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Pambazuka News 502: Twilight of regimes or dawn of new eras?

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

Pambazuka News (English edition): ISSN 1753-6839

CONTENTS: 1. Features, 2. Announcements, 3. Comment & analysis, 4. Advocacy & campaigns, 5. Pan-African Postcard, 6. Books & arts, 7. Letters & Opinions, 8. African Writers’ Corner, 9. Highlights French edition, 10. Zimbabwe update, 11. African Union Monitor, 12. Women & gender, 13. Human rights, 14. Refugees & forced migration, 15. Social movements, 16. Africa labour news, 17. Emerging powers news, 18. Elections & governance, 19. Corruption, 20. Development, 21. Health & HIV/AIDS, 22. Education, 23. LGBTI, 24. Environment, 25. Land & land rights, 26. Food Justice, 27. Media & freedom of expression, 28. News from the diaspora, 29. Conflict & emergencies, 30. Internet & technology, 31. eNewsletters & mailing lists, 32. Fundraising & useful resources, 33. Courses, seminars, & workshops



Highlights from this issue

- ANNOUNCEMENTS: The November issue of Fahamu’s Refugee Legal Aid newsletter is out now
- ZIMBABWE UPDATE: Government minister twitters his frustrations
- AFRICAN UNION MONITOR: AU asks for Somalia blockade
- WOMEN & GENDER: Forced to farm for free
- HUMAN RIGHTS: Talks moved from Kenya as ICC hunts Al-Bashir + Sweden, oil and human rights
- REFUGEES AND FORCED MIGRATION: Climate refugees are victims of human action, too, so shouldn't they be given refugee status?
- EMERGING POWER NEWS: Emerging powers news roundup
- ELECTIONS AND GOVERNANCE: Ecowas urges speedy action in Guinea poll re-run; Have Tanzanian MPs performed?; Call for united movement for change in South Africa
- CORRUPTION: Are the right questions being asked about budget transparency in Mozambique?
- DEVELOPMENT: Tanzania faces new debt crisis
- HEALTH & HIV/AIDS: Polio campaign to reach 72 million African children
- EDUCATION: Assessing child learning in Uganda
- LGBTI: The violence of intolerance
ENVIRONMENT: The miracle biofuel crop that wasn’t
LAND AND LAND RIGHTS: Egyptian lawsuit aims to annul Saudi land deal
FOOD JUSTICE: Listening to farmers
- MEDIA AND FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION: Journalist sentenced to 15 years in Egypt + Egyptian bloggers speculate on Facebook crackdown
- CONFLICT AND EMERGENCIES: Benin health concerns after flood; Clean up Nigerian mining, says UN; Terrorism, shadow networks and the limits of state-building in Somalia
- INTERNET AND TECHNOLOGY: Students use ICT to prevent violence in the DRC
- PLUS: Jobs, Fundraising & useful resources, Courses, Seminars and Workshops



Features

Senegal: Twilight of a regime or dawn of a new era?

Sidy Diop

2010-10-28

http://pambazuka.org/en/category/features/68183


cc Seneweb
Senegal is credited with being a stable country in Africa but this stability cannot fully hide the political uncertainties that afflict the country. While the institutions function, the electoral calendar has almost always been respected, and the opposition is free to express itself, heavy storm clouds hang over the near future of the country. The current regime, confronted by dangers that threaten its survival, is seeking to prolong its power indefinitely which, according to Sidy Diop, could have most serious consequences.

Since its independence, Senegal has been governed by a single party, that from the first was rife with contradictory influences: the concern of preserving the interests of the former occupying power versus intransigent nationalism. This led to a political crisis in 1962. After deposing the prime minister, Mamadou Dia, with the installation of the presidential regime, all the powers were given to the president of the republic, who was also the secretary general of the party. And, as one might have expected, in spite of the establishment of a multiparty system in the mid-1970s and greater freedom of the press at the end of the two following decades, the wearing out effect of power, as well as the total absence of democracy within the ruling government, caused the management of the country to go seriously adrift.

As a consequence the economy became increasingly less productive and close to collapse, public finance was in dire straits and there was an inevitable accumulation of difficulties for the population, which structural adjustment only intensified. Thus the political changes that took place at the national level in 2000 raised great hopes among most of the Senegalese. But were these hopes fulfilled? Were the difficulties that plagued the country until 2000 overcome? Were the structural weaknesses of the party currently in power comparable to those that had caused the defeat of the socialist party in 2000?

On the other hand, are the political forces that offered an alternative and proposed reforming the state really able to bring about genuine changes in the situation? Are they sufficiently united to do so? Have the leaders of this camp really converted to a new concept of power so that, if they ran the country, they would really serve the population and be deeply committed to work within the strict framework of the priorities of the country? Would they renounce the personalisation of power (that is, imposing on their entourage, as well as members of their party, the cult of their own person)?

These are important questions that should be posed by each citizen who has a clear conscience and a good understanding of the realities in our country.

HOW TO JUDGE THE EVOLUTION OF THE PRESENT REGIME?

It is necessary, in such an exercise, to recall the conditions in which the Parti démocratique sénégalais (PDS), now in power, came into existence in 1974. It should be remembered that the political regime of that time had been very repressive, against any opponent. So much so that the founder of the PDS, Abdoulaye Wade, in order to escape the vigilance of President Leopold Sedar Senghor, had first to present his party as a ‘contributory’ party (i.e. one that would support the majority party). In spite of everything, however, the activities of the PDS turned it into a real opposition party, canvassing for votes, expressing opinions that went against that of the regime at the time on several issues about how to conduct the country’s affairs.

It should also be noted that Wade had, all by himself, to find the means to finance his party and he was the sole inspirer of the political line of the organisation. Also he was the only interlocutor with the authorities and the foreign parties that supported the international liberal movement. All these roles made the PDS national secretary feel that he represented everything for the party. It was perhaps from then on that he developed the conviction that the party was his alone and that even those who supported him in the running of the organisation, were only collaborators and not really responsible in their own right. At the same time, the perception that Wade had of his relationship with the militants always led him to consider that they would rally first behind his ideas and vision, before – and perhaps only incidentally – being members of the party.Even if he abandoned this party to found another, most of these militants would follow him.

Added to all this is the fact that Wade, during his long struggle, has always been at the forefront, giving of himself more than all the others. He was a regular victim of arbitrary deprivations of his liberty as the regime of the Socialist Party considered him its main enemy and more than a simple political adversary. These are the reasons why Wade can be considered as the person who brought his party to power rather than the other way around.

It is therefore easier to understand why the person of the secretary general comes before the structures of the party and this becomes even more convincing if we look carefully at the insignificant role played by the congress of the PDS. It has not been convened for more than ten years.

The fact that the party belongs to the national secretary has made it impossible for any outstanding figure to emerge beside the chief. This is also its weakness and disables the structures that are the corollary. Arrangements have even been made to prevent one of the party cadres acquiring a certain reputation that could make him an eventual rival. The notion of a Number 2 is almost inconceivable and consequently it is difficult for the party to determine how it will ensure its continuation.

The chief of the PDS, perhaps under cover of the presidential regime, has actually adapted its relationship with his party in its rapport with the State. Here, too, it is not difficult to consider that the power of the state, if not simply the state, belongs to him. But it is precisely at this point that there are signs of a drift away from the set-up of republican governance towards monarchical practices.

How can one otherwise interpret the fact that four ministries, that have nothing in common in terms of their mandates or activities, have been conferred on one person, who is none other than Karim Wade, the son of the president. One can hardly cite the need for economy as an argument in a government that has 41 ministers, with a large number of departments whose mandates do not require full-time national supervision. It would probably be a good idea to make arrangements in the constitution to define the norms of the Senegalese government structure and prohibit the number of mandates that can be held at the same time, which is frowned upon in contemporary realms.

We must remember that being republican and a democrat does not only entail observing the laws and regulations, it also means respecting a professional code of ethics that does not give favours to one’s clan or one’s friends to the detriment of other citizens with the same merits and who, furthermore, belong to the same political sphere that is in power. One might wonder whether the discretionary power of the head of state to nominate the members of government and to define their remits should be limited by the principle of the equality of citizens to participate in running public affairs in their country, as stipulated in Article 13, paragraphs 1 and 2 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights.

This same convention, which was ratified by Senegal (whose constitution specifically refers to it), envisages, in its second article that the enjoyment of rights and freedoms recognised in the Charter must not be limited by any kind of distinction through birth or membership (of race, ethnicity, religion, region, etc.). Here we should call upon specialists in administrative and constitutional law as surely the ratification of an international convention involves the integration of its measures into the national law of the country concerned.

The relationship of the head of the executive with the state means that all the other institutions give way to the head of state. Their weakening is due to both the behaviour of the PDS in parliament, which ingests all the wishes of the head of the executive mechanically, and also to the organised, if not planned instability of the governmental institutions. This last factor is the key to the whole situation because it has been absolutely necessary to prevent a prime minister from remaining long in his post in case he becomes popular enough that it becomes difficult to remove him in case he is transformed into a possible successor. As for the ministers, their status has never been so precarious – all that is probably intended to make them understand that their real chief is not the prime minister.

When those in power have difficulties in their contact with public opinion and the voters, the nature of the PDS – and also the vision of its secretary – is such that the head of state is the only one considered responsible, because he is the source of all decisions, all nominations, and all mandates in his party and in the state structures.

Such a concentration of power and the absence of any signs of internal change-over, which is typical of this political set-up, make it probable that the PDS has no chance of survival when Wade leaves his post. Incidentally, the Senegalese opposition (as well as broad sectors of public opinion) suspect that, as far as Wade is concerned, his own descendants should ensure the continuation of his power. But if this dream were to materialise, it would come up against enormous obstacles.

In fact, if Senegalese voters were consulted transparently and on a regular basis, they would contest the management of public funds in different projects and upon which light has not yet been shed, as well as examine the accusations of corruption. These were indeed the reasons for the failure of the electoral test in March 2009.

It should also be added that the balance sheet presented by the regime concerning its action, even if it has some positive aspects, is greatly weakened, whatever anyone says, by inappropriate allocation of resources. Poverty is still widespread among most of the population, there are recurrent deficiencies in the power supply, ineffective funding for education and confusion among a large number of young people. As for agriculture, the groundnut sector alone (the government seems to have forgotten that industrial crops are produced to sell) reveals the imprecision and chaotic nature of the policies that have been adopted.

If, on the other hand, it is a question of taking another path, violating the constitution and republican values, this project would be very dangerous for national cohesion and might incur civil war. And any politician, of whatever political stripe, whose acts and gestures above all serve his personal ambition, would commit an enormous blunder and cause his country to slide into violence and chaos. This is the why we dare to hope that those who believe Wade has this intention are mistaken. Such an enterprise would not only be very risky but also his compatriots would put into question his whole life and his political career, which has been for the most part dedicated to changeover among parties, to commitment without concessions, to a continuous struggle for the defence of public liberties and democracy.

In the history of all countries, the great men who leave a mark on their epoch are often distinguished by a certain quality of thought, by a vision, by setting aside their own person, by a disinterestedness that earns respect and finally by devotion, in the face of adversity, to the high road of excellence which they desire for their people. But this eminent position also forces them, if life gives them the time, to know when to conclude their work (or to leave to others to continue it) at the time and in the way that makes it possible to keep intact the value of the symbols and reference points that they had helped to build.

All that we have said about the model being followed by the present regime, both through the party and the institutions, suggest that serious obstacles would prevent such a system from being able to reproduce itself. For the regime is turning in on itself, neglecting its relationship with the people and only concerned with adjustments in the apparatus so as to be continually on the alert against internal competition. Moreover, because of this pressing need to weaken anyone who puts forward a claim for a dominant position, there is nobody else to take over power – not to mention the strong resistance in public opinion which shows unequivocal signs of wanting radical change.

For this reason it is important to consider the capacity of the political forces that are proposing new options and to ask whether they can really implement another conception of the state, putting an end to all the difficulties that the populations currently faces.

CAN THE OPPOSITION CARRY OUT THE CHANGE THAT IS NEEDED?

The opposition, considered to be structured, is the group Benno Siggil Sénégal (Together to save Senegal). This organisation came out of national consultations where part of civil society joined the opposition in thinking about the new orientation required to solve the various problems that Senegalese development faces, from the political, economic and social viewpoints.

The Benno Siggil Sénégal group has now at its disposal what could be called a programme, even if it has some imperfections. The section concerned with the changes necessary in the state structure specifically calls for the establishment of a parliamentary regime, instead of a presidential one. One can only support this proposal, seeing the damages caused by the extreme personalisation of power that, since the independence of Senegal, has emptied representative democracy of its meaning and content. We have seen the confiscating of national sovereignty by a personal power that has been controlled very little and rarely condemned.

It is not surprising then that the majority of the population lives in extreme poverty. This is not an exaggeration: Senegal seems like a country cut in two with, on one side, most of the inhabitants living in utter destitution and, on the other, a minority to whom nothing is refused and whose lifestyle seems to belong to a developed country.

But the question should be posed whether the leaders of the parties that compose Benno Siggil Sénégal are really sincere in supporting the reform of the political system. The parliamentary regime offers the prime minister, who is head of the majority in the chamber, the executive power. This is to the detriment of the president of the republic, who only has ceremonial functions. How, therefore, should one understand the disputes between the different heads of opposition parties about the designation of a candidate who, if he is elected would only ensure a brief transition period towards the parliamentary regime, after the adoption of a new constitution.

Thus there is a big mystery concerning the intentions of them all and this is a serious obstacle in implementing the new options of the opposition.

As for Senegal’s economic and social development, the situation requires, not only the definition of new directions but that political forces which promise to straighten out the country should present genuine political programmes in each sector, spelling out the different actions with measurable consequences that would increase the income of the greatest number of people. It is time, in fact, that political actors develop a new determination, committing themselves to a path that leads to a radical change in the structure of the economy. This is, as everyone knows, composed of a tertiary sector that supplies 52 per cent of the national wealth, while the primary sector, in which 65 per cent of the population is engaged, is only responsible for 13 to 14 per cent of these revenues.

Besides, it is really misleading to say that, because its GDP per capita is CFA400 000 (US$840) per year, in other words more than US$2 dollars a day, Senegal should therefore not be included in the category of poor countries. It is necessary to specify that the 8 million people who live on agriculture, fisheries, and animal production have less than US$1 dollar a day, benefiting from a very small proportion of the GDP. In fact, who benefits from the surplus profits from operating telecommunications, if not its shareholders? Who profits from the banks and the insurance companies? Who benefits from the profits of wholesale trade? And so on.

We are waiting to hear what actions are proposed so that, in three or four years’ time, the rice importation will be stopped, and local production will be suffucuent. We demand that the government and opposition present us with new proposals that enable farmers to sell their harvests at reasonable prices. We want to be convinced that those who, yesterday, privatised the groundnut sector, will be so intransigent towards the industry to force it to reconsider its supply and sale policies, in order to prioritise the transformation of Senegal’s national production.

And what about national education, which is an imitation of a foreign system that prevents the implementation of reforms that could provide the human resources required for Senegal’s development? What about the other basic services, to which public funds are dispersed in dribs and drabs, while other expenses (of which the utility is more than doubtful) are given priority? And what about energy, a sector in which absolute impenetrability reigns about oil supply processes and where serious audits are more than urgent?

All these questions, and still others, make it necessary for those proposing an alternative to give evidence of their determination to apply genuine solutions and convince the Senegalese that their hopes will not be dashed once again.

But the best guarantee would certainly be if the political game would be balanced by the appearance of a third force, a new pole which is strong enough to make it difficult for the traditional parties to obtain a majority and do what they want. What recently happened in the U.K. is a good example. In the U.K., the liberal party, thanks to its unprecedented electoral progress, obliged the conservatives to make a governmental agreement on a programme in which a good part of its options are taken into account.

To arrive at this result, as we have proposed, it is civil society that must involve itself, for it has shown that it has competences, that it is not divided by populations, that it has real patriots within its ranks. All it needs to do is to mobilise, organise and federate itself, in order to pool its resources to become stronger.

However, it is necessary to distinguish clearly between the different movements that have sprung up recently and ensure that their real motivations are not simply to defend personal causes, but rather that they are seriously concerned with the interests of the population.

The emergence of the new ways of expression through petitions, which are undoubtedly a form of direct democracy, must be encouraged and, as soon as possible, institutionalised by a constitutional measure. This would also make the petition not only a way of rejecting a situation or to cancel a decision judged contrary to the general interest, but also an instrument for creating new regulations that the parliamentarians, left to themselves, would not have voted. It is a question of fighting against the blockages that the parties tend to impose in order to be the only channels through which the popular will is expressed. Very often partisan interests, as conceived by the members of the governmental parliamentary apparatus, win out.

The present situation in Senegal is at a decisive turning point in its history. We have, on the one hand, a power that is very uncertain about its survival and that seeks solutions of all kinds for its continuity but which, of its own accord, has deprived itself of the bases that can guarantee it. On the other hand, there is an opposition that is trying hard to elaborate concepts and strategies in order radically to change the nature of the state and of power but which must overcome the difficulties and obstacles that lie in the path of a sustainable unity.

And then, between these traditional forces, a civil society has emerged that brings real hope to those that now doubt the capacity of the parties to get the country going again, because they themselves have contributed to create the present difficult situation.

This is why the Senegalese are confronted by a challenge of enormous importance, which is fundamentally political. They must take in hand their own destiny and define the priorities of their country, involving themselves in action so that they are at the heart of the state’s policies. For this to happen new forms of political organisation – other channels expressing all opinions – are clearly necessary. And this must be implemented so that a change takes place as soon as possible, to avoid yet another lost decade, exacerbating even further the distress of our Senegal’s people.

BROUGHT TO YOU BY PAMBAZUKA NEWS

* Translated from the French by Victoria Bawtree
* Please send comments to [email protected] or comment online at Pambazuka News


Haiti: ‘We’ve been forgotten’

Sokari Ekine

2010-10-28

http://pambazuka.org/en/category/features/68173


cc S T B
Nearly 11 months since Haiti was devastated by an earthquake, the country is still in ruins, with 1.5 million internally displaced people forced to live in crowded unsanitary conditions. Sokari Ekine reports from the Haitian blogosphere on the progress that hasn’t been made.

Haiti is now approaching 11 months into the post-earthquake period, yet the country is still in ruins with some 1.5 million internally displaced people (IDPs) being forced to live in crowded unsanitary conditions. Recently the country’s prime minister, Jean-Max Bellerive said that the ‘aid pledged by foreign governments and institutions’ would not be enough for the reconstruction of the country, especially when previous debts and monies already spent were included these pledges.



‘Clearing the rubble from the quake alone would cost an estimated US$1.2 billion, Bellerive said. He added that providing decent housing to each of the total two million quake homeless and chronically destitute could itself cost US$10 billion – nearly the total being pledged by the international community for the full-blown national recovery and development program.

Unless this funds shortfall was addressed and a major influx of investment came, ‘I will have Haiti in the same situation, without food ... without nothing and without any opportunity to create development,’ Bellerive said.

There also has to be a huge shift in the cooperation between governments, institutions and NGOs involved, as well as coordination and implementation of distribution of aid and reconstruction, because from all accounts this has so far not worked. Evidence of the above is published in a recent report by the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti (IJDH) on the conditions in the IDP camps titled ‘We’ve Been Forgotten’, which is summarised as follows:

‘Right to Food. 75% of families had someone go an entire day without eating in the past week and over 50% indicated that their children did not eat for an entire day
- Right to Clean Water. 44% of families primarily drank untreated water
- Right to a Sanitary Environment. 27% of families defecated in a container, a plastic bag, or on open ground in the camps
- Right to Housing. 78% of families lived without enclosed shelter
- Right to Health. There were 245 independently listed health problems among 45 families
- Right to Protection From and During Displacement. 94% of families felt they could not return home while 48% had been threatened with forced eviction since the earthquake.’

To add to the already critical situation for millions of people in Haiti, a cholera outbreak which started one week ago in Saint Marc –60 miles from Port-au-Prince – has already taken 300 lives and spread to the capital.

Partners in Health reports that access to clean water and hospitals are the two major challenges in controlling the spread of the illness:



‘Access to medical facilities and clean water remain major concerns, particularly in isolated rural areas, said Dr. Ivers. Over the weekend, PIH was able to get 14 water trucks to some of the communities most in need, thanks to a partnership with the non-profit organization Yele Haiti. In addition, water purification tablets and oral rehydration salts have been widely distributed throughout the region. However, there are still many communities in the outbreak region whose only water source is the contaminated Artibonite river or rain water.

‘Complicating matters, on top of a need for clean water for general consumption, cholera patients need a particularly high volume of fluids—about 20 liters daily for each patient, said Dr. Ivers. As having access to this volume is virtually impossible in many areas, PIH is urging all suspected cases (anyone with diarrhea) to seek immediate treatment at a hospital.’

Ezili Danto raises serious questions around how cholera developed in the country and also what happened to the money donated but not distributed.

‘A chilling video testimony of brackish Red Cross water in Haiti -Cholera confirmed in Haiti capital. For another compelling testimony on Red Cross delivering filthy water to Haiti victims since the earthquake, view also: How did the Red Cross spend $106 Million Dollars in Haiti. (Ezili Dantò's note: Amongst some of the testimonies that's not clearly translated in this most valuable video: a woman standing next to a small child repeating "no, no, no," points to a water drum with a "Red Cross" sign on it and says that even the water they give is not treated. She explains that she drinks it because she has no money to buy good drinkable water but suffers right now from a stomach ache from drinking the Red Cross' polluted water.)’

Media Hacker has been at the forefront of reporting on Haiti since the earthquake mainly using Twitter (@mediahacker), but also on his blog. The UN forces in Haiti, MINUSTAH already had an appalling human rights record long before the earthquake and from this report by Media Hacker on UN drawing weapons on peaceful protests, little has changed.



‘One of the MINUSTAH fired a warning shot in the air and people panicked, ran away, yelling “Film! Film them!” The one in the photo pointed his loaded gun, finger on the trigger, at a lot of people, sweeping his arm in a big motion. Then the Haitians started chanting, “They’re shooting on us, they’re shooting on us.”

‘I feared for all our lives in those moments, but was intensely aware of the need to document what was happening. As it unfolded my mind went straight to the man killed by troops at Father Gerard Jean-Juste‘s funeral in 2009. In that instance, UN troops leveled their weapons at unarmed people—and fired. MINUSTAH denied it later, even though a Haitian TV crew had grainy footage of the whole incident.

Haiti Innovation reports on the growing sexual exploitation of Haitian children in the Dominican Republic which has increased since the earthquake.

‘Human trafficking occurs on both sides of the border. It will take a sustained, joint effort to ensure that migration is humane, orderly, and that minors are not being exploited as they are now. As the article makes clear, this will require tackling corruption within the border authorities. For more information, take a look at the U.S. State Department's latest Trafficking in Persons (TIP) reports for the Dominican Republic and Haiti.’

Elections in Haiti are due to take place on 28 November. Elections which Fanmi Lavalas – the party of President Aristide – have been once again prevented from taking part in, despite it being the largest and most popular party in the country. Haiti-Cuba-Venezula posts an article by the CEPR (Center for Economic and Policy Research), which asks why the US is funding ‘flawed elections’.

‘Haiti’s Provisional Electoral Council (CEP) has kept 14 political parties, including Haiti’s most popular party, Fanmi Lavalas, off electoral ballots since before April 2009, when the parties were excluded from legislative elections. In that “election,” the exclusion resulted in a boycott by more than 90 percent of the electorate. The CEP’s plans to carry over the banning of these parties to the next elections has ignitedprotests, planned boycotts, and controversy in Haiti, with some politicians, voters, and analysts complaining that the CEP’s members have largely been hand-picked by the Preval administration. Preval’s Inite party, unlike Fanmi Lavalas, will be on the November 28 ballot.

‘In a recent interview with CEPR, the CEP President, Gaillot Dorsinvil, said that the U.S. government is contributing $5 million for the elections, with another $10 million being spent by the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (an NGO funded in part by the U.S. State Department and USAID) and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID)”

World Pulse has a special report on women, Haiti and the elections.

‘In Haiti we say these elections are a selection,” says Yolette Gentil, director of Kay Fanm, an NGO helping women who are raped find safer shelter. “It’s not possible to have an election right now. All the registration lists were destroyed. We aren’t able to know who is dead and who is alive. This is something that makes the election not serious.” She adds, “There is no transparency.”

‘In February, a destroyed Haiti postponed its planned elections, which allowed Préval to stay on. But for how long? Many inside and outside of Haiti pushed Préval to set a fall date for new elections – their barometer of democracy. But as Gentil points out, the current post-quake conditions in Haiti make citizen participation very difficult at best for candidates and voters. “This is just a pretext to force us to have elections right now under the wrong conditions,” Gentil adds.

‘Such factors reflect what Haitians call mauvaises politiques in French—bad politics, or corruption. Haiti’s CEP is widely seen as corrupt and came under early fire for excluding Fanmi Lavalas, the most popular Haitian party. Lavalas elected populist President Jean-Bertrand Aristide in 1991 before he was overthrown, later restored to power, and then exiled to South Africa, paving the way for Préval to ascend. If Haiti had an election today, many believe Lavalas would win in a heartbeat. Instead, theteledjol, or rumor mill, is convinced that fraud will take place as it did in past elections, including questionable quarantining of ballots in 2006—Haiti’s version of the ‘hanging chad.’ Or, equally likely, very few Haitians will participate, but a winner will still be declared.’

The Haitian Blogger publishes a report that former US President, George W Bush intends to ask President Betrand Artistide to apologise for his ‘reluctance to leave the Haitian presidency at the request of the US’. This is unbelievable and I am not sure whether to take it seriously or not! Apologise for not wanting to take part in a coup against yourself – apologise for not wanting to be forcibly removed from office by a foreign government and exiled forever from your home and people?



So the conversation might go like this:

‘Greetings, Jean-Bertrand, it's George Bush here... Jr. I just wanted to reach across the airwaves and the years and ask you to consider something. I would love you to consider an apology some time and some full explanation of why you did what you did with my Embassy goo-oo-n… personnel. Why didn't you have the sense to leave immediately? Why did you have to be "persuaded" to sign that resignation letter and get on that plane? So what, you weren't told where we were taking you and your family? Why didn't you just trust that the U.S. had your best interest at heart when we took you "back to Africa" as it were? After all, they do speak French in the Central Republic of Africa.

‘So give it some thought and certainly pray about this... ah I know you were ex-communicated by the Catholic Church for your political activism on behalf of the poor, but still do pray on it, won't ya? Do come to understand why you did what you did. OK, have a good day there in South Africa. Say hi to that guy who was on the terrorist watch list for most of my presidency… ah what's his name, Mande... ah something.’

But it will never happen!

Black Looks publishes two posts on Haiti, one from the Caribbean Political Economy blog and one from Ezili Danto’s blog. She writes:

‘Haitians are now dying of dirty water and insanitary conditions which they have been forced to endure for the past 10 months. Over 250,000 Haitians have already died as a result of the earthquake and now thousands more are going to die because of failures by Bill Clinton, George Bush, the UN, the Red Cross, US and other governments, and hundreds of NGOs who received $millions in donations and or are responsible for distributing the monies. For months and months questions on where is the money have been fobbed off leaving people to languish in increasingly more horrible conditions and still nothing happens. Meanwhile Bill Clinton is not in Haiti at this time of crisis. He is on his way to visit Jamaica. Norman Girvan who writes the Caribbean Political Economy Blog Bill Clinton is coming to Jamaica to speak about “humanity” and people are being asked to pay $13,000.00 for the opportunity to hear this at a posh Hotel in Kingston”. How disgustingly obscene is that?’

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* Sokari Ekine blogs at Black Looks.
* Read more on this story: Donor money still bypassing Haiti's homeless and poor
* Please send comments to [email protected] or comment online at Pambazuka News.


EPAs: New trade deals, old agendas

The dangers of economic partnership agreements

Yash Tandon

2010-10-27

http://pambazuka.org/en/category/features/68109


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In November the European Union expects East African countries to sign a ‘comprehensive’ trade agreement. But Yash Tandon warns that the deal is not in Africa’s favour.

Background: What are EPAs?

Few people in East Africa know about the Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) being negotiated between the European Union (EU) on the one hand and the countries of Africa, Caribbean and the Pacific (ACP). It is primarily a trade agreement, but underlying it are a number of sensitive political and developmental issues. Fifty years after Africa gained its independence from colonial rule, the relationship between it and the former empire is still a hot issue.

One of the compelling aspects of re-negotiating this relationship is the requirement of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), of which both the EU and most African countries are members, that the old ‘trade preferences’ must be dismantled. Under the ‘imperial system of preferences’ instituted by the Empire, its colonial outposts were given ‘preferential’ access to the European market.

What is often lost sight of is the fact that these ‘preferences’ were for the benefit of Europe. Europe needed secure sources of raw materials and food for their industrialisation and security against disruption of food supplies, especially during times of wars. Today this reality is reversed in the language of trade negotiations. The ‘preferences’ are presented as if they are a kind of ‘favour’ that Europe grants to its former colonies.

The WTO now demands that these preferences be done away with and that all members of the WTO deal with one another on the basis of ‘reciprocity’. The old preferential system was based on ‘non-reciprocity’ - Africa for example did not have to provide Europe with ‘reciprocal’ access to African markets in return for their ‘preferential’ access to Europe.

This is an important point. Today, for example, the horticultural industry in East Africa has a ‘preferential’ access to Europe; it is subject to a lower tariff than flowers or vegetables coming from, for example, Costa Rica or the Philippines. In other words, East African growers have a ‘competitive advantage’ over their counterparts in other parts of the world. In return, East Africa does not have to give to Europe a ‘preferential’ access to its markets. This is what ‘non-reciprocity’ means. But we are now in the era of globalisation in which these arrangements are now outdated. These have to be removed under the WTO that requires a ‘Most Favoured Nations’ (MFN) treatment.

So what is the problem with the EPAs?

The problem is both with the substance of the issues being negotiated and the manner in which it is being done. The EU negotiates as one entity, a powerful empire. African countries are small, divided and fragmented. Africa is hostage to pressure from Europe - in the form of threats, sanctions as well ‘aid’ sweeteners - to agree to something that may not be in the long term interest of Africa. In fact, most African analysts agree that the EPAs are really designed to perpetuate Europe’s imperial hegemony over Africa.

The former President of Tanzania, Benjamin Mkapa, described EPAs as an attempt by Europe to recolonise Africa. It is, he said, ‘another Berlin Conference for the scramble of Africa’. Referring to the 1884 Berlin Conference, Mkapa said: ‘If you fool me once, shame is on you, fool me twice shame is on me.’ He said Africans were taken for a ride during the Berlin Conference and that should serve as an important lesson to them when they negotiate trading partnerships with Europe. (‘Africa should not be cajoled into the EPA’, http://bit.ly/9vsioU)

In fact it is a serious matter, the more so because very few people including the private sector in East Africa (a section of which is going to be hit very hard under the EPA) know very little about it. Trade experts at the South Centre (an intergovernmental think-tank of the South based in Geneva) had this to say: ‘Negotiating Economic Partnership Agreements between Africa and Europe has led to an untenable situation in Africa in several ways: Firstly, it would not be an understatement to say that the EPAs have ruptured African sub-regional integration efforts. Secondly, the EPAs, once implemented, will further contribute to the deindustrialization of Africa, as well as the worsening of the food crisis which is essentially a crisis of food production. The EU will increase food exports to the continent, and for Africa, this is tantamount to the importation of unemployment.’ (South Centre, Analytical Note, May 2010).

Because of this only 10 out of 47 African countries have signed EPAs to date. Some of those that signed an ‘Interim’ EPA (IEPA) in 2007 are now holding back on ratification due to threats of regional disintegration (for example, South Africa and Namibia in the SADC region).

Thirty-four out of 47 African countries negotiating EPAs are the so-called Least Developed Countries (LDCs). They do not need the EPAs to retain preferential market access. Under the EU's Everything But Arms (EBA) scheme, all LDCs have duty-free quota-free treatment of their current exports to the EU.

And yet many LDCs have felt compelled to initial the IEPAs (as has happened in East Africa) because although four of the five countries (Burundi, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda) are LDCs, the EU has insisted that for the non-LDC country in the region (Kenya) to retain its duty-free access to the EU market on, for example, cut flowers, the entire EAC must sign an EPA.

This is detrimental not only to the other countries in the region, but within Kenya itself it is detrimental to small and middle enterprises (SMEs) that are dependent more on the domestic and regional markets than on the export market. In other words, in return for ‘preferential’ tariff concessions for the horticultural industry, East Africa is asked to grant tariff-free access to European products and services (such as transport and tourism) that will endanger East Africa’s food security, prospects for industrialisation, and regional integration.

The dangers of EPAs for East Africa

The complexity of the EPA negotiations, and the language in which they are couched, can baffle most experts. However there are organisations such as the South Centre and NGOs such as the Southern and Eastern African Trade Information and Negotiations Institute (SEATINI) that has offices in Kenya, Uganda, Zimbabwe and South Africa that try and distil the main issues, breaking them down into more easily understood language, and work out the implications. What is offered to us as a ‘development’ agenda by the EU is in fact anti-developmental. EPAs may help Europe. They will not help Africa.

Here are some of the perils of EPAs:

1. EPAs demands 80 per cent tariff liberalisation from us in East Africa. This will open up our market to a flood of foreign imports that will kill whatever industries we have locally, and cause massive unemployment.

2. The EU has not made any real cuts on its food subsidies, and is not likely to in the future because of domestic political reasons. Hence, under EPAs its food corporations could bring subsidised food into our region, and threaten our food-based industries, and long-term food security.

3. EPAs allows only 17.4 per cent of value of imports from Europe as ‘sensitive’ products to us. This is not enough. We should have the flexibility to protect our production potential over the long term, and for this we need 30 to 40 per cent of our import lines designated as ‘sensitive’.

4. The Standstill Clause under the EPA (Art 13) disallows us to increase tariffs during 25 years of liberalisation. It will foreclose the use of tariffs to protect our industries in the future.

5. Article 15 of the EPA disallows new export taxes, or makes them difficult to apply. Europe wants our natural resources for its own industrialisation, and so it wants this provision. But we need these for our own future industrialisation, and export taxes are necessary for us to hold on to our strategic resources.

6. The MFN clause (Article 16) of the EPA demands that any concession we make to, for example China, India, Brazil, etc will have to be extended also to Europe. This will effectively undermine our efforts to build South-South relations.

7. The Rendezvous Clause (Article 37 of the EPA) is totally contrary to what we have fought for and secured within the WTO ambit. This concerns the so-called four ‘Singapore issues’ of investment, competition policy, transparency in government procurement, and trade facilitation, the first three of which were rejected for inclusion in the WTO Doha Round. Africa fought hard to get these issues thrown out of the WTO. Now the EU wants to bring them through the back door. In addition, the ‘Rendezvous Clause’ demands continuation of negotiations in other areas such as Trade in Services and Intellectual Property. These have the potential to undermine our local service sector, including real estate, communications, transport and even hospital and educational services.

These are highly technical and contentious issues. We should not open doors to these until we have carefully analysed their implications for our economies, especially future industrialisation, and their negative impact on our research and knowledge based institutions.

EPAs are damaging to our regional integration, damaging to African unity, and will undermine the struggles and the outcomes of what Africa has, under great difficulties, managed to achieve within the multilateral trading system of the WTO.

On 9 June 2010 the EU fully expected a FEPA (Framework EPA) to be signed by the EAC at a ministerial meeting in Dar es Salaam. But through skilful intervention by the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) that passed a timely resolution asking for more time to consider the implications of FEPA, the top political leadership of EAC governments, and some activist civil society organisations, this was stopped.

Now the EU expects the EAC to sign a ‘comprehensive’ EPA (CEPA) in November 2010. The EU is clutching at the straws, and therefore is likely to increase pressure, especially on the financial carrot side. The EU will attempt to ‘sweeten’ CEPA by offering ‘development aid’ either through the European Development Fund or as ‘aid for trade’.

We must be wary of these sweeteners. They are sugar-coated pills to induce our countries to barter our future for a mess of pottage. Africa has had bad experiences in the past. We must not repeat past mistakes.

Sequentially, East Africa must integrate regionally first. It must move ahead with implementing the Common Market Protocol. This is priority number one. Then it must conclude the ‘Doha Development Agenda’ in the WTO. And then, finally, it must negotiate with the European Union an EPA that is compatible with our East African Community obligations and the commitments we make in the WTO.

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* Yash Tandon is a writer on development theory and practice, chairman of SEATINI and senior adviser to the South Centre.
* This article was first published in AwaaZ.
* Please send comments to [email protected] or comment online at Pambazuka News.


Finance, fraud and foreclosure

Horace Campbell

2010-10-28

http://pambazuka.org/en/category/features/68207


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The ‘failure of finance, insurance and real estate as the basis for economic recovery' is compounded by the reality that as ‘the foreclosure crisis continues, not only will millions in the USA lose their homes, but many countries who have been keeping their reserves in the US dollar will find that their foreign reserves are worthless,’ writes Horace Campbell.

In the book, ‘Too Big to Fail’, it is reported that on 13 September 2008, Larry Fink got on the plane to Singapore. The report on the saga of the week of 7-14 September 2008 further commented on his return after Henry Paulson and the government saved the big financiers by putting trillions of dollars in the financial system. Fink is of particular interest because not only is he the chairman and CEO of BlackRock, the largest money management firm in the world, but also because his role in the present foreclosure mess has been exposed that he is one of the key figures of the shadow banking system and the shadow government is being brought to light.

We are informed in a Vanity Fair article titled ‘Larry Fink’s $12 Trillion Shadow’ that BlackRock controls over US$12 trillion in assets, and this so-called money management firm is ‘A global colossus—with $3.3 trillion in assets under its direct management and another $9 trillion it supports.’ According to the same article, ‘BlackRock manages about $1 trillion of pension and retirement funds for millions of Americans and oversees the investments of scores of institutions around the world: from state and local governments to college endowments, from Fortune 500 companies to the sovereign-wealth funds of, among others, Abu Dhabi and Singapore.’ The public record informs us that ‘BlackRock was founded as BlackStone Financial Management within the private equity firm Blackstone Group in 1988. Larry Fink, BlackRock’s founder and CEO, joined Blackstone. Before joining Blackstone, Fink was a managing director at First Boston, where he pioneered the mortgage-backed securities market in the United States.’

BlackRock is a creature of the financial services industry and holds billions of dollars of bonds that consist of complex financial instruments. These are the instruments that form the basis of what is called derivatives, the new product that is at the core of the financialisation of the economic system. This financialisation is understood to mean the vastly expanded role of financial motives, financial markets, financial actors and financial institutions (stock markets, etc) in the operation of domestic and international economies. This financial sector has been the main force behind the ideas of neoliberalism because these ideas ensured that they had more unregulated economic power, but benefitted from the protection of the state’s military might. In this neoliberal world of militarism and finance, oil and pharmaceuticals, the role of speculators becomes more important than producers. Wall Street and the New York Stock Exchange stand at the heart of this web of finance and investment.

Companies such as BlackRock and other money management firms do not produce anything, they speculate, gamble with the savings of millions of persons and are in the world of make-believe securities called credit default swaps and derivatives. It is a world where the military power of the United States is necessary to protect the activities of these speculators.

It is to this company, BlackRock (whose leader pioneered the mortgage backed securities), that the US government gave the responsibility of overseeing the toxic assets of AIG and Bear Stearns, assets that were taken over by the US government to save the system by the Bush administration in the economic ‘coup’ managed by Henry Paulson in 2008. As a result, ‘through an array of government contracts, BlackRock has effectively become the leading manager of Washington’s bailout of Wall Street. The firm oversees the $130 billion of toxic assets that the U.S. government took on as part of the Bear Stearns sale and the rescue of AIG; it also monitors the balance sheets of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac—which together amount to some $5 trillion—and provides daily risk evaluations to the New York Fed on the $1.2 trillion worth of mortgage-backed securities it has purchased in an effort to jump-start the country’s housing market.’

Now, with the foreclosure crisis replete with fraud and robo-signing, Larry Fink and those money managers who are tied up with the top persons in the derivatives market are being brought up in the news by none other than Bloomberg News for the inherent conflict of interests in the present foreclosure crisis.

In a long article entitled, ‘New York Fed Faces “Inherent Conflict” in Mortgage Buybacks’, we learn that the New York Federal Reserve, which acquired mortgage debt, has been calling on Bank of America to buy back the bad debts:

‘The New York Fed and big private investment firms Blackrock and Pimco have even gone so far as to suggest that Bank of America should be forced to buy back some portion of the loans they originated. But this is obviously a result of the fact that these entities hold billions worth of BofA originated bonds and derivatives, and thus need to jump into the fray to ensure that they don’t lose out in case their bonds actually become worthless.’

This tangled web becomes more complex when we learn that the same Blackrock owns a large chunk of Bank of America, the bank in the US at the centre of the storm over the foreclosure crisis. Bank of America services over 14 million mortgages in the USA, with a paper value of over US$2.1 trillion. But this paper value is questionable so that the bank limps on daily basis with the knowledge that the political clout of the financial services sector will ensure another government bailout when the paper value turns out to be as toxic as that which was in the hands of Bear Stearns or Lehman brothers.

Put another way, the Fed and BlackRock are asking Bank of America to buy back some of the loans they originated. But Blackrock owns a large share of Bank of America. In short, the foreclosure crisis has brought out the whole mess of securitisation that was at the heart of the financial crisis of 2008.

The fact that the banks and investment companies and the Federal Reserve Bank of New York are all enmeshed in this cascading scandal brings the question of finance capital away from theoretical discussion to the reality of whether the bankers and financial oligarchs will have their way, come what may.

Peter Fisher, presently one of the executives of BlackRock is another scion of the toxic financial oligarchy that has moved in and out of BlackRock and the Federal Reserve System. Formerly an undersecretary of the treasury, Peter Fisher has also worked for the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, where he was responsible for all of the Federal Reserve's open market and foreign exchange operations. Readers will remember that Tim Geithner, the current treasury secretary, was formerly the chairperson of the New York Fed and that it was under his watch that the government gave BlackRock the responsibility to oversee the toxic assets of AIG, Bear Stearns and the other fallen speculators. The Federal Reserve System is populated with executives who work to protect the banks and investment firms. The history of Goldman Sachs and their deployment of functionaries to run the government over the past thirty years is an abject lesson of how the bankers dominated the government of the USA. Why should all of this be of interest to citizens all over the world? It was Thomas Jefferson who warned that ‘banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies.’ And this is playing out before our eyes.

FEDERAL RESERVE SYSTEM

The New York Fed plays a key role in the US economy because it is owned and managed by the financial oligarchs and is supposed to oversee many of the biggest Wall Street bank holding companies, including JPMorgan Chase & Co, Goldman Sachs Group Inc, and Citigroup, etc. There are 12 regional federal reserve banks but the New York Fed is of particular importance because this is the one branch of the Fed that oversees the international financial system and works to protect the dollar to ensure that the US dollar remains the currency of international trade. This bank holds the foreign exchange reserve of 60 per cent of the countries in the world that are enmeshed in the dollar zone. In other other words, the New York Federal Reserve Bank is like a central bank to many central banks around the world.

The European Union created the Euro to challenge the power of the dollar as the currency of world trade but with the assistance of the British and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the US government has been able to fend off challenges from the Euro. Most poor countries have been bullied by the IMF to restructure their economies through structural adjustment; but these structural adjustment exercises have been to support the US economy and to ensure that the US remains the number one capitalist state in the world. The USA holds more than 60 per cent of the world’s reserves while the Euro controls 24 per cent. The other 16 per cent belongs to societies such as China, Cuba, Russia and North Korea that tenuously remain outside of the dollar and Euro zone. It is because of the linkages between the speculators and the dollar that the Bank of the South has been established so that some of these countries, such as Venezuela and Bolivia can delink from the dollar. There are many who believe that the military invasion of Iraq was precipitated by the decision of the government of Iraq in 2000 to convert Iraq’s foreign currency reserves from US dollars to Euros. The leader of Iraq had announced all Iraq’s future oil trades would be conducted in Euros instead of the dollar (See: ’The Economics behind the Iraqi Invasion’). Up until today, the US government remains vigilant as societies in OPEC threaten to conduct oil (and other international transactions) in Euros.

US MILITARY AND THE FINANCIAL SECTOR

If such a threat were carried out, it would pose a major challenge to the dominant position of the US dollar. Slowly, Shanghai is building up as an alternative financial sector to rival Frankfurt, London and New York combined. It is important to underline the reality that when the US achieved its position as the central banker of the world after the Second World War, the US economy was the strongest in the world and the US agreed to back up the dollar by keeping one ounce of gold for every 35 dollars printed. After the US exhausted itself in Vietnam, the US could not guarantee this fixed exchange rate so since the 1970s, the US dollar has operated at a flexible exchange rate. In practice this means that the US government has been able to print dollars at will and that the principal guarantor of the US hegemonic position became the US military.

It is for this reason that there is a close relationship between capital management firms such as the Carlyle Group and the US military industrial complex. One way to understand the presence of US military personnel in Europe, especially Germany, is to grasp the reality that the US fears the Euro becoming a global currency. If the euro becomes a global currency to rival the dollar, there would be such turmoil in the international economic system that the effects will have permanent damage to the US economy.

The present financial crisis is forcing the leaders of the US to either manage the decline of the dollar gracefully or maintain the dollar through brute force and US military bases all over the world.

CONFLICT OF INTEREST

When the financial services sector imploded after the days of September 2008 when the old investment houses collapsed, the real challenge of the full restructuring of the US economy was postponed when the government bailed out the firms with trillions of dollars. However, the hole that was dug was so deep that it was bottomless, so that no amount of bail out could restore the banking and money management firms to a healthy status. It was this reality that ensured that the bankers were working very hard to maintain this political power in the society. That power became punctured once again as the news of the foreclosure crisis brought to the fore the fact that the banks and financial entities such as GMAC could be forced to write off the losses from foreclosures (as it legally should). If the banks and financial entities did write off these bad loans as bad loans, the leverage of these banks would be so far into the red that they would have no option but to go bankrupt. Every day since 15 September 2008, the banks have lived with this reality, and it is for this reason that the banks must have a president in the White House and a Congress who will again bail out these financial intuitions when the true position of the value of the assets becomes known.

It is now clear that there is a conflict of interest between the Federal Reserve System and the banks because the same federal reserve, such as the New York Fed and Richmond Fed hold Mortgage Backed Securities (MBS – the ones pioneered by Larry Fink), while acting as the agency to assure a safe and sound financial system.

The fact that Bloomberg News and other investment sheets are writing about the conflict of interests brings to the fore the delicate nature of the crisis in the US financial sector. Neil Barofsky in his report to Congress has outlined the levels of fraud he discovered as inspector general of the Troubled Assets Recovery Program (TARP), and has testified before Congress on the different layers of fraud in the real estate market, in the insurance industry, in the banks, and among all those who were involved in the speculation that is called free market capitalism. The struggle for the Congress is to ensure that there are no hearings that will give voice to officials such as Neil Barofsky and Elizabeth Warren. In fact, Warren is feared because as the head of the new consumer agency she would have the authority to bring out the full extent of the manipulations of the banks.

This extent of fraud and the unhealthy nature of the US banks have been compounded by the foreclosure crisis.

FORECLOSURE CRISIS

In most capitalist countries, a foreclosure process on a residential mortgage begins when the home-owner defaults on the payment of the monthly mortgage. In times of economic crisis when millions are unemployed, this foreclosure process intensifies as millions lose their homes. Under normal circumstances, this foreclosure process entails a number of clear steps: (a) notice to the home owner of non-payment (b) a demand letter sent by the bank or financial agency holding the mortgage (c) a legal notice of default and then (d) repossession of the house pending resale. There are three classifications of foreclosure filings: Default notices, scheduled foreclosure auctions and bank repossessions (called repos). After the third action (repo) is completed, the properties are known as REO (Real Estate Owned) properties until the bank can resell them. The foreclosure crisis in relation to residential properties has been in the news, but hidden behind this is the looming crisis for commercial properties. But this is a story that is yet to come. Usually, a borrower (home owner) faces eviction from their home after missing three months of payments to the banks. By the end of 2009, almost 3 million homeowners received at least one foreclosure filing during 2009, setting a new record for the number of people falling behind on their mortgage payments. One report noted that the foreclosures of 2009 more than doubled that of 2007. The total number of foreclosure filings in 2009 was 3,957,643, involving 2,824,674 properties.

The states at the centre of the housing boom, Nevada, Arizona, California and Florida, were at the centre of the collapse of the bubble carrying the majority of the foreclosures. It is anticipated that by the end of 2010 more than seven million homes will be in foreclosure. This crisis is compounded by the fact that nearly 11 million homes are ‘underwater’ – that is, the houses are worth less than the amount owed on them. According to one report from an international bank, some 20 million homes will be underwater by the end of 2011.

When the Federal government established the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) in 2008, the government later established the Making Homes Affordable (MHA) program. This was a program that was supposed to assist homeowners to stay in their homes. This program has failed to assist homeowners and the banks were able to manipulate this federally supported program to ensure that they were paid regardless of what was happening to families in the midst of a depression. Because of the depth of the depression, and with hundreds of billions of delinquent mortgage loans still on the books, banks are now trying to recover whatever money they can by stepping up the foreclosure process. ‘While a house may be worth substantially less than the price it fetched four or five years ago, the banks are anxious to repossess it and sell it for what they can get, rather than eat the losses.’

It is this anxiety that led to the banks initiating foreclosure processes without due respect to the law. The same securitisation that allowed the banks to bundle the mortgages and sell them off to money management firms and to mutual funds meant that the banks did not know who really owned the mortgages. Hence the whole exercise of foreclosure reeked with fraud and what is called robo-signing, where some mortgage servicers have been signing off foreclosure documents without actually reading them, or doing so without the presence of a notary. According to the Washington Post, agents engaged to check that foreclosure documentation was valid and complete had been ‘signing off at a rate – 10,000 per month – where they could not possibly have carried out the checks they were required to do. One “expert” witness – Jeffrey Stephan – claimed he’d been doing this for the past 5 years, while acting for GMAC, J.P.Morgan Chase, and several other banks.’ Robo-signing is one more instance of fraud and malfeasance by the financial oligarchy.

As early as 2007, Gretchen Morgenson of the New York Times was writing that, ‘The pooling of home loans into securities has been practiced for decades and helped propel real estate prices in recent years as investors sought the higher yields that such mortgage trusts could provide. Some $6.5 trillion of securitized mortgage debt was outstanding at the end of 2006.’ Three years later she was still writing on the recursive processes from securitisation and wondering why no one has been put behind bars for the actions of the banks and mortgage companies. In a recent article entitled, ‘One Mess that Cannot Be Papered Over’, she wrote that:

‘LAWYERS representing delinquent homeowners have been shouting for years about documentation problems in residential mortgages. Now that their complaints have gained traction with investors, attorneys general and some state court officials, the question of consequences looms large. Is the banks’ sloppy paperwork a matter of simple technicalities that are relatively easy to cure, as the banks contend? Or are there more far-reaching consequences for banks and the institutions that bought mortgage-backed securities during the mania? Oddly enough, the answer to both questions may be yes. According to real estate lawyers, most banks that have gotten into trouble because they didn’t produce proper proof of ownership in foreclosure proceedings can probably cure these deficiencies. But doing so will be costly and time-consuming, requiring banks to comb through every mortgage assignment and secure proper signatures at each step of the way — and it surely will take much longer than a few weeks, as banks have contended.’

I have quoted extensively from the mainstream press because this topic was not being written on by a radical left writer. By the end of September 2010, the scandal of the documentation problems in the foreclosure process was so widespread that several big banks declared a full or partial moratorium on foreclosures. Bank of America called a halt on proceedings across the US, while PNC Financial, JPMorgan Chase and Ally Financial's GMAC Mortgage unit stopped foreclosures in the 23 states where a judge must approve all such proceedings. It was in the face of the widespread fraud and abuse that 50 attorney generals in the US are suing the banks for illegal foreclosure.

But with the midterm elections showing that the Republicans may control the House of Representatives, Bank of America has thrown caution to the wind and resumed foreclosures because if they did not appear to be collecting, the bond-holders would be calling in their investments.

HOME OWNERSHIP AND PRIVATE ENTERPRISE

The inherent conflict of interest between the role of the central bank and the BlackRocks of the world has now been compounded with the question about what is called law in the US. For centuries, the idea of owning a home has been sacrosanct in the US. This idea has been grounded in the so-called concept of private property. Now the citizens of the US are faced with whether the banks and the military are more important than people owning their homes and guarding their property. It is this major contradiction that is being played out in the midterm elections in the US. The banks, the billionaires, the oil companies, and the military want to ensure that at all costs the depression is borne by the citizens of the world and the poor in the USA. This is why in the midst of the deepest depression in 70 years, the military budget of the US increased while there were cuts in education, health, and all other sectors of the society.

Unlike the last depression of the twentieth century, the rise of China, India, Brazil and other centres of power outside of Frankfurt, London, Paris and New York has created a new dynamic in international politics. This means that the New York Fed along with their allies in Britain, Germany, and France cannot simply intensify the exploitation of Africa, Latin America, and Asia. Within Europe, it is the British who have taken the lead to intensify the oppression of the working people in order to save the banks. In France, the workers and the students have been mobilised to place the question of the banks at the centre of the political struggle. In the US, the popular upsurge which led to the election of Barack Obama is being consciously rolled back by the bankers, the billionaires, and the militarists who do not want to see black, white, brown, and Asian workers coming together. Racism, Islamophobia, and anti-immigrant instigations have been the tools to confuse the white working class so that attention is turned away from the banks and the insurance companies.

In the present midterm elections, one congressional representative sought to raise the question by speaking about taxing billionaires. In the elections, issues such as capital gains tax and stock transfer taxes are not on the table, Representative Tom DeFazio from Oregon raised the possibility of bringing to the fore the taxes on sales of stocks. When the rep put this out as part of his campaign, one capitalist from Long Island was willing to contribute US$150,000 to defeat him. It is in New York where there is the highest concentration of billionaires where no mainstream party has raised the question of taxing the BlackRocks of this world. Howie Hawkins of the Green Party has been the only politician bold enough to raise the question of a stock transfer tax. This would be a tax on gains from the stock market. One per cent tax on stock profits in the state of New York could wipe out the deficit of the state. But no politician in New York from the mainstream party dares to raise this question. Even some sections of the left media remain afraid of raising this question.

There are so many front organisations for the billionaires that the citizens do not know what is a genuine grass roots organisation. Citizens United describes its mission as being dedicated to restoring the United States government to ‘citizens' control’ and to ‘assert American values of limited government, freedom of enterprise, strong families, and national sovereignty and security.’ It is this organisation that brought a case before the Supreme Court of the USA .The new ruling passed by the Supreme Court allows unlimited contribution by capitalists to win elections.

US DECLINE AND THE FUTURE OF THE DOLLAR

In the film, ‘Capitalism: A Love Story’, there is the scene where Michael Moore goes to the headquarters of Goldman Sachs to carry out a citizen’s arrest of Blankfein and the other executives of this bank. The intent, through the medium of entertainment, was to lift the consciousness of the US workers to the crimes that were being committed by the bankers who were too big to fail. Bernard Madoff was made a sacrificial lamb while the other big sharks are still in the waters of speculation and militarism. This failure of finance, insurance and real estate as the basis for economic recovery is now compounded by the reality that every day as the foreclosure crisis continues, not only will millions in the USA lose their homes, but many countries who have been keeping their reserves in the US dollar will find that their foreign reserves are worthless. This merging of the financial crisis in the USA with the crisis for the dollar poses a great danger to the world economy and it is not a matter if countries will delink from the dollar, but when.

The financial oligarchs understand this and hence the necessity for the military build-up for US hegemony, regardless of the cost to humans everywhere.

All of this is to say that the extreme conservatism that is being witnessed in the US today is not simply the result of the racist reflex by poor whites, but part of the conscious manipulation by the media moguls along with Wall Street barons and those that have insatiable appetite for militarism to confuse the people. The rhetoric has been retched up so high that incidents of violence reported in the campaign is only a harbinger of more serious confrontations to come if measures are not taken to educate the people that their economic woes are caused by the fraud and criminal activities of the banks and the glorified financial oligarchs. Barack Obama has been campaigning but his campaign will be meaningless as long as he elevates people such as Tom Donilon to be the National Security Adviser. Donilon has footprints in the mortgage business. According to Robert Scheer, ‘As the chief lobbyist for Fannie Mae from 1999 to 2005, Tom Donilon was far more intimately involved than Paulson in the manufacturing of this financial and mortgage mess. He successfully pressured Congress to give Fannie Mae the green light to speed past any sound regulation,’ In a democratic and accountable society, Tom Donilon would be investigated and cast out of public service but such is the quality of persons that Obama choose to advise him on National Security.

Obama is not only trapped in the midst of financial oligarchs turned advisers, by their counsel, he is consciously serving the interests of the corporate fraudsters. Obama genuinely believes that saving the fraudsters will save the US economy. It is this misguided liberal belief that can only be clarified by a mobilised and educated population.

The midterm elections in the USA are being watched as the Obama administration finds itself in the midst of a transition. The transition is torn between peace and war. Whether the reflex to war and repression wins will depend on the extent to which the peace and justice forces bring BlackRock and the shadow government out in the open so that the fraudulent and speculative system can give way to a new system that places human beings at the centre of the economy.

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


Ethiopia: Feed them and bleed them

Alemayehu G. Mariam

2010-10-28

http://pambazuka.org/en/category/features/68167


cc W E C
Western donors continue to hand out billions of dollars in ‘humanitarian’ and ‘economic’ aid to Ethiopia’s Zenawi regime each year, turning a blind eye to the fact that their handouts are propping up a repressive dictatorship, writes Al Mariam.

The helping hand that feeds Ethiopians is the same hand that helps bleed Ethiopia. Every year, the US, the UK, Germany, the Netherlands, Canada, Japan and other Western countries hand out billions of dollars in ‘humanitarian’ and ‘economic’ aid to the regime of dictator-in-chief Meles Zenawi in Ethiopia. Every year, these donors turn a blind eye and a deaf ear to the notorious fact that their handouts are used to prop up and fortify a repressive one-man, one-party totalitarian dictatorship. Today, Western donors have collectively embraced the proverbial principle to ‘see no evil, hear no evil and speak no evil’ of what their ‘aid’ money is doing in Ethiopia.

Last week, Human Rights Watch (HRW) pried open Western donors' eyes to see the havoc their aid money is wreaking in Ethiopia and unplugged their ears to hear the truth about the evil they are helping to spread throughout that poor country. In a report entitled, Development Without Freedom [1], HRW sketched out the architecture of a vast kleptocracy (government of thieves) whose lifeblood is continuous and massive infusion of foreign aid. The report represents a devastating indictment of Western donors and their client regime for crimes that, if committed in the donor countries, would constitute Class A felonies:

‘Led by the ruling Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF), the government has used donor-supported programs, salaries, and training opportunities as political weapons to control the population, punish dissent, and undermine political opponents--both real and perceived. Local officials deny these people access to seeds and fertilizer, agricultural land, credit, food aid, and other resources for development. Such politicization has a direct impact on the livelihoods of people for whom access to agricultural inputs is a matter of survival. It also contributes to a broader climate of fear, sending a potent message that basic survival depends on political loyalty to the state and the ruling party.’

HRW charges that Zenawi's regime has used Western aid to benefit its supporters by giving them special access to micro-credit (small loans designed for poor households) loans and benefits under the productive safety net program (multi-year cash payments to those vulnerable to famine to avoid disaster from food shortage emergencies). The regime has misused state educational facilities for political purposes and engaged in systematic political indoctrination of students, repression of teachers and purging of individuals who are unwilling to support the ruling party from their jobs. In sum, after 19 years and ‘investing’ US$26 billion in ‘aid’, the crowning achievement of Western aid in Ethiopia is the establishment and entrenchment of a one-man, one-party totalitarian state!

The Western donors refuse to accept any responsibility for the misuse and abuse of their aid money in Ethiopia; and the conspiracy of silence to cover up the ugly facts uncovered by HRW continues. A few days after HRW released its report, a gathering of vulturous poverty pimps known as the Development Assistance Group (DAG) representing donor states issued a statement denying the undeniable. ‘We do not concur with the conclusions of the recent HRW report regarding widespread, systematic abuse of development aid in Ethiopia. Our study did not generate any evidence of systematic or widespread distortion.’ [2] DAG co-chair Samuel Nyambi was manifestly dismissive of HRW's findings when he arrogantly proclaimed that ‘development partners have built into the programmes they support monitoring and safeguard mechanisms that give a reasonable assurance that resources are being used for their intended purposes.’ In DAG-istan, what HRW found and reported simply could not happen. HRW made it all up! The report is all lies and fabrications!

The fact of the matter is that it is in DAG's self-interest to bury the truth and keep covering it up even when the truth it is exhumed for public display. For DAG to acknowledge any part of the HRW evidence is tantamount to self-incrimination. They could never admit that the things HRW reported occurred under their watch. As the HRW reports demonstrates, DAG and the donor countries ‘have done little to address the problem [aid abuse/misuse] or tackle their own role in underwriting government repression... even though they recognize [civil and political rights] to be central to sustainable socioeconomic development.’

Huddled together in DAG-istan, the poverty pimps have collectively resolved to continue to do their usual aid business in Ethiopia because ‘broad economic progress outweighs individual political freedoms’. In ‘their eagerness to show progress in Ethiopia, aid officials are shutting their eyes to the repression lurking behind the official statistics.’ They say ‘their programs are working well and that aid was not being 'distorted.' They refuse to carry ‘out credible, independent investigations into the problem.’ The ‘donor country legislatures and audit institutions [have failed] to examine development aid to Ethiopia to ensure that it is not supporting political repression.’ They refuse to ‘wake up to the fact that some of their aid is contributing to human rights abuses’ in Ethiopia. The Western donors have ignored calls to ‘seriously weigh the impact that their funding has on bolstering repressive structures and practices in Ethiopia.’ They are unwilling to do a ‘fundamental re-thinking of their strategy.’

THE PEOPLE OF ETHIOPIA VERSUS WESTERN DONORS

When I wrote my commentaries ‘Speaking Truth to Strangers’[3] this past June and ‘J'Accuse’ last November [4], I argued that in a perfect world Western donors in Ethiopia could be prosecuted for being accessories before and after the fact to the crime of first-degree ‘democricide’, gross human rights violations and for aiding and abetting Zenawi's kleptocracy. The recent HRW report furnishes a fresh boatload of damning evidence for use in the criminal conspiracy case of ‘The people of Ethiopia versus Western donor countries’ to be tried in the court of international public opinion and in the consciences of all the taxpayers in Western countries shelling out their hard earned money to support one of the most brutal dictatorships in the world.

The silent conspiracy between the Western donors and Zenawi's regime operates on a couple of simple premises. The Western donors in their chauvinistic view believe there are two social classes in Ethiopia. One class consists of the large masses of poor, impoverished, illiterate, malnourished and expendable masses who will not amount to much. The other class consists of the tiny class of elites who maintain a lavish life style for themselves and lord over the masses by manipulating the billions given to them to strengthen their chokehold on the political structure and process. The silent conspiracy is sustained by mutuality of interests. The Western donors want ‘stability’ in Ethiopia, which often means the absence of internal strife that will not undermine their economic and political interests in the country. They want regional ‘stability’, which means having someone who could be called upon to patrol the neighbourhood and kick the rear ends of some nasty terrorists. For those addicted to aid, it's all about more aid, more free money to play with.

As long as the Western donors meet their dual objectives, they do not give a rat's behind about what happens to their aid money or what harm it does to the Ethiopian masses. When confronted with the truth about the misuse and abuse of aid money as has been documented in the HRW report, the donors will deny it (‘we have built in safeguards, it couldn't happen), play it down (‘nothing to it’), ignore it (‘nor worth commenting’), excuse it (‘it's not as bad as it seems’), rationalise it (‘we've got to work with the government’), and wax legal about it (‘there is a sovereignty issue’); and to fool the people occasionally, they will come out in public, put on a show of feigned outrage and pontificate about democracy, the rule of law and the rest of it. After all is said and done, they go right back to business as usual.

ETHIOPIA: THE POTEMKIN VILLAGE

A Potemkin village is ‘something that appears elaborate and impressive but in actual fact lacks substance.’ Western aid has reduced Ethiopia to a Potemkin village. It's all a facade, a smoke and mirror show complete with illusions and sleights of hand. DAG is full of it when it counterclaims against HRW's findings[5]:

‘The aid provided by members of the DAG in Ethiopia is transforming the lives of millions of poor people through basic services such as healthcare, education and water, and long-term food security. Our programmes are directly helping Ethiopia to reach the Millennium Development Goals.’
In their annual dog and pony show, these poverty pimps have been singing the same old song for years: ‘We are saving lives in Ethiopia by the millions. Imagine how many millions would have perished but for aid; how many children would have not gone to school. See the clinics and hospitals that aid has built.’ They challenge us to look at how much economic development aid has brought to Ethiopia: ‘Behold the shiny glass buildings. See all of the fancy roads that snake over the hills and valleys. Look at all of the universities we helped build. Look at the double-digit annual economic growth. Aid money made all that possible.’

What they don't tell is the fact that many of the shiny buildings have little running water and many more stand unfinished or vacant. The universities have few books and educational materials and even fewer qualified instructional staff. The hospitals and clinics have few doctors and virtually no medical supplies or equipment to care for 85 million people. Ethiopia has one of the highest HIV prevalence rates in the world. Inflation has made it impossible for the vast majority of Ethiopian families to meet their basic needs. The poverty pimps say nothing about the fact that famine and hunger stalks a third of the Ethiopia population year around. As to ‘double digit’ economic growth, it is all made up by Zenawi's regime. [7]. So the smoke and mirror aid show goes on and on. The multi-billion dollar alms industry keeps on humming and squeezing more and more money from the wallets of hard working men and women in the West.

The fact of the matter is that aid is incapable of creating or sustaining economic development (its effects under the best of circumstances are transitory). As Dambissa Moya has argued [6]:

‘In Ethiopia, where aid constitutes more than 90% of the government budget, a mere 2% of the country's population has access to mobile phones. (The African country average is around 30%.) Might it not be preferable for the government to earn money by selling its mobile phone license, thereby generating much-needed development income and also providing its citizens with telephone service that could, in turn, spur economic activity?’

To add insult to injury, it is now becoming clearer than ever that aid has become the principal tool of repression, human rights violations and suppression of democratic institutions in Ethiopia.

WESTERN DONORS ON THE HORNS OF A DILEMMA IN ETHIOPIA

Based on the HRW report, one can reasonably conclude that US aid policy in Ethiopia is reeling out of control. US tax dollars given as aid are being misused by Zenawi for political purposes in violation of US law with the apparent tacit approval of US authorities. Cumulatively, the US, as the largest aid donor in Ethiopia, has been singularly responsible for the creation of a repressive Frankenstinian regime over which the US has little influence or leverage.

Zenawi's contempt for the Western donors in general is nothing less than the proverbial ‘bite of the hand that feeds.’ The Economist recently noted, ‘Mr Meles's contempt for what he calls the ”neoliberalism” of the West is as plain as his admiration for “generous” and “dependable” China. Chinese Communist Party officials were feted at a recent EPRDF conference... The Europeans and Americans find this galling, since they continue to pay for many of Ethiopia's hospitals and schools, as well as handing out free food.’ Zenawi's contempt is not just for ‘neoliberalism’ (market-driven approach to economic and social policy), but also the very essence of what the US and the West in general claims to be their fundamental values, including the rule of law, civil and human rights and free democratic processes and institutions.

After sucking up US$26 billion dollars of aid, Zenawi is telling his Western donors that they are chumps and wimps, and he is going to dump them for the rising sun of East Asia. The Western donors don't seem to get it; and they keep shelling out billions more to keep Zenawi on the dole as he thumbs his nose at them and sneers at their policies. That is nothing new. After troops under the direct command and control of Zenawi massacred 200 unarmed protesters, wounded over 800 more and jailed 30,000 opponents following the May 2005 elections, Western donors took him to the side and told him, ‘Be nice. Don't do stuff like that. Anyway, here is a couple billion to do what you will.’ In May 2010, Zenawi announced that he had won the elections by 99.6 per cent. On 23 September 2010, the US agreed to write him a handout check for a cool US$229.3 million. It is sad to see American taxpayers not only having their back pockets picked, but also their rear ends kicked.

I believe there is another less visible, but equally catastrophic, damage caused by the unsupervised Western aid in Ethiopia. The cumulative anecdotal evidence is compelling and shows that Western aid has helped create in Ethiopia a culture of poverty captained by poverty pimps and their client regime. A review of World Bank, IMF, UN and USAID studies and reports over the past five years demonstrates the near-total dependence of the Ethiopian economy on foreign aid. Today, aid is to the Ethiopian economy as qat (a popular hallucinogenic drug used in the Horn of Africa) is to the poor addict who is unable to function without that drug. Like khat, aid gives the Ethiopian economy a burst of short-term energy followed by economic lethargy and long-term incapacitating addictive dependency. One cannot help but worry over the fact that the next generation of Ethiopians could adopt a way of life and a set of attitudes that glorifies international handouts and panhandling. The millions of Ethiopians permanently trapped in a culture of intergenerational poverty may have no choice but to kneel down before the altar of foreign aid and pray to the gods of free money for their daily existence.

TIME TO RE-THINK US. AID POLICY IN ETHIOPIA: NEED FOR CONGRESSIONAL AND OTHER INVESTIGATIONS

It is time to re-think US aid policy in Ethiopia, regardless of Zenawi's apparent threat that he will turn to China to get money with no strings attached. The time for US pretention must end. If there is a scintilla of fact that has any merit at all in the damning evidence assembled by HRW (the HRW report is fully corroborated), it is time for the US Congress to get involved and exercise its oversight functions by undertaking a formal investigation.

There are numerous congressional authorisation and appropriations subcommittees and committees that have jurisdiction over US foreign assistance programs. The Senate's Committee on Foreign Relations and the House's Committee on International Relations have primary jurisdiction over bilateral development assistance. To the extent funds are misused from US contributions to multilateral development banks, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the House Financial Services Committee have authority to investigate. The appropriations committees and subcommittees in both Houses could also look into the HRW's findings for misspent and illegally expended funds.

The Office of the Inspector General of the State Department has authority to investigate instances of fraud, waste, and mismanagement that may constitute either criminal wrongdoing or violation of Department regulations. The HRW report provides ample legal basis to launch an official investigation by the OIG. The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) is purportedly committed to rooting out corruption in the use of aid funds. USAID claims, ‘Corruption damages international development and poverty alleviation by limiting economic growth, reducing social cohesion, skewing public investments, and weakening the rule of law... Democratic governance rooted in the rule of law contributes to long-term, sustainable economic and social development.’ USAID's feet need to be held to the fire until it sets up an independent investigation of HRW's findings. The US secretary of state could also order an investigation of the HRW findings.

If the Western donors want to redeem themselves in the eyes of the Ethiopian people, they must fully embrace HRW's prudent and sound recommendations to deal with the problem of aid misuse and abuse.

In light of the government's human rights violations, direct budget support to the government should not even be considered, and programs supported by international funds should be independently monitored. Credible audit institutions should examine aid to Ethiopia in the context of whether it contributes to political repression. External donors must also demand that Ethiopia does more than pay lip service to respecting fundamental human rights; they must be more vocal about the steps Ethiopia should take to ensure that its citizens enjoy the rights to which they are entitled under the country's constitution and international human rights law.

NO BUSINESS LIKE THE PANHANDLING BUSINESS

Anyone who says ‘there is no business like show business,’ has not tried the international alms (begging) business. What could be more fun than sitting around and waiting for the ‘aid man’ to show up and hand out free money to use like a drunken sailor? International panhandling is a lucrative business. Everybody is in it. The panhandlers who live off handouts frolic in their dreams every night shaking down the aid money tree. The rock stars, bankers and aid bureaucrats who work 24/7 peddling aid across the globe are intoxicated by it. Even ivy-league professors have gotten into the act; they have found a new calling as ‘entrepreneurs of aid’ in much the same way as the procurers of the world's oldest profession. Giving alms to Ethiopia is one of the favourite ‘indulgences’ of the Western donors. It is their way of sanitising their consciences into believing that they are doing good in Africa. If they really want to do good, let them teach Ethiopians how to fish and be self-sufficient. They don't need to supply a villainous fishmonger never-ending boatloads of fish and give him the power to decide who to feed and who to bleed.

RELEASE ALL POLITICAL PRISONERS IN ETHIOPIA

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* This article was first published by the Huffington Post.
* Alemayehu G. Mariam is professor of political science at California State University, San Bernardino. Follow him on twitter @pal4thedefense.
* Please send comments to [email protected] or comment online at Pambazuka News.

NOTES

[1] http://www.hrw.org/en/reports/2010/10/19/development-without-freedom-0
[2] http://www.dagethiopia.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=category&layout=blog&id=77&Itemid=7
[3] http://www.huffingtonpost.com/alemayehu-g-mariam/ethiopia-speaking-truth-t_b_610743.html
[4] http://www.huffingtonpost.com/alemayehu-g-mariam/jaccuse_b_349802.html
[5] http://www.dagethiopia.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=category&layout=blog&id=77&Itemid=7
[6] http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123758895999200083.html
[7] http://www.huffingtonpost.com/alemayehu-g-mariam/ethiopia-the-voodoo-econo_b_542298.htm


The US, the AU and the new scramble for Africa

Jason Hickel

2010-10-26

http://pambazuka.org/en/category/features/68088


cc US Army
Jason Hickel attends a speech delivered by US ambassador to the AU Michael Battle and discovers a disturbing new rhetoric about Africa.

The past few years have seen a dramatic up-tick in American diplomatic efforts in Africa, which has coincided with a decisive shift in political rhetoric about the continent. At first glance this might seem like a positive development, reflecting a more progressive attitude toward what has long been considered an unimportant global backwater. But a closer look reveals that American diplomacy in Africa is less about serving the good of African people than it is about securing the interests of private American capital. Nowhere has this been more flagrantly clear than on the lips of Michael Battle, the US ambassador to the AU.

First, a bit about Battle. He received a Masters degree in Divinity at Trinity College and a Ph.D in Ministry at Howard University, and served at the Interdenominational Theological Centre in Atlanta until he was nominated to his current post by President Obama in 2009.

Battle’s position at the AU is new and little known outside diplomatic circles. The US only established a dedicated ambassadorship to the AU during the Bush administration in 2006. This mission - known as USAU - is the first of its kind among non-African states, and is designed to facilitate US operations in Africa as a more ‘efficient’ and ‘effective’ alternative to bilateral relationships with individual African states.

This month I had the opportunity to attend a speech delivered by Battle during his visit to the Miller Centre of Public Affairs at the University of Virginia. I noticed a new diplomatic rhetoric right at the outset of his presentation. First, he referred to Africa as a continent of ‘great riches’ and ‘abundance’, flagging a notable departure from earlier, longstanding representations of Africa as ‘desolate’ and ‘impoverished’. Paralleling this point, Battle spoke at length about shifting US policy in Africa toward corporate ‘investment’ and ‘partnership’ and away from public ‘aid’ and ‘assistance’.

On the face of it this seemed like good news to me, but the rest of Battle’s speech disabused me of any rosy assumptions about his intentions, as the two primary objectives of the USAU rose quickly to the surface: security and trade.

In terms of security, Battle confirmed America’s dedication to working with the AU and the US Africa Command (AFRICOM) to militarise the continent’s coastlines. While he claimed that the goals of this mission include responding to increased maritime piracy and breaking cartels that traffic illegally in drugs and humans, he made it clear that the primary military objective is to protect US oil interests in the Gulf of Guinea, suppress local resistance movements like MEND in Nigeria, and secure a favourable climate for returns on investment for American corporations. When pressed, Battle justified his call for militarisation by invoking the vague and poorly substantiated spectre of ‘terrorism’.

In terms of trade, Battle spoke excitedly about the partnership between the US, the AU, and the Corporate Council on Africa (CCA) to integrate and liberalise the continent’s national economies. Battle’s explicit vision is to facilitate the efforts of US corporations such as Chevron, Delta, and GE (which he mentioned explicitly by name) to expand investments across multiple African nations by ‘harmonizing trade rules’ and ‘simplifying regulations’.

He praised the AU for developing ‘free trade’ across the continent at a faster rate than the EU was able to accomplish over a similar period of time, and hailed USAU’s vision for an Africa that is increasingly open for business to American companies.

None of this is particularly new, of course - the US has long used its diplomats to push for neoliberal economic policies. The real newness of Battle’s approach is that he no longer feels the need to hide America’s brash economic interests in Africa. While diplomats of earlier eras invoked the lofty rhetoric of development and democracy, Battle makes no such effort. Instead, he speaks plainly about using diplomacy to facilitate monopoly capitalism, and about paving the way for US corporations to - as he put it - ‘take advantage of Africa’s resources and exploit its tremendous market opportunities’. According to Battle, ‘If we don’t invest on the African continent now, we will find that China and India have absorbed its resources without us, and we will wake up and wonder what happened to our golden opportunity of investment.’ Battle couldn’t have been blunter - or more offensive - if he tried.

One can’t help but find Battle’s approach shockingly redolent of the 19th century ‘Scramble for Africa’, when European nations conspired to divide the continent among themselves, each claiming a share of its abundant resources, its cheap labour, and its untapped markets, all while committing to secure their claims with a military presence. The only thing that has changed today is that the actors are different, and the plunder is being conducted with the full support of the African political elite and the AU, which - not surprisingly - depends partially on funds from the US through USAID.

Before he left the auditorium, Battle agreed to field a few questions from the audience. One student asked him why he focused so much on capital investment and economic liberalisation, but never once discussed fairer labour standards or protective environmental policies or regulatory mechanisms designed to benefit the poor. Indeed, any astute observer of African affairs understands that poverty and instability arise not from too much regulation and too little foreign direct investment, but from too little regulation and foreign direct investment that plunders and exploits without meaningfully benefiting the public. What Africa needs is not investment for its own sake, but investment within a framework that will protect workers and the environment and ensure that common people receive a just share of the resources that are their birthright. But Battle refused to answer the question.

I also took a moment to pose a question to Battle. I asked him how it was that his job as a public functionary of the US government has become about securing the private interests of multinational corporations. I wasn’t surprised when he refused to answer me. But I was surprised that he made no effort to contradict me. Indeed, Battle was entirely prepared to defend his role as facilitator of American military intervention in the service of private American capital. And this without even the usual claims to altruism: he didn’t even gesture to the pressing problems of poverty, inequality, and exploitation in Africa. Given that Battle’s training in African affairs prior to his post at the AU amounts to almost zero, I suppose this shouldn’t be so shocking. Still, I expected more compassion and critical insight from a man trained in theology and educated at a historically black university.

As much as I want to criticise Battle for his lack of diplomatic decorum, I actually find myself grateful for it - grateful that he has spoken so bluntly about his gunboat diplomacy, grateful that he has exposed the market-oriented motives of the USAU, grateful that he has stripped away the romantic mystifications that usually shroud US foreign policy in Africa. Gone at last is the fig leaf of humanitarianism; Battle has given lie to any pretence that the Obama administration has the best interests of the beleaguered continent in mind. Indeed, Battle’s rhetoric represents nothing less than the formal inauguration of a New Scramble for Africa, and of a complicit AU that has been thoroughly co-opted by the US government and multinational capital.

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* Jason Hickel teaches courses in African studies at the University of Virginia while working on his doctoral dissertation in anthropology.
* Please send comments to [email protected] or comment online at Pambazuka News.


South Africa in 2010: A history that must happen

Trevor Ngwane

2010-10-28

http://pambazuka.org/en/category/features/68169

The social weight of organised, mobilised workers is beginning to consolidate in South Africa. The September public sector strike was a shining example, writes Trevor Ngwane.

THE ROLLER COASTER COUNTRY

South Africa is a country on a roller coaster to disaster. A recent paper[pdf] written by the leadership of the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) attests to this. While the paper argues that the country is at a crossroads, a close reading reveals a deep anxiety and even panic among union leaders who are very worried and suggest that the country is heading towards crisis. I would say South Africa is already in crisis and unless there is a drastic and sharp turn to the left, the wheels are going to come off the roller coaster.

What is exciting about a roller coaster ride is its hurtling speed and unpredictability, simultaneously evoking feelings of exhilaration and fear. That is how it feels like living in this country these days. In the last couple of months or so, for example, one moment people were giddy with excitement as South Africa hosted the World Cup in June 2010. The government pulled out all the stops to make a success of the event: Nothing was allowed to stand in the way of achieving a successful hosting with up to R70 billion (US$9.6 billion) of public money spent. Hardly a month later, health, education and other essential government services ground to a halt as 1.3 million public sector workers went on strike demanding a living wage. The government pleaded poverty but this was not convincing and the strike went on for three weeks, with dire consequences for ordinary people: Babies dying for want of medical care, students worried sick as they lost valuable time preparing for high school exit exams, families at a loss as government morgues failed to release the bodies of deceased loved ones for burial, and so on. The common humanity and collective excitement that was shared during the World Cup was replaced by anger and fear as the strike turned violent. It was as if it was not the same country.

The strike by government employees was the culmination of a year of heightened protests and strikes that had gripped the country beginning immediately after the April 2009 national elections, which saw Jacob Zuma of the African National Congress (ANC) become president of the country. Many would find the analogy of a roller coaster appropriate to describe Zuma’s rise to power. Indeed, during his campaign to become ANC president, he was described by his supporters as an unstoppable tsunami. But it was touch and go all the way to the high seat for Zuma. At one point he faced fraud, money laundering and a spate of other corruption-related charges, which he miraculously escaped, including getting an acquittal after a lengthy and much-publicised rape court trial. His accomplice in the corruption charges, Schabir Shaik, received a 15-year jail sentence, which – surprise surprise – he is serving in the comfort of his own home after receiving parole for being [terminally ill]. May he live long.

South Africa continues to be overwhelmed by community protests, which often take the form of veritable riots, with public and private property getting torched or vandalised. Since April 2009, the number of protests mostly by poor working class communities demanding development and basic services soared, leading to some analysts suggesting that this country has the highest rate of protests in the world. This increase in the number of protests was not expected because since 2000 there were protests that were mainly organised by issue-based social movement organisations and, after 2004, the protests changed in character and tended to involve whole communities rising up in rebellion. Later there was a strike wave that culminated in the 2007 public strike, then the biggest in the country’s history. This turmoil saw the unprecedented recall of a sitting president of the country, Thabo Mbeki, who was removed from office by his own ANC comrades before his term of office was over. The removal of Mbeki and his replacement by Zuma coincided with the birth of the ‘new ANC’ that was supposed to be different from the Mbeki-led ANC, which was blamed for the hardship and suffering that sparked off the protests and strikes. When Zuma took over everyone expected the protests to stop since the evil president had been replaced by the man of the people. Instead the protests intensified. Today the Zuma administration faces the wrath of striking government employees, most of whom are members of COSATU unions, a COSATU that played a large role in defending Zuma during his days of political and legal trials and helped him become president.

The reader will agree with me that indeed South African politics feels like a roller coast ride. What exactly is going on? Where is South Africa going? How can disaster be averted?

A REVOLUTION DERAILED

The short answer to the question of what is going on in South Africa is that a revolution was derailed here and what we seeing are the consequences of that. The workers are going on strike and communities are rising up in protest because ordinary people are not getting what they fought for during the struggle against apartheid and capitalism. Millions were involved in a long and bitter struggle against statutory racism and economic exploitation. Most of those who fought did so inside the country and there were many South Africans who went into exile to take the struggle forward. It was not just South Africans who fought; at one point the anti-apartheid movement was one of the greatest solidarity movements in history, with people all over the world doing their bit to get rid of apartheid. During the course of the struggle people developed definite ideas about the kind of society they wanted to build after the demise of apartheid. The ‘new South Africa’ would be a free country, without racism, without oppression, without exploitation, without all the ills that afflicted the hated apartheid system. The problem today is that many of these ills continue to blight our post-apartheid society, hence the turmoil in the country.

South Africa, with a Gini co-efficient of 0.86, is reputed to be one of the most unequal societies in the world. What is amazing is that there is more inequality in post-apartheid South Africa than during the dark days of apartheid. The hardships related to this injustice are too many to list here. But one example is unemployment, which stands at more than 40 per cent in this country of about 48 million inhabitants. Last year alone the country lost 1.1 million jobs due to the global economic meltdown. About 48 per cent of South Africans live below R322 (US$44) a month per person. Meanwhile the top 20 directors in the Johannesburg Stock Exchange earn on average 1,728 times the average income of an ordinary worker. An average African man earns about R2,400 per month while his white counterpart earns R19,000. I must quickly point out that today there is more inequality among African people than between blacks and whites. What this points to is that the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer in South Africa; there is class formation and differentiation that expresses itself in race, gender and other dimensions. While there is a new class of black bourgeoisie and a rise in the black middle class, the white capitalist class and the old middle classes are getting richer and they still largely own and control the country’s wealth, with dire consequences for the working class.

There is great anger and frustration among ordinary people in South Africa and it is this anger which explains the protests and strikes happening all over the place. The public health care system is close to collapse mainly because the rich, including government ministers and others who can afford private health care, do not use public services. Life expectancy has drop from 62 years in 1992 to 48 years today. HIV/AIDS has added to the catastrophe. But all this suffering would perhaps be tolerable if ordinary people were not daily confronted by the conspicuous consumption of the nouveau riche black bourgeoisie and upper middle class, many of whom are senior government politicians and civil servants, including, significantly, business people who have made their money through securing state tenders. Politically connected individuals are making so much money from government tenders that the term ‘tenderpreneur’ has been added to the country’s lexicon. Cabinet ministers use state funds to buy cars that cost over R1 million and spend months sleeping in 5-star hotels. Sexual shenanigans by the new elite are eclipsed by none other than the president himself, whose wives receive state support in their capacity as official first ladies; he was recently reported to be expecting the birth of his 22nd child by a fiancée who will become his fourth wife in January next year. The fact that Zuma’s son and nephew were involved in a recent scandal involving billions of rands in a shady mining rights deal has led even ANC alliance partners in the South African Communist Party (SACP) and especially COSATU to cry foul. Indeed, in its discussion paper on the current political situation COSATU argues that South Africa is developing into a ‘predator state’ where a class of black capitalists, under cover of the country’s official policy of ‘Black Economic Empowerment (BEE)’, enrich themselves through control of and ties to the state.

We can see therefore that the revolution that was supposed to improve the lives of ordinary people in South Africa has been derailed and an elite has developed that is enjoying the benefits of uhuru (freedom). But how can it be? How did the country reach this sorry state a mere 16 years after independence?

THE POLITICS OF CLASS COLLABORATION RULES

It would be wrong to argue that nothing has changed or nothing good has happened since the ANC took power in 1994. South Africa has a lot to be proud of. Under apartheid there was no political freedom, no freedom of speech, no universal franchise and blatant racism was the order of the day. There has also been notable improvement in gender relations, with women accorded equal status with men. South Africa is one of very few countries where same-sex marriage is allowed.

The ANC government also put great effort in improving the lives of ordinary people by extending access to water, electricity, housing and other basic necessities. Under Thabo Mbeki the social security network was extended so that millions of people receive government ‘social grants’, that is, old age pensions and child and disability grants. Mandela is famous for his effort trying to forge a united nation out of a history of conflict and division. But all the problems listed above and the burgeoning dissatisfaction tell us that much more needs to be done. The question is what needs to be done and what are the obstacles?

During the days of struggle against apartheid, the ANC was closely allied to the SACP and many people expected the new democratic government to follow, if not a socialist policy, at least a social democratic one. This seemed the only way in which the economic legacy of apartheid and capitalism could be fought and reversed. Under apartheid the wealth of the country was monopolised by the whites and in the hands of a few big corporations.

The Freedom Charter, a document that inspired the struggle in South Africa for decades, stated clearly that the ‘commanding heights’ of the economy would be nationalised in order to benefit everyone. It was not to be, as on the eve of independence, the ANC, the SACP and COSATU, members of the Tripartite Alliance that was to govern the newly independent country, opted for the capitalist route to development. Instead of a struggle against capitalism, a policy of class collaboration between the working class and the capitalist class was adopted. It was in this context that the idea of encouraging the growth of a black ‘patriotic’ bourgeoisie was adopted as state policy in the form of the BEE.

The ANC was hardly two years in power when it abandoned the capitalist but mildly redistributive Reconstruction and Development Programme (RDP) and adopted the neoliberal and World Bank co-authored Growth, Employment and Redistribution Programme (GEAR). Although the SACP and COSATU were uncomfortable with this policy shift, their leaderships did little to fight it. This was because they believed that somehow it was possible to secure and promote the interests of the working class without an open struggle against capitalism and the capitalist class. This approach led to the strengthening and consolidation of capitalism in South Africa and, in line with trends elsewhere, along neoliberal lines.

As neoliberal policy began to bite and the working class began to suffer under the ANC regime, the SACP and COSATU leaders refused to change their political approach. As a solution they sought to install a ‘worker-friendly’ president in power, hence the anti-Mbeki pro-Zuma campaign which began in 2005 and culminated in the recall of Mbeki and Zuma’s ascendancy. Today, more than a year after Zuma became the country’s president, it is becoming clear that changing the man has not led to a change of policy. According to COSATU the Zuma regime has continued to implement the same neoliberal policies that were blamed on Mbeki.

Weitzman Hamilton, a socialist in South Africa, has argued that Zuma provided the last cover for the bankruptcy of the SACP-COSATU political approach. Indeed, the policy of trying to balance the needs of workers with those of capital appear to have reinforced the power of the capitalist class in South Africa by providing the capitalists with fresh recruits from the ranks of the leadership of the national liberation movement. As more and more ANC leaders ‘made it’ and became overnight millionaires, the ANC, which heretofore was listening with one ear to the working class and with the other to the capitalists, began to listen with one ear to the capitalists inside the ANC and with the other to the capitalists outside the ANC. This is the situation today. The recent public sector strike is a good illustration of this point, as workers wise up to this reality.

THE PUBLIC SECTOR STRIKE

The public sector strike ended clumsily with union leaders imposing a unilateral ‘suspension’ saying they are giving the ANC government 21 days to improve its settlement offer. The workers were demanding an 8.6 per cent increase and a R1,000 (US$138) housing allowance. But the government’s final offer was a 7.5 per cent increase and R800 (US$110) housing allowance. The leaders threaten that they will resume the strike if negotiations with the government do not yield a satisfactory outcome. However, many workers who were on strike [were] reported to be unhappy with the decision to call off the strike despite the strain of being on the streets for three weeks. Some are saying outright that they were ‘sold out’ by the union leaders.

The suspension of the strike [was] a creative and confusing use of the country’s labour laws and, to me, is an indication that there is a history that needs to happen in South Africa. It is a history that requires workers to defeat the politics of class collaboration of the union leaders and face up to the Herculean task of getting rid of capitalism. I have indicated above how the power of the capitalists was strengthened rather than weakened with the attainment of liberation.

During the course of the strike it was as if this history was already happening. For three weeks 1.3 million workers put down their tools and stood united in struggle against the ANC government demanding a wage increase. Many of the workers belonged to COSATU-affiliated unions and the Independent Labour Caucus; the latter is made up of independent unions and union federations, some of which traditionally organised white collar workers and white workers. The workers displayed their power and unity in action and were able to defy court orders that disallow nurses and other ‘essential workers’ from striking.

To fully understand this strike we have to compare it with the 2007 public sector strike. The present strike built on the old strike. For example, the 2007 strike undermined the power of the argument that workers cannot strike against their ‘own government’. It was also able to unite 17 public sector unions, quite an achievement given South Africa’s racially and ideologically divided history of unionism. But in 2007 there was no attempt to get workers in the private sector to come out in solidarity with their comrades in the public sector, something which could have been achieved by the union leaders merely by making a telephone call.

This time there was an attempt by COSATU to organise sympathy strikes in the mining, auto and municipal sectors with some unions submitting the seven-day notice period required by the law for sympathy strikes. The sympathy strikes never happened as they were averted at the last minute when Zuma instructed government negotiators to go back to the table and improve their final offer which at that time stood at 7 per cent and R700 (US$96) housing allowance. The government was under pressure at the time because the police and soldiers were also threatening to strike in solidarity with their comrades. I should point out that in 2007 the resolution of the strike was problematic because it was based on the ‘occupational specific dispensation’, that is, certain categories of workers – teachers, nurses and doctors – were given bigger increases than other public sector workers. This time the strikers united behind common demands to the bitter end.

Both the 2007 and 2010 strikes received public sympathy mainly because many ordinary South Africans are fed up with the ANC government. A lot of anger was directed at President Jacob Zuma. The workers’ placards taunted him for his polygamous marriages and promiscuity, they complained that he was visiting China during the height of the strike, and they also expressed unhappiness with government ‘fat cats’ with some referring directly to the multi-billion rand business deals secured by Zuma’s relatives since he became president. There were pointed reminders to Zuma that it was the working class that had supported him when he faced criminal charges for rape and corruption and when he was under attack from Thabo Mbeki during their power struggle. Underlying this was a feeling of betrayal by Zuma, no doubt a consequence of the COSATU and SACP leaderships’ drumming up support for him on the grounds that he was a friend of the working class. The latter point explains why the COSATU discussion paper worries that: ‘Amongst our constituency there is a degree of despondency, and people are beginning to question our strategies’. (p.15)

Meanwhile, even as the public sector strike ends, there are strikes in the motor components sector with workers demanding what they call a ‘double digit’ increase. This strike is affecting petrol service stations and has led to many car plants like Mercedes Benz stopping production. Some analysts have attributed the determination of the public sector workers as inspired by a series of strikes that happened immediately before the World Cup, when workers in the transport and electricity sectors, both run by government-owned companies, won double digit increases. Many people believe the government had no choice but to grant these increases because the strikes would have disrupted the hallowed sports event. But it was the public sector strike that pointedly problematised the relationship between government and the trade unions and appears to have direct political implications for the country.

LESSONS FROM THE STRIKE

I think the strike taught millions of workers, both those on strike and those watching the strike, two main lessons. Firstly, that if the working class wants public services that are properly resourced and staffed by well-paid workers it cannot rely on using pressure and persuasion on the ANC government. Force is necessary. The working class needs to build a power that will compel the government to do what is in the interest of the working class rather than of the capitalist class and its allies. Secondly, that that power lies in the hands of workers themselves rather than in ‘worker-friendly’ government leaders. The strike served to undermine some of the lack of confidence and loss of hope afflicting the working class in South Africa. To change history in their favour, workers need to build solidarity with members of their own class, solidarity in action rather than in feelings and words.

The clumsy way the union leaders have ended the strike provides a third crucial lesson for workers. The strike, no matter how powerful and authoritative, is not enough to sustain and carry forward the working class struggle and deliver on workers’ needs. Also necessary is organisation and a politics that consistently puts the interests of the working class first. The union leaders’ action exposes the core of their politics as class collaborationist; they seek solutions in agreements with a capitalist government and in accommodation with capitalist interests. The threatened sympathy strikes between public and private sector workers pointed to the only way to secure a workers’ victory; they also began the process of breaking down the invisibility and immunity enjoyed by capital in South Africa, and the belief that the ANC is ‘our government’. The strike put the question of the power of government and the limitations of the capitalist system on the agenda. It might not be so clear in the minds of millions of workers but after three weeks of struggle the workers are different from the people they were two weeks ago.

The strike challenged the reality of capitalism because this type of struggle will face public sector workers again and again. Indeed it faces all workers. There will be no solution for workers under capitalism. The members of the public who suffered because of the strike must know that the power to end their suffering lay in the hands of a government that could simply end it by giving the workers what they want. The struggle is not about getting the ANC capitalist government to correct its policies and change its leaders. It is about alternatives – fighting to put in power a government that consistently puts the interests of the working class first – a workers’ government. That is the history that the strike tells us needs to happen in South Africa and in the world.

Despite the analogy of a roller coaster I started off with I want to end on a hopeful note. The hope arises out of the public sector strike even though it has ended inconclusively, and some would say in betrayal. The strike, seen in the context of other strikes and the many community protests taking place in the country, suggests that something new is happening in South Africa. The solidity and breadth of the public sector strike indicates that the seeds of something better, albeit scattered in the isolated different working class outbursts, are beginning to grow. The social weight of organised, mobilised workers is beginning to consolidate. It is not just about the ANC-SACP-COSATU Alliance, nor is it about the government, the state, the capitalists, the leadership or the left. It is about what millions of ordinary working class people are thinking and feeling – and beginning to do. This is what we need to look at and follow closely. This is where the hope and the work of revolutionary socialists lie. The revolution is not a Sunday school picnic and will no doubt feel like a roller coaster. But this time it will be a ride not to disaster but to a world where all forms of oppression and exploitation are eradicated. Not just in South Africa, but everywhere in the world. The workers are showing the way.



BROUGHT TO YOU BY PAMBAZUKA NEWS

* This article first appeared in Counterfire.
* Please send comments to [email protected] or comment online at Pambazuka News.

REFERENCES

COSATU CEC political discussion paper: The Alliance at a Crossroads – the battle against a predatory elite and political paralysis[pdf], September 2010.


Lessons from Cheik Anta Diop

Okello Oculi

2010-10-26

http://pambazuka.org/en/category/features/68089


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Cheikh Anta Diop was a historian, anthropologist, physicist, and politician famous for his theory that the Ancient Egyptians were Black Africans. Okello Oculi remembers a series of meetings he had with Anta Diop in the 1980s.

‘Today’s youth of Africa are lazy,’ lamented an angry, frustrated and contemptuous Professor Cheik Anta Diop. He expressed this view in 1980 during my first interview with him in his research laboratory in Dakar. That laboratory was funded for him by the Swedish Academy of Sciences. It was in reality a glorified prison in which President Leopold Senghor had locked him up by ordering the University of Dakar not to allow him to teach students and hold seminars. Senghor also denied him a visa to travel out of Senegal and the French government had reinforced the prison by pressurising former French colonies not to allow him to teach and give public lectures and seminars in their countries.

Cheik Anta Diop was a super-brilliant student at the secondary school in Dakar. He enrolled in courses in the arts and sciences. During final examinations it was arranged that he could move from the end of one exam in a subject to start one in another subject. On a typical day he could run from an examination in physics to geography and then to mathematics, getting his rest often only while walking or running to the venue of the next examination. At the end of the day he would score distinction in each subject.

It was no surprise that the 1940s French colonial government would recruit him as a research scientist in its secretive nuclear research laboratory. He was a contemporary of Aime Cesaire, the legendary black poet from Martinique, and Leopold Senghor. He would, Anta Diop told me, sit and hear them debating about how to use culture to fight colonial racism and the dehumanisation of Africa.

The school of Negritude was being born. He felt the need to be part of this animated movement which drew in more and more students from Africa and the Caribbean. From the US came the impact of the great scholar and a founding father of Pan-Africanism, W.E.B. Dubois. He organised a Pan-African conference in Paris that drew in students, scholars, anti-colonial activists and intellectuals from English-speaking black communities. His own response was to challenge himself to use nuclear science research to promote the status of Africa and black people in world history.

Anta Diop decided to conduct research on the skins of Egyptian mummies held in a museum in Paris in order to test the blood group of the Pharaohs and the level of melanin in their skins. He, however, realised that sceptical scholars and politicians who use knowledge as a weapon would demand that he demonstrate competence in anthropology, ancient history, the hieroglyphics (ancient Egyptian writing) and linguistics. For a man with a record of multidisciplinary scholarship, all of these requirements were not challenges, but a new frontier of intellectual thrill. It was not long before Cheik Anta Diop came up with an earth-shattering doctoral thesis. Its message was simple. Writings by Greeks such as Pythagoras, Aristotle, Plato, Herodotus and others, stated that they had studied in Ancient Egypt. Euclid and Pythagoras derived their mathematics from Ancient Egyptian algebra and geometry developed by Ancient Egyptian mathematicians had been used to build the great pyramids. From his laboratory Cheik Anta Diop showed that the Pharaohs were black Africans due to the melanin in their skins and the blood group they share with today’s black Africans.

His thesis sent French scientists into a great panic. It took over four rounds of his defence in front of scholars at the Academy Françoise in Paris before they broke down and submitted to his superior scholarship and scientific truth. To demonstrate to France that their ancestors, the Gauls, were living at primitive levels while the Pharaohs were building a civilisation on high scholarship and scientific and philosophical imagination, was a profound and fatal challenge to the justification for barbaric and neo-genocidal French colonial rule in Africa. French officials could not tolerate the broadcast of this scientific work across Africa. And that is when Cheik Anta Diop’s troubles with Senghor, the favorite of French politicians, began and remained rooted.

In 1987 we witnessed a demonstration of muscular French opposition to Cheik Anta Diop. As part of the celebration of Wole Soyinka’s Nobel Prize for Literature, the governments of Nigeria and France collaborated with UNESCO to hold in Lagos a ritual of solidarity with other African writers. France bought air tickets for writers from the so-called ‘Francophone’ African countries. UNESCO and Nigeria hosted those of us from Angola, Mozambique, Ghana, Sierra Leone and Uganda. I incited Chinwezu, a scholar of Ancient Egyptian poetry and politics, to join me to draft a resolution that urged all African countries to integrate into textbooks in their educational systems the writings of Cheik Anta Diop, particularly his book ‘Negro Origins of Civilisation’. Behind the scenes, we pulled over to our side Professor Onoge, the chairman of the communiqué session. It was a fatal error to team up with Chinwezu. He was associated with bitterness against Egypt and her Arab allies for supporting Nigeria in the war to beat Biafra. Nigeria’s diplomats were quick to associate our linkage of Wole Soyinka’s achievement with that of Cheik Anta Diop as treason through the back door. The French were brutally crude. They ordered all Francophone writers to sit huddled together. A woman from the French embassy stood facing them to ensure that none of them voted in support of our resolution. Among those she herded was a writer from Senegal who was old enough to be her father. Later, he avoided me after that moment of disgrace.

In a third interview in 1983, Cheik Anta Diop was bitter but remained dignified and combative. He had translated Einstein’s ‘Theory of Relativity’ into Wolof language, thereby debunking Senghor’s claim that Africans cannot think in scientific and logical format.

Senghor had banned the teaching of local languages in Senegal’s educational system. The Americans borrowed from Cheik Anta Diop and brought in Peace Corp volunteers who had been taught to be fluent in Wolof before arriving in Senegal and won instant friendship among the people. He resented the lack of the study of Ancient Egypt by African historians and archeologists despite the fact that the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) had honoured him for his historic recovery of honour in world civilisation for black Africans.

He began to put his hope on scholars from the African Diaspora, particularly African-Americans, to push this task forward. When Senghor left office in Senegal to ‘go home to France’ (as the leading newspaper, Le Soleil, put it on its front page), Cheik Anta Diop was released from over 20 years of intellectual imprisonment and Franco-Senghor intellectual genocide. When in 1989 I visited the mainly African-American campus of Atlanta University, students wore T-Shirts that proclaimed that the architecture of the White House in Washington, DC, was borrowed from the genius of black African Pharaohs. Cheik Anta Diop had arrived as an intellectual hurricane across the US.

Why tell the story of Cheik Anta Diop? I wish to celebrate a recent salute to the scholarship of Professor Toyin Falola by the authorities of the University of Texas at Austin. He was awarded a prize of $10,000 for the high quality of research and writing he has given to the world of knowledge. At a time when moral degeneration in Nigeria is lucrative for crooks from Australia, the US and Europe, who travel to Nigeria to make money by decorating wealthy Nigerians with bogus doctorate degrees at ‘convocation’ rituals inside dingy rooms in a Nigerian town, it is most inspiring to know that there is an African scholar who is dedicated to honourable, intensive and high quality research and production of knowledge about Africa and for affirming the intellectual dignity and complexity of knowledge that Africa has produced down the centuries. As Cheik Anta Diop would say, Falola is a rebuke to all other African scholars for being lazy.

As those who have had undergraduate education in the US should know, the subject known as ‘The History of Western Civilization’ is a primary root of intellectual growth. A key component of it is a racist claim that Greek and Roman roots of ideas and intellectual productivity had no African ancestry and debt. It is a claim that over the years made Germans feel barbaric and excluded from being seen as contributors to this civilisation. The sense of self-confidence and self-respect that ownership is meant to instill in the youth of the elect is a lesson that should direct African scholars to deepen and vigorously broadcast African ownership of Ancient Egypt.

African archeologists must rush into the valley of the Nile for sustained excavations of Ancient Egyptian tombs. The current situation in which American, German, Russian and French archaeologists have come to own the excavation of treasures of Ancient Egypt is utterly irresponsible and born of laziness and self-exclusion from recovering a vital history. The New Partnership for Africa’s Development (Nepad) must be pressurised by Africa’s scholars to set up a special fund for this project. Taju would urge no agonising; but rather the taking of action.

BROUGHT TO YOU BY PAMBAZUKA NEWS

* Okello Oculi is executive director of the Africa Vision 525 Initiative.
* Please send comments to [email protected] or comment online at Pambazuka News.


Strides in gender parity in peril

Tanzania’s general elections 2010

Salma Maoulidi

2010-10-28

http://pambazuka.org/en/category/features/68181


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Salma Maoulidi looks at the future of Tanzania’s 50-50 Campaign as the country prepares for a general election. The campaign is meant to bring gender parity in parliament. Maoulidi argues the process is stalling as female politicians get caught up in a game where there is no women’s agenda and where women and women’s issues are largely absent from political debates.

The SADC Protocol on Gender and Development requires gender parity in political decision-making by 2015. In different African countries this has led to the launch of the 50-50 Campaigns, mostly by women’s rights activists. In Tanzania the 50-50 Campaign is spearheaded by the Feminist Activist Coalition (FEMACT) led by the Tanzania Media Women’s Association (TAMWA).

BOOSTING THE PROPORTION OF WOMEN MPS

Increasing the representation of women in decision making bodies to reflect the actual population composition is one aspect of this campaign. In the last Union Parliament about 30.7 per cent of members were women, while women constitute over 51 per cent of Tanzania’s population. The proportion of female members of parliament has risen from a decade ago when the representation of women was much lower and was mainly through presidential appointments. This changed after Beijing when the third phase government of President Benjamin Mkapa made a commitment to have at least one-third representation of women in all decision making structures starting at the village level, including in village assemblies and village governments.

To boost the representation of women, Tanzania implemented what is described as a mixed constituency and proportional representation system. Under this arrangement, special seats are set aside or women while female candidates in Tanzania can also contest seats in the National Assembly. Elected seats, however, are apportioned to parties based on how many votes they garner in elections. Increasingly, there are calls to revise this system since it does not always assure that the most competent candidates – or women – are selected by the party, a reality that activists feel may compromise advocacy for women and human rights at the expense of partisanship.

As mentioned above, most women came into political prominence after being nominated by the president to serve the national legislature under the ‘special seats’ arrangement. The Tanzanian constitution empowers the president to nominate ten members of parliament. There are, however, a number of women who have been able to contest on their own and defend their seats in successive elections. Until 2005 it was mainly middle-aged or mature women who ran for public office. This is rapidly changing with the increased participation of younger women in politics. To defend their eligibility to run for office, other factors aside from age such as education, public service record and money are becoming important determinants.

FALLING BEHIND OTHER COUNTRIES IN AFRICA

Tanzania has always had powerful and visible women participating in the political arena. Women such as Bibi Titi Mohammed, Sophia Kawawa, Bibi Kaya Omari, Bibi Asha Ngoma, Bibi Johari Yussuf and Lucy Lamek are household names in Tanzania. Many believe that Tanzania’s experimentation with socialist policies may have opened up and regularised women’s participation in political affairs and their appointment to decision making bodies earlier on in its history. What was also remarkable is that women who succeeded to rise up in the ranks were ordinary women from the lowest rungs of society, sometimes semi-literate but endowed with exceptional organising and oratory skills. Also an active, well-funded and devolved women’s wing of the ruling party was an effective mobilising tool such that the most visible political female face in Tanzania was often the chair or secretary general of the women’s wing, instead of the first lady as is the case in other countries.

Tanzania’s gender performance in representative politics has been seriously tested since democratisation in 1992. Rwanda now has the highest proportion of women in parliament in East Africa and also in the whole world, with 56 per cent of all MPs being female. This is a sharp increase from 49 per cent before the 2010 general elections. South Africa follows suit in Africa with 43 per cent female MPs. Other countries such as Mozambique and Swaziland, which adopted or adapted Tanzania’s electoral system to boost the representation of women, are also recording impressive gains for women.

The story is quite different in Tanzania. Following the initial processes of vetting candidates, all indications are that women’s political representation in the 2010 general elections will suffer a huge blow. Ananilea Nkya, the executive director of TAMWA, which spearheads the 50-50 Campaign, reveals that the expectation was for 40 per cent female representation in the 2010 elections, to meet the 50-50 target by 2015. The reality has been quite different. Although an increased number of women entered the political terrain seeking nomination from their parties to contest the 2010 elections, few were cleared by their parties to enter the race. In Zanzibar, for example, the opposition suffered more than the ruling party.

THE CASE OF ZANZIBAR

A number of prominent female opposition members such as Fatma Fereji, Fatma Maghimbi and Zakia Omar all from the Civic United Front (CUF) were not nominated at the initial stage to vie for political office even though these women performed well – and in some cases better – than more popular male colleagues. Maghimbi, who at one time was the Chief Whip in parliament, has since defected and joined the ruling party in protest.

To get a sense of the situation on the ground, Zanzibar, the semi-autonomous island state, is a useful example. Female legislators vying for the Zanzibar House of Representatives in this election are only 18 out of 124 eligible seats, while those vying to become councilors are 76 out of 309 constituencies.

Moreover, the quality of contestants who have been approved raises much concern in that they do not have the substance to be appointed for high political positions in Zanzibar’s cabinet or at the national level. Some of the veteran female politicians who formed part of the cabinet such as Asha Juma, head of the Ministry of Labour, Youth, Women and Children’s Development, or Samia Suluhu who heads the Ministry of Trade and Tourism, are running for parliamentary seats, which may make them ineligible to serve in the Zanzibar cabinet since members come from the House of Representatives.

Furthermore, unlike the past two multi-party elections in Tanzania, none of the political parties have fielded a female presidential candidate or a female running mate. In 2005, a female member of the Sauti ya Umma (SAU, or The People’s Voice) vied for the Zanzibar presidential seat. In 1995, Naila Jidawi, a businesswoman and prominent member of the opposition, became the first woman to vie for the Zanzibar presidency. Her candidature was defeated on a technicality. She had stood as a candidate under one political party and defected to another without formally resigning from the first. Jidawi served as an MP and was among three women who ran as running mates in past elections. The others are Anna Maulidah Komu, and Anna Senkoro. Jidawi’s boldness prompted women from the ruling party such as Amina Salum Ali, the first female minister of finance and now the African Union representative in the United States, to contest the presidential seat in 2000. The result was an open political campaign process within the ruling party.

THE MISSING GENDER LENS IN DEBATES AND MANIFESTOS

Another concern for FemAct and other human rights activists working on the 50-50 Campaign for the 2010 election has to do with the quality of the gendered analysis of issues that inform electoral manifestos and debates. Recently, the groups Gender Links and Gender and Media Southern Africa (GEMSA) Tanzania Network revealed that women are being left out of elections media coverage. Women are rarely part of political programmes. One current affairs programme, ‘This Week in Perspective’, makes use of just two female journalists – Halima Sherrif and Sakina Datoo (at least when she was still the chair of the Editors Forum). This is in sharp contrast to the many male media and academic sources that appear on the programme.

Women who dare to voice independent opinions especially outside the confines of political parties are targeted. The Executive Director of TAMWA and other female activists are currently under fire for exercising vigilance and voicing concerns over the manner in which elections are being run. Surely, the narrow way in which politics is defined leaves out a lot of issues that are central to women’s emancipation, such as personal law issues, reproductive health rights and women’s citizenship rights. Indeed, the feminist saying ‘the personal is political’ is missing from Tanzania’s political repertoire. Only the abstract dominates campaign speeches, not peoples’ lived realities. In such an environment, it is hard to bring any seriousness to ongoing campaigns from the sidelines or from within.

Political opposition is also checked by raising the threat of violence which could destroy Tanzania’s peaceful image. FemAct argues that political rhetoric inciting violence is sure to threaten the human rights of women. Likewise, the involvement of the military in the electoral process will equally threaten women. This has been demonstrated throughout the world whether the military is actively engaged in aggression or poses as a peace keeping force.

Equally disconcerting is the absence of women not just on political podiums but also in the content of political manifestos and rhetoric. A clear women’s agenda is lacking in most political parties. Perhaps the entering into the electoral contest dominated by men has skewed the focus of political campaigns. The battle is now between young men and old men, making women irrelevant in the equation except as supporters of warring political camps. It has largely been left to civil society organisations (CSOs) and, to an extent, the United National Development Programme (UNDP) which commonly supports the electoral process, to address this gender gap.

Nevertheless, numerous slogans and programmes have been prepared to promote women’s participation in politics. The slogan ‘women can’ is targeted at aspiring women politicians. Less emphasis has been on influencing the attitudes of male voters or male politicians, or of reforming the system that bars more women from contesting elections or entering the political process.

Shifaa Said of the Zanzibar Media Women’s Association (ZAMWE) criticises the nature of support obtained for civic education. ‘Most of the assistance targeting CSOs and women candidates came late and is paltry compared to the work that needed to be done at different levels,’ she said.

WHEN SCANDALS SHAKE GOVERNMENT IT'S WOMEN WHO PAY

Surely, the political landscape in Tanzania is changing rapidly since Beijing when gender activists voiced the need for greater parity in power structures. Our advocacy led to a commitment by the Mkapa government to increase women’s visibility in political structures. Although the measures were not radical, Mkapa set the groundwork for the appointment of women in non-traditional sectors, both in government and in politics.

His successor and current president Jakaya Kikwete could shake the political establishment by appointing women to powerful ministries such as finance, foreign affairs, education and good governance. The prospects looked good. Attention on the 50-50 Campaign during the 2010 elections seemed productive until the government and ruling party were shaken by a scandal in parliament resulting in the resignation of the prime minister. Following this event, Kikwete took no chances and reconstituted his cabinet by either leaving out key women or sending them back to ministries they have traditionally held. It was as if to signal that women were behind the near collapse of his government rather than the corrupt practices of some of his appointees.

Ever since, women have lost political ground. Unlike the 2000 and 2005 general elections, their numbers have been drastically reduced. Many parties failed to nominate or support female contenders. Unlike past years, the opposition did not put forth female running mates or contestants in key constituencies. While women gave ultimatums to the third phase government (and it is widely believed that the fourth phase government was voted in by women) they are virtually absent from the political landscape – physically, thematically and numerically.

Certainly, the 2010 elections provide us with much food for thought. How could our calls for women’s greater political participation fall on deaf ears considering the efforts made in the build up to the 2010 elections? Did our agenda become stale by virtue of time or was it overtaken by survival instincts in an atmosphere replete with political mistrust? How do we sustain the gains made instead of losing ground in the face of adversity? As Nkya from TAMWA admitted, ‘Until this time we have believed that our proximity and familiarity with the media has aided our advocacy efforts but as more media institutions are brought out by wealthy politicians they become a tool of domination and not liberation.’

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* © 2010 Salma Maoulidi
* Salma Maoulidi is a social justice and gender activist in Tanzania.
* Please send comments to [email protected] or comment online at Pambazuka News


The terrifying prospect of election-stealing in Africa

Cameron Duodu

2010-10-28

http://pambazuka.org/en/category/features/68172


cc Demosh
‘There’s no political event more dangerous than a general election’, and ‘if wise counsels do not prevail, no one can predict what might happen’, writes Cameron Duodu.

There is no political event more dangerous than a general election. Even in what are called the ‘mature democracies’, elections bring out hidden weaknesses in a nation’s structure that can be stretched to breaking point, and if wise counsels do not prevail, no one can predict what might happen.

The best example of this sort of situation is the US presidential election of November 2000. The result was extremely close – George W. Bush, the Republican candidate, beat his Democratic opponent, Al Gore, by only 0.5 per cent of the votes – 48.4 against 47.9 per cent!

Such a close vote always brings allegations of hanky-panky. Speculations become rife over what might have been, had it not been for… What follows the ‘for’ is anybody’s game.

In the US election under question, there were reports about votes disallowed because of ‘hanging chads’ and ‘pregnant chads’ caused by faulty voting machines.

There were also allegations of fraudulent counting, and many other misdeeds amounting to electoral fraud. So emotionally charged became the atmosphere that even when the matter reached the US Supreme Court, not everyone was prepared to accept the Court’s judgement – predictably given in favour of George W. Bush – as a genuine judgment based on legal argument, rather than as a partisan judgement rendered by the court in line with the known political leanings of Supreme Court members.

(The US is one of the few democracies in which judges are openly branded as ‘conservative’ or ‘liberal’, and where these judges almost invariably satisfy the cynics by voting in precisely the fashion that it has been predicted they will vote!)

Fortunately for the US (and this is why it is called a ‘mature democracy’) at the point where the very existence of the Supreme Court became threatened because of the tension created by what many considered to be the usurpation of the American people’s democratically-delivered verdict by the court – or more exactly, the conservative members of the court who voted in favour of a Bush victory – the person who stood most to gain from an opposite decision by the Court, Al Gore, called off further challenges of the alleged electoral verdict.

What could have happened ‘if’ Gore had gone on with more legal and political challenges? One possibility is that the US armed forces and the US security services could have split along political lines to reflect the division of the country at large, with the result that a civil war might have ensued. Can you imagine a civil war inside the only super-power left on earth?

In an ‘immature democracy’, Kenya, on the other hand, a ‘minor’ civil war did occur, when, in December 2007, election results were declared in a manner that the populace clearly thought was manipulated to favour the tribe of the incumbent president, [the Kikuyu] Mwai Kibaki, who was seeking re-election. Several thousand people were killed in inter-ethnic fighting that arose out of the dissatisfaction with the election’s results as declared.

Thousands more were chased out of their homes, and for a while, it looked as if Kenya would be permanently divided along ethnic lines – just because of dissatisfaction with the way a single election had been conducted. Certain areas became de facto ‘no-go’ areas to certain ethnic groups. The bitterness caused by the few months following the election, will remain a psychological scar on the entire populace for at least a generation, as ethnic oral history is recounted ad nauseam by those who lost relatives, or were themselves injured, during the post-election maelstrom.

The Kenya situation was repeated in Zimbabwe in March and June 2008, and nearly replayed in Ghana in December 2008. Zimbabwe emerged from the near-civil-war of the election’s aftermath with an uneasy coalition that looks as if it may not take the country into the next election.

And in Ghana, what saved the situation, after an extremely close runoff between two candidates, Professor John Evans Mills and Nana Addo Danquah Akufo-Addo (neither of whom had been able to obtain the requisite number of votes to win outright in the first round) was that the outgoing president, John Kufuor, had the prescience to conclude from what he was hearing on the ground that any prolongation of the tension created by the electoral result pull-and-stretch, might toss the nation/baby out with the presidential seat/bath altogether – so to speak.

What would the anxious crowds all over Ghana who were cursing the Electoral Commission for delaying the results have done, if it had known then, what had happened in South Africa’s election of 1994, when a computer hacker managed to alter the results of the election and add millions of votes to the numbers cast for three parties of the hacker’s choice? The near-disaster that would have blown up South Africa had the hacking not been detected and corrected has just been revealed in a report published in the Johannesburg Sunday Times of 24 October 2010.

The report tells the world for the first time that the much-hailed general election in South Africa in May 1994 – in which the African majority formed beautiful, peaceful queues to joyfully cast their votes for the very first time ever – was nearly ruined when a racist computer hacker was able to change the results of three of the minority parties that contested the election against the African National Congress (ANC)! If the hacked results had stood, the power of the ANC in parliament would have been considerably reduced, and the ANC would have found it extremely difficult to rule the country, if not impossible altogether.

Aptly headed ‘Plot to steal freedom’, the Sunday Times account says: ‘In this edited extract from his ground-breaking book, ‘Birth: The Conspiracy to Stop the ’94 Election’, Peter Harris recalls the tension that followed the discovery of … an elaborate attempt to inflate the votes of the National Party, the Freedom Front and the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP), [in order] to steal the country’s first democratic elections through computer hacking.’

Computer hacking in South Africa, the most technologically-advanced nation on the African continent? If election results could be hacked in a South Africa on which the eyes of the entire world were riveted at that particular time, then what chance does the rest of Africa have, with its cheap ‘systems’ (sometimes donated from discarded stock by foreign governments and therefore relatively primitive)?

In his book, Peter Harris writes: ‘The hacker went in between 05:56 and 06:41 on the morning of 3 May [1994] and made changes to the vote count of three parties…I meet with Michael Yard of the forensic investigation team in my office at eight o’clock on Wednesday morning, 4 May 1994. He is exhausted, his eyes bloodshot and outlined by thick black lines of fatigue. He hands me a two-page report.

‘Is that it?’ I ask.

‘That’s all you need,’ he replies, an unhealthy rasp in his voice. ‘I’ll talk you through it. The hacker went in between 05:56 and 06:41 on the morning of 3 May and made changes to the vote count of three parties,’ he says. ‘Neil Cawse picked up early that morning that there was a significant increase in the number of total votes counted nationwide (in the order of one to four million).’

‘Surely this couldn’t have been easy to do. I mean, the administration division told us that this was an incredibly sophisticated system, foolproof, the Fort Knox of systems, completely impregnable. You can’t just get into a highly protected IT network and change national election results.’

But Harris is further told: ‘The total votes for all parties at each counting station was also changed, but doesn’t match the sum of the vote totals for individual parties after the changes to these figures were made. The new total for all parties per counting station is in between the original correct figure and the sum of the votes per party for the counting station after the changes. So the programme was doctored to increase the votes of the three parties by about point thirty-three percent.’

It turns out that the changes upward are between 2.5 per cent and four per cent for the Freedom Front, approximately three per cent for the National Party and between four and five per cent for the Inkatha Freedom Party.

Harris writes:

‘There it is. Silence. I break it.

“You and the team are sure of the extent of these changes?”

“Oh, absolutely. These were consistent across our data sample and there are always increases to the vote count.” It is worse than I thought.’

Harris is only reassured when another officer comes in and tells him: ‘This is history, it is already past,’ she says. ‘We are fixing this. We have no choice but to go on and make it happen. We will get to an honest result.’
They do give the nation an honest election result. But they need to find out who the hacker was. Harris writes: ‘I turn to Michael Yard. “Can you find out who did this?” He points me to the report.

“The NT file server on the network is capable of generating a log of who logged onto or out from the network, and the time that this happened. We checked this log and found that this information is only recorded from 18:10 on 3 May. From this we conclude that this logging process was either cleaned out as of this time, or was only turned on at that time.”

“Nice … very nice,” I say, bitterly. ”So we can’t trace who did this. It is a successful ‘hit and run’,” Harris adds.

‘Meanwhile, the South African ‘Rainbow Nation’ about to be born is on tenterhooks. Rumours are rife that the racist rightwing groups, with the support of the military, had staged a coup and would soon make an announcement.’

Where have we heard that before? It is up to African Electoral Commissions to get in touch with their South African counterparts and attach their own IT staff to the improved system in South Africa, so that they can be certain that in their next elections, everything will go well.

For we have seen through blood on the streets that African elections are too important to be left to chance. If African governments do nothing and we continue to see bloodshed at election times – when the technology exists to put an end to speculation about declared or undeclared results – they will be cursed by generations unborn.

BROUGHT TO YOU BY PAMBAZUKA NEWS

* Cameron Duodu is a journalist, writer and commentator.
* Please send comments to [email protected] or comment online at Pambazuka News.


Dare to invent the future

Remembering Thomas Sankara

Mwaura Kaara

2010-10-28

http://pambazuka.org/en/category/features/68186


cc Sputniktilt
Thomas Sankara had a vision to change the way things were, by creating a model of social democracy in one of Africa’s poorest countries. Twenty-three years after Sankara’s assassination in October 1987, Mwaura Kaara calls on Africans to ‘be courageous enough to dream again and visionary enough to act on our dreams.’

principle priorities was the banning of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), promoting contraception and discouraging the practice of polygamy.

His quest to move his people from poverty to power saw him embark on a massive nationalisation project. This without doubt caused ripples within the business elite and the French government. In 1987, after only four years in power, Sankara was assassinated in an ‘imperialist’ coup, orchestrated by his former comrade Blaise Campore. The truth of who was behind the assassination remains elusive; Campore on the other hand has proceeded to overturn Sankara’s policies and gains and remains in power today.

In reflection on Sankara, I am reminded of the great Africa American poet, Countee Cullen, in his great poem ‘Heritage’. He raises the question, ‘What is Africa to me?’ It is for this that I will expand the question asking, ‘What is Africa to Africans, and what is Africa is to the world?’

To answer this question, we have to examine what has gone wrong with our family communication. If we are going to have a whole revolution for social change, we have to look at when we had it as against when we lost it. We have to draw on the past in order to make the present and the future.

Africa and its people are knocking at the door of the 21st century, caught at the crossroads for world power and painful lessons we should have learned a long time ago. Freedom is not free, freedom is something that you take with your own hands and nature it with the same hands. Freedom is not handed from one generation to another, and it is the challenge of each generation to assume the responsibility of securing their being – their manhood and womanhood, the true definition of being on earth in the analysis of nationhood.

It is on the historical lessons of secured freedoms set out by Thomas Sankara that can lift us up to the global level, stating that progression of circumstances has changed us from being a people begging and pleading, to a people insisting and demanding. Can we get a leadership to assume this responsibility?

In showing the way to the future, Sankara stated: ‘I would like to leave behind me the conviction that if we maintain a certain amount of caution and organisation we deserve victory… You cannot carry out fundamental change without a certain amount of madness. In this case, it comes from unconformity, the courage to turn your back on the old formulas, the courage to invent the future. It took the madmen of yesterday for us to be able to act with extreme clarity today. I want to be one of those madmen. We must dare to invent the future.’ (Thomas Sankara, 1985) This is the kind of madness African leadership is missing today.

As we remember our dead, let us remember the living too, let us remember our past, but critically let us be courageous enough to dream again and visionary enough to act on our dreams.

BROUGHT TO YOU BY PAMBAZUKA NEWS

* Mwaura Kaara is the regional youth coordinator for the UN Millennium Campaign, Africa. Currently he is a visiting scholar for the Ragnar Sohlman at the Network of North South and the Dag Hammarskjold Programme, Oslo Norway.
* Please send comments to [email protected] or comment online at Pambazuka News.


On violence

Richard Pithouse

2010-10-28

http://pambazuka.org/en/category/features/68180


© abahlali.org
We live in a violent society, Richard Pithouse writes, but this very fear of violence is used to justify other forms of violence such as racism, xenophobia and fear of the poor. ‘… the presence of self-organised poor people in civil society is often received as a threat by all kinds of constituencies, including some of those that, be they liberal or radical, assume a right to enlighten and lead poor people from above,’ Pithouse argues.

The fear of violence, like the fear of monsters, is primal and universal. But the sensitive middle class soul who professes a deep revulsion at all forms of violence is quite likely to call the police or a private security company if he wakes to the sound of breaking glass.

Violence is seldom renounced in the absolute. It is more usually outsourced.

In the global public sphere, horror at violence is far from equitable. Four and a half million people died in the war in the Congo with a small fraction of the global attention given to the victims of the terrorist attacks in New York and London.

The same gradation of horror is present in our own society. We all know that the media and the police treat the murder of a rich white person in an entirely different way than the murder of a poor black person. In fact, the police themselves are killing poor black people at a rate not seen since the 1980s and they are doing it with very little public condemnation.

There is no real scandal at the violence that is endemic in our prisons, in the detention centres for undocumented migrants, in the way that sex work is policed or in the way in which the state, often via sub-contracted security companies, uses violence to drive poor people off valuable land in our cities.

We live in an unusually violent society and it’s perfectly rational to fear violence. But the very rationality of our fear of violence is often misused to legitimate the coded public expression of the deeply irrational anxieties that lurk in places, like private homes, where racism, xenophobia and fear of the poor fester.

It’s often assumed that all violence is always unacceptable now that we have democracy. If the rights and protections of our democracy had been extended to everyone, this argument would be irreproachable. But the reality is that while in principle all citizens can vote, appeal to the courts to protect their rights and lobby the state and capital via civil society many people are systemically excluded from meaningful access to democratic participation and protection.

It's one thing to have to confront the urgent crisis of life lived in a shack settlement, which is likely to burn several times a year, where you have to waste hours of your life queuing for water, where you have to shit in a plastic bag, where children are regularly dying of diarrhoea, and where the police refuse to offer you protection and treat the whole community as criminal with the result that people are at constant risk of rape and criminal violence.

But you may also have to confront a situation where you simply cannot raise these issues through ‘the correct channels’. It is not unusual for shack settlements to be run by unelected party loyalists that, with the backing of the local police, don’t tolerate independent political activity and demand party cards and public displays of political loyalty in order to access what services are delivered.

Independent organisation is a logical solution to this situation but it is not always tolerated. In some places policing has been politicised to the point where the state engages in fairly routine violence against people seeking to organise and to protest legally and peacefully.

There have been instances when horizontal violence has been marshalled against people via the mobilisation of xenophobic or ethnic sentiment with the support of local party leaders and the police. In these circumstances there are cases where, in an immediate crisis, defensive violence, like using stones to keep the police at bay, or organising protection against xenophobic or ethnic mobs, can be rational, effective and socially committed.

The question of violence is not just a question of actual violence. It is now routine for the police, politicians, the media and some currents in civil society to label behaviour that is clearly not violent as violence. The South African Oxford English Dictionary defines violence as ‘behaviour involving physical force intended to hurt, damage or kill.’ But protests that have involved no attempts to harm any person physically have often been described as violent when they have been carried out against the wishes of local political leaders or have temporarily occupied physical or social space more usually under elite control. This even happens when these protests have involved no damage to property or disruption. But even if protests do include damage to property or some form of disruption, such as a road blockade, they are still not violent unless people are physically harmed.

It’s also the case that when entirely peaceful protests have been attacked by the police, which is not an uncommon occurrence, they are routinely described as ‘violent’ by the police and the media even when the salient fact is that the only violence was perpetrated by the police. This habitual imprecision in the use of the word violence is not a general imprecision. It is loaded against poor people and it accumulates its impact in a tendency towards a systemic presentation of poor people’s independent public political actions as irrational and anti-social.

Once particular people, organisations or collective events have been labelled as violent it becomes easy to disregard them or to repress them. Just as it is highly irresponsible to not name the actions of the state as violence in those instances when they plainly are, it is equally irresponsible to refer to popular protest as violence in those instances when it plainly isn’t.

It’s often been argued that one of the great failings of the liberal idea that we can resolve our problems if we all just get together and talk things through is that it fails to understand that no one gets their place at the mythical table around which the elite public sphere is constituted without struggle. Struggles for a place at that table have often been violent and, even when they have been entirely peaceful, they have often been presented as violent - as well as criminal, mad, self interested and driven by cunning outside agitators of various sorts - and then responded to with state violence.

It’s less than a hundred years since the suffragettes were force-fed in English prisons and less than fifty years since the marches from Selma to Montgomery in Alabama were attacked by the police. The philosophers Lewis and Jane Gordon remind us that across space and time elites generally assume that the system in which they have prospered is ultimately good and that the people that disrupt its smooth functioning must be problem people – even monsters. They point out that in anti-black societies, black people are rendered monstrous ‘when they attempt to live and participate in the wider civil society and engage in processes of governing among whites...Their presence in society generally constitutes crime.’

In contemporary South Africa we may not have fully opened all of civil society to the presence of black people and women but we are, at least, committed to this in principle. But the presence of self-organised poor people in civil society is often received as a threat by all kinds of constituencies, including some of those that, be they liberal or radical, assume a right to enlighten and lead poor people from above. Entirely baseless and pejorative allegations of criminality, violence and external manipulation are not uncommon.

A xenophobic mob is monstrous. A blue light cavalcade rushing an arms dealer or entrepreneur through the traffic is monstrous. A smug racist tut-tutting at it all is monstrous. But a woman blocking a road with burning tyres in desperation at having to go on, year after year, raising her children in the mud and fire of shack life may well be just a woman demanding her rightful place in our society. These things are all about context but it could be, it could well be, that her rightful name is comrade.

BROUGHT TO YOU BY PAMBAZUKA NEWS

* Richard Pithouse teaches politics at Rhodes University in South Africa.
* This article was originally published by the South African Civil Society Information Service.
* Please send comments to [email protected] or comment online at Pambazuka News




Announcements

Fahamu Refugee Legal Aid Newsletter - November issue

2010-10-28

http://pambazuka.org/en/category/announce/68193

Fahamu’s Refugee Programme is pleased to announce the November issue of the Fahamu Refugee Legal Aid Newsletter [1.1 MB pdf], a monthly publication that aims to provide a forum for providers of refugee legal aid. With a focus on the global South, it aims to serve the needs of legal aid providers as well as raise awareness of refugee concerns among the wider readership of Pambazuka News.

The newsletter follows recent developments in the interpretation of refugee law; case law precedents from other constituencies; reports and helpful resources for refugee legal aid NGOs; and stories of struggle and success in refugee legal aid work. It welcomes contributions from legal aid providers, refugees and others interested or involved in refugee legal aid.


Politics in hard times: Routledge article database now available

2010-10-27

http://www.tandf.co.uk/journals/access/politics-in-hardtimes.pdf

A turbulent year for the world economy has resulted in pressure for nations, individuals and the international system. To aid research in this field, Routledge have compiled 65 free articles under eight themes:

- Causes of the Financial Crisis
- Financial Crisis Impact and Management
- Regional Focus on the Financial Crisis
- Learning from the Financial Crisis
- The Financial Crisis as a Crisis of Capitalism
- Opportunities Emerging from the Financial Crisis
- Globalisation
- Security and Defence in Hard Times


Routledge offers World Development Information Day articles

2010-10-27

http://pambazuka.org/en/category/announce/68126

Routledge, in collaboration with editors and society partners, have selected research articles which engage with the UN World Development Information Day themes of: Sustainable Development, Human Settlements and Energy; Advancement of Women; Population and Migration; Governance and Institution Building; Macroeconomics and Finance; Social Development. These articles are available free online until 31 December 2010. All articles have been drawn from leading journal titles within Development Studies, Gender Studies, African Studies, Asian Studies, Middle East Studies, European Studies, Politics & International Relations and Demography.

For full bibliographic listings of articles and issues you have access to please visit:

www.tandf.co.uk/journals/access/worlddevelopmentinformationday.pdf




Comment & analysis

ANC revivalism and non-racialism

Tim Murithi

2010-10-27

http://pambazuka.org/en/category/comment/68146


cc Coda
South Africa’s ruling party, the African National Congress, has announced that it wants to attract more white voters. Tim Murithi says this would require the adoption of a more inclusive ‘nation-building’ and non-racial posture.

Following the recent African National Congress (ANC) National Governing Council (NGC), convened in September in Durban, Secretary-General Gwede Mantashe called for the introduction and implementation of programmes that would increase the party’s ballot share from six to 50 per cent of white voters, in order to fulfill the aspiration ‘of becoming a truly non-racial party’. The reasons for this are manifold, but clearly rooted in the electoral challenges emerging from opposition parties and in the formation of coalitions to contest against the ANC.

On a basic level, this strategy suggests an evident self-interest in plans for the ‘revival’ of the ANC and expansion of its voter support base. It is important to acknowledge the problematic nature of designating certain groups as ‘black’ and others as ‘white’, and also to recognise that while not all ‘blacks’ support the ANC, neither are all ‘whites’ against it.

However, the wider issue of whether non-racialism can be achieved following the brutalizing strictures of apartheid and the colour-coded nature of human relations in the country, has to also be addressed. This would require advancing racial dialogue and engaging with others that one would not ordinarily engage with. For the ANC, this would require an internal process of change and a final break with its ‘struggle’ rhetoric, towards the adoption of a more inclusive ‘nation-building’ and non-racial posture.

On a basic practical level this could include ensuring that ANC gatherings are broadly inclusive to cadres from different cultural backgrounds. Perhaps song sheets could be distributed to those who are unaware of the lyrics of the multiple ‘struggle’ anthems that are regularly belted out at party conventions. Yet, there is a larger question - and one that echoes Julius Malema’s equality court case earlier this year - of whether or not some of these songs are appropriate in the new South Africa. Is it not time for new songs that embrace the collective and non-racial spirit of the new South Africa, which Mantashe claims the ANC aspires to achieve?

At the level of governance serious efforts have to be undertaken to address persistent perceptions of corruption. While this issue was addressed at the NGC, the success or failure of a new strategy to combat corruption will have to be clearly demonstrated before the ANC can hope to broaden its constituency. The challenge to the party will be to address the needs of its substantial black support base and at the same time respond to some of the white voters it seeks to attract.

On one level, Mantashe’s agenda reflects a noble aspiration, because South Africa still struggles to animate and bring to life the principles that informed the 1955 Freedom Charter and the 1996 constitution. In particular, the Freedom Charter explicitly states that ‘South Africa belongs to all who live in it, black and white, and that no government can justly claim authority unless it is based on the will of the People’. The Constitution of this country also affirms this in its preamble, which proffers that ‘South Africa belongs to all who live in it, united in our diversity’.

The Constitution also stipulates that South Africa is founded on, among others, the values of ‘non-racialism’. The Bill of Rights also states that ‘every citizen is free to make political choices, which includes the right to participate in the activities, or recruit members of, a political party’. Mantashe’s agenda to increase the number of whites in the rank and file of the Party’s cadres, under the wider rubric of ANC revivalism, is therefore in keeping with the aspirations contained in both of these important texts.

However, the Freedom Charter also states that ‘all people shall be entitled to take part in the administration of the country’, but in order to do so at the level of government it is self-evident that all cultural backgrounds need to be represented in present and future ruling political parties.

This is the conundrum that the ANC finds itself. It has naturally gravitated towards responding to the urgent and pressing needs of the majority of the population that was previously disadvantaged and has consequently acquired its current composition. There is nothing untoward with such a development. Political parties have to necessarily cater to a constituency and hope that such a constituency propels them to power. But once in government it also becomes evident that governing has to be for ‘all who live’ in South Africa.

Whether the ANC can undergo the internal transformation required to ultimately appeal to a wider non-racialised constituency will remain a key challenge for the Party. It is a challenge that the ANC leadership seems interested in taking on, but the rhetoric has to give way the reality of genuine inclusivity.

BROUGHT TO YOU BY PAMBAZUKA NEWS

* Dr. Tim Murithi is head of the Transitional Justice in Africa programme at the IJR.
* Please send comments to [email protected] or comment online at Pambazuka News.


Ghana: Give the bling to the living, not the dead

Kofi Akosah-Sarpong

2010-10-28

http://pambazuka.org/en/category/comment/68147


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Kofi Akosah-Sarpong tackles excessive spending on funerals in Ghana. More attention should be spend on the living, he argues.

The Ghanaian enlightenment campaign is evolving. Ghanaian elites, for some time asleep, are fast getting involved in the enlightenment movement from their diverse stations in life. As the movement gathers steam, backed by the Ghanaian mass media, one area of the Ghanaian traditional life that has come under the enlightenment flashlight is the implications of the dead on the living.

It is a tough area that borders on traditional cosmology. The aim of the enlightenment thinkers is to debunk the misinterpretation of traditional cosmology, especially in the southern parts of Ghana, where millions of dollars are spent on the dead while the majority languish in poverty.

While the traditional funeral is a ceremony for celebrating, consecrating, or remembering the life of a deceased person, in today’s Ghana the simplicity of the celebration has been turned upside down and it has become a showbiz event.

The essence of a traditional Ghanaian funeral combines a complex set of beliefs and practices to remember the dead. It includes the entombment itself and various monuments, prayers, and rituals undertaken in the dead’s honour. This has given way to bling.

One of the criticisms against excessive spending on funerals is that it leaves some families debt-ridden and poorer as they try to out-bling others. Another is that the spending takes place within an atmosphere of poverty where proper eating, good sanitation, suitable and more schools, water, rigorous healthcare systems, and generally more durable socio-economic infrastructure are desperately needed.

For instance, a proper modern toilet facility anywhere in Ghana could be built with GH¢ 7,500 (around US$6,919). The amount is the minimum cost of a funeral for an ordinary Ghanaian (Yes, I know this amount is too much to build a toilet but let’s put it that way as per helping the living to live better and still have a simple funeral ceremony at the same time).

Charles Palmer-Buckle, the Archbishop of Accra Catholic Diocese, has thundered that too much money is spent on the dead and funerals that ‘deprive descendants of the deceased the badly needed resources they need…a funeral for an ordinary Ghanaian now costs a minimum of GH¢ 7,500 (around US$6,919)…it is ridiculous to spend such an amount to “celebrate” a deceased person, who left behind a number of children who are yet to find their feet in life.’

Parallels can be drawn between Palmer-Buckle’s deliberations about Ghanaians’ wasteful expenditure on the dead and Pericles’ ‘Funeral Oration’. As Thucydides, the Greek thinker, recorded in book two of his ‘History of the Peloponnesian War’, it was established Athenian practice in the late 5th century to hold a public funeral in honour of the dead in war.

With the remains of the dead left out for three days in a tent and offerings made for the dead, a funeral procession was held and burial undertaken. The last part of the funeral ceremony was a speech delivered by a prominent Athenian citizen. Pericles was picked to give the oration. In the ‘Funeral Oration’, as inscribed by Thucydides, Pericles did praise the dead, but intentionally gave much more praise to Athens’ achievements - which was ‘designed to stir the spirits of a state still at war’.

There is no war in Ghana, but there is a war to be fought on the socio-economic front against poverty and certain erroneous cultural believes that inhibit progress. And that needs Ghanaians to refine the cultural inhibitions that hinder their progress so they can be free to live a better life. Yes, the dead should be praised, as African tradition dictates, but Palmer-Buckle moves beyond that, and proclaims that though the dead should be honoured, the living, too, should be fully taken care of.

Palmer-Buckle takes a look at the abysmal poverty of most Ghanaians and pronounces that the original traditions of funeral ceremonies have now become a competing theatre of ostentation to the detriment of the living. Palmer-Buckle, therefore, punches the ‘lavish spending on funerals’ as ‘an invention of the present generation and never a part of the cherished Ghanaian traditions’.

At issue isn’t the dead itself, or any trouble with traditional cosmology, but how the escalating expenditure on the dead today, against 100 years ago, negatively impacts on the growing population. Most Ghanaians live below the poverty line (around US$1 a day, according to the UN). There is no dilemma between the physical and the metaphysical. The battle of the enlightenment thinkers, as Palmer-Buckle echoes, is to re-wire Ghanaians to go back to their traditional roots where funeral ceremonies were simple, non-ostentatious, and very traditional.

Ghanaians appear entrapped in the brazenness of the funerals, making the funeral business glitzy. One of the leading funeral services proprietors in Ghana, if not the number one, is my junior brother. He is called Kweku Akosah and his funeral business is called Owners Funeral Services. Though based in Kumasi, Ghana’s second largest city, over the years Owners Funeral Services, driven by the sheer obsession with the dead and funerals, has grown so much that it has branches in most parts of Ghana.

Akosah employs over 100 people – wailers and criers, dancers, praise-singers, decorators of the dead, coffin makers, musicians, tailors and seamstresses, promoters, food makers, and servers. As Akosah’s funeral business becomes increasingly sophisticated, he finances certain funerals against the backdrops of agreements of sharing profits with the deceased families. Akosah is on the verge of building a state-of-the-art mortuary in Kumasi.

Such highlights are cast against the unrelenting poverty of Ghanaians. Palmer-Buckle’s funeral oration is ‘designed to stir the spirits’ of the living Ghanaian by making the case that part of the huge sums of money spent on the dead could be appropriated for the living so as to make life comfortable.

Still, Palmer-Buckle and the enlightenment stance is a difficult position because it is misunderstood by many Ghanaian traditionalists as impinging on the sacred area of Ghanaians’ cosmology. But at issue isn’t the cosmology, but the living in terms of better food, shelter, education, water, sanitation, health, roads, and the other comforts of life.

Palmer-Buckle bravely looks more at the living than the dead, and how the living should live better before he/she dies. ‘Instead of spending hugely on the dead, Ghanaians must rather establish an endowment fund in memory of the deceased, which would be used to sponsor education of their relatives to realise their full potential…children would largely remember their great grandfather in whose memory a fund was established to sponsor their education as against their relatives on who much money was spent to bury them and left behind debts.’

In Archbishop Palmer-Buckle’s ‘Funeral Oration’ Ghanaian enlightenment thinkers are wrestling with certain inhibitions within the Ghanaian/African culture that is hampering their progress. And that will need more fearless thinking than they have thought of. And that may need some remarkable tinkering with certain aspects of Ghanaians’ traditional cosmology.

BROUGHT TO YOU BY PAMBAZUKA NEWS

* Kofi Akosah-Sarpong is a journalist and academic.
* Please send comments to [email protected] or comment online at Pambazuka News.


Yaa Asantewaa, the Asante warrior queen

Cameron Duodu

2010-10-28

http://pambazuka.org/en/category/comment/68175


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There have been great women in history, but Yaaa Asantewaa was one of a kind, Cameron Duodu reminds us of the story of the ‘mere woman’ who ‘fought against the cannon’ during the British colonisation of Ghana.

I would not have believed it, but there are some people in Ghana – and indeed, Africa – who have not heard of Yaa Asantewaa.

How do I know this? The recent boast of female supporters of Kumase Asante Kotoko football club, one of the most famous clubs in Ghana, to march with their breasts bared, to the offices of the Ghana Football Association (GFA), to demand the redressing of an ‘injustice’ perpetrated against their team, has caused a lot of merry bantering on the Internet.

Many are taking it seriously, for a similar thing actually happened in Nigeria’s Ekiti State in 2007. (There are pictures of it on the Internet for those who do not mind pursuing the prurient!).

A popular governorship candidate in Ekiti, Dr Kayode Fayemi, was cheated out of an election victory he had won. But some of his female supporters were not taking it lying down. They marched to the Electoral Commission offices with bared breasts, and demanded that their man be given back the governorship seat that had been stolen from him.

How the Electoral Commission officials reacted was not recorded, though some reports claimed that they ran away, ‘with their tails' between their legs!’ Or probably what was meant was that what was between their legs had turned tail. Ah – politics.

Anyway, the matter went to the Electoral Tribunal. In all it took forty months for the case to be decided. Nigerian courts, like some in Ghana, care very little about the democratic voice of the electorate and why it should be allowed to be heard. Tell them that ‘Vox populi’ equals ‘Vox dei’ and they will stare blankly at you without comprehending a word of that. Anyway, Dr Kayode was declared winner only in mid-October 2010, with the result that the Ekiti Governor, Mr Oni, was booted out after enjoying the office for three and a half years. So, Kayode has finally ‘breasted the tape’ (pun intended) and is now ‘on seat’, as they say in Nigeria.

Probably, the Asante Kotoko women had a premonition – as women do – that the Ekiti women’s bare-breasted campaign would eventually succeed. Who knows? No matter – someone wrote on the internet that if he were chairman of the GFA, he wouldn’t hang around for the Kotoko female marchers to catch up with him. ‘If one Asante woman could cause a whole British “expeditionary force” to cut and run, what can a bevy of them not do to mere, unarmed GFA officials?’ he wrote. Whereupon another, expressing surprise at his statement, wrote to request the name of the ‘Asante woman who caused a whole British army expedition to cut and run’.

This astonished me, for I had assumed that the Yaa Asantewaa story was known to everybody in Ghana. Since I am now a wiser man than when I read the request for information about Yaa Asantewaa, I am going to relate her story, just in case some of my readers too are people who have read other people’s history but are in the dark when it comes to our own. I mean some of us know all about 1066 and all that; about Alfred the Great and Queen Boadicea. But ask them about Okomfo Anokye or Tetteh Quarshie, and they are lost for words.

Now, there have been great women in history. And there was Yaa Asantewaa. She was one of a kind.

So great was the heroism shown by her (she was the Queen Mother of Edweso, Asante, in the year 1900) that although my grandmother lived in Akyem Abuakwa – a state that had fought many bitter wars against the Asante – she and her friends used to sing about Yaa Asantewaa when I was a child. Their song – which I can still sing – went like this:

‘Momma yenkafo no eeei,
Yaa Asantewaa eeei,
Obaa basia a oko aprem ano eeei,
Obaa Yaa eeei!’

(‘Hail her!
Yaa Asantewaa
A mere woman
Who fought against the cannon!
The Woman Yaa’)

My grandma and her friends were singing to commemorate how Yaa Asantewaa was forcibly taken away from her own people and deported to the Seychelles Islands, very far away, by the British. Her deportation happened in 1901 and it happened like this:

The British had taken the King of Asante, Otumfuor Prempeh I, captive and deported him first to Sierra Leone, and then to the Seychelles Islands, after ‘defeating’ him in a war in 1896.

In fact, the reason for Prempeh’s ‘defeat’ was that he elected not to fight the British, like many of his predecessors had successfully done before him. He could not conceive of a situation where the British queen, Victoria, having sent envoys to Asante, and signed treaties with its kings, would turn round and attack Asante. Especially when he, the ruling King of Asante, had reciprocated Victoria’s courtesy and sent envoys to her.

Poor King Prempeh I – he didn’t know that unlike him, who was a warrior-king, Queen Victoria was a only constitutional monarch, who did not have the power to stop a war if her prime minister and the parliament he controlled, decided, in the interest of businessmen anxious to get hold of Asante’s lands to mine gold on it, to use force to ‘annex’ those lands. Greedy businessmen like the infamous Cecil Rhodes, who seized the whole of Zimbabwe and Zambia and named them ‘the Rhodesias’, after himself, were very powerful – politically – in those days when Britain was as corrupt as many African countries are today.

Poor Prempeh had not heard of the double-dealing that had made some countries christen Britain as ‘perfidious Albion.’ However, perfidious the British Colonial Office indeed turned out to be, and against all the traditions of diplomacy, the envoys sent by the King of Asante to Queen Victoria were kept cooling their heels in a chilly London, waiting for honeyed promises made to them by the Colonial Office mandarins to materialise. Meanwhile, back in Ghana, Her Majesty’s forces attacked and sacked the Asante capital, Kumase.

The British stole so many wondrous artefacts, consisting of amazingly crafted ceremonial gold ornaments, from the Asantehene’s Manhyia Palace and from the Royal Mausoleum at Bantama (Kumase) that when a portion – only a portion – of the treasures was put on display by the British Museum in an exhibition entitled ‘Ashanti Kingdom of Gold’ in 1982, it took me several hours to go round seeing it all.

It left me in a state of near-depression. To imagine that few Ghanaians would ever have a chance to see any of those objects made by the people whom they had read about in books written by British writers as ‘backward people’, was most dispiriting. Yet the exhibits did not even include the most wondrous things taken – the gold ‘death masks’ of Asante Kings that had been pillaged. I saw some of them in a Los Angeles Museum in 1968, and another one, the partly cracked face of King Kofi Karikari, at the Wallace Collection in London! What else is where? Why should Asantes be denied the opportunity to see and admire them? It is a heinous crime against the cultural education of our people.

Anyway, the British expedition arrested Prempeh. They also captured his aged mother, his father, and almost his entire Council of Chiefs.

But they were not satisfied, because they had failed to nab the most precious thing of all – The Golden Stool of Asante! Everyone had heard of the ‘Golden Stool.’ Indeed, to British ears, it aroused memories of the “Golden Fleece” of Greek mythology, and they thought it would be a great trophy to have it and add it to the collection of treasures stolen from the peoples of the world and stored at the British Museum.

So the governor of the ‘Gold Coast’, Sir Frederick Hodgson, went to Kumase with a great determination to seize it.

But what the British had heard about the Golden Stool was only a garbled version of how the stool came to the Asante and what its role was in the Asante beliefs system.

Firmly established Asante oral history relates that the most powerful founder of the Asante Kingdom, Nana Osei Tutu I brought with him to Asante from Akwamu (where he had undergone training as a prospective heir to the Asante stool), a spiritual guru called Okomfo Anokye. It was this Anokye who planted two ‘Kum’ trees in two different locations – one of which died (Kumawu) and one of which thrived (Kumase) – and thereby determined that Kumase should be the Asante capital.

But having given the Asante a capital, Okomfo Anokye was not satisfied and decided to give them a permanent nation too. So, one day, gathering the major families that constituted the chiefdoms of the Asante confederacy together, he ‘commanded a Golden Stool to descend from the Heavens in a cloud of dust and mist’ – according to legend.

Okomfo Anokye then asked for the most sacred parts of the Asante human body — pubic hairs and nails – from each of the royals present. He burnt it together into ashes and mixed it with ‘mmortor’, an amalgam of potent, secretly cultivated herbs and blood. He then smeared the Golden Stool with it.

Next, turning to the crowd, he told them: ‘Your sacred souls – through your pubic hairs and your nails – have, this day been incorporated into this Golden Stool. So the day it is lost, all of you will be lost too, and there will be no more Asante Nation. So you must guard it with your very lives. Together, all the time.’

The Asantes had guarded the Golden Stool with their ‘very lives’ for over 300 years. The King of Asante himself never sat on it, for it was sacred. At public festivals, it was guarded as stringently as the person of the king himself. It had its own umbrella and a special chief who looked after it. It was the symbol supreme of Asante. The British didn’t know its spiritual significance. But they wanted it, to use as a trophy of war – a mere plaything that curious spectators would queue up to stare at.

The British governor, Frederick Hodgson, made a crass demand for the Golden Stool at a durbar at which the Asantes had gathered to courteously welcome him: ‘Where is the Golden Stool?’ he thundered at the huge assembly of astonished chiefs and people of Asante. ‘Why am I not sitting on it this moment?’

He had declared war without knowing it. He mistakenly thought that having captured Prempeh, their King, the Asantes would do everything he asked. But Queen Yaa Asantewaa rallied the Asante warriors with a rousing speech, full of choice words about how the Asante women would punish the men, if they ‘behaved like women’. The threats she made could have come straight out of the pages of a famous play by the Greek dramatist, Aristophanes, called Lysistrata, in which Greek men are denied sex by their wives until they decide to abandon their cowardice and fight to save the honour of the Greek nation. Can you see Yaa Asantewaa surreptitiously passing coded messages from house to house, to the women of Asante, telling them how to treat their men during the night, while the British insult remained unavenged?

Well, the women’s campaign worked, and the Asante nation responded. They fought the British bravely, with Yaa Asantewaa herself at the head of the Asante army, uncowed by the
frightening booms of the British cannons. The British army was driven back into the fort of Kumase, where they faced starvation, and tried to bolster their morale by playing ‘Rule Britannia’ on a gramophone, while the Asantes were terrifying the lives out of them with the drowning sound of their atumpan and kete drums.

The British were only saved by running out of the fort at night, and linking up with reinforcements that were speeding from Lagos with even heavier guns.

Yaa Asantewaaa was eventually captured and taken to the Seychelles to join King Prempeh and his family. She died there. But Asantes remember her to this day. Not only Asantes – but, as I have demonstrated, even some Akyems, the traditional rivals of the Asantes.

That particular phenomenon – the Akyems singing about Yaa Asantewaa – never cease to amaze me, for in those days, there were no news media to tell people about things happening far away from their own backyards.

But, of course, people could sing! And they sang sweetly – about Yaa Asantewaa, ‘the mere woman who fought against the cannon gun.’ So sweetly that the song stuck in the mind of a little boy growing up in the Akyem Abuakwa town of Asiakwa – capital of the Nifa (Rightwing) Division of the Abuakwa army, no less!

BROUGHT TO YOU BY PAMBAZUKA NEWS

* Cameron Duodu is a journalist, writer and commentator.
* Please send comments to [email protected] or comment online at Pambazuka News.


Unable to pay bribes, millions languish in detention

Pretrial detention and corruption

Kersty McCourt

2010-10-28

http://pambazuka.org/en/category/comment/68176


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The pretrial stage of the criminal justice process is particularly vulnerable to corrupt practices, which hit the poor and disenfranchised hardest, says Kersty McCourt.

Around the world, millions of people are locked up in pretrial detention because of corruption. Despite the prohibition of corruption under international law – as enshrined in the UN Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) and other treaties and laws – criminal justice systems are often warped by bribery and other forms of corruption. The pretrial stage (from arrest to trial) of the criminal justice process is particularly vulnerable to corrupt practices, and this corruption hits the poor and disenfranchised hardest. Corruption flourishes in the pretrial phase because it receives less scrutiny and is subject to more discretion than subsequent stages of the justice process, and often involves the lower paid and most junior actors in the system. Unhindered by scrutiny or accountability, police, prosecutors, and judges are able to arrest, detain, and release individuals based on their ability to pay bribes. Those caught at the nexus of pretrial detention and corruption suffer, and society as a whole also pays a high price. Corruption, of course, is itself a bad outcome. But when mixed with pretrial detention, it leads to other bad outcomes: Arbitrary arrests and unnecessary detention, increased public health costs, wasted resources, stunted development, and increased poverty. The justice system’s credibility suffers when the innocent are arrested and even convicted because they cannot pay, and the guilty go free because they can.

A VICIOUS CYCLE

Corruption and excessive pretrial detention are mutually reinforcing: A criminal justice system that overuses pretrial detention is susceptible to corruption, and an environment marked by corruption will likely lead to over-reliance on pretrial detention. Both corruption and excessive pretrial detention flourish under the same circumstances. The two form a vicious cycle: A dysfunctional justice system leads to corruption, and that corruption further twists the justice system.

WHO PAYS?

All over the world, poor people are arrested because they cannot pay a bribe to the corrupt police officer, then denied access to counsel or family because they cannot bribe the corrupt guard or prosecutor, then held indefinitely – or found guilty – because they cannot bribe the corrupt judge. The ability to put cash in the right hands often makes the difference between freedom and detention. Pretrial detention centres are populated almost entirely by poor people.

Once in custody, pretrial detainees are wholly at the mercy of the detaining authorities. They or their families are often forced to pay for access to services and treatment to which they are entitled under national and international law, including food, drinking water, medication, or contact with family members. Additionally, they are forced to pay to ‘prevent’ torture or other mistreatment, and demands for bribes are often combined with the threat or actual use of torture.

CASE STUDY: BANGLADESH

After a member of the Rezzak family was arrested, family members recorded the number of occasions on which they were forced to pay bribes and the amount they paid. The bribes were paid to secure basic provisions and safeguards during police custody and in hope of securing release on bail. Over the course of four months (2008-9), the Rezzak family paid a total of 159,660 taka (US$2,262) through a total of 34 corrupt transactions. The most significant proportion of this amount (a total of 75,000 taka) was to detaining officers, to prevent torture and the fabrication of more charges against their relative. Other significant bribes were to lawyers and legal clerks. The remainder was for items that should have been provided by the state, including access to legal documents and food for the detained family member.[1]

Conversely, corruption is furthered by those who have power and money, and wield them to avoid arrest, detention, and prosecution for themselves or their family members and friends. They use their influence and/or financial resources to seek a specific outcome and, in many instances, deliberately pervert the course of justice. For example a wealthy individual accused of a crime may pay off the police to drop charges or to arrest someone else.

CASE STUDY: KYRGYZSTAN

In 2006, Mr A. was driving his taxi at night when he saw an expensive sports car, approaching from the opposite direction, suddenly slow down and then accelerate away. Mr A. saw a man lying in the middle of the road where the sports car had braked, so he stopped and called the police. He provided a witness statement, which was corroborated by other witnesses. However, when the autopsy report was released it stated that Mr A.’s taxi had hit the man. Mr A. was taken into custody and only after four days in pretrial detention was provided with a defense lawyer. Later, the lawyer withdrew from the case. It emerged that the driver of the sports car was a high ranking official, and with the victim’s family demanding justice, Mr A. became the scapegoat. During his 11 months in pretrial detention, Mr A. was told repeatedly that he could make the case go away by ‘paying off’ the victim’s family and the judge. Mr A. refused, and eventually a new lawyer was able to win his release.

WHO GETS PAID?

A multitude of people are involved in the criminal justice system, ranging from lawmakers and government officials to senior judges and lawyers to low level clerks and junior police officers. At the arrest and investigation stage, police officers are the main actors. During the first appearance before a court and the bail application stage, prosecutors, lawyers, legal officers, and court clerks are added to the mix. Once someone is placed in detention awaiting trial, the prison officers and guards become significant players, particularly because they provide basic necessities for detainees. Any and all of these actors may demand bribes or yield to political interference. Without greater transparency and accountability in the pretrial phase, the list of potential bribe seekers is nearly unlimited. Although monetary bribes are most common, it should be noted that corrupt practices can involve other forms of extortion and pressure (such as demand for sexual favours); traffic of influence or threat of demotion; and/or political interference that helps speed up or delay cases.

CASE STUDY: INDONESIA

A 22-year-old man who was arrested and detained in 2008 for buying a small packet of marijuana recounted his experience with corruption in the pretrial phase of the criminal justice process. After this defendant’s arrest, the police informed him that he had no rights. They stripped him and began beating him, offering to stop punching and kicking his naked body if he paid them US$1,000. He was held without charge for the next 50 days, during which he was told that for another US$10,000 he could obtain release. The detainee’s mother had to pay the police US$500 to prevent them from inflating the charge against her son. She then had to pay the prosecutors US$2,000 to have them reduce their sentence request to nine months. She also had to pay court officials a US$200 appointment fee so that her son could meet with the judge. After this experience, the son concluded that the ‘police, the judges, the courts; they are all the same, it’s all about money...[t]hey are criminals in uniform.’

RECOMMENDATIONS

> Pretrial detention should be used only when no reasonable alternative can address genuine risks of flight or danger to the community. Reducing the use of pretrial detention will reduce corruption by limiting opportunities and incentives for paying and seeking bribes.
> Access to legal aid should be increased, especially at the earliest stages of the criminal justice process. Defendants with representation are much less likely to be caught at the nexus of pretrial detention and corruption.
> Detained persons should receive basic necessities – nutritious food, clothing, toiletries, and medication—free of charge from the prison authorities.
> States, donors, and nGos should foster and facilitate documentation of the extent of corruption in criminal justice and oversight of those points in the system found to be most vulnerable to corruption.
> Officials found guilty of engaging in corrupt practices should be punished to the fullest extent of the law.

BROUGHT TO YOU BY PAMBAZUKA NEWS

* This summary draws on the forthcoming report, ‘Pretrial Detention and Corruption’, by Keith Henderson (American university) and Nathaniel
Heller (Global integrity), which will be published by the Open Society Justice initiative in 2010.
* This report was originally published by the Open Society Justice Initiative.
* Please send comments to [email protected] or comment online at Pambazuka News.

NOTES

[1]. ‘Disconnected policing and the Justice trade in Bangladesh,’ Article 2: Special Edition: Use of Police Powers for Profit, Vol. 8 (1), March 2009


Donor money still bypassing Haiti's homeless and poor

Isabeau Doucet

2010-10-28

http://pambazuka.org/en/category/comment/68179


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Isabeau Doucet critically examines the funding promises made by the Interim Haiti Reconstruction Commission. Housing and employment programs have been overlooked. Mortgages and bourgeois interests are the IHRC’s main priorities, Doucet argues.

‘Nothing! Nothing! We’ve seen nothing!’ chanted the crowd of internally displaced people (IDP). They were pursuing former US president Bill Clinton from his photo-op in their squalid camp on his way to the third Interim Haiti Reconstruction Commission (IHRC) meeting in downtown Port-au-Prince on 6 October 2010.

The crowd protesting Clinton was from the IDP camp on the golf-course of the former Pétionville Club, a bourgeois enclave created by U.S. Marines when they first occupied Haiti from 1915 to 1934. Ironically, the camp is considered one of the capital’s best, thanks to the attention brought to it by actor Sean Penn.

The same chants came from another demonstration of about 200 IDPs on 12 October in front of Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive’s offices, where the IHRC is based. At that demonstration, exactly nine months after the quake, protestors delivered a letter demanding respect for their constitutionally guaranteed right to housing, a moratorium on forced expulsions, and an end to the ‘masquerade aid’ of NGOs.

The IHRC, co-chaired by Clinton and Bellerive, is the body that decides how to spend money donated to rebuild Haiti after the 12 January earthquake. This month’s meeting took place by teleconference, with journalists invited to follow it by calling a U.S.-based number. This immediately excluded any Haitian who could not afford the three-hour international call.

Some journalists crowded into the PM’s press room to listen to the meeting over a small pod-like speaker that looked like an oversized video game joystick. The teleconference’s sound quality was poor, static-filled and at times unintelligible. I was sitting closest to the speaker and craning to make out what was being said, but I couldn’t follow much of it.

All seven of the foreign white journalists in the room were seated around the conference table where the mini-speaker sat, with only three of approximately 20 Haitian journalists present. The other Haitians were seated in chairs along the walls of the room, out of earshot of the muffled voices deciding their country’s fate.

As if to underscore this irony, most of the conference was conducted in English. French statements were translated into English, but not vice versa. Nothing was presented in or translated into Kreyol, the national language, making it even more difficult for Haitians to know where all the millions of dollars are going.

The whole exercise seemed amateurish. The conference call plodded along, casual and faltering. None of the IHRC board seemed too bothered by the frequent interruptions and confusion. It was as if voting on the investment of millions and Haiti’s fate was just a banal hobby.

Reginald Boulos, an industrialist from one of Haiti’s most powerful bourgeois families and a staunch backer of the 2004 coup d’état against the president Jean-Bertrand Aristide, insisted that meetings should begin with a progress update on projects to ensure transparency and accountability, implying that even IHRC board members have little information on the whereabouts of previously approved money. His minor reservations and criticisms were later trumpeted by Clinton as ‘fierce debate and vigorous participation on the part of the Haitian members of the board,’ representing the Haitian people’s interests, of course.

The session took place during Haiti’s ‘back-to-school’ week, and at the subsequent press conference Clinton claimed that 80 per cent of children who were in school before the earthquake are now back in class. It was unclear how he could obtain such a figure only two days into the new term, especially since many schools didn’t resume class until the following week.

At its last meeting in August, the IHRC had approved US$94 million to get schools ready for the new academic year – a much needed investment. Haiti ranks alongside Somalia and Eritrea as one of the worst places on the planet to be a school child. Only half of Haiti’s children attended (mostly private) schools before 12 January; the quake destroyed about 90 per cent of those. Only US$26 million of the US$94 million has been disbursed. There are fewer kids in class than ever, and Haiti’s Ministry of Education says it still hasn’t seen any of the money.

There were also inconsistencies between the projects presented in the IHRC meeting and the press release given to journalists afterwards. The latter stated that UNICEF gave US$100 million to ‘support the Haitian government and civil society in the fight against gender-based violence.’ But in the meeting, there was no mention of the UNICEF money, only concerns that a US$10.6 million UN Population Fund for women and girls’ ‘gender equality impact is not yet approved,’ said one of the board members.

It is unclear where UNICEF’s US$100 million has gone. Merina Zuluanie of FAVILEK (Women Victims Stand Up), a grassroots organisation that has been providing medical, legal, and moral support for women and children victims of sexual abuse and violence for over 15 years, said her group has not received any IHRC or UNICEF funding.

I spoke with Malia Villard Appolon, the coordinator of KOFAVIV (Commission of Women Victims for Victims), a coalition of women rape victims. KOFAVIV members have taken charge of their own security in camps, organising escorts to protect women going to the toilets, handing out whistles to women at risk, raising awareness and organising groups of men to take shifts patrolling their areas. Before the earthquake, KOFAVIV had an office with a clinic, doctor, nurse, psychologist, laboratory and everything in place to accommodate rape victims. That was all destroyed on 12 January and since then, Appolon says, ‘we have received nothing from UNICEF.’

Meanwhile, Dr. Claude Surena, the head of the Haitian Medical Association, and regional health director, said he has an 18-month strategy to get the health sector back on its feet, but it can’t move ahead with anything until donor funds arrive. According to the IHRC website, US$17 million was approved and funded on 17 August. But Haiti’s General Hospital in downtown Port-au-Prince looks much as it did in the quake’s aftermath: hallways and pharmacies are still full of rubble; people wait outside for treatment; operations are conducted in tents; the pediatrics unit is still damaged beyond repair. Why is the place still in shambles?

‘I think we’re making progress with the road reconstruction and agriculture sectors’ said Clinton, without going into specifics. The IHRC website says that US$464.8 million worth of road construction and rehabilitation projects were funded, also in August, for some 389km of road.

US$211.3 million of the US$240.3 million earmarked for agriculture has been funded, the site says, with US$200 million going to a techno-jargon-obscured project to ‘increase farm income in targeted areas and reduce expected losses in infrastructure by improving agricultural value chains, agriculture intensification, technology adoption among small farmers, and land tenure regularisation.’ In contrast, the Food and Agriculture Organisation’s more down-to-earth US$29 million project to support 1) food crop production 2) local seed production, 3) urban and suburban agriculture, 4) creation of jobs in the livestock sector, 5) fisheries, and 6) local response capacity to hurricanes has received no funding.

A recent study by Oxfam reports that Clinton has not lobbied for reversal of his administration’s neoliberal trade policies, which he verbally renounced in March. These policies decimated Haiti’s rice crops by flooding the market with heavily subsidised Arkansas rice. Imported food still predominates in any Haitian market one visits.

The bourgeoisie in the IHRC has funded itself (thanks to the Inter-American Development Bank and World Bank) with US$24.5 million of US$35 million over five years to ‘establish a partial credit guarantee fund for enterprise development,’ the IHRC site says. Meanwhile, the same IHRC board has released no funding for the US$65 million earmarked over the next 12 months for ‘job creation’ to ‘create 300,000 temporary jobs across the country, focusing on populations touched by the earthquake.’ The project to ‘assess public buildings in the ten departments,’ a mere US$1 million over five months, has also not been funded. Only US$13.4 million has been provided for housing, Haiti’s most critical need.

At the post-meeting press conference, when asked ‘what of the IHRC funding is being given to help people in the camps,’ Clinton interrupted the journalist, dodged the question, and spoke of the need to implement a mortgage system.

This exchange reveals why Clinton heads the IHRC. His priorities are to facilitate banks providing mortgages, the bourgeoisie finding credit, and businesses having roads to bus in their workers and ship out their sweatshop-assembled garments and electronics.

Job-creation and housing for Haiti’s 1.5 million homeless suffering in squalid camps will just have to wait.

BROUGHT TO YOU BY PAMBAZUKA NEWS

* This article was originally published by haitiananalysis.com
* Please send comments to [email protected] or comment online at Pambazuka News


Of hate think and hate speech in Kenya’s political landscape

Tom Olang’

2010-10-28

http://pambazuka.org/en/category/comment/68184


cc D D
Tom Olang’ examines the new protections against hate speech in Kenya and how oversight mechanisms protect – or don’t – minorities from hate speech.

In the late 1980s when Kenya was still a de jure one-party state, a powerful cabinet minister is on record to have publicly declared, ‘All the Igbos must lie low like an envelope or suffer for their intransigence.” He was contemptuously referring to members of an economically dominant ethnic community who were living and doing business in his constituency whom he perceived as not dancing to his political tune. The popular tune then was that you were either pro- or anti-establishment. There was no middle ground then because any public figure that was not publicly supporting the regime was (mis)construed to be sympathetic to the opposition.

Needless to say, the inflammatory remarks were instantly picked by the mainstream media and subsequently fuelled ethnic tensions between the concerned communities. Such war cries have continued unabated over the years with varying degrees of venom. Hate speech, or absence of it, was neither here nor there then. Political bigwigs were ostensibly ‘always right’ and woe unto those who dared to question their perceived wisdom.

Those were probably the darkest days when politically correct leaders could break the law with impunity and get away with it. The political elite and their ‘untouchable’ cohorts blatantly engaged in ‘hate think’ (harbouring negative thoughts in one’s mind that often precede hate speech) and hate speech as the media aired the venom with relish. There was no proper legislation to mete out punitive measures against those who intimidated or threatened fellow citizens. Thus, inter-ethnic tensions have built up over the years, culminating in the ethnic clashes that Kenyans witnessed in 1992, 1997 and which climaxed in 2007. The latter left 1,133 innocent Kenyans dead and 500,000 displaced. Hundreds of others are still languishing in IDP camps nearly three years later.

Most of the clashes had a direct bearing on the utterances attributed to political leaders who also posed as self-appointed champions of the rights of their respective ethnic communities. Incidentally, a state of near-anarchy often ensued in certain political hotspots in the Rift Valley and western Kenya where leaders made and overtly promoted hate speech, thus sparking inter-ethnic violence. The effects of the bungled 2007 general elections created the need for proper legislation to guard against utterances, broadcasts or publications that would fuel ethnic hatred on grounds of colour, race, nationality or ethnicity. In this regard, one is wont to conclude that the events of 2007-2008 were a blessing in disguise as they gave both the leaders and the citizenry a wakeup call on the need to live in a tolerant, cohesive and integrated manner in an atmosphere of cultural diversity.

With the promulgation of a new constitution on 27 August 2010, the foregoing scenario will hopefully be consigned to the dustbin of history. The Media Act (2007), the National Cohesion and Integration Act (2008), the Code of Conduct for the Practice of Journalism in Kenya and the new constitution clearly spell out what constitutes hate speech.
However, it is not enough to have legislation against hate speech or even ‘hate think.’ In most cases, people harbour the negative thoughts in their minds. There is need to conduct civic education to dispel gender, cultural, racial, social and ethnic stereotypes that exist in public domain. It is the latter that often metamorphose into ‘hate think’ and eventually blossom into hate speech when uttered publicly and directed to vulnerable individuals or groups.

And so what is this monster called hate speech? Wikipedia, the resourceful online encyclopedia, gives a general definition of hate speech as any communication which disparages a person or group based on race or sexual orientation. Within a legal framework, Wikipedia describes hate speech as ‘any speech, gesture, conduct, writing or display which is forbidden because it may incite violence or is prejudiced against a protected individual or group; or because it disparages or intimidates a protected individual or group.’ The law may identify a protected person(s) by race, gender, ethnicity, creed, nationality or other distinctive characteristic. Article 27(4) of the newly enacted Kenyan constitution adds other finer details of discrimination such as pregnancy, marital status, health status, conscience, disability, birth and language to the above list.

In most Commonwealth states whose legislation is modeled along the English law, a victim of hate speech may seek redress under civil law, criminal law or both, depending on the severity of the case. According to Article 13 (1) of the National Cohesion and Integration (NIC) Act (2008) of the Law of Kenya, hate speech constitutes use of threatening, abusive or insulting words or behavior; or exhibiting performance, programme , visual image or printed matter which is aimed at stirring up ethnic hatred or harm.

Article 13 (3) of the NIC Act defines ‘ethnic hatred’ as intense dislike against a group of persons defined by reference to colour, race, nationality (including citizenship), ethnic or national origins. The Act states that anyone convicted of promoting hate speech shall be liable to a fine not exceeding one million shillings or jail term of up to three years, or both.

Both newsmakers and media practitioners risk prosecution of they are involved in hate speech, whether wantonly or by default. Consequently, any media house that publishes or airs hate speech will supposedly face the full wrath of the law … or will it?

Article 62 (1) of the NIC Act prohibits utterances that are intended to incite feelings of contempt, hatred, hostility, violence or discrimination against an individual, group or community on the basis of race or ethnicity. Article 62 (2) specifically targets the media and proscribes the publication or broadcast of the above utterances. This calls for self-regulation on the part of the media, newsmakers and the public in general.

It is against this backdrop that in May 2010, MPs Wilfred Machage, Fred Kapondi, Joshua Kutuny and political activist Christine Miller were arraigned in court for allegedly uttering hate speech against some ethnic communities during the referendum campaigns. The case is still pending in court though the accused were released on bail.

Incidentally, all the accused were in the ‘No’ side. The media has been duly publishing and broadcasting the ongoing case without taking sides. It is not clear whether members of the ‘Yes’ team shunned hate speech or whether the mainstream media simply gave them a blackout. However, it was not lost on readers and viewers alike, that the government side received extensive and prime space and time, both in terms of news and advertisement.

Article 25 of the Code of Conduct for the Practice of Journalism says, ‘Quoting persons making derogatory remarks based on ethnicity, race, creed, colour and sex shall be avoided. Racist or negative ethnic terms should be avoided. Careful account should be taken of the possible effect upon the ethnic or racial group concerned, and on the population as a whole, and of the changes in public attitude as to what is and what is not acceptable when using such terms.’

With the foregoing statutes firmly entrenched in the constitution, one would expect both the mainstream media and the political leadership to shun hate speech like the plague since the law is sacrosanct. A survey of the media’s coverage of the 2010 referendum revealed relative restraint on the part of the mainstream media compared to the one held in 2005. This is not to say that there was no bias at all in media content but explicit expressions of hate (if any) were largely given a blackout, perhaps in the spirit of self-regulation.

The Interim Independent Electoral Commission (IIEC) hailed the media for a balanced coverage of the 2010 plebiscite. While presiding over the release of a report on a survey of media performance on the referendum on 24 August 2010 , Ken Nyaundi, an IIEC member, said unbiased coverage reduced the likelihood of the ‘Yes’ and ‘No’ camps disputing the final tally. Unlike the 2007 electioneering period when even the media appeared to be polarised along ideologies and personalities, even the leaders of opposing camps acknowledged that the mainstream media played a fundamental role in deciphering the proposed legislation. The public was thus able to cast its vote from an informed position rather than acting out of emotion or blindly following the whims of political leaders.

‘We expect the media to continue being responsible and not mere conveyors of what is happening,’ the Daily Nation of 25 August 2010 quoted Nyaundi as saying.

The survey was conducted by Peace Pen Communications, an NGO that monitors the media in Kenya, over a period of two weeks in the run-up to the referendum. The report, titled, ‘The Spotlight on Media Coverage of the Kenya Referendum Campaigns 2010’, noted that the media generally exercised caution and restraint compared to the 2005 referendum and the 2007 general elections. Speaking at the same function, the Editors Guild chairman, Macharia Gaitho, summed up the cautious stance of the media thus, ‘We learnt in 2007-2008 and resolved never to repeat the same mistakes.’

Meanwhile, leading pollsters Synovate and Infotrak Harris have recently highly rated the media as the most reliable and trusted sources of information on the new constitution and prior to the 2010 referendum.

Not that certain Kenyan politicians did not attempt to brush shoulders with the law on divisive utterances. Indeed, there is a delicate balance between exercising freedom of expression and engagement in hate speech. So much so that some may find it challenging to tell where freedom of expression ends and hate speech begins. The NCI Act as well as the new constitution are drafted in a way that they protect the citizenry and residents against hate speech and at the same time ensure their right to express themselves. The dividing line remains thin, though. The Bill of Rights in the constitution stipulates that every person has the right to freedom of expression, which right does not extend to, inter alia, hate speech, advocacy of hatred or incitement to violence (Article 33).

In the run-up to the Matuga by-election campaigns, Mary Onyango, the National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC) vice-chair, accused cabinet minister Chirau Ali Makwere of engaging in hate speech, an allegation that the minister vehemently denied. ‘Angry, yes, hate speech, no!’ Makwere tersely responded when the media sought his clarification on the allegation. The Commission had accused him of violating Article 62 (1) of the NIC Act. Perhaps the greatest tragedy facing the NCIC is that it is no better than a toothless bulldog in the new order. It has no mandate to prosecute hate speech suspects. It has to rely on the goodwill of the police and the Attorney General to mete out justice.

During the referendum campaigns, NCIC Chair, Mzalendo Kibunja, was quoted in the media as saying that the commission had received complaints from the public on ‘irresponsible’ utterances attributed to some leaders. He reportedly said that NCIC had significant proof, issued cessation notices to the accused persons, and even requested security persons to charge them. Kibunja revealed that the NCIC was investigating individuals who had been accused of uttering tribal and socially divisive remarks. Meanwhile, cabinet minister William Ruto reportedly accused Kibunja of indulging in prosecution through the media. And so the blame game went on and still continues.

As the 2012 general election approaches, media consumers are likely to be treated to even more brickbats between opposing political camps, with far-reaching consequences. The law must crack down on the culprits and the media treat them with the contempt that they deserve. The mayhem that was witnessed in 2007-2008 must not be allowed to rear its ugly head again now that Kenya has entered the Second Republic and ushered in a new era with a mixture of optimism and sobriety.

BROUGHT TO YOU BY PAMBAZUKA NEWS

* Tom Olang’ is a teacher of English at Advent Hill School, Ongata Rongai, and postgraduate student in communication at Daystar University, Kenya.
* Please send comments to [email protected] or comment online at Pambazuka News




Advocacy & campaigns

Abahlali baseMjondolo emergency appeal

War on Want

2010-10-28

http://pambazuka.org/en/category/advocacy/68188

UK-based War on Want has launched an emergency fundraising appeal for South African shackdwellers’ movement, Abahlali baseMjondolo. Following attacks on the Kennedy Road settlement just over a year ago, the demands placed on the movement by people losing their homes and being dragged through the courts are beyond what the movement’s member subscriptions can cover.

In South Africa, one in four people live in overcrowded shacks scraping a living on less than a dollar a day. They frequently have no toilets, no water, no electricity and are evicted from their homes. Despite extreme poverty and hostility from the government, shackdwellers are coming together to fight for their rights and improve their conditions.

Abahlali baseMjondolo is a pioneering social movement, supporting tens of thousands of shackdwellers. But a year ago, Abahlali's leaders were brutally attacked. Armed men threatened them and their families' lives and destroyed their homes on the night of September 26 last year. Since then, the leaders have been hiding and the movement has had to operate quasi-clandestinely - even though just ten days after the attack, Abahlali won a constitutional case entirely vindicating their operations!

We are making an emergency appeal on behalf of Abahlali. Justice has been denied to thirteen of its members arrested after the attack in Kennedy Road, who have still not been brought to trial. Many families were displaced by the violence, and have been unable to return to their homes, losing what little they had.

Abahlali is a true grassroots movement. It funds its activities on the subscriptions of its members – R10 a year (the price of a loaf of bread). But the demands placed on it now, by people losing their homes and being dragged through the courts, are way beyond what these subscriptions can cover.

A donation as small as £10 translates into R120 – enough to help Abahlali support a family to stay in their home. 100 per cent of all the money donated will go straight to Abahlali and their amazing work. Abahlali will be sent the names of everyone who contributes unless you would prefer to remain anonymous.

Many thanks.

* Please visit www.justgiving.com/Abahlali-Appeal to make a contribution to the appeal.
* Please send comments to [email protected] or comment online at Pambazuka News.


Surge in corporate patents on ‘climate-ready’ crops

Threat to biodiversity and signal of grab on land and biomass

ETC Group

2010-10-28

http://pambazuka.org/en/category/advocacy/68187

Under the guise of developing ‘climate-ready’ crops, the world’s largest seed and agrochemical corporations are filing hundreds of sweeping, multi-genome patents in a bid to control the world’s plant biomass, according to a report released by ETC Group.

A handful of multinational corporations are pressuring governments to allow what could become the broadest and most dangerous patent claims in history, warns the group at the United Nations’ Convention on Biodiversity in Nagoya, Japan (18-29 October 2010).

“The Gene Giants are stockpiling patents that threaten to put a choke-hold on the world’s biomass and our future food supply,” warns Silvia Ribeiro of ETC Group. “The breadth of many patent claims on climate ready crop genes is staggering. In many cases, a single patent or patent application claims ownership of engineered gene sequences that could be deployed in virtually all major crops – as well as the processed food and feed products derived from them,” explains Ribeiro.

ETC Group identifies over 262 patent families, subsuming 1663 patent documents published worldwide (both applications and issued patents) that make specific claims on environmental stress tolerance in plants (such as drought, heat, flood, cold, salt tolerance). DuPont, Monsanto, BASF, Bayer, Syngenta and their biotech partners account for three-quarters (77%) of the patent families identified. Just three companies – DuPont, BASF, Monsanto – account for over two-thirds of the total. Public sector researchers hold only 10%.

“In a desperate bid for moral legitimacy and to try to ease public acceptance of genetically modified crops, the Gene Giants have donated a few proprietary crop genes to poor farmers in Africa,” explains Ribeiro.

“The quid pro quo is that South governments must facilitate market access for genetically modified crops and embrace biotech-friendly patent laws. It’s an unacceptable trade-off. In exchange for untested technologies, South governments are being pressured to surrender national sovereignty over intellectual property, biomass, and food,” she warned.

“These patents are the latest form of biopiracy,” notes Vandana Shiva, Director of India’s Research Foundation for Science, Technology, and Ecology. “Farmers have bred seeds for drought, flood and salt tolerance over millennia. Climate resilience ultimately depends on farmers’ innovation, biodiversity and agro-ecological processes staying in the hands of farming communities,” said Shiva.

“Governments meeting at the UN Biodiversity Convention in Nagoya, Japan must put a stop to the patent grab, yet another false solution to climate change. They should instruct their patent offices to reject or rescind all of these patents,” said ETC Group’s Neth Daño, who is attending the meeting. “A fundamental review of all intellectual property claims in agriculture should be jointly undertaken by the CBD and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). These patents also clearly violate the FAO Seed Treaty and its governing body must investigate and take action.”

ETC Group’s report Gene Giants Stockpile Patents on “Climate-Ready” Crops in Bid to Become Biomassters will be released and discussed at a side event in Nagoya, Japan on 25 October (4:30 pm, Room 236, Bldg 2, 3rd floor).

Contact information for ETC Group (NOTE DIFFERENT TIME ZONES)

At the CBD in Nagoya, Japan:
Pat Mooney: [email protected] (Mobile +1-613-240-0045)
Silvia Ribeiro: [email protected] (Mobile (local): + 81 90 5036 4659)
Neth Dano: [email protected] (Mobile: + 63-917-532-9369)

In Montreal, Canada:
Diana Bronson: [email protected] (Mobile: +1-514-629-9236)
Jim Thomas: [email protected] (Mobile: +1 514-516-5759)

In San Francisco, USA:
Jeff Conant: [email protected] (Mobile: +1 575 770 2829)

For more information about our work, please visit our website at http://www.etcgroup.org/
Interested in supporting our work? Donate Here!


The cholera outbreak in Haiti and Bill Clinton's visit to Jamaica

Open letter to the Caribbean press

2010-10-28

http://pambazuka.org/en/category/advocacy/68177

While people die of cholera in Haiti, the poverty industry is profiting from the hardship, says this letter and commentary.

Open letter to the Caribbean press on the cholera outbreak in Haiti and the Bill Clinton visit to Jamaica

Dear Editors,

I ask that this excerpt from Zili Dantò (see below) be published concerning the current crisis of the cholera epidemic in Haiti. I am particularly incensed by the fact that President Obama selected Bill Clinton and George Bush to manage and help solve the original crisis in the aftermath of the earthquake some ten months ago and relatively nothing has happened except the development of additional crises for the Haitian people, which was expected.

It is even more revolting to remember that millions of dollars and tons of equipment were being deliberately withheld from suffering Haitians in need and perhaps still lie idle in banks and on the ground in Haiti now while the people die. It is further distressing to remember that P.J. Patterson was also named by the Caribbean Community and Common Market (Caricom) to manage the region's input in helping solve the crisis in the country and clearly that has also been a failure.

Perhaps the most revolting outcome, however, is that Bill Clinton is supposed to be coming to Jamaica to tell us about our common humanity and people are being asked to pay some $13,000 for the opportunity to hear this at a posh hotel in Kingston. I call upon all decent human beings in Jamaica to boycott Bill Clinton's visit and those who would wish to foist this hypocrite upon us at this time.

Former President Clinton's history with Haiti is an unsavoury one as is the entire policy of successive American presidents. Remember Aristide was evicted from office at gunpoint and the threat of being shot by goons sent by George Bush to bring democracy to Haiti.

It would be one of the darkest days in Jamaica's history if we ever supported in any way Clinton's visit to Jamaica to lecture us. On what? Truth, rights, justice, the cause of humanity? God would surely punish us and what would we say to the Haitian people?

Let us do what we can to support our Ministry of Health to help the Haitian people instead.

Dickie Crawford
P. O. Box 1823
Kingston 8
Contact 366-1966

Ezili Dantò's Note: Foul drinking water killing Haitians

Foul drinking water is killing Haitians while donations that could have provided permanent clean water are collecting interest for the thousands of charity organisations making a business out of poverty and the earthquake in Haiti. A cholera epidemic just killed 140 Haitians and at least 1500 more are infected and may die. This cholera is caused by drinking dirty toxic water.

Haitians in the diaspora ought to get together and purchase and provide this sort of environmentally conscious water purifying unit (http://bit.ly/dn0wQn ) or a similar mobile unit that will provide purified drinking water, communication and electricity, all in one.

We should not be looking to the NGOs, the Haiti oligarchy, the Haiti government, Papa Clinton, Paul Farmer or the UN to help us save our people. We've had 10-months and more of such ‘help’ and know what to expect.

Haitian Lawyers Leadership Network (HLLN) would like to make a positive difference but we do not have monetary resources to purchase these units. We're coming to the Ezili Network and asking for a partnership with others in the diaspora and in the conscious community.

But if you've looking for the international community to finance permanent clean drinking water for the masses that doesn't come from a bottle or purification pill to be purchased from USAID's profiteering contractors making a killing off the poverty business then you're too unconscious to help.

But if you understand the poverty business will not leave any permanent good in
Haiti because that would make their presence obsolete, then we could work together. Kindly don't contact us with your contributions to saving lives in Haiti. We'd like help to mobilise the conscious community to provide a self-reliant, permanent source of clean drinking water for the people dying in Haiti. Please let us know how we may use the Ezili Network to help.

Remember all the international community will do with this cholera outbreak is suppress the number of Haitians dying in order to make themselves look good because they kept the earthquake donations collecting interest in the NGO/charitable organisation's coffers for ‘future use’.

At least 140 Haitians, not including those dead from the recent rains, but who've died of cholera now have no future and 1,500 or more are said to be infected. ‘Cholera comes from contaminated water or food, often contaminated by faeces...Cholera can kill someone within a day...Right now the infection is an epidemic. There has not been such an epidemic in the region for a century.’ (See http://bit.ly/cP1Zmg)

Haiti’s pains are a good capital asset for the NGO industry. They wouldn’t have a job, salaries and tropical vacations and the illicit black sex they crave from Africans, without our pains, indignities, death, submissions and sufferings. Imagine swallowing the nutritional supplements, vitamins, vaccines and the other pharmaceuticals USAID insist are ‘aid to Haiti’, when you've not eaten in four days?

And the HIV drugs (and now ‘medicine’ and rehydration tablets for cholera) you have to swallow are also washed down with toxic ground water, in some ways also from US/Euro/Canada gold, copper, oil, iridium, uranium, coal, marble, granite, limestone, aggregate and other mining companies who pollute Haiti's shores and riverbeds.

When the earthquake hit many of us, who have lived through the two recent US coups in Haiti and the two Gonaives hurricane destructions of 2004, knew these poverty pimps, knew they would crank up the press releases and telethons and collect and collect and collect, while the majority of people suffer, lose more, grieve and die in Haiti. In our minds' eye we saw USAID, CRS, CARE, Red Cross, World Vision, et al..sad perhaps, but still calculating and salivating at the huge prospects of monies to be collected from the deaths and brutal suffering of Haitians.

It’s a profitable gig the poverty pimps are just not about to give up. (See http://bit.ly/dj4mUc)

A UN report released in March of 2010 said that dirty water kills more people each year than all forms of violence combined, including war. According to the WHO, of the 42,000 deaths that occur every week from unsafe water and a lack of basic sanitation, 90 per cent are children under five years old. . Eighty per cent of all disease is caused by lack of basic sanitation and lack of clean water.

There are 4,500 kids that die everyday from lack of basic sanitation and water. But there are some less obvious impacts of drinking dirty water. For example, dirty water can undermine other humanitarian efforts that money and effort have been poured into, like efforts to control HIV/AIDS in Africa. –(See http://bit.ly/929NXS –and http://bit.ly/br88o3)

Ezili Dantò of HLLN
October 2010




Pan-African Postcard

Cargo traders, kidnappers and colonisation

Okello Oculi

2010-10-28

http://pambazuka.org/en/category/panafrican/68191

Caught up in a riot by passengers on an Ethiopian Airlines flight from China, Okello Oculi connects the event with the flagging fortunes of a town in south eastern Nigeria.

What is the connection between a riot by passengers of an Ethiopian Airlines flight at Bangkok airport and Aba, a town in south eastern Nigeria? That was a question I met on a trip from Bandung in Indonesia to Addis Ababa. We had waited for about six hours to be brought aboard the Ethiopian airline’s eight hours promise of a safe sitting in a night sky from Bangkok to Addis Ababa. I should have paid more attention to the strained smiles on airhostess as I turned to walk in search of a seat on my boarding pass. Likewise, I should have noticed sullen and ruffled looks on passengers who had been brought in from Guangzhou. An aviation secret sat waiting in a burdened silence.

A hot wave of putrid smell hit the faces of passengers joining in at Bangkok. The passengers on board had not been allowed to come out to the transit lounge. A seemingly calm situation was suddenly broken by a shout by a cacophony of voices about rain-water leaking through the roof of the aircraft. It was raining outside. Expert opinion from a passenger near a leak-drenched floor affirmed that the aircraft had developed a huge crack that made it unfit to fly to Addis Ababa. To ensure that it would not takeoff several women pulled out ‘hand baggage’ from overhead racks, placed them on their heads, tied wrappers around their waists and started what they hoped would be a mass exodus out of the aircraft, swearing that they would not allow Ethiopian Airlines officials to kill them in yet another place crash.

By way of drawing us into their flight boycott, a sketch was drawn out of a narrow escape from a near-crash at Guangzhou. The aircraft had swirled in what appeared like the pilot’s failure to keep control. Passengers had screamed and hollered in panic. A man and a woman each testified of thoughts screeching across their minds of hopes of commercial fortune through trade with China ending in a death in a strange land in a burnt body that no one would identify or record. The pilot had, miraculously, pulled it off at the last moment. All their yelled prayers to Jesus and Allah had been answered. But not before easy yields of all the anatomical secretions that now accounted for the stench inside the craft. Presumably the lack of rights to de-board the craft had stopped the Ethiopian crew from spraying the tormented bowel of this tortured air travel tool.

A casual census showed that Nigeria’s nationals were in the majority. It was clear that they traded in long distance aircraft movement of consumable commodities produced in China and conveyed for purchase in Nigeria. They were the killers of the historical promise of sites like Kano, Maiduguri and Aba; towns whose names had once become legendary sites of promises of Nigeria’s industrial genius. My mind flashed back to a tour of Kano City’s old market I was once treated to by a Dutch participant in Britain’s Volunteer Service Overseas, VSO, aid programme. The stalls her tour took me to were once rich in locally produced and processed crafts. Now they were virtually empty; holding items stained by dust, notably textiles, leather sandals and jewellery. Dye pits whose indigo had, in past centuries, made Kano’s textiles prized exports across the Sahara to markets from Marrakesh in Morocco to Cairo in Egypt, were dormant. Their attendant was a poverty-stricken old member of a disappearing breed of artisans who complained of lack of young apprentices since there was no money in the craft. Plastic footwear from oil chemistry had driven ornamental leather sandals from even the bare feet of the urban masses.

A memory of Aba in 2002 was of walking down a main tarmac road teeming with youths tensed up by a daily routine of walking to nowhere – no income, no jobs and non-existent flows of investment. Huge cement buildings that were once signs of growing prosperity were now posts of sterility as cement structures remained empty without productive manifestations of local genius inside them. Young men who in the 1980s transported hides from Sokoto, Katsina, Kano and Yola amid local cattle economies for a rich shoe industry (that coaxed customers by putting ‘made in Italy’ labels), were now here in middle age screaming in panic about a possible violent death inside a non-tribal air crash.

On the ground in Nigeria those who did not have rich family members to finance their air-cargo trade across Africa-Asia skies, had come up with a peculiar adaptation of former President Mwalimu Nyerere’s call for self-reliance. They had turned to kidnapping school children, wives, grandmothers, fathers of those among politicians, professionals, academics, and businessmen that their scouts had tagged as sitting on millions that could be moved to them as ransom fees. The ransomists have paralysed useful income distribution cultural practices like age-groups assembling at home over Christmas holidays to contribute part of their annual earnings for community welfare infrastructure such as clinics, school buildings, assembly halls. Those living in richer economies in the Americas or Asia were erecting structures or importing drugs for hospitals, bringing in foreign volunteers to conduct mass surgeries for eye-cataracts, hernia and bone deformities.

Others had turned to violent robberies. Television pictures invariably showed robbers wounded by police bullets as youths in their teens. In Maiduguri and Kano they had wrapped religious ideologies round their angry economic aspirations. Furious members of ‘Boko Haram’ (or rejectionists of education that does not lead to jobs and income), had turned to murders and burning down homes of prosperous upper and middle class folks who are deemed as profaners of religious injunctions that preach promoting community welfare (as opposed to their selfish care for only members of their families).

In speeches and utterances by Nigeria’s politicians and religious leaders and NGOs, there is, however, a glaring lack of linkage between the pandemic of kidnappings, murderous armed robberies of banks and private homes, and Boko Haram wrath, on the one hand, and the suffocation by imports – from China, India, Korea, Dubai, Holland, Italy, France and others – of local small scale industrial production in Nigeria. A suffocation which in the late 1970s and early 1980s, economic historians at Ahmadu Bello University first noted as a key part of British colonial antagonism to local textile, iron and copper industrial products at various sites of Nigeria, have now run amok in their rapacity in ruining local producers and industrialists. Lacking in nationalist ideology, Nigerian air-cargo traders were now the equivalent of local recruits who killed and burnt villages and cities in the service of imperial Britain.

This thought gap between educated classes and the human development of the people is shocking but not strange. Nyerere and Chinua Achebe had each called it a ‘problem of leadership’ – like Nnamdi Azikiwe and Obafemi Awolowo whose political visions were focused on becoming personally wealthy. Nyerere had said that ‘many leaders of the independence struggle were motivated ... by the belief that only with independence could they attain (their) ideal of individual wealth’. The panic-stricken air-cargo traders I met inside Ethiopian Airways plane at Bangkok airport shared this mind and soul disease. At no point did anyone in their irate and strident voices curse Nigeria’s politicians and bureaucrats and media and academic as accomplices to their new exposure to violent death from sky trade. I had been told in Bandung that Nigerians buy goods from Indonesia for sale in Nigeria. When I asked what they bring back from Nigeria, the reply was insolent: ‘Nothing but Nigeria’s oil money’. It is obviously time for new urgent thinking if the next 50 years will not be a road to mass African servitude to a patriotic and racist Orient following in the footsteps of colonial Occident.

BROUGHT TO YOU BY PAMBAZUKA NEWS

* Okello Oculi is executive director of the Africa Vision 525 Initiative.
* Please send comments to [email protected] or comment online at Pambazuka News.




Books & arts

Cheche: Reminiscences Of a Radical Magazine

Karim F Hirji (Editor)

2010-10-27

http://pambazuka.org/en/category/books/68131

Cheche, a radical, socialist student magazine at the University of Dar es Salaam, first came out in 1969. The former editors and associates of Cheche revive that salutory episode of student activism in this book with fast-flowing, humor-spiced stories, and astute socio-economic analyses.

Cheche, a radical, socialist student magazine at the University of Dar es Salaam, first came out in 1969. Featuring incisive analyses of key societal issues by prominent progressives, it gained national and international recognition in a short while. Because it was independent of authority, and spoke without fear or favour, it was banned after just one year of existence.

The former editors and associates of Cheche revive that salutory episode of student activism in this book with fast-flowing, humor-spiced stories, and astute socio-economic analyses. Issues covered include social and technical aspects of low-budget magazine production, travails of student life and activism, contents and philosophy of higher education, socialism in Tanzania, African liberation, gender politics and global affairs. They also reflect on the relevance of past student activism to the modern era.

If your interests cover higher education in Africa, political and development studies, journalism, African affairs, socialism and capitalism, or if you just seek elucidation of student activism in a nation then at the center of the African struggle for liberation, this book presents the topic in a lively but unorthodox and ethically engaging manner.

The editor, Karim Hirji, is Professor of Biostatistics at Muhimbili University of Health and Allied Sciences in Tanzania. He has published extensively in the areas of statistical methodology, applied biomedical research, and the history and practice of education in Tanzania.

The other contributors are Henry Mapolu, Hon. Zakia Meghji (MP), Professor George Hajivayanis, and Ambassador Christopher Liundi.

+ + + Mkuki Na Nyota Publishers + + +
Box 4246, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
www.mkukinanyota.com
Tel: +255 22 2865410/1

Expected Publication Date: November 15, 2010
Available From: www.africanbookscollective.com
ISBN 978-9987-08-098-4


Zuma’s Bastard: Encounters With A Desktop Terrorist

Press Release

Azad Essa

2010-10-27

http://pambazuka.org/en/category/books/68123

The first book by academic and journalist Azad Essa has been called controversial, brash and insightful, attracting much interest and favourable reviews. 'I have no doubt that this will be the first book of many. I am honoured to be associated with it,’ says Ferial Haffajee, City Press editor-in-chief.

Press Release: Zuma’s Bastard is here…



No, not an actual bastard - we’re talking about a book here. As the title and cover suggest, Azad Essa’s first book is bound to get people talking, if not in the president’s bedroom then at least in the SA book industry. With controversial subject matter, brash and insightful opinions, a foreword by Ferial Haffajee and an innovative underground marketing campaign to back it up (with 2,600 members and counting on the Facebook page), Zuma’s Bastard sounds the welcome call of a critical voice of the next generation.

Book specs:

Title: Zuma’s Bastard: Encounters With A Desktop Terrorist
Authors: Azad Essa
ISBN: 978-1-92013-731-1
RRP: R145
Pages: 176pp
Size: 210mm x 148mm
Published by Two Dogs
Distributed by Jacana Media

About the book:

Azad Essa is a young South African going places. He doesn’t drink but he’s not scared of a pub; he’s Muslim but he has a sense of humour; he’s young but he’s savvy and politically aware. And he’s got opinions worth listening to. A journalist, columnist and lecturer, Essa came to prominence writing the Accidental Academic, a provocative Thought Leader blog that challenged the established assumptions of contemporary South African culture, politics and events. From day one, it was never shy of controversy - reader reaction was often outraged, always engaged.

Now, a year after winning Best Political Blog at the 2009 SA Blog Awards, Essa presents his first book and, with it, introduces an important young voice to a new audience. With writing adapted from and inspired by the Accidental Academic, Zuma’s Bastard tackles race and religion head-on, provides an alternative take on the enigma of Julius Malema, gives fresh insight into the Israel-Palestine conflict, casts new light on old stereotypes, vents the frustrations and fears of the next generation - and ultimately offers us all hope for the future.

About the author:

Azad Essa is a journalist, columnist and aspiring filmmaker. He completed a multinational Global Studies MA in 2005 and spent several years in South African academia before launching his journalism career. He calls Durban home, but is currently working for the Al Jazeera Network in Doha, Qatar.

About the cover:

The cover - described as ‘dangerous-looking’ and ‘funky, raw and smart’ by the judges - was the winning design in the inaugural Two Dogs Young Visual Designer Cover Competition. It was designed by Saaleha Bamjee, a Johannesburg-based designer and writer.

Comment from the publisher:

‘Zuma’s Bastard is an edgy, ballsy, different take on South Africa and the world, and it perfectly reflects the Two Dogs attitude of publishing innovative and exciting titles with something important to say. We were sold on the idea because Azad is clearly a young South African going places, a fact brought home midway through the production process when he was headhunted to work for Al Jazeera in Doha. I can’t wait to see the reaction to this title.’ - Tim Richman, Two Dogs.

Pre-publication comments:

‘Azad is a journalist for the 21st century. He is at the beginning of a professional life of activism, action and a whole lot of fun. I have no doubt that this will be the first book of many. I am honoured to be associated with it.’ – Ferial Haffajee, City Press editor-in-chief

‘At once tjatjarag and lyrical, the digitally compressed and accelerated voice of a South Africa that no media tribunal could ever silence.’ - Nic Dawes, editor-in-chief Mail & Guardian

‘Azad manages to weave the uncomfortable contradictions and truths of our fractured society into easy flowing, fast-paced prose… [His] writing shows sensitivity and depth, hooking you from the first paragraph and leaving you wanting more. This is insight. It’s a fresh, youthful take on one of the most complex, frustrating and interesting countries in the world. The book pays homage to its roots as a blog - showing a rich mix of strong opinion with breezy and accessible writing. - Matthew Buckland, Thought Leader founder and publisher of Memeburn.com

‘The real power in this collection lies in its author's age: the book is a missive from the generation who don't remember apartheid, and it's got a lot to say to those of us who do. If Essa is any indication, the next crop of writers is exactly what South Africa needs - the man is abrasive, engaged, uncowed.’ – Kevin Bloom, journalist and author of Ways of Staying

‘Zuma's Bastard compellingly offers fresh ideas to tired problems with a keenness and engagement that, I think, makes Azad one of the most lucid voices of our generation.’ – Khadija Patel, Khadijapatel.co.za

‘Zuma's Bastard is the new generation's arrogant and self-critical voice about Durban, South Africa and Africa in the world. Azad Essa, a Bollywood-soaked, Indian-battered, black South African-tinged, accidental academic and incidental journalist - who has seen India and Kashmir, India better, in Kashmir, Pakistan, the so-called Middle East and Europe - leaves no holy cows untaunted – nay he even imagines them as beefburgers…His popularity is catching but the moral questions he asks of us cannot be sidestepped. Read this book, buy the T-shirt, be with it and get angry because the author takes his jokes (often us) seriously.’ – Professor Ari Sitas, Head of Sociology, UCT

Note to book editors/reviewers

Please contact Thabiso Mahlape – [email protected]; 011 628 3200 – if you would like a review copy of the book, or to arrange an interview with Azad Essa or Saaleha Bamjee, or for more information on the Two Dogs Young Visual Designer Cover Competition.

PS:

The title is explained in the book…


Fixing Global Finance

A Developing Country Perspective on Global Financial Reforms

2010-10-27

http://www.madhyam.org.in/admin/tender/FGF2510.pdf

The aim of this book is to encourage and stimulate a more informed debate on reforming the global finance. It examines recent developments and problems afflicting the global financial system. From a developing country perspective, it enunciates guiding principles and offers concrete policy measures to create a more stable, equitable and sustainable global financial system.


Sauti za Busara music festival

Stone Town, Zanzibar 9 – 13 February 2011

2010-10-27

http://www.busaramusic.org

The eighth edition of Sauti za Busara music festival takes place in Stone Town, Zanzibar 9 – 13 February 2011. Five nights of 100 per cent live African music under African skies. Sauti za Busara (Sounds of Wisdom) is an international festival showcasing and celebrating the wealth and diversity of music from East Africa and beyond. For more information on the line-up and to sign up for a newsletter visit http://www.busaramusic.org


South Africa: Tutu urges Cape Town Opera to call off Israel tour

2010-10-28

http://www.timeslive.co.za/local/article727749.ece/Tutu-urges-Cape-Town-Opera-to-call-off-Israel-tour

Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu has written to Cape Town Opera to ask them to postpone their planned trip to Israel. Tutu says: 'Just as we said during apartheid that it was inappropriate for international artists to perform in South Africa in a society founded on discriminatory laws and racial exclusivity, so it would be wrong for Cape Town Opera to perform in Israel.'




Letters & Opinions

Aid does not get to needy

Ethiopian Recycler

2010-10-28

http://pambazuka.org/en/category/letters/68178

Donors would rather continue to send aid to the Ethiopian government rather than admit it is not reaching the Ethiopian people, Ethiopian Recycler argues. ‘Zenawi knows denial will breed denial.’

Totalitarian regimes routinely use aid and such to punish those who stand out and to reward the compliant. Dictator Mengistu did it. The Chinese still do it. Meles Zenawi did it to people of Tigray in the early 1980s and is doing it to a whole nation now. You accept Zenawi as the only wise leader or else you won't get a sack of donated fertiliser (especially if you make noise about your region being over-run by hordes of land grabbing Asians and Arabs). And you won’t find employment if you are college graduate or can’t hold down a job as a state employee and speak out on human rights abuses and the death of opposition politics.

The stream of denials on account of Human Rights Watch’s report which said that aid agencies have in fact been feeding repression is once again percolating to the media (mostly set-up by the Zenawi regime). ‘World Bank, US and embassies reject HRW's Ethiopia report’ runs the counter-attack.

If the allegations are wrong, we think one way to disprove them is to allow independent journalists to interview target populations. Zenawi will not allow this because he knows what he has been up to. He has a different approach: appear as saying something without saying anything of substance and call to the witness stand the Development Assistant Group (DAG) including the World Bank, Irish, Canadian, etc.

It is true DAGs operate in Ethiopia. But what does that prove? Nothing. None of the DAG members are going to deny operating in Ethiopia. This is a grenade being tossed to an inquisitive public and is typical of Zenawi. Zenawi knows what is at stake for DAGs. Their taxpayers will be up in arms if their governments admitted that tax dollars have not been reaching the intended populations. Such reports in the 1980s created a furore against the Mengistu regime (in addition to resettlement programs). Zenawi has been doing both and more (including displacing ethnic populations) with impunity and few foreigners raised their voices.

This matter of denying facts is what we would call the Geldof Syndrome. Admitting to failure jeopardises future fundraising as well as leaves dark spots on one’s legacy. You, therefore, refuse to accept such responsibility and instead turn to making a promotional movie. Zenawi knows denial will breed denial. So he denies in the face of cold statistics. Remember Stalin. Remember Mengistu. It is self-preservation to the end. The result? Donor nations and their lieutenants will move on to something else because they can’t stand scrutiny that will ‘out’ their dishonest dealings and reports. They would rather be philosophical about it: What was the alternative to dealing with the tyrant Zenawi? We need to leave the line of communication open.

Sure, great improvements were registered compared to the Cold War era. We need to engage tyrants to manage regional security. This is music to Zenawi’s ears. The next thing you know more millions will have been added to his coffers. Zenawi once again has a new lease on his tyrannical politics. And we are back where we started.

BROUGHT TO YOU BY PAMBAZUKA NEWS

* This article was originally published by Ethiopian Recycler
* Please send comments to [email protected] or comment online at Pambazuka News




African Writers’ Corner

Song for Ahmed Baba

An African Teacher

Natty Mark Samuels

2010-10-28

http://pambazuka.org/en/category/African_Writers/68189

A poem for voices, dedicated to those who teach and to the Ahmed Baba Institute.

1st voice: Here comes the sand
To cover everything
Camouflaging.
But before it does
Honour an African Teacher,
Of Ahmed Baba I must sing

2nd voice: We know you are coming Sahara
Voices: Desertification
2nd voice: We know you are coming
Voices: Manuscript destruction
Hold off for a while
Until we’ve finished this recording

3rd voice: Beautiful calligraphy
Illustrations in gold
Lovingly bound in leather
But termite is no respecter of beauty
He just comes along,
Always claiming his booty

2nd voice: Because of insect, heat
Dust and grit
A very precious thing
Is disappearing bit by bit

1st voice: To sing of African treasure
Lost in the sand
So fragile and brittle
The careful human hand

Voices: Stay away Sahara,
We pray you stay away,
For just a little longer

1st voice:To sing of the African gems
Song of the shining scholar
Tell the whole world
Of gold that came from paper

2nd voice: His father was a teacher
Destined to be one too
The most famous professor,
University Timbuktu

1st voice: And though the sand
Keeps coming in
Choking
Burying.
And though the sandstorm
Throw his weight around
It can’t stop me
Of Teacher Baba I must sing

Voices: Sankore Sankore
Bless your name Sankore
We sing of Ahmed Baba
The last great Chancellor

II

1st voice: Timbuktu
Where the slaves came through
Gold and salt too
Timbuktu
Of the Tuareg
Turban indigo blue

2nd voice: Timbuktu
Of Fulani
Hausa merchant crew
A Golden Age of peace
Christian Muslim
And Jew

3rd voice: Timbuktu
Of schools and scholars
Manuscripts and books
The sweet pursuit of learning
In every library
Space and nook

Voices: From all over the world
Books innumerable
The city of the libraries
1st voice: Binding
2nd voice: Inkmaking
3rd voice: Copying
1st voice: Illustration
Voices: Massive book industry
Employing thousands
Skills that gave them dignity

2nd voice: Books
Multitude of books
More than the eye will ever see
Library after library
Sankore
Sidi Yahya
Djinguerber
Timbuktu University

3rd voice: Who was Ahmed Baba’s teacher?
Who started that river flow?
1st voice: From Djenne on the Niger
The renowned Mohammed Bagayogo

2nd voice: In his time of Haj
They gave him a badge
Honorary degree
Ancient Egypt
Old Cairo
Al Azhar University

1st voice: Because of word passed down
Because of manuscript
We know his contribution
Of that we know.
In singing of Ahmed Baba
We honour Mohammed Bagayogo

1st voice: Both wrote books on Medicine and History
Voices: 16th century
2nd voice: On Law and Philosophy
Voices: 16th century
3rd voice: Mathematics and Astronomy
Voices: 16th century
1st voice: Signposts for you and me
Voices: 21st century

Voices: Sankore Sankore
Bless your name Sankore
We sing of Ahmed Baba
The last great Chancellor

III

1st voice: Here comes the invader
With European partner
Cannon and muketry
Burnt the books
Banished teachers
The Songhei Tragedy

2nd voice: Marrakesh Men
Didn’t come on their own
Came with mercenary.
Came from Spain
In their thousands
The latest weaponry

3rd voice: All the libraries
Public and private
Put to the torch or robbed.
The student howled
Bookbinder wept
Professor began to sob.
Wave of invasion
Rage of destruction
When ignorance is rife.
The scribe became ill
Illustrator broke down
The inkmaker took his life

1st voice: Battering of beauty
Crucifixion of culture
The nail goes in and and in
The elder screams
Timbuktu
Voices: My Timbuktu is dying

1st voice: Teachers of Timbuktu
The Chain-Gang Professors
Exile of the Educator
Away across the Sahara
Voices: Across the Sahara
Across the desert in chains
1st voice: Robbed a piece of our soul
Took the best of our brains
Voices: Across the Sahara
Across the desert in chains

3rd voice: Accused of rebellion
Ahmed Baba in chains
Time for everything they say
A time for pain

2nd voice: Locked in Moroccan prison
But his light shone out
Here comes Marrakesh scholar
Ahmed Baba’s name they shout

1st voice: Captive of the Sultan
Open arrest in Marrakesh
Living the same old vision
Time to dream afresh

2nd voice: Students galore
No room for anymore
The legal men came too,
Asking questions of the law

3rd voice: Slow trudge of exile
Year after year after year
Ahmed Baba in his house
Shedding the quiet tear

Voices: Sankore Sankore
Bless your name Sankore
We sing of Ahmed Baba
The last great Chancellor

IV

1st voice: The old Sultan died
Another stepped in
Ahmed Baba went to see him-
Man of successful petition

3rd voice: After 12 years,
Going home
Teardrop for Timbuktu.
To see beloved city
Familiar faces
The elders and the new

2nd voice: A city changed
No longer at its best
Beauty in decline
Our hero wept
To see Timbuktu
No longer able to shine

1st voice: Dry
2nd voice: Wasteland
3rd voice: Where are the farmers?
Voices: Gone to another place
3rd voice: Dry
2nd voice: Where are the teachers?
Voices: Gone to another place
Lovers of light and wisdom
They ran to freedoms embrace

3rd voice: Invasions means disruption
Means economic confusion
Tribal rivalry
1st voice: Here comes Tuareg
2nd voice: Here comes Bambara
3rd voice: Here come the Mossi

2nd voice: Born to teach
Born to write
Timbuktu dark
Or Timbuktu light
Ahmed Baba,
Born to teach and write

Ahmed Baba: Farewell Golden Age. I’m glad I knew you. Glad I participated in your shining. I basked in your reflection. Warmed by your brilliance. And although I no longer have my library, I bear the imprint, the hallmark of learning. It has been a privilege, blessed Timbuktu, to have been a teacher within you.

1st voice: Ring the bell of learning
Loudly let it ring
To celebrate a great teacher
Of Ahmed Baba I must sing

Voices: Stay away Sahara,
We pray you stay away
For just a little longer

Voices: Sankore Sankore
Bless your name Sankore
We sing of Ahmed Baba
The last great Chancellor

BROUGHT TO YOU BY PAMBAZUKA NEWS

* © Natty Mark Samuels, 2009.

* Ahmad Baba al-Massufi al-Tinbukti, full name Abu al-Abbas Ahmad ibn Ahmad al-Takruri Al-Massufi al-Tinbukti (October 26, 1556 – 1627), (also known as Ahmed Baba Es Sudane or Ahmed Baba the black) was a medieval West African writer, scholar, and political provocateur in the area then known as the Western Sudan. Throughout his life, he wrote more than 40 books and is often noted as having been Timbuktu’s greatest scholar. ... The only public library in Timbuktu, the Ahmed Baba Institute (which stores over 18,000 manuscripts) is named in his honor. (Wikipedia)
* Please send comments to [email protected] or comment online at Pambazuka News.


Men in Uniform

Lemlem Tsegaw

2010-10-28

http://pambazuka.org/en/category/African_Writers/68190

A poem dedicated to Ethiopia’s 2010 parliament members.




















What is
the occasion?
Men in uniform,
no question to ask,
no smile to wear,
like prisoners of consciousness.
Men in uniform
you emit
fear and uncertainty.
Are you
men of destiny?
Men in uniform
with necktie,
what is your intent?
Men in uniform,
standing so quiet
are you in fear and doubt?
Men in uniform,
are you aware?
There are
the two
wo (men)
hiding on the left
responding as usual
to stand and act
as an ornament.

© Lemlem Tsegaw, 12 October 2010

* Dedicated to 2010 parliament members in Ethiopia. Inspired by an article titled ‘New Government Surprises in First Week’, Addis Fortune, 10 October 2010.
* Please send comments to [email protected] or comment online at Pambazuka News.




Highlights French edition

Pambazuka News 164: Haïti et les luttes pour la libération du peuple noir

2010-10-28

http://pambazuka.org/en/category/summaryfr/68192




Zimbabwe update

'Unwelcome' IMF returns to hostility

2010-10-26

http://bit.ly/ahgPFD

An international Monetary Fund team arrives in Zimbabwe today to assess the state of the economy under its Article IV consultation mission, ahead of the country's national budget next month. The IMF's visit is, however, likely to cause serious political tensions in the divided inclusive government as Mugabe and his ministers remain at least sceptical, and at most hostile, and opposed to the international fund's involvement in the Zimbabwean economy.


New constitution a damp squib, say NGOs

2010-10-26

http://www.zimonline.co.za/Article.aspx?ArticleId=6410

Civil society groups have warned that the proposed new constitution could turn out to be damp squib, reflecting the short-term interests of political parties instead of a truly democratic charter that Zimbabweans have long hoped could safeguard basic rights and ensure accountability from the government. According to the report on the constitution outreach programme jointly published by the Zimbabwe Election Support Network, Zimbabwe Peace Project and Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, the process to draft Zimbabwe’s new governance charter was 'remained entirely a de facto contest between ZANU PF and MDC-T, a scenario that appear to have sidelined the views of other stakeholders'.


NGOs want SADC role in polls

2010-10-26

http://www.zimonline.co.za/Article.aspx?ArticleId=6412

Zimbabwe’s civil society has urged Southern African leaders to ensure the country’s next elections comply with regional benchmarks for democratic polls requiring an independent body to run polls and that the military not to interfere with voting. In submissions to South African President Jacob Zuma - the regional SADC bloc’s official mediator in Zimbabwe - the groups said President Robert Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s coalition government has failed to end tensions in Zimbabwe and that the country’s political environment remains 'poisoned with violence, intimidation and fear'.


Zimbabwe: Minister uses Twitter to air frustrations

2010-10-27

http://bit.ly/aOtc2k

On October 22, 2010 Zimbabwean blogger Hope noticed a series of fast twitter updates coming from Professor Welshman Ncube, the Zimbabwe Minister of Commerce and Industry and the MDC Secretary General. In a blog post appearing in Sokwanele: This is Zimbabwe titled, 'Professor Welshman Ncube uses Twitter to air his frustrations,' Hope wrote: 'The snippets I saw were intriguing enough to prompt me to visit his twitter feed page to read more. I saw then that he’d been posting for two hours, all his tweets amounting to an online statement.' Read more at Global Voices.




African Union Monitor

AU asks UN for Somalia blockade

2010-10-28

http://english.aljazeera.net/news/africa/2010/10/201010224320926838.html

The African Union (AU) has asked the United Nations Security Council to approve a no-fly zone and naval blockade of Somalia. Ramtane Lamamra, the AU's commissioner for peace and security, said the move would deter pirates operating off the country's coast and prevent fighters and shipments from reaching the al-Qaeda linked al-Shabab group, and other groups fighting to topple the largely powerless UN-backed government.




Women & gender

Africa: Daring to be different: youth and gender awareness in Southern Africa

Mona Hakimi

2010-10-27

http://pambazuka.org/en/category/wgender/68121

We are officially in the Decade of African Women. The launch last week in Nairobi, adopted by the African Union (AU), is an apt moment to consider the realities of African girls who will become women between 2010 and 2020. The Fourth Gender and Media Summit organised by Gender Links was also held last week and provided a much-needed space to explore issues of youth and gender in Southern Africa. What are young girls’ thoughts and feelings on gender and the media? Pretty Skihonde, Mpumi Msibi, Kayla Xhethu and Nhlanhla Mbulawa are a group of energetic Grade Nine school girls from Johannesburg. They unanimously agree that they see more women than men on television, which is their only media source. Yet this perceived increase of women in the media does not necessarily translate to gender-aware representations.
Daring to be different: youth and gender awareness in Southern Africa
Mona Hakimi

We are officially in the Decade of African Women. The launch last week in Nairobi, adopted by the African Union (AU), is an apt moment to consider the realities of African girls who will become women between 2010 and 2020. The Fourth Gender and Media Summit organised by Gender Links was also held last week and provided a much-needed space to explore issues of youth and gender in Southern Africa.

What are young girls’ thoughts and feelings on gender and the media? Pretty Skihonde, Mpumi Msibi, Kayla Xhethu and Nhlanhla Mbulawa are a group of energetic Grade Nine school girls from Johannesburg. They unanimously agree that they see more women than men on television, which is their only media source. Yet this perceived increase of women in the media does not necessarily translate to gender-aware representations.

Xhethu says that most women on television have fashionable hairstyles, wear make-up, heels and the most expensive fashion. The students think that more women than men are on television because ‘women can dress up’ (Mbulawa), ‘women, they can look more – eish – more interesting than men’ (Skihonde) and ‘women are more attractive, more vibing, more beauty than men’ (Xhethu).

The young girls’ comments centre on women’s physical characteristics and this is telling of the stereotypical ways that women are represented in the media. It also indicates the way young girls seem to understand gender roles.

As the Gender in Media Education (GIME) report by Gender Links shows, sexism in the media starts from the classroom and is transported to the newsroom – but it doesn’t end there. The (sometimes) stereotypical media productions from newsrooms feed back into the lives of learners in classrooms and so the cycle continues.

There is an indication of resistance of these stereotypes by some young girls. For example, Sikhonde, who dreams of being an actress says, ‘I wana do my own thing, which is unique – different from others.’ How can we create a social environment for Sikhonde and girls like her to dare to be different? What action can gender activists take for African girls in the present to ensure a more promising and equitable future?

At the GEM Summit, discussions took place regarding gender mainstreaming and media training. One aim of these sessions was to explore ways of integrating gender into teaching and learning at higher education institutions, particularly in media departments.

Professor Emily Brown, Head of Department at the Polytechnic of Namibia presented on ‘High school teachers and journalism educator’s awareness of gender’. A collaborative project between the Polytechnic, UNESCO, the Ministry of Education and other organisations created a gender training tool kit that is truly responsive to a Namibian context. This toolkit was based on the results of a survey conducted with educators in Windhoek, Okahandja and Rehoboth.

One of the findings was that almost half of the educators had not read something recently which focused on gender. Patricia Made, an independent media consultant commented, ‘Where would educators do this? Most of the discussions on gender are targeted to the government and the media’ rather than educational institutions. If the educators of African girls and boys are not aware of gender, what more can we say about their students?

One of the SADC Protocol on Gender and Development targets, to be achieved by 2015, is to ‘adopt and implement gender-sensitive educational policies and programmes addressing gender stereotypes in education’. How can we take this target off paper and into a practical training program?

Mila Kimbuini, a Congolese journalist and delegate at the GEM Summit told participants that in September 2010, the Ministry of Education of the Democratic Republic of Congo implemented a system to mainstream gender into primary school curriculum. For 45 minutes every week, students from Grade Three to Grade Six, in both public and private schools, learn about issues relating to water treatment, the ecosystem and gender.

Is a student ever too young to learn about gender? If implemented correctly, Brown believes that ‘topics around gender and introducing them earlier would make learners more sensitive on other issues that hinge on gender.’ She emphasises that gender is a cross-cutting issue that would raise pressing concerns such as poverty, employment and the legal system. ‘We really need to re-visit our curriculum and see the need for gender to be mainstreamed – or incorporated at least – that in itself would be a good start.’

* Mona Hakimi is the Communications Programme Assistant at Gender Links. This article is part of the GL Opinion and Commentary Service.


Africa: Modern warfare and the breaking of civilian will

2010-10-27

http://www.IRINnews.org/Report.aspx?Reportid=90853

Modern war is often not about soldier against soldier, but a struggle to 'break the will of civilians — women, girls, men and boys' by whatever means possible - including rape - the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) State of the World Population 2010 report published on 20 October states. The term gender-based violence is often used to refer to violence against women, but, as the UN Guidelines for Gender-based Violence Interventions in Humanitarian Settings state, 'it is important to note... men and boys may also be victims of gender-based violence, especially sexual violence'.


Global: Ignoring women with guns

2010-10-28

http://www.irinnews.org/Report.aspx?ReportID=90888

The perception that women are only ever victims of conflict ignores the large numbers of female combatants, which can result in their exclusion from disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration (DDR) programmes. The UN Population Fund (UNFPA) report, 'State of the World Population 2010: From Conflict and Crisis to Renewal: Generations of Change', released on 20 October 2010, acknowledges the role women play in forging peace, but cautions against the assumptions of women as nurturers and 'natural peace-makers ... [choosing] non-violent solutions rather than conflict whenever possible'.


Global: Women, peace and security handbook

2010-10-27

http://www.peacewomen.org/security_council_monitor/handbook

For the 10th anniversary of 1325, Peacewomen is launching the ‘Women, Peace and Security Handbook,’ which examines thedegree to which the Security Council has internalised the thematic agenda of women, peace and security in its geographic work over the past 10 years, specifically in the Council’s country-specific resolutions. Divided into thirteen thematic chapters, the handbook is a reference guide for both progress made and action to be taken on the women, peace and security agenda.


Malawi: Malawi’s abortion debate

2010-10-27

http://pambazuka.org/en/category/wgender/68124

Joyce Phiri* is only one of many women admitted daily to Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital (QECH), in Malawi’s commercial capital Blantyre, for complications of unsafe abortions. Winasi Boma, a supervising nurse at QECH, says the gynaecology ward admits about 20 women each day. Roughly half of these, he says, are there for post-abortion care. Like most of its neighbours in the region, abortion is illegal in Malawi (except to save the life of the mother). Phiri, a 21-year-old mother of two, sought to terminate her pregnancy only after a contraceptive implant failed.
Malawi: Malawi’s abortion debate
Rebecca Jacobson
Blantyre, Malawi / 22 October 2010

The young woman slumps in a white plastic chair. She is still woozy from anaesthesia and her eyelids sag. She has just emerged from the operating theatre, where a clinical officer scraped clean her womb to remedy the results of an incomplete abortion.

Joyce Phiri* is only one of many women admitted daily to Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital (QECH), in Malawi’s commercial capital Blantyre, for complications of unsafe abortions. Winasi Boma, a supervising nurse at QECH, says the gynaecology ward admits about 20 women each day. Roughly half of these, he says, are there for post-abortion care.

Like most of its neighbours in the region, abortion is illegal in Malawi (except to save the life of the mother). Phiri, a 21-year-old mother of two, sought to terminate her pregnancy only after a contraceptive implant failed. Clinicians at the health centre, operated by a major Malawian non-governmental organisation, apologised for the failure and offered, Joyce says, to ‘clean out’ her uterus. She underwent ‘some sort of suction’ (likely manual vacuum aspiration, according to Boma) and returned home. Two days later, severe pains wracked her lower abdomen. A visit to QECH revealed that products of conception still remained in her uterus.

Bonus Makanani, head of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at University of Malawi’s College of Medicine, says QECH commonly sees women who have sought abortions from health care workers - clinical officers, nurses, medical assistants, occasionally medical doctors. ‘A lot of them think they’ve got the theory, but I am not certain that they have the practical experience to undertake such procedures,’ Makanani says.

Such workers may begin the process and then send the woman to QECH once complications arise. Other women seek to induce an abortion by ingesting detergent powder, consuming drugs or herbal concoctions, or inserting sharp objects vaginally. Such methods can rupture the uterus or bowel and lead to infection, bleeding and in some cases infertility or death.

The World Health Organisation estimates that 19 million unsafe abortions occur worldwide each year, killing 70,000 women. Most of these deaths occur in poor countries with restrictive abortion laws, such as Malawi. This country’s maternal mortality rate - which is estimated to be as high as 1,140 deaths per 100,000 live births - already ranks as one of the world’s worst. A recent study by the Ministry of Health, titled the Strategic Assessment, Magnitude and Consequences of Unsafe Abortion, found that abortion accounts for nearly a quarter of these deaths.

Another study, by Malawi’s Family Planning Research Centre, found that half of the women who suffer abortion-related complications are under the age of 25. At QECH, 54% of abortion-related deaths between 2001 and 2008 occurred among this age group.

‘The ones who are having unsafe abortions are young women,’ says Seodi White, National Coordinator of Women and Law in Southern Africa-Malawi. Moreover, White says, ‘unsafe abortion is related to poverty. Unsafe abortion has become a problem of the poor and the young.’

Indeed, neither Phiri nor her husband is formally employed. He sells cell phone airtime units and brings home a few dollars a day. She came to QECH because its services are free to patients.
‘There’s no doubt that it’s the younger single women where we mostly see these problems,’ Makanani says.

‘It’s certainly those that are less educated, less economically empowered, who are at a disadvantage. I’m sure they are the ones that would seek unsafe abortion because they don’t have the knowledge, and obviously they would also go to facilities that are less than ideal for undertaking such procedures.’

Makanani contrasted the women at QECH to those he sees in private practice. The latter, he says, are wealthier and more informed about sexual and reproductive health issues. Despite the law, Makanani says safe abortion services ‘are available within Malawi’ - with adequate economic resources and the right personal connections.

Those accessing safe abortion services are also those with political power, notes Godfrey Kangaude, a lawyer specialising in sexual and reproductive rights. This, he says, helps account for political inertia on the issue. The Ministry of Health refused to comment for this story.

‘On the public face, policy makers and politicians want to look good, want to look moral,’ Kangaude says. ‘But privately they’re the very same who actually seek abortions. That’s why things don’t change. It’s because those who have the power and can talk publicly can access safe abortion.’

By providing post-abortion care at public hospitals, government implicitly acknowledges that illegal abortions take place in Malawi. Yet the topic remains deeply taboo. Even when women arrive at QECH with sticks in their uterus, they deny having induced an abortion. Beyond legal penalty (women are liable to seven years in prison and abortionists to 14), women fear social discrimination. Boma says they may face verbal abuse from hospital staff.

Advocates of legal reform must tread carefully. In a country where using contraception can brand women as promiscuous, mentioning abortion invites charges of moral degeneracy. Kangaude says some have accused him of imposing alien culture. He reminds them that Malawi’s penal code is a relic of British colonialism. Kangaude thinks abortion law will eventually change, but argues Malawi can also reduce the number of unsafe abortions by preventing unwanted pregnancies in the first place. The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) puts Malawi’s contraceptive prevalence at 41 per cent. Kangaude would like to see this figure much higher.

But White says addressing family planning is not enough. Contraceptive use already occupies a huge part of the national discussion on sexual and reproductive health. Abortion must have a place in the debate as well. But without legal reform, White maintains, women will continue to suffer. Advocates point to South Africa, where legalisation of abortion cut abortion-related mortality by 91%. Though such liberal legislation — South Africa allows abortion on-demand — would likely face swift rejection in a nation as conservative and religious as Malawi, the country could begin by allowing abortion in a broader variety of cases: in instances of rape or incest, for example, or if the life of the foetus is in danger.

Stigma, White acknowledges, would persist, but this is no reason to shirk legal reform.
‘The most important thing is, let’s put mechanisms in place to help those who are suffering, stigma or no stigma,’ she says. ‘The stigma can continue, but let’s not use the stigma to stop women from accessing proper and effective health services.’

*Not her real name
* Rebecca Jacobson is an American writer based in Malawi. This article is part of the Gender Links Opinion and Commentary Service.


Tanzania: Tanzania drops in gender equality

2010-10-26

http://bit.ly/b8uY2d

Uganda is the leading country in gender equality in East Africa, according to the World Economic Forum's Global Gender Gap report 2010. The report released this week ranked Uganda at 33rd position out of 134 countries surveyed worldwide. Tanzania was the second in the EA region at number 66, while Kenya was the least performer at number 96. The report showed that Tanzania has been recording a steep drop since 2006 when the country ranked 24th out of 115 countries.


Zambia: Forced to farm for free

Perpetual Sichikwenkwe

2010-10-28

http://pambazuka.org/en/category/wgender/68203

Martha Zulu dropped out of school in 2006 when she was 17 and pregnant with her first child (she would later have three more). She then married the father, Antony Zulu, an already-married farmer from the Central Province of Zambia. Her parents had also been peasant farmers, so Zulu said it made sense that she continue doing what she had grown up knowing. Yet for Zulu maize farming is not easy, especially because her husband makes all the decisions even though she does much of the work. 'The most challenging thing in our farming life is the dependence on manual labour because we do not have animals and other machinery to help ease our work,' said Zulu, who is the de-facto machinery on her farm.
Forced to farm for free
Perpetual Sichikwenkwe

Lusaka, Zambia
26 October 2010

Martha Zulu dropped out of school in 2006 when she was 17 and pregnant with her first child (she would later have three more). She then married the father, Antony Zulu, an already-married farmer from the Central Province of Zambia. Her parents had also been peasant farmers, so Zulu said it made sense that she continue doing what she had grown up knowing.

Yet for Zulu maize farming is not easy, especially because her husband makes all the decisions even though she does much of the work.

‘The most challenging thing in our farming life is the dependence on manual labour because we do not have animals and other machinery to help ease our work,’ said Zulu, who is the de-facto machinery on her farm. ‘We always wake up very early, around 5am, to go to the fields but what we gain at the end of the day is nothing... sometimes us women and children we work in the fields while it is raining while our husband who benefits more from our sweat is sleeping. There is nothing that we can do because we are dependent on him as the head of the family and he makes most of the decisions.’

Zulu said traditions in her community do not allow women to own land, which means although she does all the work, come harvest time her husband is the one who takes the fruits of her labour to the market and then pockets the earnings.

‘Sometimes, he does not give us anything and tells us that the money is for buying farming inputs for the next farming season,’ she said.

What this means is that Zulu and many other women in similar situations are forced to find alternative means of raising money to pay for their children’s school fees, uniforms and food for the family.

Zulu said it is one of the reasons why poverty has persisted among small-scale farmers despite bumper harvests in Zambia. She also noted that farmer families like hers are exploited when it comes to selling their products because buyers give them a raw deal.

Boswell Mwiinga, a peasant farmer and also headman in Chisamba, Central Province, said women and men peasant farmers face many problems, although women are more vulnerable because they don’t have decision-making powers.

‘Women in our village face a lot of problems in that they find it difficult to get credit for purchasing farming inputs such as fertiliser, seed and other farm inputs as compared to us men. Even in situations where they may have enough inputs, land is another problem because mostly our land is owned and controlled by men who may choose either to give a woman a portion to do their farming or not,’ he said.

Mwiinga lamented that because of culture, a man, as the head of the house, finds the market for the products and decides when to sell the products and how much to give to his wife (or wives).

‘What I have discovered is that women will toil the land from day one until the harvest time while men will be engaged in monitoring or doing other things but when the time for selling the products comes, it is the man that will sell and get the money, sometimes without giving anything to the wives or female relatives who do the work. This is very bad because most women end up suffering,’ said Mwiinga.

The International Labour Organisation has noted that women in sub-Saharan Africa produce 80 per cent of the region’s food and the International Fund for Agricultural Development estimates women make up 70 per cent of smallholder farmers while receiving few of the benefits of their labour, or of international funding schemes.

However, it is well known that providing women with economic opportunities and allowing them access to decision-making is one way to alleviate poverty and some of the region’s other problems.

In a speech to the United Nations Summit on the Millennium Development Goals 2010, Ines Alberdi, executive director of UNIFEM, noted: ‘There is evidence to show that increasing women’s access to assets such as land, property, income, credit and skills training helps prevent HIV and strengthens the ability of women to mitigate the impact of HIV and AIDS in their households.’

In Zambia, which, according to UNAIDS, has one of the world’s most distressing HIV and AIDS epidemics; this is evidence that should not be ignored.

Alberdi also made a link between women’s empowerment and food security, noting that allowing women access to productive resources will help ensure food security in countries like Zambia.

Although the food security situation for the marketing year ending March 2010 shows a regional cereal surplus, many women like Martha Zulu, who are the majority contributors to this surplus, will continue to live in poverty until they are given this access.

* Perpetual Sichikwenkwe is a writer from Zambia. This article is part of the Gender Links Opinion and Commentary Service.




Human rights

Gambia: Human rights activists released

Press Release, Coalition for Human Rights in the Gambia

2010-10-27

http://pambazuka.org/en/category/rights/68122

After spending ten days in detention the two prominent Women’s Human Rights Defenders were granted bail on Wednesday 20 October 2010 after a hearing in a crowded courtroom at the Banjul Magistrates Court. The bail was over US$50,000 each, and a surety with a landed property. Dr. Isatou Touray, the Executive Director and Amie Bojang-Sissoho, Programme Coordinator for the Gambia Committee on Traditional Practices (GAMCOTRAP) were arrested on 11 October 2010 by Gambian security personnel.
Coalition for Human Rights in the Gambia
Press Release
21 october 2010

URGENT: The Gambia: Women's Rights Defenders Dr. Isatou Touray and Amie Bojang-Sissoho released on bail with outrageous bail conditions: A Call for the withdrawal of the case.

After spending ten days in detention the two prominent Women’s Human Rights Defenders were granted bail on Wednesday 20th October, 2010 after a hearing in a crowded courtroom at the Banjul Magistrates Court. The bail bond is One Million Five Hundred Thousand Gambian Dalasis (over US$ 50, 000) each, and a surety with a landed property.

Dr. Isatou Touray, the Executive Director and Amie Bojang- Sissoho, Programme Coordinator for the Gambia Committee on Traditional Practices (GAMCOTRAP) were arrested on Monday October 11th, 2010 by Gambian security personnel, detained at the Banjul Police station and then whisked to Banjul Magistrates Court the following day October 12th, which refused them bail and sent them to Mile Two Central Prisons. They were charged with theft of 30,000 (Thirty Thousand) Euros received from a Spanish NGO Yolocamba Solidaridad.

It could be recalled that in May 2010 the Presidency set up a panel of investigation into the allegation of mismanagement of funds from Yolocamba Solidaridad. The eight person panel stated in its report, that “the panel is of the opinion that the allegation that GAMCOTRAP has misappropriated 25,000 Euros is unfounded as correspondence, vouchers and receipts were seen. The panel is with the view that Yolocamba Solidaridad wanted to portray an image that GAMCOTRAP is a weak institution that lacks requisite capacity to implement project of that magnitude. Once this situation is bought Yolocamba Solidaridad will have the opportunity to register their own organisation.”

The panel report also went on to say that “Yolocamba received all information regarding the financial report of the project before the deadline of submission of the reports.” The panel therefore recommended to the President’s office that “Yolocamba should send 151, 277 Euros to GAMCOTRAP to carry out the second phase of the project because the funds were raised as a result of the project proposal prepared by GAMCOTRAP”.

Upon submission of its report to the office of the president, the panel of investigation was dissolved and some of its members dismissed from the services of the Gambian Government and a second panel put in place. No new report has yet been submitted.

One wonders what the interest of the Gambia Government is on this matter relating to two NGOs, especially since the report of the panel it had earlier set up is at variance with the allegations. The Government should simply leave the two NGOs to sort out any problem that may exist between them. It should allow civil matters to take civil processes until a criminal matter is revealed in the process.

If the press statement of 17 October, published online and purported to have come from Yolocamba is to go by, there is no point in proceeding with the case. According to the President of Yolocamba, Maria Jesus Gayol Rodrigez, “SOLIDARITY YOLOCAMBA demands the immediate release of members of the organisation GAMCOTRAP, Dr Isatou Touray and Amie Bojang Sissoho and respect for human rights. The problem that caused her arrest corresponds to an administrative process that must be resolved, not for criminal justice.” She demanded that “solutions are not used politically against GAMCOTRAP to damage her work defending human rights of Gambian women.”

The government should simply act in accordance with the behest of Yolocamba by withdrawing the criminal case from court and allowing the two NGOs resolve whatever problem may exist between them.

Dr. Isatou Touray and Ms. Amie Bojang-Sissoho have for many years been active in the promotion of gender equality, rights of women and children, particularly in the fight against Female Genital Mutilation and other discriminatory practices. Dr Touray is also Secretary General of the Inter-African Committee on Traditional Practices Affecting the Health of Women and Children (IAC). She was named ‘Gambian of the Year’ in 2008 by The News and Report Weekly Magazine for her work around FGM and promoting the rights of women and children. Dr. Touray is a board member of Women Living Under Muslim Laws for the past two years, and both women have been active in the network which promotes and protects the rights of women, especially in Muslim contexts and communities.

Amie Bojang Sissoho is a journalist and has contributed significantly to women and children’s development particularly in the area of educational programming at the Gambia Radio and Television Services (GRTS).

The two women will again appear in court on November 3rd, 2010. The Coalition for Human Rights in The Gambia is calling on the Gambia Government to respect the constitutional and human rights of Dr. Isatou Touray and Amie Bojang Sissoho. The Coalition urges the Gambian authorities to guarantee the rights of the two women’s rights defenders to a speedy, free, open and fair trial in an independent and impartial court as well as their security and dignity.

For more information, contact +221 33 867 95 87

ORGANISATIONS:-

- Inter African Network for Women, Media, Gender and Development – (FAMEDEV)
- International Federation of Journalists (IFJ)
- Syndicat des Professionnels de l’Information et de la Communication du Sénégal (SYNPICS)
- Rencontre Africaine pour le Défense Des Droits de l’Homme (RADDHO),
- Amnesty International, Section Senegal
- Radio Alternative Voice for Gambians-Radio AVG
- Article 19
- Organisation Nationale des Droits de l’Homme (ONDH)
- Réseau Presse et Parlement du Sénégal (REPPAS)
- West African Journalists Association (WAJA).


Guinea: Investigate attack on human rights defender

2010-10-28

http://www.hrw.org/en/news/2010/10/25/guinea-investigate-attack-human-rights-defender

Guinean authorities should investigate, discipline, and prosecute any members of the security forces responsible for the 23 October 2010 attack on Dr. Mamadou Aliou Barry, a prominent human rights defender, Human Rights Watch has said. Barry was one of scores apparently severely beaten that day by security forces, amid heightened ethnic and political tensions following the postponement of run-off presidential elections. Barry, president of the National Observatory for Democracy and Human Rights (ONDH), an independent national institution, has frequently and publicly denounced acts of criminality and excessive use of force by members of the security services. He was assaulted while trying to stop members of the security forces from attacking a group of youths in the Hamdalaye neighborhood.


Kenya: Hidden hand behind truth commission crisis

2010-10-26

http://bit.ly/8YJ5E1

Senior officials of the Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission (TJRC) have in the past two days sought to strike a business-as-usual note in the wake of the resignation on Thursday of Ronald Slye, one of the three foreign commissioners. In an interview with the Sunday Nation on Friday, Patricia Nyaundi, TJRC’s chief executive officer, used the analogy of a football team that has had one of its players leave the pitch due to an injury or by being shown the red card to describe what she felt Prof Slye’s departure meant.


Kenya: Talks moved as ICC pursues al-Bashir

2010-10-27

http://bit.ly/bkMJNe

A regional meeting slated for Nairobi this weekend will now be held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, after the International Criminal Court asked Kenya to arrest Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir. On Tuesday evening, sources said Inter-Governmental Authority for Development (Igad) summit organisers transferred the meeting to Ethiopia to shield al-Bashir who has an arrest warrant against him from the International Criminal Court.


South Africa: Political pardons recommendations tabled

2010-10-27

http://bit.ly/c0XDzM

Government has released a list of 149 convicted criminals who have been recommended for political pardons – including perpetrators of some of the most heinous apartheid crimes committed in South Africa. Earlier this year, a coalition of NGOs that included the IJR, the Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation, Khulumani Support Group, International Centre for Transitional Justice, South African History Archives Trust, Human Rights Media Centre, and the Freedom of Expression Institute launched a successful constitutional court case challenging the lack of victim participation in the special dispensation allowing for political pardons, says this article on the SA Reconciliation Barometer Blog.


Sudan: Sweden, oil and human rights

2010-10-26

http://bit.ly/cdHXon

Carl Blidt, the current foreign minister of Sweden, admitted in 2001 that oil was part of the conflict in Sudan. But he has also been a member of the board of directors of Lundin Petroleum, points out this article on The Current Analyst website. 'Now, as a prominent politician in Sweden he seems to be interested in human rights and justice in Africa,' says the article.


Zimbabwe: Mining industry attracts child labour

2010-10-28

http://www.IRINnews.org/Report.aspx?ReportId=90770

The economic upswing in Zimbabwe is luring workers under 18-years-old to the now bustling mining town of Shurugwi, about 350km south of the capital Harare in Midlands Province. Tinashe Mugwira, 15, left home in January this year and walked the 50km to Shurugwi in search of work at the mines in the mineral belt known as the Great Dyke, where gold, chrome and nickel are found. 'I had always heard that these Chinese were employing young children for as long as they can work on the mines, so I decided to come here when I stopped going to school after my father fell ill and my mother could not raise money for food,' a skinny Mugwira told IRIN.


Zimbabwe: Petition for information on controversial diamond mining

2010-10-26

http://bit.ly/9o6ox9

With Zimbabwe’s diamond industry still shrouded in secrecy, the Southern Africa Resource Watch (SARW) and three Zimbabweans have petitioned South Africa’s New Reclamation Group for access to information that will shed some much-needed light on its controversial mining operations - and prove whether any of its promises to local communities have been fulfilled. In particular, the petitioners are asking for information relating to whether communities that were forced to relocate were consulted and have been given compensation, whether the requisite schools and hospitals have been provided and whether environmental and safety standards are being complied with.




Refugees & forced migration

Angola: Angola deports Congolese, aid report cites abuses

2010-10-26

http://af.reuters.com/article/topNews/idAFJOE69N08820101024

Angola has deported nearly 200 Congolese citizens, according to humanitarian reports, prompting fears of a new wave of mass expulsions that saw tens of thousands displaced last year. Angola and Democratic Republic of Congo were allies during the latter's 1998-2003 war, but relations have been strained in recent years due to rows over border demarcation and oil rights.


Global: Granting refugee status to climate victims

2010-10-28

http://ipsnews.net/newsTVE.asp?idnews=53306

By 2050 the risk of becoming climate refugees as a result of rising sea level, water scarcity, and extreme weather events will cast its shadow over no fewer than 200 million people, writes Valerio Calzolaio, journalist, ecologist, ex-member of Italian parliament, and author of 'Eco-refugees: Forced Migrations Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow'. In this analysis, the author writes that today those made refugees by 'political' causes - violence or persecution by institutions or communities - are granted 'refugee' status and assistance by a UN commission. And yet climate refugees are victims of human action, too, so shouldn't they be given this same status?


Somalia: Border town emptied by fighting

2010-10-28

http://www.IRINnews.org/report.aspx?Reportid=90895

At least 20,000 Somalis displaced by fighting from the border town of Bulo Hawo are facing an uncertain future in camps in the Kenyan town of Mandera, locals told IRIN on 27 October. 'The entire town [Bulo Hawo] has almost been emptied by the fighting; most have fled to the interior, but at least 3,500 families [21,000 people] have crossed into Kenya,' said Ahmed Mohamed Yusuf, an elder.


Somalia: Help running out as IDP numbers rise in Afgoye

2010-10-26

http://www.irinnews.org/Report.aspx?ReportID=90872

Civil society and local officials in Somalia's Afgoye Corridor - home to an estimated 400,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) - are worried about the deteriorating situation, especially for women and children. 'The situation...is worse today than a year ago; there are more of them [IDPs], the needs are greater and there is no help in terms of aid agencies,' said Amina Aden Mahamed, a doctor and director of Hawo Abdi Foundation, one of the most active groups helping IDPs in the camps outside the capital, Mogadishu.


Southern Africa: Rights and health, right now, for migrants

2010-10-28

http://www.hrw.org/en/news/2010/10/27/rights-and-health-right-now-migrants

Over the past 30 years, discrimination has driven the AIDS epidemic - making marginalized groups more vulnerable to infection and making those living with HIV unable to access care. South Africa has a heroic history of overcoming apartheid, but xenophobic violence and discrimination continues to be a scourge on the country, undermining the health of migrant populations and impeding AIDS efforts.


Zimbabwe: Zimbabwe vigil to challenge UK on deportations

2010-10-27

http://www.zimvigil.co.uk/

A vigil outside the Zimbabwean embassy in London will take place every Saturday from 14.00 to 18.00 to protest against gross violations of human rights by the current regime in Zimbabwe. The vigil will continue until internationally-monitored, free and fair elections are held in Zimbabwe. Visit the website to read stories and see pictures from the vigil.




Social movements

South Africa: Cape Town protests spread

2010-10-28

http://www.sowetanlive.co.za/news/2010/10/26/protest-spreads

A four-week service delivery protest in Khayelitsha, Cape Town, has spread to Philippi, with hundreds of residents barricading busy roads with burning tyres over the weekend. The protest was set to continue last night, according to Eric Notana, chairperson of the Philippi People's Forum.




Africa labour news

South Africa: Budget will not lean to left

2010-10-28

http://www.busrep.co.za/index.php?fArticleId=5704521

Efforts by the political left to shape the debate on a new growth path were dealt a heavy blow when cabinet’s big guns stopped far short this week of backing radical interventions in the economy. Just more than a month after Cosatu called for radical interventions – including having 'ownership' over the
balance sheets of the central bank by a new state bank, tightened exchange controls and redistribution of income in key employment sectors – the government has turned a deaf ear.




Emerging powers news

Africa: Indian food security needs beckon investment in transnational farming

2010-10-27

http://farmlandgrab.org/16406

Investment houses across the globe have been considering acquisition of farmland as an increasingly attractive investment opportunity. Studies indicate that investments of over $60 billion have been committed for farmland deals by the financial investment firms alone. India’s private sector has been participating in this global phenomenon in a big way. In Africa alone for instance, it has been estimated that more than 80 companies, mainly processing and trading houses, have invested about $2.4 billion in acquiring farmlands to secure raw material supplies, scale and global presence.


Latest Edition: Emerging Powers News Round-Up

2010-10-28

http://pambazuka.org/en/category/emplayersnews/68205

In this week's edition of the Emerging Powers News Round-Up:
- Africa is painting a distorted picture of economic progress
- Chinese enterprises shoulder social responsibilities in Africa
- China on multi-billion dollar projects in Zimbabwe
- Rwanda reaches out to Indian businesses
- Indian Companies Push into Africa
- SA urged not to be ‘obsessed’ with Bric
Emerging Powers News Round-Up (29 October 2010)

Compiled by Sanusha Naidu (Research Director – Emerging Powers in Africa Programme) ([email protected])

1. General

Money Never Sleeps: Africa-The Final Frontier
In trying to understand Africa’s potential, it is necessary to ditch entrenched stereotypes of the continent. Ask a typical sample of South Africans what their impression is of Africa and most will probably mention poverty, disease and corruption. Asked on what African economies are based, most people would tend to respond with minerals and other resources. In fact, African governments have been working hard to end political conflicts as well as to improve general business conditions. And today, resources only account directly for around 24% of Africa’s total GDP. Wholesale and retail consumer facing industries are larger than resources, accounting for between 30% and 40% of total GDP. Africa’s population is something that should not be discounted either. Currently around 1 billion people, it is possible that the total African population will exceed that of China’s by 2030 thanks in part to the legacy of China’s one-child policy. McKinsey identifies four growth areas in Africa that should propel total GDP to $2.6 trillion by 2020; Consumer-facing industries (retail, telecoms and banking), infrastructure-related industries, agriculture and resources. But is all this a flash in the pan, a one-off? No. It is highly unlikely to be a repetition of what occurred in the 1970s, when most of the continent’s oil wealth was squandered and then the oil price collapsed.

Read More

Africa is painting a distorted picture of economic progress
Listening to the wave of optimism sweeping through the African continent, one may think we have reached the end of the tunnel. And who would blame the general public for believing the optimism, adjusted inflation figures that distort real living standards, an expansionary monetary policy, upward corrections in all the major financial markets, and a booming property industry are all positive signals for a change in our fortunes. And who would blame the general public for believing the optimism, adjusted inflation figures that distort real living standards, an expansionary monetary policy, upward corrections in all the major financial markets, and a booming property industry are all positive signals for a change in our fortunes. But this veil, displaying a new chapter in our economic history only serves to hide a distortion that is perpetuated by ill informed institutional leaders. The economic gap that exists today between the rich world and Africa is alarming and has only been made more so to me, by the measures developed nations are taking to fix their deficits. The point here is our growth is not organic, it is a by product of China’s involvement in our economy.

Read More

How the politics of polarity affects the African continent
What will the emergence of a new power with different political values mean to Africa? Are we going back to the days of the cold war when the Soviets and the Americans played out their interests on the continent resulting in civil wars and coup d’états that impoverished Africa and its people? We have already seen how bipolar politics in the world divided countries like Angola, Mozambique and Ethiopia. All have stabilized since the end of the cold war. The way forward for Africa and its people seems to lie in complete independence from the axis of power dominating the world at any given moment. The notion that similarities in traditional values for instance with Asia would mean more favourable bilateral dealings with emerging powers from that part of the world is incorrect. The cardinal feature of international politics is a never ending quest for power in order to advance self serving national interests. The paradigm of exploitation that defined Africa’s relations with the west will not be given a rest in a new world order where the continent’s developmental partners appear to be changing.

Read More

G-20 to Avoid `Competitive Devaluation,' Prod China
Group of 20 finance chiefs vowed to avoid weakening currencies to lift exports and left it to a leaders’ meeting next month to flesh out how to further pressure member China to allow faster gains in the yuan.

Read More

The Lekki Free Trade Zone
Building the "Dubai" of West Africa. The economics of free trade zone! This project in Lagos state, will definitely transform business in the region. It is definitely result to a positive injection into the economy.

Watch Here

Guinea mining 'totally corrupt'
Multinational firms have fought for years to control Guinea's enormous mineral wealth, leaving the future president with a totally corrupt sector to clean up, according to critics in civil society. "We are the world's second largest bauxite producer, we have iron ore reserves envied by everybody, we have gold, diamonds, oil, etc. But we vegetate in misery. We lack even water and electricity," said Mamadou Taran Diallo, president of the Guinean coalition of Publish What You Pay, a global initiative.

Read More

2. China in Africa

Chinese enterprises shoulder social responsibilities in Africa
A gradual transformation appears to be taking place among Chinese enterprises in Africa. Feng Zuoku, vice president of the Chinese People's Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries, spoke Friday at the launching ceremony of an online poll for the Top 10 Chinese Enterprises in Africa in Beijing. He said China now puts more emphasis on improving Africans' "living standards and quality of life."

Read More

A Win-Win Forum
A decade later, the FOCAC has generated tangible benefits for both China and Africa. China, however, remains prudent about cooperation with Western countries in Africa. Unwilling to join the Western aid system, it insists that its African assistance fall within the framework of South-South cooperation. The SIIS' recent report states there is a need for China to engage with other parties, including the United States and the EU, through the FOCAC. It could collaborate with the West on specific projects aimed at promoting African economic development. The report also said that such joint projects will alleviate the concerns of African countries. [EMP Editor’s Note: We invite African readers to evaluate and comment on the 10th anniversary of FOCAC]

Read More

China on multi-billion dollar projects in Zimbabwe
CHINA has pledged to assist Zimbabwe build two more schools, a mini-hydro power station and various other assistance as the two countries continue to strengthen ties. Chinese Ambassador to Zimbabwe Mr Xin Shunkang, said the assistance would be exten-ded under the China-Africa Co-operation. Mr Xin was addressing more than 30 journalists attending a two-day workshop on photography in Harare. He was speaking on China’s economic development and Sino-Africa relations. The multi-billion dollar projects, he said, would be implemented in the next three years as Zimbabwe and China celebrate 30 years of diplomatic relations.

Read More

China and Botswana consumate media wedding
To mark 35 years of the existence of diplomatic relations between the People's Republic of China and Botswana, the two governments saw it fitting to promote media cooperation because the Fourth Estate plays a conducive role in building and developing relationships.

Read More

INTERVIEW-Congo defends $6 bln China deal, awaits funds
The Democratic Republic of Congo and China have defended a $6 billion deal for copper mining and infrastructure projects which some say could leave the poor central African nation out of pocket.
The deal was reduced from $9 billion last year after the IMF raised concerns that it could plunge the poor central African nation deeper into debt and delayed a multi-billion dollar debt forgiveness deal pending its revision. Detractors still say the accord, one of a growing number signed between China and African states, lacks transparency and could ultimately be to Congo's detriment.
Read More

3. India in Africa

Rwanda reaches out to Indian businesses
Even as China is making a beeline for Africa, investing in nearly every major country in the continent known for its rich deposits of mineral resources, Rwanda has invited Indian businesses to invest and provide resources to upgrade the technical and industrial skills in the country to help transform the country into a knowledge-based economy.

Read More

MOROCCO Invities Indian Investments in Textiles, Renewable Energy and Automobile Sectors
Shri Jyotiraditya Scindia, Minister of state for Commerce and Industry during his bilateral meeting with Moroccan Minister for Commerce has called on the Indian companies to invest in areas such as apparel, automobiles amongst others and Indian competencies in areas such as Information technology and education that could be leveraged by Morocco. He is presently visiting Marrakech to participate in World Economic Forum on Middle East and North Africa- 2010.

Read More


Indian Companies Push into Africa
Indian companies are investing billions of dollars in Africa to tap the potential of its growing market and increasing its footprint across the continent. From Kenya in the east, to Zimbabwe in the south and Nigeria in the west, India's $ 15 billion Essar group is investing in Africa in businesses ranging from power, steel and mining to telecommunications and construction.

Read More

4. In other Emerging News

SA urged not to be ‘obsessed’ with Bric
SA’s bid to join one of the leading emerging market groups came under attack from trade policy experts. SA is campaigning to be admitted to the Brazil, Russia, India and China (Bric) bloc of countries, in the belief that joining Bric will open up new markets for exports. However, at a South African Institute of International Affairs trade forum , some trade policy experts disputed this belief . “I don’t think SA should be obsessed with becoming a member of Bric,” said Mills Soko , an associate professor of international political economy at the business school of the University of Cape Town. Dr Soko said Bric countries made it difficult for South African companies to penetrate their markets through various trade barriers . He cited retail chain group Shoprite, which was forced to pull out of the Indian market after local laws hindered its business .

Read More

5. In other Corporate News

NTT takes foothold in Africa with Dimension Data
Japanese mobile operator NTT is finally moving to invest in Africa's lucrative telecom market, completing the buyout of South Africa's Dimension Data. Dimension Data has a presence in many African countries but with the buyout, the company is now poised to expand its services. NTT is buying the company for US$3. 24 billion and makes it the first Japanese telecom company to take a major stake in the African market.

Riversdale seeks partner for Mozambique coal project
RIVERSDALE Mining is inviting bids from global miners for up to 50 per cent of a major coking coal deposit in Mozambique. The miner is looking for the partner as it prepares to sign off on a binding $US800 million deal with a Chinese steelmaker for an adjacent project. It shows how miners are seeking to take advantage of a global demand boom for coking coal - a key ingredient in steelmaking - by attracting partners with mining expertise or the ability to build infrastructure such as ports to accelerate new mine developments.

Read More


6. Opinions and Viewpoints

VIETNAM-AFRICA: Promoting research, consultancy links
As China builds on five decades of humanitarian projects in Africa, Vietnam is following suit by promoting new research and consulting partnerships with African allies. Before following China's lead, Vietnam should learn more about Africa than the Chinese did before investing there.

Read More

Currency War Marks Beginning of Shift from Washington Consensus to Beijing Consensus
We sit amongst the vulnerable beneath the trampling of elephants as they fight it out. South Africa may be a big player in Africa, but is no match for the economic giants in the global arena. South Africa simply does not have the foreign currency reserves or trade power to fight a currency war. All South Africa can do is watch and hope for the best while attempting to stem the assault on the Rand to some degree -- but it won’t be enough. The currency war on everyone's lips marks a new front in geopolitical tussles between old and new powers. Emerging powers are slowly subverting the hierarchy of wealth in favour of themselves. This is really at the heart of matters, as they stand. Rebalancing is inevitable as nobody wins. But be sure that trade and currency rebalancing will not happen without the rebalancing of geopolitical power and influence. All of this will play itself out at the next G20 meeting and where the old powers will be forced to give up some of their own political power and influence for the greater role of the new. This is when the Beijing Consensus, as it has been coined, will truly begin to replace the Washington Consensus once and for all.

Read More

China's great African hopes
Africa is usually conspicuous in its absence in the People's Republic of China's state media, but the past few weeks has seen a slew of articles aimed at boosting the image of the African continent in influential trade and investment circles. Judging from the proliferation of headlines and positive spin about African countries, in particular South Africa and Mauritius recently, the message has been sent out to punt Africa more aggressively to China's business community. The trouble for Africa is that the headlines to a large extent play on the old stereotypes: that Africa is a place you go to get natural resources and just generally take more than you give. "Out of Africa, ‘the land of golden opportunity'," ran one big story highlighting gold mining ventures in Zimbabwe.

Read More

ALLISTER SPARKS: Let's look for solutions closer to home
While it has become fashionable to extol the virtues of the fast-growing BRIC countries -- Brazil, Russia, India and China -- and for our policy planners to enthuse particularly about the "developmental state," which they seem to regard as a blueprint for economic success yet have still to define it properly, I would like to suggest that we cast our gaze a little closer to home. To Africa, no less. Ten years after The Economist in its notorious cover story declared Africa to be "The Hopeless Continent," McKinsey and Company, the prestigious global management consultancy, has rated it as delivering the highest rate of return on foreign investment of all developing regions. Now I am not trying to decry the merits of the BRIC countries. Brazil in particular has long fascinated me. I have long believed that what is now recognised as the Lula formula offers developing countries the best prospect for success. What troubles me, though, is that our policy protagonists seem more fascinated by China than Brazil.

Read More

Taming Africa’s dragon
PRESIDENT Jacob Zuma made a historical state visit to China recently. In retrospect, the pundits have asked a good question: what really came out of these visits? In the Chinese trip, the only evident outcome of a 13-cabinet minister and 370-strong business delegation was a raft of new MoUs — memoranda of understanding: in effect a “gentleman’s handshake”, a letter of intent without any promise or legal commitment. So in short, nothing much at all. I can’t help but think that as much as one’s dollar reserves can put the wind into the mercantilist sails, so too can the size of one’s delegation act as a haughty puff for recognition, pleading “take me seriously”.

Read More

The fragile bit of Bric
In the longer-run future, it is not clear whether China will be a sustained source of demand for Latin American commodities. Even if China does maintain its appetite for Latin American commodities, the consequences may not all be beneficial. China could accentuate Latin America's (over)reliance on commodities exports and jeopardise the region's capabilities for diversifying its export basket toward manufactures and modern services. Not to mention that it could cause long-lasting social and environmental effects.

Read More

After the Brics, the economies to watch will be the 'next 11'
Many investors when they hear the words emerging markets think of Brazil, Russia, India and China, the so-called Bric countries. But below these mammoth states, with their rapid growth and wealth of raw materials, is another burgeoning story, that of the progress of what are called the "next 11" countries. The next 11 may not have the profile or the populations of the Bric countries, but there are still compelling reasons for investors to consider getting a slice of the action.

Read More


Latest Edition: Emerging Powers News Round-Up

2010-10-28

http://pambazuka.org/en/category/emplayersnews/68206

In this week's edition of the Emerging Powers News Round-Up:
- Africa is painting a distorted picture of economic progress
- Chinese enterprises shoulder social responsibilities in Africa
- China on multi-billion dollar projects in Zimbabwe
- Rwanda reaches out to Indian businesses
- Indian Companies Push into Africa
- SA urged not to be ‘obsessed’ with Bric
Emerging Powers News Round-Up (29 October 2010)

Compiled by Sanusha Naidu (Research Director – Emerging Powers in Africa Programme) ([email protected])

1. General

Money Never Sleeps: Africa-The Final Frontier
In trying to understand Africa’s potential, it is necessary to ditch entrenched stereotypes of the continent. Ask a typical sample of South Africans what their impression is of Africa and most will probably mention poverty, disease and corruption. Asked on what African economies are based, most people would tend to respond with minerals and other resources. In fact, African governments have been working hard to end political conflicts as well as to improve general business conditions. And today, resources only account directly for around 24% of Africa’s total GDP. Wholesale and retail consumer facing industries are larger than resources, accounting for between 30% and 40% of total GDP. Africa’s population is something that should not be discounted either. Currently around 1 billion people, it is possible that the total African population will exceed that of China’s by 2030 thanks in part to the legacy of China’s one-child policy. McKinsey identifies four growth areas in Africa that should propel total GDP to $2.6 trillion by 2020; Consumer-facing industries (retail, telecoms and banking), infrastructure-related industries, agriculture and resources. But is all this a flash in the pan, a one-off? No. It is highly unlikely to be a repetition of what occurred in the 1970s, when most of the continent’s oil wealth was squandered and then the oil price collapsed.

Read More

Africa is painting a distorted picture of economic progress
Listening to the wave of optimism sweeping through the African continent, one may think we have reached the end of the tunnel. And who would blame the general public for believing the optimism, adjusted inflation figures that distort real living standards, an expansionary monetary policy, upward corrections in all the major financial markets, and a booming property industry are all positive signals for a change in our fortunes. And who would blame the general public for believing the optimism, adjusted inflation figures that distort real living standards, an expansionary monetary policy, upward corrections in all the major financial markets, and a booming property industry are all positive signals for a change in our fortunes. But this veil, displaying a new chapter in our economic history only serves to hide a distortion that is perpetuated by ill informed institutional leaders. The economic gap that exists today between the rich world and Africa is alarming and has only been made more so to me, by the measures developed nations are taking to fix their deficits. The point here is our growth is not organic, it is a by product of China’s involvement in our economy.

Read More

How the politics of polarity affects the African continent
What will the emergence of a new power with different political values mean to Africa? Are we going back to the days of the cold war when the Soviets and the Americans played out their interests on the continent resulting in civil wars and coup d’états that impoverished Africa and its people? We have already seen how bipolar politics in the world divided countries like Angola, Mozambique and Ethiopia. All have stabilized since the end of the cold war. The way forward for Africa and its people seems to lie in complete independence from the axis of power dominating the world at any given moment. The notion that similarities in traditional values for instance with Asia would mean more favourable bilateral dealings with emerging powers from that part of the world is incorrect. The cardinal feature of international politics is a never ending quest for power in order to advance self serving national interests. The paradigm of exploitation that defined Africa’s relations with the west will not be given a rest in a new world order where the continent’s developmental partners appear to be changing.

Read More

G-20 to Avoid `Competitive Devaluation,' Prod China
Group of 20 finance chiefs vowed to avoid weakening currencies to lift exports and left it to a leaders’ meeting next month to flesh out how to further pressure member China to allow faster gains in the yuan.

Read More

The Lekki Free Trade Zone
Building the "Dubai" of West Africa. The economics of free trade zone! This project in Lagos state, will definitely transform business in the region. It is definitely result to a positive injection into the economy.

Watch Here

Guinea mining 'totally corrupt'
Multinational firms have fought for years to control Guinea's enormous mineral wealth, leaving the future president with a totally corrupt sector to clean up, according to critics in civil society. "We are the world's second largest bauxite producer, we have iron ore reserves envied by everybody, we have gold, diamonds, oil, etc. But we vegetate in misery. We lack even water and electricity," said Mamadou Taran Diallo, president of the Guinean coalition of Publish What You Pay, a global initiative.

Read More

2. China in Africa

Chinese enterprises shoulder social responsibilities in Africa
A gradual transformation appears to be taking place among Chinese enterprises in Africa. Feng Zuoku, vice president of the Chinese People's Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries, spoke Friday at the launching ceremony of an online poll for the Top 10 Chinese Enterprises in Africa in Beijing. He said China now puts more emphasis on improving Africans' "living standards and quality of life."

Read More

A Win-Win Forum
A decade later, the FOCAC has generated tangible benefits for both China and Africa. China, however, remains prudent about cooperation with Western countries in Africa. Unwilling to join the Western aid system, it insists that its African assistance fall within the framework of South-South cooperation. The SIIS' recent report states there is a need for China to engage with other parties, including the United States and the EU, through the FOCAC. It could collaborate with the West on specific projects aimed at promoting African economic development. The report also said that such joint projects will alleviate the concerns of African countries. [EMP Editor’s Note: We invite African readers to evaluate and comment on the 10th anniversary of FOCAC]

Read More

China on multi-billion dollar projects in Zimbabwe
CHINA has pledged to assist Zimbabwe build two more schools, a mini-hydro power station and various other assistance as the two countries continue to strengthen ties. Chinese Ambassador to Zimbabwe Mr Xin Shunkang, said the assistance would be exten-ded under the China-Africa Co-operation. Mr Xin was addressing more than 30 journalists attending a two-day workshop on photography in Harare. He was speaking on China’s economic development and Sino-Africa relations. The multi-billion dollar projects, he said, would be implemented in the next three years as Zimbabwe and China celebrate 30 years of diplomatic relations.

Read More

China and Botswana consumate media wedding
To mark 35 years of the existence of diplomatic relations between the People's Republic of China and Botswana, the two governments saw it fitting to promote media cooperation because the Fourth Estate plays a conducive role in building and developing relationships.

Read More

INTERVIEW-Congo defends $6 bln China deal, awaits funds
The Democratic Republic of Congo and China have defended a $6 billion deal for copper mining and infrastructure projects which some say could leave the poor central African nation out of pocket.
The deal was reduced from $9 billion last year after the IMF raised concerns that it could plunge the poor central African nation deeper into debt and delayed a multi-billion dollar debt forgiveness deal pending its revision. Detractors still say the accord, one of a growing number signed between China and African states, lacks transparency and could ultimately be to Congo's detriment.

Read More

3. India in Africa

Rwanda reaches out to Indian businesses
Even as China is making a beeline for Africa, investing in nearly every major country in the continent known for its rich deposits of mineral resources, Rwanda has invited Indian businesses to invest and provide resources to upgrade the technical and industrial skills in the country to help transform the country into a knowledge-based economy.

Read More

MOROCCO Invities Indian Investments in Textiles, Renewable Energy and Automobile Sectors
Shri Jyotiraditya Scindia, Minister of state for Commerce and Industry during his bilateral meeting with Moroccan Minister for Commerce has called on the Indian companies to invest in areas such as apparel, automobiles amongst others and Indian competencies in areas such as Information technology and education that could be leveraged by Morocco. He is presently visiting Marrakech to participate in World Economic Forum on Middle East and North Africa- 2010.

Read More


Indian Companies Push into Africa
Indian companies are investing billions of dollars in Africa to tap the potential of its growing market and increasing its footprint across the continent. From Kenya in the east, to Zimbabwe in the south and Nigeria in the west, India's $ 15 billion Essar group is investing in Africa in businesses ranging from power, steel and mining to telecommunications and construction.

Read More

4. In other Emerging News

SA urged not to be ‘obsessed’ with Bric
SA’s bid to join one of the leading emerging market groups came under attack from trade policy experts. SA is campaigning to be admitted to the Brazil, Russia, India and China (Bric) bloc of countries, in the belief that joining Bric will open up new markets for exports. However, at a South African Institute of International Affairs trade forum , some trade policy experts disputed this belief . “I don’t think SA should be obsessed with becoming a member of Bric,” said Mills Soko , an associate professor of international political economy at the business school of the University of Cape Town. Dr Soko said Bric countries made it difficult for South African companies to penetrate their markets through various trade barriers . He cited retail chain group Shoprite, which was forced to pull out of the Indian market after local laws hindered its business .

Read More

5. In other Corporate News

NTT takes foothold in Africa with Dimension Data
Japanese mobile operator NTT is finally moving to invest in Africa's lucrative telecom market, completing the buyout of South Africa's Dimension Data. Dimension Data has a presence in many African countries but with the buyout, the company is now poised to expand its services. NTT is buying the company for US$3. 24 billion and makes it the first Japanese telecom company to take a major stake in the African market.

Riversdale seeks partner for Mozambique coal project
RIVERSDALE Mining is inviting bids from global miners for up to 50 per cent of a major coking coal deposit in Mozambique. The miner is looking for the partner as it prepares to sign off on a binding $US800 million deal with a Chinese steelmaker for an adjacent project. It shows how miners are seeking to take advantage of a global demand boom for coking coal - a key ingredient in steelmaking - by attracting partners with mining expertise or the ability to build infrastructure such as ports to accelerate new mine developments.

Read More


6. Opinions and Viewpoints

VIETNAM-AFRICA: Promoting research, consultancy links
As China builds on five decades of humanitarian projects in Africa, Vietnam is following suit by promoting new research and consulting partnerships with African allies. Before following China's lead, Vietnam should learn more about Africa than the Chinese did before investing there.

Read More

Currency War Marks Beginning of Shift from Washington Consensus to Beijing Consensus
We sit amongst the vulnerable beneath the trampling of elephants as they fight it out. South Africa may be a big player in Africa, but is no match for the economic giants in the global arena. South Africa simply does not have the foreign currency reserves or trade power to fight a currency war. All South Africa can do is watch and hope for the best while attempting to stem the assault on the Rand to some degree -- but it won’t be enough. The currency war on everyone's lips marks a new front in geopolitical tussles between old and new powers. Emerging powers are slowly subverting the hierarchy of wealth in favour of themselves. This is really at the heart of matters, as they stand. Rebalancing is inevitable as nobody wins. But be sure that trade and currency rebalancing will not happen without the rebalancing of geopolitical power and influence. All of this will play itself out at the next G20 meeting and where the old powers will be forced to give up some of their own political power and influence for the greater role of the new. This is when the Beijing Consensus, as it has been coined, will truly begin to replace the Washington Consensus once and for all.

Read More

China's great African hopes
Africa is usually conspicuous in its absence in the People's Republic of China's state media, but the past few weeks has seen a slew of articles aimed at boosting the image of the African continent in influential trade and investment circles. Judging from the proliferation of headlines and positive spin about African countries, in particular South Africa and Mauritius recently, the message has been sent out to punt Africa more aggressively to China's business community. The trouble for Africa is that the headlines to a large extent play on the old stereotypes: that Africa is a place you go to get natural resources and just generally take more than you give. "Out of Africa, ‘the land of golden opportunity'," ran one big story highlighting gold mining ventures in Zimbabwe.

Read More

ALLISTER SPARKS: Let's look for solutions closer to home
While it has become fashionable to extol the virtues of the fast-growing BRIC countries -- Brazil, Russia, India and China -- and for our policy planners to enthuse particularly about the "developmental state," which they seem to regard as a blueprint for economic success yet have still to define it properly, I would like to suggest that we cast our gaze a little closer to home. To Africa, no less. Ten years after The Economist in its notorious cover story declared Africa to be "The Hopeless Continent," McKinsey and Company, the prestigious global management consultancy, has rated it as delivering the highest rate of return on foreign investment of all developing regions. Now I am not trying to decry the merits of the BRIC countries. Brazil in particular has long fascinated me. I have long believed that what is now recognised as the Lula formula offers developing countries the best prospect for success. What troubles me, though, is that our policy protagonists seem more fascinated by China than Brazil.

Read More

Taming Africa’s dragon
PRESIDENT Jacob Zuma made a historical state visit to China recently. In retrospect, the pundits have asked a good question: what really came out of these visits? In the Chinese trip, the only evident outcome of a 13-cabinet minister and 370-strong business delegation was a raft of new MoUs — memoranda of understanding: in effect a “gentleman’s handshake”, a letter of intent without any promise or legal commitment. So in short, nothing much at all. I can’t help but think that as much as one’s dollar reserves can put the wind into the mercantilist sails, so too can the size of one’s delegation act as a haughty puff for recognition, pleading “take me seriously”.

Read More

The fragile bit of Bric
In the longer-run future, it is not clear whether China will be a sustained source of demand for Latin American commodities. Even if China does maintain its appetite for Latin American commodities, the consequences may not all be beneficial. China could accentuate Latin America's (over)reliance on commodities exports and jeopardise the region's capabilities for diversifying its export basket toward manufactures and modern services. Not to mention that it could cause long-lasting social and environmental effects.

Read More

After the Brics, the economies to watch will be the 'next 11'
Many investors when they hear the words emerging markets think of Brazil, Russia, India and China, the so-called Bric countries. But below these mammoth states, with their rapid growth and wealth of raw materials, is another burgeoning story, that of the progress of what are called the "next 11" countries. The next 11 may not have the profile or the populations of the Bric countries, but there are still compelling reasons for investors to consider getting a slice of the action.

Read More


Madagascar: Million-dollar beds fuel timber crisis

2010-10-27

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-11626412

Soaring demand in China and political unrest in Madagascar are fuelling illegal logging for hardwoods in the African nation, a report concludes. Global Witness and the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) talked to loggers, government agencies and traders to compile their report. In China, they discovered beds on sale for $1m, made from Madagascan wood.




Elections & governance

Guinea: ECOWAS urges speedy action on presidential re-run

2010-10-26

http://bit.ly/b3uco1

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Tuesday urged the political stakeholders in Guinea to act expeditiously to agree on a new date for the country's presidential re-run, after another postponement was announced Friday. A spokesman for the 15-member regional bloc, Sunny Ugoh, told PANA here that agreeing on a new date would make it possible for the long-delayed election to hold and for the West African nation of Guinea to return to constitutional rule.


Rwanda: Build institutional not Kagame's political capacity, donors told

2010-10-26

http://bit.ly/cgQsgH

Opposition politician Ingabire Victoire Umuhoza, who was banned to contest in the recent presidential elections in Rwanda, has urged the country’s development partners to build institutional capacity, not President Kagame’s political capacity for continued stay in power. In a wide-ranging policy paper titled: 'Development partners need to support lasting solution', dated 20 September 2010 and accessed by the Newsline, the fiery politician notes that whereas aid and political conditions attached to it had obliged some dictatorships to open up the political space and level the playing field, in the case of Rwanda, it has allowed the regime in power to put in place a controlled ‘democratisation’ process with no opposition or elections with no competitors.


South Africa: Vavi presses for 'united movement for change'

2010-10-28

http://www.mg.co.za/article/2010-10-28-vavi-presses-united-movement-for-change

Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) heavyweight Zwelinzima Vavi has denied suggestions that a civil society conference under way in Boksburg was testing waters for a new political party. 'Let us right from onset state that we are not an anti-ANC and anti-government coalition,' the Cosatu general secretary told delegates on Wednesday. 'We are not here to begin a process to form any political party, nor to advance the interest of any individual.'


Tanzania: Did they perform? Assessing five years of Bunge 2005-2010

2010-10-28

http://uwazi.org/index.php?i=372

On 31 October Tanzanians will elect a new President and a 10th Parliament (Bunge). Many of those standing for election served during the 9th Bunge between 2005 and 2010. How did these MPs perform? Did they participate actively and represent their constituencies by asking questions and making interventions, or were they silent backbenchers? Using official Bunge data sources, Uwazi at Twaweza, an organisation that seeks to 'liberate' data and information so as to better inform public discussion, has presented a ranking of the most and least active MPs in Parliament.


Uganda: Museveni nominated for election as he heads for 30 years in power

2010-10-26

http://www.nation.co.ke/News/africa/-/1066/1040208/-/120yy59/-/

Uganda President Yoweri Museveni was nominated today to run for presidential elections that may extend his rule for over 30 years. Mr Museveni is a flag bearer of the National Resistance Movement, the ruling party. Museveni, in power since 1986, is being challenged by Forum for Democratic Change’s Dr Kizza Besigye, his former physician and long time rival.




Corruption

Kenya: Minister steps aside over embassy allegations

2010-10-28

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-11636883

Kenya's foreign minister has stepped aside amid a growing scandal involving the alleged misuse of his ministry's funds for several land deals abroad. Moses Wetangula, who maintains his innocence, made his announcement as MPs were set to vote on his suspension. A parliamentary report recommended his removal until claims over deals for new embassies were fully investigated.


Kenya: Nairobi mayor arrested over Sh283m graft case

2010-10-26

http://bit.ly/aCdmgF

Nairobi Mayor Geophrey Majiwa was on Monday arrested by anti-corruption agents over the controversial purchase of a piece of land for use as a cemetery. Officials from the Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission (Kacc) went to the mayor's residence in Nairobi's South 'C' at 7am while accompanied by police officers and took him away to the their headquarters where he is currently being held.


Mozambique: Mozambique budget transparency: are the wrong questions asked?

2010-10-26

http://bit.ly/90yv8s

Mozambique has scored poorly in this year's edition of the Open Budget Index (OBI) - but when the report was presented at a Maputo seminar on Thursday, dissenting voices wondered whether the scores mean anything, since the questionnaires used seemed to be tailored round American experience. The scores range from zero to 100. The US-based International Budget Partnership (IBP) assessed 94 countries - and found that 74 of them did not meet what it considered 'the minimum standards of transparency and responsibility in public budgets'.




Development

Africa: Africa paves the way for climate for development

2010-10-27

http://www.indepthnews.net/news/news.php?key1=2010-10-23%2017:07:57&key2=1

Amidst persistent warnings that climate change will destroy Africa, the leaders of the world's second largest and second most populous continent have launched the 'Climate for Development in Africa Programme' and decided to set up an 'Africa Green Fund'. The two significant steps to defend the continent come in run-up to the landmark UN climate change conference from November 29 to December 10 in Cancun, Mexico, where the African Green Fund is expected to get underway.


Africa: Manuel to assist with Nepad infrastructure

2010-10-26

http://www.mg.co.za/article/2010-10-26-manuel-to-assist-with-nepad-infrastructure

Minister in the Presidency Trevor Manuel will help President Jacob Zuma with his work in a New Partnership for African Development (Nepad) sub-committee on infrastructure, the presidency said on Monday. In a statement, the presidency said Manuel - who is responsible for the National Planning Commission - would assist Zuma in his role as the African Union champion of the north-south infrastructure development corridor.


South Africa: Time is not on the side of the poor

2010-10-28

http://www.sacsis.org.za/site/article/572.1

The Medium Term Budget Policy Statement (MTBPS), just announced by the South African government, can be praised for being a hard win in a context that offers few building blocks to make bolder decisions, writes researcher and policy analyst Ebrahim-Khalil Hassen on the South African Civil Society Information Service website. 'However, time is not on the side of the poor and more broadly, the country. A conscious attempt to finalise economic policy that has the best prospect to break unemployment is needed, and such policy should be integrated within government’s policy and budget by the next MTBPS in 2011.'


Sudan: Southern Sudan must wean itself from the aid bandwagon

2010-10-27

http://bit.ly/bN5Al6

For Southern Sudan, the greatest challenge lies in getting off the aid bandwagon, and investing oil and other domestic revenues in building the infrastructure, institutions, and human resources needed to bring about peace and prosperity in this war-torn region, writes Rasna Warah in the Daily Nation.


Tanzania: Tanzania faces new debt crisis

2010-10-26

http://www.thisday.co.tz/?l=10957

Tanzania is facing a new debt crisis as budget crunches in rich countries are bringing cuts in aid spending, forcing the government to seek loans to meet budget deficits. During the year ending July 2010, the national debt stock soared by more than $1.185 billion to a staggering $10.1 billion, according to Bank of Tanzania figures.




Health & HIV/AIDS

Africa: Polio campaign to reach 72 million African children

2010-10-26

http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=36562&Cr=polio&Cr1=

Nearly 300,000 health workers are fanning out across Africa this week to reach 72 million children as part of a United Nations-backed bid to drive polio out of the continent. Vaccinators will go door-to-door in 15 countries to deliver two drops of oral polio vaccine to every child under the age of five in areas considered to be at highest risk of polio, a highly infectious and sometimes fatal disease that spreads from person to person.


Cameroon: Cholera death toll in Cameroon hits 559

2010-10-26

http://bit.ly/avqQwX

The official death toll from the cholera epidemic that has hit Cameroon since April is now 559 deaths out of 8,528 cases, according to the Minister of Health, Andre Mama Fouda. The region of the Far North has the highest toll of 542 deaths from 8,227 cases.


Mozambique: Technology revolution hits HIV testing and treatment

2010-10-26

http://www.plusnews.org/Report.aspx?ReportId=90868

Delayed test results often mean HIV patients in Mozambique fail to get timely treatment, but new technology is reducing the need to send tests to far away laboratories, and speeding up test results and HIV treatment. Mozambique’s Ministry of Health has increasingly begun experimenting with new technology to make diagnosing and monitoring HIV patients quicker and easier. After a successful 2009 pilot the country has nationally rolled out SMS or text message printers, which transmit the results of infant HIV tests electronically from two central reference laboratories in Maputo and the northern provincial capital, Nampula, to more than 275 health centres.


South Africa: HIV research 'on the rise'

2010-10-28

http://www.scidev.net/en/news/south-africa-s-hiv-research-on-the-rise-.html

Research on HIV/AIDS is on the rise in South Africa, a country with the largest number of HIV infections in the world, while Western research efforts have levelled out, a study has found. Only around two per cent of all research articles produced by the United States, the biggest producer of HIV/AIDS studies, are about HIV/AIDS, according to the study in Scientometrics. By contrast, 5.5 per cent of South Africa's research effort goes towards HIV/AIDS - mainly clinical medicine and social studies.


Uganda: The deadly consequences of inadequate HIV counselling

2010-10-28

http://www.plusnews.org/Report.aspx?ReportId=90905

Uganda has had several cases of murder following HIV-positive diagnoses, including a man in the southwestern district of Rukungiri murdering his wife in 2008, the lynching of a woman in Gulu suspected of infecting a man and, in September, a 20-year-old woman in the eastern district of Soroti being sentenced to death for killing her soldier husband after she tested positive and he was negative.




Education

Global: World Education Forum in Palestine

2010-10-28

http://www.e-joussour.net/en/node/5168

The world education forum will be held in Palestine from 28 - 30 October 2010 as a part of the World Social Forum. Due to the regional situation activists and organisations from the Arab region are restrained from participation in the forum in Palestine, therefore there will be a parallel forum in Lebanon. The forum aims to highlight the necessity of education in the development process and to provide an arena for the exchange of ideas on education and the curriculum.


Kenya: Pupils find teachers in laptops

2010-10-28

http://www.afrol.com/articles/36803

Non-governmental actors that are taking the lead role in e-education. One such organisation is Kificom, which trains teachers on implementing ICT for learning. Kificom also installs and maintains computers for schools and coordinates content acquisition. So far, 400 teachers have been trained, according to Mathews Kituu, Kificom's director.


Somalia: Stability in Somaliland boosts education prospects

2010-10-26

http://www.IRINnews.org/Report.aspx?ReportId=90846

Somalis from south-central Somalia and those in the diaspora have taken advantage of the stable environment in the self-declared republic of Somaliland to put their children through school there, boosting enrolment in private and public education institutions in the region, officials said. 'About 10 percent of 200,000 primary-school children are from south-central Somalia,' Ali Mohamed Ali, the director-general of Somaliland's Education Ministry, told IRIN.


Uganda: Are Our Children Learning?

2010-10-28

http://dl.dropbox.com/u/9310905/Uganda/Report/Uwezo2010%20Assessment%28new%29.pdf

In recent years, primary school enrollment has increased across East Africa, but are our children really learning? Uwezo aims to answer that question by assessing the basic math and reading skills of more than a quarter million children in Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania. Uwezo Uganda has released the first ever large scale citizen led national assessment of learning. A total of 1,620 volunteers visited 16,200 households in 27 districts. The results show that 15 per cent of children sampled in P7 could not solve class two level numeracy tasks. There was considerable regional and district variation in the competency level of the children.


Uganda: School drop out rate worries officials

2010-10-26

http://www.monitor.co.ug/News/National/-/688334/1040432/-/clvoaaz/-/index.html

Officials have called on residents of Masindi to take their children to school. This followed a survey that revealed that about 850 pupils of school going age in the remote village of Nyalyanika II are not accessing education. The area councilor, Ms Gladys Matwarwa, said residents had shunned the government’s universal primary and secondary education.




LGBTI

Africa: The violence of intolerance

2010-10-26

http://www.un.org/ecosocdev/geninfo/afrec/newrels/homophobia.html

United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Navanethem Pillay has spoken out about intolerance towards sexual minorities in Africa and elsewhere. 'Everyday, in every country, individuals are persecuted, vilified or violently assaulted, and even killed, because of their sexual orientation and gender identity. Covert or overt, homophobic violence causes enormous suffering which is often shrouded in a veil of silence and endured in isolation.'




Environment

Africa: Reality check for 'miracle' biofuel crop

2010-10-28

http://www.scidev.net/en/opinions/reality-check-for-miracle-biofuel-crop.html

It sounds too good to be true: a biofuel crop that grows on semi-arid lands and degraded soils, replaces fossil fuels in developing countries and brings huge injections of cash to poor smallholders. That is what some are claiming for Jatropha curcas, the 'miracle' biofuel crop. But studies on the ground suggest a lot more research and development (R&D) is needed before farmers can come close to seeing any of the promised benefits.


Global: Blog action day focuses on water

2010-10-26

http://blogactionday.change.org/blog/

For over 24 hours on October 15, bloggers blogged about water in a global Blog Action Day. The final count for Blog Action Day stands at over 5,600 bloggers from 143 countries, reaching more than 40 million readers, according to the organisers. 'It was a remarkable display of support for an issue that gets woefully little coverage in the mainstream media.'


South Africa: World's largest solar plant planned

2010-10-28

http://www.panos.org.uk/?lid=33488

South Africa is set to unveil plans this week for a huge solar power plant that it claims would be the largest in the world. UK newspaper The Guardian reported on Monday that the project is expected to cost up to US$28.5 billion.




Land & land rights

Cameroon: Unpacking a Chinese company’s land grab

2010-10-26

http://farmlandgrab.org/16485

Cameroon is one of many African countries being targeted by foreign investors for agricultural lands. As of late, a French investor has taken a huge swath of land for sugar cane and the Malaysian company Sime Darby is in the process of negotiating for 300,000 ha in the southern part of the country for palm oil plantations. Chinese investors are also keen on acquiring farmland in Cameroon. In September 2010, GRAIN visited the Upper Sanaga region, in the centre of the country, to take a closer look at the project of one such Chinese company.


Egypt: Lawsuit aims to annul Saudi prince’s Toshka land deal

2010-10-26

http://farmlandgrab.org/16592

A number of human rights organisations and Nubian activists have joined lawyer Shehata Mohamed in the lawsuit he filed through the Administrative Court questioning the legality of Saudi mogul Al-Walid Bin Talal’s ownership contract of 100,000 feddans in Toshka, Upper Egypt. They say the contract stipulates that Talal can obtain seeds without the supervision of Egyptian authorities; can hire foreign labour force that would be immediately granted work permits; can cultivate whatever crops he chooses; isn’t bound to a deadline to start cultivating the land; and can export any or all produce to anywhere outside of Egypt.


South Africa: What is happening with Land Reform?

2010-10-28

http://bit.ly/aoOSDn

Gus Pickard, a rural development consultant operating in the Western Cape, has a strange problem, writes Karin Kleinbooi on the blog Another Countryside. He has been contacted by a farming family living on land near Elim: they desperately need help because they may lose their land - to the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform. 'The family has been farming on the land for many years. Despite setbacks they have survived; but they have also accumulated significant debt — not enough to render them insolvent, but enough to put them under pressure. Seeking a way out of their conundrum, they applied for land reform funds. Their application was successful — but nothing happened, until after a long silence, the Department contacted them and told that instead of getting money, the Department would buy the farm back from them for the amount of money needed to settle the debt. '




Food Justice

Africa: Ending Africa’s hunger means listening to farmers

2010-10-26

http://bit.ly/9FxTmR

Africa is hungry - 240 million people are undernourished. Now, for the first-time, small African farmers have been properly consulted on how to solve the problem of feeding sub-Saharan Africa. Their answers appear to directly repudiate a massive international effort to launch an African Green Revolution funded in large part by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Instead of new hybrid seeds, chemical fertilisers and pesticides, family farmers in West Africa said they want to use local seeds, avoid spending precious cash on chemicals and most importantly to direct public agricultural research to meet their needs, according to a multi-media publication released on World Food Day.


Congo: Farming villages to boost food output

2010-10-26

http://www.irinnews.org/Report.aspx?ReportID=90848

The Republic of Congo has launched a 'farming village' project to boost food self-sufficiency, with the first one inaugurated in Nkouo, about 80km north of Brazzaville, the capital, on 8 October. It houses 40 families from different regions of the country. 'Forty hen-houses, a warehouse, a sorting centre and refrigerated storage space have been made available. Each family received 792 laying hens and 2ha for cultivation,' said project director Jean-Jacques Bouya.




Media & freedom of expression

Angola: Radio commentator injured in stabbing

2010-10-27

http://cpj.org/2010/10/in-angola-popular-radio-satirist-injured-in-stabbi.php

A popular Angolan radio commentator, whose satirical broadcasts have been critical of the government, was injured in a stabbing this morning in the capital city of Luanda, according to local journalists and news reports. António Manuel Manuel Da Silva, better known as "Jójó," was walking home around 3am when he was stabbed by an attacker who confronted him about his program on private Radio Despertar, according to the station's director, Alexandre Neto, who spoke with eyewitnesses.


Egypt: Bad Bad Facebook

2010-10-27

http://globalvoicesonline.org/2010/10/20/egypt-bad-bad-facebook/

Last week, the daily talk show, Misr El-Naharda (Egypt Today), that is aired on the Egyptian state-run TV channel, Al-Masreya, discussed Facebook and its effect on the Egyptian society, with the discussions tending towards attacking Facebook. After the show, many bloggers started to think that it might have been a move from the government to repel people away from Facebook, in order to block it later on, especially given the recent developments in the Egyptian traditional and social media scene.


Egypt: Journalist sentenced to 15 years in prison

2010-10-28

http://www.ifex.org/egypt/2010/10/25/allam_abdel_ghaffar_sentenced/

The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI) condemns the 15-year prison sentence issued in absentia by the Cairo Criminal Court against Allam Abdel Ghaffar, a journalist at 'Youm7' newspaper. Allam reported on the frequent power outages at the Holding Company for Biological Products & Vaccines (VACSERA), which led to the spoiling of imported biological products.


Eritrea: Jailed journalist wins press freedom award

2010-10-28

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-11637144

The jailed Eritrean-born journalist, Dawit Isaak, has won the Golden Pen of Freedom Award for 2011. Isaak, who has dual Eritrean-Swedish citizenship, was one of the founders of Eritrea's first independent newspapers, Setit. He was detained without charge in 2001 in Eritrea after his paper published letters demanding democratic reforms.


Rwanda: Rwanda joins ranks of 10 worst countries for journalists, says RSF

2010-10-27

http://www.ifex.org/international/2010/10/20/rsf_2010_index/

Rwanda and Syria joined a list of the 10 most repressive countries toward journalists, while Northern European countries continue to lead the world in respecting free expression, according to the just released annual ranking of press freedom by Reporters Without Borders (RSF). RSF said press freedom in the 10 countries - rounded out by North Korea, Burma, China, Iran, Yemen, Sudan, Turkmenistan and Eritrea - continues to deteriorate. 'It is getting harder to say which is worse than the other,' RSF said.


South Africa: Draft Bill Is 'A Charter for Rogues'

2010-10-28

http://ipsnews.net/newsTVE.asp?idnews=53312

A coalition of civil society groups marched to South Africa's Parliament on 27 October to protest against the draft version of a new Protection of Information Bill. 'This bill is a betrayal of all the democratic principles we fought for,' anti-apartheid stalwart Kader Asmal told the crowd. South Africa's parliament is presently considering legislation to replace secrecy laws drawn up during the apartheid era.


South Africa: Talking the talk – but does Cwele really mean it?

Media Monitoring Africa comment

2010-10-27

http://pambazuka.org/en/category/media/68137

In making his second submission to a parliamentary committee on the Protection of Information Bill, Minister of State Security Siyabonga Cwele defended the proposed legislation as being in line with the South African Constitution, International Human Right’s Charters and Conventions and international best practice. Regrettably Media Monitoring Africa (MMA) remains unconvinced.
Talking the talk – but does Cwele really mean it? MMA is not convinced
Media Monitoring Africa comment

In making his second submission to a parliamentary committee on the Protection of Information Bill, Minister of State Security Siyabonga Cwele defended the proposed legislation as being in line with the South African Constitution, International Human Right’s Charters and Conventions and international best practice.

The Minister elaborated on efforts ‘to ensure that any... legitimate grounds for the limitation of access to information are not abused for hiding wrong-doing, corruption, maladministration, inefficiency and incompetence.’ Minister Cwele stressed his request to the ad-hoc committee to make ‘sentences against those in the public service who would want to abuse the classification system deterrent and equal to the severity of the damage.’ He also emphasised that what constitutes ‘national security’ under the bill is ‘clear, precise and limited’ to avoid abuse.

Regrettably Media Monitoring Africa (MMA) remains unconvinced. These are welcome words from the Minister of State Security, but his recent actions and those of his Ministerial colleagues have seriously undermined the credibility of his suggestion that information will only be ‘classified’ under limited and justifiable circumstances.

Minister Cwele, and later the State Security Agency, recently refused to supply a copy of the Minister’s first submission to this same ad-hoc committee. The reason given was that ‘disclosure could reasonably be expected to cause prejudice to the defence and security of the republic.’ This claim was made despite the fact that the submission presentation was made in public, that its contents was widely reported, and that a transcript and recording of the submission were available online. (See http://www.facebook.com/mediamattersza, entries on October 5th, 12th and 13th 2010)

Similarly the refusal of Defence and Military Veterans Minister Lindiwe Sisulu to provide details of flights undertaken by the air force for President Zuma, on the grounds that the information was ‘classified’, is another example of information that had been made available previously and was now deemed too sensitive to release.

MMA is deeply concerned that such information is already being with-held without any clear or understandable justification. ‘It is ironic that the language being used to justify the suppression of information already echoes that contained in the Protection of Information Bill’ said MMA Director William Bird, adding that ‘this critically undermines assurances that are being offered by Minister Cwele that the classification of information under this Bill will not be abused.’

In his submission to Parliament’s ad-hoc committee, Minister Cwele also stood firm on his position that ‘public interest’ should not be a defence to publishing information ‘classified’ under the Bill. His reason being, that there is already a ‘public interest override in the Promotion of Access to Information Act, which is acknowledged in the Bill.’

It is of concern that the above mentioned refusal by the State Security Agency to provide access to Minister Cwele’s earlier submission was refused following an application under the this same Promotion of Access to Information Act.

In a recent presentation, Wits Law Professor Iain Currie agreed that Section 46 of the Promotion of Access to Information Act provides for a public interest override, but crucially he argued that it is unconstitutionally narrow. Professor Currie suggested that this ‘unconstitutional narrowness’ needed to be fixed in order to provide adequate protection.

MMA believes that there is a real fear that this Bill, if enacted, will be used to hide information that government Ministers and Civil Servants may view as embarrassing, damaging or politically difficult. This fear has been heightened by the recent actions of Minister Cwele himself and of his counterpart in the Ministry for Defence and Military Veterans. Unless there is a real and effective way for people to access and publish information that ‘is in the public interest’ this proposed legislation would violate rather than protect the rights of South African citizens.

According to the Security Minister ‘those who continue to argue against the Bill...are basically of the view that South Africa has no legitimate national security to protect.’ This statement is disingenuous, untrue and demonstrates that the Minister is not listening. Minister Cwele has more to do if he is to prove that this piece of proposed legislation will not become a Secrecy Bill.

For more information please contact

William Bird.
Director: Media Monitoring Africa
Mobile: +2782 887 1370
Tel: +2711 788 1278
www.mediamonitoringafrica.org




News from the diaspora

Ethiopia: Ethiopians to remember martyrs of the 2005 election massacre

2010-10-27

http://www.ethiopianreview.com/content/29936

Ethiopians from various cities in the US, Canada, Europe and Australia held a conference on Saturday to discuss and coordinate plans for the upcoming 5th anniversary of the Ethiopian election massacre. The participants discussed and updated each other about the various events that are being organised throughout the month of November in remembrance of the those fellow Ethiopians who were gunned down by the Meles regime while peacefully protesting the election fraud and demanding respect of their vote.




Conflict & emergencies

Benin: Water recedes, health concerns mount

2010-10-27

http://www.irinnews.org/Report.aspx?ReportID=90886

As the floodwaters begin to recede in parts of Benin, the new threat is an outbreak of infectious diseases, particularly cholera and malaria. The worst flooding in nearly half a century in the country of some nine million people has cut many communities off from health centres, 'paralysing access to health care in a situation that lends itself to a potential outbreak of waterborne disease,' the NGO CARE in Benin said in a communiqué.


Kenya: Communities forge their own peace in the Rift Valley

2010-10-27

http://www.irinnews.org/Report.aspx?ReportID=90882

A water well, serving two different ethnic groups in Kenya's Rift Valley province, has done more to bring them together than government and civil society efforts, say locals. 'This well is an interaction point for the two communities, we always have a chance to meet as we fetch water for our households,' Ishmael Langat, a resident of Kirima village in Mau Narok, told IRIN. Langat is a member of the Kalenjin community, which, in early 2008, was involved in violent clashes with members of other ethnic communities following disputed presidential elections.


Kenya: Kenya: Seven die in stadium stampede

2010-10-26

http://bit.ly/bySOdB

Seven football fans died at the Nyayo National Stadium Saturday when a stampede broke out during an entertaining Kenyan Premier League soccer match between popular clubs, AFC Leopards and Gor Mahia. Among those who died during the tragedy after heavy rains pounded Nairobi and its environs, was a young woman. At least 66 others were treated and discharged at the Kenyatta National Hospital. Most of the victims broke or dislocated their limbs, ribs, legs and hands.


Nigeria: Clean up mining to avert further deaths, says UN

2010-10-26

http://www.IRINnews.org/Report.aspx?ReportId=90744

As the number of children known to have been poisoned by lead continues to mount, a UN team has recommended the government help communities clean up the informal gold-mining sector, rather than quash it altogether. Some 400 children have died of lead poisoning over the past six months, according to Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), but many thousands more are suspected to have been poisoned. Official figures will be released only once the US Center for Disease Control has finished its two-month survey.


Nigeria: Secret police intercept weapons shipment

2010-10-28

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-11634885

A large shipment of weapons has been seized by Nigeria's State Security Service at the port in Lagos city. The secret police say they intercepted 13 containers, some of which had rocket launchers and grenades and other explosives hidden under tiles. Experts identified the artillery rockets as Norinco rockets - a type used by the Taliban in Afghanistan - suitable for high-intensity warfare.


Somalia: Terrorism, shadow networks and the limitations of state-building

2010-10-28

http://www.chathamhouse.org.uk/publications/papers/view/-/id/960/

Western policies are contributing to a sense among some Yemenis and Somalis of being 'under attack' and are drawing them towards radicalisation and militancy, says a new briefing paper from Chatham House. This threat of radicalisation, says the paper, extends throughout the far-flung diasporas of Somalia and Yemen, defying efforts at containment within the two countries and requiring new thinking about stemming the appeal of radicalism at source.


Sudan: UN catalogues Sudan arms breaches in Darfur

2010-10-27

http://www.mg.co.za/article/2010-10-27-un-catalogues-sudan-arms-breaches-in-darfur

Khartoum has committed multiple breaches of an arms embargo over Sudan's conflict-torn Darfur region and China has done little to ensure its weaponry is not used there, according to a confidential report seen by Reuters. The latest report by the so-called Panel of Experts, which monitors compliance with a 2005 UN arms embargo for Darfur, is now in the hands of the Security Council's Sudan sanctions committee. It says Khartoum's violations include unauthorised transfer of military hardware and troops to Darfur.




Internet & technology

Congo: Students and survivors use ICTs to prevent the spread of violence

2010-10-28

http://www.apc.org/en/news/congolese-students-and-survivors-use-icts-prevent-

Association Dynamique Plurielle in Brazzaville, Republic of Congo, is working with 250 female first to third year high school students from Savorgnon de Brazzaville High School to fight against sexual harassment in schools. During the project, students will also send alerts about sexual harassment cases via SMS by the students; and a 'listening cell of the organisation at the high school will actively respond. Educational information about the laws will be sent to 250 students; and trivia questions via SMS and MMS will be sent out to participants.


DRC: Documenting lives with IT

2010-10-28

http://www.genderit.org/feminist-talk/democratic-republic-congo-letter-world-capital-rape

Francoise Mukuku works as the national coordinator of a young feminist group called Si Jeunesse Savait, based in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Here she describes how the organisation teaches women how to blog, broadcast radio shows, take pictures and document their lives.


Global: Code of good practice on information, participation and transparency in internet governance

2010-10-28

http://www.apc.org/es/node/9507/

Since the inception of the Internet Governance Forum, the Council of Europe (CoE), the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) and the Association for Progressive Communications (APC) have been working on a joint initiative on public participation in internet governance. The aim of the CoE/UNECE/APC project is to consider whether there is scope for developing a code of good practice on information, participation and transparency in Internet governance. A code of good practice is now available.


Tanzania: Realising the potential of ICTs

2010-10-28

http://www.panos.org.uk/?lid=33346

Tanzania is one of a number of countries in the Southern African region that have sought to include ICTs in their national development plans. A Panos policy brief summarises a report of the achievements and weaknesses of this approach in Tanzania, and considers the next steps that are needed to meet the information and communication needs of the coming generation.


Zimbabwe: Mobile internet for major cities

2010-10-27

http://bit.ly/a5cspi

Zimbabwe entered a new digital era last week Friday when the largest mobile phone network Econet Wireless launched its mobile broadband package available to their estimated 4.5 million subscribers. The project has cost Econet close to US$100 million and covers many of the major cities.




eNewsletters & mailing lists

New Tactics in Human Rights Project e-newsletter out now

2010-10-28

http://www.newtactics.org/en/News

The latest New Tactics in Human Rights Project e-newsletter contains articles on domesticating international human rights law, applying global agreements to local enforcement of human rights laws and using surplus resources to provide individual assistance and strengthen community engagement. Visit http://www.newtactics.org/en/News to read more.


Refugee Consortium of Kenya newsletter

2010-10-28

http://www.rckkenya.org/newsletter.html

The Refugee Consortium of Kenya (RCK) is a non governmental organisation set up in 1998 in response to the increasing complex and deteriorating refugee situation in Kenya. RCK has a regular newsletter which can be read by visiting their website.




Fundraising & useful resources

Centre on Housing Rights & Evictions announces news website

2010-10-27

http://www.cohre.org/

The Centre on Housing Rights & Evictions (COHRE) has announced the launch of a new website. The new COHRE website covers many sectors and regions across the housing rights discipline, and describes the work of the organisation in its focus countries and eight topic areas - now arranged into sector-specific pages - including forced evictions, security of tenure, access to land, water and sanitation, women and housing rights, litigation, restitution and return, and mega events.


Global: Grants for empowerment of people with disabilities

2010-10-27

http://www.fundsforngos.org/foundation-funds-for-ngos/grants-empowerment-people-disabilities

The ABILIS Foundation provides grants ranging from €500 to €10,000 for projects initiated by organisations that are run by persons who have a disability. Organisations that are run by parents of children with disabilities can also apply.


New website tackles modern slavery

2010-10-27

http://www.mediamonitoringafrica.org/cpt

The Child Protection and Trafficking site is intended to help unpack some of the myths around human trafficking and child safety in South Africa. Media Monitoring Africa is working with children, journalists and non-governmental organisations to try and create a better understanding of the issues involved, and what we can do to tackle modern slavery.




Courses, seminars, & workshops

2nd Biennial War Crimes Conference

3 - 5 March 2011, Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, London

2010-10-27

http://pambazuka.org/en/category/courses/68141

This conference will explore themes surrounding judicial roles and responses to war crimes and also responses to such initiatives from victims/victors, interested agencies and commentators, including the UN, NATO and various local, regional and international NGOs.
2nd Biennial War Crimes Conference
3 - 5 March 2011, Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, London

An initiative between SOLON, the Institute for Advanced Legal Studies University of London
and the Centre for Contemporary British History KCL

Conference enquiries [email protected] or [email protected]

Speakers include Lesley Abdela (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lesley_abdela); Jose Pablo Baraybar (EPAF, Peru); David Fraser (Nottingham U); Cissa Wa Numbe (UNA-DCR); Silke Studzinsky (ECCC, Cambodia); Szymon Janczarek (ECHR Poland); Adrawa Lawrence Dulu (Development Peace); Kris Wetherholt (HMF); Michael Kandiah (CCBH@KCL); Shirley Randell (Kigali U, Rwanda: www.shirleyrandell.com.au)

This conference is an initiative between SOLON, the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies and the Centre for Contemporary British History to explore themes surrounding judicial roles and responses to war crimes (broadly construed)– past, present and future – and also responses to such initiatives from victims/victors, interested agencies and commentators, including the UN, NATO and various local, regional and international NGOs. Does the history of such prosecutions indicate they should simply expose/reveal or must they always punish? What is the role of mediation in the interests of revelations of ‘truth’, and what impact can strategies for reconciliation have?

As well as papers, there will be workshop sessions aimed at developing strategies to heighten awareness for practitioners and Media professionals, or engaging with them. Particularly welcome are suggestions for round tables which address the ways in which a fruitful dialogue between academics, practitioners and professionals including those working within the Media in these fields.

Developments in areas like forensic anthropology now enable much more information about war crimes to be presented publicly, including identities of victims and perpetrators. How should such witness testimony be managed within the legal process? Should it stop short of prosecution?
What of the legal tensions surrounding prosecutions for acts which, in terms of an indigenous legal system were in fact lawful – what is the ethical or moral basis for war crimes prosecutions on that basis?

The chronological dimensions present another set of dilemmas, practical and moral. Should there be an internationally-accepted statute of limitations? Prosecutions for WW2 war crimes are still ongoing, if now rare; when does it (ever?) cease to be practical or useful, in terms of successful post-conflict reconstruction to pursue war crimes prosecutions? Twenty, thirty, fifty years?

A particular focus will be on the International Criminal Court, with its recent extraordinarily proactive stance towards the management of war crimes prosecutions and issue of an international arrest warrant against a Head of State. Numbers of states are not signatories to the ICC, yet the Court’s actions indicate that it is taking on the role of the conscience of the world. Does the future of war crime prosecutions lie solely, or mainly, with the ICC? Is this acceptable, given the lack of universal global support for the ICC? As this is the second Biennial Conference, we are also interested in hearing reports from delegates at the first conference of developments with which they have been associated – hopeful or not – as well as considering regions not yet covered in our debates.

Call For Papers

Proposals are invited for papers examining a range of related issues (practical, theoretical and experience-based) of around 350 words. Abstracts/enquiries to warcrimesials@gmail or [email protected] To discuss the conference, contact [email protected] or [email protected] Details, including the programme and the booking form will be available on the SOLON, IALS, and CCBH websites: http://www.perc.plymouth.ac.uk/solon/; http://ials.sas.ac.uk/; http://icbh.ac.uk/

Suggested themes include:
· Historical and contemporary considerations of ‘forgetting’ and memory in war crimes.
· The implications of the use of national or international courts and tribunals and the problems of jurisdiction.
· The role of the media in portraying war crimes, and the rhetoric used.
· Witness perspectives: protection, access to courts; financial support; are their voices heard?
· Legal issues, eg: the nature of evidence in war crimes trials; questions of jurisdiction; benefits and limitations of doctrinal approaches; strategies for harmonising legal definitions; should grave national or international crimes be time-limited?
· Witness perspectives: protection, access to courts; financial support; are their voices heard?
· Studies of individual cases and trials. Do prosecutions serve justice?
· Theory and war crimes, legal and philosophical perspectives, law and ethics, law and culture, law and politics.


Africa Dance Festival

Nairobi, Kenya, 3 - 5 December, 2010

2010-10-27

http://www.africadancefestival.com/event.html

The main aim of The All Africa Dance Conference and Festival is to bring people together to celebrate the wealth and diversity of African dance. This year's event will showcase a rich and vibrant mix of dance and musical performances by more than 100 dance groups and 500 established artists from all over the world.


Cultural Diplomacy in Africa: 'The Challenges and Opportunities of National and Regional Collaboration'

Berlin, 5 - 11 December 2010

2010-10-27

http://www.culturaldiplomacy.org/experienceafrica/index.php?en_cda_about-cda

Cultural Diplomacy in Africa: A Forum for Young Leaders (CDA) is a network of young, dynamic individuals from across the world, who share an interest in the African continent. The program is based on the recognition that cultural diplomacy represents an important tool in helping Africa to address the challenges it currently faces. The network conducts ongoing activity aimed at supporting development and strengthening relations between different countries and cultural groups within Africa, and between African and external partners.


International seminar on India and South Africa: political, economic, strategic and diaspora relations

2 - 3 December 2010, New Delhi

2010-10-28

http://pambazuka.org/en/category/courses/68194

The proposed seminar will focus on:

- Indo-South African Political Relations: Historical Goodwill and Current Issues
- Indo-South African Economic Relations: Challenges of South-South Co-operation
- Indo-South African Strategic Relations: Strategic Partnership and Competing Interests
- Indo-South African Diaspora Relations: 150 Years of Indian Migration to South Africa
International Seminar on India and South Africa: Political, Economic, Strategic and Diaspora Relations
2 & 3 December 2010

Venue: Centre for African Studies, School of International Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi

Concept Note

India and South Africa have long historical relationships: both were British colonies, a large number of Indians were taken to South Africa as indentured workers during the colonial period, and Karam Chand Gandhi was a common crusader against colonial and discriminatory regimes. It is said that South Africa gave Mahatma Gandhi to India, as it was only after returning from South Africa that Gandhi took an active role in the freedom struggle in India.

Since the establishment of a democratic South Africa in 1994, Indo-South African relations grew from the base of the sterling contribution an independent India made to the fight against apartheid.

Bilateral relations between the two countries have shown strong growth since 1994. Trade grew from a figure of US$3 million in 1992-93 to US$4 billion in 2005-06. Both countries have decided to increase bilateral trade to US$12 billion by 2014. Moreover, Indo-South African relations is not confined to bilateral relations alone, it also extends to India’s political, diplomatic, and economic interests in the southern African region, in the African continent as a whole, and under the framework of the India-Brazil-South Africa (IBSA) grouping. The IBSA Dialogue Forum was created to promote co-operation and to establish consensus on issues of trade, poverty alleviation, intellectual property rights, social development, agriculture, climate change, culture, defence, education, etc. Besides this, both countries have also established a co-operative relationship in the global context of restructuring and democratising the institutions of global governance like the UN, the WTO, the World Bank, the IMF, etc. This was the precursor to the India-South Africa strategic partnership signed at the Red Fort in New Delhi on the occasion of in the 50th anniversary of India’s independence. Thus, the Red Fort Declaration marks a new era in the strategic partnership between the two countries.

India and South Africa are littoral states to the Indian Ocean and thus are located in each other’s strategic neighbourhood. They have common, as well as competing, interests in the Indian Ocean region, around the Western Indian Ocean islands, across the sea lanes of communication, and in the threat of piracy in the northern part of the Indian Ocean. South Africa has welcomed the Indo-US nuclear deal and supported India in the nuclear supplier group, but both countries have different perspectives on the NPT and nuclear disarmament. Both countries are legitimate aspirants to permanent membership on the UN Security Council. India-South Africa strategic relationships reflect these complementarities and competing interests.

Among the various dimensions of Indo-South African relations, the most prominent is the fast-growing Indo-South African economic relations. Trade relations have grown exponentially over the last decade and a half, and bilateral trade was US$7.5 billion in 2009. For India, South Africa is not only a gateway to the SADC but to the entire African continent. It has also gained importance as a central hub for IBSA economic initiatives. Clearly, South Africa as an emerging economy also competes with India in several economic sectors; South Africa finds Indian economic influence undercutting South African interests in southern Africa and in the SADC. There has been a growing involvement of Indian multinationals in the South African economy and President Jacob Zuma’s largest ever delegation of South African CEOs on his state visit to India earlier in 2010, also including numerous CEOs of Indian origin, signifying the involvement of the Indian diaspora as a driver for Indo-South African co-operation.

The strength of the Indian diaspora in South Africa is more than a million; in fact, around half of the Indian diaspora in Africa is located in South Africa. It remains a strong heritage resource and represents the oldest cultural link between the two countries. People of Indian Origin (PIOs) are professionally and educationally important members of South African society and they, too, are facing the challenges of reconstruction and redistribution policies in the post-apartheid period. As the rest of Africa, South Africa and India are trying to use their diasporas, and the diaspora within, as a resource and a driver to promote economic linkages under globalisation, the PIOs in South Africa is a very important latent resource. The recently-held PBD Africa 2010 in Durban, sponsored by the government of India to commemorate 150 years of Indian migration to South Africa, and the intense and high-level participation by South African provincial and central government representatives, signals a clear move to build additional bridges between India and South Africa through diaspora linkages.

The proposed seminar will therefore focus on the following sub-themes, though it will not necessarily be confined to them:

- Indo-South African Political Relations: Historical Goodwill and Current Issues
- Indo-South African Economic Relations: Challenges of South-South Co-operation
- Indo-South African Strategic Relations: Strategic Partnership and Competing Interests
- Indo-South African Diaspora Relations: 150 Years of Indian Migration to South Africa

Please contact:

Prof Ajay Dubey at [email protected]

or

Prof Denis Venter at [email protected]


Winter Short Courses January 2011

The Center for Migration and Refugee Studies (CMRS) at the American University in Cairo (AUC)

2010-10-27

http://pambazuka.org/en/category/courses/68125

The Center for Migration and Refugee Studies (CMRS) at the American University in Cairo (AUC) is offering the following three winter short courses in January 2011:
1. Introduction to Refugee Law (January 9-13, 2011).
2. Migration/Displacement, Development and Gender (January 16-20, 2011).
3. Community Interpretation for Refugee Aid Settings – CCIP Interpreter Training Short Course (January 23-27, 2011).
Winter Short Courses January 2011

The Center for Migration and Refugee Studies (CMRS) at the American University in Cairo (AUC) is offering the following three winter short courses in January 2011:

1. Introduction to Refugee Law (January 9-13, 2011):

Course Description: The course will provide post-graduate students, international agency staff, NGO workers, lawyers and others working with refugees or interested in refugee issues with an introduction to the international legal framework which governs the protection of refugees. Through lectures, case studies and small group sessions, course participants will learn about the basic features of international refugee law including the components of the international refugee protection regime; the elements of the definition(s) of "refugee" contained in international instruments; the ethical and professional obligations of those representing refugees; the basic elements of the process by which refugee status is determined; and, the rights of refugees under international law. A background in law is useful but not required. The course will include a simulated refugee hearing in which course participants will be assigned roles to carry out in mock refugee status determination proceedings.

About the Instructor: Parastou Hassouri currently teaches International Refugee Law at the American University in Cairo. She has extensive experience in the field of immigrant and refugee rights. Her previous experience includes serving as an Attorney Advisor at the Immigration Courts of New York City and Los Angeles and working as an immigration attorney in private practice in New York City. In addition, she designed and directed the Immigrant Rights Project at the American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey, where she focused on responding to anti-immigrant backlash in the United States in the aftermath of the attacks of September 11. More recently, she has worked for human rights and refugee rights Non-Governmental Organizations, including a refugee legal aid program in Cairo.

2. Migration/Displacement, Development and Gender (January 16-20, 2011):

Course Description: In today’s world, the general perception of migration and displacement (be it due to economic, social, political, environmental or other factors) flows is that they are increasing and are often seen as an emergency in diverse parts of the globe. While forced displacement is often viewed as having highly negative effect on the displaced population, migration is also viewed as a remedy to diverse problems such as underdevelopment and violent conflicts. The course aims to assess critically the discourses of migration, displacement and development. In particular, it will discuss the impact of migration and displacement on the countries and (forced) migrants’ communities of origin. Recently, there has been much focus on migrants and their contributions to solving the problems of underdevelopment in their communities of origin. This view is often supported by the figures of financial contributions that migrants remit to their communities which is supposed to be double the size of the official development aid. Refugees on the other hand are still mainly perceived as ‘victims’ with little contribution to their places of origin. Some current research disputes these views and shows the impact of remittances from and to conflict areas.

The course will aim to familiarize students with the current debates and research on these critical areas. One part of the course will focus first on deconstructing the issue of ‘development’. The second goal of the course will be to introduce students to gender and generational analysis to unpack the links between migration/displacement and development and their interaction with gender and age. It will explore different contributions that migrant women and men, young and old make to their communities – social, economic, political, etc. Through case studies, students will be introduced to the debates at international, national and local levels and the current policy thinking on migration, displacement and development in sending and receiving countries.

The course is intended for graduate level students or professionals who have some basic understanding of migration, refugees, displacement and development issues.

About the Instructor: Katarzyna (Kasia) Grabska, PhD, is a researcher and a teacher affiliated with the Gender and Development Programme at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies (IHEID) in Geneva, Switzerland. Her research interests focus on inter-linkages between conflict, forced displacement/migration, gender, development and rights. Her Phd research focused on the impact of forced displacement and return on gender relations among southern Sudanese refugees. She has experience of work and research in the humanitarian field on issues of human rights, migration, refugees and post-conflict development in Egypt, Guinea, Ghana, Sudan, Cambodia and Vietnam. She has conducted research on forced migration policy in the Middle East and East Africa. Before joining pursuing her Phd in development studies at the Institute of Development Studies, University of Sussex, she worked as a researcher at the Forced Migration and Refugee Studies program at the American University in Cairo. Her publications’ record includes a co-edited volume on rights of forced migrants, articles in refereed journals and research reports.

3. Community Interpretation for Refugee Aid Settings – CCIP Interpreter Training Short Course (January 23-27, 2011)

*Offered for the first time as a CMRS short course in Winter 2011*

Course Description: Migration and displacement experiences are frequently characterized by language barriers, which impede communication between refugees, migrants, service providers, and the host community. Trained interpreters are essential for communication accuracy in healthcare and legal aid services, and in RSD hearings, etc. Misinterpretations can result in erroneous health diagnosis and treatment, or faulty RSD decisions, frustrating best efforts to provide refugee and migrant healthcare, legal aid, and protection. Yet many service entities rely on interpreters with no formal training to perform their professional and technical role.

This course is specifically for the interpreters who work in refugee and migrant service organizations and agencies, and will cover the fundamental components of professional community / public service interpretation, including: interpreter roles, responsibilities, interpreted-session protocols and procedures, interpretation techniques, cognitive skills and memory training, note-taking strategies, glossary building and reference research strategies, and interpreter ethics, professional responsibilities versus community expectations, and interpreter self-care and burnout issues. The course will also review facilitation strategies for interpreters who conduct new-interpreter orientation workshops in their organizations. The course format will include role-plays, exercises, film presentations, and course reader, in addition to group discussions and presentations.

Requirements for this course: participants should be current interpreters working with refugee/migration organizations, preferably sent by their organization to attend. Priority will be given to interpreters who have had no previous training. Organization staff responsible for interpreter coordination or supervision are also welcome, provided they are fully fluent in two or more languages, so to participate in the multilingual exercises in the course. The language of instruction is English, but the course is not language-restricted; participants may be bilingual/multilingual in any language combination.

In addition to the regular course times of 09:00am to 17:00pm daily, there will be one to two required evening sessions as well.

About the Instructor: Alice Johnson is the director of the Cairo Community Interpreter Project (CCIP) within the Center for Migration and Refugee Studies in the School of Global Affairs and Public Policy at AUC. CCIP provides training for community interpreters in refugee and migration settings, as well as technical assistance in language planning for organizations that use interpretation in working with refugees and migrants. Alice has over 16 years experience as a conference and community interpreter and trainer in migration settings in the US, Egypt, Hong Kong, Brazil, Kenya, and Turkey.

Eligibility for all courses:

The courses are offered for graduate level students, researchers and practitioners in the field of migration and refugees. The maximum number of participants in each course is between 25-30.
All courses are conducted in English and no translation facilities are provided. Participants should have a sufficient command of the English language.
Application procedure for all courses:

To apply for the courses, please fill out the online application here: http://forms.aucegypt.edu/cmrs/applicationForm.html

and visit the CMRS Short Course web page for more information: http://www.aucegypt.edu/GAPP/cmrs/outreach/Pages/ShortCourses.aspx .

Applicants may apply and be accepted to more than one course. Please do not hesitate to contact [email protected] if you have any difficulty with the application process.

The deadline for submitting course applications is November 30, 2010.
Applicants accepted for the course will be notified by e-mail in December.

Venue of the courses
The courses will take place on the Tahrir Campus in Downtown Cairo.

Course fees:
The tuition fee for each course is 500 USD.
Participants are expected to pay a 30% of the total fees ($150) as a deposit in December 2010.

More information on payment method will be provided to accepted participants.

CMRS provides 5 competitive scholarships that ONLY provide a tuition waiver. Scholarship Requests will be considered on the basis of financial need and eligibility of the participant as well as resource availability at the center. The deadline to apply for scholarships is November 20, 2010.
Tuition fees will cover course material and 2 coffee breaks per course day.
Accommodation and any other expenses are not included. Please see the website for nearby recommended accommodation in Cairo.





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