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    Pambazuka News 723: Afrophobia: A shame!

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    Nigerian NGO asks ICC to probe Zulu King for xenophobic attacks

    Adetokunbo Mumuni


    c c BI
    The organisation says that it considers the use of speech by the Zulu King to promote hatred and/or incite violence against non-nationals such as Nigerians as a clear violation of the provisions of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.

    The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), a Nigerian non-governmental organization, has requested the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court Mrs. Fatou Bensouda to use her “good offices and position to investigate allegations of hate speech by the Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini, which has resulted in killing, violence and discrimination against Nigerians and other African citizens living in South Africa, as well as the complicity/negligence of the country’s law enforcement agencies to prevent these crimes against civilian population.”

    The organisation also urged her to “bring to justice anyone who is responsible for these international crimes prohibited under the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.”

    In the petition dated 23 April 2015 and signed by SERAP executive director Adetokunbo Mumuni the organisation said that it “considers the use of speech by the Zulu King to promote hatred and/or incite violence against non-nationals such as Nigerians, particularly in the media, as a clear violation of the provisions of the Rome Statute of International Criminal Court.

    “Grave statements by political leaders/prominent people that express discrimination and cause violence against non-nationals cannot be justified under any law. This hate speech generated fear and hatred that created the conditions for violence and discrimination against Nigerians and other African citizens. SERAP believes that this has given rise to individual criminal responsibility under the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court,” the organisation said.

    The organisation argued that, “the statement by the Zulu King amounts to a harmful form of expression which incites or otherwise promotes hatred, discrimination, violence and intolerance. We are seriously concerned that crimes against humanity are often accompanied or preceded by the kind of statement made by the Zulu King.”

    “Once the climate of violence has been created, direct and public incitement to crimes builds on it, exacerbating the situation by further heating up passions and directing South Africans’ hatred towards non-nationals such as Nigerians. Hate speech by King Zulu is legally tied to contemporaneous, large-scale violence and inhumane and discriminatory treatment of Nigerians and other African citizens,” the organisation also argued.

    The organisation also said that, “The statement by the Zulu King has contributed to a climate of fear, demonization and dehumanization of Nigerians and other African citizens, thus violating their human dignity through humiliation and expulsion from the human community. SERAP is seriously concerned that hate speech by the Zulu King amounts to crime against humanity of persecution and has directly contributed to an infringement of the right to life, equality and non-discrimination of Nigerians and other African citizens.”

    “SERAP considers the statement by the Zulu King and the apparent complicity/negligence by the country’s law enforcement agencies to prevent the violence and discrimination as amounting to active encouragement of South African citizens to develop feelings of contempt for Nigerians and other African citizens; as amounting to incitement to violence and discrimination against Nigerians and other African citizens, and to mistreat them; and as amounting to an appeal for South African citizens to separate themselves from Nigerians and other African citizens,” the organisation further stressed.

    “The statement by the Zulu King and the apparent complicity/negligence by the country’s law enforcement agencies to prevent the violence and discrimination has contributed to the level of persecution against Nigerians and other African citizens. According to Professor Bassiouni, persecution in this instance is “a state action leading to the infliction upon an individual of harassment, torment, oppression, or discriminatory measures, designed to or likely to produce physical or mental suffering or economic harm, because of the victims’ beliefs, views, or membership in a given identifiable group (such as non-nationals),” the organisation also said.

    The petition further reads:

    “In the Mugesera case, the Canadian Supreme Court held that hate speech may constitute persecution, even if it does not result in the commission of acts of violence. In arriving at this conclusion, the court considered that a link was demonstrated between the speech at issue and the widespread or systematic attack against the civilian population. Thus, the post-World War II jurisprudence generally establishes that hate speech not urging an audience to commit imminent violence can constitute persecution.”

    “The government does not have the political will to bring those suspected to be responsible for crimes under international law to justice. Given the complicity/negligence by the country’s law enforcement agencies to prevent the violence, killing and discrimination, it is unlikely that the government will take any serious action to bring perpetrators to justice.”

    “Without accountability for these serious human rights crimes, the victims will continue to be denied access to justice, and impunity of perpetrators will remain widespread and the result will continue to be a vicious cycle of violence and discrimination against Nigerians and other African citizens living in South Africa.”

    “SERAP believes that substantial grounds exist to warrant the intervention of the Prosecutor in this case. Under Article 17 of the Rome Statute, the Court is a court of last resort, expected to exercise its jurisdiction only if states themselves are unwilling or unable genuinely to investigate and prosecute international crimes. Also, pursuant to the Rome Statute, the Prosecutor has power to intervene in a situation under the jurisdiction of the Court if the Security Council or states parties refer a situation or if information is provided from other sources such as the information SERAP is providing in this case.”

    On the basis of the above, SERAP asks you to:

    • Urgently commence an investigation proprio motu on the allegations of hate speech and the accompanying killing, violence and discrimination against Nigerians and other African citizens living in South Africa, with a view to determining whether these amount to international crimes within the Court’s jurisdiction. In this respect, we also urge you to invite representatives of the South African government to provide written or oral testimony at the seat of the Court, so that the Prosecutor is able to conclude on the basis of available information whether there is a reasonable basis for an investigation, and to submit a request to the Pre-Trial Chamber for authorization of an investigation.
    • Bring to justice those suspected to be responsible for serious human rights crimes in South Africa.
    • Urge the South African government to fulfil its obligations under the Rome Statute to cooperate with the ICC; including complying with your requests to arrest and surrender suspected perpetrators of international crimes, take testimony, and provide other support to the ICC.

    It would be recalled that while addressing Pongolo community members during a moral regeneration event recently, Zwelithini reportedly said, “Most government leaders do not want to speak out on this matter because they are scared of losing votes. As the king of the Zulu nation, I cannot tolerate a situation where we are being led by leaders with no views whatsoever. We are requesting those who come from outside to please go back to their countries. The fact that there were countries that played a role in the country’s struggle for liberation should not be used as an excuse to create a situation where foreigners are allowed to inconvenience locals. I know you were in their countries during the struggle for liberation. But the fact of the matter is you did not set up businesses in their countries.”

    Zwelithini, who spoke from a prepared speech, made the remarks in the presence of Police Minister Nathi Nhleko.



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    South Africa’s new scapegoats

    Arnold Wehmhoerner


    c c AO
    In the land that ended apartheid two decades ago, violence against other Africans has been on the rise. What has gone wrong and what is to be done?

    In April 2015 another wave of xenophobic violence swept over South Africa. Starting in Durban, the attacks on foreigners spread to suburbs in Johannesburg and to Cala in the eastern Cape. Between six and 15 people were killed. Thousands fled to makeshift camps and Zimbabwe and Mozambique sent buses to evacuate their citizens.

    The violence started after a speech on 21 March by the Zulu king, Goodwill Zwelithini, in which he invited “foreign nationals to pack their belongings and to go back to their countries”. He claims to have been misquoted and refuses to apologise.

    The president, Jacob Zuma, condemned the attacks and assured neighbouring states that South Africa would do everything possible to control the situation. But, with an eye to local elections in 2016, he and other leaders of the ruling African National Congress (ANC) stopped short of criticising the king. On 19 April, in front of thousands in a Durban stadium, the king finally called for peace.

    The situation in South Africa is different from that in Europe. The European Union is separated from Africa by the Mediterranean, making it difficult for asylum-seekers and economic migrants to enter—albeit, out of desperation, many lose their lives trying to cross this natural barrier. South Africa has a land border of 4,862km, attracting migrants from the poor southern and central African states in their thousands every month.

    The United Nations Population Division lists 2.4m migrants in South Africa in its 2013 global dataset. But this does not include undocumented migrants, which a Wikipedia entry estimates at 5m-8m. Some 1.5m-2m migrants are estimated to have come from Zimbabwe alone.

    After the collapse of apartheid, South Africa promulgated very progressive asylum laws: essentially the state cannot deny any migrant the claim and temporary status of an asylum-seeker, which includes the right to work. The liberal approach was supported by the ANC elite: when the organisation was banned they experienced the positive side of political refugee status during exile in countries like Zambia, Zimbabwe, Tanzania and Mozambique. In February, however, the home affairs minister, Naledi Pandor, complained that “economic migrants are abusing the (act) in order to have status in South Africa”.

    Since migrants live in townships and informal settlements, they are face to face with the poorest of South African society—most of the latter internal migrants, who have moved from the rural former homelands into the cities. This creates tense situations which have exploded into fatal clashes.


    The first such outbreak before 2015 happened during two weeks in May 2008, when 62 people were killed. Jean Pieree Misago from the African Centre for Migration and Society has been tracking xenophobic attacks since then. He says that almost every month there has been at least one attack on foreigners and it is estimated that 357 have been killed over the past seven years.

    A study by the South African Human Rights Commission found that 597 court cases were opened after the 2008 clashes. Yet a year and a half later only 16% had resulted in a guilty verdict—nearly all of these for theft and assault, and with the option to pay a fine rather than face jail.

    During the recent attacks on foreigners in Johannesburg, a Mozambican was stabbed to death in front of Sunday Times photographers. The murderers did not try to hide their faces. The fact that perpetrators enjoy so much impunity sends the message that culprits have nothing to fear. Migrants thus lose trust in the justice system and prefer not to report their cases.


    The recent violence reopened a debate in South Africa on whether this was xenophobic or criminal behaviour. Foreign shops, mostly operated by Somalis, are important for the daily supply of goods in townships. They are doing well and have displaced most of the original ‘mom-and-pop’ shops run by South Africans. In foreigner-run shops the prices of most items (rice, maize flour, milk, sugar, eggs, and cigarettes) have been found to be slightly cheaper. Yet Soweto Business Access, an umbrella body for small businesses, has opposed the reopening of foreign shops, looted during the violence, because the interests of South Africans “must be prioritised”—foreign entrepreneurs are supposedly “not ploughing money back into the township economy” and “being rude and not paying taxes”.

    One commentary even suggested that “the very presence of thriving Somali shop owners insults unsuccessful, impoverished township dwellers” and that “envy breeds resentment”. Yet the looters were reportedly more opportunist than ‘impoverished’: air-time vouchers were particularly favoured and it seems most just seized the chance to grab handfuls of free goods. The acts were committed in broad daylight, sometimes in the presence of journalists and with police not far away.

    Two factors seem of importance: the climate of impunity when committing acts against foreigners and a township environment in which public violence is highly permissible. Civil society in townships has learned, for example, that service-delivery protests only grab the attention of authorities if demonstrations become violent—it is estimated that there are roughly 300 incidents of community protests a year and at least 43 protesters have been killed by the police in this context in the last ten years. It is thus to be expected that foreigners will continue to fall victim to violence too.


    On a longer view, in the two decades since the end of apartheid, South Africa has absorbed, largely peacefully, migrants comprising more than 10% of its 50m population. In such a situation many other societies would have developed outright xenophobia. The liberal climate in the multi-ethnic townships and informal settlements contributed to the integration of migrants.

    So why is this positive model collapsing? Observers believe disappointment at the slow progress in public wellbeing, given the overly-high expectations raised post-apartheid, has led to frustration and anger now directed against foreigners—instead of questioning the performance and quality of South Africa’s own leaders.

    The liberal asylum legislation of democratic South Africa is a valuable achievement and South Africa is a good neighbour to Zimbabwe, allowing thousands of Zimbabweans to legalise their status and extend their work permits. This policy is not well received by everybody in a situation of high unemployment. But any criticism directed at the government should be for supporting the dictatorial Mugabe regime—the main cause of the exodus of so many Zimbabweans, who would prefer to go home if conditions there would improve.

    For South Africa, with its open borders, it is impossible to control the influx of migrants from the poor neighbouring countries to its north and east. South Africa does not have enough jobs for its own population and it cannot provide decent sanitation, enough clean water and electricity for its townships. But toughening of asylum and immigration laws would not prevent illegal border crossings—rather, it would only harm those who really need asylum and deter skilled immigrants the country requires.

    South Africa needs to do more to punish perpetrators of violence against foreigners. An impression is left that such violence is condoned in the hope that it deters further migrants. The liberal Mail and Guardian commented that “representatives of the government and the ruling party have spoken with forked tongues on the issue, tut-tutting about violence while expressing a measure of understanding for the attacks”. The newspaper called for a national platform from which all leaders would unequivocally condemn xenophobic outrages.

    President Zuma did condemn the atrocities and he announced a series of consultative meetings to discuss a new migration policy, but he stopped short of concrete measures. Indeed, the pronouncements of South African politicians sound as helpless as those of European politicians on the recent tragedies in the Mediterranean.

    Both are caught between deterring migration by the poor and dealing humanely with its consequences.

    * Arnold Wehmhoerner is the Foundation for European Progressive Studies correspondent for southern Africa. This article was previously published by Open Democracy.



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    Xenophobia undermines Pan-African agenda

    Motsoko Pheko


    c c CA
    The xenophobia – better called Afrophobia – which broke out in South Africa in 2008 and again in 2015 is a sign of the continued existence of a deep-seated colonial mentality in this country. The ideas of pan-Africanism and the vision of a United States of Africa need to be embraced by the masses. Only by uniting the false borders will we be able to liberate ourselves for the benefit of all African people.

    When what many call ‘xenophobia’ erupted in South Africa in May 2008, I made the following motion in the South African Parliament as a Member:

    "Madam Speaker,
    I move without notice that:
    This House –
    1. Notes with deep concern, the violence that is perpetrated by our people against other Africans from other parts of Africa, namely from Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe;
    2. Urges this House to speedily send some Members of Parliament to the affected areas to observe this problem on the spot and to speak both to the citizens of our country and those refugees and others who have been victimised;
    3. That the House is disturbed about the alleged xenophobia that tarnishes the image of our country internationally, and by the harm this ill-treatment of our brothers and sisters does to the vision of Pan Africanism and the work of the African Union;
    4. Appeals for thorough investigation as to the real causes of this savage violence and the solution thereof to avoid repetition of same."

    The South African Parliament under Speaker of Parliament Baleka Mbete adopted this motion and agreed to visit the people affected. I was one of the Members of Parliament who met the victims of violence from outside South Africa. Sixty-two people were reportedly killed of which twenty one were South Africans.

    When some weeks later this matter was debated inside Parliament, I said the following:

    "Madam Speaker, One of the slogans of the Pan Africanist Congress of Azania (PAC), besides ‘Izwe Lethu’(the Land is Ours), is ‘Africa for Africans, Africans for humanity, humanity for God’. The hymn that was composed by Enoch Sontonga says ‘Nkosi Sikelela iAfrika’(God Bless Afrika). One of our liberation anthems is Morena Boloka Sechaba sa Afrika (God Protect the Nation of Afrika). These anthems were composed with the reality in mind that Africa is one, from Cape to Cairo, Madagascar to Morocco. Whether we like it or not, Africa is one. It has always been one from the time it was called Al-Kebulan or ‘Mother of Nations’ or ‘The Land of Ham’.

    "Xenophobia is a disease that can destroy Africa faster than HIV and AIDS. Xenophobia is a step towards reviving tribalism, another disease that was used to divide Africans by the enemies of Africa. In our country, derogatory terms such as ‘Kaffir’ are a taboo. Equally our country must put words such as ‘makwerekwere’, ‘matswantle’ and others in the same category as ‘Kaffir’.

    "All the 53 African countries belong to the African Union. They have the Pan African Parliament. They own Africa and its riches collectively. A proper terminology must be found for Africans from outside South Africa. They are not ‘foreigners’. They can’t be Africans and foreigners at the same time.

    "They all agreed to form the OAU to liberate Africa, including South Africa.
    Africans are feathers of the same bird. Therefore, let us firmly hold that indeed, the etymological specimen of the identical plumage habitually congregate in the closest proximity.

    The African people have a common destiny. We are sailing in one ship. If it sails across we shall all be safe, if it sinks we shall all perish. When we were enslaved or colonised, the authors of these barbaric acts did not ask whether you were a Nigerian, a Zimbabwean, Azanian or South African. They inflicted their atrocities and genocide on every African whether in Jamaica or America."

    I could not say more. I was allowed two minutes to speak. Now, in April 2015 our people from outside South Africa are again living in fear. There is Afrophobia in this country. It is not ‘xenophobia’. In English this word that is borrowed from Greek means ‘fear or dislike of strangers or foreigners’. In the spirit of Ubuntu and Pan Africanism, there is no African who can be a ‘foreigner in Africa’ while non-Africans who live here are not considered as foreigners. It is a contradiction in terms, to be an African and a ‘foreigner’ at the same time.

    What is called ‘xenophobia’ in South Africa is brother hating or disliking brother. This signals that the colonial mentality is too deep-seated in this country; if this is not the work of hooligans or ‘third force’ to derail the Pan African agenda which fathers of the liberation struggle in Africa such as Nkrumah, Sekou Toure, Nyerere, Sobukwe, Lumumba, Garvey, Du Bois, Padmore, Malcom X embraced.

    Let this lunacy of Afrophobia be sent to hell. It will kill all of Africa. The ANC Government must investigate this dangerous problem and have it solved once and for all.

    The vision of Pan Africanism and a United States of Africa must be brought to the masses of Africa. It must cease to be a mere dream of the presidents of Africa. The ordinary people of Africa must know about it and its benefits.

    Every member of the African Union must declare May 25 a statutory Continental Liberation Day. This must be a special day in which to reflect with the masses of Africa, where Africa has come from through days of slavery, colonialism and racism. They must know where Africa is at present and where Africa must be tomorrow for the benefit of all the people of Africa.

    It is a shame that in many African countries including South Africa May 25 - Africa liberation Day is nothing, while colonial holidays are still celebrated in a new form. May 25 should be dedicated to educating all Africa’s people to know themselves and their continent including the Diaspora. Africa Liberation Day must be a day on which Africans must know one another better as brothers and sisters and about their continent and how to move it forward for generations of Africans to come.

    Another thing must be done in South Africa (Azania) at the airports and other parts of entry into the country. There must an information board marked ‘From African Union Countries.’ This is where these Africans must be served instead of being lumped with foreigners from outside Africa.

    The African Union must be for the benefit of African people not of its rulers. Ordinary Africans therefore, must understand the Pan African agenda and vision. After all it is these masses that can drive this agenda, once they realise it benefits them. Afrophobia will destroy the Pan African agenda if African leaders are not careful.

    Let all Africa at home and abroad be reminded of the words of that great Nigerian leader Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe when he said:

    "As itself the cradle [of Western European Civilisation], this Continent [Africa], has had the bad luck of being over-run by [European] soldiers of fortune who had neither [the moral] fibre nor humanity … Slavery played its shameful role in depopulating Africa. Capitalism denuded [Africa] of its wealth. Colonialism deprived Africa of its birthright and imperialism emasculated Africa of its will to live as human being and enjoy its fair share of bounties of the earth."

    All obstacles that make us Africans lose our Pan African focus must be removed. Afrophobia is one of them. Africans are sailing in one ship. If it sails across the stormy sea we shall be safe. If it sinks, we shall all sink and lose our Africa again to the real foreigners. They are sworn enemies of the Pan African vision and agenda. They work day and night to bury it. Afrophobia serves their vile schemes. All Pan Africanists must be vigilant!

    * Dr. Motsoko Pheko is author of several books including AFRICA IN 5O YEARS. He is a former Member of the South African Parliament. During the liberation struggle he with the help of almost all African countries and the Diaspora represented the victims of apartheid and colonialism at the United Nations in New York and also at the UN Commission on Human Rights. During the liberation struggle in South Africa he had the distinction of a freedom fighter who was imprisoned by three colonial regimes, in South Africa, Mozambique and Southern Rhodesia.



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    Xenophobia, #RhodesMustfall and the revival of Black consciousness

    Sekou Nyabinghi


    c c YV
    The xenophobic attacks in South Africa reveal the relics of apartheid, colonialism and imperialism; but they are also a starting point for Africans all over to re-think nationalism, being African and black consciousness in the context of enduring inequalities.

    I have been in my own world lately and because I haven’t followed the “news”, I have not been aware of the popularised and on-going events around me. One such event is the recent spate of xenophobic attacks that have been happening in some parts of South Africa. These attacks on foreign ‘African’ nationals started in the Kwazulu Natal province and have begun to spread to some other parts of the country, specifically, the Gauteng Province, according to President Jacob Zuma’s speech addressed to the parliament of South Africa on 16April 2015.

    I spent the evening of 17 April reading articles and listening to radio and TV debates, discussions and even advertisements on the inhumanity of xenophobia and violence in general, and how the current episodes must end by any means necessary, never to rear its head again in South African society. The comments on the issue however, have been more diverse; for instance, some people, albeit a small number, have phoned in (on the sample of radio stations that I have exposed myself to), echoing the call made by the head of the Zulu nation, Goodwill Zwelithini that “all foreigners must pack their bags and leave”. An overwhelming amount of commentary has taken an opposing, non-radical view, and a lot of citizens have used the given platform to condemn the violent acts. Some foreigners, those who are not scared for their lives, have also contributed- some, offering an understanding of the situation and others condemning it, arguing with a whimpering plea of we are all “Brothers”, we are all “Africans”.

    Reactions abound from the various sections of African society. It is alleged that Nigerian Terrorist group Boko Haram and its Somali counterpart Al Shabaab, have issued payback threats to attack South Africans in retaliation for xenophobic violence. Al Shabaab has appeared on social media websites in images with words like “we will enter Durban” and “For all the foreign lives lost in SA, there is a price to pay”. A number of Nigerian media outlets reported on the 18 April that Boko Haram “gives South Africa 24 hours to end xenophobic attacks or face bombing”. It further issued warning that if the South African government does not contain the situation, it will execute all South Africans living in Nigeria, Chad, Niger and other surrounding countries.

    Some of Africa’s most respected thinkers such as Robert Mugabe and Achille Mbembe have also been searing and clinical in assessing the events that have claimed several lives and displaced thousands. Mbembe for instance points out that the current hunt for “foreigners” is the product of a complex chain of complicities — some vocal and explicit (such as the current hunt for ‘foreigners’) and others more tacit. He points out that the South African government has recently taken a harsh stance on immigration. New, draconian measures have been passed into law, which have had devastating effects for people already established here legally.

    Mbembe writes: “A few weeks ago I attended a meeting of “foreign” staff at Wits University. Horrific stories after horrific stories. Work permits not renewed. Visas refused to family members. Children in limbo in schools. A Kafkaian situation that extends to “foreign” students who entered the country legally, had their visas renewed all this time, but who now find themselves in a legal uncertainty, unable to register, and unable to access the money they are entitled to and that had been allocated to them by Foundations”. The above narrative that Mbembe paints is one I can personally relate to.

    Another respected African thinker and authority who has joined the discussion is Kwesi Kwaa Prah who points out that it is actually incorrect to single out South Africa for Xenophobia, as it has occurred and continues to occur elsewhere on the continent. As examples, he recalls the Aliens compliance Act, under the Busia administration of 1969, when Ghana expelled thousands of Nigerians and other West Africans, many of whom were born there.

    Another example was in Nigeria in 1983, during a slump in the oil market, when Nigeria expelled millions of West Africans including 1.5 million Ghanaians, using alien restrictive legislation. Professor Prah suggests that xenophobia cannot easily be confronted, and there is a very important need for it to be studied historically and scientifically in order to fully come to grips with it.

    Concerning the current episode, of interesting note, is the small cohort of analysers who have compared the current events to racism and have gone ahead to distinguish it from Xenophobia. It has been termed as “Afrophobia” because the crosshair of the violence seems to be on migrant Africans and not the other cohorts of migrants such as the many Caucasian and the equally numerous Asians.


    As a ‘foreign’ African currently living in South Africa, I should probably be scared for my life. Hundreds of people like me have been displaced, a few have even been killed. But no, my sentiment is not one of fear, rather, it is one of happiness and optimism (and I am not suicidal!). I am happy that this event is enabling Africans to finally talk about issues that we have avoided with impudence since the so-called independence boom in the mid-20th century.

    I am happy that, because of these attacks, we are talking about what it means to be African or South African, or Somalian or Nigerian. I am happy that the youth of South Africa are rightly frustrated and taking action (albeit crudely) and that they are not playing the role of the passive spectator of a social spectacle in all things governance- politics and economics. I am happy that the spirit and soul of black folk that led us out of slavery by rebelling and standing firm against the status quo of imperialism and oppression is rearing its head in African societies once again. In fact, I am delighted that when things seem to be so unfair, we can stand up and say No! And challenge the so called social order- something is not right, things need to change, we say.

    South Africa recently saw this spirit manifest in the #RhodesMustFall movement which engulfed the University of Cape Town (UCT) and witnessed the removal of an imperial memorabilia- the Statue of Cecil John Rhodes from the UCT. This spectre, I believe, continues to haunt South Africa in the recent xenophobic attacks and will continue to haunt Africa in general until we Africans do something about it.
    Civil conflict, and in fact, all violent conflicts in society, are manifest when an old society is heavily pregnant with the birth of a new society.

    Frankly, our African social and economic landscape is a chaotic mess and designed to be so by nobody else but us. The way we live, the written and unwritten laws that constrain us are all designed by us- sometimes explicitly and most often than not, they become the norms of the day through implicit acceptance and ignorance. Today, the African socio-economic landscape comprises of spaces where respect is not a human right, but rather something earned. Our social institutions, the constraints that structure behaviour and interaction, are all programmed with the fallacy of money, power, respect; (the unwritten rule of the day).

    Money first, power second, then respect. We all know however, deep inside, somewhere, that respect is not earned. Respect is a universal human right, and this is what essentially the South African youth in Kwazulu Natal and Gauteng are angry about, this is what swarms of African youth all over the continent are antsy about. This is what Boko Haram is angry about, this is what Al-Shabaab is angry about and we must not be naïve about this any longer. It is manifesting in a rapture of violence because that is the only way they believe that their point can be made. Each person in African society must be accorded respect, under no circumstances must respect be denied.

    Note, that when I use the term respect and human right, I don’t mean the mere right to live or the respect for another’s life, I mean that a human right of respect is the capability to live a life which is meaningful to an individual. To be human also means to be capable. Each one, I believe, has a universal human right to unlimited rations in order to attain their individual capabilities. When there is respect for capable living there is no need for money and power. Where there is due respect, this Western, Eurocentric “capitalistic” economic game ends. Inequality ends with respect. In a world of respect people will not work to earn a living, but people will rather be engaged in vocations because that is simply what they enjoy doing. A job/work is something you do for money to survive and a vocation is something you do because you enjoy doing it.

    Contrary to what contemporary economists believe, I am of the perspective that we must not look at the political economy through a paradigm of scarcity, but rather one of abundance; because there is no scarcity in the real political economy, there is triumphant abundance and a lot of waste in resource use and allocation for that matter. In a world where some people are worth billions (of whatever currency) and as a result attain access to different capabilities in life, others are not even worth a few cents, and have limited means of improving their capabilities. Does every human not have a universal right to self-determination? It seems that the (global and African) political-economy thinks otherwise.

    For these reasons, I reiterate, I am happy that some South Africans are so frustrated by the current institutional structure of money, power, respect; that they have rationally resorted to any means, and in this case, settled on the easily accessible means, prejudice- which is ever ready to rear its draconian head of violence in all societies; one only needs to point it to the “other”, “the foreign” or “the extra load” because where there is separation, there is necessarily conflict.

    Personally, I do not condone killing another. However, I also acknowledge that all successful social revolutions are necessarily violent. There is nothing like a peaceful revolution, because in order for the current social order to change, it must be threatened and removed by force because it does not want to wield its power. Peace, after all only maintains the status quo and that is why there is such a thing as peace dogma purported by those in power because it maintains the status quo which favours no one but the incumbent and powerful.

    What I think can be done in South Africa and Africa generally is to try and minimize the impending bloodshed by opening up platforms for intense debates and critical discussions on what it means to be South African and African all across the continent. Xenophobia after all is just the other end of a stick characterised by ethnic rivalries and other intra-group issues.


    One of the most important episodes of separation in the history of mankind is the separation between the colonizer and the colonized. The oppressor and the oppressed, the civilized and the uncivilized, the capable and the incapable. This was the underlying assumption in the colonial and apartheid social institutional order and power structure. This is also the rationality that enabled slavery to go on for many centuries without any moral compunction on the part of the colonialists and the colonized.

    This Logic was once challenged by Black folk. It is being challenged once again, by Africans because the battle that was begun on the continent years ago, was never allowed to see out its end. Africans were bamboozled into believing that all is nice and dandy, when it really wasn’t. It still isn’t. Economics is the new slavery.

    If you are put in a prison, you must break out of it, in order to be truly free. You must take your freedom. You do not ask the prison warden to permit you freedom. You will only be placed in a bigger prison, if you are stupid enough to ask, and your asking of the prison warden is evidence of your mental slavery.

    Is the story of Africa and colonialism depicted by the prisoner and prison warden narrative? Where Africa is the prisoner and the prison warden the colonialist? I think so, but for the purposes of brevity, I will not go into it in this discussion, it will only divert attention from the issue at hand- xenophobia.

    Like so many other modern African states, South Africa is the creation of European Imperialism. Its very name, its borders and the very sense of nationalism which engenders its many people with such strong allegiances is a creature of colonialism. This is not a characteristic of South Africa alone, as previously mentioned, all modern African countries are creatures of imperialism. Ivory Coast, as an example is an easy pick. It is called Ivory Coast because that is the region of Africa where the imperialist found abundant ivory. Its people today call themselves Ivorians because they happen to be the Negros (Niggers) that lived closest to where the white imperial lord and his army found ivory in Africa. Nigeria is another example- its name, after the great Niger River, the country’s dominating physical feature, was suggested in the 1890s by British Journalist Flora Shaw, who later became the wife of the Colonial Governor Frederick Lugard. Nigeria was created and named by the imperialists, just as you may put a chain on a dog and proceed to give it a name. Last year to my dismay, the Nigerian government actually celebrated this fact- 100 years of the consolidation of colonial territories (1914-2014).

    It was the imperialists that drew up and carved out all the borders of Africa and later through the granting of “flag” independence, nationalised these regions that today represent our individual and collective identities. Under French imperialist, Charles De Gaulle for instance, entire regions were divided and sub divided arbitrarily for the purposes of divide and rule. In De Gaulle’s mind, independence would never be granted to a big territory because of long term threats which could inevitably sideline future imperial interests, so in order to qualify for independence the imperialists had to divide the colonies up.

    What does it mean therefore to be a South African, an Ivorian or a Nigerian? Are we merely creatures of imperialism? Or are we something more than that? Personally, I am an African, I am not a neo-colonial creature. What are you? Oh, dear reader…?

    After Africa gained continent-wide independence, the goal was one of complete de-colonization. De-colonization, meaning that as free and independent people, Africa had acquired a universal right to self-determination that necessitated the complete removal of all colonial institutions and constraints.

    This meant deliberations and intensive debates on borders, on language and on nationalism, among many others. In fact, such was the goal of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) – which was created to unite the whole African continent into a super African nation. The generation of African leaders that led Africa through the independence struggle are almost all dead and gone; only Kenneth Kaunda of Zambia and Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe remain standing to my knowledge. The current generation of African leaders are too busy engaging in corrupt activities and perhaps rationally so, because they have been bamboozled to such an extent that their eyes have been completely taken of the ball. The process of de-colonization thus was halted even before it began.

    The recent removal of the Rhodes Statue from the campus of the University of Cape Town was in my eyes a rallying cry by the South African youth that the process of de-colonization must follow its course. The youth made de-colonization their own struggle. I say to the youth, if we can collectively see the sense in removing a colonial statue why can we not see the sense in rethinking our geography? Why can we not see the sense in rethinking the lingua franca of our Nation? - The African nation? We must be innovative and inventive with our continent. Africa is a work in progress and we must be proud and in fact feel privileged to be part of the founding generations of Africa (remember, we are not even a 100 years removed from being classified as animals).

    Personally, I am from Earth. On Earth I am African. I am not a neo-colonial construct and never claim allegiance to any neo-colonial ‘nation’. We can all let go of the colonial mentality that attaches us to colonial constructs. Free your mind. De-colonize your mind. De-colonize Africa.

    * Sekou Nyabinghi is a Masters student in Economic History at the University of Cape Town. He does not claim allegiance to any neo-colonial 'Nation' construct and is an African from the Fante and Dagomba ethnic groupings in West Africa.

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    Is Durban capable – and deserving – of hosting 2022 Commonwealth Games?

    Bandile Mdlalose


    c c LG
    Durban has made a bid to host the 2022 Commonwealth Games. However, the city is built on a foundation of race and class inequality, leading to xenophobic attacks and unrest. Before Durban is ready to host any international events, it must become the strong African citizen it has promised to be by treating all of its citizens equally.

    The past and the present have drawn us into a future of unfortunate and incalculable depth. How low will our society go?

    Durban is a city known as a tourist capital for South Africa’s middle-class and even working-class. It is well-known for its great hosting capacity. Beautiful colonial buildings stretch up the Berea and fine hotels ring the bay stretching from Ballito to the Point.

    Durban is also known for its public corruption, private wealth accumulation, elite unaccountability and protests. I have been to many community protests, nearly all because of the lack of basic services in the shack settlements and in townships.

    The physical beauty of Durban can be found in the suburbs and beachfront, not in the black communities. There, rubbish is not collected, parks are scarce, public infrastructure is not maintained, landlords milk money from slums and jobs are lacking so residents are too poor to maintain their own properties. And now those areas have become a zone of hatred, bloodshed, ignorance and tribalism, receptive to hate speech from traditional leaders, regularly aflame.

    The petrol flung on these hot embers by King Zwelithini during a ‘moral regeneration’ speech just before Easter sounded like this: ‘when you walk in the street you cannot recognise a shop that you used to know because it has been taken over by foreigners, who then mess it up by hanging amanikiniki [rags]’. He implied migrants were criminals and insisted, ‘Pack your bags and leave’.

    As for the anti-xenophobia argument that the Frontline States had given hospitality to our own exiles during apartheid, Zwelithini’s arrogance turned it upside down: ‘When you [South African exiles] were in their countries you helped them to get their freedom. I know that other countries were liberated because of liberation armies from South Africa.’ (Before 1994, Zwelithini was allied with Inkatha and therefore with the apartheid regime running KwaZulu.)

    In other words, he said, the migrants are economic parasites, and you South Africans don’t owe the foreigners anything. After this speech, foreigners were killed, chased away from their homes and jobs and suffered looting of their shops. Some politicians denied it was xenophobia, calling it merely ‘looting’, so it would be seen as a minor thing.

    But after the president’s son, Edward Zuma, endorsed Zwelithini, no politician could duck the task of scrutinising the murderous phobia. Ignoring that there were Chinese, Bangladeshi, Pakistani and other Asian shop-keeper victims, they renamed xenophobia Afro-phobia. Whites have not been targeted, so if all-inclusive racial categories are still useful from the fight against apartheid, we should call this Black Phobia.

    But it is happening mainly in the townships, shack settlements, labour-hostels and inner-city areas where poor people live. So we should first use class analysis to identify what is wrong.

    What then becomes clear is that we have an unresolved matter: poor black people feel oppressed, and some of them are taking it out on anyone in sight who is different. This is not the first time we have had such incidents, and it is clear that our government and politicians never learn from the past. They are keeping poor people down, and whether it is in service delivery protests or these recent attacks, the explosions that result are impossible to predict or control.

    Even now, with so much publicity and so much at stake, when we had a meeting with Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba last week, he was very honest to say he cannot guarantee that it will not happen again.

    The reason is that no matter how much Gigaba and Durban Mayor James Nxumalo apologise for the attacks and lives lost, they don’t have any intention of changing the conditions that cause them.

    Gigaba was Minister of Public Enterprises for five years before 2014, and what we witnessed under his rule was a massive increase in electricity prices to poor people but not to companies like BHP Billiton which gets the world’s cheapest electricity. The reason for the painful price increase was to pay for the Medupi and Kusile power plants, which cost more because of corrupt, multi-billion Rand, incompetent tenderpreneurship benefiting the ruling party. We also witnessed Gigaba approving Transnet’s mega-projects like a new coal super-railway and a new port for Durban, which will both cost hundreds of billions of Rands.

    Will anything make these leaders and others like them change the course of history? What will persuade them to provide needed resources so that poor people’s lives improve, so that both local residents and foreign nationals feel that our official city vision is not as ridiculous as it sounds this month: ‘By 2020, eThekwini Municipality will be Africa’s most caring and livable city’?

    The pressure is rising, on Durban’s and South Africa’s reputation. The brand is being damaged, and this is what our elites worry most about. Across our continent, the backlash is becoming economically serious.

    For us, it boils down to the question of whether Durban is ready to host the 2022 Commonwealth Games. In Durban’s bid document, officials claim our city is a ‘responsible African citizen’: ‘We are Africans, we are an African Country, we are part of our multi-national region, we are an essential part of our continent. Being Africans, we are acutely aware of the wider world, deeply in our past and present. These Games will accelerate Africa’s rising and intra-continent integration, particularly in southern Africa.’

    My response to this is, if Durban is ‘aware’ and ‘responsible’, then why are people dying and being evicted in such extreme ways? Is being a responsible African citizen listening to local leaders inciting violence and being quiet about it? Is being responsible letting victims suffer in Durban’s refugee camps without even enough tent shelter, sufficient food or essential supplies?

    Only once Durban and this country become responsible African citizens can we be serious about hosting the Commonwealth Games or making a 2024 Olympic Games bid.

    The Durban Commonwealth proposal also claims that we have ‘public and private security… and other facilities to cater for international tourists from various parts of the world’. Are they referring to the security that keeps failing to halt people being attacked? Or the security that blasted hundreds of anti-xenophobia activists with rubber bullets and blue rain to stop them marching on Durban’s main road last Tuesday? Or are they trying to say they will get new security just for the Commonwealth Games?

    Really, if we cannot cater for people being killed in the poor areas of Durban, how can we claim that international tourists will be safe? If dangerous men like Zwelithini and Edward Zuma make incendiary statements without the government intervening, then no one is safe.

    I had to be the first young African person to stand up and call the King to order. I was criticised, as a ‘disrespectful’ young woman. But even after threats, I did not stop raising my voice, because I love my country and I have a conscience. Today I am proud that my voice is finally being heard, that these concerns are finally getting attention even in parliament and that more people are filing hate-speech complaints against Zwelethini and Edward Zuma.

    I am also glad that the King called for an Imbizo in Durban this week to speak about xenophobia. Many of us have been calling for the King to come to the victims and apologise to them. Even though he may lack the courage to do so, the fact that he is coming to Durban where the victims are is a sign he must listen to the cry of the people. We do hope that his arrival will bring change, even if it is long overdue.

    A better South Africa is possible, but until then, it is obvious that international events like the 2022 Commonwealth Games bid need to be put on hold. We cannot allow people to come to an unsafe place like Durban, even if as international tourists with fat wallets they may think they are protected.

    Until Durban has resolved its phobias, which are the result of the oppression of poor people and their mistaken targeting of migrant people from our continent and Asia, we must protest. Until the city and national government redirect resources to refugees in the short term and to all our ordinary poor residents, we must object to using public sports tourism subsidies that mainly benefit the city’s elite hotels and restaurants.

    We should raise the same concerns so many in Africa are raising, with their protests against our government, against South African businesses and even against our cultural workers. They are crying out for this state to get its act together, and so must we.

    We in Durban civil society should consider a boycott campaign: against the Tourism Indaba next month, against other big events at the International Convention Centre in the following weeks and even against any Commonwealth decision (expected on 2 September) to give the 2022 Games to our undeserving city.

    We need an assurance not, as Gigaba told us, that xenophobia is likely to keep on coming back. Instead, we want convincing proof that this will never ever happen again, because by treating poor migrants and South Africans with respect and love, both xenophobia and the causes of xenophobia will have been wiped off our map. Only then will our shame lift.

    *Bandile Mdlalose is the President of the Community Justice Movement and can be reached at [email protected]

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    Ethiophobia, Afrophobia: A shame

    Elyas Mulu Kiros


    c c AC
    Nelson Mandela was welcomed to Ethiopia with open arms during his time in exile. He was given a handgun, a gift that meant a great deal to him and which may have been the ANC military wing Umkhonto we Sizwe's first weapon. Now Ethiopians and other Africans are being murdered by the liberated South Africans.

    According to a BBC report, “kwerekwere” is a derogatory word in South Africa for African immigrants. In contrast, an article on Quartz says that white immigrants are treated differently, often referred to as “expats” or simply categorized as “tourists”. Therefore Afrophobia (as opposed to xenophobia) has become the preferred term to describe the ongoing attacks on foreigners in South Africa since the main targets are African immigrants. I include Ethiophobia because some of the latest victims are Ethiopians. The other African immigrants who have been largely affected by the violence come from Somalia, Zimbabwe, Nigeria and Malawi.

    A South African pastor told the BBC that “[the afrophobic attack] is sad because we are Africans…We are supposed to take care of each other. It is criminal the way we treat our own.”

    In the Quartz article this question has been raised: “Why is it that a Somali man can run a shop in a township, get raided and beaten up, while a white immigrant in town continues to run a restaurant full of patrons?”

    The explanation, according to the writer, goes back to the days of apartheid: the system that enforced black and white segregation, white supremacy and white privilege, isolated black South Africans from the rest of the continent and tried to erase their sense of African solidarity; and, practiced an immigration policy that favored and prioritized white immigrants who would live in places designated for whites only. South Africa opened itself widely to African immigrants after 1994, following apartheid's fall. The black South Africans (especially the poor and marginalized) were unprepared for the new wave of immigrants, their fellow Africans, who came in hoping for a better life and could live in the economically disadvantaged townships that new white immigrants would mostly avoid. The writer believes the Afrophobic attacks are “hangover from the past, fueled by present” economic and political problems that have made the African immigrants the unfortunate scapegoats.

    Although that is understandable, can it justify the inhumane attacks on innocent African immigrants, including children: beating, stoning, stabbing, hacking with machetes, burning alive and murdering? It is a disgrace for the “new” South Africa, a country that Nelson Mandela once proclaimed that it would be a home away from home for all that sought its protection.

    An African expressed his outrage against this shameful and senseless violence, which appears as displaced anger: “Simply put, Zulu South Africans have gone mad. Completely insane. Black South Africans ganged up to kill and steal from African immigrants claiming that other Africans are taking their jobs when they are yet to question their corrupt government and the whites controlling their economy.”

    IBTimes UK reported: “At least five people have been killed in a surge of xenophobic attacks in South Africa on 14 April, where locals have been targeting foreigners – mostly African immigrants from Nigeria, Somalia, Malawi, Zimbabwe and Ethiopia – in and around the city of Durban, in the KwaZulu-Natal province.”

    The report continued: “It is believed that violence erupted following alleged comments by Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini, who said that foreigners need to ‘pack their bags and leave.’ Following the comment – which Zwelithini denied he had made – several South Africans took to the streets of Durban and attacked and looted foreign-owned shops and properties. The protesters accused foreign nationals of living in South Africa illegally and of stealing jobs and opportunities.”


    Some argue that the xenophobic attacks are “tools for morally bankrupt populist politicians to mask their failings or greed,” a comment shared on Twitter. Those morally bankrupt politicians are said to be the current leaders of the African National Congress (ANC) party, South Africa's ruling party, which is accused of corruption and incompetent leadership. According to its critics, the ANC is exploiting the violence against immigrants to keep the public distracted from pressing issues.

    The BBC reported that: “President Jacob Zuma has condemned the violence and has established a team of ministers to put an end to it. …The president, like many anti-apartheid activists, was hosted by other African countries while in exile. And there is some irony that that solidarity is not working the other way.”

    However, Zuma’s passive condemnation of the violence has received intense criticism as he has not provided immediate and sustained protection for the African immigrants who are facing constant mob attacks. In fact, his administration has been accused of fomenting xenophobia, implementing by strict anti-immigration laws and policies that limit even the rights of legal immigrants.

    The opposition MP Julius Malema, of the Economic Freedom Fighters Party, blamedZuma for his failure to stop the violent mobs and lack of sincerity to address the problem. He also criticized Zuma’s inability to control his son who has allegedly said that foreigners must be killed.


    The few black South Africans who are butchering and burning innocent people (and the ANC government that is doing little to stop them) must have become forgetful of their history and the role that their fellow Africans had played in helping them fight against the apartheid system that robbed them of their humanity.

    Ethiopia was one of the first African countries that supported, trained and protected the young Nelson Mandela when the UK and other Western governments were quietly doing business with the apartheid government.

    Nelson Mandela was grateful to Ethiopia that welcomed him with open arms during his time in exile. He was given a handgun (a gift that had meant a great deal to him and which may have been the ANC military wing Umkhonto we Sizwe's first weapon, according to journalist Allister Sparks) and an Ethiopian passport under the pseudonym David Motsamayi. Here is how he remembered Ethiopia's effect on him:

    “Ethiopia always has a special place in my imagination and the prospect of visiting Ethiopia attracted me more strongly than a trip to France, England, and America combined. I felt I would be visiting my own genesis, unearthing the roots of what made me an African. ”

    Nelson Mandela also recognized the global Ethiopianism movement -- a result of Ethiopia's decisive victory against Italy at the battle of Adwa in 1896 -- as an inspiration in the creation of the ANC itself. He made that said in a speech he delivered at the Free Ethiopian Church of Southern Africa on 14 December 1992:

    "Fundamental tenets of the Ethiopian Movement were self-worth, self-reliance and freedom. These tenets drew the advocates of Ethiopianism, like a magnet, to the growing political movement. That political movement was to culminate in the formation of the ANC in 1912. It is in this sense that in the ANC we trace the seeds of the formation of our organisation to the Ethiopian Movement of the 1890s."

    Ironically, today’s South Africa has become a country that treats Ethiopians and other Africans as enemies and can’t even deport them with some dignity.


    [Insert here this image:

    History will remember this, South Africa. Next to Apartheid and Nelson Mandela.

    Achille Mbembe, writing in[url=]Africa Is A Country[url], warns South Africa:

    “National-chauvinism is rearing its ugly head in almost every sector of the South African society. The thing with national-chauvinism is that it is in permanent need of scapegoats. It starts with those who are not our kin. But very quickly, it turns fratricidal. It does not stop with ‘these foreigners.’ It is in its DNA to end up turning onto itself in a dramatic gesture of inversion.”

    Last but not least: it is important to mention that such tragedy should be a reminder for opportunist and populist politicians everywhere, including Ethiopia, that inciting violence against “outsiders” and exploiting gullible people’s emotions to achieve a narrow agenda is not only barbaric but will have a very ugly outcome. As someone who was internally displaced once — due to an ethnic (“go back to your land”) violence — seeing what happened in South Africa brings the horrible memories back.

    * Elyas Mulu Kiros is an Ethiopian blogger.



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    Political economy of Xenophobia: Cry the Beloved Country

    Odomaro Mubangizi


    c c PZ
    Many black South Africans are yet to enjoy the freedom dividend. This is the primary source of their frustration that needs to be addressed urgently. As one of Africa’s leading nations, the country should also intensify its efforts to realize the dream of pan-Africanism.


    Allan Paton, the famous South African author of “Cry the Beloved Country”, as they say, might be turning in his grave, watching from afar what is happening in South Africa with the recent spate of xenophobic killings and attacks. What has sparked off this orgy of brutal killings in one of Africa’s most promising democracies and economies? What is happening to the “Rainbow Nation”, so labeled by the Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu? Where is the much praised Ubuntu philosophy that helped South Africa to overcome the post-Apartheid revenge and blood-thirst feelings that gave way to truth and reconciliation?

    Many commentators are in utter shock at what South Africans are doing to fellow Africans, given the massive support many African countries offered during the anti-apartheid struggle. Is it a case of selective amnesia? Is it that the ordinary South Africans have no clue about what many Africans did to liberate South Africa? Whose fault is it that the “Rainbow Nation” has given in to xenophobic violence?

    This article suggests that the post-apartheid political transition in South Africa did not fully address the political economic question, and hence the xenophobic violence which is a symbolic expression of a deeper grudge against an unjust and unequal economic growth. This, however, should not justify xenophobic violence, but rather should put it into a broader perspective the South African post-apartheid reconstruction and distribution of resources. There is a material basis for xenophobia and to address it, radical policy imperatives are required. But in the short term, the South African government, the African Union and the international community need to act swiftly to prevent xenophobic violence from escalating into a humanitarian and security nightmare.


    The “Rainbow Nation” has gone through very horrifying xenophobic violence that has left at least 8 people dead (numbers could be higher). Property has been destroyed. There have been thousands of trekkers heading to neighboring states of Malawi, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Mozambique. Some who came from distant countries such as Nigeria, Uganda, Kenya and Ethiopia could only find safety at a stadium in Durban. While the recent xenophobic attacks started in the Province of KwaZulu Natal, they quickly spread to Soweto and Johannesburg. Pictures on social media depicted poor immigrants boarding buses and others carrying luggage heading to unknown destinations. There is anger, fear and frustration across the African continent, since most countries have a good number of people working in South Africa.

    Some media headlines tell the tale of horror: “Foreigners tell of being ‘hunted like dogs’ in South Africa”; “South Africa attacks spark anger abroad”; “Zimbabwe to bring home nationals caught in S. Africa attacks.” Mobs brandishing sticks and machetes roamed streets hunting for foreigners. What sparked off this xenophobic violence?

    Like any major social upheaval there cannot be one cause. Some were quick to point fingers at Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini as having incited his subjects in a speech where he alluded to foreigners being the cause of insecurity, a charge he has denied. He was quick to make a public statement clearifying that he was not in any way calling for the expulsion of foreigners. “A word said is an arrow let to fly”—hard to retract a statement. This goes to indicate the challenge of mixing modern state systems with traditional political systems. One may recall Prof. Mahmood Mamdani’s thesis of “Citizen and Subject” in his celebrated book: “Citizen and Subject: Contemporary Africa and the Legacy of Late Colonialism.” South Africans are at once citizens of a modern state (or even ultra-modern) and at the same time memebers of kingdoms and chiefdoms where chiefs and kings wield immense power and influence politics and public opinion. The Zulus are close to 12 million, making them the largest ethnic community in South Africa. Such a group with a strong cultural identity and a political system that predates the modern South African state system is a force to reckon with.

    Fortunately the South African government has come out strongly to condemn the xenophobic attacks and measures have been put in place to address the issue. President Jacob Zuma’s public statement has given some relief and hope that a solution can be found. In his 20 April 2015 message, he had this to say: “Any problems or issues of concern to South African citizens must be resolved peacefully and through dialogue. The police have been directed to work round the clock to protect both foreign nationals and citizens and to arrest looters and those committing acts of violence.”


    Xenophobic attacks do not just erupt in a vacuum. The first widespread xenophobic attacks took place in 2008 and officially 62 people died. All observers of South Africa’s political economy point to a chasm of inequality amidst affluence. The economy has been steadily declining and stands at a 1.5 percent growth rate. Unemployment stands at around 25 percent with the youth unemployment at double that figure. Recently there has been a wave of labour unrest around mines due to low wages. It was recently announced that Nigeria has overtaken South Africa as Africa’s top economic giant. One can safely infer that such economic decline can spark off social unrest.

    It is also true that many Africans see South Africa as a land of opportunities. The top 10 universities on the continent are all in South Africa offering comparably excellent education that can easily rival some schools in the West. Given that South Africa has limited qualified local personnel to run the ultra-modern economy, it has attracted many skilled and unskilled Africans. Figures are not easy to find but the neighboring countries such as Zimbabwe, Malawi, and Zambia have a close to a million immigrants in South Africa. Ethiopia is estimated to have about 50,000 immigrants there. Think of Ugandans, Congolese, Tanzanians, Rwandans, and Somalis. These immigrants are no doubt contributing to the growth of South Africa’s economy, but they also attract feelings of resentment among locals who might see their presence as in invasion. Even President Zuma in his message mentioned the benefit of these foreign nationals in contributing to South Africa’s cosmopolitanism.

    Like all highly urbanized societies, where you find an amalgamation of many nationalities, you also find petty and grand crime. This crime and insecurity cannot be blamed on foreign immigrants alone, since South Africa has had a reputation of a high crime rate right from the days of apartheid. We are looking at a society wounded by a long period of social and political stress.

    Then there is the discomforting fact of why so many immigrants are heading South. What is going on in the respective countries of origin? If the conditions in these countries were so attractive, the citizens would not be moving in huge numbers to look for greener pastures. Some soul-searching is needed among the respective countries where the immigrants originate.

    Within South Africa itself, there is an amount of political contestation symbolized by Julius Malema’s Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) party. The main critique that EFF is making against the ANC is that the plight of the poor has remained unattended to. Many youth have remained unemployed while the ruling elite of the ANC are sitting pretty. Elections were held last May and EFF managed to get some seats in the legislative assembly. Malema’s disruptive drama during this year’s State of the Nation speech by President Zuma took many by surprise. Could this xenophobic violence be a proxy war against ANC or some other complex political game? It is too early to tell.


    Before Nigeria overtook it, South Africa was Africa’s largest economy—do not ask how Nigeria pulled off this. By 2013, South Africa was Africa’s biggest investor overshadowing China and the EU who still dominate investment in Africa when we consider monetary terms. South Africa’s multinational companies are known across Africa: telecoms (MTN), banking (Standard Bank; retail (Shoprite), and food (Tiger Brands). Since these investments are in the service sector, they help the rest of Africa to create jobs, and have therefore initiated a paradigm shift from overdependence on natural resources extraction. Given South Africa’s massive investment in the rest of Africa, one wonders why the xenophobic feelings emanating from the “Cape of good wines” as South Africa is nicknamed by some. After the xenophobic attacks erupted, some angry people were even suggesting a boycott of South African goods and services. This would be a dangerous path, of course, since it would hurt the African continent badly. But the frustration and anger that generated this line of thought is understood.

    South Africa is considered by some observers, like Prof. Patrick Bond of the University of Kwa-Zulu Natal, as a sub-imperial power in the African continent. Mention is made about BRICS—a trans-continental regional integration body comprising Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. Why would South Africa join this body when it is part of regional bodies SADC and COMESA? The geopolitical configuration of BRICS seems like like an alternative power to compete with the global economy hitherto dominated by the Western imperial powers. In fact there is some growing resentment in the rest of Africa about South Africa’s growing economic and political hegemony.

    A quick look at some of the top companies in Africa by 2013 shows how indeed South Africa is Africa’s giant economy: [1]

    c c PZ

    From this data it is clear that South Africa is Africa’s unrivalled economic power-house. This is why many Africans are moving down South to have a piece of the pie come what may. Of great interest is the appearance of Aliko Dangote, the Nigerian billionaire who has curved a niche for himself and is the richest African on the continent. While South Africa has some of the wealthiest individuals among the black community such as Cyril Ramaphosa, they do not come anywhere near Dangote’s business empire. South African indigenous entrepreneurs are still a work in progress and they are yet to proved by the test of time.

    The hundreds of companies based in South Africa are what are attracting a lot of immigrants both legal and illegal. Another international political economy issue is the ownership of these multinational conglomerates. If one uses a world systems theory, South Africa looks by all intents and purposes like a semi-periphery or entry point of global capitalism. This implies that some of the contradictions of the global capitalistic economy will be played out in South Africa: exploitation of cheap labor to maximize profit; tension between labor and capital; diminishing role of the state as the capitalist market takes the upper hand; and social unrest as a result of failure to resolve these contradictions. South Africa has the sufficient intellectual and political capital to address these contradictions, but political economy has some surprises.


    South Africa’s freedom is the result of many sacrifices that front-line states made to end the apartheid regime. Many African countries played a crucial role in supporting ANC’s liberation struggle. The ordinary South Africans have no excuse for not knowing this basic fact. The government should make this point loud and clear and even be proactive in including this in the education system of South Africa.

    South Africa is part of SADC that includes Tanzania and DRC. It is high time SADC joined the other regional integration blocks—East African Community (EAC) and COMESA to form a large regional block to ease movement of people, goods and services. The anticipated tripartite arrangement to combine SADC, EAC and COMESA come June should address this issue of forging greater regional integration. The lesson from EAC is telling. The countries of Rwanda, Uganda and Kenya have expedited regional integration and citizens from these countries are able to move around the region with just an ID. Citizens from these countries can look for jobs or even settle in any of the three countries dubbed the “coalition of the willing.” Tanzania and Burundi that are part of EAC are still making up their mind on this rapid integration. You do not hear much talk of “taking our jobs” in the three countries of Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda. Every country has some comparative advantage.

    If the entire region of East and Southern Africa stretching from the Cape to the Horn of Africa were to form one economic and later political block, this would make a huge economy with plenty of job opportunities, market, and exchange of ideas and knowledge for a population of about 600 million people.

    South Africa can also take the lead in promoting pan-Africanism. Even at the highest diplomatic level, the AU Commission Chair is Dr. Nkosozana Dlamini Zuma from South Africa. This is the time for the continent to prove itself and use the xenophobia violence to champion African unity, with South Africa taking the lead.

    At the domestic level, South Africa will have to come up with a clear and comprehensive immigration policy that reflects the Ubuntu philosophy of hospitality and generosity. There is a lot to share and participate in across the continent and so countries that are tightly closing their borders and guarding jealously what they call “our jobs” are deluding themselves and delaying Africa’s rise to economic prosperity. Africa Unite, you have nothing to lose but poverty.

    * Odomaro Mubangizi, PhD, teaches philosophy and theology at the Institute of Philosophy and Theology in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

    [1] Data from African Business, June 2013, 20.



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    Xenophobia or Afrophobia in South Africa: It is just convenient amnesia

    Wellington Muzengeza


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    All those years when South African freedom fighters crisscrossed the continent in search of support for the anti-apartheid struggle, they received only unstinting hospitality and solidarity. Have South Africans forgotten this? What do they teach their children about Africa?

    Growing up in Zimbabwe, I vividly remember listening to the soulful music of various South Africans on my grandmother's supersonic gramophone stereo. Yvonne Chaka Chaka's “Umqombothi”, Brenda Fassie's “Weekend Special”, Miriam Makeba's famous “Pata Pata” which was penned by Zimbabwean-born Dorothy Masuku, and so on. I remember Lucky Dube's “Remember Me” being played at my aunt's engagement party in 1990. I also remember Paul Simon's Graceland tour in Zimbabwe in 1987 which featured Hugh Masekela’s hit single “Bring Him Back Home", the song that was to become the anthem for the free Nelson Mandela movement/campaign.

    Hugh also became famous for his collaborations with African musicians like Manu Dibango and Fela Kuti and other African crooners from his base in Botswana where he had set up a mobile studio in the early 1980s. Who can forget the sounds of Ray Phiri and Stimela, Jabu Khanyile and his Bayethe and Southern freeway and of course the rich and culturally resonant Zulu lyrics of Ladysmith Black Mambazo?

    To be honest, it was only when I was in my early teens that I truly figured that Yvonne Chaka Chaka, Brenda Fassie, Chico, Patricia Majalisa, Lucky Dube or Hugh Masekela were South Africans and not my fellow Zimbabweans. That was the extent of the African brotherhood and awareness that I grew up with.

    When Hugh Masekela penned 'Bring Him Home' after being inspired by a letter from Nelson Mandela, he was in Botswana as a guest of the government; so were a lot of other South African exiles scattered all over the world, Africa in particular, like Tsietsi Mashinini who died in 1990 in Guinea, where he and other young South Africans were the guests of the government there. Tsietsi was forced into exile from his native South Africa and left the country for Botswana in 1976, where he lived for few months before he proceeded to West Africa. He enjoyed the hospitality of President Sekou Toure and his people of Guinea, and lived in Nigeria where he was briefly hosted in the presidential guest house in Lagos.

    All those years when young Thabo Mbeki was the protégé of the late great OR Tambo and they were criss-crossing the African continent canvassing for support against apartheid, they knew only generosity and kindness from fellow Africans whether they were in Angola, Tanzania, Mozambique, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Algeria, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Botswana, Lesotho, Swaziland, Ghana, Ethiopia, Libya etc. The same applied to other ordinary cadres of both the ANC or PAC.

    They did not even have South African passports as the apartheid regime had either banned them or declared them prohibited. They were effectively stateless, but thankfully they from time to time would be granted honorary citizenship by their fellow African brothers, and could freely move across the continent and yonder without documentation. They knew infinite generosity and hospitality. Their hosts were not necessarily in great splendour yet they shared the little they had all in the spirit of Ubuntu.

    When former president Mbeki embarked on his African Renaissance project, I presumed it was because of his superior insight into the importance of brotherhood, neighbourliness and internationalism that was beyond our understanding as less travelled and less sophisticated beings.

    Having spoken about all this, it baffles my mind, how South Africans, or some elements in South Africa, could exhibit such reckless tendencies, harbour such murderous intentions and inflict such horrendous suffering on fellow Africans who are in their midst as either guests or naturalised citizens.

    Could it be that our brothers have developed a dangerous case of historical amnesia? Have they forgotten about good old African Ubuntu? Have they forgotten about the legacy of their great leaders like Chief Luthuli, Mandela, OR Tambo, Robert Sobukwe, Desmond Tutu and the others? Men of great virtue and courage who united their people, rallied and marshalled their people through harsh times? Visionaries whose wisdom was beyond their years?

    Have South Africans forgotten that an economy as gigantic, diversified, complex and sophisticated as theirs has massive pull effects on both international migration and investment capital? Its history and track record in upholding various tenets of good governance, rule of law, tolerance, etc has become the hallmark and an excellent example of tolerance and forgiveness worldwide.

    My question would then be: What has gone wrong? Are our leaders teaching the wrong history to the youth? Is the leadership just reckless? What kind of books are on the school curriculum? Xenophobia or Afrophobia in South Africa, I say, is just convenient amnesia.

    I have no doubt in my mind that South African people are great and fantastic hosts.

    Let us join hands in fighting xenophobia in South Africa; after all we are all brothers and sisters.

    All in the fight for social justice, all for God, Country and the Continent

    * Wellington Muzengeza is a researcher, urban and regional planner and social justice activist. He blogs at



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    Xenophobia and ethno-nationalism: Not-so-strange bedfellows

    Awino Oketch


    c c M24
    While plenty of anger has been targeted at South Africa, in Kenya the Uhuru Kenyatta administration’s reactions to Al Shabaab attacks have resulted in deepening anti-Somali and anti-Islam sentiments, thereby weakening the nation’s ability to build a united and effective response to the terror group.

    When the 2008 attacks on African immigrants in South Africa occurred, I had just moved back to Kenya after four years of living in Cape Town. I was sitting in Nairobi anxious for non-South African friends, yet at the same time caught in the midst of our post election violence that quickly mutated into ethnic violence. None of these countries seemed like the most suitable place to be, but I was certain that being part of national conversations in Kenya was essential and confronting death at home was more palatable.

    As xenophobic attacks resurge in South Africa in 2015, Kenya is in the midst of a response to Al Shabaab, an extremist insurgent group which mutated out of the Islamic Courts Union in Somalia in 2007. The analysis that would clarify why Kenya is a greater target for Al Shabaab, when it has been a military actor in Somalia alongside Ethiopia, Uganda and Burundi, is yet to emerge. It may be concluded that this has in part to do with the nature of the state and different regimes. Nonetheless, existing studies on Kenya allude to a range of connected issues. These include: colonial and post-colonial dispossession of citizens, and the marginalisation of Northern Kenya and the Coast, which also happen to be key geographical entry points for extremist insurgents; the proximity of both these regions of Kenya to Somalia, and the latter’s long-standing civil war that has created lawlessness and accompanying subaltern economies; and finally, the weaknesses of the Kenyan state brought about by decades of political decay, that have engendered political patronage and corruption across key government agencies - not least the entire security sector.

    It is difficult to target anger at South Africa without casting an eye on Kenya. Indeed, the current Kenyan administration’s response to some of the major Al Shabaab attacks such as Westgate in 2013, Mpeketoni in 2014 and Garissa University College in 2015, resulted in anti-Somali and anti-Islamic sentiment rather than coalescing national energies on Kenya’s capabilities to respond effectively to Al Shabaab as a security and stability threat. The implementation of Usalama Watch in 2014, which was intended as a community-based security programme to unveil Al Shabaab sleeper cells country wide, ended up being an Eastleigh based operation, thus criminalizing Somalis, who are the main inhabitants of this suburb. It must be noted that the Somalis are not foreign nationals in Kenya, but one of the forty plus nations co-existing in Kenya. The regime’s proclamations immediately after the Mpeketoni attack in Lamu absolved Al Shabaab of responsibility, and instead pointed to the Mombasa Republican Council, a group which has articulated historical state-led land dispossession of indigenous communities, through calls for secession.

    Underpinning the xenophobic violence in South Africa and counter-terrorism responses in Kenya are three patterns. The first is state collusion in the facilitation of violence, which can be enacted by citizens against “foreigners” or enacted by “foreigners” against citizens. This collusion is driven by the elite’s interest in maintaining channels for the acquisition of state resources. Herein lie corrupt and corruptible state officials that deliberately weaken systems on the one hand and frustrate citizens on the other hand, who are then forced into a social contract with a regime - through elections - that is not legitimate.

    The second pattern is the rise of conservative nationalisms as a result of the perception of threat. In South Africa, the state’s failure to provide an inclusive and enabling economic and political programme, by sustaining elite largesse on the state, is re-cast as an immigration problem. State officials through silence or affirmation, tacitly support community discourses that focus on the presence of “foreigners” thriving in the face of citizen hunger. In Kenya, the inability of the regime to put its house in order through extensive security reform alongside efforts to redress historical dispossession at the hands of political elite, is instead re-articulated as “foreigners” finding support amongst “us”. The “us” in this instance is constructed as the majority – Christian and “indigenous”, which is non-Somali and non-Islamic. Even if this is not the intention of the policy statements, public discourse and resultant responses such as identifying Al Shabaab sympathisers in Somali occupied zones affirms it. This is despite the existence of non-Somali, non-Northern Kenyan Al Shabaab sympathisers.

    The resurgence of ethno-nationalism of this nature is always accompanied by increased surveillance of women's bodies and agency in response to the "them" versus "us" narrative. After the 2013 general elections in Kenya, there were public political calls on the “correct” marital partnerships and the need for women to have more children to ensure numbers to win elections. In South Africa, the violence targeted at African immigrants is not only justified through the prism of jobs that are being taken away but also "our women". There is therefore the imagined need to protect, re-claim and defend South African women who are falling prey to “foreigners”. Women have no agency in these cases.

    The third pattern is the closure of space through immigration policies. There is a palpable tension between realising a borderless Africa dream that enables the free movement of people and goods, while at the same time resolving the nationalist energies that emerge from "foreign invasion”. The African National Congress’s Peace and Stability policy focuses on Home Affairs, which is about the management of immigration and national identity. This forms the centrepiece of its approach to territorial integrity and internal security, and has opened the floodgates for immigration harassment despite the fact that the same document recognises "internationalism" as central to South Africa's approach to Africa and the world. In Kenya, immigration laws have recently changed to prioritise job creation for citizens, a perimeter fence is being constructed along the Somali border, and there are numerous stories of people acquiring different names because of the additional vetting accompanying the acquisition of identity cards for citizens in Northern Kenya.

    This closure of space has long-term implications. For South Africa, a significant percentage of those who face immigration harassment comprise a skilled labour force from Africa, teaching in institutions of higher learning and working with pan African organizations and corporate entities. Africa’s second largest economy relies on African human and financial resources to sustain that position. Short sighted and hostile immigration policies not only fuel self-induced economic sabotage, which has the net effect of warranting retaliatory policies on South African interests in Africa, but also belie a longstanding pan-African stance. For Kenya, the mutation of Al Shabaab and global patterns of extremist insurgencies show that the challenge is borderless. The work of resolving extremist insurgencies requires a combination of short, medium and long-term strategies. To win the hearts and minds of citizens in order to build consensus on a national security strategy, these strategies in turn must combine: an extensive security reform that addresses capabilities and efficiency demands; a commitment to rooting out corruption and political patronage; effective management of the political devolution process; and a fair dose of regime humility. to win the hearts and minds of citizens in order to build consensus on a national security strategy.

    Between counter terrorism approaches and resolving the failures of capitalism, state sanctioned violence and securitised governance is becoming the norm. This trend, it must be noted, is not unique to Africa. Herein lies the question of leadership and citizen agency. Kenyan leadership oscillates between being forced to listen to citizens with agency, and decision making shaped by the need to “act tough”. South African political leadership has resorted to invoking Mandela’s legacy to pacify South Africans and other Africans. We must recognize that the challenges we face today have to be resolved by leadership that is attentive and responsive to the challenges of our time. Such leadership cannot be driven by the pursuit of self-preservation, but by the recognition of leaders’ missions to realize a more equal society and selflessly commit to it.

    * Dr Awino Okech is a Senior Research Fellow at the University of Johannesburg’s Department of Politics and International Relations

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    Beyond borders: Africa needs peaceful coexistence

    Akina Mama wa Afrika


    c c AO
    We have seen our fellow women in South Africa take part in the looting and killing of helpless fellow Africans. What example are they setting for the South African girl-child?

    “…I do not come from Ghana I was only born there;I do not come from Nigeria neither do I come from Zimbabwe my soul was only conceived there. I do not come from South Africa; I do not come from Egypt, my spirit was only programmed there. I do not come from Madagascar neither do I come from Libya my hair was only textured there, I do not come from Rwanda or the Expansive Sahara my structure was only geometricized there, I do not come from the Congo, I do not come from Ethiopia my color was only mixed there….I hail from the over 50 states on the continent, I come from Africa, Africa is my Country…” Extracted from ‘Pharaonic Eagle’, poem by Prof. Atukwei Okai

    Africa has witnessed unprecedented human rights violations and catastrophes, ranging from massive terrorist attacks that have claimed many innocent lives, to Ebola outbreaks in West Africa whose stigma is still being felt to date. The wars and conflicts in the Horn of Africa- Somalia -the Great Lakes Region, most recent being DRC, CAR, and South Sudan where many lives have been lost; massive loss of lives crossing the Mediterranean in pursuit of employment; colonization of the peoples of Sahrawi Democratic Republic (Western Sahara), the worst and most recent being the recent xenophobic attacks in South Africa; all of which demonstrate the magnitude of the fragility of our societies.

    Unfortunately, when violence breaks out such as the xenophobic attacks that have occurred in the past few days in South Africa, it is the women and children who suffer the most although their plight is rarely highlighted. It’s a common trend that during such situations women’s sexual and reproductive rights are violated through rape and other forms of sexual abuse. As if that is not enough given the role of women as care takers they are the ones who bear the biggest burden of care during such crisis.

    Our foremothers Jeane Martin Cisse, Gertrude Mongella, Mabel Dove, Ruth Botsio, Ama Nkrumah, Ramatu Baba, Sophia Doku and Dr. Evelyn Amarteifio Maria Ruth Neto and others must be disappointed at the legacy we are building today. After years of struggle and self -sacrifice to free the African people, we ironically are enslaving our very own in ways that are incomparable to the era of colonialism.

    Long before the formation of women’s organizations, women in South Africa played a critical role in the struggle against apartheid with the first mass passive resistance campaign being in early 1912. This was probably the first mass passive resistance campaign. Indian women encouraged Black and Indian miners in Newcastle to strike against starvation wages. Despite the fact that women in South Africa have never constituted a homogenous group at many times in the struggle, women of all races and classes worked together, as can be seen in the formation of the Garment Workers Union in 1928 and FEDSAW in 1954. Through the common experiences shared and other interests women have always united as manifested through the support rendered by empowered women in many other African countries to South Africans especially women who for many years were marginalized and disempowered by apartheid. We have seen our fellow women in South Africa take part in the looting and killing of helpless fellow Africans. What example are they setting for the South African girl-child?

    As a Pan-African feminist organization, AMwA is not only horrified by the xenophobic attacks in South Africa but rather confronted with underlying questions of how do we create societies that are able to embrace and respect human differences without suppressing human freedoms and rights? Secondly how do we begin to tackle the root causes of human rights abuses rather than deal with the symptoms? The fact that South Africa has had a number of xenophobic attacks with the worst having been in 2008 where 63 people lost their lives tells us that there is more to the attacks than utterances made by the Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini and/ or claims that foreigners have taken up jobs of Southern Africans.

    There is no doubt the Africa we want is not and should not be what we are continuing to witness today. As leaders we are challenged to rethink, strategize and begin to walk the talk. We have unprecedented laws and policy frameworks that if seriously implemented would go a long way in tackling Africa’s multifaceted problems especially poverty being the source of many of the evils we are witnessing today. The ongoing human rights violations are unbecoming and we cannot continue to let such inhuman acts prevail in our societies.

    Therefore AMwA strongly condemns the recent xenophobic attacks in South Africa and calls;

    a) For a united Africa, working together in harmony and peace for the true transformation of the African continent

    b) On the government of South Africa to strengthen and provide security to all people in South Africa especially women, girls and children. And bring all the perpetrators of these attacks to book.

    c) The African Union and SADC to quickly intervene and support the South African government in restoring peace security and unity among the people in South Africa

    In Sisterhood
    Akina Mama wa Afrika


    Call for articles: African perspectives on the post-2015 agenda for development


    Pambazuka News, in collaboration with AfricAvenir (, invites contributions on the evaluation of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and the question of the Post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

    The purpose for this special edition is to nourish reflection and debate consisting of new perspective from Africa as an active player in global development processes.

    A lot of debate in the recent past, among scholarly spaces and in civil society circles, has highlighted the failure of the MDGs to achieve the objectives set, evoking, among other causes, a lack of consideration of the historical and structural factors in their conception.

    While the desire to find solutions to global development at an international level has not abated, non-achievement of certain objectives led to a reconsideration of some African-centered development models.

    Debates surrounding the reasons for such the failure to achieve dramatic change globally have raised questions about the sustainability of such goals, how many there should be, whether we even need global goals at or should focus on regional bodies to produce regional goals and strategies to meet them.

    The focus on the millennium development goals from local and national NGOs, governments, and international organisations (profit and non-profit making) as a route of funding and thus where their focus has rested show the importance of African engagement in the creation of future goals. The funding has been driven to the 10 MDGss often at the expense of other areas of necessity.

    It has been declared as a goal of the Post-2015 Agenda that there will be an attempt to incorporate the Global South equally in the negotiating process. This declaration provides scope for the voices of Africa to be heard at the negotiating table. This opportunity must be taken to ensure that new thinking is incorporated in the production of sustainable and long-term approaches to questions of development in the post-2015 development agenda.

    Pambazuka News opens a series of angles on which you can contribute, as well as any other analysis that you could bring to this crucial debate on Africa and the South.

    • Were Africans efectively involved in the creation of the MDGs? Do limitations in this involvement explain the failures? At what level and how should Africans have been more involved?

    • Is it possible to have one Global South voice? Or even a single African voice? And is it necessary to be heard in this process, in the hope of taking into account the real genuine aspirations of Africans, or is it always a fool's game?

    • When talking about post-development, whose development should it be? Should Africa focus on continental goals rather than global ones?

    • How can the Post-2015 agenda incorporate the crucial role and place of women in Africa?

    • What role should there be for the international community (including the global North but also the increasing influence of BRICS) in setting the development agenda for Africa?

    • How and why is it important to recognize the weight of the colonial past when it comes to addressing the existing structural inequalities in Africa and the world?

    • Can there be an African-centered agenda for autonomous post-development? Do we need to make a return to the Lagos Plan of 1986?


    LENGTH OF ARTICLES: Articles should be written in Microsoft Word, Times New Roman, size 12 and be between 1000-3000 words

    Submit a short biography of two lines at the end of your article and send it to: [email protected]

    University of Bradford Call for Papers

    Annual Research Conference: “Rethinking Peace, Security and Development in Contemporary Africa”


    The conference aims to examine the past and current approaches to peace, security and development in Africa in light of confronting the new challenges and the opportunities offered. Key themes focus on the emerging security challenges, technology and innovative approaches to peace and security and celebrating African successes and development.


    Friday 6 November 2015 University of Bradford Bradford
West Yorkshire, UK

    Dubbed as the year of Pan-Africanism and African Renaissance, 2013 saw many African countries celebrate their 50th anniversary of independence. Looking at its past, present and future developments, an air of optimism and determination has indeed pervaded the continent. While the Africa emerging narrative cannot be gainsaid, new challenges have also cropped up particularly in the area of peace, security and development. Terrorism and the rise of insurgent groups such as Al Shabab and Boko Haram, continued environmental and climate change, and the Ebola outbreak in West Africa all constitute a threat to continental peace, security and development.

    The setbacks are far-reaching and overwhelming to existing structures. While acknowledging these challenges, tremendous success stories and opportunities exist but often are not highlighted. Technology transfers and innovation for instance have proved to be a game changer in many sectors in Africa, including peace and security.

    This conference aims to examine the past and current approaches to peace, security and development in Africa in light of confronting the new challenges and the opportunities offered. Key themes focus on the emerging security challenges, technology and innovative approaches to peace and security and celebrating African successes and development.

    This conference targets experts from a range of fields and anticipates contributions from researchers and practitioners in the areas of conflict and peace studies, history and politics, business and management, environment and climate change, health studies, media, humanitarianism, engineering and technology. Contributions from other disciplines related to the conference are also welcomed.

    From the conference participants, we would hope the following themes to be considered:

    1. Emerging Security Challenges:

    •Environmental and climate security

    •Terrorism, extremism and State security
    •Natural resource use and exploitation
    •Health security (diseases and epidemics)
    •Financial crises and debt

    2. Beyond Security: Seeking innovation

    •Media representation

    •Energy and conservation

    •Use of technology in peace and security

    •Local peace building organizations and NGOs

    3. Success and Development:
    •Africa rising narrative

    •Democracy at 50 in Africa

    •Governance and Reforms

    •Regional organizations and security •Interventions and peace building

    •Media representation

    •Living beyond colonial narratives

    Deadline for submissions is 30 April, 2015, which should be sent to [email protected] Abstracts for single papers should be limited to 300 words. Proposals for panels are also welcome, and should be limited to 300 words, with separate abstracts of individual papers for the proposal (following the above word limit). Accepted participants will be required to send a full paper by 1 October, 2015.

    Comment & analysis

    Don't let Hillary Clinton escape the blame for Libya's anarchy

    Michael Brendan Dougherty


    There are no consequences for the woman who could be the next leader of the “free world” for the deadly chaos she is responsible for in Libya. It is all part of America’s doctrine of humanitarian anarchy.

    American military adventurism relies on a very backward notion of causation. When evil men in the world kill their own people, somehow America is to blame for not stopping them. When American action leads directly to disorder, barbarism, and terror, well, that's someone else's fault. It's our unspoken doctrine of humanitarian anarchy.

    In a more innocent time, before Jordan Spieth could legally drive, American bombs began to fall on Libya. President Obama offered the following rationale: It was to stop the oncoming violence and slaughter.

    “[I]f we waited one more day, Benghazi, a city nearly the size of Charlotte, could suffer a massacre that would have reverberated across the region and stained the conscience of the world.

    “It was not in our national interest to let that happen. I refused to let that happen. And so nine days ago, after consulting the bipartisan leadership of Congress, I authorized military action to stop the killing...” [White House]

    The next big fight for gay rights will be won by Big Business In the singularly uninsightful book “Hard Choices”, the following words on the Libyan intervention are attributed to Hillary Clinton's authorship:

    “All of this — the defiant dictator, the attacks on civilians, the perilous position of the rebels — led me to consider what many of my foreign counterparts were debating: Was it time for the international community to go beyond humanitarian aid and sanctions and take decisive action to stop the violence in Libya?” [Hard Choices]

    Death and civil war in Libya were unacceptable outcomes for America when Moammar Gadhafi was alive. But death and civil war continue unabated, the difference being that the Islamic State is now one of the players — and somehow it's not in the American interest to stop it or to help Libyans establish some kind of law and order. The lessons of Iraq have been internalized: Once you create a total power vacuum that will attract terror gangs and radical Islamic fundamentalists, it's best to not have any boots on the ground to stop them.

    Clinton's chapter on Libya ends on exactly this note, disavowing any responsibility for death and destruction from here on out:

    “I was worried that the challenges ahead would prove overwhelming for even the most well-meaning transitional leaders. If the new government could consolidate its authority, provide security, use oil revenues to rebuild, disarm the militias, and keep extremists out, then Libya would have a fighting chance at building a stable democracy. If not, then the country would face very difficult challenges translating the hopes of a revolution into a free, secure, and prosperous future. And, as we soon learned, not only Libyans would suffer if they failed.” [Hard Choices]

    That's a long comedown from her peace sign–waving braggadocio. (As Clinton had put it, "We came, we saw, he died.") But notice the causality in the above passage. Hillary strikes an appropriately "worried" tone. But if there was a failure that caused Libyan suffering, that belongs to the "well-meaning transitional leaders."

    Libya now has multiple "governments" that draw massive amounts of the nation's resource wealth to themselves, creating an endless amount of make-work and no-show jobs to secure the loyalties of their clients. Libya is essentially functioning as a Mediterranean gas station, the purpose of which is to provide enough revenue to perpetuate a civil war to determine the gas station's ownership.

    As per usual in this region, Sunni radicals are moving in to the power vacuum. Libya now has clerical thugs like Grand Mufti Sadiq al-Ghariani issuing fatwas against women's rights. Perceived agents of "foreign" influence, many of them workers brought in by the Gadhafi regime, are being expelled or oppressed in popular uprisings. All in all, civil war tends to be a loser for minorities, women, and children.

    Juan Cole argued last month that Libya is "messy" but has an "open future." One upside of the Libyan war is that it has revealed that formerly sharp critics of George W. Bush's foreign policy, like Cole, can be just as glib as the people they hated a decade ago. Yes, Libya's future is wide open, just as a mass grave is.

    Meanwhile, back home, one of the prime architects of this chaos gets the flattery of being chased by the national press, in a van that's been named after a 1970s cartoon. There are no consequences for the woman who could be the next leader of the free world. Those are reserved for well-meaning transitional leaders and their constituents.

    * Michael Brendan Dougherty is senior correspondent at, where this article was first published.



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    UN, protector of corrupt officials who steal aid from desperate victims

    Rasna Warah


    The United Nations is notorious for not protecting whistleblowers, despite a 2005 whistleblower protection policy, and rarely, if ever, takes disciplinary action against corrupt individuals.

    When James Wasserstrom, a top anti-corruption officer at the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo, revealed a scheme that involved paying kickbacks worth $500 million to Kosovo officials and senior members of the UN mission, his passport was confiscated, his car and apartment searched, and his photograph placed at the entrances of the mission’s offices to deny him access to the premises.

    Years after his arrest and dismissal, the UN’s Dispute Tribunal — the court of first instance of the two-tier internal justice system through which UN employees contest their administrative rights — found that Wasserstrom had suffered humiliating and degrading treatment at the hands of his employer.

    Although the whistleblower won his case before the tribunal, the relief ordered did not eliminate the effects of retaliation — the tribunal awarded him $65,000 in compensation, which is less that 2 per cent of the estimated losses, damages, and costs he had incurred since he started his legal battle with the UN.

    What is worse, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon not only appealed the decision, but failed to take any disciplinary action against Wasserstrom’s retaliators.

    Fortunately, Wasserstrom’s struggle for justice was not completely in vain. In January this year, President Barack Obama signed into law a Bill, the first of its kind, that forces the US State Department to withdraw 15 per cent of US funding from any UN agency that fails to adhere to best practices for whistleblowers.

    This is good news because the UN is notorious for not protecting whistleblowers, despite a 2005 whistleblower protection policy, and rarely, if ever, takes disciplinary action against corrupt individuals.

    The Washingtion-based Government Accountability Project, which lobbied for this Bill to be passed, found that the UN Ethics Office, which is responsible for receiving appeals for protection from UN whistleblowers, failed to protect more than 98 per cent of those who approached it for help between 2007 and 2010. Furthermore, under UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, the UN’s whistleblower protection policy has been regularly undermined or ignored.


    In 2009, Ban Ki-moon disbanded the UN Procurement Task Force that was set up by his predecessor, Kofi Annan, to investigate financial irregularities within the organisation.

    The task force had revealed astounding levels of corruption and theft within the organisation. It found, for instance, that one million dollars were being siphoned from a safe in Kabul every day and that nearly half of $350,000 intended for a UN-funded radio station in Baghdad was used to pay off personal loans and credit cards.

    In Somalia, UN agencies routinely look the other way when local implementing partners or cartels divert or steal food and other aid. Those who dare speak out against such irregularities are castigated, ignored, demoted, or fired.

    One UN police officer stationed in Haiti who exposed sexual exploitation by her fellow police officers of women living in a camp for earthquake victims was transferred, given a negative performance evaluation, threatened, and terminated without notice. In 2000, Kathryn Bolkovac, a former UN peacekeeper, was fired for exposing a human trafficking ring in Bosnia.

    When Georges Tadonki, the head of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in Zimbabwe, raised the alarm about a possible cholera epidemic in 2008, he was admonished, subjected to an investigation, and informed that his contract would not be renewed.

    Apparently his organisation was under pressure by the Zimbabwean government to downplay the cholera risk. The UN Dispute Tribunal ruled in favour of Tadonki and even ordered a formal investigation into the matter. However, the UN Secretary-General appealed the decision.

    Early this month, Wasserstrom and eight other UN whistleblowers, including myself, sent a joint letter to Ban Ki-moon demanding that he establish an external independent mechanism and external arbitration process for claims of retaliation against UN whistleblowers.

    We further requested that the UN extend whistleblower protection to UN peacekeepers, police officers, contractors, victims, and any other person who provides information about misconduct that could undermine the UN’s mission. We have yet to receive a response from his office.

    * Rasna Warah is a Kenyan writer and photojournalist. She writes a weekly column for the Daily Nation, Kenya’s largest newspaper, and is the author of four non-fiction books: Triple Heritage(1998); Red Soil and Roasted Maize (2011); Mogadishu Then and Now (2012) and War Crimes (2014). She has also edited an anthology called Missionaries, Mercenaries and Misfits (2008) that critiques the aid industry in East Africa. Ms. Warah worked as an editor and writer for the United Nations for more than ten years.



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    Zambia: On changes in the retirement age

    Henry Kyambalesa


    The life expectancy of Zambians is between 48 and 56 years. So it doesn't make sense to raise retirement age to 65. Importantly, a law should be passed to enable retirees to get their pensions fast and easily.

    In November 2014, Acting President Guy L. Scott signed Statutory Instrument No. 63 of 2014 that raised the retirement age from 55 to 65 years, or 35 years of service.

    In December 2014, the Minister of Labor and Social Security is quoted by Doreen Nawa of the Zambia Daily Mail as having defended the change in the country’s retirement age as follows:

    “We adjusted the retirement age as a way of increasing people’s life span. Information has shown that most people that have retired at 55 have died earlier because of many factors.”

    The Minister is also quoted as having said that retirement age in the southern African region and beyond is 60 years.

    In March 2015, President Edgar C. Lungu directed that changes be effected through an amendment to Statutory Instrument No.63 of 2014 signed by Acting President Scott to introduce a graduated arrangement designed to provide for the following three retirement options:

    (a) Early retirement – 55 years;
    (b) Normal retirement – 60 years; and
    (c) Late retirement – 65 years.

    These changes to the retirement age are unacceptable for a number of reasons. Firstly, the changes needed to be made in sincere consultations with relevant non-governmental stakeholders—including the Zambia Federation of Employers and the Zambia Congress of Trade Unions and its affiliate labor unions—rather than by presidential decree.

    Secondly, it is unrealistic to have retirement options that are above our people’s life expectancy that is currently between 48 and 56 years, depending on one’s source of information, which places the country in the 160th position out of 182 countries surveyed by CountryEconomy.Com.

    According to the findings of an international health study published online in the Lancet (a medical journal) in May 2010, Zambia had the worst female death rate and the second-worst male death rate in the world.

    So, there is no wisdom in mimicking countries whose citizens have higher life spans in setting the retirement age for employees in our country!

    Therefore, realistic retirement options for Zambian employees should have been the following:

    (a) 45 years old, or 25 years of service – early retirement;
    (b) 50 years old, or 30 years of service – normal retirement; and
    (c) 55 years old, or 35 years of service – late retirement.

    There is also a need for Parliament to enact legislation designed to make retirement benefits payable within 60 or so days (Saturdays, Sundays, and public holidays inclusive) from a retiree’s last date of work. Benefits (or any portion thereof) not paid within this period should fetch 5% interest per month.

    Delayed payment of retirement benefits has made some retired citizens to re-enter the job market as part-time workers to earn a living while they await the disbursement of their benefits, while others have died before they are paid their benefits.

    In this regard, there is a need for the National Pension Scheme Authority (NAPSA) to find viable ways and means of reducing marketing, public relations and administrative costs, and to seek low-cost suppliers of machinery, equipment, sub-contracted services, office fixtures and supplies, and so forth.

    The Authority’s management needs to do so in order to save financial resources for meeting some of its obligations to pensioners. Does it, for example, make sense for the Authority to maintain a soccer team?

    And if it is true (as reported in the Zambia Weekly of February 20, 2015) that the Zambian government owed NAPSA a total of K2.6 billion in unpaid remittances (K239.4 million) and penalties (K2.3 billion) as at September 30, 2014, then the government is partly to blame for the Authority’s failure to honor its obligations to pensioners in a timely manner.

    Thirdly, the high levels of unemployment in the country militate against the increase in the retirement age. There is no doubt that the higher retirement age is going to lead to unprecedented numbers of young job seekers roaming the streets due to inadequate job openings mainly resulting from older citizens’ delayed retirement.

    Moreover, retirement would make sense when pensioners still have some energy left in them, especially if benefits are paid in ‘lump-sum’ rather than in monthly instalments so that the pensioners can invest portions of their benefits in starting and operating small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

    As the United Nations has main¬tained, a gro¬wing body of empirical evidence supports the widely held view that SMEs are instrumental to economic deve¬lop¬me¬nt; they are important for the following specific reasons, among others:

    (a) They can create em¬ploy¬ment opportu¬ni¬ties for talented citizens and family members who can¬not find jobs in large business esta¬blishments;

    (b) They can collectively func¬tion as a vehi¬cle through which the government can economically em¬pow¬er the people by enabling them to partici¬pate actively and directly in their country’s commer¬cial and industrial ac¬tivi¬ties;

    (c) They can facilitate the genera¬tion of wealth for all sectors of our country’s economy and thereby re¬duce existing income dispari¬ties;

    (d) They can function as the backbone of our country’s economy because they would be both indigenous and permanent, as Andrew Sardanis has maintained; and

    (e) They can partici¬pate in elevat¬ing their host communities’ social and economic welfare through the provision of various kinds of needed goods and services.

    *Henry Kyambalesa is a Zambian academician currently living in Denver in the State of Colorado, USA. He is the Interim President of the Agenda for Change (AfC) Party.



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    Advocacy & campaigns

    Cardinal Napier: On the current outbreak of xenophobia

    Wilfrid Cardinal Napier OFM


    It is truly sad to see brothers and sisters from Africa living in fear of their lives and desperate as they watch their homes and livelihoods destroyed by misguided and violent groups and individuals.

    Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

    As a pastor, as a South African and as a resident of Durban, I am utterly shocked and filled with shame by the violence and intolerance that has overtaken our beloved city. It is truly sad to see brothers and sisters from Africa living in fear of their lives and desperate as they watch their homes and livelihoods destroyed by misguided and violent groups and individuals. With other religious leaders of our city and province, I have repeatedly condemned such behaviour as well as attempts to incite or justify it.

    First let us remind ourselves that this is contrary to the values enshrines in the Constitution of South Africa, expressed in these words of the Preamble: “We believe that South Africa belongs to all who live in South Africa, united in our diversity.” We should be justly proud that this value of Ubuntu is enshrined in the highest document in the land.

    Secondly, it is contrary to the values of the Church. The Pastoral Constitution, Gaudium et Spes, issued by the Second Vatican Council 50 years ago, also reminds us that as followers of Christ we are called to share in the griefs and anxieties of all other human beings; if there is any preference it should be for those who ‘are poor or in any way afflicted’. We are to look out for those who are marginalised not to target them with violence, but rather with our love.

    And thirdly, this is contrary to our values as human beings. In my work with people of other religions, I see how they each tradition teaches unity of and respect for all human beings. This is also seen in the way that people from all communities have been outraged by the violence and have responded by saying: ‘Not in my name!’

    The xenophobic behaviour we have seen and the attitudes that lie behind it do not reflect the majority of people. We must not allow a few bullies to change how we, as people living in South Africa, see each other and see ourselves.

    As a Catholic community we need to make a meaningful response. Many, many people now need our help as they have had to leave their homes and their jobs and seek safety for themselves and their children.

    Our Catholic organisations have been responding round the clock in the areas most affected. But every Catholic can make a contribution. The Refugee Pastoral Care Commission of the Archdiocese is asking especially for donations of food, both that can be cooked and tinned (perishable and non-perishable), blankets, toiletries, baby food and disposable nappies and clothes. Donations of items can be dropped off at the Chancery or St Joseph’s Church, Florida Road, Morningside from where they will be distributed to people in need. Donations of cash (to help pay for emergency accommodation) can be made through your parish and sent to the Chancery clearly marked for Refugee Relief.

    This sad and traumatic time is also an opportunity for us as a Catholic community to work out a longer-term response. We need to make sure that the areas in which we live are places where all feel welcome and safe. If people have fled our neighbourhoods because they felt unwelcome, we need to help them to move back and rebuild their lives. And if we know people who do not share our values, we need to challenge them to a ‘conversion of heart’ in which, like the Good Samaritan, we see every person as our neighbour, especially those who are different from us.

    South African politicians are troubled about how we can build community in our country. As Catholics we have the chance to provide a model of good community-building in every part of the land. We can show that we are willing and able to live in harmony with others. To use the words of Pope Francis: “We need to build bridges not walls. Christians who are afraid to build bridges and prefer to build walls are Christians who are not sure of their faith, not sure of Jesus Christ.”

    With the Holy Father I urge you and all residents of South Africa to build bridges and to help move our country forwards.

    May God bless you for your care and concern for the least of the brethren of Jesus and our brothers and sisters!

    * Wilfrid Cardinal Napier OFM is the Catholic Archbishop of Durban, South Africa.

    From Garissa to Durban we stand in solidarity against violence and xenophobia


    Often, it is the economic and environmental conditions that too many people are living in that fuel frustration, anger and intolerance.

    Dear Friend,

    It has been a terrible month for Kenya and a tough last week for South Africa. First the appalling massacre of 147 students at Garissa University College saw many people across the continent joining in solidarity as Kenya grieved.

    This last week Durban and Johannesburg have seen a return of xenophobic violence directed at foreign nationals, an echo of the cancerous historical, colonial policy that differentiated by tribe in order to divide and rule and which continues to flare up across Africa.

    Some of the root causes of this violence against each other may change but one thing remains the same. Time and again it is the economic and environmental conditions that too many people are living in that fuel frustration, anger and intolerance.

    To improve the lives of all us means intensifying the fighting for social justice and that can only be achieved by people from all communities joining arms in solidarity.

    It means tackling poverty and hunger, providing access to water and electricity and creating jobs. As our climate changes with more floods, droughts and rising temperatures making some resources more scare, it also means backing solar and wind energy to safeguard our environment.

    Many leaders have spoken about the spirit of African solidarity. Mozambique's first post-independence president Samora Machel said:

    “International solidarity is not an act of charity: it is an act of unity between allies fighting on different terrains toward the same objective. The foremost of these objectives is to aid the development of humanity to the highest level possible.”

    In South Africa, people talk of of the spirit of ubuntu, that 'we are who we are because of who we all are.' It is perhaps a good light by which to see our way forward at this difficult moment.

    Of course, fighting for social justice is about more than posting to social media but adding our voices to the debate is important. Please join us and post a message saying no to violence and xenophobia at 350Africa's Twitter and Facebook pages.


    The team

    Malawi's new marriage law condemned for LGBTI bias


    The law that attempts to address a serious human rights abuse like child and forced marriage would then also target Malawians for discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

    (NEW YORK, FRIDAY, APRIL 17, 2015)—The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) today raised serious concerns about discriminatory provisions in a law signed by Malawi’s President Mutharika that is expected to go into effect today. The Marriage, Divorce and Family Relations Law creates new forms of legal discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex individuals. While the law raises the minimum marriage age to 18—a positive move to combat child marriage—it also promotes a policy of exclusion against LGBTI Malawians that would likely translate into discrimination in education, housing, jobs and elsewhere.

    IGLHRC is urging the Malawi government to strip the Marriage, Divorce and Family Relations bill of its discriminatory provisions. The law is expected to go into effect today, having been signed by the president on Wednesday, before he traveled to the United States for meetings.

    “It’s appalling that a law that attempts to address a serious human rights abuse like child and forced marriage would then also target Malawians for discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity,” said Jessica Stern, executive director, at IGLHRC. “It’s unacceptable to try to prevent one existing wrong and in the process create another abuse in the form of legal discrimination against LGBTI individuals.”

    The law denies equal rights to form a family to transgender, intersex and other individuals whose identity does not align with that assigned at birth, and ignores the reality of any co-living arrangement not in the form of opposite-sex couples—including non-romantic relationships.

    The law:

    • defines sex or gender as the sex assigned to a person at birth, denying equal rights to form a family to transgender, intersex and other individuals whose gender identity does not align that that assigned at birth;
    • defines marriages, unions, cohabitation or “customary” marriages as being between a man and a woman, ignoring the reality of same-sex relationships—and non-romantic supportive unions—and codifying the state’s rejection of all same-sex relationships, whether married or not;
    • validates the criminalization of so-called “unnatural offenses” (a term often used to criminalize same-sex consensual relations between adults) by including a conviction on this offense as acceptable evidence of a marriage breakdown;
    • equates rape and “unnatural offenses” as similar grounds for marriage breakdown, thus perpetuating the wrongful idea that consensual same-sex relations either do not exist or are as damaging as sexual assault.

    The United Nations in Malawi has praised the bill for requiring 18 as a minimum age for marriage in a country that ranks 8th globally for high rates of child marriage, but has failed to publicly raise concern over its discriminatory provisions.

    “It is stunning that the United Nations so far has been unwilling to state unequivocally that it rejects the discriminatory aspects of this law. It’s especially distressing because these discriminatory provisions discredit a bill that otherwise would provide much needed protection for girls—including gender non-conforming girls—from early and forced marriages,” said Stern.

    Download a PDF of the Law: Marriage, Divorce and Family Relations Law.

    Contact: Suzanne Trimel, [email protected], 212-430-6018 @strimel

    Somaliland: Release human rights defender Guleid Ahmed Jama


    His arrest reportedly followed an interview he gave to the BBC on 16th April 2015, during which he discussed recent executions by Somaliland authorities, and the need for judicial reforms in the de facto autonomous state.

    APRIL 21, 2015

    State authorities in Somaliland must immediately release detained lawyer and human rights defender Guleid Ahmed Jama, who is being detained on wholly baseless charges, said the East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project, in a statement released today.

    Guleid Ahmed Jama is a respected lawyer and the Chairperson for Somaliland’s Human Rights Centre. He was arrested on the morning of 18th April 2015 at Hargeisa Regional court whilst representing a client, on the instructions of the court judge.

    Guleid’s arrest reportedly follows an interview he gave to the BBC on 16th April 2015, during which he discussed recent executions by Somaliland authorities, and the need for judicial reforms in the de facto autonomous state.

    Following his arrest, Guleid was detained at the Criminal Investigation Division for 24 hours. The following day, on 19th April 2015, he was moved to Hargeisa’s Central Police Station, where he was initially informed he was being held for ‘condemnation of the judiciary’. His bail hearing took place later the same day, which was presided by the same judge who ordered his arrest.

    The bail application was reportedly granted, but police officers at the station refused to release Guleid. Purportedly, this decision was made on the basis that an appeal had been filed by the Attorney General’s Office against the court’s decision to grant bail. On 20th April, Guleid was transferred to Hargeisa Central Prison, where it is anticipated that he will be detained for several further days before having access to a court.

    According to information provided to EHAHRDP by his lawyer, Guleid is facing charges under Somalia’s Penal Code of 1962. Specifically, he faces charges under Articles 215 (‘Subversive or anti National- Propaganda’), 321 (‘Instigation to Disobey the Laws’), 326 (‘Intimidation of the Public’) and 328 (‘publication or circulation of false, exaggerated and tendencious news capable of disturbing public order’).

    “The charges reportedly brought against Guleid Ahmed Jama are not only baseless and absurd; they also have absolutely no basis under regional or international law”, said Hassan Shire, EHAHRDP’s Executive Director. “His detention makes a mockery of the notion of ‘rule of law’ in Somaliland, and this is a shameless and transparent attempt to target Guleid simply for exercising his right to freedom of expression”.

    EHAHRDP calls on Somaliland authorities to immediately and unconditionally release Guleid Ahmed Jama, and drop all charges against him.

    For more information, please contact:

    Hassan Shire, Executive Director, East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project on: [email protected] or +256 772 753 753

    John Foley, Advocacy & Research Manager, East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project on: [email protected] or +256 789 650996/ +44 7944 252 894.

    Sudan: “Your silence is a shame to humanity.”


    Since 2012, an average of three bombs a day have been dropped indiscriminately by the government of Sudan onto civilians living in rebel held areas. With humanitarian access denied by the government and increasing numbers being displaced, people’s ability to survive grows more precarious by the day.

    21 April 2015

    A new report launched today by the International Refugee Rights Initiative and the National Human Rights Monitoring Organisation brings the voices of civilians living through the conflict in Sudan’s Southern Kordofan State to the international community.

    Focusing on the devastating impact of the conflict on every aspect of people’s lives, the report highlights the extraordinary resilience and resistance of the civilian population. Inevitably, however, this resilience is also being worn away by the continuing onslaught.

    Since 2012, an average of three bombs a day have been dropped indiscriminately by the government of Sudan onto civilians living in rebel held areas. [1] With humanitarian access denied by the government and increasing numbers being displaced, people’s ability to survive grows more precarious by the day. Living with the daily threat of aerial bombardment, of government land forces breaking through and a chronic lack of food and medicine, the resilience of this population is being severely depleted. Meanwhile the international community remains, for the most part, silent.

    As one interviewee said, after surviving a bomb attack: “I am sending my voice loudly to the international community and the Security Council to stop this government from killing its own civilians and to protect them. Your silence is a shame to humanity.”

    Frustration with the lack of international response was tangible. Civilians caught up in this conflict are struggling to have their voices heard – or rather, heeded. Courageous local organisations and citizen journalists have been reporting on the intolerable circumstances in which civilians live in Southern Kordofan, but their reach remains limited. Meanwhile, the government of Sudan continues to block independent media and international organisations from the field in a deliberate effort to cover up the consequences of the violence. As a result, there is both insufficient awareness at the international level about what is taking place, and a failure to mobilise around what information is available.

    “This report clearly demonstrates that those living in SK don’t want our pity, they want solidarity” says Dr Lucy Hovil, IRRI’s senior researcher. “Their determination to survive, against overwhelming odds, is not being even vaguely matched by support from the international community.”

    The report, therefore, makes a number of recommendations, including the call for an independent commission of inquiry to verify, unequivocally, what is taking place on the ground.

    For further information:

    Dr Lucy Hovil: [email protected] +44 7860 349578 (UK)
    Olivia Bueno: [email protected] +1 6463018938 (Banjul)

    [1] Sudan Consortium, “Humanitarian Crisis in Sudan’s Two Areas and Darfur,” March 2015.
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