in Lille 15h00 : Maison des étudiants (MDE) de Lille 1- Avenue Carl Gauss, 59650 Villeneuve-d'Ascq
    - Monday 30 March: Conference in Bordeaux at 17h30 : IEP/Science Po - Amphi C (Tram B - Montaigne Montesquieu)
    - Tuesday 31 March: Conference in Toulouse at 12h30 : University Mirail -Jean-Jaurès
    - Wednesday 1st April: Conference in Montpellier at 18h00 : University Paul Valery

    The UJ PSF calls on the South African Embassy in France and the South African Ministry of Higher Education to immediately intervene and engage with counterparts in France to ensure that Professor Farid Esack be allowed to speak.

    EMAIL: [email protected]

    Professor Farid Esack: +27 (0) 834599989
    Mariam Loonat (UJ PSF): +27 (0) 611639147
    Karim (France): +33663391488

    Zimbabwe: On the disappearance of rights activist Itai Dzamara

    Mutsa Murenje


    Ridiculous claims that he staged his own abduction and subsequent disappearance should be treated with the contempt they deserve. The Harare regime knows where the activist is.

    I have a problem with politics of disappearance and brutality. And I have a problem with dictatorship and Robert Mugabe's leadership style. Like any other concerned citizen, I am deeply worried about Itai Dzamara's safety following his mysterious disappearance in Harare, Zimbabwe on 9th March 2015. I have a number of questions that remain unanswered more than two weeks after Dzamara's abduction. The manner of his abduction, however, is a clear indication that the State itself was involved. Ridiculous claims that Dzamara staged his own abduction and subsequent disappearance should be treated with the contempt they deserve. I'm convinced that it is a ploy, indeed a deliberate attempt by the Harare regime to evade the matter at hand. Robert Mugabe and his minions know where the rights activist is. They know what they are doing to him and what they did to him.

    It's almost 35 years after Zimbabwe gained her independence from Great Britain in 1980 but there is really nothing significant showing that which the liberation struggle was all about. There appears to be no difference between Ian Smith's oppressive and brutal regime and that of Robert Mugabe. Although my birth was in the third year of Zimbabwe's independence, I have grown up in the past 30 years or so knowing that we have an intolerant, unresponsive, oppressive, murderous, arrogant and brutal regime. There are persons known to me who have been murdered in cold blood for daring to differ with the ZANU PF government and some have disappeared without trace. Was Dzamara murdered or has he become one of those activists to disappear without trace? We have every reason to be worried.

    My fears were heightened the very moment prominent Russian opposition politician Boris Nemtsov was murdered in February 2015. I had private thoughts and conclusions. In my mind, I had no doubt that Vladimir Putin had a hand in such a cowardly and dastardly act. In Zimbabwe, it is patently clear that Dzamara had become a real force in opposition politics. He spoke his mind and was forever devoted to the truth. I admired him and still no doubt admire him for his courage to stand up and be counted.

    Some might have laughed at his non-violent protests but I took him seriously. As Ralph Waldo Emerson observed, "What you do speaks so loud that I cannot hear what you say." Itai Dzamara is and was a man of integrity. He practised what he preached. He is and was a man of action and not mere talk without action. I miss him and will forever miss him. If we truly have respect and compassion for others, then we will place others' needs ahead of our own ambitions. We need Dzamara to be back. We need him, his family needs him, and Zimbabwe needs him.

    I have no doubt whatsoever that a commitment to justice sometimes causes conflict but it makes our society a better place for everyone. Citizens who are just and fair can change the world and Dzamara was determined to change the nature of our politics, indeed the way of governance in Zimbabwe. As Eleanor Roosevelt put it: "Nothing we do ever stands by itself. If it is good, it will serve some good purpose in the future." When others don't believe in what you are doing, only self-discipline and diligence can keep you going. This is what we need: self-discipline and diligence. We may reunite with Dzamara but even if we don't we need to keep moving forward and fight for our freedom.

    In conclusion, we will never bring disgrace on our country by an act of dishonesty and cowardice. We will fight for the ideals and sacred things of the country both alone and with many. We will revere and obey the country's laws, and will do our best to incite a like reverence and respect in those above us who are prone to annul them or set them at naught. We will strive increasingly to quicken the public's sense of civic duty. Thus in all these ways we will transmit our country, not only not less, but greater and more beautiful than it was transmitted to us. May God be with Itai Dzamara! May God bless Zimbabwe! The struggle continues unabated!

    * Mutsa Murenje writes from Johannesburg, South Africa.

    Third woman reports alleged sexual assault by Kenyan writer

    Tony Mochama sues Shailja Patel and Professor Wambui Mwangi for defamation


    A third woman has reported Standard Group journalist and PEN Kenya Secretary General Tony Mochama to Nairobi's Central Police Station for alleged sexual assault. The alleged assault occurred on September 21st 2014, at the National Museum, during the Westgate Memorial Service of Storymoja Hay Festival. The OB Number is 74/17/3/2015.

    Nairobi, Tuesday, March 24, 2015

    Mr Mochama was investigated by the CID, for an alleged indecent act against author Shailja Patel on September 20th, 2014. The file has been transferred to the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions. The alleged assault occurred at a lunch meeting at the home of Professor Wambui Mwangi. The meeting was to discuss the business of the Africa Poetry Book Fund with the Fund's founder, Professor Kwame Dawes, who was visiting Kenya for the Storymoja Hay Festival.

    A second woman reported alleged assault by Mr Mochama to Central Police Station on October 31st, 2014, under OB Number 49/B1/10/14.

    Police are urging other victims of alleged assault by Mr Mochama to also report to police stations in the jurisdictions where the crimes may have occurred. There is no statute of limitations on crimes under the Sexual Offenses Act.

    Mr Mochama has filed a civil lawsuit against Ms Patel and Professor Mwangi alleging defamation. Wangechi Wachira, Executive Director of CREAW (Centre for Rights, Education and Awareness) said: "This is a desperate attempt by Mr Mochama to silence victims and witnesses of his alleged crimes, and to create a chilling climate for free speech in Kenya. It will fail. Victims of sexual violence have every right to publicize their experiences and to seek help. Free speech is protected under Article 33 (1) of the Constitution."

    The woman reporting said: "I didn't report the assault when it occurred because I had serious concerns about personal, social and professional repercussions. I'm reporting now because I believe Mr Mochama will continue abusing women unless stopped by the law. I don't want any other woman or girl to suffer the same experience."

    Storymoja Hay Festival Director, Muthoni Garland, said: "That some of these alleged assaults happened at Storymoja events is so painful to hear. But it underlines that we all share the shame and must be part of the solution, particularly the need to promote enforcement of the hard-fought Sexual Offences Act. For taking the incredibly brave step of reporting the assaults to the police, I really commend Shailja Patel and the two other women who have come forward. It is not a lightly-made decision given the public interest and its potential to damage reputations."

    David Cidi Otieno, Convenor of CCI (Coalition for Constitution Implementation) said: "Nothing can compensate our sisters for the violations, the stripping of their personal sovereignty, the theft of their privacy and dignity. They and their families bear lifelong costs - personal, professional, social and political - of reporting the crime. Their constitutional rights to freedom of movement and assembly, pursuit of livelihood, and full participation in public life have been, and continue to be, violated. Sexual violence rips apart the fabric of Ubuntu. The charging of Mr Mochama will not erase his defamation, threats and graphic insults to our sisters on his media platforms. But it will be a groundbreaking step towards dismantling the culture of impunity for sexual violence. The Constitution that Kenyan women fought and died for must now deliver its promise of full humanity for women and girls."

    Issued by

    • Centre for Rights Education and Awareness ( CREAW)
    • Coalition on Violence Against Women
    • Coalition for Constitution Implementation
    • Kimbilio Trust
    • Co- Convenors, Africa Unite Campaign to End Violence against Women
    • Kenyan Ambassador: Africa Unite Campaign
    • Betty Kaari Murungi, High Court Advocate
    • L. Muthoni Wanyeki, political scientist

    Wangechi Wachira
    Executive Director
    Centre for Rights, Education and Awareness (CREAW)
    Cell. 254722314789
    [email protected]

    Statement on the Murder of Mr. Noel Dintshiantshia

    Abahlali baseMjondolol & Congolese Solidarity Campaign joint press statement


    There is serious concern about the protection of migrants in South Africa, especially African migrants. It seems that people from other parts of the continent can be killed with impunity.

    Thursday, 19 March 2015

    Abahlali baseMjondolo and the Congolese Solidarity Campaign “CSC” are saddened by the sudden death of Mr. NOEL BEYA DINTSHIANTSHIA, who was killed by petrol bomb while he was on duty on Friday night last week. He was working at the BUFFALO BAR, owned by Mr. Naidoo, as a bouncer on the corner of Commercial and gardener Street in the city of DURBAN.

    According to the deceased’s last words before he died, there were some customers who were making a noise and disturbing other customers at the liquor outlet. The owner sent him to tell them that they should respect other customers, but they did not listen. They continue to make noise. The owner sent him to take all of them out and make sure that they are not coming back.

    According to the deceased these people told him that he cannot do that to them in their own country and that they will show him. They came back 30 minutes later behind from where he was standing outside. They petrol bombed him. When he tried to run inside the liquor outlet for help they closed the gate for him and he was not assisted accordingly. He ended up burning alone just outside the KFC while people watched him burn.

    It also said that medical rescuers and police came late on the scene. He was rushed to Addington Hospital and then transferred to Wentworth Hospital in Jacobs where he died on Sunday morning around 7 am.

    We are very concerned about the protection of Migrants in South Africa, especially African Migrants. It seems that we are the people that can be killed with impunity in the Democratic Republic of Congo and in South Africa too.

    Mr. Dintshiantshia was born in the Democratic Republic of Congo, on 15 January 1968, in the province of Kassai occidental. He arrived in South Africa in 2005. He died at the age of 47, and left behind a wife and a young daughter.

    A case of murder was opened at the police station but the killers are still on the run. According to the victim’s brother the police are not doing enough to bring the killers to book according. The remains of the deceased will be repatriated back home (DRC) next week, where he will be laid to rest.

    Abahlali baseMjondolo and the Congolese Solidarity Campaign send our condolences to the family of our fallen brother who died in exile because of political instability and economic mismanagement in our country (DRC) which has led many of us to leave our promise land, and seek refuge in different countries around the world, and particularly in South Africa. The moment through which our people are living in any part of the world is one of the darkest moments in the history of humankind. Our future is dark, and scattered.

    THE CONGOLESE SOLIDARITY CAMPAIGN is a grass roots social movement which struggles for social justice, equality, and to create a free, open, and unified DR Congo open to all regardless of culture, ethnicity, beliefs, race, social origin, gender, race, and region. We are on the mission of preserving human dignity of our people. We are united by destiny and history to encompass the noble ideas of liberty, fraternity, solidarity, justice, peace and work. We are animated by our common will to build, in the heart of Africa, a State of Law and a powerful and prosperous Nation, founded on a real political, economic, social and cultural democracy.

    We are proud to stand with Abahlali baseMjondolo in Durban.

    We call upon the South African Police Services to immediately investigate and arrest those that were responsible for the brutal murder of Dintshiantshia. We call upon the South African government to intervene and act decisive in bringing peace and stability in DR Congo. We call upon the African Union to do justice in the protection of the sovereignty of the Congolese people. We also call upon ordinary South Africans to reject any violence against any foreign nationals and to work for a free Africa in which everyone’s dignity and humanity is respected.

    We are planning a Memorial Service in Durban for the late comrade before his body is sent back home. The media will be informed in due course.


    Kapele Mutachi 072 8942882

    Pastor Raphael Kabambire 072 850 0124

    Thembani Ngongoma 084 613 9772

    S’bu Zikode 083 547 0474

    Books & arts

    Book review: ‘Compendium of Conflicts in Uganda’

    Kara Blackmore


    A timely release documenting the voices of those people affected by the numerous and complicated conflicts in this eastern Africa nation, the book gives the reader a chance to see the state of a nation in transition, from the perspective of the masses.

    “Until lions write their own history, the history of the hunt will always glorify the hunter.”

    This quote, popularised by Chinua Achebe, highlights the enduring need for stories to be told from lesser known perspectives. That is exactly what Refugee Law Project’s (RLP) newly released Compendium of Conflicts in Uganda attempts to do. In the absence of a national truth-telling process, this more-than 300 page text invites the reader to see the state of a nation in transition, from the perspective of the masses. It comes out of a National Reconciliation and Transitional Justice (NRTJ) Audit conducted across 20 districts with nearly 600 hours of dialogue. In this review, I will attempt to give a sense for the text by outlining some of the many and varied episodes in Ugandan history which participants have covered in the making of this book.

    In the foreword we are told by RLP’s director, Dr. Chris Dolan, that “Establishing the truth can only ever be a work in progress.” With this premise it seems daunting that those who informed the text identified 125 different conflicts, and that there have since been more. Fortunately, the publication is designed to digest such an enormous topic, illustrated with images, timelines and broken down into subsections. In this way, the reader sees conflict, not as an academic aggregation, but as a thematic and regional understanding of the past. This is not to say that all the notions, memories and ideas espoused by the public were taken as fact by the book’s collators, but they were triangulated through the support of external reviewers and supplemented by additional texts.

    From the participants’ points of view, armed conflicts, conflict drivers and conflicts that result from structural or social imbalance all seemed to be associated. For example, issues of colonialism were not necessarily disassociated from current divisions between those who reside north of the Nile (primarily Nilotic) and those in the south (primarily Bantu), nor from unresolved conflicts over central territory between the Baganda and Banyoro groups. In addition, the text of course highlights an explicit link between political, ethnic and religious divisions. There is a sense of the nation as inherently disrupted by armed conflict, displacement, and disputes over resource commodities and land. Conflict and disruption further lead to discontent in areas of gender dynamics, wealth disparity and continued marginalization. Furthermore, the chapters chronicle a general sense of structural conflict whereby the state has failed to bring people out of poverty and instead focused national resources on militarising the government. These thematic associations show that tensions between groups and tensions that link seemingly disparate events persist today, , so much so that conflict appears almost as a normal part of peoples’ lives.

    Throughout the Compendium, the reader encounters a myriad of micro and macro conflicts dating back to the late-1800s Berlin Conference. To summarise each one would be tedious and incomplete. However, a key issue here is the number of conflicts that are not yet resolved. Numerous unsettled issues give an overall sense, amongst all the voices and events expressed in the Compendium, that there is not yet peace in Uganda. And this reality is in direct contradiction to the ruling National Resistance Movement’s campaign slogan “Peace, Stability & Security.”

    Political allegiances, both past and present, have been known to create divisionism. For example, tension began in 1960 between political parties with religious affiliations, aligning Catholics with the Democratic Party (DP) and Protestants with the Uganda People’s Congress (UPC). Likewise, as the book’s participants highlighted, when Moses Ali was the first non ‘westerner’ to become General during Museveni’s almost thirty-year tenure.

    Policies instituted when Museveni came into power in 1986 have fed in to an idea of a Ugandan ‘cold war’ which keeps people under military oppression. this is illustrated in the aggressive manner used by army and police to routinely silence protests. The impunity with which particular military officials act is now popularly referred to in West Nile as ‘the big man [Salim Saleh] in the forest’.

    In the mid-1960s Idi Amin was accused of crossing into Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of the Congo) to steal gold and ivory. This triggered a continuing conflict of military looting across borders that is yet to be resolved. Amin’s rise and fall is also seen as a source of continued conflict and targeted killings between the residents of West Nile (Kakwa, Madi and Lugbara) and the Acholi/Langi. Even though there was a reconciliation ceremony in 1985 it was considered one-sided, and therefore not complete. Ethnic tensions in the region are highlighted by the creation of districtboundaries and the selection of administrative powers, as well as being structurally supported by a process of decentralization or ‘districization’.

    What may come as a surprise to some when reading this book is the number of small, isolated rebel groups that have operated across the countr,y triggering splinter insurgencies and wars within wars. Some of these include the Oyoro Boys (1979-80), Cilil (1986-1988), Vumbula (1981-1986), and the People’s Redemption Army (2001-present). The level of detail to which people in particular locations were able to describe virtually unknown insurgencies showed an expertise yet to be chronicled in any comprehensive volume on any region of the country. Participants also enhanced their telling of each conflict with a keen awareness of specific killings, which became historical markers in recounting the past. Two of these in particular included the killing of Chief Aliko by the British in the 19th Century, and the 1970 murder of Brigadier Pierino Yere Okoya.

    Like many regions, Karamoja began to be militarized in 1926, and the text provides a coherent summary of this transition for a region whichhad been managed under martial law since 1911. Since militarization, Karamoja acquired more weapons after Amin came to power as well as enabling the proliferation of arms to the north. This in itself fed into cross-border cattle rustling with the Pokot and Turkana groups.

    Also across the border, South Sudan’s instability contributes to a subregional and growing conflict over land and aid resources. Issues around land use, ownership and refugee camp settlements can be traced back to 2009. Conflict developments since the completion of research for the Compendium will no doubt show that this section is already outdated.

    Well documented conflicts, as seen throughout the Compendium, notably continue to engender armed fighting on behalf of groups like the Allied Democratic Forces and the Lord’s Resistance Army, which in neighbouring countries show a residue of uncertainty and fragile peace. For those who are still in search of their loved ones who went missing due to conflict, there is a natural inability to see the conflict as over, which engenders yet more tension.

    The issues highlighted above were taken with the intent to show the many layers of the Compendium. The themes and regional conflicts are sometimes repeated, based on the association given to them by the participants; thus in turn illustrating the nonlinear characteristic of memory. But it is through these personal memories that the urgency for reconciliation is truly expressed. The final chapter shows that participants are both ready for reconciliation, and equipped with profound notions of what is needed to heal the nation. Unlike politicians’ assertions that the only way to reconcile is a change of government, the authors of the Compendium welcome the public to engage the existing power structures in a sincere conversation.

    The last section looks at the current framework of transitional justice, to see how these lingering conflicts can be resolved; and examined each angle of the justice framework in its possible application to the various, multilayered and challenging conflicts of Uganda. Apologies, reparations and truth-telling formed the core possibilities in terms of accountability. Depending on the region, reconciliation was seen as possible through legislation, stakeholder engagements and traditional justice, and only when implemented in incremental shifts. Amnesty was seen as both positive and divisive, showing the necessity of a context-specific and dynamic application which adapts to each conflict. Formal justice measures were viewed as necessary yet selective and one-sided; thus supporting the impunity of government officials who may have committed atrocities during armed conflicts. Traditional justice provided a cross-cutting compliment to legislative measures, and created a more cohesive form of social repair. A significant section was dedicated to the theme of reparations, outlining the existing attempts and their significant limitations. Memorialisation was viewed as a form of justice for those whose cases will likely never go to trial, nor monetary reparations be paid out. Further to this, some warned of the ‘revenge’ incited by some memorials; thus, to avoid any negative impacts the process must be driven from the community level. Finally, the text shows a vocalisation of the need for institutional reform that directly responds to the needs of the masses.

    The limited-edition print was launched at the first National Reconciliation Conference held from 15-18 March 2015. A shared space of nearly 300 politicians, cultural leaders, conflict specialists, donors and victim representatives showed, with their relation to the text, a meaningful step towards continuing the dialogue. What was clear, from the group’s engagement with the text, is that provided more familiarity than the quantitative data-laden reporting of NGOs. The archival images, timelines and block quotes are useful punctuation marks to what appears to be a thrust to force a national reckoning of Uganda’s past. This timely release allows participants of the NRTJ to be the authors of their own histories at a time when the Amnesty Act is about to expire, a draft National Reconciliation Bill is stalled in government, and the youth are still studying a curriculum that fails to address a fraction of the past conflicts that continue to shape Uganda.

    There is a danger in committing a continuing dialogue to text and therefore concretising a past that is still debatable. RLP sees this as a necessary step to legitimise the local conversations, and to produce a work that challenges the assertion that industry ‘experts’ can best inform how to understand historical injuries. As such, the text is a work in progress and will be made available online for additions, comments and mass sharing.

    * Kara Blackmore is a freelance cultural heritage consultant based in Kampala, Uganda. In 2014 she curated the Travelling Testimonies exhibition about war, peace and reconciliation. She can be contacted at: [email protected]

    * Please do not take Pambazuka for granted! Become a Friend of Pambazuka and make a donation NOW to help keep Pambazuka FREE and INDEPENDENT!
    * Please send comments to editor[at]pambazuka[dot]org or comment online at Pambazuka News.

    Letters & Opinions

    On 'Hedge funds and corporate raiders in Africa: Space invaders of the third kind'


    By Dhiru Soni, Ahmed Shaikh, Anis Karodia and Joseph David
    2015-03-16, Issue 718

    Great article! Organized Capitalism is a beast like Organized Crime and totally different from the utopia of free Capitalism. In the 1920s, SPD policymaker and Marxist Rudolf Hilferding declared that capitalism had evolved beyond what had been laissez-faire capitalism into what he called "organized capitalism". Organized capitalism was based upon trusts and cartels controlled by financial institutions that could no longer make money within their countries' national boundaries and thus needed to export to survive, resulting in support for imperialism. "Organized Capitalism" is nothing less than "the replacement of the capitalist principle of free competition by the socialist principle of planned production". Western liberal democracy is unfit to teach the World Democracy and free market economy or human rights.

    Best regards
    Tarig M. M. K. Anter, Mr.
    +249-911636990/ 923350724/ 129381293
    Khartoum, Sudan.


    Deputy Regional Director – Campaigns

    Location: Dakar Type: Permanent Salary: €66,444

    A I

    Amnesty International


    cc A I
    The mobile revolution. Geopolitical power shifts. A radically altered global economy. As the world changes, so does the way people campaign for human rights. To remain effective, Amnesty International (AI) needs to respond and adapt. That’s why we’re strengthening our International Secretariat office in West and Central Africa. And why we need your campaigning expertise.


    Whether they’re addressing conflict in Central African Republic, restrictions in freedom of expression in Gambia or access to contraception in Burkina Faso, our campaigns make a difference. By working with the Regional Director to manage campaigning across the sub-region, overseeing everything from staff to finances, you’ll make sure the campaigns make an impact. You will collaborate with our international offices to deliver global campaigns on the ground in collaboration with Amnesty International colleagues, our partners and activists. At the same time, working closely with Amnesty International’s research team, you’ll drive and support fact based regional and national campaigns. Heading up a small Campaigns team, you’ll lead Amnesty International’s campaigning in West and Central Africa, communicate across the organisation and forge effective links with activists and the media to build public engagement. You’ll explore new tactics and techniques too, capitalise on advocacy and movement-building specialists, and identify and foster opportunities for partnership and co-operation.


    Thanks to extensive experience of leading strategic and creative campaigns at a national and international level, you’ll be well-versed in the campaign lifecycle – from identifying issues to undertaking impact assessment – all using strong political judgement. What’s more, you’ll be familiar with the West and Central Africa region as well as regional and global human rights issues and trends. The proven ability to get the best out of people is also vital, whether that’s through coaching, mentoring, capacity building or training. Having worked in a key leadership role in a complex organisation, you’ll have no problem managing cross-functional, multi-cultural teams; and you’ll certainly know how to adjust priorities, hit deadlines and adapt to fast-changing political situations. You will have excellent external representational skills. Above all, you’ll have the collaborative and creative approach needed to generate campaigns that resonate and get results. You will have excellent written and verbal English and fluency in French.


    Our aim is simple: for every person to enjoy all of the human rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other international human rights standards. Independent, impartial, international and influential, we campaign to prevent and end grave abuses of human rights and to demand justice for those whose rights have been violated. Already our network of over three million members and supporters is making a difference in 150 countries. And whether we’re applying pressure through powerful research or direct lobbying, mass demonstrations or online campaigning, we’re all inspired by hope for a better world. One where human rights are respected and protected for everyone, everywhere.

    Closing date: 6th April, 2015.

    For more information and to apply, please visit:

    Fahamu - Networks For Social Justice

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