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Pambazuka News 711: Pushing back: The people vs. elite power

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Pambazuka News (English edition): ISSN 1753-6839

CONTENTS: 1. Features, 2. Announcements, 3. Comment & analysis, 4. Advocacy & campaigns, 5. Letters & Opinions



Features

Blood on the streets: Understanding the popular uprising in Congo

Patrick Litanga

2015-01-29

http://pambazuka.net/en/category/features/93832


cc GLV
Apparently inspired by last year’s massive protests in Burkina Faso that ended the regime of President Blaise Compaore who wanted to extend his rule, Congolese citizens last week poured out into the streets to oppose perceived attempts by President Kabila to hold onto power. The people won. But will Kabila still pursue his ambition?
The Congolese political saga resembles an alcohol-laden early morning bar brawl in which one is forced to punch through or duck for cover. In the last week Congolese people, fed up with the government attempt to modify the electoral law descended on the streets in Kinshasa and other parts of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Cars were burnt or overturned, buses were stoned, and tires were lit in public squares while protestors, armed with sticks and stones, defiantly chanted “Kabila degage! Kabila Degage! (Kabila get out! Kabila get out!). These violent protests originated in Kinshasa and spread to other parts of the Congo between January 19 and 22, 2015. According to to the official account, four Congolese were killed as an outcome of violent protests. Unofficial accounts have reported over 28 deaths, with many more people missing and hundreds arrested. One easily sides with the unofficial accounts because often the Congolese government has misrepresented facts to minimize their probable social and political implications. Perhaps you wish to know why Congolese descended on the streets, stoning, overturning and burning cars while chanting, “Kabila gets out!” and risking their lives in the process.

ELECTORAL SLIDING?

The immediate event that triggered the violent protests in Kinshasa and other parts of the Congo was an attempt by the Congolese political majority to modify the electoral law and cunningly prolong Joseph Kabila’s presidency. In the Congolese political jargon this type of maneuver is called “glissement electoral” (electoral sliding). Electoral sliding is an instance where administrative inadequacies and political calculations delay the electoral calendar for few months or years. The current constitution does not allow Kabila to run again for the highest office in the country, everybody knows that. He is serving his second term. As of now Kabila’s best option to stay in power is through delay of the presidential elections, or electoral sliding. If Kabila stubbornly clings to power there is a great chance that the Congo might descend into chaos. The violent protests of last week indicate what might happen if Kabila and his political clique hold onto power. For Kabila to stay in power beyond 2016 it would require the old game overused by African political dinosaurs: changing the constitution or suspend it altogether. We have heard that tune quite often in African politics: Omar Bongo (Gabon), Sassaou Nguesso Republic of Congo), Yoweri Museveni (Uganda) and many others have overstayed their presidencies by re-moulding the constitution to their political liking.

Unfortunately for Kabila the constitution is clear about the presidential term limit, and the successful protests that toppled Blaise Compaore in Burkina Faso provides a cautionary tale. What drove Congolese to the streets was the realization that Kabila’s entourage was seeking to manipulate the electoral law so as to extend their political horizon. In order to fully understand where Congolese indignation against a potential modification of the electoral law came from, one needs to examine the origin of the bill proposing the modification of the electoral law. As early as 2012, barely a year after Kabila’s contested reelection, Congolese political observers, media, and academics began examining potential strategies that Kabila could consider for a third term presidential run. The key hindrance for such possibility was the Article 220 of the Congolese constitution. That article places the limit for the presidency at two terms, five years per term. Seizing the opportunity, Kabila’s proponents, also known as Kabilistes in the Congolese political parlance, went to task. They devised strategies to open the Pandora’s box of constitutional revision.

Kabilistes’ essential argument stipulated that, as a living document, the constitution was susceptible to modification, reflecting the changing Congolese political and legal reality. In other words Kabila’s strategists argued that it was not unconstitutional to propose a constitutional revision. While Kabila’s People Party for Reconstruction and Democracy (PPRD) and members of the political majority announced their overture for a potential constitutional revision, Dr. Evarist Boshab, one of Kabila’s diehard supporters and the current vice primer of the DRC went a step further and wrote a book, “Entre Revision de la Consititution et L’inanition de la Nation.” (Between the Constitutional Revision and the Nation’s Inanition). Boshab took it to the Congolese court of public opinion and vehemently argued that without a constitutional revision the DRC faced serious political inefficiencies.

While he was highly criticized by the political opposition, Boshab failed to articulate what conditions had substantially changed between 2011 and 2013 to cause the need for a constitutional revision. Although some of Boshab’s arguments could be substantiated, the question of presidential term limit, stated in Article 220 of the Constitution, was clear. Perhaps, the only defensible and imaginable argument that could override Article 220 could be a proven absence of alternative eligible presidential contenders in DRC. In other words, insisting that presidential terms be extended implies that the DRC faces a shortage of capable political leaders. Considered as an insult, Boshab’s attempt didn’t fly well in some Congolese intellectual circles, especial in the Congolese political opposition. They swiftly counter-argued that Boshab’s case was a strategy aimed at prolonging Kabila’s political horizon. Aware of what might happen Congolese politicians went on the offensive, examining and counter-arguing any proposal tangentially related to the proposed constitutional revision.

It is not a secret that Kabila has toyed with the idea of staying in power. In the hope of learning something from Blaise Compaoré’s political maneuvering, he dispatched his emissaries to Burkina Faso in October 2014 to witness how constitutional revision was “tactfully” conducted in order to stretch presidential limits. Of course, that did not go as well, we all know what happened to Blaise Compaoré. The Burkinabe people drove him out of the country from the back door. Incidentally, as the Burkina Farso saga was unfolding, Congolese were wondering whether they could learn something from the Burkinabe people. It appears that Kabila learned that a full constitutional revision was out of the question. And the Congolese people learned that they could put up a fight, if the political majority sought a constitutional revision to accommodate Kabila.

Thus, elected twice in 2006 and 2011, Kabila is not longer eligible to run for the highest office in the DRC. It is also pertinent to remember that Kabila has been leading the Congo since 2002, seeking a third term is conterminous with saying that no other Congolese is capable of leading the Congolese people. Realizing that the Congolese people have no stomach for a full-blown constitutional revision, the same Evarist Boshab wrote a bill proposing to modify the electoral law. As the parliament began debating the bill on January 19, Congolese took their voices to the street. At the heart of the debate about the bill proposing modifications of the electoral law stood the infamous Article 8. That article proposed that the presidential elections be conditioned by a general census and identification of Congolese living in the Congo and abroad as well as expatriates living in the Congolese territory. General elections are scheduled for the end of 2016 and the Congolese government is only now proposing to count its people and foreigners residing in the Congo. For the DRC, a gigantic and impoverished country with inadequate technical and administrative infrastructures, a general census could take years. Some have estimated between three to four years. That means that if such a law passed, the Kabila government would stay in power in order to ostensibly carry out the census.

Objecting to a potential third run by Joseph Kabila, Congolese descended on the streets, while political leaders debated the bill proposing modifications to the electoral law in the parliament. After three days of violent protest, the Congolese parliament passed a modified version of the proposed electoral law. The provision of the law stipulates a general census, and the identification of Congolese living abroad as well as expatriates living in the Congo was changed to the collection of available demographic data. At least now the electoral law does not subordinate the presidential elections to a monumental general census. The demographic data will be collected through voters registration. In this way the country will not have to spend invaluable time and resources in numbering Congolese who will not be voting by choice or by ineligibility. At least now the Congolese 2016 presidential elections are still in the realm of possibility. But I have a hunch that the debate is not over yet. Even though the venomous language of Article 8 in Boshab’s bill has been watered down, and some Congolese protesters have chanted victory songs, I believe the fight is not over yet. So long as Kabila doesn’t clearly explain whether he intends to seek reelection in the 2016, tensions will persist in the in the Congolese political landscape.

HIS ACCIDENCY

Observers of the African Great lakes region would certainly attest that exogenous forces rather than Kabila’s IQ and political shrewdness facilitated Kabila’s ascendance and maintenance in power. By any analysis Kabila is an accidental president. We remember too well how on January 18, 2002 the then thirty-year old Joseph Kabila was secretly sworn in as the new president of the DRC. Two days earlier his father, Laurent Désiré Kabila, the president of the DRC, had been brutally assassinated in his palace in Kinshasa, allegedly by Rachidi Kasereka, his personal bodyguard. It has been argued that the choice of Joseph Kabila to replace his father was a strategic move from Kabila’s entourage and other external interests. The DRC had been in a second civil war since August 1998 and the sudden death of Laurent Kabila created the risk of worsening the crisis, which by then had already claimed the deaths of approximately 2.5 millions Congolese, while millions of others were internally displaced or were seeking asylum in neighboring countries. I am willing to make the case that in 2002 a combination of external interests saw in the young Joseph Kabila a potential leader for the “stability” of the African Great Lakes region, not necessarily for the wellbeing of the Congolese people.

Unfortunately, once again the future of the Congolese people might depend more on exogenous forces than on endogenous ones. However, it appears this time that Congolese are willing to put up a fight. “Have we learned something from Burkina Faso?” some Congolese have asked. While certain opposition leaders such as Vital Kamerhe (from the Kivu and former collaborator of Joseph Kabila) have cautioned about the possibility that Congo might find itself in the vortex of a generalized conflict if it doesn’t learn from Burkina Faso. Some representatives of the political majority, such as Francis Kalombo, had made the case that the DRC was historically, politically and socially different from Burkina Faso to expect similar outcomes. It is true that the DRC and the Burkina Faso are different; still the desire to manipulate legal provisions in order to overstay in power is the same. And when people are fed up, they will take to the street.

I have often heard Congolese intellectuals claims that “we are not a subspecies of humans. We are fully capable of governing ourselves if they leave us the heck alone”. This statement represents a profound sense of frustration in the Congolese psyche, dating back to the time Leopold II owned and disposed of the Congo, its people and its riches as his private property. Since then the Congolese political reality has been heavily subjected to exogenous factors. Prime Minister Patrice Lumumba’s assassination, Mobutu Sese Seko serving the Cold War cause, Laurent Kabila acting like the show man for Paul Kagame and Yoweri Museveni, and now Joseph Kabila serving for the “stability” of the Great Lakes region at the expense of the Congolese people. It is pertinent to wonder if the next Congolese president will follow his/her (wishful thinking, the DRC is not ready for a female president yet) predecessors’ footsteps.

It is not impossible that Kabila stubbornly seeks a third term - I’d rather say a fourth term since Kabila has been leading the Congo for the last 13 years. But I believe there are strong indications that Kabila go on with this push: 1) He has no guts to openly trample Article 220 of the constitution, 2) he has failed to incite an “electoral sliding”, and 3) perhaps more importantly for Kabila, he his experiencing signs of political defections.

Kabila will not be able to mess with Article 220 of the Congolese constitution. Though often criticized for its lack of unity and backbone, the Congolese political opposition has done a colossal job of warning the Congolese people about the pertinence of Article 220. Political opposition leaders such as Victal Kamerhe have incessantly insisted that Article 220 is off limits in any conversation regarding constitutional revision. A president can only serve two terms, they have insisted.

“Electoral sliding” through a modification of the electoral law has forced radical resistance, as last week’s violent protests have shown. And more pertinently, important figures in Kabila’s political coalition are beginning to go against the grain. For instance there are credible rumors that the national deputy Francis Kalombo, a vocal supporter of Kabila and member of the political majority, has gone to exile in Europe, possibly France. Members of Kabila’s political party, the PPRD have been beaten and jailed for publicly speaking in support of the immutability of Article 220. And the most famous member of Kabila’s entourage, Moise Katumbi, a wealthy businessman, president of the legendary Congolese football team, Mazembe, and governor of Katanga, has publicly suggested distancing himself from Joseph Kabila.

AT THE CROSSROAD

In today’s Congolese politics Moise Katumbi is the most effective political leader. An accomplished businessman, Katumbi brought his managerial skills and experience to the region of Katanga. During his tenure roads have been paved, schools have been rehabilitated, the worn down Kasumbalesa border office, between Zambia and the Congo, has been transformed into an ultramodern administrative infrastructure for efficient processing of goods and people on the border. Based on his record Moise Katumbi would be a formidable presidential contender. Recently there had been allegations that Katumbi was poisoned; for three months or so he was abroad, supposedly undergoing medical treatment. When Katumbi returned home to his beloved Katanga in December 2014, speaking in public for the first time, he used a soccer analogy to describe his political positioning, or repositioning to be correct. Katumbi said that there had been two false penalties to which we did not react. Now they were seeking a third false penalty. “On this one we will react.” Most people, if not everybody, who follow Congolese politics interpreted Katumbi’s third penalty analogy as Kabila’s attempt to seek a third term, the two first false penalty being Kabila’s two terms, outcomes of controversial elections.

Another potential problem for Kabila is the conditional release of Jean-Pierre Bemba, the Congolese businessman turned rebel, senator, and vice-president on January 23, 2015. The International Criminal Court (ICC) indicted Jean-Pierre Bemba under the allegation that his troops, while soldering for Ange Felix Patase in the Central African Republic, had committed criminal acts, including allegations of cannibalism. While traveling to Portugal Jean-Pierre Bemba was arrested and jailed at The Hague. He was held responsible for crimes committed by his troops in a foreign land. While criminal acts were committed by Jean-Pierre Bemba’s troupes in the Central African Republic, I have always suspected that that the ICC, in its infinite wisdom and majestic selectivity, indicted Bemba to give leverage room to Joseph Kabila. The evidence used to jail Bemba is circumstantial at best, when compared, for example, to the trail of evidence linking Paul Kagame to atrocities committed both in Rwanda and in eastern Congo. Yet the ICC hasn’t indicted Paul Kagame. For me the release of Jean-Pierre Bemba is an indication that exogenous forces are once again at the center of the DRC political future. Without sounding conspirational, it is worth to assk: Is Jean-Pierre Bemba being released now just in time for him to join the debate about the 2016 presidential elections?

The DRC may not be ready for a civilian and ultra-nationalistic president. Considering the level of militarization of the country, the recent history of armed conflicts and the interest in the general stability of the African Great Lakes region, I am willing to bet my money on a candidate who has a military background and has shown minimal nationalistic inclination. A candidate like Jean-Pierre Bemba would fit the bill. Even though Moise Katumbi has the class and a business-like mind, I wonder whether he can withstand military factions in order to consolidate power.

The Congo is at a pertinent crossroads of its history. Since its independence in 1960, there has never been a peaceful regime transition. Joseph Kabila has the opportunity to set the Congo on the right path. Most Congolese hope that Kabila pronounces himself on the question of the 2016 presidential race. Hence, for Kabila the question is to run or not to run for 2016. Certainly this question is critical for Kabila’s political entourage, especially considering that in the Congo politics is largely a zero-sum game. Once powerful political contenders have lost they risk losing political relevance and the lofty advantages that come with it. What would they do if they lose? Will they break down in armed factions and seek to re-conquer power by force? What happens in Congolese politics in the next two years may have profound implications for the Great Lakes region. The Congo is at a critical crossroads of its history.

* Patrick Litanga is a Congolese PhD student at American University in Washington DC.

* THE VIEWS OF THE ABOVE ARTICLE ARE THOSE OF THE AUTHOR/S AND DO NOT NECESSARILY REFLECT THE VIEWS OF THE PAMBAZUKA NEWS EDITORIAL TEAM

* BROUGHT TO YOU BY PAMBAZUKA NEWS

* Please do not take Pambazuka for granted! Become a Friend of Pambazuka and make a donation NOW to help keep Pambazuka FREE and INDEPENDENT!

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Will the Greek elections strengthen the hands of the Global South?

Alexander O'Riordan

2015-01-27

http://pambazuka.net/en/category/features/93815


cc Wiki
The endorsement of a leftist party is a vote against global lenders imposing governance prescriptions on countries in crisis. If Greece successfully pushes back against its lenders, it will open the door to countries of the Global South to restructure their relationships with lenders such as the World Bank and IMF.
This week Greece elected into power the left-wing political party, Syriza, headed by Alexis Tsipras, who led the party to victory on an anti-austerity ticket, thus rattling financial markets by raising the spectre of a Greek exit from the Eurozone and snubbing the European Union (EU), European Central Bank (ECB) and International Monetary Fund troika of lenders to Greece. As it turns out, I happen to be in Brussels this week, the city where the EU has its headquarters. The word on the decidedly gloomy streets of Brussels is that Greece’s election result will have a potentially seismic impact, first and foremost, because it is an endorsement to reject the terms of Greece’s loans with international lenders.

Since the 2007 financial crisis, Greece has held to a public policy that is all about austerity, or in lay man’s speak, cutting back expenditure, freezing hiring, reducing salaries, retrenching workers and shrinking social benefits. Eight years into the fallout from the financial crisis, Greece is tired of being told what to do by its lenders. More importantly, there is a growing and deep sense of shame and humiliation about the perceived loss of sovereignty to international lenders that shaped the election results. For this reason, the Greek election is not only important for Greece but also for any country, including those in the global South, that has sacrificed its sovereignty in the name of concessional loans from international lenders.

The 2007 financial crisis saw the emergence of a hawkish and somewhat patronising consensus on the profligacy of irresponsible elected leaders. The prevailing narrative held that the economic devastation arising from the financial crisis was less about the deception and corruption of the international financial system and more about countries shirking their responsibilities to pay for their mistakes. The PIIGS countries of Portugal, Ireland, Italy, Greece and Spain were lambasted for spending beyond their means with the only recipe for recovery comprising less social spending and increased taxes.

Eight years later, countries like Ireland - again the fastest growing economy in Europe - have proven that austerity can work, but the subtle qualifier is that austerity only works if there is political support for it. What is happening in Greece is not at all about whether austerity can work on its own, but rather about whether imposed prescriptions are ever viable.

To be clear, Ireland’s population voted for and supported austerity, however begrudgingly, and that is why it worked. In Greece, the electorate is saying they do not want it and for that reason it has no chance of working. So what this is about, more than anything else, is the viability of global lenders imposing governance prescriptions on countries in crisis. In this regard, if Greece successfully pushes back against its lenders, it will open the door to countries from Jamaica to Ukraine to restructure their relationships with lenders such as the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF).

If there is one thing to pay attention to in this emerging space, it will be the politics embedded in the technical. International lenders will assert that this is about irresponsible countries wanting to continue borrowing without having to repay their debts, but this is not at all what is at stake. What is at stake is who gets to decide what needs to be done to fix national economies?

No matter how much economic hawks portray Greece as being an undisciplined and stroppy borrower, what Greece is really saying is that its own leaders and electorate know best how to manage its own economy. The politics then is about whether Greece has the right to find its own solutions or not. Here it is essential to keep in mind that just because Ireland agreed to the need for austerity does not mean that austerity works in and of itself, as testified by the results of this Greek election and the Zombie Italian and Spanish economies too.

The mainstream press, furthermore, has fundamentally underestimated how politically potent this narrative of national solutions over internationally proffered ones is. As importantly, the mainstream press has also underestimated the power heavily indebted countries like Greece have.

Greece owes €240 billion to the EU. Now that Greece has the political endorsement to do so, it can quite legitimately threaten the EU with an intentional default. Put more plainly, with this election result Greece is saying that unless the EU gets out of micro-managing their country, it will not repay the monies loaned. No matter the cost for Greece, even hawks like Germany will do whatever they can to get the country to continue repaying. And in this regard, the Greek elections will also set the tone globally in terms of defining how much power borrowers have.

Herein lies the crux: most of the press places the bulk of the power with the borrowers and has not recognised the power that borrowers have simply because of the size of outstanding loans. There is a saying that goes, ‘borrow R100,000 from the bank and the bank owns you, but borrow R100 million and you own the bank’. If the Greeks are successful at communicating how much power they have, it will create a fundamentally changed global environment in which indebted developing countries will have a much stronger argument to push back on global lenders.

At the same time, if Greece is successfully able to continue borrowing, but on its own terms, it will undermine the assertion that the World Bank knows best. Such a move would fundamentally alter international relations because the real power these international borrowers have is less so in the funds they lend and more so in their almost hegemonic control of the international policy space. More than anything else, the World Bank sets agendas and is an undisputed ‘thought leader’ on the global stage. It attracts the best talent, finances the biggest and most important studies and disseminates its message more effectively than any other global actor. Whether it is climate change or health systems, the World Bank has likely already done the study and controls the best data available to make evidence based policy recommendations.

The Greek election is as much about renegotiating a loan as it is about the supremacy of the international architecture over national, country specific solutions. With the global economy finally starting to recover and the ECB finally answering calls to relax austerity measures in launching quantitative easing, it may very well be the case that there is a reduced appetite to aggressively pursue austerity in Greece. If this happens, it could be an important opening for the global South to push back on the perceived authority and superiority of institutions like the World Bank and International Monetary Fund.

*Alexander O'Riordan is an Aid Effectiveness and Donor Funding Researcher. This article was first published by the South Africa Civil Society Information Service.

* THE VIEWS OF THE ABOVE ARTICLE ARE THOSE OF THE AUTHOR/S AND DO NOT NECESSARILY REFLECT THE VIEWS OF THE PAMBAZUKA NEWS EDITORIAL TEAM

* BROUGHT TO YOU BY PAMBAZUKA NEWS

* Please do not take Pambazuka for granted! Become a Friend of Pambazuka and make a donation NOW to help keep Pambazuka FREE and INDEPENDENT!

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


SYRIZA's 40-point program

2015-01-27

http://pambazuka.net/en/category/features/93824


cc DT
Here is the official program of the Greek coalition of the radical left, SYRIZA, which won the elections this week.

1. Audit of the public debt and renegotiation of interest due and suspension of payments until the economy has revived and growth and employment return.

2. Demand the European Union to change the role of the European Central Bank so that it finances states and programs of public investment.

3. Raise income tax to 75% for all incomes over 500,000 euros.

4. Change the election laws to a proportional system.

5. Increase taxes on big companies to that of the European average.

6. Adoption of a tax on financial transactions and a special tax on luxury goods.

7. Prohibition of speculative financial derivatives.

8. Abolition of financial privileges for the Church and shipbuilding industry.

9. Combat the banks' secret [measures] and the flight of capital abroad.

10. Cut drastically military expenditures.

11. Raise minimum salary to the pre-cut level, 750 euros per month.

12. Use buildings of the government, banks and the Church for the homeless.

13. Open dining rooms in public schools to offer free breakfast and lunch to children.

14. Free health benefits to the unemployed, homeless and those with low salaries.

15. Subvention up to 30% of mortgage payments for poor families who cannot meet payments.

16. Increase of subsidies for the unemployed. Increase social protection for one-parent families, the aged, disabled, and families with no income.

17. Fiscal reductions for goods of primary necessity.

18. Nationalisation of banks.

19. Nationalisation of ex-public (service & utilities) companies in strategic sectors for the growth of the country (railroads, airports, mail, water).

20. Preference for renewable energy and defence of the environment.

21. Equal salaries for men and women.

22. Limitation of precarious hiring and support for contracts for indeterminate time.

23. Extension of the protection of labour and salaries of part-time workers.

24. Recovery of collective (labour) contracts.

25. Increase inspections of labour and requirements for companies making bids for public contracts.

26. Constitutional reforms to guarantee separation of church and state and protection of the right to education, health care and the environment.

27. Referendums on treaties and other accords with Europe.

28. Abolition of privileges for parliamentary deputies. Removal of special juridical protection for ministers and permission for the courts to proceed against members of the government.

29. Demilitarisation of the Coast Guard and anti-insurrectional special troops. Prohibition for police to wear masks or use fire arms during demonstrations. Change training courses for police so as to underline social themes such as immigration, drugs and social factors.

30. Guarantee human rights in immigrant detention centres.

31. Facilitate the reunion of immigrant families.

32. Depenalisation of consumption of drugs in favor of battle against drug traffic. Increase funding for drug rehab centres.

33. Regulate the right of conscientious objection in draft laws.

34. Increase funding for public health up to the average European level.(The European average is 6% of GDP; in Greece 3%.)

35. Elimination of payments by citizens for national health services.

36. Nationalisation of private hospitals. Elimination of private participation in the national health system.

37. Withdrawal of Greek troops from Afghanistan and the Balkans. No Greek soldiers beyond our own borders.

38. Abolition of military cooperation with Israel. Support for creation of a Palestinian state within the 1967 borders.

39. Negotiation of a stable accord with Turkey.

40. Closure of all foreign bases in Greece and withdrawal from NATO.

* The program was translated from the daily bulletin of Italy’s Communist Refoundation Party. The text was first translated by and posted at The Greanville Post.


Why are we afraid of naming and confronting capitalism?

Ajamu Nangwaya

2015-01-14

http://pambazuka.net/en/category/features/93712


c c TG
Many critics of capitalism suggest that capitalism is not the main problem in the world. They do not want to appear, in the eyes of the people and the ruling elite, as too radical or ‘ideological’. But the forces for social change must embrace revolutionary engagement with robust ideological clarity: Capitalism is the problem.
"The ideological deficiency, not to say the total lack of ideology, within the national liberation movements — which is basically due to ignorance of the historical reality which these movements claim to transform — constitutes one of the greatest weaknesses of our struggle against imperialism, if not the greatest weakness of all." - Amilcar Cabral [1]

What is it about the term ‘capitalism’ that inspires many of us to not call its name in vain and in the public square? Why is it that many of us will openly and forcefully critique ‘classism’ but enthusiastically shy away from condemning capitalism in the same way? After all, we do publicly name and slam racism, homophobia or heterosexism, ageism, patriarchy or sexism and ableism. How effective will we be in organising and rallying the oppressed against economic exploitation without naming the system that is brutalising the majority?

It is rather telling that Occupy Wall Street’s (OWS) first public document studiously refrained from explicitly naming the system that is the source of economic exploitation and domination:

‘As we gather together in solidarity to express a feeling of mass injustice, we must not lose sight of what brought us together. We write so that all people who feel wronged by the corporate forces of the world can know that we are your allies.’[2]

Some of the oppressive facts of the economic system outlined in Occupy Wall Street’s Declaration of the Occupation of New York City can be reformed, in the eyes of many people, without destroying capitalism. Therefore, most participants and supporters of the Occupy Movement did not see their embrace of its ‘We are the 99%’ slogan as an indictment of capitalism:

‘…the results of our 453 interviews at seven Occupy locations indicate that OWS movement demands are not mutually incompatible with capitalism. Moreover, for the most part, the OWS movement is neither calling for abolishing capitalism, nor is it demanding a massive overhaul of capitalism as an economic system -- less than 5% of all the respondents we interviewed in the seven Occupy locations made any reference to ending, abolishing or getting rid of capitalism. Instead, the key demands we kept hearing in this regard are: elimination of corporate personhood; the need for campaign finance reform and getting money out of politics.’[3]

There were other voices early on in the movement who realized that many supporters of this protest movement had no grievance with capitalism, but were upset with ‘corporate greed’ or the excesses of the ‘corporate forces.’ Ha-Joon Chang, an open supporter of capitalism had this to say about the London occupiers, ‘It is routinely described as anti-capitalist, but this label is highly misleading. As I found out when I gave a lecture at its Tent City University last weekend, many of its participants are not against capitalism. They just want it better regulated so that it benefits the greatest possible majority.’[4] William Bowles noted Occupy Wall Street’s focus on ‘capitalist criminals rather than criminal capitalism’ as well as the general avoidance of mentioning ‘socialism’ ‘except from the tiny Left contribution itself.’[5]

The tenuous claim or perception of the Occupy Movement being ideologically committed to placing capitalism in the dustbin of history was promoted by many media outlets.[6] On the international front, the Occupy Movement was also seen as an entity with a strong anti-capitalist outlook.[7] It is quite instructive that a movement whose spokespersons did not indict capitalism as the perpetrator or ‘person of interest’ in the economic suffering of the working-class was still seen as an anti-capitalist phenomenon. This state of affairs speaks to the ‘ideological deficiency’ or lack of understanding of the nature of capitalism that exist in society.

Based on the manner in which some political progressives frame their critique of capitalism, one could reasonably form the opinion that there are benign or redeeming forms of capitalism. Let's make this clear, all forms of capitalism are unacceptable and revolting to justice, solidarity and equity.

There are moments when critics denounce ‘unfettered capitalism,’[8] ‘corporate capitalism,’[9] ‘crony capitalism,’[10] ‘finance or financial capitalism’[11] or ‘unregulated capitalism’[12] as the source of the current economic and social exploitation experienced by the masses or societies across the globe.

These erstwhile critics of capitalism are implicitly or unwittingly suggesting that capitalism is not the main problem. As such, the actual message being communicated to the people is that the derivative forms of this dog-eat-dog economic system are the real issues of concern to the people’s well-being.

Sam Gindin, former researcher director of the Canadian Auto Workers (now Unifor after a merger with the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada) and current adjunct professor, recently called attention to the above problem in his review of Naomi Klein’s book This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. The Climate:

‘Klein deserves enormous credit for putting capitalism in the dock. Yet she leaves too much wiggle room for capitalism to escape a definitive condemnation. There is already great confusion and division among social activists over what “anti-capitalism” means. For many if not most, it is not the capitalist system that is at issue but particular sub-categories of villains: big business, banks, foreign companies, multinationals.’

‘Klein is contradictory on this score. She seems clear enough in the analysis that pervades the book that it is capitalism, yet she repeatedly qualifies this position by decrying “the kind of capitalism we now have,” “neoliberal” capitalism, “deregulated” capitalism, “unfettered” capitalism, “predatory” capitalism, “extractive” capitalism, and so on. These adjectives undermine the powerful logic of Klein’s more convincing arguments elsewhere that the issue isn’t creating a better capitalism but confronting capitalism as a social system.’[13]

Many individuals and organizations have taken the above pragmatic approach to critiquing capitalism, because we do not want to come across, in the eyes of the people and the ruling elite, as too radical, irresponsible or ‘ideological’. In the case of the Occupy Movement, the use of its widely popular slogan ‘We are the 99%’ pandered to the ruling-class’s ideological bill of goods that Europe and North America are predominantly middle-class regions with the working-class being a minority.[14] The 99 per cent category feeds into the narrative of a largely middle-class population being confronted with greedy bosses and politicians who have deviated from the social and economic practices that defined the golden age (1945-1974) of the capitalist social welfare state.

With the capitalist ruling-class reduced to a mere 1 per cent of society and isolated as the spectre haunting the rest of us, the working-class and liberal petty bourgeoisie were not forced to confront and interrogate their own ideological support for capitalism. The ruling-class has imposed its economic and political ideologies onto the consciousness of the oppressed as natural, self-evident ways of seeing reality.

It is for the above reason 86 per cent of Americans could support the Occupy Movement’s position that lobbyists and the economic elite have too much influence in Washington, while 71 per cent of the people wanted the prosecution of business officials who caused the Great Recession, and 68 per cent of them desired the rich to pay more taxes[15] without being opposed to capitalism.

The Occupy Movement unwittingly advocated class collaboration by including members of the ruling-class within its 99 per cent category. In 2012, it was reported that the 1 per cent pulled in a yearly average income of $717,000 while those outside of that income bracket generated $51,000.[16] President Barack Obama is a member of the ruling-class but the combined 2012 income of he and Michelle Obama totaled $608,611.[17] The employment income levels of the American Supreme Court justices, the Vice-President and members of Congress are below $300,000.[18] Are we to believe that Obama, the Supreme Court judges and most of the politicians in Congress are members of the 99 per cent?

If we use net worth to determine inclusion within the 1 per cent, many members of capitalist ruling groups would find themselves within the 99 per cent. The 2010 average net worth of the 1 per cent stood at $16.4 million[19], while the median net worth of the members of the House of Representatives and the Senate came in at $1,008,767 in 2012.[20] The Obamas’ net worth was estimated at $1.8 – $6.8 million in 2012.[21] Some members of Congress are clearly within the top 1 per cent of wealthy Americans.

It is only an uncritical grasp of political economy or an underdeveloped class analysis that would put Barack Obama, the Supreme Court justices, all members of Congress and even many chief executive officers within the ranks of Fanon’s ‘wretched of the earth’. How is it possible for the political and economic foxes of American capitalism (ruling-class elements) to be placed in the same henhouse as the chickens (the 99%)? We do not need to wonder about the identity of the group that is going to end up as breakfast, lunch or dinner in such a Kumbaya-like scenario!

Many progressive individuals and organizations seek acceptance as credible voices or representatives of the people in their attempt to get a seat at the negotiation table of the oppressors. There are political actors who are infatuated with the common sense adage ‘You can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.’ Therefore, they will not publicly name and confront capitalism as a system of class exploitation and economic oppression in the global North. It is foolhardy of individuals and organizations that want social change to crave the blessings of the forces of oppression by throwing ideological softballs at capitalism and other systems of domination.

The above path will only lead to collaboration, betrayal and the undermining of movements for social emancipation. It is fundamentally necessary to speak truth to power and the powerless, because it is needed in our organising, mobilising and educational work to end capitalist exploitation. Further, the agents of revolutionary transformation ought to play the long game, and not ponder to opportunism and pragmatic politics.

In many, if not most, social movement organisations, there is a tendency to give insufficient attention to the systematic ideological development of their members. In order to get around the low level of class analysis or understanding of capitalism, it is necessary to organise study groups to correct this area of ideological deficiency. Furthermore, the public education work that is carried out with and among socially dominated groups ought to develop creative ways to foster class consciousness, class solidarity and a sound understanding of capitalism.

The forces for social change ought to approach the process of revolutionary engagement with the oppressed with disciplined patience, robust ideological clarity and an infatuation with truth-telling. They must be clear in their understanding and articulation of the basic fact that capitalism is the problem as expressed below by the Black Left Unity Network (notwithstanding the reference to the 1%):

‘The Black left is fighting on all fronts against all forms of oppression. A central point of unity is that all of our struggles can advance only to the extent that we mount a full assault on the capitalist system. Capitalism is the basis for the 1% control of this society and the source of our misery.’[22]

* Ajamu Nangwaya, Ph.D., is an educator and an organiser. He is an organiser with the Network for the Elimination of Police Violence and Campaign to End the Occupation of Haiti.

END NOTES

[1] Amilcar Cabral, ‘The Weapon of Theory,’ Marxist.org, January 1966. Accessed January 4, 2015, https://www.marxists.org/subject/africa/cabral/1966/weapon-theory.htm

[2] Occupy Wall Street, ‘Declaration of the Occupation of New York City,’ Occupy Wall Street, September 29, 2011. Accessed January 4, 2015, http://occupywallstreet.net/policy/declaration-occupation-new-york-city

[3] Ali Hayat, “Capitalism, Democracy and the Occupy Wall Street Movement,” Huffington Post, November 29, 2011. Accessed January 4, 2015, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ali-hayat/occupy-wall-street-capitalism_b_1119247.html

[4] Ha-Joon Chang, ‘Anti-capitalist? Too simple. Occupy can be the catalyst for a radical rethink,’ The Guardian, November 15, 2011. Accessed January 4, 2015, http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2011/nov/15/anti-capitalist-occupy-pigeonholing

[5] John Bowles, ‘Can Capitalism be Reformed? Occupy Wall Street Movement (OWS) in a Bind: Doesn’t Want to Mention the S-Word,’ Global Research, October 30, 2011. Accessed January 4, 2015, http://www.globalresearch.ca/can-capitalism-be-reformed-occupy-wall-street-movement-ows-in-a-bind-doesn-t-want-to-mention-the-s-word/27371

[6] Zaid Jilani, ‘Memo To The Media: It’s Not ‘Anti-Capitalist’ To Protest An Industry That Was Saved By Trillions Of Taxpayer Dollars,’ ThinkProgress, October 4, 2011, Access January 5, 2015, http://thinkprogress.org/media/2011/10/04/335360/not-anti-capitalist-to-protest-wall-street/

[7] Adam Gabbatt, Mark Townsend and Lisa O'Carroll, ‘'Occupy' anti-capitalism protests spread around the world,’ The Observer, October 15, 2011. Accessed January 4, 2015, http://www.theguardian.com/world/2011/oct/16/occupy-protests-europe-london-assange;

[8] John Nichols, ‘The Pope Versus Unfettered Capitalism,’ The Nation, November 30, 2013. Accessed January 5, 2015, http://www.thenation.com/blog/177414/pope-versus-unfettered-capitalism#

[9] Ralph Nader, ‘The Myths of Big Corporate Capitalism,’ Common Dreams, July 12, 2014. Accessed http://www.commondreams.org/views/2014/07/12/myths-big-corporate-capitalism

[10] Nicholas Christoff, ‘Unrest in Indonesia: The Roots; Suharto's Stealthy Foe: Globalizing Capitalism,’ New York Times, May 20, 1998. Accessed January 5, 2015, http://www.nytimes.com/1998/05/20/world/unrest-in-indonesia-the-roots-suharto-s-stealthy-foe-globalizing-capitalism.html

[11] Michael A. Peters, ‘The Crisis of Finance Capitalism and the Exhaustion of Neoliberalism,’ Truthout, July 21, 2013. Accessed January 5, 2015, http://www.truth-out.org/opinion/item/17536-the-crisis-of-finance-capitalism-and-the-exhaustion-of-neoliberalism

[12] Paul Buchheit, ‘5 Ways That Raw, Unregulated Capitalism Is Acting Like a Cancer on American Society,’ AlterNet, May 5, 2013. Accessed January 5, 2015, http://www.alternet.org/economy/5-ways-raw-unregulated-capitalism-acting-cancer-american-society; Joseph E. Stiglitz, ‘The evils of unregulated capitalism,’ Al Jazeera, July 10, 2011. Accessed January 5, 2015, http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2011/07/20117714241429793.html

[13] Sam Gindin, ‘When History Knocks,’ Jacobins, December 30, 2014. Accessed January 5, 2015, https://www.jacobinmag.com/2014/12/naomi-klein-capitalism/

[14] Mario Pezzini, ‘An Emerging Middle Class,’ OECD Observer, 2012. Accessed January 5, 2015, http://www.oecdobserver.org/news/fullstory.php/aid/3681/An_emerging_middle_class.html

[15] Time Magazine, ‘Topline Results of Oct. 9-10, 2011, TIME Poll,’ Time. Accessed January 4, 2015, http://swampland.time.com/full-results-of-oct-9-10-2011-time-poll/

[16] Alan Dunn, ‘Average America vs the One Percent,’ Forbes, March 21, 2012. Accessed January 5, 2015, http://www.forbes.com/sites/moneywisewomen/2012/03/21/average-america-vs-the-one-percent/

[17] Daily Mail Reporter, ‘Obama's income has plummeted from $5million a year to just $481,000 since becoming President,’ Daily Mail, April 12, 2014. Accessed January 5, 2015, http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2603135/Obamas-income-plummeted-President-tax-return-shows.html

[18] Robert Longley, ‘Annual Salaries of Top US Government Officials,’ About News. Accessed January 5, 2015, http://usgovinfo.about.com/od/governmentjobs/a/Annual-Salaries-Of-Top-Us-Government-Officials.htm; James Rowley, ‘Federal Judges in U.S. See $25,000 More as Salary Freeze Falls,’ Bloomberg, January 13, 2014. Accessed January 5, 2015, http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-01-13/federal-judges-in-u-s-see-25-000-more-as-salary-freeze-falls.html

[19] Tami Luhby, ‘The wealthy are 288 times richer than you,’ CNN, September 11, 2012. Accessed January 5, 2015, http://money.cnn.com/2012/09/11/news/economy/wealth-net-worth/

[20] Eric Lipton, ‘Half of Congress Members Are Millionaires, Report Says,’ New York Times, January 9, 2014, Accessed January 5, 2015, http://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/10/us/politics/more-than-half-the-members-of-congress-are-millionaires-analysis-finds.html

[21] Associate Press, ‘Obama Net Worth Between $1.8M And $6.8M, Owes Money On Mortgage On Chicago Home,’ Huffington Post, May 15, 2013. Accessed January 5, 2015, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/05/15/obama-net-worth_n_3281555.html; Erin Carlyle, ‘Obama's Worth Nearly $6 Million -- See Why He's Down Since Last Year,’ Forbes, May 16, 2012. Accessed January 5, 2015, http://www.forbes.com/sites/erincarlyle/2012/05/16/obamas-worth-nearly-6-million-see-why-hes-down-since-last-year/

[22] Black Left Unity Network, ‘Draft Manifesto for Black Liberation,’ Black Left Unity. Accessed January 5, 2015, http://www.blunblog.org/2015/01/all-concerned-blackfolk-are-invited-to.html

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World Bank-ruptcy

The moral bankruptcy of the World Bank in Ethiopia

Alemayehu G. Mariam

2015-01-28

http://pambazuka.net/en/category/features/93825


c c Wiki
The World Bank proclaims its mission is to strive to end extreme poverty at the global level and promote shared prosperity. But a leaked report reveals a conspiracy of silence to cover up crimes against humanity committed against the Anuak people in Ethiopia with the complicity of the World Bank itself.

Ethiopians have been the object of a cruel bureaucratic joke by the World Bank. Last week, an official investigative report surfaced online showing World Bank bureaucrats in Ethiopia have been playing ‘Deception Games’ of displacement, deracination, forced resettlement and a kinder and gentler form of ethnic cleansing in the Gambella region of Western Ethiopia. Tens of thousands of Anuaks in Gambella have been removed illegally and in violation of policy from their ancestral homelands and left high and dry and twisting in the wind, courtesy and cash of the World Bank!

For years, the fat cat World Bank bureaucrats and their ilk in Ethiopia have categorically denied allegations of any links between the so-called ‘Protection of Basic Services Project’ (PBS) and the ‘villagization’ program undertaken by the Thugtatorship of the Tigrean Peoples Liberation Front (T-TPLF). (The term ‘villagization’ is a euphemism for ‘civilization’ of the Anuak to live in modern villages by abandoning their ‘primitive’ lifestyles.) The Bank has consistently deflected criticism by claiming that it ‘had not encountered any evidence of human rights abuses’ in its PBS programs in Gambella.

Stonewalling, sandbagging, mendacity and duplicity have been the preferred strategies of the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the UK’s Department for International Development and the so-called Development Assistance Group in Ethiopia (comprising of 27 bilateral and multilateral development agencies providing assistance to Ethiopia) when it comes to accountability for their complicity in crimes against humanity in Ethiopia. Sir Malcolm Bruce, chairman of the UK parliament's International Development Committee, had the audacity to declare in March 2013 that ‘allegations against villagisation are unsubstantiated’ and that the ‘UK programme is delivering a very good result.’

To paraphrase Abe Lincoln’s saying, ‘The World Bank and the gang of poverty pimps known as the “Development Assistance Group” (DAG) can fool all Ethiopians some of the time, and some Ethiopians all the time, but they can’t fool all Ethiopians all the time.’ But there is no denying that because of the Deception Games played by these leeches, ‘Ethiopians have been had! They been took! They been hoodwinked! Bamboozled! Led astray! Run amok!’, to paraphrase Malcom X. Ethiopians have been cruelly punked and pranked by the mighty, mighty World Bank.

So spoke the ‘Inspection Panel’ (IP), the World Bank’s independent accountability mechanism. The IP, of course, said it in the sanitized, detached and impersonal language of ‘bureaucratese’. They would never use the impassioned and fiery language of an outraged human rights advocate who is so perplexed in the extreme that he must speak out and loudly in the only language he knows, Moral Outrage. ‘Seal up the mouth of outrage for a while/ Till we can clear these ambiguities…’, wrote Shakespeare in Romeo and Juliet. I need not seal up my outrage because the World Bank’s own Inspection Panel has cleared all of the ambiguities for me!

In September 2012, two dozen or so Ethiopian refugees from the Gambella Region of Western Ethiopia requested an investigation by the World Bank alleging that they had been forced off their land, ‘villagized’ and their ancestral lands handed over to land grabbers (investors). In a [url=]letter[/url] dated September 24, 2012, the unnamed Anuak refugees alleged that they had been severely harmed by the World Bank-financed ‘Ethiopia Protection of Basic Services Project (PBS)’ which directly supported the ‘Ethiopian Government’s Villagization Program in Gambella Region.’ Specifically,

1) ‘Through the PBS program, the Anuak Indigenous People are being forcibly transferred from their fertile ancestral land, which is then being leased to investors.’

2) ‘The Anuak have been relocated to infertile land, which is unsuitable for farming, and forced to build new villages there.’

3) ‘Mass evictions have been carried out under the pretext of providing better services and improving the livelihoods of the communities. However, once they moved to the new sites, they found not only unfertile land, but also no schools, clinics, wells or other basic services.’

4) ‘[The Anuak] were forced to abandon their crops just before harvest and were not given any food assistance from the government during the move, which left many relocated families facing hunger. Some vulnerable people and children died from starvation as a result of the Villagization program.

5) ‘Government workers in the woredas, whose salaries are paid by the PBS project, have been forced to implement this program.

6) ‘Those farmers who opposed the relocation, and government workers who refused to implement the program, including the Requesters and/or their relatives, have been targeted with arrest, beating, torture and killing.

7) ‘The Requesters believe that these harms have resulted from World Bank non-compliance with its operational policies and procedures.’

In 2012, Human Rights Watch issued a 115-page report entitled, “ ‘WAITING HERE FOR DEATH’: Displacement and ‘Villagization’ in Ethiopia’s Gambella Region. That report supported and vastly expanded on the Anuak allegations and documented acts and omissions of the various members of the Development Assistance Group in Ethiopia in the ‘villagization’ fiasco. The HRW report concluded:

‘The Ethiopian government is forcibly moving tens of thousands of indigenous people in the western Gambella region from their homes to new villages under its ‘villagization’ program. These population transfers are being carried out with no meaningful consultation and no compensation. Despite government promises to provide basic resources and infrastructure, the new villages have inadequate food, agricultural support, and health and education facilities. Relocations have been marked by threats and assaults, and arbitrary arrest for those who resist the move. The state security forces enforcing the population transfers have been implicated in at least 20 rapes in the past year. Fear and intimidation are widespread among affected populations.’

THE TRUTH ABOUT THE WORLD BANK’S CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY IN ETHIOPIA

The World Bank’s Inspection Panel undertook an investigation of the Anuak complaint and submitted its “OFFICIAL USE ONLY” report dated November 21, 2014, to the World Bank President, Executive Directors, Department Heads and others. The limited circulation “Investigative Report” mysteriously surfaced online for the whole world to find out the scope of dereliction of duty and depravity of the World Bank managers in Ethiopia and their bosses elsewhere.

The IP Report entitled ‘Ethiopia: Promoting Basic Services Phase III Project (P128891)’ enumerates findings that are absolutely shocking to the conscience. Using boldface print to underscore the gravity of its findings, the IP stated [I have used Roman numerals to identify specific findings and related particularized commentary below):

[Note to the reader: I ask my readers to try and read the following findings as stated in the IP's Report. It is likely that most readers will find the bureaucratic language confusing and hard to understand. I offer an “English translation” immediately following the official statement of findings.]

[I] … [T]he Panel finds that Management did not carry out the required full risk analysis, nor were its mitigation measures adequate to manage the concurrent roll-out of the villagization program in four PBS III regions. The Panel finds that Management’s approach did not meet the standards of a systematic or holistic assessment of risks, as called for in the Operational Risk Assessment Framework (ORAF) Guidance, which is aimed among other objectives at identifying adequate risk management measures for affected communities. The Panel finds these omissions in non-compliance with OMS 2.20 on Project Appraisal.

[II] … It is the view of the Panel that the lack of recognition and analysis during appraisal of the operational interface between PBS III and CDP as required by the ORAF and described above, meant that the resulting risks were not adequately taken into account, neither were they properly managed and mitigated during PBS III implementation.

[III] … The Panel finds that, barring the triggering of OP 4.10, Management should have adopted the “functional equivalence” approach in the design of PBS III… The Panel notes that livelihoods, well-being and access to basic services, which are closely tied to the Anuak’s access to land and natural resources was not taken into account in the design of PBS III, in non-compliance with OP 4.10.

[IV] … The Panel finds that, in accordance with Bank Policies, the operational interface between CDP and PBS should have been taken into account at the PBS project level, both during the appraisal and implementation phases, especially in a region such as Gambella where 60% of households, which are also PBS beneficiaries, were resettled as part of the Government’s CDP. The Panel finds that Management’s approach has not enabled PBS to mitigate or manage the harms described in the Request for Inspection with respect to access and quality of basic services in the agricultural sector and livelihoods of affected people in Gambella.

[V]… Since PBS III began implementation, three “Joint Review and Implementation Support” (JRIS) missions were undertaken, but the resulting reports are silent on the issues noted above. The Panel finds that this is not consistent with the supervision provisions of the Investment Lending Policy (OP/BP 10.00).

[VI]… The Panel finds that Management did not comply with the requirements of OMS 2.20 and OP/BP 10.02 in the design and appraisal of PBS III. The Panel notes that the Bank’s assertion that the funds can be tracked at the woreda level cannot be sustained.

[VII] … The Panel finds that, since PDO results indicators that directly address fiduciary risks were inadequate in the initial planning, and subsequently have not been adjusted, the supervision of those risks is not in compliance with Bank policy OP/BP 10.00.

THE INSPECTION PANEL’S REPORT IN SIMPLE ENGLISH

The language of bureaucrats is ‘bureaucratese’ or ‘officialese’. It is a special language filled with abstractions, jargon, buzzwords, fuzzwords, doublespeak, euphemisms, circumlocutions, obfuscations and acronyms. Bureaucratese is about vagueness, not clarity or directness. Bureaucratic reports are often stilted, convoluted, and indecipherable.

Simply stated, the accomplished practitioner of bureaucratese would never call a spade a spade. They would describe a spade as an implement with a sharp-edged, typically rectangular, metal blade riveted or pressure fitted into an elongated wooden or hardened plastic handle and used for, among other things, spreading manure; incidentally, an activity most bureaucrats are expert at doing.

[Some may find the IP’s Report and its findings a prime example of ‘bureaucratese’. Below is my ‘English translation’ of the bureaucratese in the Inspection Panel’s findings. Reference is made to the findings of the Inspection Panel’s findings above per Roman numerals.]

[I]. The World Bank management in Ethiopia and the overseers elsewhere implemented the PBS program with a devil-may-care attitude. The managers in Ethiopia were basically engaged in window dressing. They were going through the motions of implementing the program and putting on a show. The Bank’s managers did not give a rat’s ass about the effects or impact of the villagization program on the people of Gambella. They did not even look at their official policies and guidelines in assessing the risk of harmful impact on the Anuak people purportedly served by the PBS. By undertaking ‘concurrent rollout of the villagization program in four regions’, the mangers bit more than they could chew. By failing to comply with required Bank policies set forth in OMS 2.20 on Project Appraisal, the managers were one or more of the following: incompetent, lazy-ass, indifferent, reckless, callous, uncaring, unconcerned and morally and professionally depraved. They should get the boot right in their fat behinds!

[II]. The World Bank in-country program managers’ cluelessness about their responsibilities, their depraved indifference and lack of professional integrity is principally responsible for ignoring known and reasonably articulable and predictable risks of harm to the Anuak communities impacted by the PBS program. Once the harm became manifest and the Bank’s managers knew they had really screwed up things badly, they could not manage their mistakes or take corrective action because they were clueless about what they needed to do. So, they sat around twiddling their thumbs hoping no one will find out the big mess they made or expose their dereliction of duty, laughable ineptitude, indolence, lethargy and shiftlessness.

[III]. Even though the World Bank managers were clueless or willfully ignorant of the Bank’s OP 4.10 [which sets guidelines and policies to ensure the Bank’s programs’ fully respect people’s dignity, human rights, economies, and cultures], they could have still taken corrective action to improve the situation and minimize the harm on the Anuak communities by adopting a “functional equivalence” approach [which requires the managers to consult and seek broad community support from communities potentially impacted by the program, facilitating culturally appropriate benefit sharing, processes for complaints and dispute resolution and generally making sure indigenous peoples do not get the shaft.] Because of the failure of the Bank’s managers to follow standard policies or parallel guidelines of the Bank, the Anuak people of Gambella suffered harm which, among other things, deprived them of their rightful access to their ancestral lands and vital natural resources and inflicted upon them needless suffering.

[IV]. The World Bank managers in Ethiopia cannot chew gum and walk at the same time. Their right hand does not know what their left hand is doing. The World Bank’s Community Development Project seeks to provide sustainable ways of improving the living conditions and the economic status of disadvantaged communities by focusing on social and infrastructure development and improve access to basic education, health, and social services. PBS III in Gambella seeks to ‘strengthen the capacity, transparency, accountability and financial management of sub-national governments to provide such basic services as education, health, agriculture, water supply and sanitation and rural roads.’ Because the Bank’s mangers were sitting on their duffs and not doing their job of monitoring and coordinating the two programs, the people of Gambella were harmed in the ways the Anuak complainants alleged. Simply stated, as a result of the Bank managers’ dereliction of duty, the Anuak people were relocated to infertile land, forced to build new villages without schools, clinics, wells or other basic services. Most importantly, ‘Some vulnerable Anuak people and children died from starvation as a result of the Villagization program.’ Others who opposed the forced relocation of the Anuak under the World Bank program ‘have been targeted with arrest, beating, torture and killing.’ It seems like Pompei burning and Nero fiddling, except it is Gambella and the World Bank.

THERE IS BLOOD ON THE HANDS OF THE WORLD BANK MANAGERS IN ETHIOPIA!

[V]. There is a conspiracy of silence to cover up the crimes against humanity committed against the Anuak people in Ethiopia with the complicity of the World Bank itself. The ‘main objective of the [JRIS] Mission is to review implementation progress on all components of the project and provide implementation support.’ The World Bank gave $600 million for PBS III in September 2012. Three JRIS reviews were done since PBS III was implemented and all three ‘are silent on the issues’ of harm to the Anuak people. The World Bank’s “Investment Lending Policy (OP/BP 10.00)” provides detailed and elaborate policies, procedures and instructions with “particular attention to reviewing the monitoring by the Borrower or Project Participant(s) of the performance of the Project and compliance with contractual undertakings.” The World Bank managers were asleep at the switch in their duties or wilfully ignorant of the blatant and flagrant violations of the Bank’s policies with respect to investment lending and monitoring.

[VI]. The World Bank managers in Ethiopia lied through their teeth, told tall tales when they said the Bank’s money could be tracked at the woreda level. The World Bank’s OMS 2.20 requires the Bank, among other things, to ensure that financed activities are consistent with a borrower’s international agreements regarding its environment and the health and well-being of its citizens.” OP/BP 10.02 requires the Bank “during project implementation, [to have its] financial management staff review the continuing adequacy of the financial management arrangements.”

The Bank’s managers in Ethiopia were clueless of or wilfully indifferent to these important responsibilities. The “Woredas” constitute the third level (after regions and zones) in the country’s “decentralized administrative structure”. The “Woredas” are a well-known den of corruption. It is the “Woreda Councils” that delivered a 99.6 percent electoral victory to the T-TPLF in 2010. Yet, the World Bank managers in Ethiopia have opted to abdicate their own duties and professionalism and blindly rely on the integrity and financial skills of benighted Woreda officials to fulfill their own fiduciary responsibilities. (What were they thinking? Strike that question!)

[VII]. [This finding is the most interesting and astounding one from the standpoint of financial accountability.] The World Bank’s managers in Ethiopia made no effort to protect the Bank’s money from corruption. That is what the phrase “inadequate initial planning to address fiduciary risks” means. The World Bank has policies (OP/BP 10.00) and analytical tools (Public Expenditure and Financial Accountability (PEFA)) to safeguard against corruption in recipient states. Even though these policies and tools do not comprehensively address corruption risks, it is generally considered that planning, monitoring and conducting such assessments has a positive impact on the recipient countries. The World Bank mangers in Ethiopia dropped the ball big time on safeguarding against “fiduciary risks” (corruption) in PBS III!

I am no stranger to the machinations of the World Bank and the Unholy Alliance of International Poverty Pimps known as the Under- “Development Assistance Group.” I have studied their reports and scrutinized their policies, operational guidelines, manuals, public statements and other publications for quite some time now. I can say I have some general familiarity with their policies, practices and activities in Ethiopia.

I imagine I am probably the only person (other than the authors) who has read and re-read multiple times the World Bank’s 417-page report “Diagnosing Corruption in Ethiopia”. In fact, I have read that report so many times that I am embarrassed to admit the actual number in public. I used that report to write so many commentaries on corruption in various sectors of the Ethiopian economy and to criticize the Empire of Corruption of the T-TPLF.

I will admit that corruption report was a breath of fresh air. I have not seen a World Bank report of corruption of such breadth and depth on any other country. If one exists, I would like to know. I was inspired and even grateful to the World Bank for doing right by the people of Ethiopia for a change and telling the truth about the Empire of Corruption built and maintained by the T-TPLF. I really believed “Diagnosing Corruption” heralded a new era of transparency and accountability at the World Bank.

I am not accusing all World Bank employees in Ethiopia or others elsewhere who oversee the Bank’s Programs in that country. There are some genuine World Bank professionals who tell the truth about Ethiopia come hell or high water.
Wolfgang Fengler, a lead economist for the World Bank, is one such individual. In 2011 when the late Meles Zenawi was trying to deny occurrences of famine and food shortages in the country, Fengler called him out. Fengler said, “The [famine] crisis [in the Horn] is man made. Droughts have occurred over and again, but you need bad policy making for that to lead to a famine.” In other words, it is bad governance that is at the core of the famine problem in Ethiopia, not drought. That was a rare and refreshing departure from the all-too-common bureaucratic mumbo jumbo about the causes of famine often spouted by international aid agencies and multilateral organizations.

Then there are tall tale tellers like Guang Zhe Chen, World Bank Country Director for Ethiopia. In December 2012, Chen said, “Two and a half million people in Ethiopia have been lifted out of poverty over the past five years as a result of strong economic growth, bringing the poverty rate down from 38.7 percent to 29.6 percent between 2004/05 and 2010/11 ... The Government target to reduce poverty to 22.2 percent by 2014/15 is ambitious but attainable.”

It is 2015 now! Is poverty reduced by 22.2 percent in Ethiopia!?

I get it! I really do. The World Bank guys have to make the T-TPLF look good to make themselves look good. If they tell the truth about the T-TPLF, they will also be tattletaling on themselves. They don’t want to be snitches so they have (un)willingly become part of a conspiracy of silence to protect the T-TPLF. Instead of telling the truth about the T-TPLF’s corruption, mismanagement of the economy and crimes against humanity in Gambella, they tell tall tales and fairy tales about preposterous and fictional economic growth in Ethiopia.

In its December 2012 report, the World Bank claimed, “Over the past decade, the Ethiopian economy has been growing at twice the rate of the Africa region, averaging, 10.6 percent GDP growth per year between 2004 and 2011 compared to 5.2 percent in Sub-Saharan Africa, according to a new report by the World Bank.”

Of course, the World Bank knows that is a crock of _ _ _ T! I have shown beyond any doubt that the stratospheric claims of GDP growth and the rest of the claims were based on figures cooked up in Meles Zenawi’s Statistics Office and quietly slipped to the World Bank, the IMF and others to parrot to the rest of the world and ultimately show Meles to be the Second Coming. I challenge the World Bank or anyone to disprove my analysis in my commentary “The Voodoo Economics of Meles Zenawi”.

Dambissa Moyo, author of Dead Aid said, “… World Bank research has shown that 85 percent of development aid was used for other than the intended purpose. Donor countries are propping up the most corrupt regimes. From 1980 until 1996, 72 percent of World Bank aid went to countries that did not abide by the rules. The need for donor countries to just keep on giving appears to be insatiable.”

The November 2014 Inspection Panel’s Report on Ethiopia discussed herein provides fresh and incontrovertible evidence in support of Moyo’s claim. How little things have changed over three decades?!

THE WORLD BANK’S HYPOCRISY IN ETHIOPIA

The World Bank proclaims its mission is to “strive to end extreme poverty at the global level within a generation” and promote “shared prosperity”. The Bank purportedly seeks to accomplish this mission in Ethiopia through its “Ethiopia Protection of Basic Services Project (BPS).” According to the World Bank, the BPS in Ethiopia has four components: 1) “maintain delivery of basic services provided by regional and local governments”, 2) “provide predictable financing for critical inputs for the primary health service delivery subprogram”; 3) “supports activities at the Regional and city Administration, Woreda and sub- Woreda levels to significantly enhance transparency around public budget procedures and foster broad engagement and citizen representation on public budget processes and public service delivery”; and 4) promote “capacity building for and piloting of selected approaches to strengthen the voice of citizens and civil society organizations and also builds the capacity of citizens to engage in public budgeting processes. The World Bank has been supporting its PBS program in Ethiopia since May 2006 with a commitment of more than $2bn. In the last two years, the Bank has spent a cool USD$600 million.

The truth of the matter is that the World Bank’s managers have failed miserably in their mission. They have failed to “carry out the required full risk analysis to manage the concurrent roll-out of the villagization program in four PBS III regions.” They have failed to follow or comply with the Bank’s operational policies and guidelines. They have failed to interact or consult with the Anuak communities adversely impacted by the Banks’ programs. They are clueless about the “operational interface between PBS III and CDP as required by the Operational Risk Assessment Framework (ORAF).” They do not give a rat’s behind about “livelihoods, well-being and access to basic services, which are closely tied to the Anuak’s access to land and natural resources.” In their “Joint Review and Implementation Support” (JRIS) reports, they sugarcoat, finesse and massage facts or outright bury unfavorable facts to avoid transparency and evade accountability. They don’t do much planning, monitoring or supervision of the Bank’s program. They have abdicated their professional duties and obligations and transferred their fiduciary duties to corrupt woreda officials to ensure hundreds of millions of dollars are being spent properly. I am just curious: What do the World Bank managers in Ethiopia do all day, anyway?

For crying out loud, what kind of a mickey mouse operation is the World Bank running in Ethiopia?

In December 2013, World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim declared, “In the developing world, corruption is public enemy number one… We will never tolerate corruption, and I pledge to do all in our power to build upon our strong fight against it… Every dollar that a corrupt official or a corrupt business person puts in their pocket is a dollar stolen from a pregnant woman who needs health care; or from a girl or a boy who deserves an education; or from communities that need water, roads, and schools. Every dollar is critical if we are to reach our goals to end extreme poverty by 2030 and to boost shared prosperity.”

I wish Kim would visit my Anuak brothers and sisters in Gambella in 2015 and tell them how many schools, hospitals, clinics, roads and water wells his Bank's USD$600 million has provided the people of Gambella.

For crying out loud, could someone tell me if there is anyone minding the World Bank store in Addis Ababa?

* Professor Alemayehu G. Mariam, a lawyer, teaches political science at California State University, San Bernardino.

* THE VIEWS OF THE ABOVE ARTICLE ARE THOSE OF THE AUTHOR/S AND DO NOT NECESSARILY REFLECT THE VIEWS OF THE PAMBAZUKA NEWS EDITORIAL TEAM

* BROUGHT TO YOU BY PAMBAZUKA NEWS

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Pope Francis’ soft power amidst the crisis of the international order

Odomaro Mubangizi

2015-01-28

http://pambazuka.net/en/category/features/93828


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Pope Francis has used his soft power to speak progressively against an international system that creates and maintains economic inequality and poverty. This year the pope is expected to travel to Africa - a much needed visit for Africans of all faiths as it will once again remind the world of persistent injustices as well as the vast potential of the continent.

A recent Pambazuka News issue carried an article by the world reknown scholar-activist Prof Yash Tandon discussing Pope Francis’ ideas on global poverty as contained in his encyclical (papal letters addressed to the church and the world) ‘The Joy of the Gospel’. Prof Tandon makes an accurate analysis of the Pope’s critique of the global international system that creates too much wealth while leaving many people wallowing in abject poverty. This critique of the global system has left some champions of unbridled free market economy uncomfortable, since their economic theories are challenged as not being the best solution to solve global poverty.

Now that even secular scholars like Prof Tandon have developed an intellectual interest in Pope Francis’s ideas, it is high time we looked more closely at the deeper insights informing the Supreme Pontiff’s bold claims and massive global following even among non-Christians. The theory that will inform this discussion is that of Joseph Nye known as ‘Soft power’—the ability to attract – as opposed to the ‘hard power’ of economics and militarism or force. Clearly, Pope Francis has demonstrated a rare skill to wield soft power in a world facing the crisis of the international order. The second conceptual framework that can help us understand Pope Francis’ global appeal is that of global governance, that recognizes the fact that non-state actors are now part and parcel of the governance architecture, crucial among these actors being faith-based organizations, among which the Roman Catholic Church occupies a strategic position.

Why does Pope Francis capture the imagination of vast audiences across the globe as he travels to different parts of the world? Why do the statements he makes leave a deep and lasting impression in the minds and hearts of millions if not billions of people?

ARE WE FACING A CRISIS OF THE INTERNATIONAL ORDER?

Francis Fukuyama announced the “end of history” celebrating the triumph of liberal democracy and the free market over communism and state controlled economies. This triumphalism was short-lived when fundamentalist groups rose to the occasion with the dramatic 9/11 attack on the Twin Towers. The rest, they say is history. The end of the Cold War did not usher in the much anticipated global peace and prosperity. While some countries have indeed prospered with the opening of the economies, some have remained trapped in abject poverty. While some countries are safe and stable, others have been declared failed states, the most dramatic being Somalia, Afghanistan and Iraq to name a few.

The uni-polar world that was ushered by the end of the Cold War has also brought new threats to the international system. Key among these are global terrorist groups such as Al Qaeda, Boko Haram, Al Shabab and Islam State militants. One wonders who is in charge of bringing peace in the current international system. It is not clear as to why a rug-tag of armed groups such as Boko Haram can hold an entire state machinery at ransom as the international system looks on helplessly. And it is not only African states that are under threat—just consider what the militant group did in France recently. Then add the Ebola crisis that took the West African states by surprise and all the health care systems as well as the international system could not contain the pandemic in a reasonable time.

2015 was the deadline for meeting the much celebrated Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Some countries have made great strides in meeting these, but others have failed to meet the goals. Another set of Sustainable Development Goals has been designed and will soon be launched. 2015 is supposed to be the year of Action. There is hope and some pessimism.

This is the context in which Pope Francis’ prophetic voice has come on the global stage with some fresh insights as a thought leader of immense global stature. Is he a credible voice to bring humanity to the basics? Will the world political leaders pay heed? Will his global vision be embraced by international policy makers?

ELEMENTS OF POPE FRANCIS’ SOFT POWER

One who heads the Roman Catholic Church has to be exceedingly humble to avoid the temptation of power tripping. Do not be deceived by the Vatican State (seat of the Supreme Pontiff) that is just 109 acres of land! The Vatican also has diplomatic missions in about 122 countries and still counting; Catholic Dioceses are over 2000. The number of catholic schools, hospitals, charitable agencies such as Catholic Relief Services (CRS), Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) and Caritas far outweigh those of any single country on earth. One who leads such a multinational system can easily be corrupted by what Lord Acton characterized as: “Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” Right from the time of his election as Pope, Francis portrayed himself as a humble servant who even begged Christians to bless him. And his famous phrase “Who am I to judge” has won the hearts of many.

Without comparing Pope Francis with previous pontiffs, it is clear that while in general previous popes tended to pontificate and issue complex doctrines, he tries to use simple and straightforward messages from his heart. He oftentimes delivers homilies not from a written text but from his heart. In his messages, he tries to bring out issues of the poor and suffering as needing great attention as opposed to deep theological doctrines. This makes him very close to the ordinary people. The fact that he comes from Argentina, a developing country, makes him a champion of the world’s majority who struggle for basics of life.

While the world is deeply polarized along religious lines with fundamentalist groups wrecking havoc, he tries to preach religious tolerance, stressing what unites than what divides. His recent trip to Turkey was such a gesture. He also recently joined other religious leaders to form a global network against human trafficking. He takes the suffering of humanity very seriously. He does not let the plight of refugees who cross dangerous seas escape his attention.

Even on some delicate moral issues such as divorced couples, he tries to show compassion rather than being judgmental. He has called upon the universal church to rethink its attitude towards those whose marriages are in difficulties or who even divorce. He even dares to address delicate issues of new marital arrangements that are not consistent with the church’s doctrine, stressing the need for understanding rather than condemnation.

On some delicate international issues such as war and economics, he does not shy away from calling for peaceful resolution of conflicts, avoiding offensive publications that might provoke violent reactions and challenging the unequal distribution of the world’s resources. He has curved for himself a niche as a conscience of the world amidst hushed voices from the high and the mighty.

POPE FRANCIS COMING TO AFRICA 2015

True to the pattern of Pope Francis’ option for the marginalized sections of society, it has been informally said that he is coming to Africa later in the year. The lucky countries to be visited are Uganda and Central African Republic. While the Vatican spokesperson Federico Lombardi was guarded on the exact dates for the papal African trip, there were underground preparations in Uganda, as soon as the sacred rumor started making rounds. Late last year, Ugandan president Yoweri Museveni made a trip to the Vatican, and it is reported that he, together with the Catholic hierarchy in Uganda had extended an invitation to Pope Francis to visit Uganda.

The choice for Uganda has great justification. Uganda is home to the famous Uganda Martyrs whose national feast is celebrated on 3rd June. The catholic population in Uganda is about 45% of the 37 million Ugandans, with a vibrant Christian faith. If you add the protestants who are about 35% of the population, then you have a predominantly Christian country that can host Pope Francis with pomp. The last time the Supreme pontiff visited Uganda was in 1993 when Pope John Paul visited the pearl of Africa (as Winston Churchill labeled Uganda). This was 21 years ago. But the history of popes visiting Uganda dates back to 1969 when Pope Paul VI visited Uganda and consecrated over 30 African Bishops—it was the first time a Pope visited the African continent. There is also a geopolitical advantage for selecting Uganda. The region that is much talked about as the Great Lakes Region has Uganda as the epicenter. People from Rwanda, Burundi, DRC, South Sudan, Tanzania, Kenya, and Ethiopia, will easily come to Uganda to catch a glimpse of the Holy Father. In fact, every 3rd June pilgrims who come to celebrate the Uganda Martyrs day trek from Kenya, Rwanda, and DRC, taking several days by road to the Uganda Martyrs Shrine in Kampala. And of course Uganda has had its fair share of political turmoil, significant being the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) insurgency that lasted over 23 years wrecking havoc in Northern Uganda. Scars left by this ugly war need to be healed by the Pope’s visit.

Going by the trend so far, Pope Francis is likely to attract a mammoth crowd of believers and fans of all creeds and ideological persuasion. Of course, the politicians in Uganda will maximize their political capital from such a high profile visit. Elections are due 2016 - the timing is perfect. Such a high profile visit will also be an opportunity to speak about governance, peace and care for the needy and marginalized.

Uganda’s weather is ideal for hosting a large crowd of papal enthusiasts. Open fields with Kampala’s tropical climate will provide free shelter, as it always happens on the Uganda Martyrs day. Uganda is also blessed with abundant food. Kampala city can comfortably feed over 10 million people for a week. Another vital factor is security in the country. There has been relative security for over 25 years—pilgrims will freely roam the streets of Kampala at any time of the day including the night.

Will there be enough accommodation for such a large crowd of people? Uganda hosted Commonwealth Heads of State Summit in 2007. Lots of hotels were built for this global event and many more have been added - “There are many rooms in Uganda’s mansions.” But also given Uganda’s hospitality, many families will be willing to host pilgrims. No doubt, the Pope’s visit will also boost Uganda’s “soft economy”—especially tourism and hospitality. The visit will bring not only heavenly but also economic blessings.

The other choice, Central African Republic is also on target. This country has gone through tough times with Christians fighting with Moslems. Pope Francis’ soft power is much needed to bring about healing and dialogue between Moslems and Christians. And there is a good balance: Uganda being an English speaking country and Central African Republic being a French Speaking country.

With the mantra of Africa rising, Pope Francis will boost this optimism of Africa on the rise and also help to amplify the voice of those who are promoting social justice and good governance on the continent. Pope Francis’ soft power is what Africa needs in dealing with Al Shabab , Boko Haram, the conflicts in South Sudan, Eastern DRC, Central African Republic, and the influx of refugees.

As Africans wait eagerly for Pope Francis’ visit to the rising continent, the year 2015 will move quite fast. No one knows what other events will happen in this mysterious continent as the year 2015 unfolds. The wish is that 2015 becomes Africa’s year of jubilee and prosperity both in material and spiritual terms.

CONCLUSION

Given the current crisis in the international order, Pope Francis has come as a fresh impetus to boost humanity’s optimism. He has come just at the right time when the world needs a sober voice that can address humanity without being trapped into ideologies or dogmas that usually polarize. Those who hold the possibility of cosmopolitics or global governance have an ally in the person of Pope Francis. Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that will replace MDGs have a worthy ambassador in Pope Francis.

The question lingering in many people’s minds is: Will the world listen to Pope Francis and heed his call for a more caring and compassionate humanity? Will the world leaders who have been schooled in and intoxicated by political realism as a norm for international relations embrace a more humane vision of dialogue, solidarity and care for one another and the environment, for which Pope Francis stands?

Of course, there are some who interpret Pope Francis’ non-dogmatic stance as lack of sharp clarity on moral issues. To such we can only say, humanity has come a long way, and our long experience on plate earth assures us that moral and ethical issues are never in black and white. Human beings are much more complex than simple doctrinal formulations can comprehend. Those who prefer that humanity goes back to the time of the inquisition to settle doctrinal issues may try their luck. But fundamentalist groups currently abound to give us sufficient evidence against that dangerous path. Soft power is the way to go. Jesus himself, for whom Pope Francis is a vicar on earth, offered an alternative vision for humanity and also espoused soft power using concepts such as: love of neighbor, love of enemy, compassion, helping the needy and forgiveness.

It is hoped that Pope Francis’ soft power will bring fresh perspectives on how to address Africa’s burning issues of uneven economic development, sluggish democratization processes, pockets of insecurity and misuse of natural resources.

* Dr Odomaro Mubangizi teaches philosophy and theology at the Institute of Philosophy and Theology in Addis Ababa and is Dean of the Philosophy Department, as well as Editor of Justice, Peace and Environment Bulletin.

* THE VIEWS OF THE ABOVE ARTICLE ARE THOSE OF THE AUTHOR/S AND DO NOT NECESSARILY REFLECT THE VIEWS OF THE PAMBAZUKA NEWS EDITORIAL TEAM
* BROUGHT TO YOU BY PAMBAZUKA NEWS
* Please do not take Pambazuka for granted! Become a Friend of Pambazuka and make a donation NOW to help keep Pambazuka FREE and INDEPENDENT!
* Please send comments to editor[at]pambazuka[dot]org or comment online at Pambazuka News.


Zambia’s election: Now President Lungu must address the serious issues

Charles Mwewa

2015-01-28

http://pambazuka.net/en/category/features/93826

[http://mg.co.za/tag/edgar-lungu-zambia]
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[/url]The campaigns lacked any clarity about how the candidates would tackle the huge socio-economic problems bedeviling the Southern African nation. But now that there is a new president in office for the next 18 months, he must strive to heal the deep ethnic cleavages and craft and implement a programme that will improve the quality of life of the majority of Zambians.

Congratulations are in order for Mr. Edgar Lungu, duly and democratically-elected sixth Zambian president. This is the beauty of Zambia, a small nearly 15 million-peopled Central-Southern African country. For over 24 years now, we have set a high bar for free and fair elections in Africa. We have also demonstrated that we can transfer power peacefully and democratically. The 20 January 2015 election was tenaciously contested. Two political parties (Patriotic Front (PF) and United Party for National Development UPND) won, but only one produced the republican president. Congratulations are therefore in order for Mr. Hakainde Hichilema, too. You are walking in the same shoes great presidential campaigners walked. This was your fifth attempt at the presidency; others have fared worse, but they won eventually. Michael Sata was one; and Abraham Lincoln was the other.

Lincoln’s race to the White House was a mark of persistence and diligence. In 1816, his family was forced out of their home; he had to work to support them. In 1818, his mother died. In 1831, he failed in business. In 1832, he ran for state legislature; he lost. In l832, he lost his job; he wanted to go to law school but couldn't get in. In 1833, he borrowed some money from a friend to begin a business and by the end of the year he was bankrupt. He spent the next 17 years of his life paying off this debt. In 1834, he ran for state legislature again; this time he won. In 1835, he was engaged to be married, but his sweetheart died and his heart was broken. In 1836, he had a total nervous breakdown and was in bed for six months. In 1838, he sought to become speaker of the state legislature; he was defeated. In 1840, he sought to become elector; he was defeated. In 1843, he ran for Congress; he lost. In 1846, he ran for Congress again - this time he won, and he went to Washington and did a good job. In 1848, he ran for re-election to Congress; he lost. In 1849, he sought the job of land officer in his home state but he was rejected. In 1854, he ran for Senate of the United States; he lost. In 1856, he sought the vice-presidential nomination at his party's national convention, but he got less than 100 votes. In 1858, he ran for US Senate again, and again he lost. In 1860, he was finally elected president of the United States.

To Mr. President, if this electoral victory should mean anything, it should be predicated on one thing – the welfare of the Zambians. The election campaigns have left the nation bleeding – tribe against tribe, brother against brother, and friend against friend. All these need a leader who will heal the wounds and bring Zambia back to that almost divine prerogative, One-Zambia, One-Nation! Surely, the gloves went off. Tribe finally came out from its hiding place. Not that democracy is not about the free choices of whom to vote for; but that democracy, by definition, must prescribe parameters, usually economical and issue-based. In the just ended election, we saw how and what has kept not only Zambia, but Africa, in the economic and political doldrums for this long. Eventually, the election became a choice between Edgar Lungu (a Nyanja who rallied his armies on Michael Sata’s alleged unfinished business and on Bemba support) and Hakainde Hichilema (a Tonga, who at every corner was viewed from the rear-view mirror of his tribe). Others might argue that tribe was not an issue owing to the fact that MMD`s Nevers Mumba, a Bemba, stood and was not elected. But it everything was as much about tribe as it was about voting for nothing at all.

A cursory review of the social media produced these two comments. A Lungu supporter reported, “Because even with a miracle HH can never win elections in Zambia. He is tribal, racial and seriously with a faulted heart. He has seriously no interest for Zambians and his past and present behavior tells it all. Unless Zambians are all fools, they cannot decide to plunge the country into total chaos so carelessly.” This immediately drew a rejoinder from an HH supporter: “And now we shall openly fight these fools who think they are the only ones who should be supplying presidents for our country. They have a syndicate which is now attracting open fights (war)! We have been patient for so long! Tongas sacrificed a lot by selling their cattle so that Kaunda and Nkumbula could go to London to negotiate our independence from the colonialists. Imagine up to now Tongas are still denied a chance to rule! This is rubbish. HH is a humble and cool man!”

This, Mr. President, is the kind of polarization you cannot afford not to address. The nation is now divided and is seeing things through tribe. This cannot be ignored. It cannot wait. However, another thing that should not wait (and the real subject of this article) is the welfare of the people. It will be very sad and counter-progressive if this victory should fail to benefit the Zambians. I have three issues to discuss concerning the just ended election, and the fourth is my strong wish for the good of order, economic progress and democracy in Zambia.

CONVERSATION WITH A RELATIVE IN ZAMBIA

My relative is a level-headed, smart and a true patriot. But like every Zambian, he likes to follow political developments and he is a voter. Just before the elections I asked him for whom he was likely to vote. My cousin did not mince words, “Ifintu ni Lungu,” he said, or something to that end. Then I followed up with another question, “What will Lungu do for Zambia?” There was some silence. Then he answered, “He will complete what Sata began.” I was a little bit inquisitive, so I followed up with another question, “So, what is it that President Sata began?” My relative paused, and then said, “They are saying that Sata began building roads and hospitals.” I did not want to probe further, but I remained thinking.

I did not want to sound partisan or patronizing so I inquired about his views regarding the other presidential candidates such as HH, Nevers Mumba and Edith Nawakwi. He was silent, but then he said, “HH cannot be president. He will be a regional president…” Although I did not want to meddle into his private thoughts and convictions, I cogitated that he was representative of most of the people voting on the ground. Like most Zambians at home, my relative is unemployed (although he has completed Grade 12), lives in a dirty and unsanitary shanty compound, and survives on less-than-a-dollar-a-day. He is also, like the 60% of the population, poor and hopeless. But he loves God.

NUMBERS DO NOT LIE

Zambia is poor, but it is the manner in which this poverty reigns which is disturbing. My relative belongs to the lowest 10 percent of the population. This group consumes less than 2% of Zambia’s revenues. In real terms, about 1.5 million of the people in Zambia are likely to have had no meal in the last three days, are likely to die in the next three months, and will never have more than $100 in a year! Now consider the group whom these poor and desperate souls were braving the rains and risking death for – the politicians and corrupt businessmen – these constitute only another 10%, but consume close to 50% of the nation’s income. Less than 1.5 million in Zambia share half of the nation’s resources! The rest, what may be called the Zambian middle-class, who make up about 80% or about 12 million people are ashamedly forced to share a meager 30% of the nation’s income! This means, in essence and the chances are, that majority of Zambians, about 60%, is poor, will likely not see their 30th birthday, will have their newly born die premature or at birth, will easily succumb to curable diseases like malaria or will never set foot in a post-primary classroom.

In Zambia one out of 100 mothers giving birth will die; about 70 out of 1000 babies will die at birth; and just from these two numbers, Iraq where ISIS is waging war is doing much better than Zambia! Again, my relative, with good intentions, did go out and vote (for a candidate or candidates who did not explain to him how his country’s problems would be solved once that candidate became president!)

I observed the campaigns. Candidate Lungu was saying he would continue from where President Sata left. In essence, he would be perpetuating these gaping inequalities in the absence of his own campaign agenda or vision to the contrary. President Sata may not have had a clue how to solve these problems, and unless President Lungu will miraculously come up with the solution in his brief rule, he will be a liability, just like his predecessors were, to Zambia. The other opposition front-runners, similarly, did not have a convincing agenda of how they intended to tackle these problems once elected, but they presented themselves better. And yet people still braved elements to go out and vote, including my relative.

Then talk about 7.8% (or 1.1 million) of the population who are living with HIV, the virus which causes AIDS. The saddest dilemma is that the government has no clue or plan of how to tend to the HIV sick. The philanthropic movements, donors and bilateral and multilateral institutes have now assumed the role of government. Not that I vouch for government to provide for all its citizens, but it is government which should set a legislative scheme as well as craft policies that will necessitate the end to this malaise. But our government and the political candidates the people went out to vote for, have no agenda, no policy, and no clue on how to deal with the scourge.

My cousin lives in a shanty compound as I mentioned. He has no running water. The only pump in the neighborhood drops water in the wee hours of the morning. He is among the other over 60% of the population with no access to clean water in Zambia. And yet, my relative did go out to vote for a candidate with no clue how people like my cousin will be provided with sanitary conditions worthy of human beings or be provided with accessible and clean water system once that candidate became president.

My relative will go to the hospital just after the elections, perhaps with a headache as a result of rubble-rousing or due to sheer lack of sleep and excitement. There will be only one doctor tending to over 100,000 people at the hospital. He may not see a doctor in months.

But no one in our presidential campaigns was talking about these issues. They were more concerned about threatening each other, insulting other citizens and bullying their way to power. Moreover, “We are spending only 6.1 per cent of our GDP on health. We are also spending only 1.3 per cent of our GDP on education. Yet 66.2 per cent of our people are below the age of 24, with 46.2 per cent being below the age of 14 - all young people requiring more education and healthcare.” This was a sane commentary by the Post. And it was apropos!

BEAT NOT THE DRUMS THOUGH THE DANCERS ARE READY

The election was the most closely contested ever held in the history of Zambia - 807,925 votes for Edgar Lungu and 780,168 votes for Hakainde Hichilema. But it can equally go into history as the worst election ever held in Zambia in terms of issues. It is the only election where a president was elected who did not have any message or position on issues. President Lungu was elected based on the premise that he was the anointed successor to the late president, Michael Sata. In other words, President Lungu`s election is based on pity and emotions. He articulated no platform, no agenda and no vision. The electorate saw him as Sata incarnate. As the acting president, Guy Scott, campaigned, the election was a continuation of President Sata`s funeral.

Nevertheless, all these sentiments can be forgotten if two things happen. First, the new president understands that about 50% of the Zambians who did not elect him are still part of his mandate. He must serve the whole country, and not only those who voted for him. Second, he must provide leadership in addressing the daunting economic and social problems currently facing the Zambians.

ZAMBIA HAS EVERYTHING ZAMBIANS CAN ASK FOR

There is always an elephant in the room when it comes to Zambian politics. Will Zambia ever break free from its doldrums of economic underdevelopment into the bright light of the developed terrain? Even the most ambitious and optimistic find it hard to respond in the affirmative. This sentiment is true for other nations in Africa as well. But some in Zambia are very hopeful. A dear friend of mine in Zambia recently upbraided me when I wrote that the PF did not have a vision of developing Zambia beyond building what was bequeathed to Zambia by Imperial Britain - except for a few roads in Southern, Luapula and Northern provinces: “You live in a country with an excellent transport network (rail, air, road, and sea and tunnels),” he began. “So I expect you to appreciate the few economic projects that the PF has initiated and are implementing. Canada was not built in a day. Canada was once like Zambia.” I did agree. In fact, in Canada I partly lecture in legal history and I have a good understanding of Canada’s historic formation, and of the strength and weakness of its economy, too. However, despite living in Canada for the past ten years my energy has been concentrated on Zambia. In 2011, I wrote the biggest book on Zambia. ‘Zambia: Struggles of My People’, captures everything one can think of about Zambia: its history, economy, politics, law, culture, education, and everything in between. This magnum opus is 1,100 pages. And just recently, I published, ‘The Legacy of President Michael Sata of Zambia: Allergic to Corruption’. No-one can deny the fact that I think and breathe Zambia.

It will be unfair, however, to compound Zambian politicians as failures. I have articulated this most convincingly in my writings. For example, successive Zambian governments have done quite well to establish major development projects in various parts of the country. Even the so-called Link-Zambia 8000 Road Project is a fundamental undertaking. It will be equally unfair to fail to mention the precarious nature in which Zambian governments find themselves when they have to be forced to adjust their party manifestos to suite the IMF/World Bank sanctioned National Development Plans (NDPs), currently into the Sixth NDP (2011 – 2016). Besides, in 2006 then president Levy Mwanawasa instituted what has come to be known as the Zambia Vision 2030 – articulated in NPDs and budgetary terms. The vision desires to establish Zambia as, “A Prosperous Middle Income Nation by 2030.”

The irony is that the seven principles underpinning Vision Zambia 2030, namely: (i) gender responsive sustainable development; (ii) democracy; (iii) respect for human rights; (iv) good traditional and family values; (v) positive attitude towards work; (vi) peaceful coexistence and; (vii) private-public partnerships, fail to address the gaping disparity in terms of the rich and the poor. IMF/World Bank backed austerity measures are inadequate; they can only be supplementary. Currently, there are more Zambians who have been denied a good life not because the nation lacks resources, but because someone is living on what 100,000 people can share. Pure capitalists will argue “Equality of Opportunities; Not Equality of Results,” but the Scandinavian Peninsula has proven that both are attainable contemporaneously. In fact, for the past several years it is the Scandinavian countries which have led in terms of good life and better standards of living among their people. The so-called Welfare Model is bearing fruit. Sharing is still a viable concept. It is this ideal which truly defines us as humans. The then newly minted Obama-government in 2009 made the US escape the Credit Crunch (depression) through the same.

It was the late President Sata who said, “If talking was an industry, Zambia would be prosperous.” I agree. Look at the NDPs and their Chief Whip, the Zambia Vision 2030; they are rich in bombastic declarations, breath-taking analyses and buoyant reviews. And yet, people still die from curable diseases, poverty rules and people are denied access to clean water. The word “Implementation” is an overused platitude which now means a campaign excuse for amassing wealth by a few politically-savvy elites and their accomplices – the state entrepreneurs. For example, Zambia Vision 2030 articulates, “The analysis shows that economic development entails a progressive migration of labor from agriculture (primary) into industrial (secondary) and finally into services (tertiary) sectors. A key to this process is the increasing labor productivity, first in agriculture, and subsequently in industry which releases labor to the tertiary sector.” Who writes these things? Geniuses! Yet, it is only beautiful words. Nothing happens in real developmental terms. The haves are a tiny minority. The have-nots are in the majority. Service is now the primary industry in Zambia, and all successive governments do is flaunt around pre-written proposals and escape answering real questions. Take the just ended election which presidential candidate consistently enunciated the practical ways in which to make implementation feasible, and yet people still voted overwhelmingly for issueless, promise-filled and unsubstantiated reverberations. We have a president. But we still have the same problems. What have we achieved? Will time show?

Zambia has everything Zambians can ask for. We can neither excuse the youthfulness of the Zambian democracy nor the scarcity of Zambian natural and national resources. All the nations (poor and rich) have similar challenges. There are no pure Capitalist nations any more. What now works is a bit of pragmatism and a pure commonsensical model of national management. Zambian land, natural resources, minerals and people, developed well and engaged properly can sustain a small population of 15 million into a developed formation. Zambia can become a developed country in Africa.

Your Excellency, President Lungu, again congratulations! However, do not make excuses, lead Zambia well, and we will not close our eyes until you do right with the mandate, the resources at your disposal and you improve the welfare of the people. A year and a half is not adequate; but we want to see results!

* Charles Mwewa recently published, THE LEGACY OF PRESIDENT MICHAEL SATA OF ZAMBIA: ALLERGIC TO CORRUPTION. Charles’ other works and political commentary can be found at his blog: www.mwewa.ca

* THE VIEWS OF THE ABOVE ARTICLE ARE THOSE OF THE AUTHOR/S AND DO NOT NECESSARILY REFLECT THE VIEWS OF THE PAMBAZUKA NEWS EDITORIAL TEAM

* BROUGHT TO YOU BY PAMBAZUKA NEWS

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


Ivory Coast: The impossible reconciliation

Eric Edi

2015-01-26

http://pambazuka.net/en/category/features/93810

[http://www.moroccoworldnews.com/2013/03/83687/moroccos-place-is-within-the-african-union-alassane-ouattara/]
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[/url]The next elections are in October 2015 and President Outtara is already preparing to seek a second term. But the country is deeply divided by the violent crisis that brought him to power and ongoing repression of opponents. Ouattara has only achieved a shaky stability. The country needs complete disarmament of rebel soldiers, equitable justice and a true political dialogue.

On 16 December 2014, the government of Ivory Coast inaugurated the Henri Konan Bédié Bridge, the third infrastructure project of this kind in Abidjan, which is expected to lessen traffic and allow motorists to connect the southern and the western part of thcity without going through Plateau, the administrative and business center. A month later on 15 January 2015, another bridge was inaugurated in Bouaflé, a small town of the inland. The two bridges are among the road projects that the administrations which have ruled the country since 1993 planned. Hadn’t it been for the coup of 1999 or the 2002 rebellion, these public works would have been completed earlier and with far lower expenses when Konan Bédié and Laurent Gbagbo were in power.

Of course, for President Alassane Ouattara the opening of the bridges proves that his administration is on track to make Ivory Coast an emergent nation by 2020. Thus the new bridges illustrate Ivory Coast’s economic growth (estimated at 9% in 2014) and return to political normalcy. For the supporters of Alassane Ouattara, for instance former President Konan Bedié, whose name the third bridge of Abidjan bears, the new infrastructures are ‘revolutionary achievements,’ for which Alassane Ouattara should be allowed a second term in office. This comment reechoes the controversial ‘Appeal of Daoukro,’ a sort of manifesto in which Konan Bedié summoned his party members to endorse Ouattara as their candidate for the 2015 presidential election.

Any serious analyst agrees that the new roads and bridges will increase the movement of people and goods and stimulate domestic trade. Among other things, the new roads may facilitate the transportation of staple food to urban markets, where they are needed. The bridges are indisputably good things. But some questions need to be raised. First, what are the economic benefits that the bridges will yield? Second, can the new bridges boost the process of national reconciliation? These questions have merit because since April 11, 2011, two Ivory Coasts have sprung out: one in which people praise the current regime and another in which people still ask about the results of the 2010 presidential elections, the reasons of electoral disputes and the ensuing war in which the UN and French troops sided with Alassane Ouattara and the rebels, who had occupied the northern part of the country between 2002 and 2011. The two Ivory Coasts exemplify the depth of the fragmentation of Ivorian social, political and ethnic life.

Whereas some celebrate the bridges, others are concerned about the loans that the state secured to bring them to completion. After the Poor and Highly Indebted Countries Initiative, which wiped part of its burdening debts was granted, many would thought that the regime would not take new loans. It did not happen that way and that is where the difference arises between Laurent Gbagbo and Alassane Ouattara. During his tenure, Gbagbo granted the construction bid to Chinese companies. The deal was financially better for the state and for the population, who would not have paid any usage fees. The choice of the Chinese constructors was predicated on the willingness to reduce the debt. The strict implementation of the debt reduction strategy made it possible for Ivory Coast to have part of its international debt cancelled before the 2010 presidential election. Alassane Ouattara, a devoted neoliberal economist, reversed this debt reduction policy, by promoting growth and development through loans and private capital. That is why contrary to earlier plans, the new roads and bridges are not toll-free. The collected tolls are expected to help repay the loans.

The spokesperson of the government Bruno Koné explained that the government’s borrowing plan was under control and within the norms that the international financial institutions allow. Yet is this borrowing justified in the country where poverty is growing unabated? Though Alassane Ouattara claims that poverty has decreased a lot in the past three years, he is contradicted by Ousmane Diagana, the representative of the World Bank for the Ivory Coast, who said on 10 November 2014 that ‘the level of poverty in the Ivory Coast was high and worrisome when compared to the growth rate of the country.’

The World Bank’s declaration is more realistic. Ivorians are getting poorer and poorer. Unemployment is increasing. What is more is that, the country lacks national reconciliation. In reality, the transfer of Laurent Gbagbo and Charles Blé Goudé to The Hague, the trial of about 82 allies of Laurent Gbagbo, including his spouse Simone Gbagbo, the detention without trial of hundreds of supporters of Laurent Gbagbo, the ten thousands Ivorian refugees in Liberia and Ghana, and the expropriation of lands and farms in Western Ivory Coast from their rightful owners continue to hamper political dialogue and national reconciliation. Four years since he stormed into power, Alassane Ouattara has lamentably failed to bring reconciliation and peace to Ivorians. The trauma born of the post-2010 election violence and the unconstitutionality of Alassane Ouattara’s regime is still acute. The Dialogue, Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which was established in July 2011 and chaired by Konan Banny, failed to reconcile Ivorians because it lacked resources and the commitment of the regime. In his final speech, the chair of the Commission, Charles Banny advised Alassane Ouattara to free all political prisoners in order to give the reconciliation process a chance to succeed.

Unfortunately, this recommendation fell on deafened ears. Alassane Ouattara and his regime continue to deny the truth that the longer the political prisoners are detained, the more impossible it will be to attain reconciliation. It may be true that security has improved and that the country is calm. But Aichatou Mindaoudou, the head of the United Nations Operation in Côte d'Ivoire (UNOCI), says that there is much left to tighten the security of the nation. She is quite right as in December and January assailants attacked the positions of Alassane Ouattara’s army in the southwestern part of the country at the border with Liberia. Before these attacks, the government had promised to pay angry and revolting former rebel soldiers the arrears they were owed when they took arms for Alassane Ouattara against Laurent Gbagbo. Ouattara had offered to buy the silence and the fidelity of these warlords and killers with huge sums of money. Yet, the true solution to the fragile stability is the disarmament of the rebel soldiers, equitable justice and the initiation of a true political dialogue.

Instead, Alassane Ouattara chose to win ‘peace’ by compromising with the rebels and by repressing opposition political parties and leaders. For instance, since April 2011, the Front Populaire Ivoirien (FPI), the main opposition party, has purposefully been barred from holding public rallies and meetings. It has been barred from receiving state allocations according to the Constitution. The government has set a precedent by interfering in the internal affairs of this political party, pitting its leaders against one another. Thus, the government has either cowed some of the leaders of the FPI into submission thorough deals or harassed and arrested others, who are considered radical. With the help of the international community and notably the French government, Alassane Ouattara seems to have committed to behead the opposition.

The latest victims of this repressive method are many. One is Dr. Assoa Adou, a former minister of agriculture and a close ally of Laurent Gbagbo, who sought refuge in Ghana for three years before returning home in October 2014. Dr. Assoa Adou was arrested on 8 January 2015 at 8:00 pm on charges that include conspiracy, association with subversive groups, and illegal possession of arms. The same charges were used to justify the detention of Lida Kouassi and Dogbo Raphael, two other former ministers and allies of Laurent Gbagbo. These arrests are obviously violations of human rights and the perpetuation of the absence of the rule of law. They expose the undemocratic nature of the regime in power and its attempt to silence all opposition in order to ensure an easy electoral victory in the 2015 presidential election.

Alassane Ouattara’s repressive methods also target his former allies, who announced their intent to run in the 2015 presidential election. Thus, two in the entourage of Charles Konan Banny were arrested on charges of corruption and money laundering as soon as the latter announced he would enter the 2015 presidential race. Charles Konan Banny was himself accused of misusing 16 billion Francs meant to fund the work of the truth and reconciliation commission. Then, the regime also fired Tirbuce Koffi, the former managing director of the National Institute of Arts and Cultural Action, after he harshly critiqued Alassane Ouattara and denounced the ‘Appeal of Daoukro.’

In a country in which the regime in power uses undemocratic subterfuges to silence all opposition, reconciliation is a mirage and violence and political chaos looms around. The Ivory Coast is not far from the abyss. With the recent attacks at Tabou, the discontent of the former rebels, the unfair trial of partisans of Laurent Gbagbo, and the latter’s incarceration at The Hague, reconciliation seems unrealistic.

The regime’s allegation that the reconciliation process has progressed is just spurious. It is time to realize that a transitional government is the ultimate solution to a republican political dialogue and reconciliation before calling any general elections. The Committee of Actions for the Ivory Coast in the United States (CACI-USA) encourages all political actors to mull this solution.

* Eric Edi, PhD, is Executive Secretary, Committee of Actions for Côte d’Ivoire – USA (CACI – USA). caci.usa2012@gmail.com -- http://lecomitedactionusa.blogspot.com

* THE VIEWS OF THE ABOVE ARTICLE ARE THOSE OF THE AUTHOR/S AND DO NOT NECESSARILY REFLECT THE VIEWS OF THE PAMBAZUKA NEWS EDITORIAL TEAM

* BROUGHT TO YOU BY PAMBAZUKA NEWS

* Please do not take Pambazuka for granted! Become a Friend of Pambazuka and make a donation NOW to help keep Pambazuka FREE and INDEPENDENT!

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The beautiful people

Douglas Schorr

2015-01-29

http://pambazuka.net/en/category/features/93833


cc Pz
Colonialism and capitalism have produced a profiundly unjust food regime, imposing on Southern Africans a diet that generates widespread malnutrition and obesity. The solution to this problem lies in a concerted government-led efforts to implement local solutions that prioritise people over profits.

This past Sunday, 25 January, the talented and beautiful Ziphozakhe Zokufa represented South Africa in the Miss Universe contest held in Miami. Now, I don’t follow any body beautiful or fashion contests. I get my kicks from the politics of economics. My delight, when I heard, was in seeing zero derogatory comments on the news report. In 1993 Jacqui Mofokeng took the Miss SA title and hell, there were some choice phrases there.[1]

Back then I didn’t need Jacqui, or anyone else, to tell me that the black women of Southern Africa were beautiful. As a young man I’d worked in the rural areas of Rhodesia. I’d seen ladies that the average whitey – sitting in his apartheid-given house with his doors and windows closed, driving to his sponsored job and pricey whites-only entertainment – just didn’t. For him, Jacqui taking the bouquet must have been sudden, and horrifying.

‘I’d die for a figure like hers,’ Tannie Margie would have been thinking.

‘I’d give that a ride on the old tractor,’ Oom Henk would have been musing.

‘Black bitch,’ both would be muttering.

But not all whites are average. At the close of the Second World War, heavyweights Malan, Strijdom, Verwoerd and Co. were horrified to see the level of ‘mixing’ and promptly pulled white and black apartheid. In Rhodesia, the party in charge, the Rhodesian Front, had a major headache. 1965’s Unilateral Decaration of Independence was about the need to retain government in responsible hands, only to find a good number of responsible white penises in the hands and glands of women distinctly dark. Desire-filled white men trolling the unlit, dead-end streets of Bulawayo for a fling were such a problem we had Special Branch agents on the job.

Throughout our Bush-war, I was to hear of lone wolf, white security force men making ‘love’ to black women. These were big-city men. They had advanced politically to the point where they had realised that all they’d been fed as growing boys with dang sore balls was tripe. Except for a massive education gap, the ladies were, can we agree on, quite acceptable? ‘Make sure you give her a good scrub with a yard broom first,’ was the classic line, the one that got the boys hooting and slapping the bar counter as another round gurgled down. All joking, of course.

My biggest eye opener was the sincere liaisons I saw between a few South African police sent up to us on border duty and local women. In the court of a Headman of the Wankie Tribal Lands, these man volunteered to pay maintenance for the cappuccino-coloured kiddies that would be arriving once they’d made the trek home to Joburg. There was sorrow on both sides at parting.

The girls that the lads were humping hadn’t the painted finger-nail’s worth of sophistication or education of Jacqui or Ziphozakhe but something must have worked. Something must have changed in the minds of the men for them to find the lasses of the country-side beautiful. At the simplest level of understanding they must have thrown out their conditioning that blacks were a sub-species of the human race.

But those were the young black women. What about the older?

During my growing days of the 1960s and 1970s, I knew very few obese older white women. Instead I remember the rush of lust the moms of most of my friends (not just their sisters) caused in my tummy, swirling down to my 15 year old groin. Yet, as a 20-something-year-old District Assistant in the Department of Internal Affairs, running tax and fee collections, meetings and discussion groups in the tribal areas, invariably the black moms attending would be enormous, they’d struggle to rise to their feet. My memory is that any black woman over, say, 25, was getting very heavy.

Why? Is it that white genetics and black genetics are different? Is it that black culture (whatever that means) glorifies a big fat tum and bum as a sign of wealth and prosperity, or are both of those ideas as much bullshit as South Africa’s Prohibition of Mixed Marriages Act of 1949?

Malnutrition is a disease we Europeans brought to Southern Africa. When Rhodes’ band of fortune hunters parked their horses and wagons in Bulawayo and a little later on the plateau we came to call Mashonaland, ladies of Jacqui’s stature were the norm, not the exception. And not by figure alone; they were educated in the ways of their civilisation. The men too were finely muscled and fit beyond white Olympic standards of the time. But this ageless beauty, as attractive then as it is today, was not to last. Soon the various tribes’ social and economic networks were destroyed. They were summarily dispatched to what we Rhodesians euphemistically called Tribal Trust Lands (TTLs), but which in practice were surplus labour holding camps, places for those not employed for cheap in the towns (at about R25 per day in today’s terms).

Labour ships, I’ve come to call them, thinking of the slave galleys in which Christian governments and businesses hauled blacks across the ocean to the Americas. We Rhodesians avoided that expense; we simply shooed them into rigidly determined areas, registered them and explained that that registration mark meant they could reside only there, in that district, the one designated on their paper pass, in the lands we’d allowed our appointed Chief to keep for the moment.

Across the border South Africa followed suit. They examined our system and updated it by bringing an additional 5.3 million (approx.) into Capitalism’s ‘Homelands’. And they added a whole bunch of Indian Indians. This was the beginning of the body change. As we (both the Rhodesian Rhodies and the South African Slopies) explained:

‘By order of the Great Kings of England who are of the gods of white heaven, no longer are you blacks allowed to gather good forest game, fruits and veg and practice paddock grazing management. You will have to settle in one spot forever and ever. What you had is now … read here, oh, you cannot … hmm … tough. Anyway, what was yours is ours now and in the name of productivity, in particular the reduction of costs, you are responsible for feeding yourself.’

But being the liberals we were, and because we said ‘feed thyself’, we introduced and gave basic instruction on the growing of the new wonder cereal brought from America – maize. Exactly as we of the first world have worriedly debated the likelihood of our food taking the shape of pills (red for breakfast, yellow midday and a bright purple for dinner) we said to our detained blacks of the 1920s and 1930s:

‘If you’re smart, if you realise that maize should become your staple, you’ll live longer, be stronger for work and have nice shiny white teeth. After all, corn is (one of) the world's healthiest foods containing health-supportive antioxidants and a remarkably good source of fiber.’

In years to come the experts were to write, and people were to say, ‘maize was their traditional food’. Wrong, mate, wrong. It was imposed by the Capitalist whites. Traditional foods were close to what is nowadays referred to as a paleolithic diet, the aforementioned forest foragers’ fare [2]. But what were they to do? Us whities had the latest colonist’s tool, the Maxim machine gun times plenty, and he only a shield, his wife only a decorative thong.

They learnt well and given their circumstances they did well. They ate their fill of maize meal for breakfast, lunch and supper. In fact the 2.2 million Shona folk banished (fortunately) to the very suitable and temperate lands of central and northern Rhodesia (technically Southern Rhodesia at that time) did so well that the handful of white farmers on their pick-of-the-lands had to demand from the government protection, subsidy and all the mod-cons that enable agricultural Capitalism to work.

But in the most-times-dry-as-a-bone south and west, the 44,000 Matabele farmers had extended periods where drought and regulation had them at starvation’s door. There, no black farmer was allowed to plant anything until his lands were declared erosion protected. There, no black got land before he had from the authorities a registration saying he was entitled to be in the district. Then he started with petitioning the Chief, the Headman and finally the Kraalhead for a plot. Certificates obtained, he went back to the authorities to request an allocation. That done, he applied for a map of the erosion-protection works he’d need to dig. Phew.

In all the years I worked in the TTLs, out of the million or so I helped ‘administrate’, I met only two men whose names I would have forwarded to the Rhodesian Rugga Union as having potential as players. Most were scrawny imitations of their fathers and grandfathers. Why were they skeletons when their women were lard? A feature of my service time in some of our Rhodesian towns was the hundreds of men who, attempting to be pro-active, flooded our government offices or sat patiently, morosely and without hope at informal worker-collection points. The men did a lot of work looking for work and while they were away from the hut in the bush they had no, no, no food. Although we whites all had maids, they represented but a drop in the ocean. Most black women were sentenced to a life revolving around the hut, the inevitable children and local forays to find fuel and fetch water – not a high cardio way of life at all. And they ballooned.

Of the myriad of environmental factors which influence the development of babies in the womb and during infancy, nutrition has to be the most important single feature. ‘A proper balance of nutrients in this formative period is critical for normal brain development … and shortages of essential nutrients are often irreversible’ [3].

In all my years, the best I saw was the medium sized, three-legged pot full of thick stodgy sudza (maize), beside it a much smaller pot with a few wisps of wild spinach and sometimes, beside it, a similar sized pot with a gravy bubbling, made from boiled and boiled again bones.

As a young administrator on stations far from civilisation, I’d get totally wasted with the other bachelors and, grabbing the nearest government vehicle, we’d go night hunting springhares in the fenced-off government reserve . The hares were classified vermin because they bred so prolifically and because they damaged agricultural land so quickly. We’d hold them in the bright lights and roar after them with cricket bats. Even though they offered only thin, stringy meat and were always blanketed with fat blue ticks, we never had trouble getting rid of our night’s kill, straight to the local Africans employed by and getting a wage from government. They were in district terms of the wealthier. The hare here and there who ventured into the TTLs didn’t last more than a night. Meat to supplement their maize meal simply wasn’t there.

In those Trust Lands the rickets-thin children stood awkwardly outside their measly huts overlooking the Zambezi, shoulders thrust unnaturally back to balance their equally unnatural, swollen tummies. They were so passive us young white soldiers remarked on how stupid they seemed, so content to stand and stare whereas the blue-eyed and long haired children we’d left behind would be squirming out of Mommy’s (or the Maid’s) hands in a quest to explore and investigate, ‘no’ never being an acceptable answer. Those kids were not 400, 40 or even four years behind in brain connectivity. Their mental signal strength had been engineered and guaranteed to be the weakest possible.

As they grew, our white man assumptions were validated through the crappy schooling we allowed them, so much so that they didn’t develop the knowledge skills to appreciate they were being poisoned in the first place while being processed for a life of servitude. And, like alcohol, an unlimited diet of maize builds, one rough portion upon the other, until the once beautiful black women of Southern Africa and their men had to adopt the European myth, ‘fat is it’.

Today, 40 years on, downtown Harare is any man’s health plaza as the magic medicine of pretty women perform; strutting, sauntering, striding and standing about chatting. Sure, their clothes are a year or two out of date but, as I said, I’m not into fashion. I find the expense degrading. Besides, all a real man looks for in a woman is brains and a great smile attached to a great body with legs all the way to the bottom of her bum. While it is true more black-folk live an acceptable life under Mugabe than they did under Smith, and while the ladies shopping in Harare plus Jacqui, Ziphozakhe and a few hundred thousand others who’ve been able to break out and into the economic classes that can afford a proper diet are looking their beautiful best, for millions of others the position hasn’t changed. It’s worse.

The latest estimate is that near to 60% of the black women of Southern Africa are in the obese category. This means to me that nearly every African family that has been left behind, excluded from the much vaunted independence-of-Africa economy, still exists in the imposed lifestyle of the colonial era. This has to change, but how?

The solution to better nourishment for the poor is simple; better food.

In mid-2013 Rainbow Chicken wrote that there was a severe oversupply in the industry [4], but that ‘oversupply’ does not seem to be getting to the people who need it most. Oxfam has long said that there is more than enough food to feed everyone – it is a question of distribution.

One of South Africa’s worst faring provinces nutritionally is Limpopo, yet there Granor Passi processes 220 000 tons of fruit [5]. South Africa also has two international majors in the dairy/yoghurt scene. Add the too-many chickens and we’ve a balanced diet – surely?

But even as more than 50% of all South Africans live below the bread line, the country exported food to the value of US$6.8-billion in 2010 [6]. That 80% of what South Africa produces is farmed by only 20% of its farmers suggests a giant commercial profit-first exercise. And recent data indicates that demand for South African agricultural products is not only holding steady, but growing.’ [7]

Now there is something wrong there, mate. Is the Dutch or Japanese palate more important than the tummies of our needy?

Of course there is the argument that if producers start selling (discounted it would have to be) to the poor, how would they meet their dividend promises? And if they don’t meet them, bang goes investment for larger export opportunities to pay even more out to shareholders – all of whom (who count) live outside of the country.

Okay, so let’s leave the giant corporations and industries. If mass produced food cannot be distributed effectively, what then?

What is needed is an immediate implosion of investment into our own country and our own people via, say, community involved public works programmes, community kitchens, all the way down to intensive and extensive community gardens just to kick off an ‘eat healthy’ campaign. Research shows that small, community-based gardens can do a massive amount to supplement the nourishment of a community, to foster a heightened sense of community and ownership, a greater connection to the earth and a greater connection to each other which, in the right circumstances, can have far-reaching effects. Something as simple as effective landscaping can lower crime rates [8]. Crime is a product of despair, hope is the antidote.

Why can’t public money be found to create enough of these initiatives? Why are effective charity and social upliftment schemes largely in the hands of private NGOs rather than government? Why is charity the responsibility of private citizens?

A country whose leadership views maximum profit as its central flaming ideal cannot show effective care for its needy people.

Today in South Africa and Zimbabwe billions are being lost to waste, fraud and bribes. Much of the countries’ senior cabinet are known offenders and seemingly with the support of the party. There is a massive slide in public trust toward Zuma and the ANC in general – from 257 points to just 37 [9]. One survey showed that 35% see Zuma as corrupt [10]. Given that only roughly 37% of South Africans voted for him it puts him in a league above Robert Mugabe [11]. And no, it’s not a new development.

The resolution of the nutritional problem can only happen when men of stature decide that they have the balls to be transparent and those who are privileged to share. If this happened, if someone like Ramaphosa, Zuma, Maharaj, Sexwale discovered their zips, real change could happen.

What would be the effect of Zuma declaring that Nkandla was a mistake, that he is responsible, and that he will pay back the money?

What would be the result of Mugabe doing something as simple as curtailing a Grace Mugabe shopping spree or land grab (the latest orchestrated, apparently, from Singapore while shopping [12]), and instead transparently proclaiming that the money that would have been spent is instead to be invested in feeding and training schemes?

How would it be if corruption and self-enrichment were effectively policed, the perpetrators convicted and a culture of personal responsibility entrenched at the top?

Everything would change. Effective social works would no longer be the private reserve, it would be the natural inclination of government. Inevitably, the psyche of the entire country would turn around.

But government, as it is, is not there to protect its people, it is there to protect the system in place. The system demands that the bulk of the population live in close to poverty conditions so that they can be exploited for cheap labour as well as bulk consumption, a reincarnation of that same old ‘homelands’ concept. The Capitalist model requires constant growth, and therefore must have a pool of consumers ready to consume, ready to prostitute themselves to earn money – and the deeper they go into debt, the better.

Ultimately, the solution to the nutrition problem among the poor is good leadership, not the lack of accountability and outright cronyism South Africans and Zimbabweans are faced with today. Until the legacy of the past is changed, until we as a collective include all rather than simply the lucky few, like beautiful Ziphozakhe whose parents escaped [13], Apartheid with just a small change of form will continue to perpetuate itself.

Jacqui’s victory in 1993 crowned more than a beauty contest, but we still haven’t been able to move from acknowledging blacks as beautiful to deciding how to change South Africa into a sharing nation so all can be beautiful in mind and body. Zuma doesn’t appear to be interested. It’s fair to say we’ve swapped Capitalism of the white fascism format for Capitalism of the black in white fascism form.

PS.

I acknowledge I haven’t mentioned sugar. Briefly, sugar (along with tea, bread and Coca-Cola) was introduced in the 1960s and it has added a horrific dimension to destroying not only the lives of our poorer citizens but all economic classes as well. Australia’s obesity figures mirror those of our own upper-lower and lower middle classes. Obesity rates in Australia are climbing faster than anywhere else in the world. The difference, however, is that the obese of Australia have the money to opt to change their lives. Others don’t.

* Douglas Schorr, a former District Commissioner in then Rhodesia, a soldier in the Bush War, is today a committed critic of capitalism and colonial legacies as the source of poverty in Africa. His first book, The Myth of Smith, an autobiographical account of my awakening to the reality of the Rhodesian Bush War while involved in it, is available for sale on Amazon Kindle here. Schorr blogs page at: http://dougschorr.blogspot.com He also has a Facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/DouglasSchorrAuthor

END NOTES

[1] http://tinyurl.com/kwqpfjd
[2] http://tinyurl.com/c7eyswo
[3] http://tinyurl.com/kzpxh6x
[4] http://tinyurl.com/nd8wqtj
[5] http://tinyurl.com/ox346b6
[6] http://tinyurl.com/p9gq7u5
[7] http://tinyurl.com/pk6a7xz
[8] http://tinyurl.com/7apbotg
[9] http://tinyurl.com/oqbbmz6
[10] http://tinyurl.com/md48dn3
[11] https://www.greenleft.org.au/node/56495
[12] http://tinyurl.com/kq4awl5
[13] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ziphozakhe_Zokufa

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The Rwandan genocide: A reply to Herman and Peterson

Odora-Obote Alex

2015-01-28

http://pambazuka.net/en/category/features/93827

[http://thinkprogress.org/justice/2013/04/12/1857321/gop-congressman-warns-background-checks-will-lead-to-a-genocide-like-in-rwanda/]
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[/url]It is unfortunate that the professor of finance and the journalist have elected to promote a political posture and criticism in the guise of an ostensible legal analysis. In the end, their analysis contributes very little or nothing at all to the scholarship of international law, while at the same time generating unwarranted, misinformed controversy.

Edward S. Herman is professor emeritus of finance at the University of Pennsylvania. He is attributed with having written extensively on economics, political economy and the media. His co-author, David Peterson is an independent journalist and researcher based in Chicago.

I have tried, but without success, to unravel the international humanitarian law and international criminal law principles Herman and Peterson adopted in their purported legal analysis concerning conspiracy to commit genocide in Rwanda during 1994. Unfortunately, these authors have chosen to entwine their analysis with speculation, hyperbole and even the use of sarcasm, none of which rationally advances any merit in the position they advocate.[1]

Additionally, I find the advocacy style adopted by the two authors inappropriate and strange. In the tradition of legal analysis, those advocating or responding to legal arguments do not attack opposing advocates but seek, with dignity and respect, to address issues raised in a discourse. I will therefore ignore here any and all derogatory and defamatory remarks made by the two gentlemen. I will instead limit my response to legal issues raised in their arguments.

Herman and Peterson made errors of law by mischaracterizing the crime of conspiracy to commit genocide as limited to acts and omission occurring after 6 April 1994. Further errors of law relate to the authors’ failures to appreciate elements of war crimes. Their arguments are focussed on the shooting down of President Habyarimana’s plane but are without reference to the specific legal provisions that apply, such as Article 4 of the ICTR Statute on war crimes, Article 18 of the same statute, alongside Rule 47 of the Rules of Procedure and Evidence (the Rules) on drafting of indictments.

Overall, it is apparent that the authors’ argument is not truly a legal analysis, but a political posture camouflaged in the context of criticism about the ICTR legal process. Attempting to couple the issues of conspiracy and the downing of the President’s plane was a commonly used strategy among defence teams at the ICTR. There it was a strategy that never produced a clear answer or result. For the purpose of clarity here, I commence by presenting a terse overview of the law on conspiracy to commit genocide in order to provide context. I will then comment on Herman’s and Peterson’s criticisms of my rejoinder to their article.

CONSPIRACY TO COMMIT GENOCIDE

This form of conspiracy is a statutory crime, as interpreted by specific jurisprudence. Article 2(3) (b) of the ICTR Statute empowers the Tribunal to adjudicate conspiracy to commit genocide.[2] The ICTR jurisprudence defines the actus reus of the crime of conspiracy to commit genocide as an agreement between two or more persons.[3] Genocide and conspiracy to commit genocide are distinct crimes under Articles 2(3) (a) and 2(3) (b) of the Statute. The crime of genocide has a materially distinct actus reus from the crime of conspiracy to commit genocide and both crimes are based on different underlying conduct. While the act of conspiracy to commit genocide requires the act of entering an agreement to commit genocide, the crime of genocide does not. An accused may therefore be convicted for both genocide and conspiracy to commit genocide.[4]

A “pre-arranged” agreement is the defining element that distinguishes conspiracy from the substantive crime of genocide which may be committed without an agreement.[5] According to ICTR jurisprudence, what is punishable in a conspiracy is “the act of conspiracy itself, in other words […] the conspiracy, and not its result.”[6] However, conspiracy is a “continuing crime”. This means that although the crime is complete when the agreement to do an unlawful act is made, it continues so long as the parties to the agreement intend to carry it out.

The ICTR’s jurisprudence also elaborates on the continuity attribute of conspiracy, notably within the context of construing the Tribunal’s temporal jurisdiction. The ICTR acknowledges that no one can be convicted on the independent basis of criminal acts committed outside the temporal period but the ICTR allows pre-1994 criminal participation with respect to conspiracy as a “continuing offence”.[7] Significantly, an agreement to commit genocide need not be formal or express, but may be inferred from circumstantial evidence.

The approach adopted by the ICTR is supported by Common Law or Anglo-Saxon system which holds that conspiracy is constituted not by “overt acts,” which are agreed upon by the conspiracy (e.g. to kill members of a group), but by the acts committed in forming and maintaining the agreement.[8] Relying on Common Law precedents, the ICTR’s jurisprudence accepts that an “agreement” in the strict sense of the law of contract is unnecessary, but “the evidence must show that an agreement has been reached. The mere showing of a negotiation in progress will not do.”[9]

As acknowledged in criminal prosecutions before many national and international courts and tribunals, secrecy and concealment are essential features of a successful conspiracy. The more completely they are achieved, the more successful the crime.[10] It is for this reason that in prosecution of crimes of conspiracy to commit genocide, the Prosecution often relies on circumstantial evidence and statements of ‘Insider Witnesses’, that is accused persons who opt to cooperate with the Prosecution by providing relevant insider information that only co-conspirators are privy to, and other documentation in exchange of a lesser charge, reduced sentence or both.

As the Kambanda and Kajelijeli judgements opined, “acts” of conspiracy to commit genocide may encompass “omissions.”[11] Thus Prime Minister Kambanda’s failure to punish his co-conspirators, who engaged in several conspiratorial meetings in Rwanda during which they agreed to commit genocide, constituted such omission. Given the dangers posed by conspiracies, basing convictions on omissions may be justified for preventive purposes.[12]

Herman and Peterson appear to have unduly relied on the Bagosora case. To argue, as they did, that there were no crimes of conspiracy to commit genocide prior to 6 April 1994 is to misstate the law. Their conclusion is erroneous and unsupported by jurisprudence for such argument flies in the face of the Tribunal’s temporal jurisdictional limitation as stipulated in the ICTR Statute.[13] While the Bagosora Trial Chamber held that it was not satisfied that the Prosecutor had proved beyond reasonable doubt that the four accused [Bagosora, Kabiligi, Ntabakuze and Nsengiyumva] conspired amongst themselves or with others to commit genocide before it unfolded on 7 April 1994 and acquitted all four of conspiracy,[14] it is erroneous to conclude that it was because there were no acts of conspiracy prior to 6 April 1994. On the contrary, a holistic reading of the judgement shows that the Chamber limited its decision to this particular case. The Bagosora Trial Chamber judgement was therefore not for general application or binding on all future cases. Let me elaborate on this point.

At the Bagosora et al trial, the Prosecutor presented testimony that included pre-1994 acts and omissions. For example work of ENI Commission and subsequent meetings of soldiers invoking its definition of the enemy based on ethnicity, Bagosora’s 1992 reference to planning ‘apocalypse’, etc. The Defence for Kabiligi objected to the admission of the testimony in evidence on the ground that they were outside the temporal jurisdiction of the Court. The Chamber concurred and noted that a number of the allegations presented by the Prosecution precede the Tribunal’s temporal jurisdiction of 1 January to 31 December 1994. The Chamber emphasized that it can only convict the Accused of criminal conduct occurring in 1994 and thereby effectively excluding all pre-1994 testimony.[15] Significantly, however, the Chamber proceeded to elaborate on its ruling as follows:

“At the outset, the Chamber emphasises that the question under consideration is not whether there was a plan or conspiracy to commit genocide in Rwanda. Rather, IT IS WHETHER THE PROSECUTION HAS PROVEN BEYOND REASONABLE DOUBT BASED ON THE EVIDENCE IN THIS CASE THAT THE FOUR ACCUSED COMMITTED CONSPIRACY.”[16] [Emphasis added]

The Chamber was therefore emphatic that it was not making a declaratory judgement to the effect that crimes of conspiracy to commit genocide were never committed in Rwanda, before 6 April 1994. Nor that its decision would set a binding precedent in future trials, as expressed in the comment that “Other or newly discovered information, subsequent trials or history may demonstrate a conspiracy involving the Accused prior to 6 April to commit genocide.” [17]

It is also relevant to note that the Chamber considered divergent views of expert witnesses on possible dates or time-frames on commencement of planning or conspiracy to commit genocide. According to expert witness Alison Des Forges, the “organizational” phase of the planned genocide began in 1993 and early 1994 although a small group of individuals had been conceptualizing and planning the genocide for “much longer time.” According to Filip Reyntjens, there was “no particular moment in time when a number of conspirators sat together and decided “We are going to organize genocide”, but the elements to commit genocide were present and developed incrementally beginning 1 October 1990. On the other hand, Defence expert witness, Bernard Lugan, testified that there was no proof of plan or conspiracy to kill Tutsis. And, another Defence expert witness, Helmut Strizek stated that there was no conspiracy to commit genocide because the downing of the plane was the spark that began the genocide.[18]

The Trial Chamber was alive to these divergent views and after carefully reviewing the totality of the testimony of all and other witnesses including examining documentary evidence, the Court ruled:

“Having considered the elements mentioned by the Prosecution, discussed above and elsewhere in the judgement, THE CHAMBER CANNOT EXCLUDE THAT THERE WERE IN FACT PLANS PRIOR TO 6 APRIL TO COMMIT GENOCIDE IN RWANDA….”[19] [Emphasis added]

Not only did the Bagosora Trial Chamber find that pre-April 6 plans could not be excluded, but the three judges of the Chamber considered the pre-April 6 conduct and preparations and specifically held that after the death of President Habyarimana those preparations were “tools” that “were clearly put to use to facilitate killings.” [20] Noting that use, along with the earlier cycles of violence, the Chamber observed that “Indeed, these preparations are Completely Consistent With A Plan To Commit Genocide.”[21] [Emphasis added]

What the analysis of the Herman and Peterson position ignores is that Trial Chambers deliberating the charge of conspiracy to commit genocide were bound to apply the prevailing legal standard of proof, such that even in the face of evidence that is “completely consistent with a plan to commit genocide”, the threshold that had to be crossed was that “when confronted with circumstantial evidence, it may only convict where it is the only reasonable inference.” [22] This threshold test, sometimes expressed as the ‘only reasonably possible inference’, is in application a very difficult evidentiary burden to overcome. In the Bagosora trial, the Chamber applied the test as follows:

“It is possible that some military or civilian authorities did intend these preparations as part of a plan to commit genocide. However, the Prosecution has not shown that the Only Reasonable Inference based on the credible evidence in this trial was that this intention was shared by the Accused.” [23] [Emphasis added]

Consequently, the absence of a conviction for conspiracy to commit genocide in the Bagosora case turned on a question of whether the pre-April 6 genocidal intention of those particular Accused could be inferred as the only reasonably possible conclusion on that evidence. Despite significant evidence that was “completely consistent” with a plan to commit genocide, given the context of the military conflict with the RPF, on the evidence heard at trial it was held not to be the only, reasonably, possible conclusion. However, as a strictly evidentiary result, that finding is a very long way from concluding that no conspiracy to commit genocide in Rwanda ever existed.

After a careful perusal of the ICTR Statute and its jurisprudence, it is my considered opinion that current jurisprudence including the Bagosora et al case does not support the position adopted by Herman and Peterson that there was no conspiracy to commit genocide, nor their position that for a crime of conspiracy to commit genocide to have been committed, acts or omission relied on by the Prosecutor could only have occurred before 6 April 1994. Significantly, this is so in part because the statutory temporal jurisdiction of the Tribunal makes no reference to pre-6 April 1994 acts or omission as material elements in the prosecution of conspiracy to commit genocide.

THE SHOOTING OF HABYARIMANA’S PLANE

When a plane is shot down, either deliberately, accidentally or as an act of war, there are often opposing points of views on the incident. Consequently, several groups tend to dispute official and unofficial reports and offer their own alternative theories of the event. Additionally, evidence from open sources is often inconclusive and not sufficiently credible for the purpose of criminal prosecutions of alleged perpetrators many of whom remain unidentified. Official, semi-official or unofficial reports on shooting down any plane must be treated with great caution particularly as the veracity of the reports are not tested by independent and credible sources or subjected to cross-examinations. Thus, it is surprising that Herman and Peterson imply they know the identities of those who shot down Habyarimana’s plane, notwithstanding that it is problematic to identify and prosecute all perpetrators who shoot down aircrafts based only on unverified reports.

To illustrate challenges in the investigations and prosecutions of alleged perpetrators who shoot aircrafts, I provide three examples of planes that were shot down, namely; the shooting down of Korean Airline Flight 007; Iran Air Flight 655 and Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, before examining the downing of President Habyarimana’s plane. These examples show that problems faced in investigations and prosecutions of persons alleged to have downed Habyarimana’s plane is neither unique nor exceptional in the aviation industry.

In the first example, Korean Airline Flight 007 was a scheduled flight from New York City to Seoul via Anchorage, shot by a Soviet SU-15 Interceptor on 1 September 1983. All 269 passengers and crew on board were killed. The aircraft had flown through prohibited Soviet airspace around the time of a US reconnaissance mission in that country. The Soviet Union initially denied knowledge of the incident but later admitted the shoot down, claiming that the aircraft was a US spy mission. The US denied spying and blamed the Soviet Union for provocative acts against South Korea and the US. Both the US and the USSR agreed to disagree. No independent investigations were conducted and no perpetrators were ever prosecuted.

The second example relates to the shooting of Iran’s airliner. Iran Air Flight 655 was an Iran Air civilian passenger flight from Tehran to Dubai. On 3 July 1988, the aircraft was shot down by the United States Navy guided missiles cruiser USS Vincennes. The incident took place in Iranian airspace, over Iran’s territorial waters in the Persian Gulf, and on the flight’s usual flight path. All 290 on board, including 66 children and 16 crews were killed. According to Iran, the USS Vincennes negligently shot down the civilian aircraft. And, according to the United States, the crew incorrectly identified the Iranian Airbus A300 as an attack aircraft and shot it down. The case was eventually resolved by the International Court of Justice through a settlement.[24] As part of the settlement, the US did not admit legal liability but agreed to pay on an ex gratia basis US$61.8 million in compensation to the families of the Iranian victims.

Third, Malaysia Airline Flight 17 (MH17/MAS 17), a scheduled international passenger flight from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur crashed on 17 July 2014, having been shot down, killing 283 passengers and 15 crews on board. The crash occurred during an internal armed conflict between Ukrainian government troops and pro-Russian separatists in the eastern part of Ukraine. According to the US and German intelligence sources, the plane was shot down by pro-Russian separatists fired from the territory which they controlled. However, the Los Angeles Times of 22 July 2014 reported that some US officials believe the attack against the Malaysian plane was a mistake. The Russian government, on the other hand, blamed the Ukrainian government and denied that the separatists shot it. However, the Dutch Safety Board is currently investigating the incident and is expected to issue its final report in August 2015. The alleged perpetrators are still to be identified.

What have these cases got to do with Habyarimana’s plane? Well, lessons learned from these examples provide us with opportunity for rational thinking in determining who were responsible for shooting Habyarimana’s plane, the quality of the reports on the shooting and whether any or what crimes, if any, were committed, and in which jurisdiction the perpetrators are to be prosecuted.

Common features in all three examples are that the precise perpetrators were never conclusively identified and subsequently criminally prosecuted under national or international law. Second, while the identity of some or all perpetrators are probably known to the leadership of the various governments and opposite parties, their names or identities were never made public. Three, all concerned parties never agreed on the circumstances surrounding the shooting down of the planes. Fourth, politics appear to have played significant roles in the investigations, or lack of them, of the shooting of the planes.

On the other hand, cause of actions available to victims or their respective governments include but are not limited to criminal prosecution of perpetrators before national or international courts, civil action before the International Court of Justice for compensation or investigations by national or international bodies, such as International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), a specialized agency of the UN established pursuant to the Montreal Convention of 1971 which came into force on 26 January 1973.[25] Significantly, however, the Convention does not apply to customs, law enforcement or military aircraft but applies exclusively to civilian aircraft. In the case of Rwanda, a determination as to whether Habyarimana’s plane was a civilian or a military plane, considering the context of the shooting, and who might have shot it, is a material fact that must be conclusively determined.

The shooting down of the Habyarimana plane followed the same pattern of denials and disagreements over various reports by different parties. The RPF and the former FAR denied responsibility. The Rwanda government appointed its own Commission of Inquiry which exonerated itself and placed responsibility on the former FAR and Hutu extremists. The Commission of Inquiry concluded that the RPF could not have shot down the president’s plane, citing witnesses who described what appeared to be missiles from inside or near FAR military barracks. Filip Reyntjens criticized the report of the Commission of Inquiry (also known as Mutsinzi Report). He described the Report as biased and the presentation of unsubstantiated hypothesis or even down-right untruths as facts.[26]

Another report by a French Investigating Judge, Jean-Louis Bruguiere, reached an opposite conclusion. Judge Bruguiere accused nine high ranking Rwanda political and military leaders of plotting the attack and shooting the president’s plane. He issued arrest warrants for the nine but excluded President Kagame because France grants immunity to heads of state. Rwanda rejected the Bruguiere report in its entirety. It is relevant to note that Judge Bruguiere was asked to investigate the circumstances of the plane shooting by relatives of the deceased French pilot, co-pilot and flight engineer. Judge Bruguire never visited Rwanda or the crash site. He did not present himself as an impartial investigator. On the contrary, he primarily relied on testimony presented by RPF dissidents. He went in detail to describe how the missiles were brought to the site at Masaka hill and the names of the individuals who fired the missiles. As accomplices, the statements of the RPF dissidents ought to have been treated with grave caution and independent corroboration sought. Notably, some of the evidence presented originated from persons who were themselves the subject of criminal allegations, and whose defence relied in part on a strategy of blaming the RPF for ‘triggering’ the genocide. Rwanda rejected the report in its entirety.

A third report by French judges Marc Trevidic and Nathalie Poux (hereafter Trevidic Report) – that is, a report presented by a group of experts appointed by Trevidic and Poux - reached yet another conclusion. The Trevidic Report points to the most likely area from which the missiles that brought down the plane were fired. Because this area includes a military barracks of the FAR, the report infers that those responsible were most probably from the side of the Interim government and not the RPF. This conclusion would appear to concur with the Rwanda Commission of Inquiry Report. The Trevidici Report does not, however, identify those who fired the missiles. Nor does it conclusively state that the missiles were fired from the barracks and therefore could only have been the work of the FAR. The Trevidic Report is strongly criticised by Barrie Collins.[27]

What emerges, amongst other things, is that the effort to establish the truth about who shot down Habyarimana’s plane and why has been fraught with legal and political problems, a common feature experienced in investigations of Korea Air, Iran Airline and the Malaysian air crash. The sad reality concerning the deaths of presidents Habyarimana and Ntaryimara and the other persons on that plane is that there are many possibilities and much conflicting evidence about possible perpetrators and motives and means. There has long been a proliferation of hypotheses. Coupled with the degraded state of the evidence, now two decades after the fact, making findings that cross a threshold of ‘beyond a reasonable doubt’ remains improbable.

Under the ICTR Statute, the Prosecutor has authority to investigate and prosecute persons responsible for “serious” violations of international humanitarian law. The ICTR Statute identifies these crimes as genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. And, for the Prosecutor to conduct a successful criminal prosecution, a suspect must first be identified by name and particulars as provided for in Rule 47 (C) of the Rules. Apart from the flawed Judge Bruguiere Report, there are no credible reports that conclusively identify the person or persons who shot down the plane or superiors who ordered their subordinates to shoot the plane, or indeed what crimes were committed.

Herman and Peterson present investigation reports allegedly conducted by James Lyons and Michael Hourigan as proof that the ICTR had the evidence but failed to either follow the leads in the reports or to prosecute the perpetrators. The two authors recklessly fail to exercise caution in assessing the report, a process a seasoned Prosecutor routinely follows. For example, prosecutors routinely redirect the unproductive efforts of investigators to more germane or useful avenues of enquiry, particularly when allocating limited investigative resources. Investigator Hourigan’s curiosity notwithstanding, an effective investigation and prosecution of genocide requires orchestration by a conductor in a position to ‘hear’ all the notes being played, not by someone in the back row marching to their own drum. Further, without establishing whether findings by Lyons and Hourigan met the high threshold required for drafting indictments under Article 18 of the ICTR Statute and Rule 47 of the Rules, Herman and Peterson reach their incautious conclusion that there was sufficient evidence to prosecute and the Prosecutor failed to do so.

In alleging a sufficiency of evidence to prosecute Herman and Peterson ignore Rule 47(C) of the Rules which specifically states that “the Indictment shall set forth the name and particulars of the suspect, and a concise statement of the facts of the case and of the crime which the suspect is charged.” Further Rule 47(E) obligates “the reviewing judge to examine each of the counts in the indictment and any supporting materials the Prosecutor may provide, to determine, applying the standards set forth in Article 18 of the Statute, whether a case exists against the suspect.”

Legally untrained minds are prone to miss the importance of these requirements in indictment drafting. Suffice it to state that existing documents, whether evaluated individually or collectively – that is, statements or reports of James Lyons, Michael Horigan, Rwanda Commission of Inquiry, Judge Brugiere, Judes Trevidici and Poux, and scores of other reports including the Spanish National Court Judge Fernando Andreu Merelles – fail to provide reasonable and credible specificity sufficient to meet the high threshold standards for drafting and successfully presenting an indictment comprising charges as serious as genocide, crimes against humanity or war crimes against any possible suspect.

Unverified allegations, by whatever party, remain inconclusive and fail to meet the specificity standard required under Rule 47(C) and (E) and further fail to disclose the necessary elements of the crimes for the propose of criminal prosecution. Conceivably such evidence might be sufficient for a civil case with a much lower evidentiary threshold, but criminal trials require proof beyond reasonable doubt. A defective indictment is a disservice to an accused, the victims, the public and a waste of the Court’s time and resources. In this context a prosecutor has an obligation to only proceed with charges that have a substantial likelihood of conviction.


In conclusion, it is unfortunate that professor of finance Herman and journalist Peterson have elected to promote a political posture and criticism in the guise of an ostensible legal analysis, because in the end result that analysis contributes very little or nothing at all to the scholarship of international law, while at the same time generating unwarranted, misinformed controversy. It remains a fact that convictions for conspiracy to commit genocide in Rwanda in 1994 are well-founded in law. As a global legal culture we ought to take pride that the process by which those trials were conducted was based properly on respect for the procedural rights of the accused and fair trials principles.

* Obote-Odora Alex is an independent law consultant.


END NOTES

[1] Edward S Herman and David Peterson, Obote-Odora’s dishonest response to us on the ICTR and BBC. See Pambazuka News, 2015-01-20, Issue 710 at http://pambazuka.org/en/category/feature/93793 (last visited on 23 January 2015).
[2] Article 2(3)(b) of the ICTR Statute provides: The following acts shall be punishable: (b) Conspiracy to commit genocide.
[3] See, among other cases, Prosecutor v Eliezer Niyitegeka Case No ICTR-96-14-T (TC), Judgement of 16 May 2003, para 423; Prosecutor v Juvenal Kajelijeli Case No ICTR-98-44A-T, (TC), Judgement of 1 December 2003, para. 787. Prosecutor v Elizaphan Ntakirutimana and Gerard Ntakirutimana Case No ICTR-96-10 and 96-17- T, (TC) Judgement of 21 February 21 2003, para 798-799.
[4] Jean-Baptiste Gatete v Prosecutor, Case No.ICTR-00-61-A (AC), 9 October 2012, para.260.
[5] Prosecutor v Ferdinand Nahimana, Jean Bosco Barayagwiza and Hassan Ngeze, (hereafter Nahimana et al ) Case No ICTR-99-52-T (TC), Judgement of 3 December 2003, paras 1043 and 1045;
[6] Prosecutor v Alfred Musema Case No ICTR-96-13-T (TC) Judgement of 27 January 2000, para 193; see also, Ibid, Prosecutor v Nahimana et al (TC), para1044.
[7] George W Mugwanya, The Crime of Genocide in International Law – Appraising the Contribution of the UN Tribunal for Rwanda (Cameron May, 2007), p174-175.
[8] See Peter Gillies, Criminal Law (Sydney: The LBC Information Services, 4th ed. 1997), at pp 694 and 702.
[9] Prosecutor v Kajelijeli (TC), supra note 3, para787.
[10] Wayne R. LaFave, Criminal Law (St Paul Minn., West Publishing Group, 3rd e. 2000), at p.570.
[11] Prosecutor vJean Kambanda Case No ICTR-97-23-S, (TC), Judgement of 4 September 1998, para 40; Prosecutor v Kajelijeli (TC), supra note 3, para797.
[12] In the case of Kambanda, given his superior position of Prime Minister of Rwanda at the time, his inaction when his subordinates were carrying out meetings and reaching agreements to commit genocide played a pivotal role in the perpetration of the crime. His conduct could even be better characterized as tacit encouragement of the crime – a form of aiding and abetting. Kambanda’s guilty plea was confirmed by the ICTR Appeals Chamber; see Jean Kambanda v the Prosecutor, Case No. ICTR-97-23-A (AC) Judgement of 19 October 2000.
[13] Article 1 of the ICTR Statute limits the Tribunal’s temporal jurisdiction to “between 1 January 1994 and 31 December 1994, in accordance with the provisions of the present statute.”
[14] Prosecutor v Theoneste Bagosora, Gratien Kabiligi, Aloys Ntabakuze and Anatole Nsengiyumva (hereafter Bagosora et al), Case No. ICTR-97-41-T, (TC) 18 December 2008, para 2113.
[15] Ibid, paras 2085, 2086 and 2091.
[16] Ibid, para.2092.
[17] Ibid, para.2112.
“Other or newly discovered information, subsequent trials or history may demonstrate a conspiracy involving the Accused prior to 6 April to commit genocide. This Chamber’s task, however, is narrowed by exacting standards of proof and procedure, the specific evidence on the record before it and its primary focus on the actions of the four Accused in this trial. In reaching its finding on conspiracy, the Chamber has considered the totality of the evidence, but a firm foundation cannot be constructed from fractured bricks.”
[18] Ibid, para.2095.
[19] Ibid, para.2107
[20] Ibid, para.2110
“After the death of President Habyarimana, these tools were clearly put to use to facilitate killings. When viewed against the backdrop of the targeted killings and massive slaughter perpetrated by civilian and military assailants between April and July 1994 as well as earlier cycles of violence, it is understandable why for many this evidence takes on new meaning and shows a prior conspiracy to commit genocide. Indeed, these preparations are completely consistent with a plan to commit genocide. However, they are also consistent with preparations for a political or military power struggle. The Chamber recalls that, when confronted with circumstantial evidence, it may only convict where it is the only reasonable inference. It cannot be excluded that the extended campaign of violence directed against Tutsis, as such, became an added or an altered component of these preparations.”
[21] Ibid, para.2110
[22] Ibid, para.2110
[23] Ibid, para.2111
[24] Aerial Incident of 3 July 1988 (Islamic Republic of Iran v United States of America) Settlement Agreement, International Court of Justice, 9 February 1996.
[25] Convention For the Suppression of Unlawful Acts Against the Safety of Civil Aviation, Signed at Montreal on 23 September 1971.
[26] Filip Reyntjens, A Fake Inquiry on a Major Event. Analysis of the Mutsinzi Report on the 6th April 1994 attacks on the Rwanda President’s aeroplane (Institute of Development Policy and Management, University of Antwerp) Working Paper/2010.07, May 2010.
[27] Barrie Collins, Shooting down the ‘truth’ about Rwanda, Spiked at htt://www.spiked-online.com/newsite/author/Barrie%20.Collins (last visited 27 January 2015); See also Barrie Collins, Rwanda 1994, The Myth of the Akazu Genocide Conspiracy and its Consequences (Palgrave Macmillan, August 2014) where he presents his hypothesis that there was no conspiracy without persuasive and credible supporting data.

* THE VIEWS OF THE ABOVE ARTICLE ARE THOSE OF THE AUTHOR/S AND DO NOT NECESSARILY REFLECT THE VIEWS OF THE PAMBAZUKA NEWS EDITORIAL TEAM

* BROUGHT TO YOU BY PAMBAZUKA NEWS

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Announcements

Special Issue: Oppressions are interlinked in Africa - Can intersectionality be a political tool to inspire social justice organising?

2015-01-27

http://pambazuka.net/en/category/announce/93814

Pambazuka News invites articles on the question of oppression in Africa to help readers make sense of the need to be critical in analysing the connectedness of African struggles and to reflect on the role this intersectionality can play in building collaboration in speaking truth to power in Africa.

Why has mobilisation for the social justice in Africa assumed that social problems are discrete challenges only facing specific groups? NGO-organising is increasingly failing to acknowledge how the interlocking factors and systems of oppression have continuously worked together to produce domination, discrimination and marginalisation in Africa. Indeed as many commentators would agree all Africa’s so hyped ‘advancement’ has been founded on pyramids of oppression. In addition, various forms of oppression overlap rather than ran parallel in the lives of affected people. Embedded in colonial histories and exacerbated by modern fundamentalist ideologies, the neo-liberal policies and processes in Africa have advanced further oppression and discrimination against already disenfranchised groups.

Many social justice organisers have often fallen into the trap of defining struggles as exclusively caused by definite categories of causes. This single axis analysis has resulted in silo-oriented strategies in organising and resource mobilisation for social change in the continent.

Conventional interventions to oppression in Africa have failed to capture the interactive effects of the different oppressions on different constituents and ended up marginalising them even more.

Indeed different forms of oppressions in Africa are interlinked and cannot be confronted alone. At such a time when there is a lot of reawakening among the citizenry in Africa to demand for more than just political rights and freedoms, traditional struggles against torture, violence against women, exploitation of workers, environmental degradation among others are meeting up with ‘newer issues’ in social justice. New social movements or identity organising have been seen as competitors for resources and constituencies.

But this situation should accelerate the need for social movements and other grassroots formations to apply new prisms to analyse social struggles in Africa. This should be a departure from the conventional organising that assumes that perceived groups or communities have similar experiences with social problems.

An intersectional theory and analysis in Africa can reveal the multiple identities that define people, exposing the different types of discrimination and disadvantages that occur as a result of the combination of these identities. This should inspire our activism towards inclusive organising and greater collaboration between and across social movements in challenging powerful and oppressive systems in Africa.

In view of this there is need for organisers to ask critical questions such as:

• Have we been lied to about the REAL cause of Africa’s oppression?
• In what way have the different social, political and economic systems affected specific groups already oppressed?
• Do African States function mainly in the interests of its people or do they maintain or actively support other structures that propagate their oppression?
• What is the role of the mainstream media in shaping a biased view of oppressed people in Africa?
• Are neo-liberal policies and processes reducing or advancing the different factors that lead to oppression in Africa?
• Why is it difficult for social justice movements to unpack the different layers of oppression that work together to produce injustices in Africa?
• Are social movements in Africa fully theorising their struggles to counter oppression?
• What can we learn from the feminist movement in analysing the multifaceted dimensions of oppressions?
• Can intersectionality be the unifying glue to the new forms of organising in Africa?

Pambazuka News Editorial Team invites articles on these and related questions for a special issue on Oppressions in Africa planned for February 2014.

DEADLINE FOR SUBMISSION OF ARTICLES is: Friday February 14

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

Please submit a biography of two lines at the end of your article and send it to:editor@pambazuka.org


African Journalist Study Programme: Workshop in Nairobi 2015

A call for applications

2015-01-15

http://pambazuka.net/en/category/announce/93721

The Fahamu Emerging Powers in Africa project will be conducting a three-day Journalist capacity building workshop in Nairobi. The workshop seeks to strengthen the voice of African media on investigating and reporting the impact that emerging actors (including China, India, Brazil, South Korea and Turkey) have on Africa’s external engagements and development landscape.

Africa’s relationship with emerging powers from the Global South has become a predominant feature of international media focus. Even where Africa media has sought to develop a continental perspective, the narrative of western views and opinions has largely influenced this outlook. As such there is a growing need for independent inquiry and investigation into the engagement of the Emerging Actors in Africa from African media sources. Of key interest is the necessity to examine how these emerging powers define their role and stake in aid, bilateral trade, investment and diplomatic ties with Africa. More importantly, there is also overwhelming need for African media to be able to hold these emerging actors as well as African governments accountable to the obligations and action plans in bilateral and multilateral agreements.

In view of the above, Fahamu’s Emerging Powers in Africa project is pleased to announce a call for applications for a journalist capacity building workshop to be hosted in Nairobi towards the middle to the end of March 2015. The workshop will seek to assist media practitioners with important insights and reporting techniques regarding the general coverage of the emerging powers’ footprint in Africa and more specifically meetings like the India-Africa Forum Summit and the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) summit, which are scheduled to be hosted in 2015.

These events will provide important outcomes related to how African media understand and measure Africa’s relations with these actors’ vis-à-vis perceptions from international media. Furthermore it will also enable for the development of more nuanced insights into how ordinary African citizens inform their views about these emerging powers. Within this context the need for greater collaboration and interaction amongst African journalists for analysis, interrogation and investigation will become ever more pertinent.

Five successful applicants will be chosen to participate in the programme that aims to:

- Strengthen the capacity of African media commentators;
- Facilitate greater understanding of perceptions of the emerging powers in Africa, and vice versa;
- Expand on knowledge amongst African media of the emerging powers’ political, economic, societal and media footprint across the continent;
- Create an opportunity for African media organisations and journalism schools to develop long-term relationships, collaborations and exchanges between themselves
- Provide a platform to facilitate the implementation of capacity building projects and greater media coverage amongst African media on the activities of the emerging powers in Africa; and
- Include greater media participation in discussions and advocacy in Africa about the role of the emerging powers in Africa

2. CALL FOR APPLICATIONS

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

- Provide frequent reports to their national, regional, or local print media, radio, television channels or online fora on topics related to the engagement between African countries and the emerging powers. In the case of individuals from journalism schools or training programmes at a higher education institution issues related to the emerging powers in Africa must demonstrate how this will improve their curriculum development;

- Have at least 8- 10 years experience as a journalist or teaching in the profession;

- Be fluent in English;

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

The following costs will be reimbursed:

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

Applications close on 20 February 2015 and successful applicants will be notified in the first week of March 2015. Late submissions and incomplete applications will NOT be accepted.

3. REQUIREMENTS

All applications are to be submitted electronically and must include:

- A current resume including professional work history;

- A brief proposal in English outlining a story you wish to cover in Africa related to specifically the India-Africa Forum Summit and the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) that will be of interest to your target audience;

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

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

- Provide samples of three professional pieces of written work/manuscripts that have been printed or broadcast in the last 12 months; or an outline of courses taught;

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

Applications must be submitted in English

4. CONCLUDING REMARKS

A contract will be signed between Fahamu and participants in order to fulfil the following obligations:

- Produce at least 2 commentary pieces for the Fahamu Emerging Powers in Africa Newsletter on India/China-Africa relations in the run to and following the two Summits;
- Make at least 3 regular contributions on civil society perspectives for publication in the Fahamu Emerging Powers in Africa Newsletter on topics agreed with Fahamu.

Applications should be sent to emerging-powers@fahamu.org

Deadline: 20 February 2015

For further information please contact

Sanusha Naidu: Sanusha@fahamu.org
Or
Edwin Rwigi: Edwin@fahamu.org

* Fahamu (www.fahamu.org) is committed to serving the needs of organisations and social movements that aspire to progressive social change and that promote and protect human rights. Fahamu has extensive experience in distance learning for human rights organisations.


Call for application as researcher/research team

Monitoring of Compliance and Implementation of African Union Policy Standards and Legal Instruments by Kenya

2015-01-15

http://pambazuka.net/en/category/announce/93722

Fahamu, on behalf of the SOTU coalition, is seeking to engage a consultant researcher or team of researchers to conduct an assessment in Kenya to determine the level of compliance with and implementation of key AU legal instruments and policy standards and the impact of their implementation on citizens’ quality of life.

TERMS OF REFERENCE FOR COUNTRY RESEARCH TEAM

I. INTRODUCTION

The State of the Union (SOTU) is a coalition of civil society organisations working in ten African countries to advocate for the ratification, domestication and implementation of key African Union (AU) policy standards and legal instruments. These instruments cover issues ranging from governance, political, social and economic rights, to peace, security and development. Fourteen of them – ten legal instruments and four policy standards – if implemented, have tremendous promise for the lives of millions of Africans.

As part of its commitment, SOTU conducts bi-annual research to review country compliance and status of implementation of selected AU legal instruments and policy standards. The first State of the Union compliance reports were published in July 2010 and were well appreciated by the African Union Commission, AU member states and other interested stakeholders. The second reports, which were meant to review progress in terms of ratification and implementation at country level after the 2010 reports, were published in 2013 and were also very much appreciated by all the relevant stakeholders. After every publication, Fahamu undertook a series of activities in which the Kenya State of the Union compliance reports were disseminated to various universities, government and relevant civil society organisations.

The impact of the State of the Union compliance reports is starting to be felt in government policies as there is for instance a planned move by the Kenyan government to assess the level of compliance with the NEPAD[1] Comprehensive African Agricultural Development Plan (2003) following the devolvement of Agriculture to county governments. SOTU members are currently planning to launch a second round of reviews and publish national compliance reports by 30 April 2015.

II. CONSULTANCY OBJECTIVE


Fahamu, on behalf of the SOTU coalition, is seeking to engage a consultant researcher or team of researchers to conduct an assessment in Kenya to determine the level of compliance with and implementation of key AU legal instruments and policy standards and the impact of their implementation on citizens’ quality of life[2] .

The study seeks to establish the status of ratification, domestication and implementation of AU instruments, policy standards and decisions at country level—best practices and challenges—and strategies to enhance implementation and monitoring. The overall goal of the study is to review the progress of ratification, domestication and implementation made since the previous SOTU compliance report was published in May 2013. The findings and recommendations of the study will be used to engage with the Government of Kenya and other relevant policy makers.

III. RESEARCH METHODOLOGY

The researcher or team of researchers will design the methodology in collaboration with Fahamu. A combination of approaches is suggested: employing both quantitative and qualitative studies using secondary research findings, case studies and interviews with key stakeholders

IV. CONSULTANT’S DUTIES AND RESPONSIBILITIES
ORIENTATION

• Reading the 2010 and 2013 national and continental reports, AU legal instruments, policy standards and plans of action selected for the study;
• Reading and familiarisation with the research templates developed for the study (standards, indicators and research questions and guidelines for country level research);

MANAGEMENT

• Working closely with Fahamu and obtaining in-country support and guidance as needed;
• Work under the supervision of and guidance of the Lead Researcher through the SOTU Secretariat and reporting to Fahamu. Working closely and reporting on progress to the Lead Consultant Researcher and Fahamu.

RESEARCH ACTIVITIES

• Carrying out secondary and primary research and analysis on the implementation of identified policy standards and selected AU legal instruments and plans of action drawing on credible research by the Government of Kenya as well as other organisations both international and local;
• Hold face to face meetings and group discussions with key stakeholders to validate the draft findings and get in depth analysis;
• Incorporating feedback from the validation meetings at national level, selected peer reviewers and Fahamu in the draft report.
• Making recommendations for immediate implementation, a longer-term strategy, or further studies;
• Developing a final piece of research for Kenya in English and in a form fit to be published;

POST RESEARCH ACTIVITIES

• Present findings of the research at the validation and dissemination/launch meetings to provide an opportunity for the report to gain support from a wide section of interested parties;
• Commenting on the edited versions of the continental report compiled by the Lead Consultant Researcher to ensure that meanings have not been altered or information lost in the editing process.

V. EXPECTED OUTPUTS

• Draft and final Kenya country reports detailing the status of implementation of AU commitments, successes/challenges and suggestions on strategies to fast-track implementation and monitoring. The report will be structured as per the guidelines and table of contents template prepared by the Lead Consultant Researcher. The report is to be written in English—40 pages maximum excluding annexes;
• A Power point presentation of the report and presentation of the PowerPoint at two national level meetings: validation and dissemination/launch.

VI. TIMING

The assignment should be completed by 20 April 2015. The total number of working days under the contract should not exceed 25.

The consultant researcher will be managed by and will regularly report on progress of work on a weekly basis to the Lead Consultant Researcher for the Project and Fahamu on behalf of the SOTU coalition.


VII. REQUIRED SKILLS, EXPERIENCE AND COMPETENCIES

ESSENTIAL

• At least a Masters’ Degree in Social Sciences;
• At least eight years relevant working experience in research, data collection and analysis, and monitoring and evaluation involving projects of a multi-sectoral and multi-country nature;
• Experience in working with civil society and/ or with state representatives or African intergovernmental organisations; particularly the AU or Regional Economic Communities;
• Demonstrable knowledge of how to devise interview instruments and monitoring and evaluation templates;
• Experience in convening and moderating meetings/ focus groups/ interviews with diverse participants, such as senior officials and civil society representatives;
• Excellent report writing and research skills, including a proven track record in writing assessments, guidelines and evaluations. Ability to prepare succinct, analytical publications and reports;
• Strong interpersonal skills including a proven ability to liaise and mediate between a diverse group of stakeholders (civil society and government officials in particular);
• Fluency in spoken and written English (knowledge of Kiswahili is an asset);
• Excellent organisational skills including the ability to work with minimal supervision, to set priorities and to deliver tasks on time;

DESIRED

• Local contacts and experience working in Kenya, including in government and in civil society;
• Track record of managing a similar project, with limited budget and time, but with demonstrated results;
• Extensive knowledge of the AU legal instruments and policy standards in the areas of human rights, democracy and socio-economic development.

VIII. EXPRESSIONS OF INTEREST

Interested consultants resident in Kenya should email their applications together with the following to: infokenya@fahamu.org
• An up-to-date curriculum vitae with three referees;
• Cover letter indicating interest and a daily professional fees in US$;
• A summary of experience related to the required competencies and skills above;
• A sample of a previous similar assignment you have conducted;
• Submissions should reach Fahamu on or before 16 February 2015.


END NOTES

[1] NEPAD: The New Partnership for Africa’s Development
[2] These include the: African Charter on Human and People’ Rights (1990); AU Protocol to the African Charter on Human and People’s on the Rights of Women in Africa (2003); African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child(1990), Abuja Call for Accelerated Action Towards Universal Access to HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis, Malaria and Other Related Infectious Diseases Services (2001), Maputo Plan of Action for Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights 2007-2010 (2006), Africa Health Strategy: 2007–2015, African Union Convention on Preventing and Combating Corruption (2003) and the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance (2007) , Treaty Establishing the African Economic Community (Abuja Treaty), African youth Charter, African Convention on Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources, and the NEPAD-Comprehensive Africa Agricultural Development Plan (CAADP)


Toward the 8th Pan-African Congress, Accra, Ghana

2015-01-21

http://pambazuka.net/en/category/announce/93795

The Local Organising Committee of the 8th Pan African Congress, Accra, Ghana wishes to inform the Pan African world that the 8th PAC will be held in Accra, 4 – 7 March, 2015 at the Accra International Conference Centre.

Pan-African organisations and Pan-Africanists who are interested in participating in the 8th Pan African Congress may contact Mr. Kwasi Adu on: kwasi.adu@outlook.com

For further information, interested participants should also visit the 8th PAC website at: www.8panafcongress.com where registration can be done online. Other relevant information about the Congress will be published online on a regular basis.

Kwesi Pratt Jnr.
Chairman
Local Organising Committee




Comment & analysis

The need for Electoral Complaints Authority in Zambia

Henry Kyambalesa

2015-01-29

http://pambazuka.net/en/category/comment/93831

The two leading candidates in Zambia’s presidential by-election last week were in fact unfit to vie, given their record of activities that constitute elections offenses in the Zambian law. A complaints authority should be set up to investigate the claims.

1. INTRODUCTION

In an article prior to the 20 January 2015 presidential by-election, I urged my fellow Zambians not to vote for Mr. Hakainde Hichilema and the current Republican president, Mr. Edgar Lungu, due to a number of reasons.

First, I argued that we risked turning our country into what has been referred to in the literature as “the criminal state” if we honored any of the two candidates with the Republican presidency.

I arrived at this conclusion following Mr. Rupiah Banda’s revelation that both Mr. Lungu and Mr. Hichilema had offered to discontinue his court cases in exchange for his support.

By definition, “the criminal state” is a nation-state where the government is oblivious to crimes committed by government leaders and the elite, where individuals with criminal records are appointed to positions of authority, and/or where government leaders and the elite are engaged in criminal activities, such as corruption, money laundering, drug trafficking, and/or human trafficking.

Second, they failed to prevent the riff-raffs among their supporters from engaging in politically motivated violence. Third, the two political leaders were endorsed by chieftains from their respective provinces, which was likely to foster tribalism and regionalism and potentially lead to the disintegration of our Motherland.

Fourth, they accepted the endorsements and/or financial contributions of citizens who were alleged to have been involved in corrupt activities, and/or individuals whose election to the National Assembly was nullified due to electoral malpractices.

Fifth, their sources of campaign funds could not easily be established, raising fears that they could easily mortgage our beloved country to individuals, companies, or countries with shady interests. And sixth, that they were not likely to adopt and institutionalize transparency and the rule of law as important elements of good governance, as demonstrated by their arrogance in dealing with issues related to these elements.

Ultimately, I urged my fellow citizens to vote for Dr. Nevers Mumba, Brig.-General Godfrey Miyanda, Ms. Edith Nawakwi, or any other credible candidate of their choice.

Well, the people have given the mandate to Mr. Lungu and the Patriotic Front to form the new Zambian government! My sincere congratulations to them!

2. MR. HICHILEMA’S CLAIMS

UPND President Hakainde Hichilema, the runner-up to President Lungu in the January 2015 presidential by-election, has claimed that his party has the names of all Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) officials who allegedly conspired with the ruling Patriotic Front to steal his votes in the just-ended election.

Such claims should not be brushed aside as mere and typical lamentations of a candidate who has lost an election. We should instead seriously consider the prospect of establishing a separate governmental watchdog designed to monitor the activities of officers of the ECZ, and the conduct of all elections for public office in the country.

Such a watchdog can hopefully lessen the perceived vulnerability of the ECZ and the electoral process to the influences, manipulation, and/or machinations of unscrupulous politicians and political parties. The watchdog could be referred to as the “Electoral Complaints Authority of Zambia” or “ECAZ.”

3. ELECTORAL COMMISSION OF ZAMBIA

The ECZ is established by Article 76 of the Constitution of Zambia, which provides for the promulgation of legislation to determine the composition and operations of the Commission as per the Electoral Commission Act of 1996.

The constitutionally mandated functions of the Commission are as follows: (a) to supervise the registration of voters and review the voters’ registers; (b) to conduct the Presidential and National Assembly Elections; and (c) to review the boundaries of the Constituencies into which Zambia is divided for the purposes of elections.

In addition to these constitutional functions, the Commission is mandated to perform the following statutory functions: (a) to supervise referendums as provided for by the Referendum Act; (b) to conduct and supervise local government elections as provided for by the Local Government Elections Act; and (c) to formulate and review general electoral regulations and perform any other statutory function which the National Assembly may assign to it.

4. “ELECTORAL COMPLAINTS AUTHORITY”

The ECAZ could assume some of the functions of ECZ stipulated in Article 91 of the 2010 Draft Constitution prepared by the National Constitutional Conference (NCC).

Article 83 of the 2012 Draft Constitution and Article 261 of the current draft constitution should also be expanded to include some of the specific functions of the ECZ stipulated in Article 91 of the NCC 2010 Draft Constitution.

These functions should be designated as a separate Article in the envisaged Republican constitution, and should be paraphrased as follows:

(1) The “Electoral Complaints Authority of Zambia” will consider and determine all issues and matters of malpractices relating to the ECZ and/or its officers occurring before, during and after elections or referenda.

(2) It will also determine all electoral disputes and issues of malpractices, occurring before or during an election, within twenty-four hours of receiving a complaint with regard to the dispute or malpractice and will have the discretion to make an order –

(a) Prohibiting a person or political party from doing any act proscribed by or under an Act of Parliament;

(b) Excluding a person or any agent of a person or any candidate or agent of a political party from entering a polling station;

(c) Reducing or increasing the number of votes cast in favor of a candidate after a recount;

(d) Disqualifying the candidature of any person;

(e) That the votes cast at a particular polling station do not tally in whole or in part;

(f) For filing a complaint and making a report to a court or tribunal handling any electoral petition; or

(g) Cancelling an election or election result and calling for a fresh election, where the electoral malpractice is of a nature that would affect the final electoral results.

(3) A decision of the “Electoral Complaints Authority of Zambia” on any matter referred to in Clause (2) will be final only for purposes of proceeding with the elections.

(4) Any complaints connected to an election that will be raised after an election will be dealt with under an election petition by an electoral tribunal.

Articles 113 through 116 of the Mung’omba Draft Constitution could be amended to incorporate the “Electoral Complaints Authority of Zambia”, except Article 113(3)(b), which, for the purposes of the suggested Authority, could read as follows: “forwarding the names of the short-listed candidates for appointment to a Committee on Elections for ratification.”

(A “Committee on Elections” would need to be created to expand the number of Portfolio Committees of Parliament.)

So, in making the appointments of the members of the ECZ, the Appointments Committee (recommended by the CRC) should forward the names of short-listed candidates for appointment to the President for ratification or confirmation.

On the other hand, the Appointments Committee should forward the names of short-listed candidates for appointment to the “Electoral Complaints Authority of Zambia” to a “Committee on Elections” for ratification or confirmation.


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

* THE VIEWS OF THE ABOVE ARTICLE ARE THOSE OF THE AUTHOR/S AND DO NOT NECESSARILY REFLECT THE VIEWS OF THE PAMBAZUKA NEWS EDITORIAL TEAM

* BROUGHT TO YOU BY PAMBAZUKA NEWS

* Please do not take Pambazuka for granted! Become a Friend of Pambazuka and make a donation NOW to help keep Pambazuka FREE and INDEPENDENT!

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


Fidel Castro: I do not trust the US

Fidel Castro Cruz

2015-01-29

http://pambazuka.net/en/category/comment/93830

The 88-year-old revolutionary former President of Cuba does not “trust the US, nor have I exchanged any words with them,” he says in a letter addressed to the student federation at the University of Havana. This is the first time Castro has spoken publicly since the 17 December US push for a historic reconciliation between the two nations.

Dear compañeros,

In 2006, as a result of health issues which were incompatible with the time and effort required to fulfill my duties – which I myself assumed when I entered this University September 4, 1945, 70 years ago – I resigned from my official positions.

I was not the son of a worker, or lacking in material or social resources for a relatively comfortable existence; I could say I miraculously escaped wealth. Many years later, a richer and undoubtedly very capable U.S. citizen, with almost 100 billion dollars, stated – according to a news agency article published this past Thursday, January 22 – that the predominant system of production and distribution of wealth would, from generation to generation, make the poor rich.

Since the times of ancient Greece, during almost 3,000 years, the Greeks, without going very far, were brilliant in almost all activities: physics, mathematics, philosophy, architecture, art, science, politics, astronomy and other branches of human knowledge. Greece, however, was a land in which slaves did the most difficult work in fields and cities, while the oligarchy devoted itself to writing and philosophizing. The first utopia was written precisely for them.

Observe carefully the realities of this well-known, globalized and very poorly shared planet Earth, on which we know every vital resource is distributed in accordance with historical factors: some with much less than they need, others with so much they don’t know what to do with it. Now amidst great threats and dangers of war, chaos reigns in the distribution of financial resources and social production. The world’s population has grown, between 1800 and 2015, from one to seven billion inhabitants. Can this population increment be accommodated, in this way, over the next 100 years, and food, health, water and housing needs met, regardless of whatever scientific advances are made?

Well, setting aside these perplexing problems, it is astonishing to recall that the University of Havana, during the days when I entered this beloved, prestigious institution almost three fourths of a century ago, was the only one in Cuba.

Of course, fellow students and professors, we must remember that it is not just one now, but rather more than 50 institutions of higher learning distributed across the entire country.

When you invited me to participate in the launch of the commemoration of the 70th anniversary of my admission to the University, which I was surprised to learn of, during days when I was very busy with various issues in which I can perhaps still be relatively useful, I decided to take a break and devote several hours to recalling those years.

I am overwhelmed recalling that 70 years have passed. In reality, compañeros and compañeras, if I were to register again at this age, as some have asked me, I would respond, without hesitation, that it would be to pursue scientific studies. I would say, like Guayasamín: Leave a little light on for me.

In those years, already influenced by Marx, I was able to understand more, and better, the strange, complex world in which it has befallen us to live. I may have harbored some illusions of the bourgeoisie, whose tentacles managed to entangle many students, when they possessed more passion than experience. The topic would be long and interminable.

Another genius of revolutionary action, founder of the Communist Party, was Lenin. Thus I did not hesitate a second when during the Moncada trial, when they allowed me to attend, albeit just one time, I stated before the judges and dozens of high ranking officials of the Batista regime that we were readers of Lenin.

We didn’t talk about Mao Zedong, since the socialist revolution in China, inspired by the same principles, had not yet ended.

I insist, nonetheless, that revolutionary ideas must always be on guard as humanity expands its knowledge.

Nature teaches us that tens of billions of light years may have passed, and life in all of its expressions has always been subjected to an incredible combination of matter and radiation.

A personal greeting between the Presidents of Cuba and the United States took place at the funeral of Nelson Mandela, the distinguished, exemplary combatant against apartheid who had become friendly with Obama.

It is enough to indicate that, at that time, several years had passed since Cuban troops had decisively defeated the racist South African army, directed by the wealthy bourgeoisie, which had vast economic resources. This is a story of a conflict which has yet to be written. South Africa, the government with the most financial resources on the continent, had nuclear weapons supplied by the racist state of Israel, as the result of an agreement between this party and President Ronald Reagan, who authorized the delivery of devices for the use of such weapons to attack Cuban and Angolan forces defending the Popular Republic of Angola against racist troops attempting to occupy the country.

Thus peace negotiations were excluded while Angola was attacked by apartheid forces, with the best trained and equipped army on the African continent.

In such a situation, there was no possibility whatsoever for a peaceful solution. Continual efforts to liquidate the Popular Republic of Angola, to bleed the country systematically with the power of that well equipped and trained army, was what led to the Cuban decision to deliver a resounding blow to the racists at Cuito Cuanavale, the former NATO base which South Africa was attempting to occupy at all costs.

That powerful country was obliged to negotiate a peace agreement which put an end to the military occupation of Angola, and an end to apartheid in South Africa.

The African continent was left free of nuclear weapons. Cuba was forced to face, for a second time, the threat of a nuclear attack.

Cuban internationalist troops withdrew from Africa with honor.

Then Cuba survived the Special Period in peace time, which has already lasted for more than 20 years, without raising the white flag, something we have never done, and will never do.

Many friends of Cuba know of the Cuban people’s exemplary conduct, and I will explain to them, in a few words, my essential position.

I do not trust the policy of the United States, nor have I exchanged one word with them, though this does not in any way signify a rejection of a peaceful solution to conflicts or threats of war. Defending peace is the duty of all. Any negotiated, peaceful solution to the problems between the United States and peoples, or any people of Latin America, which does not imply force or the use of force, must be addressed in accordance with international principles and norms.

We will always defend cooperation and friendship with all of the world’s peoples, and with those of our political adversaries. This is what we are demanding for all.

The President of Cuba has taken pertinent steps in accordance with his prerogatives and faculties conceded by the National Assembly and the Communist Party of Cuba.

The grave dangers which today threaten humanity must yield to norms which are compatible with human dignity. No country can be denied such a right.

In this spirit I have struggled, and will continue to struggle, to my last breath.

Fidel Castro Ruz

January 26, 2015

12:35 p.m.

* The historic leader of the Cuban Revolution Fidel Castro sent this message to the Federation of University Students on the occasion of an event commemorating the 70th anniversary of his admission to the University of Havana. The letter was published by the Communist Party newspaper Granma.


Is development becoming a toxic term?

2015-01-27

http://pambazuka.net/en/category/comment/93811

Development used to be a battle against deprivation and dependence. Nowadays it’s more about supporting the liberalisation of markets.

The Conservative party’s conversion to development in 2009, most evident in its support of higher aid spending, was seen by many campaigners as one of the development sector’s greatest successes. After years of being seen as a concern of Christians and the left, development had gone mainstream. Apart from a few Little Englanders on the far right, there was a broad consensus that we should fight global poverty.

But a closer look at One World Conservatism – “capitalism and development was Britain’s gift to the world. Today we have an opportunity to renew that gift by helping poor countries kick-start growth and development” – suggests that this victory was not all it seemed. For in equating it with the global expansion of capitalism under the British empire, the term development has clearly come to mean something quite different – indeed pretty much the opposite – to that which anti-poverty campaigners had worked for over several decades.

Back in the heyday of “development”, from the 1950s-1970s, the term had been closely associated with national liberation governments like those of Kwame Nkrumah in Ghana and Julius Nyerere in Tanzania, which fought poverty, deprivation and dependence by using strong state intervention and provision.

Ugandan activist Yash Tandon went further, saying that development for him meant “people’s struggle for liberation from prevailing structures of domination and control over national policies and resources”. In other words, development was seen as a process of breaking with colonial exploitation and transferring power over resources from the first to the third world. For these activists, development represented a revolutionary struggle over the world resources.

The gutting of development of its political content wasn’t something that happened overnight. In the 1990s, after years of right-wing governments in the UK and US expressing the idea that poverty was an individual responsibility, and aid budgets slashed to historically low levels, some in the development sector actively embraced a new way of talking about what they were doing. The UN invented a new category of extreme poverty, denoting those who really deserved our attention, which separated the idea of poverty from inequality.

Campaign organisations pushed a technical “non-political” set of development policies addressing poverty at the micro level, by digging wells and supplying fertiliser, for example. These policies promised to lift the very poor out of their poverty so that they too could share in the wealth of the global economy.

From here, development quickly became a very different proposition. Because if the assumption is that more of the global economy will solve poverty, then developing countries needed to better embed neo-liberal policies. Aid was important because it meant using public money to facilitate the building the sort of liberalised market necessary for democracy and prosperity to flourish. Development became a chance for the political right to extend economic neo-liberalism into those parts of the world which other forms of intervention couldn’t reach.

Today we have arrived at the stage where development involves the UK spending aid money on private investments in gated communities in El Salvador, upmarket flats and a business hotel in Kenya, luxury beachfront homes in Mauritius. Or the World Bank funding five-star hotels in Ghana in conjunction with one of the world’s richest men. Even the mainstream of aid budgets today are used to foster better investment environments in Africa for the likes of Diageo, Coca-cola and SAB Miller, or private education in Pakistan.

Development, and fighting poverty, have been separated from any conception of politics or power; a fundamental misunderstanding of what poverty is. Poverty isn’t simply the difference between living on $1.20 and $1.40 a day. It’s about lacking power over those resources that you need to live a decent life – food, water, shelter, access to healthcare, education. If one person – or corporation – controls them, that means others don’t.

Today, in the wake of the financial crash, as those most responsible for the economic meltdown walked away, it seems clear that neoliberalism and globalisation has made a tiny proportion of people much better off, while the livelihoods of many others – not to mention the environment – has been eroded. Ironically, one of the areas of society most immune to this erosion is development, where neoliberalism still holds sway and has actually grown stronger.

This is why last week World Development Movement became Global Justice Now. We have taken this radical step to show how far the pendulum has swung. We have always maintained that poverty is deeply political. Despite what we’ve been repeatedly told by the political elite, you cannot get rid of poverty while a tiny minority enjoys wealth beyond imagination. In particular, the power that big business wields today is incompatible with a democratic society capable of solving the world’s problems.

Of course it’s true that sometimes people need immediate help – they can’t wait for a radical transformation. But unless we build that transformation into all of our work, the aid industry will not wither away but grow bigger and bigger. The work of democratic states will become the preserve of NGOs working with private companies. It’s time to take a stand against this ever rightward drift.

* Nick Dearden is head of Global Justice Now. Follow @nickdearden75 on Twitter.

* THE VIEWS OF THE ABOVE ARTICLE ARE THOSE OF THE AUTHOR/S AND DO NOT NECESSARILY REFLECT THE VIEWS OF THE PAMBAZUKA NEWS EDITORIAL TEAM

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A season of disclaimers

Abdulrazaq Magaji

2015-01-29

http://pambazuka.net/en/category/comment/93836

Nigeria’s president Goodluck Jonathan is surrounded by discredited men who are doing his re-election campaign more harm than good.

At the rate things are going, there should be scant surprise in the event of PDP leaders issuing a disclaimer in respect of their presidential candidate. Party leaders should have no problem with this because the president earned one last Wednesday at the palace of His Royal Highness, Mallam Muhammadu Sanusi 11, the Emir of Kano. Nigerians must have been thrilled to no end as they watched smug-faced PDP leaders with raised clenched fists as they struggled to hold their babanriga in place, in a tepid show of obeisance to the man they sought to abase less than a year ago. No matter!

What matters is that, at the last count, PDP had issued four high-level disclaimers; two of them within hours of each other. Twice within the past week or so, the party distanced itself from a statement issued by one Deji Adeyanju, an aide to Doyin Okupe to the effect that the presidency was contemplating calling on the Nigerian Army to scuttle General Muhammadu Buhari’s impending inauguration. This was followed by another disclaimer in respect of Ayo Fayose, the irascible governor of Ekiti state.

Ayo Fayose. That is the name of the man ‘freely elected’ by the people of ‘educationally advantaged’ Ekiti state to be their governor ahead of Dr. Kayode Fayemi. I have met indigenes of Ekiti state who claim Fayose is a typical Nigerian hustler. You know the typical Nigerian hustler: they are those Nigerians who will do anything to get anything. C’mon, stretch your imagination: anything means anything! It is this same Fayose who, in furtherance of his policy of stomach infrastructure, placed front-page adverts to announce the virtual obituary of General Buhari. Any person who can wish anybody dead or announce the obituary of the living can do anything. See some of the president’s most reliable lieutenants?

Judged by the way they are embarrassing the president, one would think Fayose, Okupe, Femi Fani-Kayode and others are moles in the PDP. It is disturbing enough that discredited people like Fayose, Okupe, Femi Fani-Kayode and others like them count among today’s men of the moment. Is the president not aware that it was one Remi Fani-Kayode, father of Femi Fani-Kayode, whose tongue set the defunct western region on the fire that led to the January, 1966 coup? This same Femi Fani-Kayode who raised valid questions on his ability to rule is now a prominent member of the president’s kitchen cabinet. It is strange and disturbing that President Goodluck Jonathan rates Femi Fani-Kayode and his likes so highly to have committed his campaigns in their hands. With such poor judgments in the choice of top presidential aides, Nigerians need no soothsayer to tell them why and how their country was turned into a hellhole.

Nigerians should share the guilt of poor judgment because, all along, people who never prepared themselves for leadership positions have always walked their ways, with relative ease, to occupy the most sensitive office in the land. This has been the metaphor as well as the tragedy of Nigeria. Add former president, General Olusegun Obasanjo to the mix and the picture you get is the political carcasses of unprepared and ill-prepared people being foisted on Nigerians. The stench left by his government notwithstanding, a major fallout of President Obasanjo’s criticism of his protégé, President Jonathan, is that we may gradually be coming to terms with the raisons d’être behind crunching leadership paralysis, the main drawback that ensured Nigeria remained a toddler nearly fifty three years after independence.
Let’s get this straight: since October, 1960, Nigerians have not been lucky to have leaders who adequately prepared themselves for the tasking and taxing job of leadership. And this has been at the heart of the many problems with Nigeria. At independence in October, 1960, the man who should have been prime minister and head of government, the late Sir Ahmadu Bello, Sardaunan Sokoto, opted to govern the North and ceded the throne to the late Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa. Give this to Sir Ahmadu Bello: the obvious sign that he prepared himself for leadership role manifested in the indelible and enduring achievements he posted as premier of the defunct Northern Region.
The trend continued with the return to civilian rule in October, 1979 after thirteen years of military interregnum. In his own words, Shehu Usman Shagari, the man who became the dovish Executive President in succession to Obasanjo was prevailed upon to drop his senatorial ambition for the presidency by hawkish colleagues in the defunct National Party of Nigeria. Though Nigerians were denied the opportunity to bid farewell to poverty in 1993, it is a secret of the market-place that up till the tail end of 1992 and, especially until the death of Hajiya Simbiat Abiola, her husband, the late Moshood Kashimawo Abiola, the unannounced winner of the inconclusive election of June 12, 1993 had forsaken the presidency and could not have prepared himself for the office he was later denied.
The year 1999 brought Olusegun Obasanjo in his second ill-prepared coming. His hand-picked successor, the late Umaru Musa Yar’adua, was terminally ill at the time he assumed office. After serving eight years as governor of the north-western state of Katsina, Nigerians thought Yar’adua needed a deserved rest rather than being saddled with the tasking and taxing job of leading the nation. But Obasanjo had a different idea. Flowing from that self-serving idea, Nigerians have been stuck with Goodluck Jonathan, a man who became president more for compassionate reasons, for the past six better-forgotten years.
The electioneering campaigns so far have shown that majority of Nigerians no longer feel threatened by the puerile No Jonathan, No Nigeria campaigns of the recent past. The fear factor is dead. Hopefully, February 14 will provide Nigerians a golden opportunity to wiggle out of the snake pit their country has been turned into by a bungling ruling class. The date provides an opportunity to depart from the hurtful practice of celebrating mediocrity through imposition of incompetent leaders who glorify corruption.

* Abdulrazaq Magaji is based in Abuja.


* THE VIEWS OF THE ABOVE ARTICLE ARE THOSE OF THE AUTHOR/S AND DO NOT NECESSARILY REFLECT THE VIEWS OF THE PAMBAZUKA NEWS EDITORIAL TEAM
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Sierra Leone: The wrong way to campaign

Sankara Kamara

2015-01-29

http://pambazuka.net/en/category/comment/93835

Sierra Leone’s elections are still two years away, but with the country rocked by the recent Ebola crisis, campaigning is already underway. Sankara Kamara looks closer at one presidential candidate, and what lies behind his predominantly online campaign.

In almost every politically conscious country, presidential contests are marked by the crafting of campaign messages and the advocacy of political values. Ebola-plagued and listless, Sierra Leone can be likened to an abused patient in an emergency room, gasping for life while her doctors – in this case, her politicians - compete for supremacy. As a result, the 2017 presidential contest has already generated more enthusiasm in Sierra Leone than the remorselessly efficient Ebola virus . As an entrant in that mournful drama, Kandeh Yumkella has made enough informal moves to at least signal his intention to become the next president of Sierra Leone. Buoyed by an army of campaigners on the Internet, Kandeh Yumkella has unofficially begun the campaign, hence his tacit approval of the media blitzkrieg commenced in his name.

There is, however, something noticeably lacking in Kandeh Yumkella’s campaign. While he may be fit for the presidency, his campaigners have, so far, failed to tell Sierra Leoneans why the man should be entrusted with the presidency of our country. The only thing Kandeh Yumkella’s campaign has done so far is to saturate the Internet with pictorial images, advertising the man as a senior United Nations employee. Apart from their readiness to be pictorially extravagant on the Internet, Yumkella’s supporters have not told us how a UN career would make their man a better president. At its core, the presidency—especially in a newborn democracy like Sierra Leone—requires a candidate with applaudable qualities and virtues. When it comes to democratic principles like accountability, the United Nations cannot pass muster. If Kandeh Yumkella is as politically conscious as he is supposed to be, he would know that a UN career is too questionable to be used as a main talking point in a presidential contest. Over the years, the UN’s image has been sullied by so many embarrassing allegations of corruption and inefficiency that the organization’s international image is in dire need of rehabilitation. As a public relations move, Yumkella should rely more on his professed values and political vision, and less on his UN career.

In a democratic and politically conscious society, a presidential candidate who invokes his previous status as a UN bureaucrat could inflict a public relations disaster on his own reputation. Beset by allegations of corruption, child sexual abuse in its peacekeeping missions, and a perceptible lack of accountability, the UN may not be used as a synonym for responsible leadership. In politics, perception is reality. When the UN was enmeshed in the Iraqi “oil for food” scandal several years ago, the organization emerged with a disquietingly stained image. Energized by charges of bribery and villainous cover-ups, the “oil for food” scandal solidified the perception that the UN bureaucracy is deceitful and incompetent. I am not arguing that all UN bureaucrats are venal and inept. The point I am making is that the UN’s image has been tarnished by so many administrative improprieties, that a presidential candidate from that organization is better advised to arm himself with messages based on personal values, rather than basing his campaign purely on the status afforded him by a questionable organization.

Established after the bloodiest conflict in human history, the UN was designed to promote human rights and facilitate the peaceful settlement of international disputes. Rendered ineffective by a bloated bureaucracy, the UN has informally forsaken the democratic ideals of accountability and diplomatic harmony which prompted the organization’s birth in 1945. Since its creation, almost seventy years ago, the UN has absorbed a series of scandals, likening the organization—in the eyes of its critics—to a horribly-governed “Banana republic.” Wastefulness, a sterile bureaucracy, a lack of accountability and widespread cronyism in employing its upper-echelon workers are but some of the vices associated with the United Nations. Needless to say, these malpractices are the same vices responsible for the destruction of Sierra Leone. Kandeh Yumkella cannot look at any politically conscious Sierra Leonean in the face, and argue that his status as a senior United Nations employee is what will make him a better president of Sierra Leone. Such a stillborn argument can be dismissed by any enlightened Sierra Leonean.

Kandeh Yumkella has enough time to remould and advertise himself as an embodiment of the qualities Sierra Leoneans need to see in a president. Integrity, a deep but judicious amount of nationalism, intelligence, practicality, prescience, and commitment to social justice as a norm, are some of the virtues we need at Freetown’s State House. Despite the noble intentions behind its creation, neither the United Nations nor the careers of its functionaries can be realistically used to justify a man’s claim to the presidency of a country in distress. A successful career at the UN means Kandeh Yumkella may have influential friends within the international system. While that component could be helpful, the essentials of leadership, especially in a broken-down country like Sierra Leone, require more useful hallmarks. The UN is so perceptibly wasteful and unaccountable, that no conscious Sierra Leonean would vote for Kandeh Yumkella based purely on his tenure at that organization. If I ever decide to support Kandeh Yumkella, my support will not be based on the man’s “dazzling” career at the UN. I am too politically conscious to fall for such a facile stunt. Displaying pictures of Kandeh Yumkella and the United Nations Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, will not impress politically conscious Sierra Leoneans. If it happens, my support for Kandeh Yumkella will be based on his political values, the extent of his political consciousness and, of course, his perceived ability to govern our mindlessly molested country. If he really means business, Kandeh Yumkella needs to take off that United Nations apparel, and tell us why he should be given the highest office in our weeping country.

* Sankara Kamara is a Sierra Leonean academic, writer and political analyst.

* THE VIEWS OF THE ABOVE ARTICLE ARE THOSE OF THE AUTHOR/S AND DO NOT NECESSARILY REFLECT THE VIEWS OF THE PAMBAZUKA NEWS EDITORIAL TEAM
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On not reducing racism to Apartheid

Richard Pithouse

2015-01-29

http://pambazuka.net/en/category/comment/93837

When white South Africans see themselves as having a special connection to global whiteness they often succumb to the narcissistic fantasy that their presence in this society, in Africa, constitutes a unique and precious gift.

We would be more effective at dealing with the endemic racism in our society if we didn’t relentlessly speak in a manner that reduces racism to apartheid and ‘apartheid tendencies’. The reason for this is not because historical trauma should be repressed and its consequences in the present naturalised. On the contrary it is because the development of an adequate understanding of how our society came to be as it is requires us to speak a lot more about both colonialism and neo-colonialism, and to take both phenomena seriously as powerful forces on the global stage that, from Ferguson to Paris and Johannesburg, continue to shape the present.

Apart from the occasional buffoon like Steve Hofmeyr, and the noxious trolls that waste their lives, such as they are, on the comments sections of the online media, very few people will publicly defend apartheid in 2015. But as we all know racism remains a malignant force everywhere from our universities to the streets of suburban Cape Town. One reason for this is that it is perfectly possible to oppose apartheid, to see it as a crude and embarrassing anachronism, and to think, speak and act in ways that reinscribe racism.

Although racism has retained some constant features since the seventeenth century it is also a dynamic phenomenon. There has, for instance, been a shift in the legitimation of the racism permissible in polite society from biology to culture. In political terms colonial rule was largely replaced by the rule of European and American controlled financial institutions during the second half of the last century, backed up with an American invasion where necessary. In Western Europe Muslims have often replaced Jews as an imagined threat to what used to be conceived as a Christian way of life and is now frequently thought of as a Judeo-Christian way of life.

If we are not attentive to the ways in which racism mutates over time and we focus the bulk of our opposition to racism on its outmoded forms then its forms that are most dangerous, because they are authorised by contemporary forms of power, will not be recognised and opposed with sufficient clarity and force. Racism is not just the Ku Klux Klan, Nazi Germany or apartheid South Africa. It doesn’t only come in a white hood, a fascist uninform or khaki. It also wears a suit or Manolo Blahniks. It speaks English, and French, as well as Afrikaans. It is abundantly evident in The Daily Mail, Walt Disney films for children, the World Bank and, in some cases, certain kinds of academic consensus in the most prestigious universities in the world.

In Europe today no one in polite society will offer their support to a teenage fascist from the backstreets of Leipzig or deny the mass murder of European Jewry in the first half of the 1940s. But it is acceptable to respond to the unconscionable murders that recently rocked Paris in a manner that assumes that France is part of a morally superior civilization and that erases France’s brutal colonial history, the massacre of Algerians in Paris in 1961, the day to day racism experienced by the descendants of immigrants from North and West Africa or enduring French support for imperialism, such as, for instance, the refusal to allow Haitians to run their own country as they see fit.

There is a similar situation in the United States. There are no longer laws instituting segregation, there is a consensus that precludes the expression of certain forms of racism and celebrates a distorted image of Martin Luther King. But none of this precludes support for forms of de facto segregation, the murder, with impunity, of black men, the acutely racialized nature of the criminal justice system or imperialism wrecking devastation, with bombs and torture, around the world. In the United States, as in France, contemporary mainstream opinion takes the view that, as the liberal philosopher John Stuart Mill put it in 1859, "Despotism is a legitimate mode of government in dealing with barbarians."

The Second World War was an important moment in the evolution of racism. After the war the open expression of racism, especially as a set of biological prejudices, lost much of its credibility and there was a shift towards an abstract affirmation of universal equality via the language of human rights. When India won independence in 1947 it was clear that colonialism would not endure indefinitely. But it was precisely at this moment, in 1948, that apartheid was instituted in South Africa and the state of Israel was declared. Although these two developments, both of which entrenched racism as a matter of law, went against the grain of the way things were going, the explicit racism that endured in English speaking settler colonies meant that the overt racism of apartheid was not an isolated phenomenon.

Places like the Deep South in the United States or South Africa and Australia, in which there was an overt commitment to white supremacy, instituted in law, were seen as peripheral, provincial and backward but they were still tolerated. Transnational white solidarity trumped the developing sense that overt racism, especially when inscribed into law, was illegitimate and indefensible. The United States sustained legal segregation until 1964 and the White Australia policy only started to be undone in 1966. The last lynching in the United States happened in 1968.

It was the civil rights struggle in the United States and anti-colonial movements across Africa that began to put an end to legislated forms of segregation and colonialism in the 1960s. From this point on apartheid came to be seen, along with white supremacy in Rhodesia, as irredeemably backward on the global stage. Metropolitan elites began to take a greater distance from their colonial cousins. The contingencies of the Cold War bought apartheid some time, but the game was up.

But, crucially, in the United States, and on the global stage too, the attainment of equality in principle in the 1960s did not translate into the attainment of equality in practice. Some of the language of racism changed – for instance European domination of African affairs was now a matter of ‘development’ – but racialized domination endured. Today the sort of racism that is present in, say, American sitcoms or philosophical discourses about the inherent ethical nobility of Europe, is rooted in the long history of colonial racism and functions to legitimate the enduring denial of equality in practice.

If we are to develop an adequate understanding of how our society came to be the way that it is, we can’t speak as if apartheid, imaged as an embarrassing provincial mistake in the broader context of enlightened whiteness, is the only cause of our problems. On the contrary we need to take, very seriously, the reality that apartheid was just one iteration in a long and global history of racism that continues to shape the present. We need to take the long history of colonial domination before apartheid and the neo-colonial power relations that have endured after apartheid in South Africa, and on the global stage, seriously. We need to take seriously the different value that, in 2015 is accorded to black life and white life in the United States, or to the lives of people in the Congo, Gaza or Mexico and (white) people in France.

Today it is easy to dismiss apartheid, or the Ventersdorp brandy and coke fascist, and to project racism onto the past, or onto people that appear to caricature that past in the present, while denying the presence of racism in ways of speaking and exercising power that are socially authorised in the contemporary world. Contemporary forms of racism do sometimes repeat the language and postures of the past. But they have no legitimacy on the public stage and are easily recognised and opposed. However contemporary racism also speaks an international language – perhaps with a French or American accent; a language that is not seen as provincial and backward, a language that is authorised at Harvard and in the Daily Mail. This can enable a whole set of authorised discourses -such as opposition to crime, support for the environment, human rights, feminism, commitment to excellence, philosophical rigour and economic rationality - to be misused for racist purposes. This makes the work of opposing racism more complex than the easy work of confronting the brandy and coke fascist.

Many white South Africans seem to assume that the end of apartheid, imagined as a temporary anomaly consequent to a backward form of Afrikaner nationalism, has meant the end of racism. This is often taken to mean that white South Africans are now able to rejoin a community of international whiteness. This space is often imagined, in an enduring colonial trope, as a space of enlightenment that offers a unique and precious gift to the world. When white South Africans see themselves as having a special connection to global whiteness they often succumb to the narcissistic fantasy that their presence in this society, in Africa, constitutes a unique and precious gift. This makes a sociality premised on actual rather than abstract equality impossible.

If white South Africans don’t give up their investment in global whiteness – and an identification with what they imagine to be the inherent moral superiority of the West or the First World, they will, while scorning the brandy and coke fascist, continue to modernise rather than root out their racism.

* Dr. Richard Pithouse teaches politics at Rhodes University. This article was previously published by SACSIS.

* THE VIEWS OF THE ABOVE ARTICLE ARE THOSE OF THE AUTHOR/S AND DO NOT NECESSARILY REFLECT THE VIEWS OF THE PAMBAZUKA NEWS EDITORIAL TEAM

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Charlie Hebdo: How fair is the media?

Arshad M Khan

2015-01-29

http://pambazuka.net/en/category/comment/93838

The cartoon series on prophet Mohammed, insulting to Muslims, was clearly intended to provoke. While expression of opinion is part of democracy, the French government, on the one hand, ignored this conscious bigotry; on the other, it shut up a popular French comedian, Dieudonne, for what it construed as anti-Semitic jokes.

The central US has endured bitter cold with temperatures hovering in the single digits Fahrenheit, and schools have been closed because of the dangers of frostbite for children. But heated houses and cars make life quite bearable.

The Middle East, too, has experienced unusually cold weather and Jerusalem has even had snow the last couple of years. For the hundreds of thousands of mostly Muslim refugees escaping the shelling and bombing in Iraq and Syria, life is little short of hell, and their children ... . How often do we hear about them?

The December 15, 2014 issue of Science News reports on the effects of disasters on children. Thus 55 percent of children suffered post traumatic stress three months after US Hurricane Andrew, 18 percent after ten months and 60 percent of these still displayed symptoms four years later. But no one in the major outlets exhibits any serious interest in the trauma of the child victims of this war on terror -- terror indeed ... for the children.

These issues matter little to the great who seek to right the world and fashion it to their liking. So Madeleine Albright, President Clinton's Secretary of State, dismissed the thousands of dead and dying children of sanctioned Iraq as a price to be paid, and Henry Kissinger's famous injunction, "anything on everything that moves", in bombing Cambodia led to a flattened landscape and a population so numbed and angered, they joined Pol Pot's murderous campaign. Is there a parallel with ISIS?

Yet the deaths of millions is impersonal; the death of a dozen journalists appalls. So the news for quite some time centered on Paris and the attack on the offices of the satirical magazine, Charlie Hebdo -- a magazine few had heard of and which lived off provocation. The cartoon series on prophet Mohammed insulting to Muslims was clearly intended to provoke. While expression of opinion is part of democracy, the French government, on the one hand, ignored this conscious bigotry; on the other, it shut up a popular French comedian, Dieudonne, for what it construed as anti-Semitic jokes while he protested otherwise.

George Galloway the British Member of Parliament had some pithy comments on the killings in Paris: "No person, no human being should be subjected to violence, still less death for anything that they have said, written or drawn, so we condemn utterly the murder of 17 people in the events in Paris. But we will not allow this Charlie Hebdo magazine to be described as a king of loveable, anarchic, fun book of cartoons. These are not cartoons, these are not depictions of the Prophet, these are pornographic, obscene insults to the Prophet and by extension, 1.7 billion human beings on this earth and there are limits. There are limits. There are limits to free speech and free expression, especially in France.”

In the last comment he was joined by Pope Francis, who when asked about the Charlie Hebdo attack responded, "There is a limit. Every religion has its dignity."

Jyllands-Posten, the Danish newspaper, published 12 cartoons in 2005 depicting Mohammed in a manner Muslims found abusive and denigrating. It caused violent demonstrations from "Jerusalem to Jakarta" and a boycott of Danish products in many countries. The editor Flemming Rose's intent cannot be known -- suffice to say, the paper was offered a satirical depiction of Jesus and the resurrection, but the editors declined saying it would cause a public outcry. Similarly, Judaism is excluded from its anti-religious crusade.

The bravado it seems is limited to directing venom mostly, and most viciously, at the least powerful, segregated, marginalized, ghettoized community not being absorbed into the mainstream and lacking upward mobility. Yet, printing offensive cartoons only alienates it further making it feel isolated and the object of ridicule; isolated as it is not just through culture and religion but also by race -- in France they are of African heritage. Unfortunately, the persistent racism fattened by this diet of mockery -- Hebdo not only hit their religion but also implied they were freeloaders living off the state's assistance programs -- continues to obtrude the thinking of a substantial segment of Europe's citizenry. To that one could easily add Canada and Australia.

So Australian Rupert Murdoch unsurprisingly blames Islam for the tragedy, his reductive reasoning failing to consider Ahmed Merabet or Lassam Bathily. If most people have not heard of them, it is because being contra-narrative these facts were not reported widely. Ahmed Merabet was a Muslim French police officer who was shot, wounded, and then killed execution style at close range by the attackers. Lassam Bathily is a Malian Muslim who worked at the kosher grocery store where Amidy Coulibaly killed four individuals taking several hostage. Mr. Bathily helped save several people by hiding them in a walk-in freezer. Among the panoply of resources available to Mr. Murdoch doubtless there is someone who can apprise him of the Islam of these two heroes of the Paris siege. He only has to ask.

De-refracting the vast Islamic rainbow of sects and beliefs into the simple light of fanaticism, representing a miniscule, is both gross error and unfair to the vast majority mired in the quotidian details of their often troubled and dangerous worlds.

Perhaps a good rule for writers and speakers these days in their comments about Muslims and Islam is to substitute Jew and Judaism in their sentences and hear what it sounds like -- because blanket aspersions against a religion or group is the very definition of bigotry and racism. It is also not in the interest of peace on our little blue marble when the group comprises 23 percent of its population and is a majority in 49 countries.

* Arshad M Khan is a US-based retired professor. His articles and comments have appeared in both print media and the internet. His work has been quoted in the US Congress and published in the Congressional Record.

* THE VIEWS OF THE ABOVE ARTICLE ARE THOSE OF THE AUTHOR/S AND DO NOT NECESSARILY REFLECT THE VIEWS OF THE PAMBAZUKA NEWS EDITORIAL TEAM

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African security quagmire beyond the Caliphate

Narcisse Jean Alcide Nana

2015-01-27

http://pambazuka.net/en/category/comment/93813

Africa and the world have entered a century of global low intensity warfare, marked by the devolution of military power away from the modern state to the entrenched landscape of private armies, mercenaries and militia groups.

Military glory never abstains from whetting its appetite for the tastes of wars. Throughout centuries and at polls as well, wars on distant frontiers have been the very ambrosia on which political careerists sup at their own risks and perils. No better historic candidate about the correlation between glory and war than the imperial Rome. Indeed, by military might, Rome expanded and overstretched its imperial borders; unsurprisingly so that political advancement came along with risk taking on distant lands by ambitious statesmen willing to secure hegemony for the empire. Hence, Rome’s endemic wars became the dependable addictive pill feeding the imperial political blood cycle. Self-tellingly, it comes with no surprise that without restraint, in 146 BC Rome opted out of the destruction of Carthage and Corinth in the name of its imperial glory and unmatchable hegemony. The fall of Corinth and Carthage, however, marked a tipping point in Rome’s foreign policy. It ushered in the end of warfare against civilized powers in Rome’s foreign policy gambit. Rome’s expanding frontiers produced its own small wars epidemics. Subsequently, military interventionism by Roman troops amounted into chasing barbarians on distant frontiers, be it in Illyria, Macedonia, Spain, or Sardinia.

Noteworthy enough, today’s warfare dynamic has turned its back against civilized powers to indulge in chasing barbaric groups in distant swamps far from the American hemisphere and its international coalitions’ shores. Terrorist groups had nosed their way through the global news cycle with an appalling litany of hostage beheadings while rewriting the basic grammar of our daily survival instinct. Beyond the violent propaganda quandary of global radical djihadists, the brutal display of suicidal missions along with the sporadic eruption of mass killing is nothing but a blood writing on the wall by terrorists networks to attract funds while appealing to new recruits for their global agenda. Thus far, it has become the accepted norm on the global stage that low intensity fighters have been having the whip hand on modern warfare. The international community seems to be waffling on the appropriate cure to handling the mushrooming global terror networks. From valleys, oceans, mountains to deserts, turmoil brought about by terror networks is roiling freely. The quickly dispatched international coalition forces to stop the terror knights seem an avatar collective series of unproductive and costly nostrums.

In Afghanistan, meanwhile, more than 430,000 coalition troops and Afghan trained soldiers bowed down to the insurgent Taliban roughly one tenth as big. In order to defeat the ISIS terror networks in the Middle-east, a large international coalition of 63 nations and groups have been desperately waging a campaign to dismantle the hydra of this mushrooming terrorist networks. In Pakistan, the Haqqani network has given a token of proof that terror havens are resilient to destruction. From Venezuela to Mexico, leftist guerrilla networks have become part of Latin American invincible adopted public enemies. For more than a decade of state battle against guerrilla combatants has yielded little military success. From Iraq to Kidal in northern Mali, we have all become familiar with persistent spasms of violence and displays of suicidal missions by terrorists networks.

On the African frontiers, two decades of chasing radical terrorists has turned out to be an unsuccessful mission. Strongholds of radical terrorists have been writing down for future generation a new lexicon of terror. In 2011, the Somali terrorist networks cost the world at least $6.6 billion with unending reported attacks as a new lifestyle in the Horn of Africa. Despite a United Nations funded African coalition forces of 22,000 troops, Al Shabab is still and by far resilient. Since 1986, the Lord’s Resistance Army of Joseph Kony has been wringing its deadly grip on Sudan, Uganda, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and the Central African Republic as well. The Islamic soldiers of the caliphate, Boko Haram, launched on January 3, 2015 one of its deadliest attacks on the north-eastern Nigerian town of Baga killing more than 2,000 people. It seized large chunks of territory of the Borno, Adamawa, and Yobe states. Whether Cameroonian, Nigerian, and Chadian combined troops will defeat Boko Haram remains to be seen.

The post-Qaddafi era ushered in extremist groups fielding the gaping power vacuum in the trans-Saharan region. Despite the much touted military success of the French Serval operation in Mali along the backing of 7,700 regional forces with the Malian army, the trans-Sahel region is still a safe sanctuary and the hotbed for terrorism.

Certainly, we have entered the century of a global low intensity warfare. This recycled franchise of modern industrial warfare complex marks the devolution of military power away from the modern state to the entrenched landscape of private armies, mercenaries, and militia groups. The surrender of political and military leadership on distant frontiers does not come without its security and political price tags. The revolving door of small wars or low intensity warfare has been throwing down the gauntlet on the strong foundation of our decaying large armies. More and more, there seems to be a disconnect between the modern military and the modern state. The modern state holds among its prerogatives the ultimate monopoly of the use of force and violence within its frontiers as the fair reward of freely self-constituted citizens.

Yet, the rise of terrorist groups and privates armies represents a birth certificate handed over to modern states as the laboratory of security and freedom. National sovereignty is comfortably leaning upon the bedrock of military might as a vanguard against third-wings organized military might. Visibly enough, today’s military monopoly over violence is crumbling under the weight of radical fighting networks. The African trans-Sahel region has been losing control of large chunks of national frontiers to the colonization de facto of armed groups and terrorists networks. Beyond the caliphate, African security quagmire needs urgently to rebuild its fractured trust between the state and its citizens.

* Narcisse Jean Alcide Nana, International Security Studies, UK

* THE VIEWS OF THE ABOVE ARTICLE ARE THOSE OF THE AUTHOR/S AND DO NOT NECESSARILY REFLECT THE VIEWS OF THE PAMBAZUKA NEWS EDITORIAL TEAM

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Rethinking gender sensitivity in governance for equality in Uganda

Otim Denis Barnabas

2015-01-29

http://pambazuka.net/en/category/comment/93834

Although the numbers of women and men in Uganda are comparable, there exists a great gap in access to resources and to positions of power between the sexes. This inequity affects the structure of the country as a whole and must be corrected.

On 29 August 2014, the Independent magazine ran a cover story about the top guns per region in Uganda. This was a mini survey of 425 top government appointments. The survey was to determine the level of ethnic balance in government institutions in Uganda. One of the key findings was that there is a high level of sectarianism in Uganda. The other finding raises questions about gender equality in governance, whereas the first issue was a regional disparity in terms of numbers and positions of influence. Out of the 25 most influential positions in Uganda, northern Uganda occupied five (20 per cent), eastern Uganda six (24 per cent), central Uganda and western Uganda seven (28 per cent each). Disaggregating these top positions by gender indicates that women are barely represented, at only 36 per cent. Technically, politically as well as economically, the survey positions central and western Uganda at a better height of influence on decision making and the management of Uganda.

For decades, socio-political and economic comparisons in Uganda have taken regional dynamics, indicating a wide gap between the north and the south. Could the first paragraph explaining the gaps in positions of influence in Uganda explain why northern Uganda is poor as well? It’s a hard question to tell. But herein, I share with you some basic facts about northern Uganda from a report prepared in November 2014 by Oxford University economists for the UK Department for International Development and the Office of the Prime Minister (Uganda). The report highlights that 44 per cent of people in northern Uganda currently live below the poverty line, as compared to 20 per cent nationally; although the north accounts for almost a quarter of Uganda’s population and 42 per cent of its land mass, its share of national economic output (GDP) is estimated to be between only 8 per cent and 9 per cent. There is a widening poverty gap and upward pressure on underemployment and unemployment.

The above narrations and statistics point to matters of concern, but of particular interest to me is the question of gender and governance. Very often, defining governance is associated with processes and systems that dictate how decisions are made and implemented; and the relationship between the ruler and the ruled. Also, when talking about governance, a lot of references are made to accountability, transparency, participation, responsiveness and inclusiveness as means of social and economic transformation. However, these facets of governance have barely translated or contributed to sustainable gender equality in most African societies and post-conflict states.

There is a strong nuance that governance cannot be effective unless it is gender-sensitive in decision making and policy implementation. This thinking is based on the ideals that both genders play a strong role in the development of their communities. To date there are just a million more women than men in Uganda. Uganda’s population census report of 2014 indicated that there are 17.9 million females and 16.9 million men. Looking at these figures might make one think that women are equal or almost equal to men in Uganda. However, this does not translate to gender equality or equal representation. It was quite easy in northern Uganda for the voices of women to be heard during the encampment days, simply because civil society organizations and other agencies created structures that ensured that women were represented. Most internally displaced people’s (IDPs) camps had welfare and various committees represented by women and some women took positions of leadership in these structures. These days, these managerial and structural arrangements are barely functional or in existence and have been replaced by groups, so called women’s groups, composed of young girls and at times men.

Most women’s groups in northern Uganda have become financial associations that do not to a larger extent advance the needs and concerns of women and girls; rather they are exploited for political gains. On the other side, there are a number of civil society organizations working on gender-related issues in post-conflict northern Uganda that have tried to push for a ‘women’s agenda’. A number of these organizations largely focus on livelihood support and on girl children. For that reason, categorization of responses to gender issues has made it important to holistically respond to and address gender challenges. This, to a certain extent, is making the push for actions and institutionalization of gender-sensitive governance and advocacy for social justice difficult not only in northern Uganda, but in Uganda as a whole.

Therefore, it is imperative to appreciate and understand the importance of gender sensitivity in governance in post-conflict societies such as northern Uganda. In order not to be socially, politically and economically excluded, gender dynamics must be treated appropriately in any recovery and development programme. In some cases women have been excluded from decision making, yet their involvement makes success more likely in the implementation of policies in a gender-sensitive manner and in advocacy for the needs of women and girls, thus translating to gender equality.

Hence, it is necessary to analyze governance and processes of resource allocations, decision making and participation from a gender sensitive perspective. The critical thinking is that this will contribute to addressing persistent gender inequality. Also, to reach a recognizable target for gender equality, the government of Uganda and other stakeholders must reframe governance goals through a gender lens and draw close attention to inclusiveness, that is to say, gendering inclusiveness by avoiding the risk of exclusion.

My experience has shown me that very often women are represented physically in a number of forums (family meetings, community dialogues); however, a number of them are disempowered from expressing their own opinions and ideas. This challenge affects the effectiveness of government responses toward gender specific needs of vulnerable women and some men. This situation also exists at the local level, affecting each gender differently, depending on one’s financial, political, and literacy levels. In today’s post-conflict northern Uganda, many elderly persons have remained unattended due to exclusion and poverty. Their voices cannot be heard at many forums. It therefore important to encourage the promotion of gender equity as a guiding and also practiced principle, in order to ensure that women and men have equal access not only to resources but also to positions of authority where decisions are made. This matter, if treated as a broader socio-economic and political goal, will enable women and men to have access to the same life choices and rights as well as opportunities in Uganda.

* Otim Denis Barnabas holds a MA in Peace and Governance and works for Refugee Law Project School of Law Makerere University.

* THE VIEWS OF THE ABOVE ARTICLE ARE THOSE OF THE AUTHOR/S AND DO NOT NECESSARILY REFLECT THE VIEWS OF THE PAMBAZUKA NEWS EDITORIAL TEAM
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Achieving the African renaissance

Osita Ebiem

2015-01-27

http://pambazuka.net/en/category/comment/93812

To achieve the seemingly elusive African renaissance, the leaders have to steer the societies and the peoples away from the current practice of reliance and expectation from the outside, to a firmly rooted belief in self and local solutions.

The persistent turmoil and conflicts in African countries, and the fight we are trying to wage against poverty, poor leadership, corruption and a host of other problems on the Continent will still be long drawn until we sincerely decide to redraw Africa’s political map along the still enduring and realistic cultural divides.

African societies need to be returned to their original precolonial autonomous ethnic national divisions. These new national boundaries will serve as the transformative agents that will produce the most needed attitude change in the people. The new attitude will in turn restore the peoples’ regard for and allegiance to their indigenous values that are soundly rooted in non-materialistic cultural traditions.

This ‘radical’ move of political and social structural adjustment will help to restore the peoples’ faith in themselves and their lore, norms and traditional institutions. When the peoples are made to consciously and boldly accept and respect the realities of these existing differences among them, it will help them to voluntarily and intuitively choose from among their neighbours, who they want to relate with as citizens of the same country. Cultural and social assimilation do not happen through decrees and edits. They evolve through other means like time itself and peoples’ interaction among themselves, genocides and some other forms of cataclysmic upheavals.

Foreigners, the colonial Europeans, could not have known better than the African peoples themselves who they would have chosen to relate with as fellow citizens of the same country and those they are better off relating with as international neighbours and friends.

It is only when the people can summon enough courage to travel through this ‘revolutionary’ path that the long sort for Africa renaissance will come. Africans at that point will come to realize that separation from each other does not mean institution of enmity between each other. They will also know that when any union is riddled with mutual distrust and a resultant permanent state of conflicts which in turn will not allow the people to pursue any common aspirations and collective social goals then the people are better off relating with each other from a distance than from an uncomfortable debilitating proximity.

When Africans can accept division as the most realistic road to progress, its peoples will quickly revert to believing in themselves again and abandon the present state of permanent confusion where one ethnic people is permanently trying to out-trick and disrespect the other ethnic group to prove their superiority. The existing situation is creative- and innovative-numbing, and stunts every kind of positive growth.

It is also a fact that with this sort of confused mix as we have it today in Africa the people cannot develop enough necessary patriotic feelings which can enable them to innovate and achieve collectively and individually. (Patriotism though most of the time is displayed by individuals but in principle and fundamentally, patriotism is always a collective feeling. No one individual feels patriotic alone. An individual must first belong to a collective to which they feel real attachment and belonging before they can demonstrate patriotism when it is called for.)

The present collection of peoples into ‘countries’ in Africa on the bases that the people cannot relate with as having any rooting in any of their indigenous cultural and traditional values further erodes the peoples’ confidence in their selves. It has created the current condition where the people are always trusting that an external solution is superior to an internal solution. This is so because the present colonial countries are actually to the native leaders a no man’s land where leadership positions are chances to transform the leaders, and opportunities to grab only for their own selves as every leader is his own lord with no allegiance to any people.

Under the prevailing state of things, as long as we selfishly insist on maintaining the status quo, the people will continue to look outside their selves to meet their challenges and solve their problems. The recent Ebola outbreak in West Africa is an example here. Almost all the help had to come from outside and overall the people and their leaders demanded and accepted assistances from outside like it was a right and the normal thing that should be.

* THE VIEWS OF THE ABOVE ARTICLE ARE THOSE OF THE AUTHOR/S AND DO NOT NECESSARILY REFLECT THE VIEWS OF THE PAMBAZUKA NEWS EDITORIAL TEAM

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Advocacy & campaigns

Call xenophobia by its name

2015-01-26

http://pambazuka.net/en/category/advocacy/93809

If the government says this is crime, why are all the victims of this crime 'foreigners', and not white, Indian or black South Africans?

Ubunye bama Hostela Nezakhiwo Zawo (UbHNZ) condemns in the strongest possible terms the xenophobic attacks that are once again spreading across our country. We must remember that people who flee to South Africa, do so for good reason, because of wars, famine and persecution in their home countries. The conditions in these countries, some of which helped us fight the former racist government, are sometimes much worse than the conditions we suffered under apartheid. Our memories must not be so short that we forget the help we received from our ‘foreign’ friends.

We note with concern the looting of ‘foreign’-owned shops, some of which belong to Pakistanis, who, we wish to emphasise, have never been involved in the sale of illegal drugs – one of the reasons used by communities to justify xenophobic attacks. We must remember that 'foreigners' have played an important role in developing local businesses, opening cheap shops within our communities and saving us money on transport when we would previously have had to travel long distances to buy basic necessities. ‘Foreigners’ have created employment for many South Africans where our goverment has failed. We should be learning from their entrepreneurial skills to develop our own businesses, not killing those who have helped us put food on our tables. We must not be so small-minded and shortsighted that we cannot appreciate the benefits ‘foreigners’ have brought to our communities.

UbHNZ also wishes to emphasise that everyone living in South Africa has a right to earn a living and support their families without being victimized, discriminated against or killed. These are rights we fought apartheid for and which are now part of our constitution and apply to everyone within our borders.

UbHNZ also calls on government to give this violence its proper name - XENOPHOBIA - and not to hide the truth behind ordinary crime. We must ask what is the government’s agenda that they now blame crime and the drug whoonga / nyaope for these attacks, when our communities have cried out for government intervention against drugs and crime for years? To misinform the public and use communities' suffering, after ignoring these problems for so long, is dishonest and insulting.

While we acknowledge that some ‘foreigners’ are involved in crime, such as selling drugs, so too are many more fellow South Africans. Our police and courts must investigate and convict all criminals regardless of where they come from. If these xenophobic attacks are indeed motivated by criminals, as we are told, then government must explain to us what plans they have in place to address the problem, and they must be implemented quickly before more people are killed.

We have heard many allegations regarding border officials involved in corruption. The Department of Home Affairs has also failed to prevent international criminal gangs from entering our county. If our government is serious about addressing xenophobia they must take steps to deal with problems such as these that fuel anti-‘foreigner’ attitudes, and ensure everyone entering our country is properly processed – without fear or favour.

UbHNZ has noted with concern the government's continued failure to address xenophobia, so we call on all political parties to unite and work together to educate, build community unity and improve relations between ‘foreigners’ and local communities.

As hostel dwellers we admit that previously, some of our community members have been involved in xenophobic violence. We must be transparent about these incidents and admit past mistakes if we are to move forward. During attacks in uMbilo on Nigerians and Tanzanians by Dalton Hostel residents in 2008/9, UbHNZ leaders opposed this violence. We risked our own lives to provide shelter to ‘foreigners’, hiding up to nine people in our small rooms, when members of our own community threatened to kill them and us. We spoke out loudly against xenophobia and initiated community-building workshops to encourage better cultural understanding and tolerance. The government however, failed to support these initiatives, just as they have failed again to improve inter-community relationships and stop the recurrence of xenophobia.

UbHNZ also noted recently how local government and the eThekwini Municipality failed to address the so called 'Whoonga Wars' which could easily have sparked xenophobia, and chose instead to attract publicity with expensive anti-drug programme launches which failed to get off the ground and certainly have not resolved the whoonga crisis. At no stage did the government consult the affected communities to work out a plan that would benefit everyone.

As hostel dwellers, we understand the hardships that poor communities suffer and understand it is easy to take out our problems and frustrations on those who are of different cultures - people who we can blame when we should be blaming the government. But this is not the way to improve our lives. We must learn from past lessons and be aware that all these social problems - unemployment, crime, poverty, drugs, violence against women, political killings, even the wars within the taxi industry, have got much worse since 1994. ‘Foreigners’, who only started coming to South Africa in the last ten years or so, can therefore not be blamed for the problems our government has clearly failed to address for over twenty years.

If a patient is sick, a doctor must examine the patient to discover what is causing the illness. Likewise our government must consult our communities to discover the causes of the xenophobia so we can work on solutions together. To diagnose a patient wrongly - by telling us that xenophobia is just crime - will only lead to greater sickness within our communities.

UbHNZ appeals for tolerance and greater understanding between communities and ‘foreigners’ and urges all hostel dwellers to reject xenophobia and support and protect our brothers and sisters from wherever they may be. UbHNZ, starting with the Dalton Hostel community, will be reaching out to local ‘foreign’ business owners to prevent a repeat of the xenophobic violence that divided our community seven years ago. We challenge all South Africans to do the same.

UbHNZ sends sincerest condolences to all who have lost their lives and livelihoods in this senseless violence called xenophobia.


For more information please contact:
Mthembiseni Thusi: Ubunye bama Hostela Nezakhiwo Zawo Deputy Chairperson / Spokesman:
0810218608 / 0738894385


No relief for Kwesakamthethwa farmers

2015-01-26

http://pambazuka.net/en/category/advocacy/93808

Government’s R350 million disaster fund for 32 drought-stricken KZN municipalities, fails to reach the people

IN EARLY DECEMBER 2014, the government released a statement on national radio, (SAFM was one of the stations) advising that R350 million had been allocated to assist drought affected rural farmers in 32 KwaZulu-Natal municipalities. It was stated at the time that these disaster relief funds had been released to the KZN Provincial Department of Water Affairs and Sanitation for immediate disbursal to the worst affected areas. Almost two months later, suffering farmers of Kwesakamthethwa and other areas have yet to receive assistance, or even obtain information regarding when, where, and how, the much-needed disaster relief funds will be utilized.

Kwesakamthethwa meanwhile, remains a disaster zone.

Although there were a few showers during December, grass re-growth is overall poor and very patchy. Large areas of bare earth are still visible which will become eroded if heavy rains fall. The storage dams – the only surface water available to livestock – have received only enough rain to turn them into mud holes – death traps for cattle that try to drink at them. For a year, pleas have been made to local government for dam maintenance, but they remain silted up and cannot hold much water. Rain water storage tanks for each household are also needed.

Some farmers have moved livestock to other areas where grazing is better. However, translocation is very expensive and greener pastures are limited in drought stricken Zululand, so this is not an option for most in this poor community. Although farmers are trying to take what measures they can to save their remaining herds and conserve the little available grazing, urgent large-scale government intervention is needed.

Long-term weather forecasts predict dry conditions will continue for most of the year. Winter in Zululand is, in any case, always a dry season. Farmers fear that if good rain does not fall within the next few weeks, and the vital support promised by government does not materialize quickly, last year’s drought, which has already left thousands destitute, will escalate into widespread famine and disaster.

For the Kwesakamthethwa community - already overwhelmed by the drought and forgotten by government - an added threat now looms large – coal mining. This makes us ask, is this perhaps why communities have not received the promised R350 million drought relief? Could this also be the reason for the gradual withdrawal of government’s agricultural support and extension and its overall neglect of small-scale rural farmers in Zululand? After all, farmers who have lost everything and who have little hope of recovery if not aided by the state, may easily be persuaded to hand over their degraded farms for a share in the crumbs tossed from the tables of the big mining companies.

Kwesakamthethwa awaits urgent answers from government.


For more information contact local farmer and community leader:
Mthembiseni Thusi (Dalton Hostel Chairman): 081 021 8608 / 073 889 4385




Letters & Opinions

Pan Africanism is the antidote to xenophobia

Fr Khosi Maqetuka

2015-01-29

http://pambazuka.net/en/category/letters/93829

The developments of the past week in Soweto [widespread attacks on foreigners] manifest from sectional politics that our people were exposed to. When the Pan Africanist Congress adopted the noble idea of Pan Afrikanism it was seen by others as racist. Mangaliso Sobukwe, the first president of the PAC, a visionary, a thinker, speaking about South Africa said: “I wish to state that the Afrikanists do not at all subscribe to the doctrine of South African exceptionalism. Our contention is that South Africa is an integral part of the indivisible whole; that Afrika cannot solve her problems in isolation from the rest of the continent.”

We have a mission as true Pan Afrikanists to educate our people. People might be slow to understand Sobukwe’s noble ideology but that is what will bear the best for human kind. Good ideas are not adopted automatically; they must be driven into practice with courageous patience. The failure of addressing the National Question by the current ruling party has exposed it as not having a clear vision.

FORWARD TO PAN AFRIKANISM,TOMORROW THE UNITED STATES OF AFRIKA!





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With around 2,600 contributors and an estimated 600,000 readers, Pambazuka News is the authoritative pan-African electronic weekly newsletter and platform for social justice in Africa providing cutting edge commentary and in-depth analysis on politics and current affairs, development, human rights, refugees, gender issues and culture in Africa.

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'Earth Grab: Geopiracy, the New Biomassters and Capturing Climate Genes' – OUT NOW

To Cook a Continent: Destructive Extraction and the Climate Crisis in Africa – OUT NOW

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ISSN 1753-6839 Pambazuka News English Edition http://www.pambazuka.org/en/

ISSN 1753-6847 Pambazuka News en Français http://www.pambazuka.org/fr/

ISSN 1757-6504 Pambazuka News em Português http://www.pambazuka.org/pt/

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