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    Pambazuka News 739: What democracy? Tunisia, Libya and South Africa

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    Tunisia year five: Caught in a tightening vice

    Samuel Albert


    cc HME
    What has the "democracy" so praised by the West and its apologists brought Tunisia? And why does the rise of Islamism seem so unstoppable? The answer lies in the way the two trends reinforce each other, even as they ferociously contend for the country's future.

    Thousands of young Tunisians drown trying to make their way to Europe, hoping that the West can offer a life that their own country cannot. Thousands are going to neighbouring Libya or other countries to wage jihad against what they perceive as the Western way of life, thirsty for vengeance against the West and its values.

    What these two different situations have in common is that for many young Tunisians, accepting the lives they've been given is not an option. The March 2015 massacre of 22 people at the Bardo Museum, one of Tunis's main cultural tourist attractions, and then the June murder of 38 Europeans at a beach resort in Sousse, demonstrated that Tunisia can't escape being caught between the contending forces fighting for the allegiance of people across the region. On the one hand, millions of lives and futures are stunted or shattered by the conditions created by the world market and globalised finance, while the monopoly capitalists who rule the imperialist countries prosper. On the other, Islamist political rule is represented as the only alternative to what the West calls "democracy", the political, social and ideological institutions whose function is to stabilize this intolerable situation.

    The Islamist 23-year old graduate student who shot the tourists in Sousse was striking out at a situation where youth from poor families in the interior feel cut off from the modern world as it is enjoyed by some on the coast and people in the West in general. Their fathers work, when they can, wherever they can, in back-breaking construction, and their mothers in investor-owned fields under the thumb of merciless labour contractors who act as if they own them. Workers in factories and call centres are at the mercy of overseas orders. The educational system, especially in the technological fields, fills students with a narrow "input" of skills they can hope to "output" in a vocation promising a different life than their parents – until at last, emerging with diploma in hand, they tumble into the abyss of unemployment or mindless jobs with no prospects.

    The phosphate mines that bring much of the country's wealth produce serious environmental problems and few jobs for the people who live around them. The tourism "industry" touted as the country's hope is driven by real estate speculation and prostitution, and the huge number of people trapped in prostitution reveals what values and future the West has to offer Tunisia.

    In this situation – and in a world with no socialist states and few genuine revolutionary movements, where a reality-based revolutionary vision has not yet become the property of widespread masses of people – the powerful attraction of political and jihadi Islam, now presenting itself as the main challenger to the status quo imposed by Western imperialism, is tragic but not surprising.

    The political motives behind the Sousse attack are no mystery: it was a demonstration of Islamism's strength, not just militarily but in the contested sphere of ideology and the coherence of its politics. It was an armed critique of the country's subjugation and its unjust, illegitimate and morally corrupt establishment, a demonstration that Islamism is the only political alternative. It dealt a very serious blow to the tourism industry the country and regime depend on. It compelled the army and security forces to spread out in the big cities and coastal areas instead of concentrating on the mountainous region near Algeria and the Libyan border, where they had been mounting an offensive against fundamentalist operational zones.

    President Beji Caid Essebsi's response was to declare a state of emergency to enable new repressive measures against strikes, sit-ins and other movements that have nothing in common with jihadism, and even ban public gatherings and cultural events. "Since 2011 the country has been like a school-yard recess and now that has to end," declared a pro-government pundit. Essebsi emphasized that his political rivals and fractious friends too had to "get into line" with his government and its Western approved programme. For the sake of stability, he said; well-connected prominent businessmen, widely hated for robbing the public, would be protected from legal action.

    In short, the country whose "success" was contrasted with the daunting of the Arab Spring in Egypt, has become like Egypt, in many aspects, if not all.

    Like Egypt, the U.S. has been drawing Tunisia closer, providing significant funding and loan guarantees (even though unlike in Egypt, U.S. moves in Tunisia are always at least tinged by rivalry with France, Tunisia's historic overlord). In May 2015, on the heels of the Bardo museum attack, Essebsi visited Washington, where Obama named Tunisia a "Major Non-Nato ally", a status bringing more military aid and "strategic cooperation". In July, Tunisian media reported that a U.S. military base and regional listening post now located in Sicily would be moved to Tunisia.

    For the U.S., especially, Tunisia matters most as a "security problem". Trying to "fix" Tunisia's "dysfunctional" security services, the U.S, UK and France are taking charge themselves in some matters – for example, the UK's Scotland Yard is running the investigation of the Sousse massacre.

    This increasingly direct interference, motivated by these imperialists' perceived regional and national interests and not the good of Tunisia, will not save Tunisia from disaster any more than it did in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and elsewhere . Rather, it heightens the danger that Tunisia will be pulled into the maelstrom of the regional and civil wars between those lined up with the U.S. and groups like Daesh who are the main challenge to its interests at the moment.

    What has the "democracy" so praised by the West and its apologists brought Tunisia? And why does the rise of Islamism seem so unstoppable? The answer lies in the way the two trends reinforce each other, even as they ferociously contend for the country's future.

    The hated president Ben Ali is gone, toppled by the opening act of the Arab Spring, but the uprising left the state apparatus fundamentally unchanged. The police forces organized to brutally protect the old regime remain intact. They aggressively beat youth on the streets in poor neighbourhoods and towns as much as ever, and still torture prisoners, political and otherwise. Social movements in the interior are viciously repressed. The military, which supervised the so-called "democratic transition", continues to make its will known through threats to political parties and the general public. It has held key ministries and governorates (provincial authorities). Prime Minister Habib Essid is only the most prominent figure among the former regime's men who, rather than losing their authority, have been promoted. The people have had no relief from the bureaucracy that governs much of everyday life and the fate of citizens like Mohamed Bouazizi, the young fruit vendor in Sidi Bouzid who set himself and the country on fire on 17 December 2010.

    The country's economy is the same as it was, structured over decades to depend on foreign markets and capital. There have been no serious proposals to change Ben Ali's economic orientation by any of the major parties. The continued privatization of state enterprises has brought even more obscene wealth to wealthy partners of French, U.S., Saudi and Qatari capital, while promises have sputtered out for projects for economic development in interior areas like Kasserine and Sidi Bouzid where the revolt started. Unemployment is worse than ever.

    The electoral system has gathered most of the opposition to the old regime into its fold and turned them into its servitors. The enlistment of former radicals into the "political class" – the set of people allowed to practice politics – has brought cynicism and discredit to the "leftist" ideals they once professed. Less than half of the potential voters bothered to cast a ballot in the last elections.

    Unlike the jihadis, the opposition politicians (including so-called "leftists") most definitely don't seek or believe in radical change. Lately they have been encouraging Tunisians to hope that new oil deposits (which supposedly have already been found but whose existence is being covered up for obscure interests) can save the country, just as phosphate exports were once hailed as the country's future. Has having plenty of oil saved Algeria, or instead delivered it even more deeply into the clutches of the global market and its implacable demands, while subsidizing the rule of a handful of men who are that cruel market's local representatives?

    Tunisia's economic development in 1990s brought the society to where it is today. Its Association Agreement with the EU helped make the country a subcontractor for automotive and electric parts, clothing and call centres, while unable to feed itself without the imports that in turn require ever more economic subordination and massive waste of the potential of the country's people.

    In response to the Sousse massacre, the government has had little to deploy but troops. A government that forbids men under 35 to travel freely – for fear they will join the thousands of Tunisians waging jihad abroad, and then come back – is declaring that it cannot even dream of waging a struggle for the country's youth, let alone offer a credible alternative. It can do nothing to change a situation which generates wave after wave of Islamists, not only because of the jihad raging in nearby countries but also because under today's circumstances, the society itself is a matrix for Islamism.

    There are different currents of Islamism, but the dividing line between jihadism and electoral Islamism is extremely porous in theory and practice. The leaders of Tunisia's Ennahda party, who come out of the Egyptian Moslem Brotherhood current and like to compare themselves with Erdogan's AKP in Turkey, used jihadi methods before the fall of Ben Ali opened up the way for them to share power in an elected government. During that latter period, Ennahda provided practical and ideological cover for sworn jihadis.

    The difference between armed Islamism and electoral Islamism is not a question of loyalty to "democracy". Any class that rules over an exploitative and oppressive system, in the world's most developed countries like anywhere else, will opt for whatever form of political rule necessary to preserve its rule. Islamism is defined by its goals, the imposition of Islam as the legal regulator of political and social life (which is very different than defending people's right to voluntarily practice their religion), and not by whatever means to achieve those goals that might seem most effective at any given moment.

    Many reactionary armed forces, including the U.S., encourage young people to murder innocents to assuage their feelings of having been wronged. Islamism can mobilize the blind loyalty of some desperate people among the lowest masses and the resentment of the petite bourgeoisie. It may offer a path to social advancement for many individuals that the status quo does not make available to them. But in terms of class interests, it represents old and new exploiters among imperialist-dominated nations.

    The goal of Daesh, al-Qaeda and, in a somewhat different way, the Moslem Brotherhood and the AKP is not to challenge capitalism but to win a new place for themselves that has not been possible under the geopolitical order in the Middle East that the U.S. built to serve its supremacy. While the alignments of class forces differ from country to country in the Islamic world, it is surely no accident that the leadership, ideological training, financing, logistics and arms used by today's two main strands of Islamism come from the predominantly capitalist ruling classes of Saudi Arabia and the Gulf countries, often in alignment with Turkey, on the one hand, and on the other, the Islamic Republic of Iran. These are outstanding examples of regimes whose ruling classes with roots in pre-capitalist modes of production have become inseparable from the private accumulation of capital amid the globalized production relations of the imperialist system and its ineluctable economic logic. Conflicting interests and not just religious differences between Shias and Sunnis explain why Islamists can line up on opposing sides or alternately be used by and oppose imperialist projects.

    At the same time, Islamism has its own dynamic as an ideology and political movement, a momentum where what is perceived as its advance against foreign-imposed humiliation favours more advance. The basis for Islamism in material conditions and its congruency with and usefulness to reactionary class interests should not lead to underestimating the great importance of the ideological factor in its rise. A major reason for its attractive power is the absence of a clearly-posed ideological and political alternative to the status quo that has the potential strength of being based on a true understanding of reality and the real interests of the vast majority of people.

    Given the reactionary nature of Islamist goals, it follows that they would be faithful students of imperialism when it comes to using terrorism against the masses for political aims. Theirs is not a blind violence but something even worse – deliberate barbarism meant to create terror among people for political goals, just as the imperialists have done from the atomic bombing of Hiroshima to U.S.-backed Israeli assaults on the people of Gaza and Lebanon and the American-led rampage that destroyed Iraq.

    Because of its reactionary nature, Islamism often has ambiguous relations with imperialism and its local regimes. In Algeria, for instance, the 1990s civil war between Islamists and the ruling military had a dimension of a mutual war against the people, the slaughter of intellectuals and others that both sides hated. We've seen this in Tunisia, too. In fact, today's Tunisian government itself rests on an uneasy and unstable alliance between forces representing imperialism and its traditional local flunkies on the one hand and Islamism on the other.

    After initially dismissing the significance of the Sousse massacre, President Essebsi declared, "If such incidents happen again, the state will collapse." One reason for his alarm is that his governing Nidaa Tunes party, answerable to both France and the U.S, was elected on its promise to overturn the Islamisation process initiated by its predecessor in government, Ennahda. At the same time, it cannot (and does not want) to govern without Ennahda's parliamentary support.

    But the problem goes deeper than electoral opportunism. Since Tunisa's formal independence the country's rulers have always used religion and religious identity (the constitution's first article defines Tunisia as a Moslem country) to disguise their fealty to imperialism. They have never forgone the legitimacy of religion and tradition and the religious suffocation of those it governs. This has been combined with repression, including against Islamism when it presented problems – when Ennahda was in rebellion against the government rather than one of its pillars.

    Now, especially because today's Tunisian government suffers from the inherited illegitimacy of the Ben Ali regime, whose ignominious downfall at the hands of the people has not been forgotten even by those currently politically inactive, and because it has even more reason than Ben Ali to fear the masses of people, it is extremely unwilling to confront Islamism, especially in ideological terms, but in other ways as well.

    For instance, take the 2013 assassination of Chokri Belaid, a major leader of the Tunisian electoral left and an important symbol to many secular intellectuals and others. The fact that he had defended the Islamists under the Ben Ali regime did not stop Islamists from killing him. Neither the Ennahda government at the time nor today's supposedly secular government tried very hard to elucidate this crime. In July 2015, when 30 men accused in connection with the murder were summoned for trial, most of them refused to appear in court. The government did not dare try to defeat this challenge to its legal system and moral authority in the name of Islam.

    After the Sousse massacre president Essebsi called for the shuttering of 80 mosques he said were run by Salafists, but religious fundamentalism is thriving throughout the extensive state-supervised religious establishment, the public educational system and the dominant culture in general, pressuring and intimidating the many millions who are not eager to live in a society governed by religious law. For instance, the police have started arresting people for public possession of beer, which is not illegal and until now not uncommon, with the explanation that such behaviour by Moslems (and all Tunisians are presumed to be Moslem) constitutes "public debauchery". Foreigners with non-Moslem-sounding names are free from the religious restrictions the police have taken upon themselves to enforce.

    How can a ruling class and power structure that constantly reproduce Islamism, and depend on it ideologically and politically, confront armed Islamism without endangering its own existence? This seems to explain Essebsi's warning about how the state might not be able to withstand another Islamist attack, not because it would be defeated militarily but because of its own explosive political and ideological contradictions.

    While Ennahda's role in the current government is small, no major political force considers its Islamist project out of bounds or opposes the growing Islamization of Tunisian society as a matter of principle rather than taste or lifestyle preference. This is especially striking in the case of many people in the "leftist" Popular Front, the self-appointed representatives of the country's "patriots" and "democrats", which in the last elections supported Essebsi in the name of opposing Ennahda.

    More recently, in response to Islamist pressure, the Front's spokesman, the former "communist" Hamma Hammami (in reality an opponent of the revolutionary communism represented by China's Mao Tsetung) declared that he had no "ideological problem" with Islamists because he, too, is a Moslem. Regardless of his personal beliefs (and "leftists" perpetuating and worshiping traditional thinking is an old and serious problem in most countries), the society any kind of Islamists want is totally unacceptable, even if only considered from the point of view of what it means for women, half of the world's population, not to mention other aspects of the emancipation of humanity from ignorance and superstition, and all forms of oppressive social relations. If some political organizations, whether Trotskyist or falsely self-proclaimed Maoists, can use the excuse of opposing imperialism to find anything to support in Islamism, that speaks volumes about what kind of society they are willing to accept or help govern.

    Not unexpectedly, the Front's response to the Sousse massacre was capitulation of another sort. In the face of imminent danger, they demand the beefing up of the army – whose job is to defend the status quo for imperialism. It is all too typical to see "leftists" who never considered how to make a real revolution scuttle back and forth from tailing Islamism to throwing themselves into the arms of the imperialists.

    The architectonic forces that began to break through the surface in December 2010 are still at work. That revolt involved a broad section of the people, spurred by youth in the interior and relayed by students in coastal cities and finally the capital. People from all social classes took part, including elements of the bourgeoisie excluded from Ben Ali's favoured inner circle or those who felt that dumping him was the best available alternative to a prolonged and cascading upheaval. That unity of "the people" quickly hit the limits of the fundamentally antagonistic class interests at work. Islamists as such played very little role in the revolt. But those domestic and foreign observers who congratulated the Tunisian people for the "moderation" of the outcome, which they attributed to a supposed Tunisian character, misjudged the depth of the crisis and what it would take to resolve it.

    What has come even more clearly to light after the Sousse attack is not the importation of exterior conflicts into Tunisian society but a particular, localized and explosive expression of contradictions at work on a world scale. There would be no modern-day Islamism without the economic and social changes in the predominantly Islamic countries brought about by imperialist development. Further, the criminal actions of the U.S. and its allies in recent years (in Palestine, Iraq, etc.) have been inseparable from this development. Without all that, Islamism would still be a minor trend with little future.

    Instead it has become a "perverse expression", as Bob Avakian has put it, of the fundamental contradiction at work in today's world: between the socialization of production that is drawing the whole globe into productive processes and transforming economic relations, and the private – and therefore exploitative and competition-driven – appropriation of the surplus value thus produced. This is what has led to the accumulation of capital in the hands of the monopoly capitalist rulers of the imperialist countries and the horrendous and unbearable intensification of the world's inequalities and lopsided development.

    It is a "perverse expression" because instead of a solution, it is an obstacle to resolving this contradiction by moving toward a world where the abolition of the private ownership of the necessary means to live, and all the social relations and ideas based on that, enables everyone to work for the common good while fully blossoming as individuals. Imperialism and Islamism can be called "the two outmodeds" because neither represents what the world could be if the enormous productive forces developed by humanity, and most basically the people, could be liberated and enabled to transform the world and themselves.

    Tunisia cannot be a haven from the world's storms. It remains a country whose contradictions cannot be solved by anything other than a full revolution – the emergence of a flag, programme, party and broad revolutionary movement whose goal is to defeat the forces of the old state and establish a new kind of political power that can free the people at the bottom, along with the middle strata and intellectuals and others, to begin transforming society in a far more radical and liberating fashion that Islamism or imperialism could even pretend to offer.

    Otherwise, the conflict between the "two outmodeds" will continue to rage and wreak death and destruction, with the masses of people deluded victims instead of conscious protagonists.

    * Samuel Albert writes for A World to Win News Service.



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

    Torture and show trials common in neo-colonial Libya

    Gaddafi officials still facing persecution four years after the imperialist-backed counter-revolution

    Abayomi Azikiwe


    cc MT
    In the midst of an economic crisis, embattled militia, persecuted citizens and fleeing refugees, the world can only watch as Libya disintegrates further. Can this battered and bruised country be saved?

    A video released last week showing the beating and torture of Saadi Gaddafi is not an anomaly in contemporary Libya where the Pentagon and NATO waged a war of regime-change in 2011.

    Saadi Gaddafi was shown tied up and being struck across the face and head. Sounds of other inmates being tortured could be heard by him during the violent interrogation process.

    Later this former football player had his feet placed in a metal grip where he was struck repeatedly on his soles. Saadi Gaddafi was blindfolded during the process of torture conducted by several men wearing uniforms.

    This stark illustration of life under the neo-colonial rebels in Libya is a direct result of the war of regime-change initiated four years ago in the eastern city of Benghazi.

    The situation in Libya is aggravated by the lack of any consistent legal, judicial or political system. Various militias, which were armed and funded by the United States and NATO, still patrol the cities, towns and villages across the country harassing, robbing, accosting and murdering civilians.

    Also, because of the social and economic impact of the war against Libya, the country is totally incapable of addressing the burgeoning migration crisis in North Africa. Thousands of African, Middle Eastern and Asian migrants have died this year off the coast of North Africa in the Mediterranean.

    Human traffickers lure and load migrants onto rickety vessels in an often tragic quest for asylum in Europe. Obviously the currently divided regimes and militias based in Libya lack the capacity to halt this practice or are profiting from this human tragedy.

    A state of lawlessness and deprivation

    In addition to the documentation of torture, several high-level officials of the ousted Jamahiriya government under Muammar Gaddafi were sentenced to death, including Seif al-Islam, by a court system that has no creditably in regard to due process.

    A highly questionable Libyan court on July 28 sentenced Muammar Gaddafi's heir apparent and son, Saif al-Islam, and eight others to death over alleged war crimes including the killings of protesters during the 2011 counter-revolution that was funded and coordinated by the imperialist countries and their allies.

    These former officials of the Jamahiriya system under Gaddafi were sentenced to execution by firing squad. Some of these previous leaders include former intelligence director Abdullah al-Senussi and ex-prime minister Baghdadi al-Mahmoudi.

    Legal proceedings in their cases were not subject to transparency so there is no indication what real evidence was presented against the defendants. Thousands of former government officials and supporters have been locked in camps and prisons for the last four years.

    The current regime that is ostensibly in control of the capital of Tripoli is backed up by the Libya Dawn militia, which emanates from Misrata, where some of the most violent and racist rebels were based during the 2011 war. Another regime, which is recognized by the imperialist states, is headquartered at a hotel in the eastern city of Tobruk.

    Although Seif al-Islam was sentenced to death by a court in Tripoli, he was not present during the hearing that condemned him. This prisoner is being held by another militia in Zintan.

    Even the Human Rights Watch (HRW) organization based in New York City, which said virtually nothing during the imperialist war against Libya in 2011, when nearly 10,000 bombs were dropped on the country, and militias carried out indiscriminate attacks against officials and civilians, resulting in 50,000-100,000 deaths, has spoken out against the show trials, convictions and sentencings.

    Joe Stork, Deputy Director for North Africa and the Middle East of HRW said in a statement on July 28 that ‘there are serious questions about whether judges and prosecutors can be truly independent where utter lawlessness prevails and certain groups are unashamedly shielded from justice. This trial was held in the midst of an armed conflict and a country divided by war where impunity has become the norm.’

    The Hague-based International Criminal Court (ICC) had filed charges against Muammar Gaddafi, Saif al-Islam and Abdullah al-Senussi during the war waged by the Libyan people to defend their country against the imperialist onslaught. In 2013 the ICC granted the Libyan rebels the right to prosecute the former governmental officials despite their utter failure to demonstrate the capacity to conduct such a highly-politicized trial.

    Libya, which was once the most prosperous state in Africa, has fallen into economic decline since the war of 2011. The enormous oil reserves inside the country are now a source of conflict among the various militia groups.

    Unemployment and poverty are widespread while women, migrants and people of various Muslim and Christian communities face beatings, bombings and murder. Neighboring states such as Tunisia and Egypt have closed border crossings and are engaged in military efforts against the rising presence of the Islamic State and other rebel organizations.

    Pro-Gaddafi demonstrations held in Benghazi

    Meanwhile a pro-Gaddafi demonstration was held on August 4 in Benghazi, the birthplace of the counter-revolution of 2011. This protest was broken up immediately through gunfire scattering the crowd.

    According to a recent article published by The Guardian, such is the despair with the counter-revolution, ‘in the past few days small numbers of Libyans have demonstrated in several cities, including Benghazi, holding up pictures of Saif and chanting: “Zintan, Zintan, free Saif al-Islam.”’

    Because of the repressive atmosphere inside the country, this is a rare occurrence indeed.

    Supporters of the former government have been banned from involvement in political activity in Libya. Efforts to rehabilitate the image of the rebel regimes in the country have failed and even officials of the same imperialist states that overthrew Gaddafi have been forced to acknowledge the chaos prevailing since 2011.

    US Ambassador Christopher Stevens and several Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) operatives were killed in an attack on a compound in Benghazi during September 2012. The-then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who played a pivotal role in the war against Libya, has never been seriously questioned about her role in the overthrow and assassination of Gaddafi although she is currently running for the Democratic Party nomination for the presidency of the United States. In addition, there are questions lingering over the attacks on the US compound in September 2012 and what Clinton actually knew about the incident.

    More negotiations planned to end chaos

    The United Nations is convening a new round of talks attempting to stabilize the chaotic situation by bringing together the divided rebel groups that were empowered by the US and NATO.

    These talks, the latest in a series of failed efforts, were scheduled to begin on August 10. Nonetheless, difficulties arose even before the negotiations could begin.

    The Latin American Herald Tribune reported ‘The United Nations confirmed on Monday (August 10) that negotiations between rival Libyan political factions, which were scheduled to start in Geneva on Monday, have been postponed until Tuesday, according to a UN spokesperson in Geneva. In a related development, the UN special representative and head of the United Nations Support Mission in Libya, Bernardino Leon, has not yet arrived in Geneva.’

    This same article goes on saying, ‘Neither of the Libyan political delegations, each from its own autonomous government, has arrived in Geneva, while it is unclear if they are still willing to participate in peace talks. The new round of negotiations was announced last week following a series of consultations conducted by Leon with representatives of the main Libyan factions, while around 30 delegates were expected to participate.’

    There can be no resolution to the Libyan quagmire until the people are united under a political program designed to place the country back on a trajectory of national sovereignty and anti-imperialism. The Western imperialist states that destroyed Libya cannot put the country back together. This enormous task can only be carried out by the people of Libya themselves in solidarity and unity with other progressive forces throughout the region.

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



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    A shameful miscarriage of justice

    10 reasons why the acquittal of Rwandan spy chief is unacceptable

    Theogene Rudasingwa


    cc DW
    In June Rwandan spy chief General Karenzi Karake was arrested in Britain in relation to war crimes and death of European citizens. A British court this week dropped his extradition case on technicalities. Karake’s boss, Paul Kagame, and his regime in Kigali celebrated the acquittal, but this turn of events only demonstrates that the nexus of money, power and big interests can override the quest for justice.

    On Monday, 10 August 2015, General Karenzi Karake, the head of Rwanda's notorious National Security and Intelligence Service, was acquitted by a British court. Rwanda's spy chief had been arrested at London Heathrow Airport on June 20 2015, on a European arrest warrant, in connection with deaths of Spanish and other European citizens. General Karake, represented by Cherie Blair among others, had been released on bail of UK £1 million pending extradition hearings in October of 2015. The acquittal of General Karenzi Karake by the British Court today is a shameful miscarriage of justice. Here are ten reasons why:

    First, it is a demonstration that the nexus of money, power and big interests can override the quest for justice. Only President Paul Kagame, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair and his wife Cherie Blair are the winners at the expense of Rwandans, Spanish and European citizens who perished at the hands of Rwanda's brutal regime.

    Second, it runs against the fundamental tenets of European Union Law, the basis of which is the sanctity of the lives of European citizens. General Karenzi Karake was arrested on a European arrest warrant, on charges of being implicated in the killings of European citizens. He has now been acquitted on the basis of a simple technicality.

    Third, it is against the general thrust of British law. If one assumes that British law seeks to protect British citizens and British institutions, within a larger context of European and international law, there are indeed fewer parallels than Karenzi Karake's. Not surprisingly, as in the case of General Pinochet, the powerful and monied interests in the British establishment have exploited a clause in British law to get their way.

    Fourth, it runs counter to the letter and spirit of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which recognizes that: "everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status. Furthermore, no distinction shall be made on the basis of the political, jurisdictional or international status of the country or territory to which a person belongs, whether it be independent, trust, non-self-governing or under any other limitation of sovereignty."

    As well, the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights, which recognizes: "on the one hand, that fundamental human rights stem from the attitudes of human beings, which justifies their international protection and on the other hand that the reality and respect of peoples’ rights should necessarily guarantee human rights."

    Fifth, it fuels the impunity that has characterized the Kagame regime since the genocide days of 1994. Built on a false narrative that since it stopped genocide nobody should question its human rights abuses, the regime thrives on international guilt, as it piles war crimes, crimes against humanity, and even potential acts of genocide. The United Kingdom political establishment has been consistently shielding president Kagame from repeated calls by Rwandans and some in the international community for accountability. General Karake's acquittal is the latest and most dramatic demonstration that gives President Kagame a nod to continue killing with impunity.

    Sixth, it polarizes Rwandan society. The most enduring and yet pernicious dichotomy is the Hutu-Tutsi ethnic divide that has always been manipulated and exploited by the ruling elites. The current situation in Rwanda is characterized by the rule of a tiny armed clique within the minority Tutsi community. None of the members of this clique has been brought to account for the thousands of crimes committed against members of the Hutu community in Rwanda or the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). On the contrary many members of the Hutu community have been charged, convicted and punished in relation to the crime of genocide against the Tutsi. No true reconciliation is possible without truth telling that sheds light on the crimes committed against members of both communities.

    Seventh, by rewarding President Kagame's threats, and narrow considerations of British interests in him as their champion, the acquittal sends the usual message to Kagame that it pays to insult, threaten and throw tantrums. In the current state of affairs in the Great Lakes regions where Kagame has played a perpetual neighborhood bully, the British signal is to go ahead as planned, change the constitution to become life president, and do as you wish in Burundi and DRC. After General Karenzi's arrest, President Kagame had the most unkind things to say against the British people. Eye to eye, the British establishment has winked. An emboldened Kagame will now move ahead with more internal repression and external aggression towards 2017 and beyond.

    Eighth, it is immoral. The action to acquit General Karenzi Karake on a legal technicality without considering the greater interests of society and those who lost their lives shakes the moral foundations of law. British law has been conveniently managed to serve the interests of few against those of the powerless majority.

    Ninth, because the British justice system has failed to provide justice to those who demand and deserve it, it is unfair. The famous American scholar John Rawls, in an often quoted idea in his A Theory of Justice reminds us about the requirements of justice as fairness:

    "Justice is the first virtue of social institutions, as truth is of systems of thought. A theory however elegant and economical must be rejected or revised if it is untrue; likewise laws and institutions no matter how efficient and well-arranged must be reformed or abolished if they are unjust. Each person possesses an inviolability founded on justice that even the welfare of society as a whole cannot override. For this reason justice denies that the loss of freedom for some is made right by a greater good shared by others. It does not allow that the sacrifices imposed on a few are outweighed by the larger sum of advantages enjoyed by many. Therefore in a just society the liberties of equal citizenship are taken as settled; the rights secured by justice are not subject to political bargaining or to the calculus of social interests."

    The British political class has bargained away justice and handed a political concession to President Kagame.

    Tenth, and finally, it fuels conflict in Rwanda and the Great Lakes region. The framers of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights were troubled by humankind's propensity to rebellion and war when, in the preamble, they stated:
    "Whereas it is essential, if man is not to be compelled to have recourse, as a last resort, to rebellion against tyranny and oppression, that human rights should be protected by the rule of law."

    British courts have failed to exercise the rule of law fairly to protect the human rights of ordinary Spanish, European, Rwandan and African people. In doing so, they have served war-makers rather than peacemakers. It is an action that will forever be remembered as one of the most shameful miscarriages of justice in the annals of British and international jurisprudence.

    * Dr. Theogene Rudasingwa was ambassador of Rwanda to the United States, and former Chief of Staff to President Kagame. He is the author of ‘Healing A Nation’.

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    Stemming the tide together: Soil, not oil

    Nnimmo Bassey and Vandana Shiva


    cc NC
    Soil, not oil is not just an empty slogan but a statement of truth which the world must act upon. Oil is a wasting resource. It has wasted many lives and is now threatening the entire planet.

    We are living in a rapidly changing world. The changes that we are witnessing have not come about by accident; they have been carefully orchestrated and the price has been dire. Today, a handful of corporations and entities control the global supply of food, water and other resources. They operate without any sense of responsibility and the space for people to seek redress is becoming continually more constricted.

    Among them are oil companies that refuse to heed the call to address global warming at source by allowing 80 per cent of known fossil fuels reserves to remain in the ground. Often, these companies deny that global warming exists. When they do admit that it is a reality, they present a path for action which includes destructive mechanisms like carbon capture and storage, genetically modified crops, geo-engineering, and carbon trading schemes such as Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD). These ‘false solutions’ allow polluters to continue with their activities, marginalizing vulnerable people and poor communities even further by destroying their lands and livelihoods. Wars are waged, nations destroyed, and people massacred all for the purpose of securing access to oil and other finite resources, which are used to fuel unsustainable lifestyles elsewhere. It is no wonder we see a sudden spike in interest in the planets of other galaxies.


    There are few places where oil extraction has been as destructive as in the Niger Delta. A 2011 UNEP assessment of Ogoniland revealed levels of pollution caused by the activities of Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) and the Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC). The study found that all the water bodies are polluted, and in over 40 locations tested, the soil is polluted with hydrocarbons up to a depth of 5 metres. In some places the water is contaminated with the carcinogen benzene, at levels 900 times above World Health Organisation standards. Weekends in Ogoniland are marked by carnivals of funerals for people in their twenties and thirties. With life expectancy standing at about 41 years, the clean-up of land and water in Ogoniland is expected to require another 30 years.

    We visited Ogoniland and paid tribute to Right Livelihood laureate and environmental activist, Ken Saro Wiwa, on the 20th annual anniversary of his execution. There, we saw the immense pollution at Goi, a deserted and forgotten village. The people there had been severely impacted by oil pollution. We also visited Erema in Egi, Rivers State, sharing ideas on environmental monitoring and the value of soils. The main request from communities at Egi was for the Federal Government to enlist the help of the United Nations Environment Programme in conducting a forensic audit of their environment similar to the 2011 audit for Ogoniland. The people of Egi simply want their soil back in its normal state, but they also clearly see the soil issue as one of human rights. They are right; the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights declares that all Africans shall have the right to a safe and satisfactory environment in which to develop. The Egi people want both the audit and clean-up of their environment to be undertaken expeditiously and not left to gather dust on some remote shelf as has been the case with the Ogoni environmental assessment, four years after its submission.


    It has been estimated that, with rising global warming and shrinking water resources, violence in Africa may increase by 54 per cent by 2030. Lake Chad is a major example of what looms ahead. The lake has diminished in size to less than 5 per cent of its 1960 levels. The lake shrunk from 22,772 square kilometres in size to 15,4000 square kilometres between 1966 and 1973. By 1994, according to satellite images, the lake was only 1,756 square kilometres. The presence of invasive species in the remaining half of the further compounds the problem. This has led to the displacement of farmers, fisher folk and pastoralists that depend on it for their livelihoods. Although many factors contributed to its shrinkage, it is reported that climate change and extreme droughts contributed at least 50 per cent. If this is so, then ecological degradation and climate change may also be major factors in the rising insecurity in Nigeria, including the scourge of Boko Haram, as analysed in the manifesto ‘Terra Viva, Our Soil, Our commons, our future.’ Caring for the earth is the best antidote to the rise of insecurity, violence and terrorism.

    Smallholder farmers hold the key to feeding the world as well as cooling the planet; agro-ecological food production enriches the soil rather than destroying it as industrial agriculture does. We cannot afford to be drawn into a system that promotes genetically engineered seeds and chemical fertilisers. While these costly inputs make super-profits for giant corporations, they destroy our soils and trap farmers in dependency and debt. With over 300,000 farmers suicides already recorded in India, the harmful nature of this agricultural model is no longer in doubt.

    The pressure on Africa to adopt uniform seed laws such as those promoted under the African Regional Intellectual Property Organization (ARIPO) is aimed at the seed colonization of Africa. The same goes with the promotion of GMOs through weak biosafety bills such as the one signed into law in Nigeria during the last week of the previous presidency. The unrelenting attack on our staple foods, including cassava, cowpea (beans), corn and banana must be halted. The planting of genetically modified cotton in Burkina Faso was held up as a great success, yielding bumper harvests and enriching farmers. Recently Burkina Faso stopped planting Bt. Cotton. Will Nigeria walk into the GMO trap with her eyes open?

    Soil, not oil is not just an empty slogan but a statement of truth which we must act upon. Oil is a wasting resource. It has wasted many lives and is now threatening the entire planet. The oil economy is subject to political manipulation, as we have seen with the current price crash and deep shocks that have impacted our country. Our call today is that we must recover our sovereignty over our political structures, over our resources, over our food systems and over our lives. Soil, not oil. The soil is our life and our true wealth.

    * Nnimmo Bassey is a renowned environmental activist, poet and architect, and is the former chair of Friends of the Earth International. He is currently the director of Health of Mother Earth Foundation and has campaigned for several years on the impacts of oil extraction in the Niger Delta.

    * Vandana Shiva, a physicist, philosopher, feminist, activist and author, has dedicated her life to defending small farmers’ rights and the rights of people to forests, biodiversity, water, seeds and land. Her organization, Navdanya, which means “nine seeds,” has been actively involved in rejuvenating indigenous culture and knowledge, and setting up seed banks across India, training farmers in sustainable agriculture and seed sovereignty.

    Both Bassey and Shiva were separately awarded the Right Livelihood Award, also known as the “alternative Nobel Prize” for their work.



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    My take on corruption: Wole Soyinka


    cc SR
    By some estimates, Nigeria’s national oil corporation alone has reportedly lost more than $30 billion in oil revenue to corruption in the last five yeas, equivalent to the gross domestic product of more than 30 African countries. In this wide-ranging interview, Prof Wole Soyinka speaks about the lost potential in Africa’s most populous nation and the hope of creating a new society built on people-based values.


    Professor Wole Soyinka, Africa’s first Nobel Prize winner for literature and a frontline crusader for social justice, is the quintessential academic with a reputation for candour. The octogenarian, who is venerated for his accomplishment in the literary world and a life of activism, is equally famous for a rebellious streak that is founded on abhorrence for injustice. In this rare encounter with Zero Tolerance Team of WILSON UWUJAREN, SAMIN AMADIN, DELE OYEWALE, TONY ORILADE, THERESA NWOSU, MONDAY EMONI, AUGUSTINE OMONKHEGBELE and IDRIS ISIYAKU at his office in Lagos three days before the March 28, 2015 presidential election, Soyinka bares his mind on issues of anti-corruption, especially former President Goodluck Jonathan’s anti-corruption posture and political developments in the country. Zero Tolerance magazine is a publication of Nigeria’s Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.


    ZERO TOLERANCE: You have been speaking lately and it appears you are worried about the state of affairs in the country.

    SOYINKA: Nigeria is so peculiar and dramatic. Even talking about the potentials before we talk about the negativities, Nigeria is a nation for perpetual study. I think in Nigeria, it is the potential which hits people and makes them believe in Nigeria. It tends to make them react when they see potentials being wasted and it is a tragedy to see potentials wasted. But paradoxically, it is a realization of the existence, that positive, that keeps many Nigerians and even foreign people going.

    ZT: You talked about the potentials of the country but we have not been able to translate this potential to reality in terms of development. Why is this so?

    SOYINKA: It is the human potentials that interest me. I travel and everywhere I go I am amazed at the presence of Nigerians. The intelligence, integrity, productivity, initiative, you name it. So what is the problem? I think we got it wrong from independence as people became so conscious of the divisions because we wanted so much to satisfy the plurality of interests. I will say, we neglected the importance of real value, human value and the quality of potential in human beings and we contrived phrases like geographical spread, regional quota, etc and allowed mediocrity to reign. I think that is the problem that we are dealing with till today.

    ZT: How do we overcome this problem of mediocrity?

    SOYINKA: We must acknowledge that we made a huge error in satisfying the lowest common denominator of the available human potential in this country and we elevated what I call the reign of mediocrity. Quite frankly, I think it is about repudiating the past, creating space for new thinking for the best of the new generation, creating both political and geographical space and going at it with single mindedness that says, ‘enough of buttering, sentiments and massaging the ego of the old brigade’.

    It is what I sought to do for instance, when I tried to create a new political party, which I stressed to them that this is not my party. I believe very much that there has to be a revolution and this is a party for the young. I said it is a zero kobo party and you people have to learn in your campaigning how to use the bicycles again and if you are in areas where there are donkeys, you have to campaign on donkey backs from door-to-door and stop waiting to be financed by the old brigade because you will have to do their bidding. Instead, go to the young, appeal to the young. Make a small beginning, even if it is a local government, see what can be done with a new brigade, seize some space and create room for emulation from other people. Don’t keep waiting for the ‘money bags’ so you can spread all over the country.

    ZT: Did that message settle well with the youths?

    SOYINKA: It did not settle well with them. I was shocked. First of all, they had not got over the notion that when you start a political party, you are creating space for yourself. So many of them were shocked when they realized that I was serious and had no interest in occupying any political position, so they started to fall out one by one. I said to them, this is your space, this is for you. I have no money to give to you but I have ideas and organizational capacity, but you are going to do the donkey work, the leg work. Once it is exhausted, you are on your own.

    ZT: To what extent did you try to drive this vision?

    SOYINKA: Of course to the best of my capacity, we held several meetings here in my office, I showed them directions and we had meetings in Abuja. Once, I refused to go to Owerri when I discovered that the slogan they were using was ‘Wole Soyinka, Wole Soyinka, Wole Soyinka’ I said I was not coming because this is not about Wole Soyinka.

    I remember someone once came proudly from the North to show me a poster. He was contesting and his picture was on the poster and there was my picture on the poster too. I asked them, ‘don’t you get the message, why make this useless poster?’ And I said ‘am sorry, but this has to be destroyed and I did’.

    I must confess I could not win them from the notion that a political party has to be about a single individual. Maybe the next members will get it right because the party is not entirely dead. That INEC does not recognize a party does not mean the party does not exist. INEC has its own rules, we were recognized and deregistered. I said to them, ‘shut yourselves down and turn yourselves into a movement, until you are re-registered’.

    ZT: Do you see the party being revived again?

    SOYINKA: Of course. My advice to them now is to team up with some of the new parties like KOWA Party that is led by that lady (Remi Sonaiya). They came to see me here and I was impressed by the lady. The youth should come together to challenge the status quo. They must not give up.

    ZT: What strikes you about the KOWA Party?

    SOYINKA: I only met the party leaders and I have seen pieces of their manifesto and I was impressed by the youthfulness of the party and its candidate and the tendency of a total new approach to politics.

    ZT: To achieve any change in the minds of the youth, there must be reorientation in terms of materialistic tendencies, corruption and crime generally. How can we achieve this?

    SOYINKA: I agree with you. The battle is the mind and to achieve this mind change, the media has crucial role to play. The media must be used effectively to reach the masses. You have to find a new language in which to address the people and demonstrate what is possible. You see, concreteness impresses people more than all the grammar of Wole Soyinka. There is a governor that says he goes out to eat amala with his people and what he did was to create ‘stomach infrastructure’, that kind of blasphemous message.

    You go to the ‘bukar’ and engage people in languages different from the one I am using with you now, get down to their basics and get your hands dirty with work among the people. This is something I realize is a full time job.
    ZT: But cyber crime, bank fraud and many others are today perpetrated by the youths, how can we tackle the situation?
    SOYINKA: First and foremost, we must catch them young. I remember late Tai Solarin used to use this expression ‘I’ll die for the youths, I’ll die for the youths’ and once, I called him, ‘egbon’ (my older brother) stop saying that. Some of these people you want to die for are the ones that will stab you in the back so don’t use that expression because you and I know that they are not angels. Most of them are rapists, cultist and I use that expression as opposed to a confraternity which is confused in the mind in my experience which is very sad.

    The obstacles to this transformation in youths are ignoramus. We just had a festival here and the theme was ‘Corruption’. School children were handpicked to know how they see the issue of corruption, why do we keep crying that the adult society is corrupt, what is it that you see? Many schools were involved and ICPC wanted to take the results and maybe you (EFCC) can take that over if they are not fast enough because this project has been over a year now. We have their response and all those paintings of how the children see us.
    Exercises like that involving the children put to shame the adults by depicting what corruption does to them. So it’s a matter of catching them young and that way we transform the next level of humanity who in turn exercises an influence on adults, aunties, and parents etc. Because that top stratum is almost finished.

    Look at this election for instance, the current election (2015); have you ever seen such an expensive contest? Where is all the money coming from? Look, this country is awash with naira and dollars on a level we have not seen since Obasanjo made his third term attempt. But this has beggared even the corrupt spending which took place over that exercise. This election, I have never known anything like this in any other country.

    ZT: Was that why it was reported in the media recently that you ‘bombed’ President Jonathan?

    SOYINKA: Ahh! Am not Boko Haram oh (laughter). I have been speaking with President Jonathan not only publicly, but privately. There are policies that are avoidable. When it comes to the issue of corruption, Jonathan surrounds himself with certain unsavoury characters and that is something you don’t have to do if you are in charge. You are in a position to select those who are seen with you so that the populace can look up to them.

    And I can say this because by the time this interview comes out, the elections would have been over and nobody will charge me with campaigning for or against somebody. Quite frankly. I saw him as recently as two weeks ago; because there are still certain things to be resolved, whether he returns to office or not, time exists to be exploited no matter the circumstances and no matter what is taking place during that period. So leadership of course has a primary responsibility but followership is very critical and you mentioned it before, why do you prefer to go this way rather than that way? People prefer not to carve a totally different path for themselves and it is relative to all of us.

    ZT: Critics of the Jonathan administration rate him low in fighting corruption, what is your view?

    SOYINKA: As a president, you’ve got to show some example. I am disturbed for instance when I read that a candidate said, ‘I will not probe anybody or something like that’. You don’t fight corruption by sweeping everything under the carpet, you don’t. You just say, am going to allow the law take its course; I am going to empower the agencies which has been set up for such specific purpose of stemming the corrupt out flow of resources from this nation and don’t even talk to me about corruption beyond saying you going to strengthen existing institutions.

    That is what we want to hear, don’t make any promises.

    ZT: Why should a president involve himself in what is already structurally established and dedicated to that purpose?

    SOYINKA: I warned your former boss, I told him that, your task will be done when in the course of your investigation, you discover that the source of the problem is the very person who appointed you. He looked shocked a bit, and eventually Ribadu and I met in London, after he was removed and El-Rufai was also in exile after they tried to kill him. We met and Ribadu refused to sit down. I asked him to sit but he said no, that until I accepted his apology, he won’t sit down. I asked what apology? And he said, “I should have listened to you, I failed to listen to you. Something you said to me, and I failed to listen” Ribadu admitted that he realized very late that Obasanjo was using him.
    So we have to destroy that link between power and corruption. Audu Ogbe confirmed what i am telling you. Then it was ‘go after this one, go after that one, ahh you did not arrest him? Arrest his mother!’ I am challenging Obasanjo to deny it.

    So when you are looking for corruption, you should look at the entire stratum of the society, while some forms of corruption are direct, others are indirect. For others, corruption sometimes is encouraged by careless statements. This is a hydra-headed problem which is why I had to invent a monster to answer the name of corruption and I ended up with ‘HYDROPUS’ which means a hydra-headed monster plus octopus (laughter). I needed something that will convey to people what corruption is, what it does, its antecedents, its ability to camouflage, to vanish and resuscitate somewhere else, which is why I used school children to give me an image of corruption.

    ZT: There seems to be some confusion on what corruption entails, some people argue that corruption is not stealing, what is it to you?

    SOYINKA: This is what we are talking about, how can a public figure, an intelligent person like that come out to tell the public that corruption is not stealing. Then you should have asked him, what then is corruption? The media should have challenged him.

    ZT: Election is here, and between the devil and the deep blue sea (PDP and the APC), where will you turn?

    SOYINKA: This is a very tough one. Maybe, we should have even intervened in this political process at the stage when they are selecting their candidates to say if you go in this direction, we won’t take you. Maybe that is what we should have done. Buhari on one hand, has a very dark past which some of us find very difficult to obliterate, while Jonathan on the other hand, has been dismal, allowing himself to be surrounded by questionable people like Fayose. Do you have to appoint somebody like Femi Fani Kayode as Director of media in charge of presidential campaign? Someone on trial for stealing and conspiracy to steal? Is this what you understand by democracy?

    ZT: Can a man under prosecution for corruption be qualified for a ministerial appointment?

    SOYINKA: Do you need somebody like that? What about somebody like Gbenga Daniel who closed down a legislature for almost a year? When I heard this, I called Jonathan, I asked him, ‘is this your understanding of democracy”. A governor closes down an assembly with the aid of the police and the place is under lock with ‘Mopol’ guarding it. When Jonathan selected this person as his campaign manager in Abuja, I telephoned him; I said does this support democracy that you choose this person. It is not a question of this person is a governor therefore come to my party, I can work with him. No, when a president picks somebody for a particular duty it means you are pointing that person out as an aspect of government so you see, it is impossible for me to pick Jonathan as a candidate.

    In fact, Jonathan’s campaign manager is the greatest asset that Buhari could have hoped for. All the opposition needs to do is look at his spokesman, is that the kind of person he should have?Look, Buhari is a very lucky man. Between the two, the one whom I think has paid some debt to the community would be Buhari because I think he has accepted the fact that he made mistakes. He hasn’t brought himself round to apologise, if he had done that, I might have been less ambiguous about him. But I think from my findings about him, I think he is a born again phenomenon. If am wrong, well, too bad. Though I don’t believe in ‘born-againism’ but I think this may be an exception.

    ZT: Would you say that corruption in Nigeria is a reflection of the society?

    SOYINKA: I don’t know what is happening to the society, but I can tell you this much: when I was a child, for a public/civil servant to be caught in corrupt practices, that individual will be a pariah. He will be a complete reject of the society; he/she could not raise his or her voice to speak in the public. What you are asking is what happened to society? So what happened between that time and now? That time when a public officer, prison or customs officer caught in corruption hides his face in shame amongst his peers, he just couldn’t come out publicly. For instance, I remember one or two cases when somebody couldn’t come to our house the way he used to, he just disappeared. Today, when they come back, they get chieftaincy titles, they are received in grand style, cows are killed, they ride on white horses. You have a former president who welcomes political thugs, like Obasanjo who welcomed the late Adedibu who rode into his Otta farm on horseback with Kakaki and Obasanjo even named Adedibu his political mentor. A former president of this nation, called the late Adedibu his political mentor! Society is finished!

    ZT: So, how did we get here?

    SOYINKA: You tell me? I do not know. I do not know what has happened. People say human nature is a very vague expression, people tend to say human nature is corruptible anyway and it comes from a theological point of view, goes back to the Garden of Eden, that there is always this corrupt gene waiting to be activated that we inherited from the very beginning. I don’t believe in that theological excuse but I know that the sudden oil wealth, easy access to wealth fuelled the process, it definitely accentuated the process, it made corruption easy because if you are corrupt and you have extra cash you are able to shut the mouth of your accuser and they will be silenced.

    ZT: Let me take you back to the issue of Ribadu which you raised earlier. There was a time when we interviewed former President Obasanjo and he told us that Ribadu investigated him and cleared him of all corruption charges. I don’t know if it tallies with what you have just told us?

    SOYINKA: I am not going to speak on this; but one thing I like, when I speak, I don’t dwell on rumours but at the same time I form opinion within the limits of the investigation which I make, that’s how far I go. I am a very curious person; I’ll always ask: is this thing true, is it not true? And I use my own means to investigate and come to my conclusion.

    Anybody can say I have been investigated, I have been investigated, it’s okay, some people are lucky and others not so lucky. So let’s leave it at that.

    ZT: When you said Ribadu told you that he will not sit until you forgave him of something you told him, did he tell you exactly what?

    SOYINKA: Of course he did, that was one of the longest discussions I had in a long time. We were there for almost four hours and we spoke for at least two and a half hours. I asked him a couple of questions and he told me certain things in confidence and there were things which corroborated the things I have heard from different directions on investigations which I myself had made.
    But the important thing is that he came around to see that my indication to him is that you had to get to the source of corruption which grows when it is tolerated, what we call the culture of impunity. When a leader encourages the culture of impunity, the society is lost and it makes the work harder for the rest of us. As I said in Tunis in a conference on this very subject, when you fight corruption, corruption strikes back and that is the truth because when you fight corruption, you get confidence and when it gets to impunity, then it gets aggressive and says, ‘oh, so you think you are different? You think you are tough and different?’ This is why some of us are almost permanently in the libel court. I just had a case recently that has been in court for over ten years now, that’s a long time, a case of libel, especially when the libel is committed by those whom you exposed, because they think that by libeling you, after a while you get tired and get off their back which of course I refused to do. And this case has been transferred from one judge to the other, did I say ten years? Fifteen years, just before Justice Oke, in fact it was resumed by somebody else who picked up the dirty gauntlet and libeled me again on this very issue, and until even Abacha’s son had the nerve to use that statement, and libeling me on the internet, I didn’t waste my time because I think the next day, the United States returned another huge sum of Nigeria’s stolen money from the Abachas coffers. But the thing is that it is not fair to those who fight corruption that they have to fight the aggressiveness, the impunity of the corrupt so maybe you (EFCC) should have a department which caters for the interest of those who are victims of aggression of corruption. I think it’s about time, otherwise, people will get tired and wouldn’t want to serve or appear in the public because of this aggressive, corrupt cabal which take up their own guns and who manipulates society and opinion of the society. So that is an idea for you, innovation.

    ZT: Can you share with us some of the things you told Jonathan on the two occasions you met with him?

    SOYINKA: Oh its more than two occasions, but two in recent times. I will tell you one interesting aspect of what we discussed. I will reveal to you that Jonathan did not know that the nation had been compromised so badly in this telephone thing with the King of Morocco. I was the one who told him when we met over an issue and I said to him, ‘by the way, how is the king of Morocco? Jonathan didn’t know what I was talking about’. When I mentioned the telephone issue, he thought I was talking about his campaign for the ADB managing director for which he was lobbying other Head of States. He said ‘I haven’t spoken to him in a long time’, and I said ‘no, you spoke to him a few days ago.’ He said ‘no, I intend to speak with him, I even asked my foreign ministry to link me up with him because I am campaigning for a candidate but I haven’t spoken to the king of Morocco’. Then I said to him, ‘you better go and read the newspapers of last week’. And I can tell you, he didn’t know.

    So can you imagine that the president did not know that a scandal had developed that involved a withdrawal of an ambassador! And again, I am revealing this to you since this interview won’t be published till after the elections because I wouldn’t want to be seen as campaigning for or against one side.

    It shows how in deep trouble governance can be; governance can dig itself into a huge hole and not even know it’s in there. The statement that was issued was issued the night when I met him.

    ZT: So are you saying Jonathan was caged?

    SOYINKA: Correct. There are forces around Jonathan, you put your fingers around it, which he himself does not understand and that is why I stressed that, you’ve got to choose your circle of advisers very carefully, when you are in charge. He’s been caged; things are going on in his ministry that he did not know about.

    On a lighter note, I asked him, ‘what are you doing about madam’, because that one seems to be embarrassing the nation as usual because that seems to be her function as so called first lady. You go to a section of the country and tell your supporters to stone those who campaign for change and you insult another part of the nation by calling them those who produce children that they cannot look after. That woman should be charged for incitement, chaos; it’s incredible that she is allowed to run loose.

    ZT: What was his reply?

    SOYINKA: I am not going to tell his response (laughs…..). But I am free to tell you what I said, it will be an abuse of privilege if I tell you his response.
    ZT: Your are widely considered as the godfather of cultism in Nigeria because of your role as co-founder of Pyrates Confraternity in your days a student of the University College, Ibadan…

    SOYINKA: (Cuts in) Because those who say that are willfully ignorant. Everybody knows that fraternities are a normal culture in all colleges. It exists in all colleges. President Clinton was a member of a fraternity. In fact, anybody who goes to College in the United States is a member of a College fraternity. There is absolutely nothing evil or occultic about fraternity.

    But here , the media is largely responsible for fuelling the ignorance of society of the word cultism and fraternity. This is a disservice and I have said it again and again. There are evil cults, whose members must prove themselves by going to rape. There are others whose entry test is to slash or beat somebody or rob, it has nothing to do with College fraternity. The media owes the responsibility to constantly tell the public the truth. But they go on and children grow up believing that college fraternity is Satanic, demonic, and this is wrong.

    I was on the Disciplinary Committee in University of Ife. It will surprise you to know the number of students who we recommended for expulsion as a result of cult activities; despite the spineless attitude of some members on the committee who would beg for clemency for children of the elite. If you know the people that were involved, Commissioners of Police were involved, always writing letters. Imagine, a student just gang raped a girl because he is a member of a cult and you ask me to review that violation! These are letters which I received from the elites of the society because their wards were involved in occultic activities. I said this is not fraternity, this is criminal and normally such cases should be charged before the court. But while I am a member of this College, this type of character does not belong here and must be expelled.

    Society itself is responsible for the degradation where it takes place from fraternity into cultism but the distinction must be made. The Buccaneers call themselves a fraternity; they originated from the original Pyrates Confraternity. They were thrown out for misbehaving and destroying the efforts of the fraternity. Black Axe, these are cults, the leaders know, they won’t deny it.

    What we formed in my University days was anti-corruption and justice-seeking student organization, not a cult group as many ignorant Nigerians want to make believe. I am still a member of Pyrates confraternity and anyone who wants to accuse me of cultism is making a big mistake and incidentally, there have been cases where the Court declared the Pyrates confraternity as non occultic or secret society. The judgments are there and yet the public is still ignorant of the clear difference. It is when they are fighting Wole Soyinka that is when they say Wole Soyinka is the father of cultism, their father is the founder of cultism (laughter).

    ZT: How would you describe your only experience in government as Chairman of the Federal Road Safety Commission?

    SOYINKA: First, let’s situate my involvement, so you can understand why I never considered myself ‘in government’. The Corps was my very own idea. I invented the Road Safety Corps in the Old Oyo State days, while I was teaching at the former University of Ife. I was tired of picking up bodies on the Ife-Ibadan highway – which I dubbed the Ife-Ibadan Slaughter Slab. I got sick of scooping up the brains of my students from the tarmac after supposedly stuffing them with knowledge. I became a regular feature in the UCH emergency section where I routinely deposited the mangled. Nigerian road users’ stupidity, their irresponsibility enraged me on every trip etc. etc. – not to mention the superfluous presence of the police. They hadn’t the slightest interest in road sanity, only checking ‘partik’lars’ and collecting private tolls. So, call it an act of self-interest if you like, trying to save myself from high-blood pressure or even potential homicide – because, sometimes, I wanted to KILL some drivers! Well, one Sunday, after a particularly stressful trip, I locked myself in my university office and fleshed out the idea of a civilian volunteer ‘brigade’, backed by a handful of uniformed corps. I sent it to the then governor, General David Jemibewon…..and that was how it all began.

    Later the politicians chased the Corps from the Federal Roads, using an antiquated colonial law. It was an inhuman act, since the Corps had recorded such remarkable success. Of course the death statistics rose astronomically, and we were invited to turn this state initiative into a federal one – under a military government. They were losing their finest officers on Nigerian roads, not on the battlefield, so they sent Bolaji Akinyemi to me as emissary. Some other states had emulated Oyo – they all came to Oyo for training, so the nationwide expansion was not too difficult.

    Now this will interest you. With the brief mention I have already made of police malfunction, even before the Corps was formally inaugurated, I set up a secret Monitoring Unit, all volunteers. That was how we weeded out the misfits so early, and earned a reputation for the cleanest agency in all of Nigeria. The road users learnt that they were in trouble if they offered a bribe. We even banned pleading, begging, including that nauseating habit of drivers and their passengers prostrating themselves on the road for leniency. I loathed that abject, self-abasing culture. I still do. The Road Safety Corps was justly feared. That reputation endured until Obasanjo came into power, merged the Corps with the police – for reasons best known to him. A few years later the National Assembly forced him to rescind that decision but of course by then, the damage was already done. My ‘incorruptible’ had imbibed the culture of wetin you carry?

    ZT: After the Road Safety experience, you have not taken up any appointment in government. Why is this so?

    SOYINKA: Only if an aggressive policy of protection is guaranteed for those who undertake such risk-laden assignments. And by aggressive I mean, criminal prosecution against those who attempt to smear the reputation of anti-corruption leaders and impugn their integrity. I told you about the success of the Monitoring squad in eliminating corruption. Well, it cost me dear. As I have often stressed, “Corruption Fights Back”. It fights back desperately, dispensing calumny and shoveling dirt with abandon. Corruption never gives up, it only lies in wait. Each time I fought the government on any issue – you could guarantee the timing – those slime merchants went to work! I sued, they begged for mercy and I settled for published retractions. But they were only re-grouping. They resumed their campaign, I sued again, and won. Back they came again, under Sani Abacha, so back we went to the courts – the last case was decided only a few months ago, and of course I was awarded damages – that is, twenty something years afterwards.

    When the criminals found that I couldn’t be moved, they attacked my wife – then my daughter. That’s how unconscionable Corruption is. Each filed suits against the trash purveyors and each time they were awarded damages. It’s bad enough that I should expend my time and energy, why should my family come into it? That sickens me. About time the state took a hand – unless of course it believes that even agencies like yours can handle corruption without civilian involvement!

    ZT: With your constant criticism of government and your views on purposeful leadership, shouldn’t you be seeking an elective office to lead by example?

    SOYINKA: Thank goodness, that is now a purely academic question. At eighty, I must be counted senile to attempt to stand for office.

    ZT: Why are you not a member of any political party in Nigeria?

    SOYINKA: Temperament. In any case, I did try to set up a political party – as a platform for a new generation. Ironically, it lost steam when the members found I was dead serious about NOT contesting any office. They came in mostly on personalized grounds, not on faith in a carefully worked out manifesto. But the party still exists – at least as a movement.

    ZT: Some people say the reason you are not a card carrying member of any political party is because you are a lone ranger who finds it difficult to work in a collective. How true is this?

    SOYINKA: Far too sweeping a claim. Those with whom I’ve worked politically etc. have come to acknowledge my capacity for team work. Ask for voiced observations during the 2-year long PRONACO initiative. However, there’s some truth in it. I tend to work best as a one-man Task Force, including even the roles of messenger, coffee maker and office cleaner.

    ZT: How are you able to sustain friendship with politicians who are known to be corrupt?

    SOYINKA: “Known to be corrupt? ‘Known’ is a presumptive claim. When I set up the Monitoring Unit for the Corps I knew what I was doing. I understood the nature of our society from which the Corps would be drawn, so I took pre-emptive measures. Next to the commodities of corruption, and religion, however, Nigeria is the world capital of rumour mongering, so I wanted to nail offenders with no route for escape. Now, am I supposed to do the same for all of Nigeria? You, the EFCC, ICPC, the numerous anti-graft divisions of the police – you must do your job. Identify, investigate and prosecute.

    Now, I am going to come closer to specificities. I cannot pretend not to know one or two names among my acquaintances who are presumed to have a cloud of corruption over their heads. I shall not mention names, since this would only contribute unfairly towards the promotion of such allegations. What I can testify to is that one such prominent figure – if we are thinking of the same businessman and politician – was a front-line collaborator during the anti-Abacha struggle. After that nightmare, when Obasanjo began to flout the constitution, humiliate the courts, and generally prove his real nature in an attempt to reduce this nation to yet another slave plantation, that individual earned further spurs by standing firm. Your agency invited him for questioning, and he later gave me his account of what transpired. If you do find a cause to charge him with corruption, I expect him to be subjected to the same legal processes as any other citizen. If found guilty, then he must take his punishment and make public restitution. Until then, I can only judge him on what I know to be true, and that is – an astute and dogged political fighter and comrade-in-arms. Otherwise, how am I different from those who defame my own person? What then separates me from slanderous whelps like Sanni Abacha’s offspring – just to name one notorious beneficiary of massive, internationally proven corruption – who declares that I am no better than his father!

    ZT: As a global citizen are you often embarrassed by Nigeria’s reputation for corruption?

    SOYINKA: As a global citizen, I sometimes feel like denying my identity.

    ZT: Have you personally found yourself in a situation where you were asked to offer bribe for a service? If yes, how did you deal with the situation?

    SOYINKA: Certainly. Such people did not repeat their attempt. Sadly, however, I discovered in one particular case that a colleague went and paid the bribe on my behalf, just to get our mission fulfilled. That was painful, and it strained our friendship.

    ZT: You were once supportive of President Jonathan. At what point did you decide to withdraw your support from the president?

    SOYINKA: No, it was never anything personal. We marched in order to protect the constitution, not the person of Jonathan. We retained a cordial relationship during his tenure however, despite some attacks I felt compelled to launch on him – and his wife. Jonathan committed some truly alarming errors of governance. He was propelling himself towards outright fascism.

    ZT: Some observers say you have a tendency to always find fault in others. How correct is this?

    SOYINKA: Why should that be surprising? Pity you can’t be present during my periodic fault-finding sessions with my image in the mirror!



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    Why the United Front must immediately form a party

    William Gumede


    cc LP
    South Africa’s democratic system, heavily dominated by the ANC, could best be served by a genuinely democratic, mainstream trade union-based party, like Brazil’s Socialist Party. The time for Zwelinzima Vavi's United Front lobby to transform into such a party is now.

    In politics, like in life generally, a window of opportunity suddenly opens up, to rapidly close thereafter. Unless, one grabs it, the moment and the opportunity pass with astonishing speed.

    Such a window of opportunity has opened up for Zwelinzima Vavi, the expelled Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) general secretary, and the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) and the eight other former Cosatu affiliates who have decided to set up an alternative political lobby group, the United Front (UF).

    The group has now resolved to go ahead with their as yet undefined, unclear and unspecified political formation, following the rejection of their bids at the Cosatu special conference last month to reinstate NUMSA as a member, and to bring back Vavi as general secretary, of the trade union federation.

    If the group does form a proper political party, it will mark one of the most dramatic political developments in South Africa’s governing African National Congress since it came to power in 1994, and may radically shake-up South Africa’s politics. The arrival of a new trade union movement-based party has the potential to breathe new energy into SA’s lethargic party political system.

    Such an arrangement will bring more competition into South Africa’s politics, shake-up the ANC’s complacency, and could bring in the real possibility of coalitions at both the national and the local level in the country’s politics.

    South Africa’s democratic system could best served by a genuinely democratic, mainstream trade union-based party, à la Brazil’s Socialist Party (PT), which would be to the left of the ANC, with the ANC remaining at the left-of-centre, the Democratic Alliance on the centre-right, and the Left populist Economic Freedom Fighters and the far-left socialist parties on the flanks.

    Globally, there has been since the 2007-2009 global and Eurozone financial crisis a rise in the number of Left-wing new political parties in industrial countries also. Syriza, the acronym for ‘Coalition of the Radical Left’, now in power in Greece, was set up in July 2013. The German Die Linke (Left Party) was established in 2007, and got elected to head the state of Thuringia in 2014. These parties are all trying to stay relevant to our times, by trying to steer a path between the old-style communist parties and the traditional centrist left-parties.

    But Brazil’s Socialist Party (PT), although from a different era, is still one of the most successful trade union-based political parties in the developing world, and should be the example to the Vavi group. The PT’s success has been based on pragmatism: a trade union-based political party, in alliance with sections of the middle class as well progressive business. They focused on fostering an economy based on social justice, making the democracy better, and striving for racial inclusivity.

    It appears the United Front (UF) is divided between some who want to form a political party immediately and others who want the UF to remain a civil society lobby group or a social movement first, and then over time form a party. However, the real opportunity is for the UF to immediately turn into a political party and contest the 2016 local government elections.

    The UF’s success as a political party will depend on timing. The perfect timing is now. The ANC is reeling under disillusionment over government failures, the personal and public leadership failures of President Jacob Zuma and the rising economic difficulties for ordinary supporters of the party, in contrast with the increasing and ostentatiously displayed wealth of ANC leaders.

    Contesting next year’s local government elections will also give the UF the opportunity to present itself as a grown-up alternative to the Economic Freedom Fighters of Julius Malema. If the UF does not form a political party ahead of the 2016 local government elections it risks becoming eclipsed by the EFF.

    At the moment there is a space on the left of South Africa’s politics, where many ANC supporters are looking for a home. The EFF is positioning itself to secure such voters. Although the EFF will have really big support among the black youth, black adults are unlikely to genuinely support them, except for tactically, to oppose the ANC.

    If the EFF, however, over time managed to position themselves as a more mature party on the Left, it is will capture that space on the Left of the ANC, and it would be very difficult for the UF, when it forms a political party to challenge them for that space.

    The South African Communist Party (SACP) is under pressure from its youth wing and many branches to stand in elections as an independent party, because they are increasingly aware that the EFF may step into that space, and thereafter may not be easy dislodged. If the SACP enters into the electoral arena as an independent party, it will further close off the space for the UF.

    The relative success of the EFF is because it has essentially taken over all the branches, organisers and resources of the ANC Youth League, which gave it an almost immediate machine, compared to smaller parties which had to start from scratch building up branches, getting members.

    A party formed by the UF would even be more well-equipped, given the massive resources of trade unions – the money, buildings and organisers, which would be a ready political machine.

    Since 1994, all the serious political realignments happened to the right of the ANC, and involved the mostly white opposition parties. A number of new black political parties have formed, whether as splinters from existing black opposition parties such as the Inkatha Freedom Party, or the breakaway from the ANC, the Congress of the People (COPE) – all of these formed from the right of the ANC.

    The parties which did form on the Left of the ANC were variously from the Black Consciousness (BC) and Pan Africanist of Azania (PAC) wings, and they were so small, perceived to have such impractical policies and so old-style, they were never going to get mass support. New leftwing parties outside the ANC, were also rigid in their policies, removed from the day-to-day problems of ordinary black South Africans, they were also never going to be successful.

    Learning from the failures of other Left-wing new political parties since 1994 will be for the UF not to be too ideological, like the Workers and Socialist Party (WASP) or populist – like the EFF - but must focus on bread-and-butter problems of people. Ordinary black voters are worried about lack of jobs, poor transport, education and crime in their neighbourhoods.

    To harp on instigating a Marxist-Leninist ‘revolution’ or to ensure the victory of the ‘proletariat’ is not very grown-up, realistic or practical. Moreover, such a message is unlikely to appeal to ordinary black people struggling to eke out a living when jobs are scarce and insecure, public services ineffective, many democratic, traditional and religions institutions self-serving and corrupt. And children have to be raised in the midst of broken families, individuals and communities.

    * William Gumede is chairperson of the Democracy Works Foundation. He is the author of the bestselling Restless Nation: Making Sense of Troubled Times (Tafelberg). A version of this article originally appeared in The Witness newspaper, Pietermaritzburg, South Africa.



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    Why the hullabaloo about Cecil, but none about Itai?

    Japhet M. Zwana


    cc CH
    The White world has justifiably exhibited intense righteous indignation at the depraved slaying of the 13-year-old lion known as Cecil, whose name conjures up the racist namesake who became the arch-colonialist of Zimbabwe. But why is there no similar international furore over the likely politically enforced disappearance of prominent activist and journalist Itai Dzamara?
    He is 36 years old
    He is a journalist
    He is a human/civil rights activist
    He has petitioned for the resignation of President Mugabe
    He has been arrested and beaten by the secret Zimbabwean security
    He had addressed an opposition rally on March 8, 2015 in Harare
    On the morning of March 9, 2015, he was abducted at a barber shop by five heavily armed men.

    Who is he? His name is Itai Dzamara.

    The White world has justifiably exhibited intense righteous indignation at the depraved slaying of the 13-year-old lion known as Cecil. There is no doubt about the level of love that Zimbabweans have for the lion as for other animals. However, the name Cecil, conjures up the racist namesake who became the arch colonialist of Zimbabweans in the 19th century. The question remains: While the international furor over Cecil’s demise is at a fever pitch, why is that over Dzamara so low?

    The headline screams in the American press said it all. They left no doubt in the public’s mind that the media considered this a grave crime against the global fauna. The New York Daily News included such headlines as: Killer, Heads you lose (cowardly lion hunter won’t get prized kill); Murderous Safari by healer, Dr. Death; America’s most hated; Dr. Death Defended; Lion Shame. Some posters read, ‘ROT IN HELL; Palmer, There is a Deep Cavity waiting for you.’

    Zimbabweans have a right to be confused by all the fuss about the death of a lion, especially one bearing the name of one of Africa’s most racist colonialists that has ever lived. Zimbabwean lives matter more than those of lions that depend on the former. Zimbabwean farmers, teachers, students, laborers, health workers, artisans, journalists, etc. can use a little sympathy from the international community’s out reach to the ruling brass and pressing it to take the necessary steps to improve the lives of the citizens. They do not understand the excitement over the passing of one ‘royal’ lion in the face of a multitude of issues facing the people of Zimbabwe. They include serious water shortages, electricity breakdowns, high inflation and unemployment, corruption in higher places and lack of civil/human rights.

    The international community seemed eager and ready to assist the Zimbabwean government in its efforts to locate and apprehend Dr. Palmer. It should exhibit the same zeal in aiding the family and friends of Itai Dzamara as they seek to determine his fate. The ZANU administration will not do it. It is common knowledge that though the police have offered a $10,000 reward to anyone who can disclose Itai’s whereabouts, people are not convinced that authorities are doing enough to find the kidnapped scribe.

    It was stated in the 17th July, 2015 Newsday issue, that Dzamara’s family characterized President Mugabe’s position on the activist as ‘irresponsible and unfortunate.’ It is further frustrating when the leadership will not make any definitive statements on the case on account that it is too political. It is five months since Itai disappeared. The world community that is concerned about lion Cecil, whose tourism value is well known, should not place him above Itai Dzamara whose human value is far superior to Cecil’s.

    The West and the rest should converge on the altar of mercy and bring pressure to bear on those responsible for Itai’s fate.

    * Japhet M. Zwana is a retired Professor and Administrator at New York State University.

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    Pambazuka News annual break


    Dear Readers and Contributors

    Pambazuka News Team takes its annual break from 17-31 August 2015.

    We would like to thank you most sincerely for your continued support that enables us to carry insightful, sharp and thoughtful analyses, making Pambazuka News one of the largest and most influential web-based forums for social justice in the Pan-African world.


    Second Call for Papers: Pan-African Colloquium in Barbados University of the West Indies/Barbados, January 12-15, 2016

    Pan-African Colloquium


    The Departments of History and Philosophy; Government, Sociology and Social Work, The University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus, Barbados and PANAFSTRAG are pleased to issue a second call for papers for this inaugural international Pan African Colloquium to be held at The University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus, Barbados over the period January 12-15, 2016.

    The broad theme for this inaugural colloquium will be "Heroes and heroines of the back to Africa movements, Pan Africanism, African nationalism and global Africanism: Their philosophies, activities and legacies."

    This international conference hopes to brings together scholars/researchers, activists and policymakers to interrogate the philosophical, political, socio-cultural and economic thoughts and legacies of these Africanists. Since the nineteenth century these persons have agitated and protested against imperialism, emancipation, racism, violation of human rights and inequality of economic opportunity, conditions that still characterize our reality. This conference provides a platform for the exploration of such issues and the questions related to the viability of Africanist movements.

    Interrelated issues of solidarity, self-determination, self-awareness, black consciousness, economic empowerment, spiritual enlightenment and cultural awareness will also be discussed. The conference is further intended to build synergies and forge dialogue on how the movement in Africa and the African diaspora can improve its position in a globalizing world and aid in shaping consciousness of Africans worldwide building on the efforts of these heroes and heroines.

    Please visit the following link and click call for papers for more information.

    Comment & analysis

    Celebrating Africa’s ‘Father of Geology’

    Hajiya Hafsat Magaji


    Baba has seen it all and conquered all. He is one of Nigeria’s most decorated intellectuals and certainly one of Africa’s best gifts to the world. He is a man widely respected across Nigeria and widely honoured abroad.

    As has become tradition over the past several years, the world descended on Offa, Kwara state, in North Central Nigeria on August 12 to celebrate one of Africa’s greatest sons. The occasion was the birthday celebration of Professor Muhammad Jamiu Mosobalaje Olayooye Oyawoye, CFR, the Aremo (Crown prince) of Offa, and Africa’s first professor of geology; who turns eighty-eight on that day.

    This piece is not intended to join the unnecessary debate as to which individual, dead or alive, is the greatest individual to emerge from Offa; that controversy appears closed, because even those that ignited it realize the futility of their efforts. Instead, this piece should be seen as what it was intended to be: a deserved tribute to an icon who, without any doubt, remains the most recognized, the most decorated and the most respected individual to singularly place Offa on the world map.

    For most people in the evening of their life, the next natural thing to do is to commence the process of stock-taking. At 88, Baba Oyawoye or Aremo Mosobalaje, as Professor Oyawoye is variously referred to, is in the evening of a well spent life: a life dotted by selfless service to humanity. It is safe to say Baba has been taking stock for the better part of the last three decades, when he returned to his birthplace to busy himself with improving the lives of members of a community that has largely been appreciative of his achievements. Save for party politics which Baba wisely avoids, there is hardly any aspect of community life in Offa on which Baba’s wise counsel has not been sought.

    Born August 12, 1927, Professor Oyawoye, geologist, teacher, researcher, field worker, ambassador of peace, religious cum community leader and bridge, was educated at Offa and Ibadan till 1949 and later worked at the Geological Survey of Nigeria from 1950 to 1952. The brief spell at the Geological Survey of Nigeria must have made a great impression on his young mind, as it was here that he began a career that turned him into Africa’s first Professor of Geology fourteen years later. Between 1952 and 1959 he completed a Bachelors degree at Washington State University at Pullman in the United States, followed by his doctorate at the University of Durham in the United Kingdom.

    After seven unbroken years abroad Baba Oyawoye returned to Nigeria and took up a teaching appointment at the University of Ibadan where he played a pivotal role in the establishment of the department of geology. That was in 1959. Seven years later, he was appointed Professor of Geology. Now the community of Offa did not only have her first Professor, but had, by the feat of one man, provided the African continent with her first Professor of Geology. Many landmarks bear his name at the University of Ibadan, where Professor Oyawoye groomed the nation’s, and Africa’s first generation of geologists.

    Academia helped shape Baba Oyawoye’s world view and prepared him for life’s endless battles. In fact, elders of Offa even today still discuss with nostalgia how Baba Oyawoye was the clear choice of Offa kingmakers when the throne of Olofa was to be filled in 1970. Baba was 43 and must have reasoned that a life of seclusion in a palace, despite its attraction to some, was not his line. He reportedly turned down the offer, politely, and continued the search for more experience which he was to later deploy to impact on his community. It turned out to be a well thought out decision.

    Very few people in Offa will fail to attest to Professor Oyawoye’s love for his community. He has, since the 1960’s, been involved in virtually all projects aimed at lifting Offa and her residents. Three years ago, Baba spoke passionately about his life ambition of witnessing the establishment of the first university in the town. That day may not be far off as two universities have been planned for Offa. One of them, in which Baba Oyawoye has been very prominent, is the Summit University, Offa; the other is the proposed University of Offa. Without any doubt, two universities is a brilliant idea in a community that also hosts a federal and private polytechnic, a college of education, a specialized naval institution, a school of health technology, a school of Basic and Remedial studies, and a study centre of the National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN). All of which will cater for the educational needs of Offa and its environs. It is in recognition of this love for community that Professor Oyawoye was named Aremo Offa more than five decades ago.

    Now, this love for community and service to humanity have not been devoid of some drawbacks. And Baba Oyawoye, by his upbringing, education and training knows very well that no man attains the status and stature he has without somebody waiting for the slightest opportunity to jump on their backs. But Baba has such a fat back capable of carrying everything that comes his way. Such irritants abound in Offa but Baba’s luck is that those who sneered at him in the past clearly did so out of ignorance. Or, how do we describe a man, barely literate, who publicly claimed that a Professorship obtained in 1966, when he was not born, was worthless; as the 60’s, in his words, were years of ignorance in education!

    Baba has seen it all and conquered all. He is one of Nigeria’s most decorated intellectuals and certainly one of Africa’s best gifts to the world. He is a man widely respected across Nigeria and widely honoured abroad. And for his contribution to the world of research, he was given the national honour of Commander of the Order of the Federal Republic, CFR, and has a street named after him in a strategic location in Abuja, Nigeria’s federal capital city. It is a mark of his humility that Baba’s home has become a mecca of sorts for people from far and near to consult and tap from Baba’s wealth of experience. A sign of the good health he enjoys is that, even in his late 80’s, Baba still has the strength to travel out of his domain to attract more goodwill for his community.

    By their nature, old lions purr; they do not roar. But in Professor Oyawoye, we have one old lion that roars with dignity. As family members, friends, well-wishers, former colleagues and students from far and near and an entire community unite to celebrate an icon, Professor Oyawoye should, in his characteristic humility, accept the honour, in a manner of speaking, of being a tree that makes a forest.

    Happy birthday, Baba Aremo!

    * Hajiya Hafsat Magaji, [email protected], is a staff of the Nigerian National Examinations Council, NECO.

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    Saved by a speech: Obama’s trip to Eastern Africa

    Mahlet Ayele Beyecha


    President Obama has been fiercely criticized for his claim at a press conference in Addis Ababa that the Ethiopian government is “democratically elected.” The facts on the ground do not support him. But his message of hope to the continent was well received.

    The 54-year-young black president of the United States of America, Barak Hussein Obama, has recently amplified his foreign policy on Africa by the recent 5-day tour of Eastern Africa, to Kenya and Ethiopia. He became the first sitting U.S. president to address the African Union.

    Both Kenya and Ethiopia are strong allies of U.S. in the fight against al-Shabaab/terrorism in Somalia. Though the U.S. and Ethiopia have a shadow of a long diplomatic relationship, the present U.S. foreign policy is mainly militaristic in the region.

    His highly anticipated trip to Ethiopia was actualized as his Air Force One touched the ground on Sunday 26 July 2015. Much to say, his trip was welcomed by some rain and a rainbow, which have created ambiguity amongst Ethiopians as they translate the event to suggest his gay rights agenda while others as see it as a blessing.

    Obama was attacked by human right groups, the Ethiopian opposition groups in diaspora, the international community and activists in social media when he called the Ethiopian government ‘democratically elected’ in the joint press conference with Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn on 27 July 2015. As one put it in the social media, ‘President Obama could not be softer than this.’

    However, President Obama’s trip to East Africa was saved by his historic speech at the African Union Commission in Addis Ababa, when he told blatantly the audience including the host Prime Minister Desalegn, high government officials of Ethiopia and AUC chairperson, that ‘Democracy is not just formal elections’. He stressed: ‘When journalists are put behind bars for doing their jobs or activists are threatened as governments crackdown on civil society then you may have democracy in name, but not in substance’.

    Ethiopia’s recent election was an anticipated one, and in fact the nation went to vote for new parliamentarians but not a new party, leader or idea. As a result the EPRDF, the ruling party extended, its two decades in power with a ‘historical’ 100% seats won by its cadres. As the Guardian put it at that time, ‘Ethiopia’s election is a wake-up call on human rights and sound governance.’

    According to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) research, Ethiopia holds two in Africa for jailed journalists, following Eritrea and preceding Egypt and is fourth in the world following Eritrea, North Korea and Saudi Arabia.

    Obama also touched on the issue of ‘third term’, whereby the African heads of state amend their constitution to stay in power more than two terms and in some cases for life. ‘Nobody should be president for life,’ Obama noted. ‘Your country is better off if you have new blood and new ideas’. He asserted: 'Sometimes you will hear leaders say ‘I am the only person who can hold this nation together.’ If that is true, then the leaders have failed to truly build their nation.’ Nevertheless, he lauded the African countries that have transferred power peacefully, such as Benin, Botswana, Ghana, Sierra Leone, Nigeria and South Africa.

    The president underlined women’s empowerment with a simple, yet powerful, resonating phrase: ‘Let the girls learn!’ He added, ‘And when girls cannot go to school and grow up not knowing how to read or write, that denies the world future women engineers and presidents - that sets us all back.’ He asserted that ‘the single best indicator of whether a nation will succeed is how it treats its women.’

    Creating opportunity for development, to exercise a real democracy, to fight corruption, peace and security, human rights and women’s education and empowerment are amongst the key issues that the first African American President put across in his message. He repeatedly reminded the African leaders that in their endeavor to address the above issues, United States would be their true partner. ‘As you build the Africa you believe in, you will have no better partner and friend that the United States of America. God Bless Africa,’ he concluded.

    The speech the president started in a friendly way, saying that he is ‘a son of African’, progressed to ripping the oppressive and despotic government in the continent. Though the charming president didn’t get the chance to make his historic address in front of the Heads of States who have the upper hand on the AU, he received a standing ovation and cheers especially from the young audience which he probably would not have got from the heads of state.



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    Advocacy & campaigns

    ACB to battle SA Govt., Monsanto over controversial GM ‘drought tolerant’ maize


    The civil society group is concerned that the recent approval is typical of GM decision-making in South Africa, which simply reiterates and summarises information provided by Monsanto, who has a clear vested interest in the approval. The government is under a legal obligation to apply a risk averse and cautious approach, which takes into account uncertainties and the limits of current knowledge about commercial production of GMOs.

    JOHANNESBURG, 11 AUGUST 2015 - The African Centre for Biodiversity (ACB) has on 7th August 2015, lodged an appeal to Agriculture, Water Affairs and Forestry Minister Senzeni Zokwana, against the general release approval of Monsanto’s genetically modified (GM) maize, MON87460 granted by the Executive Council (EC): GMO Act. Such approval means that Monsanto can sell the GM maize seed, MON87460, to farmers in South Africa for cultivation.

    MON87460 is alleged to be ‘drought tolerant;’ a claim the ACB vehemently disputes.


    The appeal is a test for administrative justice and procedural fairness in regard to GM decision-making in South Africa. Administrative decision-making must be based on rigorous food safety, environmental and socio-economic assessments of the potential adverse effects of MON87460, taking into international biosafety best practice.

    According to the ACB, the EC’s approval is typical of GM decision-making, which simply reiterates and summarises information provided by Monsanto, who has a clear vested interest in the approval. Such “rubber stamping” is unlawful. The EC is under a legal obligation to apply a risk averse and cautious approach, which takes into account uncertainties and the limits of current knowledge about the consequences of approving MON87460 for commercial production.

    The GM variety will introduce novel proteins into human food and animal feed chains as well as the environment. There is no reliable history of safe use of the GM variety to justify its introduction in South Africa.

    The ACB was specifically excluded from receiving the field trial data pertaining to efficacy trials performed in South Africa. It was thus prevented from meaningful public participation or independent review of the claimed ‘drought tolerant’ characteristic of the GM variety. Such exclusion has in ACB’s view, rendered the EC’s decision to approve the general release of MON87460 procedurally flawed. This calls for a determination to be made on appeal, of the constitutional rights of the ACB and the public, to access to information and administrative justice.


    An important consideration for the ACB is to test the veracity of Monsanto’s claims of increased yield performance of MON87460 under water-limited and water- scarce conditions in South Africa. In this regard, the ACB is extremely concerned about the absence of peer reviewed scientific data and evidence supporting the claims of Monsanto. Critical issues would include whether the trials were conducted with conventionally bred drought tolerant maize varieties into which the so-called transgenic drought tolerant trait was introduced. If so, then the inherent drought tolerant characteristics of the conventional maize would confer an unfair, skewed and ‘dishonest’ advantage to the GM variety.


    According to the ACB, the EC has also turned a blind eye to the socio-economic impacts that may arise as a result of the Monsanto introducing MON87640 to smallholder farmers. Socio-economic studies conducted of the impacts of GM maize in the Eastern Cape point to huge economic risks for smallholder farmers. These studies also show that non-GM varieties, including open pollinated varieties (OPVs), outperform GM varieties because these OPVs are better adapted to smallholder farmers’ agro-ecologies, fluctuations in rainfall and suboptimal storage conditions. Critically important considerations that the EC failed to take into account when approving the GM maize.


    MON 87460 stems from a Monsanto/Gates Foundation project, Water Efficient Maize for Africa (WEMA). The project is being implemented in South Africa, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and Mozambique, and purports to offer the GM drought tolerant maize to smallholder farmers in Africa as a ‘Climate Smart’ solution to abiotic stresses such as drought. Monsanto is offering to waive its technology fee and provide the seed to smallholder farmers at the same cost as conventional varieties.

    This means that Monsanto will still enforce its intellectual property rights (plant variety protection) on the seed against farmers who will still be expected to pay royalties to Monsanto. GM seed being handed out to farmers for free or made available through highly subsidised credit to entice farmers away from their current agricultural practices is a death trap for them. Experience in South Africa has shown that once the subsidies and credit dry up, farmers are deep in debt or are simply unable to purchase expensive seed and other inputs such as synthetic fertilizers and pesticides. In the meantime they lose their own OPVs and seed sovereignty.

    The ACB has consistently opposed the field trials of MON87460 since 2007. It has brought the appeal in its own interests, in the public interest and in the interest of protecting the environment. The ACB has being assisted by independent biosafety experts and public interest lawyer, Adrian Pole.

Mariam Mayet: Email: [email protected] Tel: + 27 83 269 4309

    Families of Marikana mineworkers file civil claims against Government


    The families of the 37 mineworkers killed at Marikana on 13 and 16 August 2012 have filed civil claims against the Minister of Police in the High Court in Pretoria. The 37 families are represented by The Socio-Economic Rights Institute of South Africa (SERI), and the Legal Resources Centre (LRC) and Wits Law Clinic.

    In August 2012, these workers, with thousands of others, were on strike demanding a living wage. They were killed after the police opened fire. The majority of the deceased workers were the sole breadwinners of their families and supported large extended families on their meagre income. A total of 326 dependants relied on the deceased workers’ wages. Their families, living in the North West, Eastern Cape and Gauteng provinces, as well as Lesotho and Swaziland, continue to live in unbearable conditions of grinding poverty, and, despite some ex gratia assistance from charities and churches, remain destitute following their deaths.

    The families are claiming compensation for:

    • the loss of the financial support of the deceased to their families; 

    • grief and emotional shock caused by the death of their husbands, fathers, brothers and 

    • the medical expenses of psychological and psychiatric treatment; and 

    • their loss of family life and parental care. 

    The families also claim a formal apology from the Minister of Police for the loss of their loved ones. An apology will bring much needed closure to the families who feel they have been have been abandoned by the South African government. 

    Kathleen Hardy, SERI attorney for the families, says “This civil suit should be unnecessary. The Marikana Commission of Inquiry spent more than two years establishing what was already clear in video and media footage: the SAPS are responsible for causing these deaths. We hope that the Minister will see the need for urgent compensation for the killing of these men”.

    Michael Power, LRC attorney for the Ledingoane family adds “We hope that the Minister of Police will act urgently on the civil claims, apologise to the families of the deceased workers for the loss that they have suffered, and provide the families with the sorely needed financial support.” 

    • Read more about the Marikana civil claims here. 

    • Presentations made by the families of the deceased miners before the Marikana Commission of 
Inquiry here.

Contact details: 
Kathleen Hardy, SERI attorney 082 556 5196/ 011 356 5860/ [email protected] Michael Power, LRC attorney 082 645 1451/ 011 836 9831/ [email protected]

    African women's position on the New Development Agenda


    African women applaud the new “2030 Agenda” for having the promise of being truly transformative for women and girls around the world. But they are concerned about the lack of commitment by African governments to implement progressive laws, agreements and protocols.

    On Sunday, 2 August 2015, 193 governments agreed to a historic agenda for global sustainable development to be carried out over the next 15 years, which will be formally adopted by world leaders at the UN General Assembly in September. African women joined other women’s rights activists in applauding the new “2030 Agenda” for having the promise of being truly transformative for women and girls around the world. The new agenda includes the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), a framework of 17 goals and 169 targets that build upon the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which expire this year. Gender equality is addressed much more robustly than the MDGs did and recognize the issue as crosscutting.

    The "2030 Agenda" includes significant victories for women and girls. Governments have committed to:

    • End discrimination and gender-based violence
    • End child marriage and female genital mutilation
    • Ensure access to sexual and reproductive health care services and education for all
    • Protect women’s and girls’ reproductive rights
    • Recognize and value the burdens of unpaid care work on women and girls
    • Expand women’s economic opportunities and ensure their rights to resources
    • Eliminate gender disparities in schools and ensure equal access to education

    Gender equality, human rights and the empowerment of women and girls remains a critical driver to the achievement of the sustainable development goals. The prioritization of women's rights will ensure that spatial, political, social and economic inequalities are addressed. Furthermore, the redistribution of wealth, power, opportunities and resources is critical for addressing prevalent inequalities between men and women, within and between countries.

    Although we have registered substantial gains in securing gender equality in the Post-2015 development framework, the lack of political will from some of the African Member states to safeguard gender equality and the human rights of women and girls throughout the Post-2015 development process remains of great concern to African women.

    We are deeply concerned that Nigeria, Chad and Cameroon consistently called for removal of language on gender equality, reproductive rights, recognition of human rights and non-discrimination for all. In January 2014, the African Heads of States adopted the Common African Position (CAP) on Post-2015 articulating the continent's priorities in the Post-2015 development agenda.

    The Common African Position has strong commitments to ensure that "No person – regardless of ethnicity, gender, geography, disability, race or other status – is denied universal human rights and basic economic opportunities." African Heads of State specifically highlighted the inextricable link between gender equality, women's rights, women's empowerment and Africa's structural transformation.

    As we come to a close of what has been a protracted process and enter a new phase of implementation of the "2030 Agenda", its follow up and review; we call on African leaders to demonstrate political will in implementing the "2030 Agenda" through domesticating at national level and allocation of adequate resources.

    In line with the commitment to gender equality within the African Union, we call upon them to implement progressive regional and global agreements such as; The Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa; The Maputo Plan of Action on Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights; The International Conference on Population and Development Programme of Action (ICPD PoA) and The Abuja Declaration on HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and other related Infectious diseases. This will play a critical complementary enabling role for the new Development Agenda in the realization of women’s and girls' rights and the achievement of gender equality.

    For more information please contact:

    • FEMNET (African Women’s Development and Communication Network): [email protected]
    • AMwA (Akina Mama wa Afrika): [email protected]

    Civil society commends inauguration of presidential committee against corruption


    The team is headed by Professor Itse Sagay, a prominent professor of law and civil rights activist. The Committee's task is to advise the present Buhari led administration on the prosecution of the war against corruption and the implementation of required reforms in Nigeria's criminal justice system.

    Nigerians voted for President Muhammadu Buhari and his party, because of the faith and belief they have in the President Muhammadu Buhari integrity and his party’s mantra of “change” coupled with his campaign promises, to rid the country of the cankerworm of corruption, which in our humble opinion, represents the greatest challenge facing our dear nation.

    Corruption has resulted in the needless death of many Nigerians, especially as scarce resources that should have been used to provide qualitative healthcare services for all, particularly the vulnerable groups in our midst, good roads, qualitative education in public schools, employment opportunities for our teeming unemployed population including the youth, amongst others, have been diverted into private pockets, thus depriving majority of Nigerians the opportunity of benefiting from the nation’s God-given wealth.

    It is against this background that Zero corruption Coalition (ZCC) and its partners commend the timely inauguration of the Presidential Advisory Committee against Corruption headed by Professor Itse Sagay, a prominent professor of law and civil rights activist.

    The Committee's task is to advise the present Buhari led administration on the prosecution of the war against corruption and the implementation of required reforms in Nigeria's criminal justice system. We also appreciate the support of three international development partners namely the Ford Foundation, MacArthur Foundation and Open Society Initiative for West Africa for the establishment of support to assist implementation of key components of the Action Plan and the work of the Presidential Advisory Committee in support of the Federal Government’s efforts in the fight against Anti-Corruption and Criminal Justice Reform.

    ZCC and its partners also use this medium to call on the National Assembly to ensure adequate budget appropriation for the Anti-Corruption Agencies to deliver on their constitutional mandates. However, we also call on all Nigerians to support efforts of this current administration of fighting corruption and desist from meddling with issues associated with corruption and/ or should not allow themselves to be used for ethnic, religious, geographical and tribal manipulation by those who benefit from corruption in Nigeria.

    Therefore we, the undersigned Civil Society Organizations and all relevant anti-corruption movement shall keep watching quite keenly and would not hesitate to further support the committee in discharging their responsibilities as mandated

    1. Zero Corruption Coalition (ZCC)
    2. Say No Campaign
    3. National Procurement Watch Platform (NPWP)
    4. Accountability for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health in Nigeria (AMHiN)
    5. Tax Justice& Governance Platform Nigeria
    6. State of the Union Campaign (SOTU)
    7. Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC)/Transparency International (Nigeria)
    8. Environmental Rights Action (ERA)
    9. West African Civil Society Forum (Nigeria Platform)
    10. Center for Information Technology and Development (CITAD)



    Closing Date:13 September 2015 Location:Johannesburg Type:Permanent Working Hours:35 Salary:$66,580

    A I

    Amnesty International


    cc A I
    The mobile revolution, geopolitical power shifts and a radically altered global economy constitute some of the evidence to demonstrate that the world is changing, and so is the way that people fight for their rights. In order to be effective, Amnesty International’s (AI) International Secretariat needs to change how we work. That’s why our Southern Africa Regional Office needs your research expertise with us on the ground.


    Our Southern Africa Researcher who will also be covering Angola, Mozambique Guinea Bissau, Sao Tome and Principe and Equatorial Guinea will tackle issues like freedom of expression and association, forced evictions, abuses in the criminal justice system and international justice. In order to get the word out about these violations, we need expertly developed research and campaigning strategies. And in this key role, that’s exactly what you’ll deliver. As well as developing specific research projects and strategies, you’ll lead our research and investigations into human rights developments yourself – both at your desk and in the field. Ready to lead assessments of crisis situations and able to prepare thorough security assessments and political briefings, you’ll work as part of a team to make sure our hub research function is as flexible as it is effective. You’ll also understand that building a strong contact network and representing AI externally are central to ensuring your research has impact, as is the credibility and accuracy of your reports.


    A tried-and-tested human rights researcher, you’ll have specialist knowledge of human rights issues and a well-developed understanding of the political and economic landscape in Southern Africa. You’ll have proven your ability to write and adapt research materials for a range of audiences too, and be confident communicating AI’s message externally, both in English and Portuguese. In addition to your meticulous research skills and sharp political judgement, you’ll know how to engage with government structures, civil society, academics, and survivors of human rights abuses among others. You’ll be an effective multi-tasker able to meet deadlines and manage priorities, and know how to work effectively in a team. Crucially, you’ll have an unwavering commitment to human rights.


    Our aim is simple: an end to human rights abuses. Independent, international and influential, we campaign for justice, freedom and truth wherever they’re denied. Already our network of over three million members and supporters is making a difference in 150 countries. And whether we’re applying pressure through powerful research or direct lobbying, mass demonstrations or online campaigning, we’re all inspired by hope for a better world. One where human rights are respected and protected by everyone, everywhere.

    View Job Description

    The CIHA Blog WordPress Developer and Designer


    The CIHA Blog


    cc CIHA
    The CIHA Blog is looking for a talented freelance WordPress developer with a keen eye for design to update the blog design, customize existing themes to design specification, fix bugs in the back and front-end, and improve usability and site performance.


    The Critical Investigations into Humanitarianism in Africa (CIHA) Blog seeks to transform the phenomenon of aid to Africa into egalitarian and respectful relationships that challenge unequal power relations, paternalism and victimization. Our research and commentaries highlight critical and religious voices to explore connections among issues of faith, governance, gender, and race in colonial and postcolonial contexts. Through analysis and dialogue, we strive for equality, justice and, ultimately, respect for others’ desires, beliefs and practices.


    ● Work with Co-editors and editorial assistants to update blog with latest technologies
    ● Optimize the design for readability and improve display of uploaded media, including photos, videos, and PDFs for high and low bandwidth
    ● Integrate the capacity to include additional technologies (e.g., livestream videos, paper archive, podcasts) and improve integration with social media
    ● Develop template and technology for subscription email newsletters
    ● Enhance analytic monitoring of site
    ● Provide assistance with other graphic design or technical tasks


    ● Extensive knowledge of modifying existing theme templates (support, extend and/or enhance existing code)
    ● Full knowledge of WordPress and CMS platforms, HTML5, CSS, PHP, JavaScript, jQuery
    ● Ability to modify and customize plugins and create new plugins, as necessary
    ● An understanding of DNS records and cPanel web server admin
    ● Fluency in English

    Preferred Education, Skills, and Experiences:
    ● Bachelor’s degree (or equivalent)
    ● French language skills strongly preferred (as well as any African languages; Arabic also helpful)
    ● Experience with design, including Adobe Creative Suite
    ● The ability to advise on UX improvements
    ● Aware of WordPress security pitfalls and follow best practices to ensure tight security
    ● Knowledge of SEO practices
    ● Knowledge of or interest in the role that NGOs, humanitarianism, and religion play in the social and historical context of Africa


    Email resume with portfolio and links to website examples to [email protected]

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