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Pambazuka News 565: Rwandan genocide truth revealed, Nigeria revolts and ANC at 100

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Pambazuka News (English edition): ISSN 1753-6839

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Features

Some truth and justice for Rwanda at last

Gerald Caplan

2012-01-12

http://pambazuka.org/en/category/features/79011


cc Wikipedia
Who shot down President Habyarimana’s plane, triggering the 1994 genocide? A report by two French judges has definitively resolved one of the controversial mysteries of the late 20th century. Gerry Caplan considers the implications in the light also of the extradition of alleged genocidaire Leon Mugesera.

Two seemingly unrelated Rwandan stories made both history and the headlines this week. One was the dramatic finding by a French inquiry that members of the pre-genocide Hutu government and military must have shot down the plane carrying their President Juvenal Habyarimana on April 6, 1994, launching their planned genocide only hours later. (The President of Burundi was also a passenger on the ill-fated plane, as were other senior Rwandan officials.) The second was the decision of the Canadian government to deport to Rwanda at long last a man named Leon Mugesera, accused of inciting his fellow Hutu to massacre Tutsi about one-and-half years before the plane crash. In fact, the two stories are closely related.

Responsibility for the plane crash has been the source of bitter dispute from the very moment it happened. Given the extraordinary number of direct and explicit threats from Hutu extremists that they intended to annihilate all Rwandan Tutsi and would come after anyone who failed to support their conspiracy, even the President, and given Habyarimana’s intention after much stalling to implement a power-sharing plan with the largely Tutsi RPF rebels, the perpetrators of the crash always seemed obvious. In fact all of Chapter 9 of Rwanda: The Preventable Genocide, is devoted to outlining the publicly-known evidence that a massacre of unprecedented proportions by Hutu extremists would one day be carried out.

Logic suggested than the extremists decided to murder the appeasing Habyarimana as the signal for the genocide to be launched. And just as events prior to the genocide pointed directly at Hutu extremists as the only logical culprits, so the events immediately following the crash strongly pointed to a carefully-organised plan that was now ready to be executed: the roadblocks that immediately went up; the murder of the prime minister and other moderate cabinet ministers, judges and senior officials; the beginning of the systematic hunt to slaughter all Tutsi; the murder by government soldiers of ten Belgian soldiers from the UN military mission; and through it all, the provocations of hate radio RTLM. How could there be any reasonable doubt as to the perpetrators of the crash?

This is where the case of Leon Mugesera comes in. He was among the first of the Hutu extremists to publicly call for the extermination of the Tutsi, helping to create the atmosphere of hysteria and hatred for the Tutsi that eventually allowed the conspirators to mobilise so many ordinary Hutu to carry out the genocide. Mugesera was an academic, governing party executive member and demagogue. In October 1992, addressing a large crowd in rural Rwanda, he called repeatedly for the extermination of the Tutsi.

Referring to Tutsi who escaped the anti-Tutsi pogroms that were launched at the time of Rwandan independence from Belgian rule, he declared that: ‘The mistake we made in 1959 is to let you live.’ In other words, all Tutsi should have been have killed so they would never again be a threat. Referring to the parents of children who had joined the RPF invaders – Tutsi children — he asks: ‘Why do they not exterminate them? Why do they not exterminate all of them?’

Mugesera shrewdly understood how to dehumanise the Tutsi by labeling them as ‘inyenzi’ — cockroaches — and to challenge their very existence by proclaiming them aliens who had come from Ethiopia and had no right to remain in Rwanda. ‘I am telling you,’ he said to whip up his Hutu audience, ‘that your home is in Ethiopia, that we will send you by the Nyabrongo River [a source of the Nile flowing into Ethiopia] so you can get there quickly.’

As it happens, this speech was taped and was later re-played around the country. A short portion can be found on YouTube. It was such remarks, and the hundreds of others like them, that lent credibility to the automatic assumption that Habyarimana’s plane was shot down by extremists following in Mugesera’s footsteps, fed up with Habyarimana and ready to activate their genocide conspiracy.

Mugesera himself fled to Canada, and though he was convicted of inciting hatred, for years he found legal ways to resist being shipped back to Rwanda for trial. Now, however, he seems to have squeezed the last possible ounce out of Canadian appeal processes and will soon be back home. During his trial the relation between his inflammatory exhortations to genocide and the plane crash 17 months later should become quite clear.

Yet from the start, in their typically cynical, shrewd way, the genocidaires, with the help of France, began blaming everyone else for the crash: the Belgian soldiers in the UN mission, Uganda, and above all the RPF and their commander, Paul Kagame. But from the start, the motives for Kagame and the RPF were entirely obscure. How could the RPF gain by the chaos that was bound to ensue? Or for the ferocious witch-hunt by Hutu against the Tutsi that were bound to follow Habyarimana’s murder? Did it make the remotest sense to think Kagame shot the plane down precisely in the hope there would be a genocide against his own people that would somehow, in some incomprehensible way, lead to RPF rule of the country? These questions have never had anything close to a sensible answer, which didn’t stop two groups of people from accusing Kagame of shooting down the plane.

The first group consisted of all those who for various reasons have denied that any genocide ever took place. Their interest here was simple: If Kagame shot the plane down, then there was no carefully organised genocide conspiracy by Hutu extremists that the crash was meant to trigger. This group included, among others, unrepentant genocidaires and their many white supporters in Europe and parts of North America, as well as twisted left-wing North Americans who believed Kagame was nothing more than a tool of American imperialism. (See my article, ‘The Politics of denialism,’ Pambazuka News, 2010-06-17, Issue 486) For example, Peter Erlinder, the American lawyer and leading genocide denier arrested in 2010 when he appeared in Rwanda as advisor to imprisoned presidential candidate Victoire Ingabire, has always asserted that Kagame himself had caused the 1994 massacres (not genocide, of course, but massacres) by shooting down Habyarimana’s plane.

A second group agreed there was a genocide but had grown so hostile to every act of the Kagame government that they concluded he had to be responsible for the crash as well. Besides the lack of motive, they had not a shred of evidence besides the testimonies of disaffected and vindictive RPF members, many of which were in fact retracted by several key informants. This group included well-known scholars like Rene Lemarchand, who wrote in his Rwanda chapter for Totten and Parsons’ Century of Genocide (3rd edition, 2009) that ‘there is growing evidence to suggest that Kagame was indeed the central actor behind the crash.’ But he adduced not a shred of such evidence which indeed did not exist.

Both groups found vindication for their unprovable position in a 2006 report by a French judge, Jean-Louis Bruguiere, that found President Kagame and several top aides guilty of deliberately assassinating Habyarimana. In the annals of shoddy, dishonest, biased, worthless reports, Bruguiere’s will forever take a dishonorable place. With his report he joined that large group of French establishment officials, including politicians and bureaucrats alike, who have systematically betrayed the people of Rwanda for the past two decades, a phenomenon ending only with the 2010 rapprochement between Presidents Sarkozy and Kagame.

The list of Bruguiere’s blunders beggars belief and can hardly have been mere oversight on his part. He relied on the testimonies of RPF defectors, ignoring their obvious personal agendas, most of who in any event eventually retracted their statements or claimed the judge had completely distorted their testimony. He never went to Rwanda to examine the site of the shooting and failed to interview a single RPF official, including those he accused. He did travel to the International Criminal Tribunal in Arusha to interview accused genocidaires and in his report cited their testimonies against the RPF. This included Theoneste Bagosora, eventually found by the ICTR to be guilty as charged of being a key leader, if not the ringleader, of the entire genocide. As was clear from the moment his report was issued, Bruguiere had disgraced and discredited himself, which of course didn’t stop a single denier or Kagame-hater from embracing his report.

The next chapter in this remarkable saga unfolded exactly two years ago with a report by a commission of enquiry into the crash appointed by the Rwanda government. In my review of the Mutsinzi report (‘Who killed the president of Rwanda?’ Pambazuka News, 2010-01-21, Issue 466), I concluded that despite its flaws, the Commission had proved as conclusively as was possible that the RPF had neither the capacity, the motive nor the opportunity to shoot the plane down, while Hutu political and military officials had all three. The Commission even sought an independent assessment of certain logistic issues by the Defence Academy of the UK, which corroborated the Inquiry’s own conclusions, and I could find no conceivable reason why the Academy might have had a pro-RPF bias. I also fearlessly forecast that those who were certain of the RPF’s guilt would be completely unshaken by the Mutsinzi findings.

Sure enough, Pambazuka soon printed an abusive response to my essay from Prof. Susan Thomson, who wanted the world to know that my piece was ‘shocking’, ‘incendiary reporting’, ‘unbalanced in favor of the RPF’, ‘abhorrent’ from an academic point of view, and ‘dangerous and thoughtless’. In Remaking Rwanda, a book of essays he co-edited, Lars Waldorf writes sarcastically that the Mutsinzi enquiry ‘not surprisingly’ found the crash to be the work of Hutu extremists. Filip Reyntjens, indefatigable Belgian scourge of everything RPF, wrote one of his patented extremely long, infinitely detailed rebuttal of both my essay and the Mutsinzi report, with his usual awe-inspiring and unparalleled depth and breadth of knowledge of every aspect of the case, however minute or technical, in which he proved to his own satisfaction and to his ever-faithful Kagame-hating followers that virtually every word the Mutsinzi Commission wrote was a deliberate lie or distortion.

And now comes the latest shot in this critical war, perhaps the final attempt to answer definitively one of the great mysteries of the late 20th century: Who shot down Habyarimana’s plane, triggering the 1994 genocide? It’s a report by two other French judges, Marc Trevidic and Nathalie Poux, that they began working on four years ago, soon after Bruguiere. The two made it clear from the start that they had no intention of replicating the disgraceful hatchet job on the RPF by Judge Bruguiere. They would seek out every conceivable piece of evidence and draw the appropriate conclusions from them. In the process, they conducted the most comprehensive, most professional and most technical investigation ever done on the plane crash.
In brief, their report completely vindicates the key findings of Rwanda’s own Mutsinzi report, that biased, partisan, RPF report scorned by so many. Linda Melvern, probably the most authoritative authority on the genocide and related events, did not quite share my view of Mutsinzi. While she found its findings plausible, she still feared the world would never really know beyond doubt which side shot the plane down. But she has been converted by Trevidic and Poux. Here is her assessment of their report in the Guardian:
‘After 18 years it has essentially settled the central question of who was morally responsible for triggering the genocide.
‘In some 400 detailed pages, including the conclusions of six experts who visited the crash site in 2010, the report has provided scientific proof that, as the plane made a final approach, the assassins were waiting in the confines of Kanombe military camp – the highly fortified home of Rwanda's French-trained elite unit known as the Presidential Guard, and which is directly under the flight path. This secure military barracks would have been inaccessible to RPF rebels, a point made in a report on the crash produced by the Rwandan government.’

Trevidic and Poux do not name the individual Hutu extremists who were actually responsible for shooting down Habyarimana’s plane, and although someone must know who they were, it’s possible the world never will. Nor does the report indicate the murky role that French officials seem to have played in the crash. But none of that is as important as their overall conclusion that the RPF could not have shot down the plane and that only those Hutu government and military officials with access to the government-controlled Kanombe military camp could have done so.

What happens now? Will we see a torrent of heart-felt apologies from those who for two decades have insisted on Kagame's guilt? Alas, we should probably not hold our breath waiting. I presume the report will now allow French-Rwandan relations to move forward smoothly, even though France has never apologised for its complicity in the genocide, or for implying there had been no genocide at all, or for helping perpetuate the myth that Kagame caused the plane crash. But it is of course Rwanda’s right to tolerate the absence of such apologies.

Above all, the historical record is now finally clear and beyond dispute. Truth has won out. Hutu extremists like Leon Mugesera deliberately contrived to stir up lethal anti-Tutsi hysteria. Their plot to exterminate all Tutsi gathered increasing support from government and military officials. When President Habyarimana decided he had no choice but to implement the power-sharing arrangements with the RPF as agreed in the Arusha Accords, the time to strike had come. The extremists shot the President’s plane down, and the genocide began.

BROUGHT TO YOU BY PAMBAZUKA NEWS.

* Gerald Caplan has a PhD in African history. He recently published The Betrayal of Africa.

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


‘See, the Nigerian revolution has begun’

Sokari Ekine

2012-01-12

http://pambazuka.org/en/category/features/79007


©TANO DESIGN
Most of the country supports not just the strikes but also the Occupy Nigeria movement which seeks to seriously challenge the status quo and once and for all end the rule by kleptocracy.

On Monday 9 January, the first day of the Nigerian nationwide indefinite strike, my fellow blogger, Emmanuel Iduma, wrote a post ‘See, The Nigerian Revolution Has Begun’. Emmanuel is a young man, a writer, modest and maybe a little shy. Sometimes there is hesitancy about his writing, as if he is not quite sure whether the stone he steps on will bear his weight or if his foot slips he will maintain his balance. But the important thing is, he never fails to take that step. ‘See, The Nigerian Revolution Has Began’ is an eloquent, assured statement of a young Nigerian at the point of a new beginning. Behind him lies years of scorn, thievery, greed, opportunism, political thuggery, untold violence, scammers, the occasional great football team and some of the world’s most innovative and accomplished musicians.

‘The revolution has begun. I am part of it. Do not be fooled that it begins and ends with placards, strikes, Twitter hashtags. I am certainly wiser than that. Yes, I will keep hashtagging, placarding, striking, until I am convinced that I have been de-stereotyped. Until I am convinced that I am not a matterless blur in the narrative of my country.’

Yes, we can play football and we can make music and dance! But now we can also make revolutions, or can we?

For me, well I am older, though not necessarily wiser, and most definitely less optimistic. It’s day nine of Nigeria’s uprising and the sheer energy, rapidness and velocity of hundreds of voices seconds apart on Twitter is exhausting. So reading anything that is at least one paragraph or more is sheer relief. I have noted two types of writing on the uprising. Those that stick to the superficial and easy summations repeated from similar commentary on Tunisia and Egypt and those that try to look deeper and raise questions relevant to the geopolitical entity called Nigeria. I am not a historian of revolutions, but since when were revolutions not predominantly acted by young people with a few elders thrown in for good measure? Hardly an original observation. My intention here is to attempt to provide a summary of what has taken place to date and to raise questions by bringing together some of the facts and analysis.

The fuel subsidy is the spark that lit the fire but this was never simply about the fuel subsidy. The fuel subsidy is a vicious tax on Nigerians, the majority who are neither materially nor emotionally able to cope with this burden. The facts are Nigeria earns millions of dollars from the sale of crude oil. The oil is exported and then, because our refineries are in a constant state of disrepair, it is necessary for us to import refined petrol. A cabal of independent marketers has been given licenses to import this petrol. They lie, they cheat, they steal and for this they are subsidized and now we all have to pay the price of their actions. Added to this are the billions of dollars wasted and stolen by government officials and politicians leading a country for 50 years incapable of refining it’s own oil. Included in this wastage is the obscene personal expenditure of politicians who we learn do not even have to buy their own food! For a breakdown on the cost of maintaining political officers in 2010, $8.3 billion [against $7.4 billion allocated for capital projects of which only half was spent] see Sahara Reporters.

Going into the fourth day, the strike remains steadfast and so far to everyone’s relief and possibly surprise, the labour movement has not capitulated despite rumours of the offer of huge bribes. In what I consider to be one of the most encouraging and significant acts of the uprising, the oil workers union PENGASSAN has declared their support for the indefinite strike and ordered all production platforms to be on alert for a complete shutdown, adding that:

‘All Nigerians should please note that the fuel subsidy issue is only a tip of the iceberg amidst a plethora of issues needing urgent redress.
‘We hereby call on all Nigerians not to be weary, but keep faith in the collective will of the people to liberate us from this miss-rule.’

One of the main narratives around the protest is ‘unity’. Nigerians of all religions and ethnicities coming together. We have been repeatedly shown a photo [favoured by the international media] of a group of Muslims praying protected in the rear by their Christian comrades. Although Abuja and Lagos have been the epicenters, protests have taken place, throughout the South West and in some of the major northern states - Kano, Kaduna, Bauchi and Niger State and to a much lesser extent in isolated parts of the Niger Delta. Nigeria is a militarised state and has been for most of its existence. Militarisation creates a culture of violence as a solution whether by the state or by citizens. With the government employing it's typical militarist response of ‘shoot on sight’ and some states declaring curfews, there is a real possibility of sustained violence. The next step will be for the government to declare a state of emergency across the country and use this as an excuse to deploy the army against Nigerian people. To date some 25 people have been killed by the police with hundreds injured, including in violent attacks by the police in Kano where Muslims and Christians had come together to protest. In Minna, Niger State protestors went on a rampage burning offices of the state governor and other buildings and one police officer has been killed. Stories are emerging of protestors being paid to support the government's position, others being paid by anti-government elites and or ex-politicians to protest against the government.

Against the backdrop of the protests and unity in ethnicity and religion are a series of more sinister and potentially destructive events taking place. The increasingly bold presence of Boko Haram, who after the despicable bombing of churches on Christmas day continue to kill and injure with impunity. Following a New Year ultimatum for all Christians to leave the north within three days, at least 12 people have been killed by the group. Two other significant Boko Haram related events have taken place in the past week. The first was a statement by President Goodluck Jonathan that his government and security forces had been infiltrated by Boko Haram. The second, a video broadcast on the 10th January by the leader of the sect, Imam Abubakar Shekau, dressed in the usual terrorist gear, fatigues, and surrounded by weaponry. He proceeded with a rant against the President and Christians blaming them for all the ills befallen to Muslims - a strange thing to say as they have probably killed as many Muslims as Christians. According to an AP report, Shekau was said to ‘hint at having far more support than the authorities believe’.

There has always been questions as to who Boko Haram really are and a belief that they do have support from some northern elite. If Jonathan’s statement is to be believed then it is within the realms of possibility to consider that the end game is to bring down his presidency. In short, a coup by any other name. Not necessarily a military coup but a coup nonetheless. However we cannot dismiss the fact that Jonathan chose the moment of an uprising to reveal this information. Is he trying to win sympathy or to warn us of more sinister possibilities? We know that northerners are leaving the southeast and southerners leaving the north. One cannot help but note the similarities to 1966/67 and the events which led to the civil war. Three esteemed Nigerian writers, Professor Wole Soyinka, Chinua Achebe and J P Clark issued a joint statement in which they warned Nigerians of the possibility of another civil war. In a BBC interview, Soyinka reiterated that scenario including a comment which supports Jonathan’s statement on Boko Haram infiltrators....

‘There are people in power in certain parts of the country, leaders, who quite genuinely and authoritatively hate and cannot tolerate any religion outside their own.

‘When you combine that with the ambitions of a number of people who believe they are divinely endowed to rule the country and who… believe that their religion is above whatever else binds the entire nation together, and somehow the power appears to slip from their hands, then they resort to the most extreme measures.’

Another question that has yet to be answered satisfactorily is why there have been relatively few protests and strike actions, apart from in Warri and Sapele, in the Niger Delta and Igbo states. Although Jonathan is from Baylesa State, it’s not as if the Niger Deltans are any more supportive of the fuel subsidy removal than the rest of the country. As of Wednesday, Port Harcourt was still on strike although there had been no rallies since day one. In other parts of Rivers State, namely Ogoniland, there have been rallies in support of the strike. In Yenagoa, the Baylesa state capital, workers had tried to march on the first day but police managed to disrupt and eventually prevent any meaningful presence. In other parts of the East there has been relatively little protest or strike action. One explanation given for the lack of participation was provided by environmental activist, Fidelis Allen. Quoting a fellow Ogoni activist, he writes:

‘Labour has been bought. They have compromised. As civil society in Rivers State we thought we could work with labour, but they have compromised in Rivers State. How can you be having a protest and you just sluggishly walk in? There is lack of seriousness. It is so glaring’. Cracks between the civil society and the Nigerian Labour Congress and the Trade Union Congress over strategies in current struggles against fuel price increase arising from the removal of oil subsidy are already being noticed. Lagos, Kaduna, Abuja and so on had huge a turn-out of protesters, but the same story cannot be told of Port Harcourt, Rivers State, where presently, the NLC and TUC are being accused of compromising.’

To summarise, the feeling is that at least in Bayelsa and Rivers State, the NLC and TUC had been bought off by the state and federal governments. Allen also makes the point that removal of fuel subsidy is not the same as a rise in prices and that if handled differently (as I mentioned earlier) then maybe these actions would not have been necessary.

Complicating the situation in the Niger Delta, the powerful and long established Ijaw Youth Council whose stronghold is in Bayelsa State has yet to make a formal statement on the removal of the fuel subsidy or the national strike. The IYC was formed in the town of Kaiama [Kaiama Delcaration] 1998 during Olusegun Obasanjo’s presidency in the post-Abacha period. It was a period of intense militarisation of the core Delta states which saw the destruction of Odi Town by the Nigerian Army, the ransacking of Kaiama and other attacks against civilians in Yenagoa, Warri, Isoko to name a few. The IYC action, however, conflicts with statements from other Delta youths such as The Niger Delta Youth Coalition who not only supported on strikes but threatened to disrupt oil production.

‘What we are saying is no to fuel subsidy removal. The reason why we are saying no to fuel subsidy is that Nigerians were not part of this decision. The economy is bad. We were paying N1,000.00 for transportation from Warri to our villages in the creek but now we are paying N10,000.00. You cannot say removal of fuel subsidy is to help the poor and it is the poor people that are suffering it...........We are giving President Jonathan a 24 hours ultimatum to reverse the pump price to N65 and failure to do so, we will go back to our communities and when we go back to our communities, we will ensure that all the oil installations in the creek are made not to work.’
Interestingly, one of the founding IYC members and director of Social Action Nigeria, Issac Osukoa expressed what he believed to be the disappointment and disgust Niger Deltans have for Jonathan. However, other activists I have spoken to recently have not been willing to be this critical.

‘Many Nigerians believed that Goodluck Jonathan was a different breed from the backward cabal that has held Nigeria hostage for the better part of the last 51 years. They thought that because he is a native of the Niger Delta with very minimal historical ties to what was referred to as the Hausa-Fulani oligarchy, he represents a refreshing change from the past. They saw a meek-looking and educated man and felt that maybe he is the change that Nigeria needs. Well, Goodluck Jonathan has proven to Nigeria that he is not the change the country needs. In fact, Jonathan is the worst President that the ruling class has ever foisted on Nigeria.

‘Exactly! The man has shown that he is clueless. He has shown that he lacks the capacity to address the very serious challenges confronting the country. And what is even worse is that he does not care. He does not care for the people of Nigeria. He does not care for the progress of Nigeria. He has the mentality of a Local Government caretaker committee chairman.’

Another group which has so far failed to enter the equation are the ex-militants from the various branches of MEND and the NVF many of whom are closely aligned to President Jonathan, the state governors and influential oil marketers. The hierarchy within the militants is itself at odds with the rank and file, many of who feel abandoned and betrayed. Unable to return to their homes where they are either feared or seen as outcasts and unable to find jobs despite the training they have been given, they remain disillusioned young men and women.

To summarise, what is becoming clear is that the Occupy Movement as it stands lacks any real socioeconomic or gender analysis (not surprising in what are essentially male spaces). There has been no discussion on the impact of massive rise in prices on women and children; the protests themselves in as much as what happens beyond gatherings and placards, there are issues such as sexism, homophobia and witch hunting of women and girls. It is not clear whether any women’s organisations are formally taking part in the protests or have representatives within the unions though a few prominent women have joined the protests and/or spoken out in support, but hardly a movement of women! Lesley Agams raised a number of these points on Twitter including the question as to whether women ‘involved are merely supporting a male agenda’.

It is worth remembering that Nigeria has a rich history of protests. Much of that history has come from women and there is much to learn in terms of bringing together protest and education. Interestingly, it has been in the east where large groups of women are visibly protesting. Women in Enugu and Edo took separate but very different actions. The former by gathering to pray in a church and the latter, elderly Edo women bearing their breasts as a sign of protest.

Nor has there been any discussion on the massive disparities between the rich and the poor. The new young aspiring upper class entrepreneurs, NGOs executives, celebrities and artistes have been at the forefront of organisng the Occupy Movement and the working and unemployed masses have joined together. In Lagos tensions are already beginning to appear between on the one hand local ‘area boys’, Lagosians and ‘their’ musicians and on the other, ‘Occupy’ protestors many from more affluent parts of the city. Will the elites of the movement be able to maintain control? What happens if the fuel subsidy decision is reversed, will they be able to move towards a more coherent debate around issues such as corruption, governance, social and economic justice and will social media activism be sufficient to make this happen?

The question of unity is complex. I believe the majority of the country is behind not just the strikes but the Occupy Nigeria movement which seeks to seriously challenge the status quo and once and for all end the rule by kleptocracy. However there are other small but extremely powerful interest groups working for and against the government: Boko Haram and whoever is behind them; Jonathan and possibly some of the ex-Niger Delta militants; Senators and Governors who fear loss of their power and wealth; the trade union movement particularly the oil workers - how trustworthy are they? – the independent oil marketers or cabal. And of course there is the religious factor, the cozy relationship between an all-powerful state and a powerful highly influential set of religious institutions.

Nigeria is about oil and nothing but oil. Let us not forget the multinational oil companies already facing huge losses and a complete shutdown of the sector has yet to happen. Finally at the end of this oil trajectory, the US and other importers of Nigerian crude?

BROUGHT TO YOU BY PAMBAZUKA NEWS.

* Sokari Ekine blogs at Black Looks.
* Please send comments to editor[at]pambazuka[dot]org or comment online at Pambazuka News.


Oil subsidy protests sweep Nigeria

Conflicting roles of unions and civil society

Fidelis Allen

2012-01-12

http://pambazuka.org/en/category/features/78999


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Anti-government protests have been quite successful, although with many reports of police brutality against protesters. But labour unions appear unable to provide a voice for the people in some parts of the country.

‘Labour has been bought. They have compromised. As civil society in Rivers State we thought we could work with labour, but they have compromised in Rivers State. How can you be having a protest and you just sluggishly walk in? There is lack of seriousness. It is so glaring,’ notes Celestine Akpobari of Ogoni Civil Society Platform in his response to my questions on protest against removal of oil subsidy by the federal government which started on 9 January. Cracks between the civil society, the Nigeria Labour Congress and the Trade Union Congress over strategies in current struggles against fuel price increase arising from the removal of oil subsidy are already being noticed. Lagos, Kaduna, Abuja and so on had huge turn-out of protesters, but the same story cannot be told of Port Harcourt, Rivers State, where presently, the NLC and TUC are being accused of compromising.

Nigeria currently produces 2.6 million barrels of oil daily, but it is mostly refined abroad as its four refineries are sick of corruption, underutilisation and technical shortcomings, leaving the unhealthy option of highly subsidised importation of fuel. Nigerians have waited long for government to fix her refineries, even as licenses have been granted to a number of investors to operate private refineries for refining crude locally in order to meet local consumption which now stands at 300, 000 barrels a day. With this daily consumption level, and installed capacity of 445 thousands barrels a day at the refineries in Nigeria, one would certainly expect that 3.5 million litres per day should be generated. Local consumption needs would certainly have been met at minimal cost if the refineries were operating at full capacity. Instead, the Nigerian government has been involved in subsidising importation of fuel, a process which the government claims has been afflicted by corruption. The federal government insists on saving money for the welfare of Nigerians and on the need to address the problem of corruption in the marketing of fuel in the country by removing the subsidy. The result is the high-pitched price of fuel per litre from N65 to somewhere between N140 and N180 as at the time of writing. This means a lot for the poor as transportation, access to food and so on are now clearly linked with this rise in the price of fuel. Unable to cope with meagre income, having to part with twice or trice more in prices of commodities, Nigerians are in the streets protesting.

NLC and TUC, leading the protests in various states in alliance with the civil society, seem not to have, in a sense, been quite successful in some states, according to some activists. In this case — Rivers State — civil society groups have problems working with NLC and TUC, simply on grounds of perceived sell-out to the government of the state. According to one civil society activist, ‘leaders of official labour unions in this protest have allowed themselves to be influenced by political interest and forces by failing to work directly with the civil society and by agreeing to disperse from the protest on 10 January after being addressed by the governor of the state at the Government House in Port Harcourt.’ One journalist in the city of Port Harcourt, Steve Obodkwe, while interacting with me on the issue, argues a contrary view saying that suspension of work and closure of offices of well-established government and private organisations clearly point to the impact that the protest is already making.

Failure by NLC and TUC members and leaders to turn up early for protest on the first and second days of the protests in the city infuriated some of the civil society actors. As they mentioned, this lack of seriousness on the part of labour is not in the best interest of the masses of poor Rivers people. In Bayelsa State, NLC and TUC members were absent from the streets as they merely discussed in a hall and dispersed. As it was disclosed in a strategy meeting of civil society activists at Social Actions office at the Orominike Close, D-Line Port Harcourt, on 10 January after their protests and rally, the president and governor of Rivers State seem to have utilised co-optation to frustrate the protests in Bayelsa and Rivers State. It would appear that the unions are unable to provide a voice for the people in some parts of the country. Meanwhile, protests in many parts of the country have been quite successful, although with many records of police brutality and death of protesters.

The issue of increase in fuel price resulting from the removal of oil subsidy is serious enough to attract the anger of Nigerians, including the Nigerian Bar Association, who have promised to offer free legal services to all who suffer unjustly from the nation-wide protest. For the poor, it means a big leap into the abyss of poverty. The protest is a struggle for survival, and means much more than mere response to a government policy.

In any case, while the civil society in some states like Lagos, Ibadan and so on seem to have done substantially well in planning, lack of resources and effective mobilisation seem to have affected the momentum for sustained protests by groups after the first day of protests in the case of Rivers State. Local communities and the informal sector are rather lukewarm to the protest. Some simply prefer to sit at home watching developments on television – only if there is electricity. Electricity is a huge luxury in many parts of the city of Port Harcourt, including where I live with my family. It is either one powers their house with a mini- power-generating set, or stay in darkness for weeks before the power supply authorities come with at most two to five hours supply. Increase in the price of fuel now means that citizens would have to go most of the time without electricity. Food, transportation, payment of children’s school fees and leisure have now become very expensive. For example, fare within the city of Port Harcourt which was on the average N50 for every drop is now between N100-N200, a development that is already spelling doom and disaster in the days to come.

Removal of oil subsidy that produces more pain for the people may be as bad as the many years of subsidising a damaging product like oil. Not only is the issue seriously part of a neoliberal World Bank and International Monetary Fund project to further integrate the developing countries into the global capitalist order, the underlying interests of the developed countries which this serves orchestrates a zero-sum negative result for the poor, who are completely neglected in this project. What is even completely left out is the logic of several years of subsiding a very damaging product like oil, although some actually believe petrol has never been subsidised in Nigeria. Oil is responsible for the current global climate crisis and has been responsible for severe damage to the immediate environment or ecosystem in the Niger Delta.

In any case, a section of the civil society says that removal of oil subsidy is not the same as rise in fuel price. At least, Celestine Akpobari of Social Action, made this point clear as he suggested that the issue of removal oil subsidy could have been handled differently with regards to timing if the government consulted widely with stakeholders. Meanwhile, leaders of the two major labour unions driving the strike and protests nationally failed to come to an agreement with the federal government in a meeting that took place yesterday in Abuja. The strike continues today.


BROUGHT TO YOU BY PAMBAZUKA NEWS.

* Fidelis Allen, Ph.D, teaches at the School of Development Studies, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa.

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


Revolution in Nigeria: Our day has come!

Baba Aye

2012-01-12

http://pambazuka.org/en/category/features/79000


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The outbreak of anger and revolt in Nigeria cannot be attributed entirely to the removal of the oil subsidy by the government. The people are rising against decades of astounding poverty, insecurity and utter disillusionment.

INTRODUCTION

Today, we the Nigerian people arise to take our destiny in our hands, as the most massive general strike and labour-led mass protests in our history commence, in a face-off with the state/government of the one percent that has held us in bondage and led the country to ruin, for the reversal of the increment in fuel prices, and indeed for more: for our self-emancipation! The revolutionary situation that marked this year as one that will birth change for us and for the children yet unborn started with the year itself.

2012 commenced with a big bang, ignited by the Federal Government when it raised the price of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS), better known as petrol, from N65.00 to N141.00, as its New Year ‘gift’ to the Nigerian people. Within days, well over a hundred thousand citizens had participated in some form of demonstration in cities across half of the states of the federation, in virtually all of its six geo-political zones.

New organisations and coalitions have been formed and old organisations and alliances revitalised in a massive wave of mass anger on the streets, by working people and youths. The two trade union federations, Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade Union Congress (TUC), reached a historic joint resolution in defence of the Nigerian people against the fuel price increase at their separate National Executive Council meetings attended by radical elements of the civil society on Wednesday January 4, to prosecute what has been described as ‘the mother of all general strikes mass protests’ ever in Nigeria, commencing today, to subsist indefinitely, till the will of the people prevails.

The federal government’s response has been one of recalcitrance filled with arrogance. The Minister of Information, Labaran Maku, who used to be a firebrand activist and a founding member of the United Action for Democracy castigated the labour movement’s opposition to the so-called ‘removal of fuel subsidy’, while the Minister of Labour, Emeka Wogu, asserted that government would not submit to ‘threats’ from those it ‘rules’. The final word of the Federal Executive Council was by President Goodluck Jonathan on January 7. He claimed to understand how the people feel and promised palliatives. Such palliatives, which are part of the Subsidy Removal Reinvestment and Empowerment (SURE) scheme, headed by the former Cadbury Nigeria boss, Dr. Christopher Kolade, include the establishment of a ‘robust’ mass transit scheme. At the heart of this scheme is the distribution of 1,600 buses to various cities in a country with an estimated population of 167million people, to alleviate the pangs of transportation, considering the sharp increases in transport costs. Quite robust indeed, it could be said, if one where to think with his much loved shoes.

The president’s Rehoboam-like speech did not draw much applause from Nigerians. Yesterday, January 8, the House of Representatives stepped into the fray, with its special session to discuss the state of the nation. It passed a resolution moved by Comrade Paul ‘TeeJay’ Yusuf, a former students’ union leader, demanding that the fuel price increase be reversed. It was also to hold discussions with labour after an attempt to include calling on organised labour to call off its strike in its resolution was thrown out.

It was clear when the sun went down yesterday, that, the die was cast for a major battle between the 1 percent of the country’s population comprising its wealthy ruling class and the 99 percent dispossessed, suffering people who have chosen to stop smiling, who have borne the brunt of the fuel price hike this last one week and have equally fought against it with all our might. A revolutionary situation has sprouted in the country; what will come out of it is still in contention, but it is certain this time around that the masses, and no less the state, have dug into what could turnout to be Nigeria’s moment of decision.

AT A HISTORICAL JUNCTURE

We are at a crossroads, where the death of fear resurrects the boldness of life in moments of struggle. Here, for once, like never before, the nation stands as one against the bulwark of the might of the state and its few shameless paid tools who for the love of filthy lucre can not hear the bells ringing across the land, bells of the stiffest resistance in words and in deed. The National Medical Association, the Nigerian Bar Association, the Federation of Informal Workers Organisation of Nigeria and the Joint Action Forum of pro-labour civil society organisations have, along with hundreds of other national, regional and local organisations, placed themselves at the standpoint of the working class, demanding reversal of the fuel pump price and subscribing with no reservations to the leadership of the working class in the nation’s waging of this struggle against the state of the one percent.

Indeed, the binding demand has been ‘No to fuel price hike’. But with this, virtually every section of society, except for the big employers, has clearly said, ‘Enough is enough’.

The country has been bedevilled by astounding poverty, rising insecurity and utter disillusionment. The general elections last year were for many a first step towards re-making this country despite its condemnable flaws. But the elite, comprising the ruling class, has not only failed to provide moral and intellectual leadership, but it has also wittingly or unwittingly made the state of the nation worse. Most of those who voted for the current government now regret it. This, of course, is not to say that there were alternatives that could have turned our lives around; for without us as the people fighting to emancipate ourselves, as we now shall do, all hope is lost.

While grinding want and despair reign with no regards to the creed, ethnic identity or region Nigerians live in, sectarian violence has been the dominant news focussed on globally. This has been defined more, in recent times, by the terror antics of the Boko Haram group, which reports, including from Wikileaks show, has had the tacit support of key figures in the state machinery at different times. Where we are now, however, has demonstrated even within the miasma of continued perpetuation of such dastardly acts, gallant expressions of solidarity across faiths.

Last week, non-Muslims stood guard in Kano as Muslims said their prayers in the City Centre now called Liberation Square, where they were all brutally evicted from at about 1.30am by anti-riot police; while on Sunday at Funtua, Katsina state, Muslims surrounded churches as Christians worshipped, to provide security. This was in response to threats of Boko Haram attacks that had spread across the state. Similarly, Muslim youths who had been Occupying the sidewalk of Eagle Square since Thursday, as well as civil society activists, organised around the Alliance for Credible Elections and the Joint Action Forum, went to churches with leaflets, forging solidarity across creeds.

We now fully know that it is the elite who play up our ethnic and religious identities as ‘differences’ to be manipulated to keep us divided and thus weak. Hunger and disillusionment know no creed or ‘tribe’. And the elite when they meet to decide our fate and fleece our social wealth do not consider themselves as Muslims, Christians, animists or atheists! But they have pitted us against ourselves, time and again. But now, the hour has come for our self-redemption through collective struggle for a better society.

It would not be out of place, in considering how we got to this conjuncture, to point at the contentious issue of ‘subsidy’ removal. While barely 17,000 executives and their coteries across the country pocket N1.125 trillion annually and the National Assembly alone gulps a quarter of the total recurrent expenditure, the state claims that the N1.3 trillin fuel ‘subsidy’ for the Nigerian people is not sustainable. It further goes tongue-in-cheek to admit that this amount arises not from subsidising petrol for Nigerians but largely as corrupt enrichment of a ‘cabal’ in the oil sector. This is despite the fact that, if the country’s four refineries with a combined capacity of 445,000 barrels per day were producing at optimal capacity, domestic need could be secured. Why must Nigerians pay for the government’s subsidising of corruption and its grand inefficiency?

To limit the cause of the extent of anger and simmering revolt in the land to the fuel subsidy question would, however, be to fail to see the wood for the trees. The clouds of revolution had been gathering for years in the horizons of Nigeria, as even members of the ruling class could see. In 2008, 2009 and 2010, different leading members of the elite class of capitalists in the country, from diverse ethnic and regional backgrounds, had pointed at the possibility of such in the near future. They had noted: abysmal poverty; severe rates of unemployment; mass discontent and the bland ostentatious lifestyles of the elite in the face of these. They could point at the symptoms but dared not identify the crux of the matter; the inhumanness and non-sustainability of capitalism for lasting social development.

In the wake of the Arab Spring, Dimeji Bankole, then Speaker of the House of Representatives whom an anti-corruption agency has clearly identified now as a mega-thief, declared that revolution could never occur in Nigeria. Months later, former President Chief Olusegun Obsasanjo who sold off our collective patrimony for a pittance to himself and his cronies as part of the neoliberal agenda of the Nigerian state, warned in faraway Geneva that revolution might be imminent in Nigeria. He reiterated this position in December when in a seemingly uncharacteristic manner he took a stand against the then looming ‘removal of fuel subsidy’.

The people of Nigeria now rise, to reverse the increase in the price of petrol and for more. ‘We have been naught, we shall be all’, that is the cry that rings through the land today as we face our destiny. That is the crossroad at which we now are; to win or to fight to the last drop of our blood!

GLOBAL CONTEXT AND THE WORKING CLASS

It is not accidental that the present situation is unfolding in Nigeria at this moment in history. We are living through historic times in which the ‘automatic legitimacy’ of the capitalist system has been critically cracked, but the ascendancy of an alternative is itself not assured. While we are surer now that another world indeed is possible, we must contend for what such possibility could mean. But without the generalisation of that ‘death of fear’ and commonsensical ‘acceptance’ of this anti-people order which while obsolete still remains real, no revolution from below could occur.

It is important to stress the crucial role the working class nationally and internationally has to play in finding and entrenching the emergent new. This has practical significance for us in the moment we now are in, as not a few of the youths who have tirelessly and ceaselessly been on the battle field of an unfolding revolution this past one week have many a time in discussions asserted that ‘let labour do its thing, we will (or can) do ours and still win’.

I will extensively draw from an earlier paper, ‘A World in Turmoil, Problems and Prospects of the MENA Spring and the Occupy Movement’, presented in December at the Social Action-organised anti-imperialist camp for youths at Port Harcourt, to drive home my point:

‘It is only proper to ask ourselves why such turmoil seizes the whole world in an orgy of ‘crisis and resistance’, ‘revolution and counter-revolution’. The capitalist system is now being questioned, even by its icons and epigones. But it is a system that in its very inhumanity could not but have always been questioned by the emancipatory spirit of humanity and all who stand for people over profit and the fulfilment of social needs over individual greed. Why now and why is it thus, that anger, sweat and blood mark its question mark?’

The capitalist system, like earlier class societies is based on the exploitation of the immense majority by an infinitesimal minority. Oppression tends to go with exploitation. The elite class has to wield state power to keep the majority who actually work to create society’s wealth, subdued. They use apparatuses such as the police, army, prisons and courts to coerce the poor. Even in Western ‘democratic’ states as we have seen in recent times, youths are tear gassed and the democratic freedoms of assembly, expression, etc, curtailed using truncheons, water canons, police dogs and guns.

It is, however, impossible for the ruling classes to maintain their dominant place in society with only the means of coercion. From the cradle to the grave, the status quo of particular societies is presented as divine and eternal. Under capitalism this is even more systematic and intense. The school system, mass media, religion and even family ties are used to make us believe that there is no choice for humankind beyond capitalism.

Thus, most people just try to live their lives, even if it is not much of a life, during periods of seeming stability of the system. Many cling to hope that tomorrow will be better somehow, under the system that keeps them down. They merely try to get some incremental benefits. But periods of economic and political crises shatter illusions of the system’s omnipotence and omniscience.

These objective conditions could lead to a revolutionary situation, a historical juncture where, in the miasma of disillusionment and despair, the very possibility of all things being possible is opened as vistas of what is to be done to those having nothing to lose but their chains, the indignant mass of working and poor people. With rising unemployment rates, austerity measures, cuts in public spending, etc, mass anger boils over. And in the present situation, as working people and youths see the capitalist state bail out the banks and businesses that led society to the brink of the abyss, while we are made to suffer like never before, angst paves way for confrontation.

Revolution as we see before our very eyes is primarily the indignant intrusion of the masses into the political arena, which under normal times is dominated by ‘statesmen’ and politicians. The wretched of the earth in revolutionary situations alone, the people, see themselves as the force that can determine their own fate and not some elected or appointed ‘representatives’.

The determinant force within ‘the people’, in revolutionary moments, is the working class. The turning points in the revolutions that swept through North Africa, for example, were when workers entered the insurrections as a class. Similarly, the support of the American trade unions for the Occupy Wall Street movement provided it with great leverage. This is because of the central role of the working class to capitalist production. Indeed, a deeper look at the three triumphant revolutions in North Africa and the different pathways they took shows that the nature and level of development of the working class was, to a large extent, the determinant factor.

In Tunisia, the UGTT was in a sense incorporated into the Tunisian regime’s corporate state. But it still had some more independence in its action compared to the parastatal-like Egyptian Trade Union Federation. UGTT even dared to voice anti-neoliberal rhetoric and was the anchor of the social forum process in the country, being the host secretariat of the Tunisian Social Forum. During the Tunisian revolution, its actions saw the entry of workers as a class much more quickly into the fray of the struggle.

In Egypt, the ETUF was a dyed-in-the-wool ‘Mubarakist’ organisation. There were, however, more and stronger independent trade unions in Egypt than there were in Tunisia. These would constitute themselves as an independent federation, which has grown in numbers and in stature since then and is now at the fore of working class action. Well before the revolution, there were several wildcat strikes organised by these independent trade unions and even rank and file structures within the establishment ‘trade union’ federation, in defiance of both the state and the recognised labour aristocracy.

The so-called ‘brother leader’ on his own part constricted every form of civil life with political spirits, including, the trade unions. The national ‘trade union’ centre was not only incorporated, it was to all intents and purposes, not something really existing. Even the ritual of collective bargaining, which in many corporate states exists, albeit emptied of any but some supposed contents, was banned under the Gaddafi regime. As with many an underdeveloped country where the working class is weak in numbers and/or organisationally, insurgency became the pathway of insurrection.

It is important though to note that even in the worst case scenarios, such as in Libya, the working class from below burst asunder the fetters of its bureaucratic layers of official ‘leadership’ to assert its role as historical progress’ motive force in modern society. The fall of Tripoli, from within, lay in the uprising within the uprising that commenced from working class quarters in the city of the mermaid.

The spread of revolutionary fervour across the world reflects the close interconnectedness of the capitalist order. International working class and socialist solidarity is needed to overthrow capitalism and build socialist society. We are indeed at a revolutionary juncture. There would be more moments of triumphs and equally those of reverses. We should not be dismayed if this would not be the final conflict. A new generation of working people and youths is learning from the moment of history we are living through. As we remake the world, we would transform ourselves. The foundations of tomorrow are being laid now and blocks of struggle in Nigeria as well would be there moulded.

As our day starts today, with a national general strike and mass protests in every major city in the country, the might of the working class and the possibilities it holds for generalising and giving leadership to our collective struggle, definitely stamps itself on the course of the unfolding situation in Nigeria.

IN CONCLUSION

It is all well and good to interpret the situation we have entered and which is now deepening. The greater challenge might be that of adequately responding to the question, ‘what is to be done?’ In challenging the will of the state we are fighting against power. To win more, that is to emancipate ourselves, entails yet another logic being laid on this: our fighting for power.

In this light, we will have to organise organs of people and street power, as the situation deepens. In our neighbourhoods, schools and, yes, workplaces, we will have to entrench direct democracies by constituting general assemblies with action committees to address diverse needs of keeping the revolution alive.

I mention workplaces despite the general strike for a simple reason. In the course of the week, or even beyond it, it is not impossible that despite its bravado, the state would back down, although as they say, ‘those whom the gods would kill, they first run mad’. But even if with a reversal and consequent suspension of the strike (and this is not a given at this moment, but we must consider all possibilities), the wind is stolen from our sails, it cannot but be for a while. The genie is out of the bottle. We might be entering into a long drawn period of people and street power (PSP) of the 99 percent against the one percent that has brought Nigeria to its knees and made our lives a misery.

International solidarity will be crucial as the one percent is tied by a thousand strings across all lands. But no less so are we! The spread of revolutionary upsurge across the world, birthing now in Nigeria as the sub-Saharan Harmattan, further attests to this. Nigerians in the diaspora have taken up this gauntlet, starting in London and marching again in Washington. We must as well call on the police ranks to sheath their weapons if directed to shoot at protesters. The killers of 23-year old Mustafa Muyideen Mofoluwasho Opobiyi during demonstrations at Ilorin must be brought to book. The fact that some 300 police officers marched in Lagos and other junior ranks rebuffed a deputy commissioner’s order to use live ammunition on protesters also goes to show many junior police men (and women) would rather tear off their uniforms of servitude than become tools that will bring death to their brothers and sisters in our collective struggle.

It is still morning yet on creation day for the Nigerian revolution. But yes, we the people dare say: Our Day Has Come!

Forward to victory!

BROUGHT TO YOU BY PAMBAZUKA NEWS

* Baba Aye, deputy national secretary of the Labour Party, is also national chairperson of the Socialist Workers League in Nigeria.
* Please send comments to editor[at]pambazuka[dot]org or comment online at Pambazuka News.


Celebration and criticism as the ANC turns 100

Reflecting on Africa's oldest liberation movement

Danny Schechter

2012-01-12

http://pambazuka.org/en/category/features/79001


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A group that fought against power became the power and in some cases was seduced by power. A new crusade against corruption, demagoguery and hypocrisy is needed.

The invitation came by email, inviting ‘CDE Danny Schechter’ to the ceremony marking the 100th anniversary of South Africa's African National Congress in the Free State. Unfortunately, in these depressing financial times, I had to beg off because it didn't come with an air ticket.

For the uninitiated, CDE stands for comrade, a term over-associated in this country with Communist movements, and a word that is often used by members of the US military and even by activists of Occupy Wall Street.

The dictionary I consulted pigeonholes it as a subversive lefty phrase, which of course it isn't.

‘comrade |kämrad; kämrd| - noun - a companion who shares one's activities or is a fellow member of an organisation • (also comrade-in-arms) a fellow soldier or serviceman • a fellow socialist or communist (often as a form of address) : [as title ] Comrade Lenin.’

ANC members, and members liberation movements the world over, use comrade as a term of identity and endearment. In that sense, I was proud that the ANC had me on the guest list - no doubt because of the 30 years I spent crusading against apartheid, as an activist in South Africa and America, writer, filmmaker and part of the team that produced Sun City, the anti-apartheid multi-artist hit and related educational material.

I was consumed with the South Africa struggle since my days in the civil rights movement in the early 1960s, my graduate student days in London in the mid-sixties when I visited the land of apartheid on an ANC-backed ‘mission’, as a founder of the Africa Research group in Cambridge, MA, as a freelance writer and then as a network producer and independent filmmaker.

I made five films with and about South Africa, working with a South African company, and produced the South Africa Now TV series with my company Globalvision for 156 weeks between 1987 and 1991.

That's a long immersion, and as the late South African writer and poet laureate, Mazisi Kunene told me, I earned the right to speak out about my concerns even if I wasn't born in the ‘beloved country’.

A HISTORY OF ACTIVISM

The ANC, formed by exiles in 1912 in Harlem, New York, (around the same time that the National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People [NAACP] was born), fought a long freedom struggle, one of the longest in Africa.

It went through several stages, first, as a church-based elite lobbying force, a non-violent nationalist movement, and then, as part of an alliance with Indians, Coloureds, and progressive Whites, including Afrikaners and Communists.

It morphed into a violent struggle of resistance and armed combat when the doors to non-violent change were brutally shut by white nationalists who built on British colonial racism to impose apartheid, a practice of physically relocating communities, regulating labour with passes and violent repression.

In response, the ANC evolved a four-pole strategy built around armed struggle led by exiles, urban insurrection in the townships to make the country ungovernable there, worldwide anti-apartheid activism and aggressive lobbying at the United Nations, in sports federations and other international bodies.

Its committed and impressive advocates and representatives criss-crossed the globe raising money and awareness.

Outside the country the movement was led by Oliver Tambo, Nelson Mandela's law partner. It had alliances with the ‘frontline states’ of Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Zambia and worked alongside liberation fighters in Angola and Namibia.

Inside South Africa, many top leaders such as Mandela were arrested and sent to the draconian Robben Island prison where they were expected to die. Thousands more were arrested in bitter battles with the police and army. Scores sacrificed their lives – such as the murdered black consciousness fighter, Steve Biko, or rivals in the PAC and Unity Movement.

Many died or were killed, endured torture, the separation of families and very tough times.

Finally, as South Africa's economy came under external sanctions and pressure, and after their army suffered a major defeat in Angola at the hands of Cuban and African solidarity fighters, Pretoria had no choice but to free Mandela and his comrades, and start a negotiating process that led to the country’s first democratic elections four years later.

Nelson Mandela became president in 1994.

A NEW CHALLENGE

That was nearly 20 years ago. The ANC which promised a ‘better life for all’ faced a new and even more problematic struggle – delivering on its promises by providing services, building houses, creating jobs and transforming a country with the deepest divisions between wealth and poverty in the world. There, the 99.9 per cent were held captive by the 0.1 percent.

A group that fought against power had now become the power, and in some cases was seduced by power's seductions and corruption.

The result has been predictable - and a lesson for revolutionaries the world over.

Some in the ANC believed ‘it is now our turn’ to enjoy the country's riches. ‘If we get mesmerised by the 'fleshpots'," ANC leader Joe Slovo warned me in an interview on the first Election Day, ‘we will be through’. Had he lived, he would have not been a happy man to see the co-option and compromises of many of his comrades.

Sadly, many sold out while others bought in. The country that wanted to be known as ‘the Rainbow Nation’ revealed a dark side alongside all the impressive and undeniable progress that had been made.

Still, the ANC lost its beneficent aura, and, in some cases, its moral standing as a handful of high profile leaders became millionaires and more, while ‘black empowerment’ schemes were riddled with nepotism and self-dealing as in the phrase that goes back to the apartheid days: ‘Let's make a plan!’

There seem to be new scandals every day. At the same time there are many ANC stalwarts that stay true to the movement’s values.

To its credit, much of the South African press tells it like it is. Some of this is reversible. Many activists demonstrate for reforms of what they call a ‘new apartheid’. The ANC's traditions are still alive – although not always within the ANC. A new crusade against corruption, demagoguery and hypocrisy is needed.

Hopefully, this anniversary can become a time of reflection. It has to start by the movement admitting it did not bring about what’s called the ‘new dispensation’ all by itself. It has to credit religious leaders such as Desmond Tutu and civic leaders in every community.

It has to salute the solidarity movements that helped delegitimise apartheid and its apologists, including US politicians and corporations.

Happy 100th Birthday ANC! A big Viva to all your leaders and supporters and a sincere thank you for allowing me, an opinionated American who cared, access to your internal processes, and profound lessons about what it takes to make change.

I learned so much more than I was able to give and I am proud to have stood with you when I could.

BROUGHT TO YOU BY PAMBAZUKA NEWS

* News Dissector Danny Schechter edits Mediachannel1.org. He is the author of The Crime of Our Time.
* Please send comments to editor[at]pambazuka[dot]org or comment online at Pambazuka News.


The ANC centenary: A display of elite power

(Author Ayanda Kota arrested and beaten - see comments)

Ayanda Kota

2012-01-12

http://pambazuka.org/en/category/features/79002


cc BBC
As the world celebrates with the ANC, they have put up a pretty convincing picture of freedom while everywhere people are broken by the burdens of poverty. Where is the people’s celebration?

The centenary celebrations of the African National Congress (ANC) are being used to persuade the people that a movement that has betrayed the people is our government; a government that obeys the people, instead of a government of the elites, for the elites and by the elites. It is a hugely expensive spectacle designed to drug us against our own oppression and disempowerment.

In his Communist Manifesto Karl Marx wrote that, ‘Each step in the development of the bourgeoisie was accompanied by a corresponding political advance of that class...The executive of the modern state is but a committee for managing the affairs of the bourgeoisie’. Here Marx is referring to the ability of the bourgeois to translate economic power into state power, thus reducing our governments to mere managers acting in the interests of capital and not the people. This has happened to governments around the world. But here our politicians are not mere managers. They are, like in Russia or India, a predatory elite with their own class interests and they support capital and repress the people as long as they can get their own share.

Since 1994 there hasn’t been a reorganisation of the economy. The commanding heights of the economy continue to reside in the hands of a tiny elite, most of which is white. Unemployment is skyrocketing. Most young people have never worked. Anyone can see that there is an excessive amount of poverty in South Africa. There are shacks everywhere. In fact, poverty reigns supreme in our country. Every year Jacob Zuma promises to create new jobs and every year unemployment grows.

If things were getting better, even if they were getting better slowly, people might be willing to be patient. But things are getting worse every year. Poverty and inequality are getting worse. The government is increasingly criminalising poverty instead of treating it as a political problem. When people try to organise they are always presented as a third force being used to undermine democracy and bring back racism. But it is the ANC that has failed to develop any plans to democratise the economy. It is the ANC that has failed to develop any plans to democratise the media. It is the ANC that disciplines the people for the bourgeoisie - a role that they are very comfortable to play! It is the ANC that follows the line of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. It is our local leaders who are taking the leap from their old bosses, stealing from us, treating us with contempt, acting like the former colonial government and oppressing us.

During the struggle our leaders embodied the aspirations of the people. But once they took state power they didn't need us any more. We were sent home. We are only called out to vote or attend rallies. But all the time our people are evicted from farms, paving way for animals as farms are turned into game reserves under the pretext of tourism. Our people are evicted from cities. Our people are denied decent education. The party has become a mixture of what Marx would call an instrument of power in the hands of the bourgeoisie and what Fanon would call a means of private advancement.

Biko wrote that ‘This is one country where it would be possible to create a capitalist black society, if whites were intelligent, if the nationalists were intelligent. And that capitalist black society, black middle class, would be very effective … South Africa could succeed in putting across to the world a pretty convincing, integrated picture, with still 70 percent of the population being underdogs.’

We, as the unemployed, belong to the 70 percent that Biko was talking about. We were happy to see the end of apartheid and we will always fight racism wherever we see it. But we are not free. There has only been freedom for the 30 percent. How can a person be free with no work, no house and no hope for their life?

R100 million is being spent on the celebration - spent to entertain elites, through playing golf and drinking the most expensive whiskey. Golf players are even receiving massages from young women sponsored by South African Breweries. This is not a people's celebration. We are absent! How some of us wish that all that money could have been used to build houses, create employment, build sport facilities or schools for kids who continue to learn under trees! Biko was right. As the world celebrates with the ANC today they put across a pretty convincing picture of freedom while everywhere people are broken by the burdens of poverty.

In his ‘Wretched of the Earth’, in the chapter called ‘The Pitfalls of the National Consciousness’, Frantz Fanon wrote: ‘The leader pacifies the people. For years on end after independence has been won, we see him, incapable of urging on the people to a concrete task, unable really to open the future to them or of flinging them into the path of national reconstruction, that is to say, of their own reconstruction; we see him reassessing the history of independence and recalling the sacred unity of the struggle for liberation. The leader, because he refuses to break up the national bourgeoisie, asks the people to fall back into the past and to become drunk on the remembrance of the epoch which led up to independence. The leader, seen objectively, brings the people to a halt and persists in either expelling them from history or preventing them from taking root in it. During the struggle for liberation the leader awakened the people and promised them a forward march, heroic and unmitigated. Today, he uses every means to put them to sleep, and three or four times a year asks them to remember the colonial period and to look back on the long way they have come since then.’

I am not opposed to the centenary celebration of the ANC. But if the ANC was a progressive movement they would have organised a celebration in a way that includes the people and supports us to build our power. They could have, for instance, asked people to meet all over the country, discuss how far we have come and how far we still have to go, and draw up demands for a new freedom charter for the new era. But this celebration is just a spectacle that we are supposed to watch on TV. It is exactly what Fanon talks about. It is designed to keep us drunk on the memory of the past struggle, so that we must stop struggling and remain in the caves.

In a recent protest in Bloemfontein, police were there in numbers to flush the demonstrators. This has happened in many other demonstrations. The message is very clear: ‘Go back to your caves!’ It is backed up by state violence. As Fanon says, a party that can't marry national consciousness with social consciousness will disintegrate; nothing will be left but the shell of a party, the name, the emblem and the motto. He says that: ‘The living party, which ought to make possible the free exchange of ideas which have been elaborated according to the real needs of the mass of the people has been transformed into a trade union of individual interests.’

This is exactly what the party has become. Institutions such as parliament and local municipalities have been severely compromised because of individual interests. Corruption is rampant. The Protection of Information Bill (Secrecy Bill) is another illustration of how the selfish interests of individuals have taken over the party.

A true liberation movement would never have killed Andries Tatane, attacked and jailed activists of social movements. It would never send people to lull – it would encourage people to continue organising and mobilising against injustices and oppression. A progressive leader would know that they cannot substitute themselves for the will of the people. A progressive party would never help the government in holding the people down through fascist attacks on the media by the likes of Nceba Faku, Blade Nzimande and Julius Malema to mention but a few. A democratic party would never engage in attacks on protests as we saw most recently with the ANC and ANCYL fascism against the Democratic Left Front in Durban during COP17 Conference.

In the Congo, in Nigeria and across the Arab world people are deserting celebrations of the flag and political leaders as if they really do represent the nation. Some are turning to a politics of religious or ethnic chauvinism. Others are turning to the politics of mass democratic rebellion or a democracy that is truly owned by the people. This is a free exchange of ideas backed up with popular force. We are also seeing this in Europe and North America. Latin America has been in rebellion for many years. Across South Africa more and more people are deserting the party that spends so much money to keep them drunk on the memory of the past struggle, their own struggle, the same struggle that the ruling party has privatised and betrayed. There are occupations, road blockades and protests and the message is loud and clear: Sekwanele! Genoeg! Enough!

The only way to truly honour the struggles of the past is to stand up for what is right, now. The struggle continues and will continue until we are all free.

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* Ayanda Kota is chairperson of Unemployed People's Movement in South Africa.
* Please send comments to editor[at]pambazuka[dot]org or comment online at Pambazuka News.


A poisoned chalice: Liberation, ANC-Style

John S. Saul

2012-01-12

http://pambazuka.org/en/category/features/79003


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Despite its brave history of a hundred years, the ANC is ineluctably becoming yesterday's movement. Fortunately, politics in South Africa has long been about more than the ANC – and so it will be again.

There is a good and obvious reason to celebrate the long history of the African National Congress (ANC): The organization's marked dedication over one hundred years to the cause of the betterment of the lot of the oppressed African people in South Africa. It has also sustained an honourable commitment to a multi-racial, pan-ethnic outcome to the struggle against the unequivocally racist system that both segregation and apartheid came to represent for so long in South Africa. And, not least important, the ANC is now in power.

Not that the ANC was alone in this struggle. The ICU, the Unity movement, the PAC (Pan Africanist Congress) and AZAPO (Azanian People's Organization) were, of course, significant heterodox players over many years. Then, in the 1970s and 1980s, the Black Consciousness Movement, the range of unions that would soon become COSATU, and the township insurgency that first burst into flame in Soweto and then, spreading dramatically, helped fuel the United Democratic Front (UDF) and the Mass Democratic Movement (MDM) also had vital roles to play. Even more expansive in their import than any some-time ‘internal wing’ of the ANC such assertions have also been linked all along – but such militancy from below marks the present moment in South Africa as well – to a wide range of local outbursts and assertions as part of a genuine mass resistance in South Africa (one not always easily identified as ‘belonging’ to any one or another broader movement).

SURGE FORWARD AND BUILDING ALLIANCES

In short, the surge forward in South Africa was by no means monopolised by the ANC, despite the longevity of its existence, its persistence in exile, and its occasional quasi-military appearance within South Africa's borders. Yet the ANC did manage to translate its popular salience (and that of Nelson Mandela), its international resonance (becoming much more credible in this respect with the virtual disappearance from the scene of its long-time Soviet-bloc allies!), its rather spottier presence on the ground inside South Africa, and its increasing and quite dramatic rapprochement with international capital into a winning hand in the on-going bargaining with the apartheid state. And it did emerge victorious in 1994. Moreover, the fact that it had by the 1990s abandoned any promise of offering a radical alternative to continued subordination to global capitalism (and to its leaders' own aggrandisement as the new well-rewarded masters of state power) did not, at first, cost it heavily at the polls. It was the party of ‘liberation’ after all.

Indeed, as such, it began merely to absorb other centres of recent and significant public dissent. The South African Communist Party (SACP) was already well within the ANC's tent of power, of course, but soon COSATU felt compelled to yoke itself as junior partner to the political juggernaut that the ANC had become. As for the UDF, many within it undoubtedly did feel the positive pull of ANC legitimacy but the fact is that those who did not were soon sidelined and the UDF disappeared, leaving long-time ANC/SACP stalwart Rusty Bernstein to bemoan, shortly before his death, that:

‘The [ANC's] drive toward power has corrupted the political equation in various ways. In the late 1980s, when popular resistance revived again inside the country led by the UDF, it led the ANC to see the UDF as an undesirable factor in the struggle for power, and to fatally undermine it as a rival focus for mass mobilisation. This has undermined the ANC's adherence to the path of mass resistance as a way to liberation, and substituted instead a reliance on manipulation of the levers of administrative power. It has paved the way to a steady decline of a mass-membership ANC as an organiser of the people, and turned it into a career opening to public sector employment and the administrative ‘gravy train.’ It has reduced the tripartite ANC-COSATU-CP alliance from the centrifugal centre of national political mobilisation to an electoral pact between parties who are constantly constrained to subordinate their constituents' fundamental interests to the overriding purpose of holding on to administrative power. It has impoverished the soil in which ideas leaning toward socialist solutions once flourished and allowed the weed of ‘free market’ ideology to take hold.’

Renewed resistance – this time, increasingly, to the ANC in power – took a few years to jell, of course. But a distinct constituency, one that echoed the revolutionary sensibility of the past, has begun to articulate a radical grass-roots politics that begins to surge past the illusion of ANC ‘victory.’ After all, some increasingly sensed, liberation must be about more than racial and national assertion. It must, they reason, also be about transcending class, about gender equality, and about the expression of genuinely and effectively democratic voice. And about policies – in the spheres of employment strategies, redistribution, education, health, water and electricity supply, and of a more internally-focussed and need-driven industrial strategy – that exemplify some real attempt to overcome the great inequalities that no mere tinkering with such things as ‘basic income grants’ can paper over. Fortunately, as noted, politics in South Africa has long been about more than the ANC – and so it will be again, many feel. For it is in this prospect, rather than in some mere wading through of the several hundred years of ANC hegemony predicted by the ever zealous president, Jacob Zuma, that a fulfilling future for the vast majority of South Africans is most likely to be found!

LEFT ALTERNATIVE TO THE ANC?

But just how likely is it that any such genuinely viable left alternative will surface? There is, on the one hand, the fact that the ANC's vaunted 60-70 percent of the overall national electoral support has in fact shrunk to rather lower than 40 per cent of the eligible voters (and, in local elections, much less than that) – given the rapidly falling number of those who these days actually choose to exercise their franchise. Meanwhile, on the other hand (as Peter Alexander has recently observed):

‘Since 2004 South Africa has experienced a movement of local protests amounting to a rebellion of the poor. This has been widespread and intense, reaching insurrectionary proportions in some cases. On the surface, the protests have been about service delivery and against uncaring, self-serving and corrupt leaders of the municipalities. A key feature has been mass participation by a new generation of fighters, especially unemployed youth but also school students. Many issues that underpinned [initially] the ascendency of Jacob Zuma also fuel the present action, including a sense of injustice arising from the realities of persistent inequality...[Moreover,] while the inter-connections between the local protests (and between the local protests and militant action involving other elements of civil society) are limited, it is suggested that this is likely to change.’

Small wonder. For the chilling fact remains that while the economic gap between people defined in terms of racial categories (black as distinct from white) has narrowed statistically (as some blacks have become very rich indeed) the gap between rich and poor has actually widened. Needless to say, in South Africa such depressing facts are too readily apparent to cause surprise. The real question is: how long can it be before the anger these facts even now give rise to becomes ever more potent politically?

True, there will be many who see the prospect of a rebirth of principle – rebirth of the goal of justice and equality – as still being most likely to arise from within the ANC fold itself. Those of us who supported, for many long years through the global anti-apartheid movement, the ANC's championing of its cause can bring themselves to abandon such hopes only with great reluctance. But take, as well, the case of veteran ANC/SACP hand Ben Turok who now feels driven to ‘the irresistible conclusion...that the ANC government has lost a great deal of its earlier focus on the fundamental transformation of the inherited social system.’ And to the conclusion that ‘much depends on whether enough momentum can be built to overcome the caution that has marked the ANC government since 1994. This in turn depends on whether the determination to achieve an equitable society can be revived.’ It would be another thing, of course, were an old ANC loyalist like Turok to agree with me that the ANC, despite its brave history of a hundred years, is ineluctably becoming yesterday's movement.

Yet it has become increasingly difficult to think otherwise, and increasingly necessary to divine some new counter-hegemonic movement, to delineate its possibilities and its prospects – and to make these potent in practice. Briefly, in Zimbabwe, the MDC seemed to offer just such an alternative there. Only cruel repression by Robert Mugabe and his ZANU minions worked to deny the MDC its several rightful electoral victories there. How intransigent will the ANC be when it becomes apparent that, despite its long service in the cause of national liberation, its rationale for the retention of power has run its course?

Equally challenging: the fact that knitting together protest, however widely expressed, into a viable counter-hegemonic movement – counter both to the ANC and to its neoliberal, freely capitalist, agenda – is still a long way from realisation in South Africa. Indeed, the best so experienced an observer as Thabo Mbeki's brother, Moeletsi, seems able to offer South Africans is a ‘Tunisia Day’ set to arrive, he writes, in 2020! Then the South African masses will ‘rise against the powers that be, as happened recently in Tunisia.’ For, in Moeletsi's words, ‘the ANC inherited a flawed, complex society it barely understood; its tinkerings with it are turning it into an explosive cocktail. The ANC leaders are like a group of children playing with a hand grenade. One day one of them will figure out how to pull out the pin and everyone will be killed.’

But what is actually needed is something else than this, something far more sustained and structured – something more self-consciously and effectively counter-hegemonic in concept and in purpose – than a ‘mere’ Tunisia Day can offer. South Africans will have to be more creative and more imaginative than that in consolidating the kind of new movement necessary to realise a more just and equitable South Africa, a South Africa in which, a hundred years from now, they can take further pride. The liberation struggle continues.

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* John Saul, veteran Canadian anti-apartheid and southern African solidarity activist, is also author of numerous books on African political economy. He currently serves as member of a formally-constituted committee of international ‘friends’ of South Africa's fledgling Democratic Left Front. A version of this essay will appear in a forthcoming issue of Amandla! marking the 100th anniversary of the founding of the ANC in 1912.
* Please send comments to editor[at]pambazuka[dot]org or comment online at Pambazuka News.


On the return of the political

Richard Pithouse

2012-01-12

http://pambazuka.org/en/category/features/79004


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‘The ANC has had its shameful moments but it has also had its glorious moments; and it has often been far closer to the best of the spirit of the age than any of the forces it opposed.’

When the African National Congress was founded in Bloemfontein in 1912 Sol Plaatje, then a newspaper editor, was elected as its first Secretary General. Plaatje, along with some other mission educated African intellectuals, had been optimistic about the new country that had come into being with the Union of South Africa in 1910. But within a year it was clear that segregation was going to be at the heart of the union, the white union, that followed the Boer war, its concentration camps and the English success in seizing control of the gold fields.

In 1913 the hammer fell, and fell hard, on African aspirations. The Land Act, which Plaatje called ‘the sickening procedure of extermination voluntary instituted by the South African parliament’, confined Africans to a tiny portion of the country and sought to force Africans into becoming cheap labourers for white farmers.

That winter people began to be forced off the land and Plaatje walked the back roads with the people who, he wrote, had been turned into 'roving pariahs'. During what he called ‘a hideous night under a bitterly cold sky’ a family, the Kgobadi's, lost their baby on the road and, no longer having a place of their own, had to bury the child ‘amid fear and trembling, as well as the throbs of torturing anguish, in a stolen grave.’

Between the end of the Cold War and the financial crash in 2008, capitalism had considerable success in marketing itself as the ennobling practice of economic freedom. But this is a fantasy that has no regard for historical reality. The fact is that capitalism began with forced labour, slavery and the violent enclosure of common land aimed not only at seizing wealth in private hands but also at forcing people to give up their autonomy and to accept that survival required working for a wage. The whip, the prison and the gallows were essential to the brutality that forced acceptance of its logic. In South Africa this was profoundly shaped by a racism that impoverished prosperous black people in the direct interests of white people, including poor white people.

Around the world peasants rebelled, as in the 1906 Bambatha Rebellion in what was then Natal, to defend their land and autonomy against a system bent on deriving them of both in order to turn them into workers. When people had been forced off their land, or their crafts rendered redundant, they often forged insurgent and cosmopolitan forms of autonomy from below to avoid the plantation, the mine, the kitchen or the factory. On the Atlantic Ocean press ganged sailors and slaves seized ships to become pirates. In the Klipsriversberg hills south of Johannesburg young men who had lost their right to the land and refused to work in the mines formed the Umkhosi Wezintaba, an organised band of highwaymen who had declared themselves 'rebels against the government's law'.

After the Great Depression of the 1930s it was taken as plain common sense in mainstream opinion in capitalist societies that while unregulated capitalism produced wealth, it was captured by the few and produced in a way that damaged society. It was assumed that society needed to organise to regulate capitalism and to ensure that a portion of its profits were returned to society as a whole through taxation and social spending. Working class men returning home after the Second World War often demanded an equal place in their societies and gave these processes real momentum. In the colonial world, returning soldiers often took a leading role in anti-colonial movements. Of course here in South Africa the turn towards imposing a greater degree of social logic over capital took the form of apartheid – social democracy for whites and even worse political and economic subordination for blacks.

In the 1980s Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan, both firm supporters of apartheid, led the attack on social democracy. This was escalated after the Cold War and capital was able to shed more and more of its social obligations. Some people even went so far as to argue that capitalism and democracy are indivisible. Of course this argument simply ignored the fact that the United States, then the undisputed capitalist power, had long used violence and support for grossly authoritarian regimes to deny people around the world the right to govern their own societies freely. In recent years the surging power of Chinese capitalism under an entirely undemocratic regime, as well as the development of capitalism in places like India and Russia, which, while nominally democratic, are hardly models of democracy, has put that myth to rest.

As Thatcher and Reagan allowed capital to detach itself from society, a process that escalated massively after the end of the Cold War, it captured the political classes in the West rendering democracy a system that is increasingly more about legitimating the power of elites than offering a real opportunity to direct them from below. Growing Poverty, and an elite response to poverty that makes more use of the police and prisons than social solidarity, is corroding these societies from below. Millions are now poor in countries as rich as England and the United States. But the financial crisis of 2008 had put another myth to rest. The illusion that freeing capital from social obligation is in everyone's interest because a rising tide floats all boats has been shattered. The profoundly anti-social consequences of finance capital being allowed to operate above the sphere of democratic regulation are plain for all to see. In many respects, from the manner in which protest is policed to the appearance of shacks, the third world is creeping into the first.

The global revolt that circulated between North Africa, the Middle East, the Mediterranean and the United States last year has three distinct thrusts. There is a rejection of brutal dictatorships that contained social aspirations, most often with Western backing. There is a rejection, also, of the way in which capital has diminished democracy in the West. There is also a rejection of an economic model that leaves the one percent unimaginably wealthy and a growing proportion of the rest facing lives considerably worse than their parents. This rebellion may be contained. But it may also develop into a significant challenge to the system that has allowed capital to steadily escape social obligation and it may open up possibilities to really rethink what we mean by democracy and the relation between the society and the economy. In some parts of the world the political imagination closed at the end of the Cold War but that moment is passing now. There is a scent of opportunity in this crisis.

Here in South Africa the ANC brought us, for the first time, a genuine political union. In 1994 we became one people under one law. No history of the ANC, whatever its critiques of the movement, can deny that it and it alone had the strength and vision to bring us into a genuine union and to open the possibility for the ongoing development of a free and just society in a manner that no longer requires blood, jail and all the rest. But the problem with national liberation movements is that because they are persecuted and become, to some degree anyway, the organised expression of the nation in exile and underground, they have an inherent tendency to paranoia and suspicion of open disputation.

And because every nation contains its own diversity - material, inherited and chosen - freedom after any long night of oppression requires not the continuation of a unity that is essentially martial but, on the contrary, the setting aside of the logic of militarism and paranoia and the resumption of open disputation. Karl Marx gives a wonderfully succinct account of the democratic ideal - 'an association of free human beings who educate one another'. Of course this has to be in struggle as much as in debate but struggle within a framework that allows organisation, protest and, where necessary, disruption.

From Cairo to New York, Madrid, Athens, Damascus, Moscow and many other places around the world, people are, often at great personal risk, reconstituting the power of open mass assembly to demand democracy against outright dictatorship or its capture and hollowing out by the interface between money and politics. But in South Africa the ANC is trying, formally and informally, in parliament and on the streets, to curtail democracy. It's leading figures no longer walk the back roads with the new pariahs – the unemployed, shack dwellers, sex workers, undocumented migrants, lesbians facing assault, learners in some schools. Outright state violence is being used to expel poor people from the cities and state and party violence is being used to repress the right of poor people to independent political organisation and expression.

Over the last hundred years the ANC has had its shameful moments but it has also had its glorious moments and it has often been far closer to the best of the spirit of the age than any of the range of forces it opposed. But a hundred years later, it’s clearly on the wrong side of the most bracing currents moving history forward. The time when the ANC could be counted as an emancipatory movement has passed. Today we have to look elsewhere for a resolute insistence that democracy must be for us all and that it must subordinate capital to society.

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* Richard Pithouse teaches politics at Rhodes University.
* This article was first published by SACSIS.
* Please send comments to editor[at]pambazuka[dot]org or comment online at Pambazuka News.


Is the ANC 100 or 57 years old?

Motsoko Pheko

2012-01-12

http://pambazuka.org/en/category/features/78998


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As the ANC celebrates its 100th anniversary, has it remained true to its founding principles? Did a section of the party sell out the dispossessed with the Freedom Charter in 1955?

What was the fundamental objective of the ANC when it was formed in 1912? Did the present ANC leaders, especially since June 1955, pursue the primary goal of the 1912 ANC as envisaged by the founding fathers? Is the present ANC therefore 100 years old or 57 years old? Does it have the same objectives and policies as the 1912 ANC? Why was South Africa last to be ‘liberated’ on the African continent, and without repossession of the land, economic power and with so much poverty among the African people?

On 8 January 1912, when opening the inaugural conference of the ANC (then called SANNC), Dr. Pixley ka Seme said, ‘Kings of the royal blood and gentlemen of our race, we have gathered here to consider and discuss a scheme my colleagues have decided to place before you…In the land of our birth, Africans are treated as hewers of wood and drawers of water. The whites have formed what is known as the Union of South Africa in which we have no voice.’

African kings had fought many wars of national resistance against colonialism for over 200 years until their spears succumbed to the guns of the colonial aggressors. All had their lands forcefully taken from them. Others, like King Hintsa, had fallen in battle against rapacious colonial forces.

WHAT PRECIPITATED THE FORMATION OF THE ANC IN 1912?

An ANC leader, Dr. S. Moridi Molema, described these colonialists in 1952 as ‘men who are nothing else but robbers, villains and traitors to the highest and noblest teachings of Christianity which they so blatantly profess, men shockingly contemptuous of their conscience and now in a frenzy of self-adulation preparing to embrace each other and shake their bloody hands...and ready to commence another evil era of rapine and oppression.’

The colonial laws that precipitated the formation of the ANC in 1912 were the Union of South Africa Act 1909 and the Native Land Act 1913. The 1909 Act stated that to qualify as a member of the House of Assembly a person had to be a British subject of European descent. In 1909, there were five million Africans in Azania (South Africa) and a total of 349,537 colonial settlers, according to the 1904 census. The five million indigenous Africans remained helpless spectators as the tragedy of their land dispossession unfolded before them. The 1909 Act was followed by the Native Land Act of 1913. This colonial law allocated 93 per cent of the country to 349,837 European settlers and 7 per cent to five million Africans.

Sol Plaatje, who became the first secretary of ANC in 1912, wrote about why Africans were dispossessed of their land. ‘In the harvest of 1911, there was panic among white farmers because an African had garnered 3,OOO bags of wheat and another 1,6OO bags...in a neighbourhood where their white neighbours reaped 300 to 400 bags of wheat. African export produce was looming in the not distant future. Then public opinion which in this country stands for white opinion asserted itself. “Where will we get servants?” It was asked, “if the Kaffirs are allowed to become skilled? A Kaffir with 3,000 bags of wheat! What will he do with the money? If they are inclined to herd pedigree stock let them improve their masters (whites) cattle and cultivate for them”.’

Earl Glen, a British official, had put the issue of land dispossession of the African in South Africa, colonially clear. ‘The Africans are generally looked upon by Whites as an inferior race whose interests must be systematically disregarded when they come into competition with their own, and should be governed with a view to the advantage of the superior race. For this reason two things must be afforded to white colonists obtaining land...the Kaffir should be made to furnish as large and cheap labour as possible.’

ANC FOUNDERS IN TALKS WITH KING GEORGE V ON LAND DISPOSSESSION IN 1914

There was panic among African leaders and their people. On 20 July 1914, the leaders of the newly formed ANC went to England to present a petition to King George V, protesting land dispossession of the African people. They were President John L. Dube, Secretary Sol Plaatje, Walter Rubusana, Thomas Mapikela and Saul Msane.

In part, their petition read that Africans ‘loved their country with a most intense love...that their land had been taken away from them, their military and other institutions brought to nought.’ The petition of the five ANC founders demanded: ‘…that the natives ( Africans) be put into possession of land in proportion to their numbers and on the same conditions as the white race.’ The delegation achieved nothing, except for a favourable London daily newspaper report on the cause of their mission in England.

‘In carving out estates for themselves in Africa, the white races have shown little regard for the claims of the black man. They have appropriated his land and have taken away his economic freedom and have left him in a worse case than they found him…That the African has been dispossessed may be illustrated by the facts in regard to the Union of South Africa. Here blacks compared with whites are in the proportion of four to one, but are in legal occupation of only one fifteenth of their land...the deputation of Natives (ANC leaders) now in England have appealed to the imperial government for protection. They asked for the suspension of the Native Land Act 1913…’

‘SETTLERS ARE RECEIVERS OF STOLEN GOODS’ – A BRITISH HUMANITARIAN

Some justice conscious whites spoke about the land dispossession of the African people. Here are a few examples:

a. ‘The active seizure by force or guile of lands actually in possession of the Africans was a blunder of the first magnitude and an act of injustice.’ – Sir Godfrey Lagden
b. ‘The mistake we made in South Africa in the past was our failure in reserving sufficient land for the future of the natives and the problem we have in consequence on our hands is one of the most difficult.’ - Jan Smuts in 1930
c. ‘Aborigines have had wholesale robbery of territory committed upon them and settlers have become receivers of stolen good.’ – Blackhouse, a British humanitarian.

PRESENT ANC REPUDIATED LAND DISPOSSESSION OF AFRICANS 57 YEARS AGO

The present ANC is not 100 years old. It abandoned the fundamental objectives of the 1912 ANC 57 years ago. In 1955, a section of the 1912 ANC leadership was captured by a section of the white ruling class. Despite the background of the Union of South Africa Act 1909 and the Native Land Act 1913, in 1955 the authors of the Freedom Charter preamble falsely proclaimed: ‘We, the people of South Africa, declare for all our country and the world to know: that South Africa belongs to all who live in it, black and white...and therefore, we the people of South Africa black and white together, equals, countrymen and brothers adopt the Charter.’

This was a colossal colonial fraud. Fifty-seven years after this deception there are two ‘nations’ in South Africa. One is an extremely rich and white minority and the other is an extremely poor and 80 per cent African majority. In 1943, 1944, 1948 and 1949 the Congress Youth League had formulated four freedom documents. The 1912 ANC had adopted these documents as its policy. It implemented them under Presidents A.B. Xuma, Dr. James Moroka and Chief Albert Luthuli. The Freedom Charter defectors threw them into the political dustbin and replaced them with this so-called Freedom Charter.

On the economy, the 1944 document had proclaimed, ‘The Congress Youth League holds that political democracy remains an empty form without substance unless it is properly grounded on a base of economic democracy…Land: The re-division of land among farmers and peasants of all nationalities in proportion to their numbers…The improvement of land, the reclamation of denuded areas and conservation of water supplies…’

A section of the 1912 ANC that rejected The Freedom Charter declared: ‘Following the capture of a portion of the Black leadership of South Africa by a section of the white ruling class, the masses of our people are in extreme danger of losing sight of the objective of our struggle…This captured leadership claims to be fighting for freedom when in truth it is fighting to perpetuate the tutelage of the African people. It is tooth and nail against Africans gaining effective control of their land…It has completely abandoned the objectives of freedom. It has joined the ranks of the reactionaries. It is no longer within the ranks of the liberation movement…These leaders after doing a dirty job namely, seeing to it that the African is deprived for all time of his inherent right to control his country effectively, of seeing to it that whatsoever new social order is established in this country, the essentials of white domination are retained, even though its frills and trappings has been labelled multi-racialism by their masters.’

ANC President Albert Luthuli did not know who drafted the Freedom Charter. ‘I can only speak vaguely about its preparations…’ he has written in his book ‘Let my people go’ (First Edition). ‘The main disadvantage from which it suffered was that the branches submitted materials for the Charter at a very late hour - too late in fact, for the statement to be boiled down into a comprehensive statement. It was not possible for the National Action Committee to circulate the draft carefully…The result is that the declaration in the Charter is uneven.’ The ANC president, who was elected according to the fundamental objectives and policy of the ANC as founded in 1912, therefore admitted that the Freedom Charter was open to criticism and was vague. There was therefore definitely a fundamental change in the policy of the 1912 ANC in 1955.

A section of ANC leaders and members of the ANC who stood by the fundamental objectives of the ANC as constituted in 1912 declared, ‘In 1949, we got the African people to accept the nation-building programme of that year. We have consistently and honestly stuck to that programme which according to us is in irreconcilable conflict with the 1949 programme of action seeing that land no longer belongs to the African people…In numerous ANC conferences, we have made it clear that we are committed to the overthrow of white colonial domination and restoration of land to its rightful owners. We are now launching openly on our own, as custodians of the ANC policy as it was formulated in 1912…’

THE 1955 ANC IS THE ANTI-THESIS OF THE 1912 ANC

The fundamental change in the 1955 ANC policy is affirmed by Ernest Harsh, the author of ‘South Africa: White Rule, Black Revolt’, when he writes, ‘Because of its hostility to militant African Nationalism and its policy of seeking blocs with white “democratic” forces, the South African Communist Party bore a certain degree of responsibility for the change in the ANC policies.’

In 1984, General Sebastian Mabote, the chief commander of the Mozambican army explained on behalf of President Samora Machel why his country agreed to support the Zimbabwean freedom fighters in Rhodesia, but was not prepared to give the same measure of aid to the ANC of South Africa. He said, ‘The Zimbabwe guerrillas are fighting for self-determination, independence and liberty. In South Africa the ANC is carrying on a fight for civil rights and not an armed struggle for national liberation (Sowetan 10th March 1984).’

CONSEQUENCES OF CHANGING POLICY

The 1955 ANC became a civil rights movement. In 1994 it negotiated ‘democracy’ and not equitable redistribution of land and resources according to population numbers. The Native Land Act 1913, through which Africans were dispossessed, is entrenched in Section 25(7) of the South African Constitution. The negotiations the ANC pursued at CODESA with the apartheid Nationalist Party in 1994 were not in accord with the fundamental objectives of the 1912 ANC. John Pilger, in his book ‘The betrayal of the South African revolution’, reminds how in September 1985 the Freedom Charter ANC leaders met a group of whites in Lusaka, led by the chairman of the Anglo-American Corporation, Gavin Relly. The Johannesburg stock market had crashed and the apartheid regime defaulted on its debt and the chieftains of South African capital took fright. Their message to the ANC leaders in exile was that ‘transition’ to a black-governed liberal democracy was possible, only if ‘order’ and ‘stability’ were guaranteed. This was a reference to a ‘free market’ state where social justice would not be a priority. What followed later were secret meetings that took place in England.

As Pilger puts it: ‘The prime movers who had underpinned and profited from apartheid - such as the British mining giant Consolidated Fields, picked up the bill for the classical wines and malt whisky scoffed around the fire place at Mells Park House. The aim of the Pretoria regime to split the ANC between the exile moderates with whom they could do business and the majority who made up those resisting in the townships.’

Prof. Sampie Terreblanch observes: ‘The ANC’s core leaders effectively sold its sovereign freedom to implement an independent and appropriate socio-economic policy for a mess of potage when it entered into several compromises with the corporate sector and its global partners. These unfortunate transactions must be retracted or renegotiated (A History Of Inequality in South Africa 1652- 2OO2).’

If the leaders who founded the ANC in 1912 and those who presented a petition on land dispossession of the African people to King George V were alive, this year, what would they say? How would African kings and those warriors who died in those many battle fields to defend this country against colonialism, feel when they see that for 57 years, the land question in South Africa has not been a fundamental issue for this ANC since 1955? If, as the Freedom Charter states, ‘South Africa belongs to all who live in it, black and white...equals, countrymen and brothers...’ why is the ANC spending billions it has not got, buying land for blacks from whites on an exploitative ‘willing seller willing buyer’ basis and inflated selling prices? This is getting the ANC government deeper into debt without resolving the land question in South Africa.

The demand that was made by the 1912 ANC leaders ‘that the Africans must be put into possession of land according to their numbers’ has not been met. This primary demand of the African national liberation struggle was betrayed in 1955. Section 25 of the ‘New South Africa’ constitution is the same thing as the Native Land Act 1913. No sane nation has ever commemorated its genocide or spat on the graves of its ancestors.

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* Dr. Motsoko Pheko is the writer of several books, the latest of which is ‘How Freedom Charter Betrayed the Dispossessed’. He is the former representative of the victims of apartheid at the United Nations and at the UN Commission on Human Rights in Geneva as well as a former member of the South African Parliament. Cell: 0761414204
* Please send comments to editor[at]pambazuka[dot]org or comment online at Pambazuka News.


Can Durban recover from city-scale neoliberal nationalism?

Patrick Bond

2012-01-11

http://pambazuka.org/en/category/features/78995


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South Africa's coastal city of Durban - home to over three million - has said goodbye to long-standing City Manager Michael Sutcliffe, who reigned over a municipal version of neoliberal nationalism.

January opened as the South African city of Durban’s first time since 2002 without City Manager Michael Sutcliffe. He became well known across the world as a target of community and environmental activism, for catalyzing a $400 million stadium for the soccer World Cup in 2010, and for hosting the COP17 climate summit last month, in a city of 3.5 million of whom a third are dirt-poor and another third struggle as underpaid workers.

Why did they put up with Sutcliffe’s mainly malevolent rule? Alongside constituencies of fisherfolk, streetchildren and informal traders, many grassroots groups like the South Durban Community Environmental Alliance, the Chatsworth Westcliff Flatdwellers, Abahlali base Mjondolo shackdwellers and Clairwood Ratepayers and Residents Association have long condemned race-and class-biased municipal policy and Sutcliffe’s viciousness. But the prestige of the African National Congress (ANC) liberation movement means the ruling party has been comfortably re-elected since the days of Mandela (1994-99). Until the leading trade unions break their alliance with the ANC, that won’t change, and ruthless men like Sutcliffe will stay at the top of government.

With ambitions of urban restructuring akin to Haussmann of Paris and Moses of New York, Sutcliffe was a most divisive leader. Raised in Durban and granted a PhD in geography from Ohio State University, he was a very rare white technocrat who wielded enormous political power through skilled manipulation of factions within the ruling party. To the surprise of many, he amplified his power by making a quick loyalty shift in 2007 from former president Thabo Mbeki to local favourite Jacob Zuma.

Sutcliffe’s one-man reign terrorized many poor and working people, and also irritated the white petit-bourgeoisie who saw him as a rabid Stalinist, especially when without consultation, he changed more than a hundred colonial-era street names (such as Moore Rd to Che Guevara Rd). But shifts in appearance matter little, when with Sutcliffe’s facilitation, the city’s apartheid structures also evolved into even more discriminatory and exclusionary zones, like the new edge city of Umhlanga – with the southern hemisphere’s largest shopping mall – and nearby ‘gated communities’ such as Mount Edgecombe.

Sutcliffe’s departure interview with the Financial Mail last week was revealing: ‘As far as the decisions go, there are no regrets; we did what was necessary and had to be done.’

No regrets? Wikipedia’s entry on Sutcliffe lists his legacy as ‘street renamings, the loss of the city’s Blue Flag beach status, illegally banning protests, banning posters, serious human rights abuses in the city’s housing program, the failed privatization of the city’s bus system, allegations of spin-doctoring, the failed uShaka Marine World, threats to withdraw advertising from newspapers employing journalists critical of the municipality, lack of action against environmental destruction, favouritism toward ANC-aligned individuals and businesses, unlawful and at times violent violations of the basic rights of street traders and shack dwellers and corruption.’

Speaking to Durban’s Daily News (the largest English newspaper) last week, Sutcliffe was adamant: ‘I have never been and will never be involved in fraud and corruption.’ Yet even the provincial ANC requested a forensic investigation after the national auditor-general’s 2009-10 report on the city identified ‘irregular expenditure’ of $65 million that year and ‘irregular housing contracts’ of more than $400 million during Sutcliffe’s reign. Three other municipal officials were also implicated.

For example, contracts for building more than 3,000 houses (at more than $25 million) involved Durban’s notoriously ostentatious Mpisane family, which faces multiple prosecutions for tax fraud and corruption. In 2010, Sutcliffe told The Daily News, ‘The reports that these houses were built to sub-standard levels are absolute nonsense and part of media frenzy. I challenge anyone to visit every single one of those houses and they will see that the houses are not falling apart.’

The National Home Builders’ Registration Council then found defects in more than 1,000 Mpisane-built houses, with more than a third requiring structural rehabilitation.

The closest to a confession by Sutcliffe was last week in The Daily News: ‘We have not followed every single supply chain mechanism in the book because we needed to ensure service delivery took place efficiently. We have been able to build more than 22,000 houses in one year because we fast-tracked procedures.’

But many thousands more houses should have been built, much more quickly and with much better quality and less cronyism. By the time of the World Cup, Durban’s housing backlog stood at 234,000, yet as the Academy for Science in South Africa determined last May, the annual addition to the city’s low-income housing stock had dropped from 16,000 to 9,500 by 2009, and ‘given the current budget the backlog will only be cleared by 2040’.

In mid-2008, Sutcliffe had told the Mail&Guardian newspaper, ‘We can address the housing backlog in the city within seven or eight years.’

One reason for a worsening housing crisis was that Sutcliffe diverted city reserves into building the Moses Mabhida Stadium in 2008-10, notwithstanding a next-door world-class rugby stadium (Kings Park) available for upgrading. Cost overruns skyrocketed the prestige project’s price from $240 to $400 million, with the usual tiny set of ANC-supporting tycoons winning construction contracts.

The combination of incompetence and arrogance proved hugely expensive, for as opposition city councilor Dean Macpherson complained a year ago, Sutcliffe ‘didn’t see fit to consult with the [popular rugby-playing] Sharks before Mabhida was built and now we have a stadium that the Sharks won’t move to, basically stands empty and will cost the ratepayers of Durban billions to fund in the future.’ Sutcliffe’s hope for justifying Mabhida Stadium by hosting the 2020 Olympics was dashed in mid-2011 by rare national budgetary common sense.

Last year featured many such allegations against Sutcliffe, as an open feud with former city mayor Obed Mlaba left blood dripping from knives in both their backs. Last January, Sutcliffe publicly announced that he wanted another five-year contract. But he had made too many mistakes and enemies, and his ally leading the provincial ANC, John Mchunu, had died the year before.

Other complaints mounted: Sutcliffe’s supersized salary and bonuses (higher than Zuma’s); brutality against street children removed prior to major events and against fisherfolk trying to use beach piers; the celebrated 2010 beachfront rehab’s still-empty storefronts and dead palm trees; and the unprocedural street renaming, culminating in November with a Supreme Court decision against Sutcliffe on the first nine changes.

Sutcliffe’s last month on the job must have been even more frustrating, beginning on 2 December with yet another defeat in court against activists demanding the right to march in central Durban. Opposed to the COP17 UN climate summit, their desired route passed the US Consulate, City Hall and the International Convention Centre. This was approved by a local judge who made Sutcliffe pay court costs.

Then came revenge. ‘Obviously smarting from his failure to impose his will on our right to assembly and protest, he hired 150-200 “Host City Volunteers”,’ explained Rehad Desai of the Democratic Left Front. ‘Paid R180 for their services,’ these ‘Green Bomber goons’ – as Desai called them to remind of Robert Mugabe’s Zimbabwe paramilitary – wore distinctive green tracksuits with Durban and COP17 logos.

After seeing critical posters at the 3 December march of around 8,000 people, Sutcliffe’s volunteers began ‘singing pro-Zuma and pro-COP17 slogans. Their presence on a climate justice demonstration remains a mystery. [Climate activists were] denied water, beaten with fists and had their banners torn down. The rural women, representing countries from all over Africa, were taunted by certain Green Bombers with crude sexist abuse.’

Five days later at City Hall, Desai and two other activists from Greenpeace and ActionAid were attacked by the Green Bombers, simply for holding up posters: ‘Zuma stand with the poor not the corporations.’ Remarked Sutcliffe in The Witness newspaper the next day, ‘They deserved that reaction from people. People were outraged, especially after what happened at the weekend. Why vent when they had the opportunity when the president had come to listen? Surely that’s not right.’

To ‘vent’ by silently holding up a poster in City Hall deserves a beating?

Critical academics label this thuggish ideology ‘neoliberal nationalism’: a vindictive, anti-poor deployment of state power and resources, combined with revolutionary-sounding bombast, reviving Mbeki’s ‘talk-left, walk-right’ moves. We saw this most vividly in Sutcliffe’s 2009 attempt to evict low-income informal traders from the century-old Warwick Early Morning Fruit/Vegetable Market on behalf of a crony’s shopping mall project, which only mass community protests reversed following a late-night police attack.

But ironically, the year before, the American Association of Geographers (AAG) awarded Sutcliffe the Gilbert F. White Distinguished Public Service Honors and the James R. Anderson Medal of Honor in Applied Geography. Sutcliffe’s sponsor for the award, Kevin Cox (a faraway Marxist who supervised Sutcliffe’s doctoral thesis), described these awards as ‘among the most prestigious recognitions in geography… Over a lengthy career as political activist and trusted member of the ANC government, Mike has proven himself to be an applied geographer par excellence and with a strong pro-people bent.’

According to the AAG website, the Anderson Medal of Honor reflects ‘the most distinguished service to the profession of geography’ and ‘A medal is so distinctive an honor that it is bestowed only if the accomplishments are truly outstanding,’ while ‘Public Service’ means the awardees ‘gained more than usual recognition by co-workers, public officials and fellow citizens, and have clearly influenced the progress of the community.’

No doubt, Sutcliffe gained more than usual recognition and until last Friday he enjoyed huge influence. But by any reasonable measure these were of mainly negative consequence. For example, prior to managing Durban, his role leading the country’s Municipal Demarcation Board led to repeated protests by poor people against boundaries. And by generating vast geographic distances within most rural municipalities, he sharply curtailed local democracy.

While expanding Durban’s highways in a manner Engels described in 1844 Manchester – so that rich people could drive more quickly through poor areas – Sutcliffe oversaw other infrastructure disasters. Public transport declined, water systems failed and his shipping/petrochemical-centric urban industrial project threatens South Durban’s 200,000 residents with forced relocation and more pollution. And Sutcliffe’s promotion of the World Bank’s Clean Development Mechanism for Durban’s Bisasar Road landfill cemented environmental racism.

It could well be argued that Sutcliffe’s municipal version of neoliberal nationalism was structurally ordained, and that by focusing too much on his personal foibles we distract from a larger, more general problem.

That structural problem, sometimes termed ‘interurban entrepreneurialism’, bests many power-hungry officials. As City University of New York professor David Harvey noted 23 years ago in a seminal article, ‘To the degree that interurban competition becomes more potent, it will almost certainly operate as an “external coercive power” over individual cities to bring them closer into line with the discipline and logic of capitalist development. It may even force repetitive and serial reproduction of certain patterns of development such as “world trade centers” or new cultural and entertainment centers, waterfront development, postmodern shopping malls, and the like.’

Bearing that in mind, is it time for Geography (the discipline in which I also hold a PhD) to reject unequal and uncaring municipal rule? It’s opportune to ask, now, as the Occupy movement in so many cities insists on transferring power from the 1% to everyone else. Vainly, I might also hope that the AAG will rethink and revoke its two idiotic awards to Sutcliffe, perhaps as early as at the annual meetings in New York next month, so as to avoid acute embarrassment in the event the ongoing Durban corruption investigation leads to criminal charges.

Many of us here anxiously await Sutcliffe’s promised autobiographical account of his nine years in power, because the vast extent of his misrule needs book-length consideration. At the very least, the ubiquitous political potholes dug by Sutcliffe across Durban provide his successor, Sibusiso Sithole, an excellent road map of where to make ideological, policy, management and attitude U-turns.

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* Patrick Bond’s new books are ‘Politics of Climate Justice’ and ‘Durban’s Climate Gamble’; he directs the University of KwaZulu-Natal Centre for Civil Society.
* Please send comments to editor[at]pambazuka[dot]org or comment online at Pambazuka News.


Sightings of the Egyptian deep state

Issandr El Amrani

2012-01-11

http://pambazuka.org/en/category/features/78994


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With months of violence and political turbulence in Egypt, it is the hybrid military-civilian deep state and its manipulations that could be the greatest cause for worry.

The turbulence that has hit Egypt since mid-November seems, at first glance, mostly a testament to the poor performance of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) in handling the transition away from the rule of Husni Mubarak. Having assumed power on February 10, the SCAF moved quickly to attain the stamp of popular legitimacy through a March 19 referendum on constitutional amendments. Since then, however, the conclave of generals has stumbled over the flawed logic of its own plan for the transition, as well as ad hoc decision making and a high-handed, dismissive attitude toward the new politics of the country. The SCAF’s plan, in brief, was to engineer a restoration of civilian rule that shielded the army’s political and economic prerogatives from civilian oversight, and perhaps bolstered those roles, yielding a system not unlike the “deep state” that prevailed for decades in Turkey. Such was the system in Egypt, in fact, under Mubarak.

As a return to civilian government looms, with Parliament set to reopen and presidential elections scheduled for no later than July 2012, the SCAF is no closer to securing such behind-the-scenes dominance for the military and is much further from winning popular consent to that arrangement. Indeed, for much of the political class and a not inconsequential slice of public opinion, the violence of the early winter has reduced the military’s moral authority to a level unseen since its defeat at Israel’s hands in 1967.

In some respects, this delegitimization is not unlike the erosion of Mubarak’s authority over the 2000s: Just as the deposed president, once deemed untouchable, became the butt of activist and media scorn from late 2004 onward, the military now finds itself subjected to unprecedented criticism and scrutiny. The difference is that the SCAF’s fall from grace is occurring at an accelerated pace, propelled by the new faith in participatory politics unleashed by the January uprising and the army’s own bungling.

Fateful Triangle

In the eyes of some, the protest movement and the political class share blame with the SCAF for the stalling of the post-Mubarak transition - the former for taking to the streets without a clearer long-term agenda, the latter for failing to elaborate a coherent counterpoint to SCAF’s misadministration. Instead of working together, politicians of all stripes engaged in time-wasting arguments about the identity of Egypt, eventually turning to the SCAF for arbitration.

Egypt’s largest and closest-knit political party force, the Muslim Brothers, cozied up to the generals, who were comforted by the Brothers’ supposed ability to control the streets. The Brothers, officially outlawed under Mubarak and his predecessors, obtained a degree of “normalization,” as well as a transition plan that favored them. An Islamist intellectual luminary, the former judge Tariq al-Bishri, chaired the commission tasked with redrafting the six constitutional articles for the March 19 referendum. This body included no representatives of secular parties or revolutionary youth groups, and only one politician, the Brothers’ former MP from Alexandria, Subhi Salih. The Brothers and other Islamists campaigned for the amendments’ approval, at times presenting a “yes” vote as a religious duty. After 79 percent of voters said “yes,” the amended clauses were incorporated into a 62-article “constitutional declaration” that was simply decreed by the SCAF. But the Brothers were attracted by the generals’ blueprint putting parliamentary elections first - ahead of a completely new constitution that would allocate Parliament’s powers - because their superior numbers and organization made them most likely to succeed.

Secular politicians, for their part, strove in vain to get the SCAF’s imprimatur upon the outlines of a new constitution. Some of them, particularly the newly registered parties that chose to recruit from the ranks of the formerly ruling National Democratic Party, now defunct, sought the tacit backing of the ancien régime.

Formation of this Islamist-SCAF-secularist triangle naturally redounded to the generals’ benefit. The ruling brass positioned themselves as umpires of what was, for the most part, a non-dispute over how such terms as “Islamic” and “civil” ought to figure in the definition of the post-Mubarak polity. The secularists had fallen into the Islamists’ trap of debates over identity, where they could never win, rather than respond to the public’s demands for social justice, prosperity, and law and order.

In the meantime, the politicians lent little succor to the protest movement - a motley crew of liberal youths, seasoned radicals and many thousands of unaffiliated sympathizers for whom the January uprising is an indelible memory. Those activists who reject formal politics or wish to work independently found themselves the target of reinvigorated security services; a state media machine that painted them as troublemakers and, increasingly, traitors; and the SCAF-led project to promote “stability” over “chaos” and “sectoral (fi’awi) demands,” code for supposedly parochial concerns whose expression was detrimental to national progress.

Already in mid-February, several activists were sent before military tribunals, which offer no possibility of appeal. The SCAF also continued to field civilian security services under the hated Emergency Law in place since 1981. In the autumn, other provisions of this law have been invoked, such as the prohibition upon public gatherings of more than five persons. The murder rap facing the blogger Alaa Abdel Fattah is only one of the ludicrous charges thrown at well-known protesters.

Dark Clouds Over Cairo

The military’s claim to be guardian of the revolution has been weakening since soon after Mubarak was toppled. The SCAF was slow to arrest kingpins of the old regime, and its military police maltreated protesters in March and April, as with the infamous “virginity tests” of women. The protest movement’s mounting dissatisfaction culminated in the reoccupation of Tahrir Square in July. Another turning point was the October 9 confrontation at the state broadcasting headquarters, known as Maspero, in which 25 protesters for Coptic rights died at the hands of army troops. (The SCAF claims that an unknown number of soldiers were also killed; Abdel Fattah is accused of murder in this connection.) If many Egyptians accepted that these deaths resulted from panic among the soldiers, the SCAF’s grip on public sympathy has slipped badly amid the clashes of November and December.

Unlike previous instances, Maspero and a few others excepted, the most recent confrontations - in Cairo, Alexandria and Suez - have been very bloody, claiming at least 57 lives and wounding over 1,500. The clashes began on November 19, the day after a peaceful “million-man march” in Tahrir Square, led by Islamist groups but also attracting significant secular participation. The protesters focused their ire on “supra-constitutional principles” drafted by then Deputy Prime Minister ‘Ali al-Salmi, an attempt to predetermine basic tenets of a new constitution as well as rules for the composition of the future constitutional assembly. Among the proposed measures: guaranteed secrecy for the military budget and SCAF authority to impose its own constituent assembly should the body appointed by Parliament fail to agree upon a draft national charter. The day of protest against the army’s power grab passed without incident.

The decision by salafi groups and the Muslim Brothers to back the November 18 demonstration marked the Islamist forces’ first public break with the SCAF. Coming less than two weeks before the start of parliamentary elections, it was an important challenge to the military. The Islamists were confident in their electoral chances, however, and it is premature to declare a divorce between them and the army. The Brothers have resorted to protest only on rare occasion: Indeed, for most of the transition period, their cadre have stood aside, a decision many frequenters of Tahrir Square see as evidence of a deal with the SCAF. Strengthening this analysis is the fact that the Brothers, as well as salafis, largely withdrew from Tahrir at 6 pm on November 18, leaving other activists behind. By the next morning, only a few hundred diehards stayed with the small encampment of families of victims of the January uprising. The families had set up their tents several weeks previous to demand investigations into the deaths of their loved ones and delivery of the promised compensation.

The November-December violence stems from the state’s decision to send in riot police to clear out these remaining demonstrators. The police used considerable force, prompting the full reoccupation of Tahrir Square and a fracas on the adjoining Muhammad Mahmoud Street that claimed 40 lives and wounded hundreds, many of them critically. Police snipers were found to be aiming for protesters’ heads; several activists lost an eye, including one who had already lost a first eye in January. The massive use of tear gas over the ensuing week shrouded much of central Cairo in an acrid cloud, afflicting hundreds, if not more, with serious ailments. Doctors at the field hospital set up by volunteers witnessed several cases of seizures brought on by tear gas inhalation. Whether, as many suspect, a substance other than ordinary CS gas was used in still under investigation. Some activists allege that military-grade chemicals were deployed when normal tear gas proved ineffective.

The circumstances of the decision to order the unnecessary police intervention of November 18 are puzzling. Several cabinet ministers have stated that they opposed such a step, including, oddly, the minister of interior, who officially oversees the riot police, the Central Security Forces. The SCAF or other security officers may have overruled them. Equally strange is that the fighting was allowed to go on for several days before the army intervened, taking advantage of a truce to build a wall to separate the riot police from the protesters.

The Muhammad Mahmoud Street clashes, which recalled the scenes of police brutality in late January, outraged the public. The SCAF made some important concessions, agreeing to hold presidential elections by July 2012 (previously they could have been held as late as mid-2013) and sacking the ineffectual government of ‘Isam Sharaf, the former Mubarak-era minister of transport whose early pro-revolutionary stance had won over protesters in February. Attention shifted quickly away from Tahrir Square as parliamentary elections began on November 28, drawing large crowds to polling stations.

Over the next two weeks, Tahrir Square reopened and its occupiers launched a satellite sit-in three blocks south, in front of the prime minister’s office on People’s Assembly Street, where Parliament is also located. The protesters advanced multiple demands, some of them long standing and others of fresh provenance. They called for an end to military trials and accountability for police brutality, for instance, as well as opposing the appointment of Kamal al-Ganzouri, a Mubarak-era prime minister (1996-1999), as the new caretaker premier. After Sharaf’s firing, there had been hope that the military would share power with a civilian presidential council. The sit-in perdured through the first weeks of December with no problems aside from a dozen cases of food poisoning. The country was riveted by the elections and, in particular, by the success of the Muslim Brothers and the salafis, who respectively garnered some 40 percent and 20 percent of seats in the first round.

The second round of street fighting began early on the morning of December 17, by most accounts when a member of the cabinet sit-in kicked a football into the gardens of Parliament and climbed over the gate to fetch it. After being detained by military police for several hours, he was returned to the protesters bruised and beaten. By the next morning, a makeshift barricade blocked People’s Assembly Street from the major artery of Qasr al-‘Ayni Street, which leads to Tahrir Square. On one side, protesters threw rocks, and on the other, men in civilian clothes and uniformed soldiers did the same. The authorities described the plainclothes combatants as irate residents, though there is no housing on that particular street; activists retorted that they were undercover police officers. Groups of soldiers and other men also stood on the roofs of nearby buildings, hurling rocks, makeshift Motolov cocktails, office furniture and debris down upon the protesters’ heads. Occasionally, each side stopped to shout insults and give their opponents the finger.

Their detractors, and many sympathizers, accused the protesters of throwing rocks for thrills or to get revenge. Most astonishing to Egyptians, however, was the behavior of military police and other soldiers. Never, they shook their heads, had men in khaki uniforms been allowed to behave so wantonly. Snipers were apparently used to kill protesters, including a prominent al-Azhar sheikh, ‘Imad ‘Iffat, who had come to broker a truce. Soldiers were captured on camera urinating on protesters from atop buildings and assaulting women, such as the “girl with the blue bra,” a volunteer doctor at the Tahrir Square field hospital whose brutal stomping is now gasped at worldwide. For most of this time, riot control troops and other regular police were absent. There is no information as to why the Ministry of Interior did not handle the protests, as it normally does. The soldiers were not only ready to treat Egyptians as poorly as the police do, but also to forgo the discipline one might expect of military men, and certainly of those so fulsomely praised for declining to fire on protesters in January and February.

The battle in front of the cabinet office petered out over the next few days, with deadly army raids pushing protesters back toward Tahrir Square. Two major streets near the plaza, Sheikh Rihan and Qasr al-‘Ayni, have joined Muhammad Mahmoud in being walled off by 12 feet of concrete, further scrambling Cairo’s already messy traffic. To the government and much of the pro-SCAF media, the protesters are hooligans far removed from the “true revolutionaries” of January. This line may retain some credence with the public, which is weary of disturbances. But it is undeniable that the credibility and legitimacy of the SCAF, and indeed the military institution as a whole, have suffered severe damage.

Below the Surface

Coming as they did in the middle of the elections, the protests had the potential to divert the road back to civilian rule. Among Islamists, in particular, the protests were deeply worrying. Most disquieted of all were the Muslim Brothers, who feared that prolonged unrest could lead to cancellation of the elections. Having lifted their moratorium on participation in large protests on November 18, the Brothers refused to support any subsequent ones. Their publications - the Arabic- and English-language websites and the daily newspaper of their new Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) - adopted a deliberate ambiguity on the subject. Leading Brothers who had been prominent in the January uprising, like the former MP Mahmoud al-Baltagi, were visibly distressed by the organization’s reticence toward mass politics, but eventually acquiesced.

Many spoke of a trap set by the SCAF, particularly during the second wave of protests near the cabinet building, when the military appeared to provoke and perpetuate the street battles. These observers noted the proximity of the People’s Assembly Street incidents to the Islamists’ gains in the first round of elections. If the Brothers had joined in the melee, they said, the SCAF would have had the excuse it was seeking to scotch the remainder of the balloting. The killing of the highly respected scholar Sheikh ‘Iffat, a member of Dar al-Ifta’, the authority empowered to issue fatwas on behalf of the Egyptian state, was particularly traumatic for Islamists. Abu al-‘Ila Madi, head of the Wasat Party, an offshoot of the Brothers since 1995, was booed away from ‘Iffat’s funeral at al-Azhar mosque because he was serving on a body appointed after the Muhammad Mahmoud Street protests to advise the SCAF. Madi resigned the next day.

The Brothers’ decision to stay out of the streets, their insistence on elections being paramount, their disdain for the protest movement, which at times echoes SCAF talking points - all this has earned them the opprobrium of many activists. In the view of many, the Brothers are overly concerned with elections that they have, in essence, already won. They are suspected of preparing, as the incoming legislature’s largest party and probable kingmaker in the presidential election, of preparing for coming negotiations with the army over Parliament’s powers and the writing of a new constitution. It is likely that the Brothers are thus preoccupied, and indeed some of them may tacitly approve of crackdowns on mostly secular protesters, but the Islamist factor does not explain why events have taken such a grim turn. If the SCAF and the Brothers were in cahoots, the army would not need to flex its muscles as it did on People’s Assembly Street. If, instead, the SCAF intended to assert its monopoly of violence as a message to the Brothers, as well as other political forces, it did so at the tremendous cost of shattering the reputation of its leader, Field Marshal Muhammad Husayn Tantawi, and sullying the image of the army both at home and abroad.

Apart from gross incompetence, the army’s actions have another explanation: reassertion of a “deep state” that was badly bruised during the January uprising and took some time to regain its footing. While the army may be the bedrock of the post-1952 Egyptian state, the country’s array of security agencies crosses the boundaries between civilian and military. The Ministry of Interior’s agencies were particularly battered by the uprising and the fall of the ex-minister, Habib al-‘Adli, who had amassed unmatched clout in his long years on the job. It is not clear who controls the Ministry today, but it is almost certain that the police veteran in charge when the wintertime clashes broke out, Mansour al-‘Isawi, was not master of his own house.

The strongest security agency in Egypt today is the General Intelligence Services (GIS), which gleans its senior staff from the military and whose only loss in January was its head, ‘Umar Sulayman, who briefly served as Mubarak’s first and last vice president. Sulayman was heir apparent from his appointment as vice president on January 29 until February 5, when an assassination attempt (most likely carried out by elements of the military) against him failed. He has not been seen since Mubarak’s departure (which he announced), aside from a visit to Mecca when he met Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Nayif.

Sulayman’s successor at the GIS is one of his former deputies, Murad Muwafi, a veteran of Egypt’s mediation in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Muwafi has been made a full member of the SCAF and plays a key role there alongside the “big three” generals believed to run the body: Tantawi, Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces Sami ‘Inan and Commander of the Army’s Central Command Hasan Ruwayni. Muwafi tends to lead negotiations with political figures, while the GIS is the SCAF’s main source of information - including, according to foreign officials who have met with SCAF members, the reports the generals frequently cite hinting at a foreign conspiracy against Egypt. The GIS, in other words, is the SCAF’s eyes and ears. Egypt’s ruling clique is unusually dependent on a single source of intelligence, one that appears to have taken over the Interior Ministry’s demoralized and sometimes vengeance-bent assets. Muhammad Ibrahim, the new minister of interior in the Ganzouri cabinet, is rumored to be close to the GIS.

It is worth recalling what the SCAF is, or rather, what it is not: The SCAF is not modeled on the chain of command in the armed forces, and its members have widely different degrees of interaction with, and influence upon, civilian affairs. Only half of the body is composed of military officers who occupy top billets in the army’s organogram, such as commander of the air force or navy. The rest are political officers, mainly lieutenants of Tantawi who held senior positions at the Ministry of Defense (and who often appear on television as spokesmen), or officers drawn from the GIS or the military’s own intelligence service (often a career precursor to a GIS assignment). The method by which the SCAF makes decisions, its frequent slowness in doing so, and the confusion that prevails (or is allowed to linger) over the manner in which it handles security issues, in particular - all these things are a mystery, even by the army’s customary standard of opacity.

In elite Egyptian circles, among the Muslim Brothers and amid an increasing number of activists, concern is growing that the SCAF’s right hand does not know what the left hand is doing. A bumbling SCAF would help to provide some explanation for the army’s spectacular mishandling of protests after months of building its popularity on declining to fire on protesters to defend the Mubarak regime. While incompetence is a tempting explanation - it is easy to picture the generals as a coterie of out-of-touch old men - it is no longer sufficient or convincing. For many activists, the leading interpretation of recent events is that SCAF has always been intent on restoring the practices of the Mubarak regime. But this theory, too, falls short, as the inner mechanisms of the SCAF’s decision-making, its dependence on intelligence agencies that have their own agenda and the likelihood that the generals are not all on the same wavelength must be factored in. As the SCAF inevitably recedes from the scene in 2012 - the election of a new president will oblige it to - it is the hybrid military-civilian deep state and its manipulations that could be the greatest cause for worry.

* For background on so-called fi’awi protest, see Hesham Sallam, “Striking Back at Egyptian Workers,” Middle East Report 259 (Summer 2011).

* For background on SCAF-Islamist relations, see Joshua Stacher, “Egypt Without Mubarak,” Middle East Report Online, April 7, 2011.

* This article was first published by the Middle East Research and Information Project.

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* Issandr El Amrani, a Cairo-based journalist, operates The Arabist website.
* Please send comments to editor[at]pambazuka[dot]org or comment online at Pambazuka News.


The army and the economy in Egypt

Mohamed Al-Khalsan

2012-01-12

http://pambazuka.org/en/category/features/79025


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Should the production of pasta, mineral water, butane gas cylinders and gas station services qualify as classified military secrets? The leaders of the Egyptian Armed Forces believe the answer is ‘yes.’

Until this very day, the role of the military establishment in the economy remains one of the major taboos in Egyptian politics. Over the past 30 years, the army has insisted on concealing information about its enormous interests in the economy and thereby keeping them out of reach of public transparency and accountability. The Egyptian Armed Forces owns a massive segment of Egypt’s economy — 25 to 40 percent, according to some estimates. In charge of managing these enterprises are the army’s generals and colonels, notwithstanding the fact that they lack the relevant experience, training or qualifications for this task.

The military’s economic interests encompass a diverse range of revenue-generating activities, including the selling and buying of real estate on behalf of the government, domestic cleaning services, running cafeterias, managing gas stations, farming livestock, producing food and manufacturing plastic table covers. All this information is readily available on the websites of relevant companies and factories, which publicly and proudly disclose that they belong to the army. Yet for some reason the military establishment insists on outlawing any public mention of these activities.

Why is the budget of the Egyptian army above public transparency and accountability? Is it because it is exclusively concerned with national defense and thus must remain classified? Not really.

It is certainly true that one part of the Egyptian army’s budget is concerned with defense-related activities, such as the procurement or co-production of weaponry. These activities, however, hardly have anything to do with the ‘classified’ part of the army’s budget. As a matter of fact, information about many of these budgetary items is readily available in public records. That is because such items are mainly concerned with Egypt’s joint endeavours with a foreign partner that is legally obligated to disclose to its own citizens a full account of its activities, including military aid and arms deals (or co-production of military equipment) with countries like Egypt. This partner is, of course, the United States government, which grants the Egyptian army an annual $1.3 billion in aid through its Foreign Military Financing program. Reports on official US government websites, such as that of the Government Accountability Office, Department of State, Department of Defense and Congress, provide data on US arms sales to Egypt and military equipment that the United States helped produce in Egyptian military factories.

The part of the military’s budget that is kept secret has little to do with national defense and more with the huge profits the army accrues from the production of non-military goods and services. In other words, these budgetary items have to do with: how many bags of pasta and bottled water were sold last month; how much money ‘Wataniyya’, the military’s gas station, generated last year; how many houses ‘Queen’, the military’s cleaning services company, attended to this month and how many nurseries the same company is in charge of running; how many truckloads of fresh beef have the military’s high-tech slaughterhouses in East Uwaynat sold this year; how many cabins they managed to rent out in the north coast Sidi Crir resort last summer; and how many apartments they sold in Kuliyyat al-Banat residential buildings and at what price. All these items together make up the ‘classified’ part of the army’s budget, which the military establishment insistently keeps off the public record and out of the reach of parliamentary and public deliberation as well as oversight. Attempting to discuss the army’s so-called classified activities in public could result in military prosecution and trial, because these are, supposedly, ‘national security secrets’ that Egypt’s rivals — like Israel — must not find out about.

This article examines the hidden role of the military in Egypt’s economy and how it tends to take on the form of economic activities for which the army is unfit and that steer the military establishment away from its principal obligations, namely advancing national defense and protecting the country’s borders. Of greater concern is how many of the army’s leaders have entered into networks of corruption and unlawful partnerships with private capital. The discussion that follows does not rely on classified sources, and is based on public information available in the news media, and the websites of the military-owned companies along with the job and marketing ads they publish.

The army’s control over economy began in the aftermath of the 1952 revolution/coup, which paved the way for Egypt’s experience with state socialism under leadership of the late President Gamal Abdel Nasser. During this era, the state came to own all economic assets and means of production through nationalisation programs. Austerity measures were adopted to limit consumption with the aim of enhancing the country’s economic independence. Egypt’s new ruling elite among army officers quickly installed themselves as the managers of state-owned enterprises — a task for which they were largely unqualified. ‘The people control all means of production,’ according to the 1964 constitution, and Egypt’s military rulers in turn took the initiative to claim this control on behalf of the people. As corruption and mismanagement soon proliferated throughout the public sector, Nasser’s project ultimately failed to deliver the promise of economic prosperity. In some ways this failure was unsurprising given that officers, whose skills and knowledgebase were limited to military affairs and warfare, came to assume responsibilities such as managing the economy and the means of production — tasks for which they were unprepared.

In the 1970s, the army’s monopoly over power started to erode as late President Anwar al-Sadat decided to take Egypt off its socialist path, and reintroduced market economics as a means for fostering strategic and economic ties with the West. Sadat took steps to privatise parts of the state-owned sector, which military leaders tended to control, and pursued policies that gave Western consumer goods and services access to Egyptian markets. These policies came at the partial marginalisation of military leaders, who now had to share influence with a rising community of crony capitalists, many of who were close to Sadat and his family.

Fortunately for military leaders, however, this humiliating situation did not last for very long as the 1979 peace treaty with Israel came to the rescue of army leaders, helping them recover some of the influence they had lost under Sadat’s presidency. After ending the state of war with Israel, Egyptian leaders reasoned that laying-off thousands of well-trained army officers is politically undesirable. Thus, the state established an economic body known as the ‘National Services Projects Organization’ (NSPO), which founded different commercial enterprises run by retired generals and colonels. Through various subsidies and tax exemptions, the state granted military-owned enterprises privileges not enjoyed by any other company in the public or private sectors. The military’s enterprises were not accountable to any government body, and were above the laws and regulations applied to all other companies.

After 1992, when deposed President Hosni Mubarak began advancing full-fledged economic liberalisation under US pressure — as proscribed by blueprints devised by the IMF and the World Bank — privatisation programs steered clear of military-owned enterprises. Even when the Gamal Mubarak-controlled cabinet of businessmen accelerated privatisation programs between 2004 and 2011, military-owned companies remained untouched. In fact, high-ranking army officers received their share of benefits from corruption-ridden privatisation deals in the form of appointments to prestigious positions in recently privatised public sector enterprises.

Generally speaking, the Egyptian military establishment does not believe in US-style neoliberalism or free market policies, particularly those that would result in the army’s loss of its valued companies and assets. Such feared measures include limiting the state’s economic role, privatisation and promoting the role of private capital. For instance, in a 2008 Wikileaks cable, a former US ambassador to Egypt indicated that Filed Marshal Tantawi was critical of economic liberalisation on the ground that it undermined the state’s control over the economy. Tantawi’s skepticism of neoliberal economics has little to do with his loyalty to the socialist model of the Soviet Union, where he received his training as a young officer. Rather, it is privatisation’s potential encroachments against the vast economic empire owned by the military that Tantawi fears the most.

As managers, Egyptian army leaders usually run their enterprises in a traditional Soviet style inherited from the Cold War era. Yet as consumers, they tend to adopt a more ‘Americanized,’ globalisation-friendly orientation. There is no doubt that the ties between Egyptian military elites and their counterparts in the Pentagon play a role in fostering this ‘consumerist' orientation among Egypt’s military leaders. As part of defense cooperation programs between the two countries, many Egyptian officers travel on annual trips to the United States, getting exposed to a lifestyle that is radically different from the life of Soviet-style austerity through which they endured during the sixties and seventies. For instance, as he made his famous visit to Tahrir Square to meet with protesters during last winter’s 18-day uprising, Tantawi arrived in a fancy US-made jeep. Lieutenant General Sami Anan, prominent member of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), is known for his fondness for American consumer goods, according to a New York Times article. During his regular visits to Washington DC, Anan and his family are reported to shop for jeans, clothes, and electronics at Tysons Corner shopping mall in the suburbs of northern Virginia. In fact, American-style consumerism is rumoured to be so prevalent among young army officers that many of them try to purchase their uniforms from American producers.

If military leaders were in fact fine administrators who are capable of advancing the country’s social and economic development, it would make sense for them to continue to maintain their economic interests and assets for the greater good of Egypt. But are they really capable of managing these enterprises? Once again, the answer is no. For example, very few of us have heard of ‘Queen,’ the army-produced brand of pasta. Those of us who know it have never once described it as the best brand on the market. Nor does one ever hear that the army’s ‘Wataniyyah’ gas stations offer services superior to those of other stations. Nor have we once heard anyone raving about ‘Safi’ mineral water and how every dining table should have it. In reality, the army manages to sell its products not due to their superior quality, but rather through draconian practices. For example, the army effectively forces enlisted soldiers to spend their meagre salaries on military-produced food products at army canteens in remote areas where non-military brands are not sold. In other cases, the army gets civilian distributors to sell its products by offering them ‘favours’ through underhanded deals.

Additionally, the military is heavily engaged in profiting from its control over vast amounts of land — thanks to a law that allows it to seize any public land for the purpose of ‘defending the nation.’ In practice, military leaders use this law in order to use public lands for commercial investments, rather than the legally mandated purpose of national defense. An agency known as The Armed Forces’ Land Projects specialises — as its name suggests — in launching projects on lands controlled by the Armed Forces. Properties owned by this agency include lands in Nasr City on which residential units are currently being constructed. In the northern coast, the military is using its seized lands to build tourist resorts and hotels, as it has done in Sidi Crir. Recent newspaper advertisements indicate that the Armed Forces are currently engaged in the commercial sale of lands in the northern coast for the purpose of building tourist resorts and residences.

Furthermore, as the managers of a state-owned economic empire built on corruption and oppression of working classes, military leaders have become decisively complicit in repressing labour and violating their rights.

Being an army general, a member of the National Democratic Party (NDP) and a Member of Parliament for ten years almost guarantees that one is part of a corruption network. General Sayed Mishaal perfectly fits this profile. Before becoming Minister of Military Production, Mishaal was a director of the National Service Projects Organization (NSPO). During that time, he was also a member of the NDP, and as an MP for Cairo’s district of Helwan for three consecutive terms from 2000 to 2011. He used to proudly brag about managing to name the military-produced bottled mineral water Safi after his daughter. Mishaal was removed from his post after the revolution as a result of referrals to the General Prosecutor accusing him of wasteful spending of the ministry’s funds. Mishaal’s victory in parliamentary elections in Helwan was made easy by the fact that he could mobilize the votes of tens of thousands of individuals who work at ‘Military Factory 99,’ located in the district. Mishaal used to show up at the factory to celebrate and make merry with the workers during election campaign events, only to disappear and hardly return after his victory.

The name ‘Military Factory 99’ has also become associated with the repression of workers, especially that labour-employer relations in the factory are not subject to traditional union or government regulations. In August 2010, Factory 99’s workers broke out into intense protests after one of their colleagues died as a result of an explosion. The director of the factory, who was also a general, had brought in a number of gas cylinders in order to test them out, even though the workers were not trained to use them. When several cylinders exploded, he told the workers that it would not matter if one or two of them died. Then, when one of them did in fact die, they stormed his office, gave him a beating, and then staged a sit-in. Subsequently, the workers’ leaders were tried in military courts for charges of revealing ‘war secrets’ on account that they spoke publicly about butane gas cylinders.

This in turn leads us to the issue of the repressive treatment of workers on military-owned livestock farms. These workers are usually poor conscripts who end up labouring without pay. The typical story goes as follows. A soldier who hails from rural areas or poor cities is conscripted (supposedly) to learn to recite patriotic slogans and songs during morning assemblies and marches. He then forgets about all these, along with his own dignity, as he finds himself labouring with no pay in one of the military’s livestock farms, which usually extend over hundreds of thousands of acres. As he collects eggs and tends to livestock and chickens, he endures humiliation and subjugation at the hands of his supervising officers. There, he loses any feeling of national dignity, which the army allegedly seeks to instil in him. Should any war ever break out, his performance in the battlefield would be shockingly horrid, having not received any training in combat skills — thanks to the leaders who have recruited him and assigned him his post.

The military establishment’s propagandists often argue through state controlled media outlets that the secrecy of the Armed Forces’ budget is a patriotic duty that we must honour and protect as Egyptians. It is hardly convincing, however, that those conscripts who are carrying out forced labour at the NSPO agree with that statement. In fact, given their conditions, they may not even grasp the concept of ‘patriotism’ to begin with.

Any discussion of the relationship between the army and economy cannot ignore the military establishment’s near-absolute dominance of the local economy in various Egyptian governorates. It is well known to many that Egyptians outside of Cairo live under virtual military rule, wherein twenty-one of the twenty-nine appointed governors are retired army generals. This is in addition to dozens of posts in city and local governments that are reserved for retired officers. These individuals are responsible for managing wide-ranging economic sectors in each governorate. In other words, army generals — whose expertise does not go beyond operating armoured tanks or fighter jets — are suddenly tasked with managing and overseeing significant economic activities, such as the critical tourism sectors of Luxor and Aswan, Qena’s sugar manufacturing enterprises, or Suez’s fishing and tucking industries.

There is no shortage of corruption stories involving army generals and their mismanagement of local economies. For example, in one such incident former Luxor Governor General Samir Farag — who previously served as director of morale affairs of the Armed Forces — sold land to a local businessman below market prices. The land was initially designated for building an Olympic games stadium. In fact, after hundreds of millions of Egyptian pounds were spent on the project, all of a sudden construction was suspended and all the spent funds went to waste, as the land was sold to a businessman that owned a hotel across the street. Similarly, the residents of Aswan allege that their governor General Mustafa al-Sayed was involved in corruption cases involving public lands and the tourism sector. Al-Sayed recently appointed at least ten retired army brigadier generals as managers of the quarries and river ports and offered them exorbitant salaries, even though they lack relevant qualifications and experience.

Given that those in charge of managing our local economies receive such jobs as a ‘retirement bonus,’ it is unsurprising that local development throughout Egyptian governorates has remained stagnant for decades and lags behind other countries.

It is for the sake of all the aforementioned interests and privileges that military leaders killed unarmed revolutionaries (and continue to do so) in Tahrir, Abbassiya, Maspero, Mohamed Mahmoud, and Qasr Al-Ayni.

Completing the revolution and the triumph of Egyptian demonstrators would inaugurate a genuine democratic transformation in this country. It means full financial transparency and subjecting all budgets to the principle of accountability. Completing the revolution means the army must lose its institutional economic privileges, as military leaders return to their original role, namely national defense — and not the management of wedding halls.

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* [This is a translation of a Jadaliyya article that was originally published in Arabic.
* Please send comments to editor[at]pambazuka[dot]org or comment online at Pambazuka News.


Transformation of China’s Diplomacy

New Discipline, New Paradigm and New Strategy

Horace Campbell

2012-01-12

http://pambazuka.org/en/category/features/79005


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In its search for a new paradigm and a new strategy in a rapidly changing world, China should embrace the solidarity of all humans. Yet at an important conference last month, Chinese officials had nothing to say about Africa.

INTRODUCTION

On 17 December 2011, there was the 11th annual conference on Chinese diplomacy organised by the Carnegie-Tsinghua Center for Global Policy held at Tsinghua University with two parallel meetings. Under the title of ‘New Discipline, New Paradigm and New Strategy’, the dominant question in this conference was the changed international situation, especially the new internationalisation of the issues of the South China Sea. Many themes emerged, and I want to identify two. The first was the articulation by various specialists that China will have to be creative and to define new strategies for a foreign policy that will guarantee peace and international stability. The second theme was the reaffirmation by China’s Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs that China was on the road to build socialism and that its foreign policy was one path in this road.

In relation to the first overriding theme, I was intrigued to hear from one international presenter, Robert Kaplan, that the Chinese involvement in Kenya and the building of a new town in Lamu was part of a wider strategy for the projection of Chinese naval power in the Indian Ocean, linking new port facilities from Kenya to Sri Lanka to Pakistan, Bangladesh and Myanmar. Meetings such as these reconfirmed the necessity for peace activists to have a global view in order to grasp how rivalries between particular societies can negatively affect the pace of transformation in other societies. On the second theme, there was a basic contradiction between this reaffirmation of the tasks of building socialism and the current intellectual culture at the highest levels, which is subservient to western and realist principles of politics and economics. In my recent work among scholars of international relations at the mainstream universities in China it was rare to encounter a scholar who was familiar with ideas of South–South relations as a theoretical framework. The Marxism of the party cadres was so caricatured that it had no appeal for the young. It was the environmentalists and activists for the landless who were pushing for a new conception of politics.

Those who aspired for intellectual leadership reproduced ideas about China’s rise and ambition to achieve super power status, thus minimising the attention on the tasks of giving meaning to the publicly espoused posture of peaceful development. In the conclusion of this piece I will suggest that partial understandings of the international politics will lead to scholars in China and the USA lagging far behind in grasping how revolutions in societies such as Egypt will fundamentally change international politics in the next two to three decades. The questions of the imbalances of the world especially the exploitation of billions of people and climate apartheid are the most urgent international issues and I will inject the African point of view in the conclusion.

THE MOST IMPORTANT FOREIGN POLICY ISSUES FOR 2011

There were four keynote presentations. The first was by Le Yucheng, Assistant Minister and Director Policy Planning, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, who addressed the topic of ‘Current International Situation and China’s Foreign Affairs.’ After surveying the unprecedented changes in the international situation in the past year he noted that every society has to plan for the unexpected and pointed to three unexpected developments in the past year. The first were the uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt with the implications for the entire Middle East and North Africa. The second was the depth of the financial crisis in Western Europe, what is called, the Eurozone. The third was the earthquake, Tsunami and nuclear meltdown in Japan. The vice-minister recounted the view of many financial observers that initially the debt crisis in Europe was confined to Greece, a country that accounted for 2 per cent of the EU economy. The awareness that the Eurozone crisis was not simply a sovereign debt problem in Greece but a fundamental crisis that extended to Italy, France and even Germany came slowly. This confession from a top Chinese leader was supported by the present alertness that societies such as Belgium, Portugal and Spain are all affected by this economic crisis. In the same vein, the minister drew attention to the question of natural disaster as a feature of international relations, with the lessons of the Japan earthquake.

These events make it difficult for foreign affairs experts to predict developments in the coming year and Le Yucheng cautioned that vigilance and alertness were needed to be able to respond to the possible new challenges. The minister noted that he was in the United Kingdom during the rebellion in London and the ferocity of the resistance by the youths made a firm impression on him. He also drew the attention of the more than 200 foreign policy experts to the experience of the shootings in Norway and the fact that many did not expect this kind of racist and xenophobic attack in social democratic Norway.

The Occupy Wall Street movement was also another major highlight of the year 2011, with the changes in the world happening so fast that some of the changes were not expected for fifty years. It was the observation of the minister that global changes were taking place in all parts of the world on a scale unmatched since the fall of the Soviet Union 20 years ago. He pointed out the fact that the uncertainties created by the crisis have led to loss of confidence in certain institutions. In this context, he drew attention to the fact that Wall Street that had seemed as such a solid backbone of international finance was now being challenged. Although the vice-minister did not use the language of the 99 per cent, the reality was that Wall Street was being delegitimised.

SIGNIFICANCE OF DIPLOMATIC AND POLITICAL TIES WITH BRICS ECONOMIES

In contrast to the deligitimisation of the associated financial institutions of North America and Western Europe, there was continued growth in the countries of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (BRICS). In the world economic league table, the BRICS societies were surging with the expectation that by 2020 three of the BRICS economies (China, Russia and India) will be among the top five economies of the world. In the SANYA declaration of BRICS in April 2011, the Chinese President had declared that the leaders of BRICS would be working for the reform of the international monetary system. This declaration was given substance by the incessant meetings in relation to the capitalist depression in Europe. By the end of the year 2011, the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR) stated that Brazil had overtaken the United Kingdom. Obviously, these facts were uppermost in the mind of the minister as he pointed to how the BRICS countries were now the anchors of the global economic system with the centre of gravity of the international political economy. Referring to the 9.2 growth rate of the GDP, he reaffirmed the fact that China was playing a constructive role in stabilising the international economic system. He urged attendees to remember that China pulled through difficulties with good results.

The vice-minister made reference to the visit of President Hu Jin Tao to the United States and the efforts of President Obama and President Hu to strengthen partnership between the United States and China. He also drew attention to the positive statements of Henry Kissinger on the occasion of 40th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the Peoples Republic of China and the United States.

The minister continued to say that since that histrionic journey by Kissinger in 1971, trade has grown from US $2.4 billion to over $400 billion. The question was how to ensure that this growth in trade continued. He stressed the importance of keeping good relations with the United States, and noted that the US and China have different opinions on a number of international questions but that dialogue must be kept open. He stressed that China and the United States must continue cooperation, exchanges and strategic dialogue while making reference to the hundreds of thousands of Chinese studying in the United States and the increased volume of people-to-people exchanges between the US and China bode well for the future of relations.

The vice-minister spoke of the numerous summit meetings of ASEAN, APEC, G20, SCO, UN, BRICS and other international obligations that demanded the attention of President Hu Jintao. During the first 20 days of November, the President of China was continuously on the move. This was an indication of the role of China as a global player. Of the overseas trips taken by President Hu in 2011, mention was made of the trips to Russia, Ukraine and other countries in Europe.

STRATEGIC PARTNERSHIP

There was special mention of the relationship between Russia and China. The minister reiterated the position of the Chinese government that there was a strategic partnership between Russia and China. There was no mention of the Shanghai Cooperation organisation. What was unclear to me was the praise that was meted out in relationship to the celebration of China’s entry into the World Trade Organization (WTO). I understand that there had been a lot of hoopla in China over the acceptance of China into this organization, but there was no indication of the difficulties that are being faced in relationship to negotiations over the Doha round.

One signal of the importance of trade and commerce as the focus of Chinese diplomacy could be gleaned from the statistics that were being rolled off by the vice-minister. These statistics are now reproduced by many international organisations especially because the lending and external financial flows from China now surpass the World Bank. The end of the lecture focused on China’s role in BRICS and the proactive role of BRICS in a number of international fora.

The lecture returned to the European debt crisis and the continued dangers posed by this financial crisis for the international political economy. The vice-minister pointed to the investments made in Europe and asserted that China will continue to provide strong support for Europe. He called on Europeans to take the right decisions to get out of the current difficulties and noted that strong decisions were needed in Europe to ensure ‘European development.’

In relation to the countries of East Asia there was mention of the numerous exchanges at all levels between the governments of China, Japan and Korea. The minister rearticulated the view that China will follow a path of peaceful development.

DANCING WITH WOLVES

The vice-minister used the metaphor of dancing with wolves to characterise China’s interaction with the great powers of today. The reality, according to him, was that the Chinese cake had to be enlarged to share with over 1.3 billion persons. While others had a cake made of butter, China had a small cake made of grain and which it had to conserve and enlarge.

It was in this section that the vice-minister reasserted the goal of China to build socialism. It was his view that the building socialism would take 70-80 generations but China should not move from the path of building socialism. In the process of building socialism, it was necessary for the people of China to maintain strategic positioning and patience. He said: ‘China will not seek maximum profit in commercial relations.’ Reciprocity and mutual benefit were more important considerations than profit. China will be active in searching for peace and provide more opportunities to the world for the stability of the international economic system.

I was curious that the vice-minister did not mention Africa in his presentation, so after the session in the tea break I asked about the silence on Africa. He responded by saying that China and Africa are friends and that he was bringing to the attention of the foreign policy experts the trouble spots around the world.

During the lunch break, one senior analyst observed that the government of China should not have been surprised by the uprisings in Tunisia, Egypt, Syria, Yemen and Bahrain. It was his view that a good diplomat would have seen this rebellion coming because of the conditions of repression in the above named societies.

ASSERTIVE DIPLOMACY

Shen Guofeng was the next speaker. He is the Chief Editor of World Affairs Press and former Assistant Minister of Foreign Affairs. His presentation went directly at the threats to China from the internationalisation and militarisation of the issues of the South China Sea. This speaker called for China to be prepared in the wake of the activities of the United States in the South China Sea in such a visible manner. Without directly mentioning the November speech by Barack Obama in Australia and the plan to deploy 2,400 marines in Australia, it was clear to me that the speaker was exercised by the new visibility of the United States in the Pacific. This visibility as far as he was concerned was based on an unfriendly relationship between the United States and China. After repeating the importance of the debt crisis in Europe and the future of the Euro, he asked, what role should China play in international diplomacy?

He answered his own question by stating that China should concentrate on regional affairs and participate in multilateral regional platforms such as ASEAN 10+ 3 and ASEAN 10+ 1. Cautioning against empty remarks, he said clearly that the role of Chinese diplomacy was to protect Chinese enterprises overseas. In relation to the EU crisis, he remarked that 19 per cent of Chinese exports reached European markets. In the case of the export of solar products, orders had dropped by as much as 20 per cent in European markets. China will have to find new markets for its solar products. This speaker raised the question of how China could assist the EU and the Eurozone in this crisis. His view was that China needed a faster response to international developments such as Egypt and Libya.

PREDICTIVE DIPLOMACY

Shen Guofeng called on China to be alert to predict the fast moving changes that confront the international system. He mentioned that there are a number of forces converging and cooperating to face China and that these forces will come back to bite China if China does not act. China needs resources to respond not only at the official level but also at the level of researchers. It is important to deploy these researchers to have predictive diplomacy. This kind of diplomacy was more needed for social and economic issues. This predictive diplomacy needed more transparency in certain areas. It is here where China needs to strengthen public diplomacy. China needs a transformation of its diplomacy to change traditional roles of diplomats and their roles in foreign affairs.

THE PRESENTATION OF ROBERT KAPLAN

I was intrigued that Robert Kaplan was a speaker at this forum. Kaplan is renowned for his 1993 article on ‘The Coming Anarchy’ and for his support for the war against the people of Iraq. His book, Warrior Politics: Why Leadership Demands a Pagan Ethos, had been one of the neo-conservative tracts in support of the war against the people of Iraq. In 2010, Robert Kaplan had published an article entitled, ‘The Geography of Chinese Power: How Far Can Beijing Reach on Land and at Sea?’ in Foreign Affairs. Those who understand the politics of the United States will know that in areas where the defense industry is linked to the US Navy, there must be experts who will make arguments for this branch of the financial military complex. This presentation restated arguments that he had written in his 2010 article, ‘The Geography of Chinese Power: How Far Can Beijing Reach on Land and at Sea?’ His view was that events in one area will influence events in other areas such as how the Israel response to the transfer of North Korea nuclear technology to Syria affected both sides of Eurasia from the Middle East to East Asia.

It is from this premise that Kaplan waxed on the importance of the straits of Malacca where 90 per cent of all traded goods in Asia passed and 80 per cent of the crude oil imported by China. He spent considerable time on the issue of merchant shipping using the South China Sea and the history of external forces coming into the region, especially the Portuguese (Vasco da Gama), the Dutch, the French, the British and now the United States.

From this historical survey, Kaplan spoke on the access of the US military to this region and the role of the US navy and air force. Lamenting the change in the force structure of the US navy he gave the figure of US possession of 500 warships in 1980 compared to 284 warships today. In a clear reference to debates ongoing in the USA among defense contractors, he referred to the new figures and projections of the Congressional Budget Office on whether the number of warships will go up or down.

US DECLINE OVERRATED

Robert Kaplan told the audience of Chinese diplomats and young diplomats in training that the discussion about the US in decline was overrated. He used the example of the so-called decline of Britain to point to the fact that even during its decline the British won two world wars. Kaplan told this audience that he expected the United States to be active and have primacy in the Asia-Pacific region for the next decade. He noted that there would be the rise of indigenous air forces and navies throughout the region.

Remarking on what was called China’s investment in the military, Kaplan pointed out that China now has 62 submarines in its fleet. This will be a bigger submarine fleet. He made the audience aware of the differences between the US nuclear powered submarine and the diesel electric submarine of nations such as China. He also commented that China was acquiring fourth and fifth generation fighter jets.

COMPARING US AND CHINA: THE US IN 1899 AND CHINA IN 2011

In 1899 the US had moved from being the fifth naval power to third. Robert Kaplan drew attention to the Chinese activity in building ports all over Eurasia. This Chinese port-building project could be seen in Bangladesh, Pakistan, Kenya, Sri Lanka and Myanmar. The building of these ports and access to overland routes through Myanmar could assist China in escaping the Malacca straits dilemma. He went on in great detail on how the building of each of these ports will increase the energy security of China. Taken together, China was building a web of ports and roads all across Eurasia from the Indian Ocean to China. There was a new maritime silk road. In this process China is dictating the questions of foreign policy direction and not the United States.

According to Kaplan, China is in the Indian Ocean and this is how all great powers begin. This early presence in the Indian Ocean will have implications for all of the societies and nations in this region. It was exactly a week earlier in the conference to commemorate Patrice Lumumba on December 10 where the ambassador of Kenya to the People’s Republic of China had spoken about the major plans for infrastructure transformation in Kenya and East Africa. The building of a new harbour in Lamu was one of the major plans announced by the ambassador. It was quite a different understanding when Robert Kaplan framed this harbour as part of the forward planning of the Chinese navy in the Indian Ocean.

IMPACT ON INDIA

Robert Kaplan then referred to the response of Indians to this Chinese expansion in the Indian Ocean and noted that India is now pivoting towards the United States. This was occurring at the same time when the US was pivoting to Asia. Many had followed the active travel schedule of the Secretary of State of the USA, Hillary Clinton, to the region and her much-publicised trip to Myanmar. It was pointed out that India was now working closely with the United States in East Asia. The end of the war in Iraq allowed the US to redirect its attention to Asia after neglecting Asia to fight a war on terror. US had been sidetracked by big events; the Iraq invasion of Kuwait, 9/11, and this 20-year diversion had weakened the USA in Asia. The fact that the United States is planning to exit Afghanistan in 2014 will allow the US to devote its attention to Asia. In the past when wars ended, the US went into isolation mode, but now the USA cannot afford that.
The US has treaty allies in Asia and had an obligation to make its military presence felt and not reduce its military presence in Asia.

This recourse to maritime struggles and old Cold War discourse was followed by the presentation of Wang Yizhou, Vice Dean School of International Studies at Peking University. His topic was ‘Creative Involvement: New Trends in China’s Foreign Affairs.’
His presentation started with three main issues for China in the current period: (a) the changes in the Islamic World and its impact on international politics (b) the financial crisis and (c) the impact of China’s fast growing economy.

Of these three features, he elaborated on the fact that followers of Islam accounted for a sixth of the world’s population and that there was revitalisation in Islam. He located the Egyptian revolution within this revitalisation. That there will be major changes, going beyond our expectations. There will be other changes in the world, especially changes in technology.

On the financial crisis he was explicit that it was unthinkable that a poor and developing country such as China should bail out richer European countries, to wit a socialist country bailing out capitalist countries. The Occupation movement was a new and major force in politics and China should pay attention to this. Europe had gone from being problem-solvers to trouble-makers.
Vice Dean Wang Yizhou argued that these issues required new diplomacy and that military responses were inadequate in the present period. He called for creative diplomacy and the new training of diplomats.

THAT CHINA SHOULD BUILD ON ITS STRENGTHS

One of the examples of the strength of China cited by Wang Yizhou was the investment in oil production in societies such as Sudan. He cited the example of Sudan in ten years becoming not only an oil producer but also a producer with its own capabilities such as pipelines and refineries. He stated that Sudan did not experience a big clash such as in Tunisia and Egypt because of the economic growth in that country.

The third issue that he dealt with was the new activism of the USA in the South China Sea. Wang Yizhou asserted that in the next 10 years China will be respected. He re-echoed his call for a new and creative diplomacy for this period. In this regard the investment choices made by China must be strategic and not simply economic. He also cautioned that China needed strict mechanisms to govern investment strategy like the EU and the US.

This presentation went beyond others because it dealt with issues such as climate change and anti-dumping. He was very clear that the issue of Climate change will be a dominant issue for international relations in the next decades.

CHINA’S GRAND STRATEGY

Cai Tuo, Holli Semelko and myself were the speakers for the afternoon session. This was the session on ‘China’s Grand Strategy.’ There were a number of persons who made comments but there was not enough time for questions and answers. In my submission before the diplomats, I suggested that China cannot be effective in the transformation of its diplomatic posture if it does not have a fuller picture of the world, with clarity of what is going on in Latin America and Africa, which are crucial to an understanding of the changed world economy. I drew attention to the fact that what many now refer to as the global economic crisis is a crisis of capitalism and that it is a contradiction for a society to be thinking of equity and social justice while deepening its integration into the capitalist system. In reference to the uprisings in Egypt, Tunisia and all parts of North Africa and the Arab world, I spelt out the fact that when there is oppression, people rebel. In reference to the claim by some previous speakers that they had been surprised by the changes, I noted that this would have been akin to some foreign policy experts being surprised by the anti-apartheid struggles. I submitted that wherever there is injustice people would rise up.

In this context, I called on Chinese diplomats to discuss thoroughly the implication of the NATO intervention in Libya. Readers of Pambazuka News will know that I had agreed that this mission was a catastrophic failure for NATO. I noted that China can benefit from going back to its roots in the Afro-Asian peoples solidarity movement when it acted in collaboration with other oppressed and former colonial territories to actively oppose imperialism. It was my view that the discussion on peaceful development had to shift away from realist principles of strength and balance of power if the concepts of peace and building socialism were to be substantive.

The point that I ended with was the question of climate change. I made reference to the observation by the vice-minister that the earthquake and tsunami in Japan brought new issues for foreign policy experts. Building on the lessons from the failure of the COP 17 summit in Durban, I noted that China had to retreat from the ideas of industrialisation in the old ways. This form of industrialisation sharpened competition for resources and provided the fodder for the kind of analysis that was called the New Cold War.

In the summing up of the meeting, we were told that there was another meeting going on with only invited members, including military persons and that the outcome of that meeting would be published next year.

This meeting confirmed to many that we were in a new and unchartered period. Two days after the meeting we heard the news of the passing of the leader of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. The flurry of diplomatic activities and the levels of consultations between the Republic of Korea, China, Japan and the United States was an immediate lesson of pro-active diplomacy to prevent misunderstandings.

LESSONS LEARNT

One fact that came through the discussions was the reality that the year 2011 was momentous with the revolutionary trends of uprising in Egypt and the Occupy Wall Street movement dictating a new direction for international politics. There was indeed a sense that events were moving too fast and that past understandings of international strategic alliances did not prepare some of the experts for the changes. From the attention paid to the challenges in Europe there was a clear message that the Chinese had to rethink their global strategy.

At the end of the year, probably the most significant event occurred: the signing of the currency swap agreement between China and Japan. Under this agreement both countries undertook to promote direct trading of the Yen and Yuan without using dollars. They will encourage the development of a market for companies involved in the exchanges. At the same time the President of China and the Prime Minister of Japan agreed to allow the Japan Bank for International Cooperation to issue Yuan-denominated bonds in China, the first time a foreign government body has been allowed to do so. This is a major assault on the dollar because this means that both Japan and China will have an alternative to the dollar. Japan, a close ally of the United States, has been looking to buy Chinese government bonds because its reserves in US dollars are being devalued.

Many of the scholars of international relations in China are not focusing on these questions and instead focus on the US military. China had produced realists in international relations long before the present era but humanity is now in a different period when military triggers in one part of the world can have devastating consequences for all. China cannot have a sophisticated diplomatic approach when it ignores or pays lip service to the importance of BRICS economies. It was striking that there was so little discussion of Africa when China is so active in Africa. Moreover, the touting of the role of China in Sudan and its relationship with President Bashir as a success was one measure of how much work was still needed in the foreign policy establishment to understand the fast pace of change in Africa and the world. The militarism, chauvinism and religious intolerance of the Sudanese regime should pose real questions for Chinese diplomats and African scholars and peace activists will clarify to the Chinese that the independence of South Sudan is more profound than the activities and the boast of the conservative religious forces in the United States.

Ultimately, the principal challenge was how to minimise war and promote peace. China had operated under a principle of defensive diplomacy for nearly three decades. There are major pressures for China to be more assertive. The question is whether this assertiveness will be in the context of replacing the United States as a hegemon or working to give real meaning to South-South relations. Those Chinese realist scholars who dream of China becoming a super power in the 21st century are living in the pre-quantum era. This was the era of physics when our understanding of the universe was limited. We now know that in the universe there is no centre and that all of us are connected in this multi-verse. Those of us who occupy this space called planet earth are being called upon to grasp our interconnectedness. The new global challenges of the 21st century drastically incapacitate the realist paradigm of international relations that has been characterised by militarism, hegemony, racism, zero-sum game, capitalism and destructive modernisation. In its search for a new paradigm and new strategy, China should embrace the ideas of solidarity of all humans. This is the logic of South-South relations and this logic can be strengthened with the humanist principle of Ubuntu, whose core is the preservation of our linked humanity and the preservation of the planet earth.

BROUGHT TO YOU BY PAMBAZUKA NEWS.

* Horace Campbell is professor of African American Studies and Political Science at Syracuse University. See horacecampbell.net

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




Announcements

Fahamu Refugee Legal Aid Newsletter - January issue

2012-01-09

http://pambazuka.org/en/category/announce/78953

The January 2012 issue of the Fahamu Refugee Legal Aid Newsletter features the following articles:

• Providing open access to legal literature
• US required to consider testimony from asylum seeker
• Refugees in Djibouti detention centre need help
• Fahamu Refugee Programme seeks Director
• Assessment of United Kingdom Border Agency’s Operational Guidance Notes
• Organisational profile: against deportation from the UK
• Court provides for exceptions to Dublin II, when Member State does not observe asylum rights
• Report on meeting between UNHCR and Rwandan refugee organisations
• News on Rwanda and the cessation clause
• Testimonies of Rwandan refugees
• STOP PRESS: Refugee Act passes in Korea

Fahamu Refugee Legal Aid




Comment & analysis

Southern Africa: Democracy without the citizens

Ndumba Kamwanyah

2012-01-12

http://pambazuka.org/en/category/comment/79006


cc T L
Southern Africa’s ‘democracies’ do not produce citizens but subjects controlled by governments due to the hierarchical nature of the region’s politics, which demands obedience. But for how long will this go on?

The year 2011 for southern Africa, and sub-Saharan Africa in general, will probably be remembered for what did not happen in the light of the people-powered uprisings and protests that swept the globe.

In the Arab world, in particular North Africa, what is being now referred to as the Arab Spring made 2011 a tough year for the dictatorial regimes of Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali in Tunisia, Hosni Mubarak in Egypt and of course Gaddafi, who was killed in Libya. In the Western world, a movement that started as Occupy Wall Street in New York stirred up similar protests across major cities in the US, Britain, Italy, Germany, France, Spain, Portugal and Asian countries as citizens fought back against growing greed and inequality. Public anger over the debt crisis brought down prime ministers George Papandreou and Silvio Berlusconi in Greece and Italy respectively.

Yet, despite the southern African region’s high level of poverty, unemployment and inequality, we did not see a wave of public anger similar to what we have seen across the globe. In a case study of five southern African countries, the Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa has found that poverty and inequality is tearing apart Zimbabwe, Swaziland, Malawi, Namibia, South Africa and Angola, with many citizens living on a mere US$1 per day. The irony here is that some of those countries, such as Namibia and South Africa, are resource-rich with some of the highest GDP in the world.

Amidst this global backlash against greed and inequality, why were most southern African streets (apart from isolated and sporadic protests in Malawi and Swaziland) empty, quiet, and business as usual? What happened to the militant spirit that sent many young people to the streets of Namibia, Zimbabwe and South Africa against colonialism, poverty and social injustice in the 1960s and 1980s?

One answer given for this widespread citizenry indifference in southern African has been explained in terms of the belief that some of the governments in the region would not hesitate to use harsh measures if confronted by Arab Spring-like mass action. True to this, in Zimbabwe some 45 activists were rounded up and charged with treason for watching a Mid-East uprising video. In Malawi, the security force launched a violent crackdown on the protestors, leaving at least 18 of them dead. In Swaziland, pro-democracy activists were banned, arrested, tear-gassed and sprayed with water canons.

It is also true that when the uprising was under way in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya, none of the southern African governments (well, South Africa maybe did but flip-flopped later to save face with the radicals within the ANC and other hawkish Africanists in the region) picked up the phone to urge Mubarak, Gaddafi, or Ben Ali to exercise restraint in dealing with the protestors. Instead, what we heard from the southern African governments was the usual song of complaints about Western interference in Africa’s internal matters.

But here is another explanation: Southern African citizens’ indifference can be explained as a ‘been there and done that’ syndrome. This is because in some ways southern Africa is a little bit ahead of north Africa in terms of democratisation, meaning that most governments in southern Africa are products of democracy and came to power through elections, whereas north Africa might have been stable and economically advanced but did not have democratic governments. However, a distinctive characteristic of the southern African democracy is that not only do we have a democracy without democrats but also a democracy without citizens. Southern Africa’s democracies did not and do not produce citizens but subjects controlled by governments due to the hierarchical nature of the region’s politics, which demands obedience and loyalty from citizens. Why? Although they claim to have fought for democracy (such as SWAPO in Namibia, ANC in South Africa, MPLA in Angola, FRELIMO in Mozambique and ZANU-PF in Zimbabwe), most ruling parties in southern Africa don’t operate as democrats. Their politics and decision-making are highly centralised. By the way, the same can also be said about most opposition political parties.

It is against the backlog of this unquestioning and uncritical citizenry, that we understand why Mugabe is still in power today and why most ruling parties in the region have won elections with a landslide victory. This is why the Namibian president can place a moratorium on public discussions about the SWAPO presidential succession. And the ANC-dominated National Assembly in South Africa can pass a law (reversing the gains made against apartheid) to limit free speech.

On the flip side, events in north Africa made the world forget (as the international media and world governments shifted attention to the Arab Spring) about southern Africa, especially with regard to what’s going on in Zimbabwe and Malawi

Here are a few predictions for 2012: The ruling party SWAPO’s 2012 election campaign to replace the incumbent Namibian president when his term expires is shaping up to be between Geingob (who is the vice president of SWAPO) and Pendukeni Ithana (who is the secretary of SWAPO). One is believed to be a technocrat and the other a populist. But both are insiders, so expect less change here if either of them wins. What is clear, however, is that another potential split (this would be the third split if it happens) from the ruling party is looming as the in-fighting has already started. More is to come as we inch closer to election day.

In Zimbabwe, it is clear that the opposition party MDC (MDC has lost the mojo and has been weakened by in-fighting) is not the party that will bring down Mugabe (as it was hoped), but expect a potential split within the ruling ZANU-PF party. As Mugabe’s health continues to deteriorate, we expect infighting as members vie for control and Mugabe’s position.

On the other hand, South Africa will continue walking the populist road and, of course, with less transparent governance. Unless restored, expect the worst from Malawi because its lifeline, which is aid from the international community, has been cut off, which is going to make life difficult for ordinary citizens. Angola and Mozambique (riding on oil) will continue unabated because we don’t really hear much about these two countries in terms of international coverage anyway.

The remaining question is, will Swaziland eventually collapse economically or has it already collapsed?

BROUGHT TO YOU BY PAMBAZUKA NEWS.

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




Advocacy & campaigns

BLUF Protest Day 2

Civil society salutes the courage and resolve of Nigerians

Nigerian civil society organisations

2012-01-12

http://pambazuka.org/en/category/advocacy/79015

The current protests in Nigeria are beyond the mere dynamics of reversing the pump price of petrol. They are about combating the corruption, incompetence and deception of the Goodluck Jonathan administration.

Civil society salutes the courage and resolve of Nigerians to sustain the steam of the BLUF Campaign by coming out en masse to protest on this second day of the nationwide mass protests. We note the enthusiasm and conviction of Nigerians as they say, ‘Say No to Fuel Subsidy Removal’, through non-violent protest marches across the country in the face of repression and the lethal use of force and propaganda by the Nigerian state. We salute the courage of Nigerians in the diaspora who have also carried out protests and supported the struggle in many ways. The important message today is that Nigerians are resolved that the current campaign is beyond the mere dynamics of reversing the pump price of petrol to N65 per litre. It is inclusive of combating the corruption, incompetence and deception of the Goodluck Jonathan administration.

We are emboldened that more cities and towns have now joined in our mass action and others are on the flanks waiting to join. Cities where protests are growing include Ijebu-Ode, Sagamu, Ilaro, Abuja, Bwari, Kuje, Gwagwalada, Rubochi, Osogbo, Ojota, Ilupeju, Badagry, Lafia, Lokoja, Bauchi, Warri, Makurdi, Kano, Owerri and Kaduna, Ado-Ekiti. We salute the courage of Nigerians as we appreciate the fact that the main rallies have registered over three million protesters with many more yet-to-be enumerated clusters springing up.

We commend patriotic journalists and media practitioners that have striven to maintain and amplify the voice of the people, without cowering to the propaganda and corrupt practices perpetrated by the corrupt government of Goodluck Ebele Jonathan.

We hold responsible the governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, Finance Minister and Coordinating Minister of the Economy, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, and the Petroleum Minister, Diezani Allision-Maduekwe for truncating the dialogues that should have preceded the subsidy removal. We frown at the current consistent spin efforts spearheaded by them, on the inconsistencies by public officials and the distortion of facts to deceive and confuse Nigerians on the issues at stake.

We commend Nigerians for taking their peaceful protests to the homes of three leading members of the ‘cabal’: Femi Otedola, Wale Tinubu and Oba Otudeko.

Further to our first bulletin, we once again draw attention to the policing and law enforcement rules of engagement being deployed by the Nigerian state in accordance with Section 10 of the Police Act and Police Regulation 414, CAP P19, LFN 2004. These provisions place the responsibility of giving direction on the rules of engagement to be deployed by the police squarely at the discretion of Mr. President. It clear that the policing and law enforcement pattern contradict the UN Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials and the UN Code of Conduct for Law Enforcement Officials all of which prohibit the indiscriminate use of lethal force by agents of the state. No democratic state can seek to prevent the well planned expression of grievances vide direct action of peaceful non-violent protest marches. The blood of too many innocent Nigerians is being wasted, to use an expression invented by the Nigerian police. As the killings continue, we must begin to pose questions about the directing role played by the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, Goodluck Ebele Jonathan. In today’s world, no president is exempt from the clutches of the International Criminal Court.

Finally, we call on Nigerians at home and abroad to remain steadfast in their turnout to fight against oppressive regimes and urge them to continue their unrelenting, simultaneous actions, even by standing in front of their homes with placards reading: “REVERT TO N65 per litre”.

WE NIGERIANS SHALL CALL THE GOVERNMENT’S BLUFF.

Dr. Jibrin Ibrahim
Director, Centre for Democracy and Development

Ayodeji Ajayeoba
President, United Action for Democracy

Ayisha Osori
Director, Advocates for Change and Social Justice

Dr. Otive Igbuzor
Executive Director, Centre LSD

Dr. Hussaini Abdu
Country Director, Action Aid Nigeria

For and on Behalf of Nigeria Civil Society
10th January 2012

BROUGHT TO YOU BY PAMBAZUKA NEWS

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


Call Now! Shut Down Solitary Units

Statement Issued By Prison Radio

2012-01-12

http://pambazuka.org/en/category/advocacy/79013

Call Now! Shut Down Solitary Units. Close Restricted Housing Units. End Torture Blocks.

Demand: That Mumia Abu-Jamal be transferred to General Population! And demand the shutdown of RHU (Restricted Housing Unit) Torture Blocks

Mumia is being kept in solitary in SCI Mahanoy's dungeon. Its restrictions and conditions belie its modern construction. He just told us on Friday that he wants all of his supporters to broaden this call, to not just focus on his case, but to understand that all torture units must be shut down.

The Human Rights Coalition is a group of prisoners, family members, and supporters that have been exposing and challenging state torture in Pennsylvania for years. HRC states,

"Mumia may be in solitary, but he is not alone. The PA Department of Corrections holds approximately 2,500 people in solitary confinement on any given day, many of them for years at a time."

Please visit these websites to learn more: Human Rights Coalition and Solitary Watch.

Please write, call, and email today! The defeat for the State, having to openly declare that Mumia will live, and the fact that they can no longer legally execute Mumia, has meant a severe backlash. After his transfer off of death row, Mumia was thrown in the hole at SCI Mahanoy.

The prison administration excuse that "paperwork" is holding up his transfer to general population in this medium security prison is transparent. The disinformation is part of the strategy to create confusion and disorient. Make no mistake. These conditions are clearly designed torture. They are being enacted to to silence Mumia and us.

Mumia Abu-Jamal is being held in extremely repressive conditions. And like thousands of prisoners, residents of solitary confinement and isolation units in every hole in every prison across the country, Mumia is being subject to draconian, dehumanizing and brutal conditions. Solitary confinement. He is shackled whenever he is outside his cell, even to the shower. He is shackled around his ankles, waist and wrist. He is shackled while behind Plexiglas during visits. Subject to strip searches before and after visits. Unable to walk freely. Having bits of paper to write notes on, with a rubber flex pen. No shelves, 4 books. No access to news reports, letters delayed. Restricted visiting. Glaring lights on 24 hours a day. Only one brief phone call to his wife. No access to adequate food or commissary. These conditions are worse than death row.

HOW TO TAKE ACTION:

1) Write, Phone, and email the Secretary of Corrections: Demand that Mumia be transferred to General Population! And demand the shutdown of RHU (Restricted Housing Unit) Torture Blocks!

John Wetzl, Secretary Department of Corrections

2520 Lisburn Road, P.O. Box 598 Camp Hill, PA 17001-0598 (717) 975-4928 Email: ra-contactdoc [at] pa.gov

2) Write, Phone, and email the Superintendent:

John Kerestes, Superintendent

SCI Mahanoy
301 Morea Road
Frackville, PA 17932
(570) 773-2158 Fax: (570) 783-2008

3) Write, Phone, and email the Philadelphia DA. Demand that they petition the court to free Mumia, based on suppression of evidence. They have buried evidence and the truth for 30 years. The police corruption and the frame up of Mumia must be exposed.

Seth Williams, DA Philadelphia

Three South Penn Square
Philadelphia, PA 19107-3499
(215) 686-8000 Email: DA_Central [at] phila.gov

and finally, send Mumia a note or a card:

Mumia Abu-Jamal
AM 8335
SCI Mahanoy
301 Morea Road
Frackville, PA 17932


Vote on the Public Eye on Davos Naming and Shaming-Award

2012-01-12

http://pambazuka.org/en/category/advocacy/79017

Six major global companies have been shortlisted by a comittee of experts from Berne Declaration and Greenpeace Switzerland for the 2012 Public Eye on Davos-award

Since 2000 this shaming and naming-award goes to companies for their negative actions with regard to human rights and/or the environment.

This year's nominees are Barcleys Bank for their role in food speculation, Swiss company Syngenta for marketing poisonous herbicide, Samsung for manifacturing with toxic materials, Japanese Tepco, Brasilian Vale dam-construction in the Amazonas and US mining company Freeport with their mining activites in West Papua.


Voting is done electronically, anyone can participate.

English site: vote

French site: vote

BROUGHT TO YOU BY PAMBAZUKA NEWS.

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


Western Cape farm workers and dwellers speak out

Joint statement

2012-01-12

http://pambazuka.org/en/category/advocacy/79019

Joint Statement by CSAAWU, Democratic Left Front, Mawubuye Land Rights Forum and the Trust for Community Outreach and Education.

The Commercial, Stevedoring, Agricultural and Allied Workers Union (CSAAWU), the Mawubuye Land Rights Forum, the Trust for Community Outreach and Education, and the Democratic Left Front (DLF) launched the Speak-Out Campaign on the 27 November 2011 at a mass meeting in Robertson (some 2 hours from Cape Town). Farm workers and farm dwellers spoke of the inhumane living and working conditions that they face each day. They do backbreaking work to produce food for everybody yet they are forced to work under unsafe and unhealthy conditions, to drink dirty water, live without electricity, live with threats of evictions, live on poverty wages and to suffer abuse at the hands of the bosses. The Speak-Out Campaign aims to bring an end to the oppression and exploitation of farm workers and farm dwellers by coming together to build solidarity, strength and hope amongst the rural working class.

Since its launch, the Speak-Out Campaign has been attacked by farmers. CSAAWU shop stewards and workers have been dismissed in the Robertson area. A shop steward and worker leader was dismissed at Voorspoed farm for ‘insubordination’, for handing out Speak-Out Campaign fliers. Workers on four farms went on illegal strike action for three days standing in solidarity with their shop steward, making real the slogan ‘an injury to one is an injury to all’. Another shop steward was dismissed at Lamontanara Cheese factory. These are workers who struggle to defend the dignity of workers, who have said enough is enough – workers should have clean water to drink, decent housing, a living wage, they should have that which they need for a decent life. Things can and should be better. The bosses have dismissed them for these things – for standing up and building workers’ organisation. They have been dismissed to intimidate other workers, to try to break CSAAWU and the campaign.

On the 18 December the Speak-Out Campaign held a second meeting in Klaasvoogds, Robertson. Workers once again spoke of health and safety problems – one worker is in hospital as a result of a tractor falling on him. The worker had to wait for hours for the ambulance to come because the farmer refused to take him to hospital. Workers are forced to use the bushes as toilets, jeorpardising their safety. Workers are not provided with transport and there is no public transport in rural areas. Because of this workers are not able to get medical care when they are ill, some have been sexually abused whilst hitchhiking to get medical care. Clean water and electricity remain urgent matters. Workers also spoke of the high deductions that are taken off their wages without explanation, sometimes leaving them with R150 per week. Some farmers have gone on holiday and left workers without money, food and water. These are crimes against workers that get perpetuated each and every day by bosses.

The Speak-Out Campaign has already started putting pressure on farmers, workers are forcing change. On Uitkyk farm, the farmer restored electricity and is in the process of upgrading a workers’ house that was unlivable in. On Vinkrivier farm, upgrading of houses has begun, some transport has been provided and the farmer has agreed that workers can pay for their electricity directly rather than through the farmer, who used to charge them more to make a profit. Sometimes farmers say that they are doing these things as favours to workers and workers must resign from the union if farmers make these undertakings. We say these things are not favours. We are not grateful. Decent housing and water and electricity are basic necessities that each person should have. We say that workers will not be threatened and bribed into leaving the union.

The Speak-Out Campaign is building workers confidence and hope in the possibility of change. One worker said he had been waiting for over 9 years for this, for workers to stand together and demand a better life. Another worker said when he read the CSAAWU leaflet he thought ‘this is it’. Another said that he is struggling not for himself but for his children and his children’s children so that they will not suffer in the same way. At the meeting, workers raised R600 for the two dismissed shop stewards, showing that they could put solidarity into practice.

UPCOMING EVENTS:
• On the 29 January the Speak-Out Campaign will hold a mass meeting at Karingmelk farm, agter Paarl, Durbanville.
• On 5 February the Speak-Out Campaign will go to Ladismith to hold a mass meeting.
On the 21 March, Human Rights Day, there will be a mass event calling for a criminal tribunal of farmers.

We call on working class organisations and progressive forces to stand in solidarity with the rural poor and working class:
• Build the Speak-Out Campaign. Let us bring working class organisations together to struggle against the bosses and their government.
• Workers have undertaken to defend their leaders. Each CSAAWU member will collect R5 each week to ensure dismissed workers will get their wage, that they can feed their children. You can do the same; you can share your loose change with workers.
• At Leuenkuil farm, Paarl, the farmer has gone on holiday leaving 150 workers with no money, food or water. At Wonderfontein farm, Robertson, a similar situation faces another 150 workers. The situation on these farms is desperate and intolerable. Send messages of protest to Wine Industry Ethical Trading Association (WIETA): 0828641816, Fax: 021 880 0576, email:[email protected] Both farms export wine to Norway & Sweden. Their treatment of workers violates WIETA standards. Their products should not be handled or sold.
Donate any old clothing and non-perishable foods that you can.

CSAAWU’s bank details are as follows: Bank: Standard Bank; Account number: 072003596; Account name: CSAAWU

FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT:
1. CSAAWU
- Email: [email protected];
- phone CSAAWU office: 021 9518072
- Trevor Christians (CSAAWU General Secretary): 0835462911
- Karel Swart (CSAAWU Deputy General Secretary): 0729913371
2. DLF
- Mercia Andrews: 082 368 3429, [email protected]

BROUGHT TO YOU BY PAMBAZUKA NEWS.

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




Obituaries

Unsung hero: Michael Kofi Ameko

Explo N. Nani-Kofi

2012-01-11

http://pambazuka.org/en/category/obituary/78992

Michael Kofi Ameko, a close aide to Kwame Nkrumah, died just before Christmas at the age of 85. His life was one of public service to the cause of Ghana and Africa.

On 24 December 2011, news came out that one Michael Kofi Ameko, a former ambassador and a great Nkrumahist had passed away. Many were there in the general populace who wondered who this man was and what made him so special in the history of Ghana and Africa. Those in the know, many who were ‘in the trenches’ with him, know what contributions he made to Ghana’s development. First he was a pioneer teacher and vice principal of the government secretarial schools in many towns in Ghana. We also know that this great man contributed during in his lifetime to foiling attempts of the British to usurp our lands in Ghana and through that in other British colonies, and he was also once a deputy director of the Bureau of African Affairs, proceeding to be Ghana's Ambassador Plenipotentiary and Extraordinary to East Africa (Rwanda-Burundi) during the Nkrumah regime; through that he was instrumental in the liberation struggles in East Africa under Osagyefo Kwame Nkrumah. He was also instrumental in making the TUC what it is today; Ameko was a leading trade unionist alongside John Kofi Tettegah and others. His comrades therefore decided that even if he had not been honoured publicly during his lifetime, it was not too late to honour him in death. Ameko (like his mentor Nkrumah) believed in the ability of the Ghanaian and African to manage his own affairs and espoused self-reliance, self-sufficiency and industrial development - just as Osagyefo had dreamed of when setting up numerous industries in Ghana.

Ameko was born on 23 July 1926 at Aburi in the then Gold Coast, where his father worked as a horticulturist in the Aburi Gardens. In 1932, the family settled at Dzake, Peki, their ancestral hometown in the region of Ghana then known as Trans-Volta Togoland.

Ameko began his elementary schooling in 1935 at Dzake. He was found to be very bright and was promoted straight from class one to class three in 1936. After his elementary school education he proceeded to the Presbyterian Senior School at Peki Blengo. He passed the Standard Seven Examinations at the end of 1943. During his senior school years, Ameko took an interest in shorthand, which he studied in earnest in self-study, buying books from Accra. Within a few months he had become proficient, writing with speed.

He proceeded to Accra in 1944 to start his next stage of education. It is a fact that Ameko was de-facto one of the pioneering students of the West Africa Secondary School (WASS) because he attended Tettey’s College of Commerce in 1944, which later became the West Africa College of Commerce established by two natives of Peki, (Ameko’s hometown) namely, the late Rev. J.C. Tettey and Mr. Emmanuel Addo, and in later years it became the West Africa Secondary School WASSS. At Tettey’s College of Commerce he learnt typewriting, and perfected his stenography. He also gained admission to Achimota College on half-scholarship, but due to his father’s meagre resources Ameko opted to remain at Tettey’s College of Commerce to complete his business education.

EARLY ADULTHOOD AND FIRST WORKING EXPERIENCES

After school he was employed as secretary to the manager of S.C.O.A. at Sekondi/Takoradi, and later to Palm Oil Estate Managers of Lever Brothers Limited (UAC) as secretary to the British manager at Sese. There, he worked from 1946 to mid-1949 and gained great experience in trade unionism, when he joined the trade union and became its assistant general secretary, representing the Gold Coast Plantation Workers Union at meetings of the Gold Coast Trade Union Congress in Sekondi.

While in Sekondi he began to receive a monthly London publication titled ‘The New Africa’, which contained thought provoking articles by Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, which he and other ‘comrades’ read secretly, away from the view of the British manager. 1947 was a momentous year for Ameko. In November of that year, a message came to him that Kwame Nkrumah had arrived and would give a public address at Takoradi, in front of Love All Canteen. It was a Sunday and he attended and for the first time saw Nkrumah, who gave an electrifying speech. When Ameko returned to work on Monday at Sese, he was asked by the British manager, J.A. Douglas Mead, whether he had seen the ‘rascal’, a reference to Nkrumah.

Even before today’s ‘Wikileaks’ affair, Ameko caused a patriotic ‘Whistleleak’; at one time a letter came from London to his boss that the Sekondi/Takoradi region was being considered as a vast palm oil producing area for Britain. Takoradi and Sekondi were to be formed into a purely white township. Ameko gave the letter to the postal agency assistant chief clerk, Jacob Webber de Heer, the elder brother of Nana Tsibu Darku (the then Omanhene of the Assin Attandasu Traditional Area), before the manager saw it the next morning. There and then, de Heer whistled the contents in code (probably our indigenous whistling-communication used in the rural areas in the farms and when hunting) to his brother who was a member of the legislative assembly. Nana Tsibu Darku raised the question on the issue with the colonial governor. The matter being then in the open, the governor denied the plans openly and it came to a close, because the Gold Coast people would have risen up if they became aware of it. If Ameko had not revealed the letter to the de Heers, the colonial government might have had its way and usurped lands in the then Gold Coast to establish a palm oil production base. Our independence and independence in other African countries would have been more difficult to attain.

By 1948, Ameko was looking to broaden his horizons. An opportunity presented itself when the then new University College of the Gold Coast (now the University of Ghana, Legon) was in need of qualified staff to man some of its administrative departments. He quickly applied, was called for an interview, which he passed, and was employed as a stenographer to the manager of the maintenance department, the engineer, K. H. J. Eichenberg, who was once a German-Jewish high ranking officer under whom Hitler served as a corporal during the First World War. In addition Ameko was in charge of labour. He was thus one of the pioneering staff of The University College (Legon).

His years at the university were exciting for him, as those were hectic political years. He and a friend, Noble Nkrumah, would walk all the way from Achimota to West End Arena and back, whenever there was a political rally. He enrolled as a member of the Convention Peoples Party (CPP) in 1949 taking keen interest in the activities of party, including the ‘Positive Action’.

In December 1951, Ameko accompanied his boss, Eichenberg, to Kumasi where the latter had been given a new appointment as director of building construction of the new University of Science and Technology that Kwame Nkrumah wanted built as a matter of urgency. He arrived in Kumasi on the morning of 24 December 1951 to begin work; he modified with his boss, who was not perfect in English, contract books and drawings from the Public Works Department (PWD) for the first phase of the University (the University College of Science and Technology, now KNUST).

SCHOLARSHIP TO ENGLAND

In early 1953, he was one of six persons chosen (from more than 50 expert stenographer applicants) to be sent by the Government of Britain to train as teachers and return to teach in the government secretarial schools. In London Ameko was first admitted at Pitman’s College, where he underwent rigorous secretary training. Then at the beginning of the academic year in 1953, he went to Garnett College at Elephant and Castle, which was part of University of London Institute of Education, where he studied educational psychology and philosophy as well as the practical application in being a secretary. In June 1954, he sat the teachers examination of the University of London and qualified further at Pitman’s College thereafter.

At the end of 1954 he and his group of five arrived back in Accra from London. Ameko was appointed lecturer at the new government secretarial school in Accra. He met his first wife, the late Adelaide Abdallah, who was then a student at a secretarial school established by the late Madam Nkulenu, (later Mrs. Okloo), the renowned industrialist. A period of courtship blossomed into marriage. Ameko was later posted to the office of A. L. Adu, director of recruitment and training for a few months, then to the Kumasi Branch of government secretarial schools for three years - 1955 to 1958. In that same year he was again posted to the government secretarial school in Sekondi, where he taught until 1962, including testing of the secretarial class of the civil service from Winneba to Axim. His marriage to Adelaide was blessed with two sons, Stephen Dzifa and Selassie Komla.

POLITCAL LIFE AND FOREIGN SERVICE

His political life took off when Ameko joined the CPP in 1949. During his working years in Kumasi between 1955 to 1958, at the height of the National Liberation Movement and Ashanti nationalism, Ameko kept a low political profile. From Kumasi he went to Sekondi, where he engaged in some political activities: he was chairman of a ward branch of the CPP.

In mid 1962, he was called to succeed Dr. Bosumtwi–Sam as a deputy to A. K. Barden at the Bureau of African Affairs (established by the famous George Padmore) directly under President Nkrumah at the Flagstaff House; it was responsible for the liberation struggle in Africa. He was assigned to cover East, Central and Southern Africa. His first journey in this connection was at the end of December 1962, to the Democratic Republic of the Congo. He, John Tettegah, and Kofi Batsa were delegated by Nkrumah to cover a conference being organised by the Conference of the Peoples of Central, Eastern and Southern Africa. The chairman was the then freedom fighter, Kenneth Kaunda. Their mission was to convince him not to create a separate regional entity, because steps were being made to form an Organization of African Unity in 1963, which they succeeded in doing. His work in those days also involved ‘clandestine’ meetings with freedom fighters and arrangement of supplies and funds for them. During those days a codename, ‘Mizinyawa’, was used for him.

In September 1963, he was recalled to Accra for consultation. A few days after, he left for Kampala, Uganda. In the last quarter of 1963, Kenya attained independence after the Mau Mau struggles with the British colonial government. The British had plans to create an East African Federation, including Uganda, Tanzania and Kenya. They also had plans to create a Central African Federation of Zambia, then known as Northern Rhodesia, and Zimbabwe (known as Southern Rhodesia) and Malawi. It was the plan of the British to link the East African Federation and the Central African Federation with South Africa, which was then under the apartheid regime. This grand plan would have given Africa a different outlook. This was unacceptable to Nkrumah, who was pioneering the organisation of African Unity.

Since Ameko was covering the liberation struggles of East, Central and South Africa at the Bureau of African Affairs, in tandem with Dr. Bosumtwi-Sam, and serving under him as his political attaché, it was natural to assist him in carrying out Osagyefo’s orders to dismantle the two Federations, whilst lending support to the struggle against the racist regime of South Africa. This they successfully carried out. Northern Rhodesia became Zambia under President Kenneth Kaunda, Malawi became detached with Dr. Kamuza Banda as President, whilst Southern Rhodesia remained in the clutches of the immigrant whites, to be tackled by Joshua Nkomo, and finally Robert Mugabe.

In 1963, Ameko was posted to Uganda, under High Commissioner Bosumtwi-Sam, to assist him in organising the political party of Prime Minister Milton Obote. In that year Ameko remarried, this time to Joyce Tawia after the dissolution of his first marriage and had three other children from this union, a daughter, Jasmine Afua, and two sons, Kwadzo Oppong and Enyonam Koku. By the first quarter of 1964, Ameko was appointed Ghana’s Ambassador to Rwanda and Burundi.

NKRUMAH IS OVERTHROWN-HIS EXILE IN TANZANIA

On 24 February 1966, Ameko heard on a BBC news broadcast that the government of President Kwame Nkrumah had been overthrown by the army and police in Ghana. He was requested by the new government to return to Ghana. The greatest decision that he ever made in his life was to refuse the order to return to Accra. In May 1966 President Julius Nyerere had invited Nkrumah to stay in Tanzania. That encouraged Ameko to go to Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania with his family, and they arrived on 6 May 1966. Ameko immediately found work with the All-African Trade Union Federation (AATUF) as its administrative secretary. Ameko, together with Nkrumah, Botsio, Baako and other CPP stalwarts were banned for life by the NLC government from participating in party politics.

TRADE UNION WORK WITH THE AATUF

His work with the AATUF involved attending meetings abroad at the request of the federation and this afforded him the opportunity to present the case of Ghana under Osagyefo. Whilst in the AATUF, he became the co-ordinator of international trade union education in East and Central Africa. It made it possible for him to travel almost every three months to Conakry to visit Osagyefo and receive his instructions concerning the struggle in Ghana.

AS OSAGYEFO’S SOLITARY AMBASSADOR

Another aspect of his interest was with the liberation movements, which had their headquarters mostly on Kwame Nkrumah Avenue in Dar-es-Salaam. Thus he had regular contact with leaders of FRELIMO (Samora Machel, Marcelino do Santos), Dr. Augustino Neto of Angola and Sam Njoma of Namibia. He took part in the declaration of Namibia’s independence. He made regular contact also with Joshua Nkomo and Reverend Ndabaningi Sithole, and also with leaders of the Africa National Congress; and leaders from Swaziland and Lesotho. In many respects, he continued with the work he was doing whilst at the Bureau of African Affairs. He had had an exciting experience as co-ordinator of liberation movements, a diplomat and an international trade unionist. From 1966 to 1972, he was Osagyefo’s solitary ambassador and in July 1968 was with Osagyefo in Conakry, Guinea when the latter gave him as a birthday gift a signed copy of his seminal book, ‘Colonialism, The Last Stage of Imperialism’.

While in Cairo, Egypt, in early 1972 for a conference, he heard a BBC news report on 13 January, that the Progress Party government of Dr. K. A. Busia had been overthrown by the Ghana Armed Forces under Colonel Kutu Acheampong. He returned to Dar-es-Salaam after the conference with the aim of preparing to return home to Ghana for good. On 27 April of that same year, the death of Osagyefo was also reported to have occurred in Romania. On hearing this news he and his family quickened their preparations for going home. On 6 May 1972 they landed in Accra.

For a few months in 1972-73, he avoided all political contacts and taught business subjects at the Nungua Secondary School. Soon after however, he was invited to join and lead the African Youth Command where he was the continental co-ordinator-general until 1978, due to his diplomatic experience. After 1978 he again entered the teaching field as a teacher with the Presbyterian Secondary School, Osu. In 1979, he became a founding member of the Kwame Nkrumah Revolutionary Guards (KNRG) and was its deputy general secretary. The Kwame Nkrumah Revolutionary Guards and other organisations were working to revive the pro-Nkrumah political direction which was pushed out of Ghana politics through a consensus of the Ghanaian political elite since the 24 February 1966 coup d’etat. There were a number of meetings where these organisations came together to discuss the way forward. One of these was the Progressive Forum convened jointly by Osei Poku (then editor of People’s Evening News) and S.S. Baffuor Awuah (then general secretary of the African Youth Command) on 3 October 1981.

When Dr. Liman was overthrown on 31 December, 1981, Kwame Nkrumah Revolutionary Guards (KNRG) came together with the June Fourth Movement (JFM), New Democratic Movement (NDM), People’s Revolutionary League of Ghana (PRLG), Pan African Youth Movement (PANYMO), African Youth Command (AYC) and Kwame Nkrumah Youth League to constitute the Joint Committee of Progressive Organisations, which influenced civilian participation in the Provisional National Defence Council (PNDC). During this period he was approached by the Association of Local Unions (ALU), a grassroots network of local trade union officials, to help the Provisional National Defence Council (PNDC) to gain recognition with the Trade Unions Congress, which under Issifu was proving difficult. This he did successfully.

In 1983, he was called to the Castle on contract, and appointed special assistant to Ebow Tawiah, the PNDC member responsible for the Ministries of Labour and Social Welfare, Transport and Divestiture Implementation Committee as well as the mass organisations of the TUC and Committees in Defence of the Revolution (CDRs). With his experience he ably assisted Ebow Tawiah and also represented the PNDC in the Afro-Asian Peoples' Solidarity Organisation, based in Helsinki, Norway. He married the late Sussie Oppong in 1987 in Dzake, Peki with whom he had his last child, Sussie Ohenewaa.

Internationally, he opened the channels of Osagyefo for Ebow Tawiah and the PNDC whenever any conference occurred in any trade union organisations anywhere in the world, sometimes travelling alone representing the PNDC and Ghana as a whole, and writing reports on them. During his travels since Nkrumah’s days and while with the PNDC he also met many heads of states and presidents, among them Indira Ghandi. He also had the privilege of visiting many countries and noteworthy places such as the Egypt pyramids, The Taj Mahal, Lenin’s Mausoleum and body and The Baikal Sea among many others. His contract at the Castle ended in 1995 and he retired from active service to his country. He is one of those whose involvement with the PNDC and later the National Democratic Congress developed a pro-Nkrumah influence within the NDC.

He later settled in his hometown of Dzake, Peki where he lived out the rest of his life, occasionally writing political articles for publication in the newspapers. Ameko died in his sleep at home in Dzake at 10pm on 24 December 2011 at the age of 85. He is survived by six children and four grandchildren.

During his lifetime he excelled in many other ways and had many experiences (too numerous to detail in this write-up). He however did not die taking his experiences with him but succeeded in leaving behind material and information which served as the basis of this article.

* This material has been compiled with the assistance of Ameko’s children.

BROUGHT TO YOU BY PAMBAZUKA NEWS

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




Letters & Opinions

Plan International responds on foreign aid to mining firms

Abigail Brown, communications department, Plan Canada

2012-01-09

http://pambazuka.org/en/category/letters/78960

Dear Editor,

I’m writing to notify you of two errors in a story on your site that we are kindly asking to have corrected as they are misleading to your readers.

The story is called: Foreign Aid to Mining Firms

http://www.pambazuka.org/en/category/features/78862

The first correction must be made in the following sentence:

'Given Plan Canada’s stated commitment to “work in the best interests of children and the communities in which we work” will they be prepared to risk their multi-million dollar funding to speak out in protection of their “stakeholders” - namely the communities in which they work - should labour unrest become an issue there?'

In fact, the funds for the Burkina Faso project will be directed to Plan-led programs that will be carried out in a completely different part of the country more than 500 kilometres away from the mining operation. Plan’s work will not be carried out at mine sites, therefore there is no source to support the assertion of ‘communities in which they work’. Please ensure this sentence is corrected or deleted.

The second correction is in the following sentence:

'Plan Canada, another beneficiary under the new government initiative, did not return our calls.'

This is not correct and we have confirmation from the writer about this error. Calls were indeed returned to Mr. Nieto – the writer who contacted and spoke with us. Due to scheduling conflicts we were unable to respond to his requests for interviews before the story’s deadline.




African Writers’ Corner

The definition of our era: the 21st century!

Lance Constantine

2012-01-11

http://pambazuka.org/en/category/African_Writers/78993

This era will only adjust to

accommodate to anything uncommon.

And if you feel like the least likely

amongst the rest - then you are the one.

Because we live in a historical era -

all you need to do is start and whatever

you is great enough to leave a

legacy and historical imprint

- just because of the era

we live in.




Podcasts & Videos

Global: Film examines how British media portray Global South

2012-01-16

http://bit.ly/xFpt5m

A new Institute of Development Studies short film examines how the British media portray poverty in developing countries. 'Famine, War and Corruption: The British Media’s Portrayal of the Global South' features interviews with journalists and filmmakers, including Jon Snow (journalist and news presenter, ITN), Caroline Nursey (director, BBC Media Action) and Richard Kavuma (journalist, The Observer, Uganda).


Nigeria: Nigerians protest outside World Bank in Washington

2012-01-11

http://bit.ly/AmoZgh

On the 9 January, Nigerians protested at the headquarters of the Wold Bank in the US. They acted in solidarity with Occupy Nigeria and labour activists in Nigeria who have called a general strikeagainst protesting fuel price hikes demanded by the IMF and World Bank. On New Year's Day, Nigerians awoke to find the price of gasoline and diesel had doubled overnight, as the Nigerian president acceded to the demands of the IMF and World Bank, removing public subsidies from fuel. This video reports on the US protest. 'IMF and World Bank policies have been very successful in transferring money from the rest of us to the one per cent,' says one speaker.




Cartoons

How to avoid a deputy CJ moment

Gado

2012-01-12

http://pambazuka.org/en/category/cartoons/79024

Kenya's Deputy Chief Justice Nancy Baraza is under investigation by the judiciary and police after a guard at a supermarket in Nairobi claimed that the judge threatened to shoot her when she (the guard) requested to search Baraza before she could be allowed into the store.


Yousou Ndour's new album

Gado

2012-01-12

http://pambazuka.org/en/category/cartoons/79022

Gado's take on the celebrated Senegalese musician's announcement that he will run for president in elections this year.




Zimbabwe update

Zimbabwe: Two vendors in hospital after police torture

2012-01-16

http://bit.ly/xFJkr9

Two of the seven men arrested last Thursday, following skirmishes between police and vendors in central Harare the day before, were allegedly tortured to confess their roles in attacking a police officer. Barnabas Mwanaka and Kudakwashe Usavi were among the first group of three to be picked up by the police in a morning raid at Harvest House on Thursday. The MDC-T said Mwanaka is their Youth Assembly secretary for Mbare district.


Zimbabwe: ZANU PF running parallel government

2012-01-16

http://bit.ly/xKE1Cq

Several events in the last two months have shown that Zimbabwe’s coalition government exists in name only and that Mugabe and his ZANU PF party are now blatantly running a parallel government. Towards the end of December Mugabe unilaterally promoted Three Infantry Brigade Commander Brigadier-General Douglas Nyikayaramba, to Major-General. Not only did Mugabe snub Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai in making the promotions, but in June last year Nyikayaramba had told the ZANU PF controlled Herald newspaper that Tsvangirai was a 'national security threat rather than a political one', and suggested the military should step in to deal with him.




African Union Monitor

Africa: AU wants peace, security and bigger global role in 2012

2012-01-16

http://bit.ly/w0GisV

The African Union (AU) has unveiled an ambitious wish-list of priorities for Africa that would give the continent a stronger global voice, boost democracy and encourage peace and security. AU Ambassador to the United States, Amina Ali of Tanzania, presented the list of top priorities at a conference on 11 January held at Washington think-tank, the Brookings Institution. Among them were the regulars - peace and security, enhanced democracy and good governance – as well as improved regional trade and greater involvement of the continent’s large diaspora in African affairs.




Women & gender

Egypt: Bruised but defiant, a personal account of assault by Egyptian security forces

2012-01-09

http://bit.ly/xuWO5W

In this article originally from The Guardian UK website, Mona Eltahawy recounts her experience of being beaten and groped by Egyptian security forces. 'The last thing I remember before the riot police surrounded me was punching a man who had groped me. Who the hell thinks of copping a feel as you’re taking shelter from bullets? Another man tried to protect him by standing between us, but I was enraged, and kept going back for more. A third man was trying to snatch my smartphone out of my other hand. He was the one who had pulled my friend Maged Butter and me into an abandoned shop – supposedly for safety’s sake – and he wouldn’t let go of my hand.' She later tweeted: 'The whole time I was thinking about article I would write; just you fuckers wait.'


Egypt: Egyptian women cane morality police

2012-01-10

http://bit.ly/x8KnUF

Vigilante gangs of ultra-conservative Salafi men have been harassing shop owners and female customers in rural towns around Egypt for 'indecent behavior', according to reports in the Egyptian news media. But when they burst into a beauty salon in the Nile delta town of Benha this week and ordered the women inside to stop what they were doing or face physical punishment, the women struck back, whipping them with their own canes before kicking them out to the street in front of an astonished crowd of onlookers.


Egypt: Revolution, women and Egypt’s future

2012-01-10

http://bit.ly/AeK3pl

'Amr Moussa? He was pro-Mubarak and obedient. ElBaradei. What’s his history? Nothing. The others, what’s their history? Islamic groups, what’s their history? Their history is bad. Islamic leaders, their history is bad. They collaborated with the British and now they collaborate with the Americans and Saudi Arabia. So I have to study who is going to be the president by his character, his history, the program. It’s just individuals running to divide the cake. They want money and authority.' In this interview with www.bikyamasr.com, prominent feminist Nawal el-Saadawi discusses women's rights in Egypt and makes the case for a female president.


Egypt: Women find power still hinges on men

2012-01-11

http://bit.ly/ztHeFz

Emboldened by the revolution to claim a new voice in public life, many women are finding that they are still dependent on the protection of men, and that their greatest power is not as direct actors but as symbols of the military government's repression. It is not a place where Egyptian feminists had hoped women would be, back in the heady days of the revolution, when they played an active role, side by side with men, to bring down a dictator. 'Changing the patriarchal culture is not so easy,' said Mozn Hassan, 32, executive director of the seven-year-old group Nazra for Feminist Studies.


Madagascar: Women break with tradition by embracing farming and improving lives

2012-01-11

http://bit.ly/AuyhCm

For the last seven years, the women of Fitampito have been defying tradition by helping their husbands to farm. Local traditions did not permit women to work the land. But that era is over, reports Farm Radio Weekly. Since women started farming in a few isolated villages in the High Matsiatra region, yields have improved significantly. In three years, rice yields have increased from two tonnes per hectare to five tonnes.


Nigeria: A quiet resistance in the Niger Delta

2012-01-09

http://bit.ly/weO4WG

Formal women’s groups have historically been a part of the social and political organisation in the Niger Delta. Though these have tended to be based around cultural activities, they have also provided women-only spaces to organise voices of inclusion and assertion, writes Sokari Ekine in an article for Red Pepper. 'The success of women’s protests should not be seen solely in terms of the immediate impact on multinational oil companies. We should consider the wider impacts: the politicisation of women and the bringing together of communities such as the Itsekiri and Ijaw women in Delta State, who were driven into manipulated conflicts by the actions of the state and multinationals.'


Zimbabwe: A gendered analysis of the GPA

2012-01-12

http://bit.ly/zkyGYC

This publication seeks to provide a gender analysis of Zimbabwe’s Global Political Agreement from the perspective of the participation of women in peace building and conflict resolution, and how peace agreements facilitate or hinder gender equality in post-conflict situations. The analysis was developed through a series of meetings convened by the Feminist Institute of Southern Africa (FISA) and the publication is a collaboration between FISA and the States in Transition Observatory of Idasa.




Human rights

Angola: AU considers looking at Cabinda claims

2012-01-09

http://bit.ly/w3UXFf

More than five years after the Front for the Liberation of Cabinda (FLEC) filed a complaint with the African Union (AU) against the Angolan government for alleged human rights abuses, the AU says it is willing to hear the 'merits' of appointing a special rapporteur to investigate the claims. Cabinda is separated from Angola's main territory by the River Congo and a narrow sliver of the Democratic Republic of Congo and accounts for more than half of Angola’s oil production. Cabinda's mineral wealth also includes gold, diamonds and uranium, as well as extensive reserves of tropical hardwoods. Since 1975, the status of Cabinda has been disputed, resulting in one of Africa’s longest-running conflicts.


Kenya: Security forces abusing civilians near Somali border, rights group says

2012-01-15

http://bit.ly/zOCiHS

The Kenyan security forces are beating and arbitrarily detaining citizens and Somali refugees in Kenya’s North Eastern province, which borders on Somalia, despite repeated pledges to stop such abuses, Human Rights Watch said. On 11 January 2012, in the latest of a series of incidents documented by Human Rights Watch since October 2011, security forces rounded up and beat residents of Garissa, the provincial capital, in an open field within the enclosure of the local military camp. A Human Rights Watch researcher witnessed the incident.


Libya: No Libyan response on Gadaffi son as deadline nears

2012-01-11

http://bit.ly/yuSFPM

The International Criminal Court says Libya has not responded to a request for information about the health and status of Saif al-Islam Gaddafi before a deadline which expires on Tuesday 10 January. The former Libyan leader's son was captured in southern Libya in November. The ICC, based in in The Hague, has indicted him for crimes against humanity and wants to know officially whether Libya plans to hand him over.


Morocco: Rapper Moaz Balghawat behind bars for 100 days

2012-01-10

http://bit.ly/xvHhaJ

The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information has condemned the repeatedly adjournment of the case of the Moroccan rapper Moaz Belghawat, a member of the February 20 movement, the continuing of his imprisonment and the authorities’ arbitrary rejection to release him even temporarily. Al-Haqed was arrested on charges of assaulting a member of the 'The Royal Youth Movement' called Mohammed El-Dali, and has been languishing in Casablanca’s Akasha prison for more than 100 days.


Nigeria: Amnesty asks police to stop firing at protestors

2012-01-12

http://bit.ly/xfN4c1

Amnesty International (AI) has repeated its call for the Nigeria police force to stop shooting at protesters and urged President Goodluck Jonathan to commit to protecting people, after several deaths and injuries were recorded in street protests. The global rights organisation urged the Nigerian authorities to reform the country's police regulations in line with international standards, to prevent additional loss of life and ensure that the police only use firearms when it is strictly necessary to protect life.


Senegal: Court rejects Belgium's Habré extradition request

2012-01-16

http://bit.ly/zf7OzV

Senegal's Appeals Court has on a technicality rejected a request by Belgium to extradite former Chadian ex-President Hissene Habré. Handing down its ruling following days of interrogation of the request, the court Wednesday said that there were 'technicalities in the format', further arguing that there was no annex of the original application for arrest and detention by Belgium. Belgium has sought to extradite Mr Habré after it charged him with crimes against humanity and torture during his term in power.


Swaziland: Coca-Cola accused of supporting Swaziland dictator

2012-01-09

http://bit.ly/xogFJx

Coca-Cola has been accused of supporting the regime of Swaziland dictator King Mswati III. The Swaziland Democracy Campaign, an organisation that aims to depose Africa's last absolute monarch, has called on the multi-billion dollar drinks giant to pull out of the country immediately. The US-based beverage firm owns a manufacturing plant in Swaziland - its biggest facility in Africa.


Tunisia: New trend of self-immolations

2012-01-12

http://bbc.in/zDN0Z3

The Tunisian revolution was, famously, initiated by the suicide of Mohamed Bouazizi, a young man in a provincial town who set himself alight in front of the town hall in protest at petty corruption and his inability to make a living. In the six months immediately after Bouazizi's death (he took two weeks to die from his injuries) at least 107 fellow Tunisians tried to kill themselves by setting themselves on fire, according to statistics reported by the BBC.




Refugees & forced migration

Africa: Remittance fees punish poor Africans

2012-01-15

http://bit.ly/wyAp6w

The World Bank has identified South Africa and Tanzania as having some of the highest costs for remittance payments in the world, with some charges as high as 25 per cent of the money being transferred. Remittance payment is the transfer of money across borders, often used by immigrant workers to send money home to family members. In 2010, the African diaspora sent home $40-billion in remittance payments to the continent, with these money transfers representing close to 10 per cent of some African countries' gross domestic products


Angola: Angola gets strict with illegal Nam immigrants

2012-01-12

http://bit.ly/wIOZiF

The Angolan government has warned Namibians living illegally in that country to get their papers in order. Namibians living or grazing their cattle in the Cunene and Quando Cubango provinces bordering Namibia have been urged to apply for residence permits to have legal status in Angola. This was done at a meeting held at Olupale in Quando Cubango Province which was attended by Namibians and Angolans and was addressed by the Cunene Province governor, Antonio Ndidalelwa.


Egypt: Organ trafficking on the rise, says report

2012-01-11

http://bit.ly/wpt7qY

The political unrest that rocked Egypt last year seems to have shaken the country's law enforcement apparatus, creating loopholes for organ traffickers. During that period, cases of organ trafficking of Sudanese refugees and other political asylum seekers in Egypt have gone up. A report by the Coalition for Organ-Failure Solutions (COFS), a non-profit international health and human rights organisation, indicates that human traffickers in the North African country are increasingly targeting Africans, especially refugees and other immigrants.


Global: Exploring the impact of new technologies on the displaced

2012-01-12

http://bit.ly/xCygEh

The articles in Issue 38 of Forced Migration Review cover the positive and the negative aspects of the spread of technologies; the increased accountability, and the increased scope for controlling displaced people; the opening up through the internet of possibilities beyond the traditional confines of life as a displaced person, and the risks and dangers that that brings; and the potential in technological advances for assistance and protection programmes.


Global: The state of environmental migration

2012-01-11

http://bit.ly/yNsVxi

This volume published at the end of 2011 is intended to be the first of an annual series, which will aim to provide the reader with regularly-updated qualitative assessments on the changing nature and dynamics of environmental migration throughout the world. Most of the papers constitute the first detailed analyses of the migration flows that were induced by some of the most dramatic events of 2010, paving the way for future scholarly works.


Haiti: Haitian migrants test Brazil's solidarity

2012-01-15

http://bit.ly/wYgngi

Brazil, for decades a source of migrants to the United States and Europe, is now facing its own humanitarian challenge: applying the international solidarity it trumpets to the Haitians who are arriving in the thousands, in search of a better life. Drawn by the economic boom in Brazil, now the world's sixth largest economy, and the major infrastructure works in preparation for the 2014 football World Cup and the 2016 Olympic Games to be hosted by Rio de Janeiro, some 5,000 Haitians have flocked to this country since the earthquake, according to the Institute of Migration and Human Rights.


Mauritania: Former refugees demand return of land

2012-01-12

http://bit.ly/zQgjkV

A hundred former Mauritanian refugees, repatriated from Senegal, have staged a protest outside the National Assembly, demanding that their agricultural land, confiscated after their expulsion in 1989, be returned to them, PANA reports. They are also asking that their documentation be completed in accordance with the government regulations, Makasi Diakhite, himself a former refugee, said.


Somalia: US bank move highlights importance of remittances

2012-01-09

http://bit.ly/ykr4Pn

The welfare of hundreds of thousands of Somalis who depend on financial assistance from the diaspora is at risk following a decision by a US bank to close down accounts of Somali money transfer companies in the state of Minnesota by 30 December, according to local and international sources. Somalis, both in Somalia and in the diaspora, have reacted with dismay at the move by Sunrise Community Bank, arguing that money transfer companies are a lifeline to millions of Somalis who depend on remittances for their livelihoods.




Social movements

South Africa: UPM activist released

2012-01-16

http://bit.ly/zKn872

A number of South African social movements issued statements following the arrest of Ayanda Kota from the Unemployed People's Movement (UPM) and reports that he had been assaulted while in police custody. Kota has now been released, but statements about his arrest made by the UPM, the Democratic Left Front and the Mandela Park Backyarder's can be read from the Abahlali baseMjondolo website.




Emerging powers news

Latest edition: emerging powers news roundup

2012-01-16

http://pambazuka.org/en/category/emplayersnews/79138

In this week's edition of the Emerging Powers News Round-Up, read a comprehensive list of news stories and opinion pieces related to China, India and other emerging powers...
1. General

Asia starts 2012 with record W.African oil imports
Asia is importing record volumes of West African oil this year, rebuilding stocks after relatively low shipments in December, Reuters calculations based on industry and shipping data show.
Read More

2. China in Africa

New AU headquarters indicative of close China-Africa partnership: PM Meles
Prime Minister Meles Zenawi said that the new African Union headquarters is a sign of close cooperation between China and Africa. The premier made the remark here on Wednesday January 11, 2012 while visiting the new AU headquarters, which was built by the China State Construction Engineering Corporation (CSCEC). The construction and refurbishment, fully financed by the Chinese government, consumed close to 200 million USD.
Read More

African countries learning from China's SEZs
A delegation of African government officials, experts and entrepreneurs gathered in Shenzhen on Monday for a China-Africa poverty reduction and development seminar, organized by the International Poverty Reduction Center in China, United Nations Development Program and China Center for Special Economic Zones Research of Shenzhen University.
Read More

China keen to cooperate with West in Africa
China is open to trilateral cooperation with the West and the international community in Africa, based on Africa's consent, to enhance local development, a senior Chinese diplomat said on Wednesday. Lu Shaye, director-general of the Department of African Affairs of the Foreign Ministry, said Western countries have proposed trilateral cooperation with China in Africa many times, and China is willing to cooperate with the international community to enhance Africa's development.
Read More

China lends Africa more than World Bank
In the past decade, the Export-Import Bank of China has extended US$12.5 billion more in loans to the countries of sub-Saharan Africa than the World Bank, according to Fitch Ratings.
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Chinese deal could herald new era for African cotton
A recent Chinese-African cotton agreement could usher in a new era for the African cotton industry – but not in the short-term, say industry experts. Under the agreement, signed in December with four key cotton-producing African countries - Benin, Mali, Chad and Burkina Faso (known as the C4) – China stated it would provide machinery, expertise and materials in a bid to increase and improve the quality of local production.
Read More

Chinese Delegation Expected to Deepen Bilateral Cooperation
With a view of strengthening Rwando-Chinese cooperation, a delegation of Chinese high government officials and businesspeople will soon visit the country for mutual collaboration and to explore investment opportunities.
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Chinese FM Holds Talks with Nigerien Minister on Bilateral Ties
Visiting Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi on Wednesday held talks with Bazoum Mohamed, Niger's minister of state in charge of foreign affairs, cooperation, African integration and overseas Nigeriens, on relations between their two countries.
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Chinese TV launches English-language Africa broadcast
China Central Television (CCTV) on Wednesday started broadcasting English-language African news produced at a centre in Kenya’s capital. It is the first time state-run CCTV News has set up a production centre outside of China and about 100 people are employed there.
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3. India in Africa

India planning US$100m credit to Zim
India is planning to provide a soft credit of US$100 million to Zimbabwe for development of its health sector and to help the country in skill development. “A team from India would be visiting Harare next week to discuss the proposal for Line-of-Credit (LoC) of US$100 million for strengthening of health infrastructure,” Commerce, Industry and Textiles Minister, Anand Sharma, who is on a two-day visit to Harare, said. The issue of credit was discussed during his meeting with Finance Minister, Tendai Biti on Tuesday.
Read More

India to assist Zimbabwe in reviving its textile sector
Shri Anand Sharma, Commerce, Industries and Textiles Minister announced that the National Institute of Design (NID) India is undertaking a project for training and exposure to craftswomen of rural Africa to empower them through design intervention in basketry making, as part of the India-Africa Forum Summit Action Plan. The announcement came during his meeting with Prof. Welshman Ncube, Ministry of Industry & Commerce of Zimbabwe at Harare.
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India loans $100 million to Mali for power project
India has extended a $100-million loan to Mali for a power project, while Bamako promised to support the Asian giant's bid for a permanent UN Security Council seat, a statement said. The joint statement, received by AFP Friday, was issued after a visit to India by Malian President Amadou Toumani Toure on January 11-12.
Read More

Anand Sharma Leads Indian Delegation at ANC Centenary Meets with His Counterpart Rob Davies
Shri Anand Sharma, Minister for Commerce, Industry and Textiles, is heading the Indian delegation to the Centenary celebrations of the African National Congress (ANC) in the South African city of Mangaung (Bloemfontein) called on Mr. Jacob Zuma, President of the Republic of South Africa and President of the ANC.
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India seeks trade pact with S Africa
India and the South African Customs Union (Sacu) are expected to firm up the contours of a preferential trade agreement (PTA) over the next couple of months. New Delhi has already sent a list of 1,050 items on which it has sought lower customs duty, while Sacu - comprising South Africa, Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, and Swaziland - wants India to cut tariffs on 748 items.
Read More

Coal India set to explore coal in South Africa
Inadequate supply of coal to power stations in India could well be a thing of the past with Coal India setting up a joint venture with the Limpopo government in South Africa to acquire coal mines in the province. Coal India accounts for more than 80% of the domestic coal production in India and recently revised its production target downwards.
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India for Security Council representation from Africa
Strongly pitching for the expansion of permanent membership of the U.N. Security Council, India has said the powerful body should have representation from developing countries, including Africa.
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4. In Other Emerging Powers News

Companies from Brazil and Cape Verde plan to produce shrimp on the archipelago
A partnership between companies from the Brazilian state from Ceará and from Cape Verde has been set up with the aim of farming shrimp on the archipelago, according to Brazilian newspaper Diário do Nordeste.
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Malawi, Brazil's Vale ink $1 bln rail line deal
Malawi said on Wednesday it has signed a $1 billion deal with Brazil's Vale for the construction and rehabilitation of a rail line that will transport 18 million tonnes of coal from Mozambique. "Vale will invest about $1 billion in Malawi over a period of three years for construction and rehabilitation of the railway line and it is expected to employ 4,500 workers of which 70 percent will be Malawians," Minister of Transport Sidick Mia told Reuters.
Read More

5. Blogs, Opinions, Presentations and Publications

Brazil's rise as a major world player
Today’s new world order is mostly led by non-western giants, such as China, India and Brazil. Brazil rose as a major player with global influence through hard work at home. As a result, it managed to acquire the authority to engage in decision-making processes on the world agenda, whether political, economic, commercial, environmental, social or cultural in nature. Thus, its voice is being increasingly heard and respected internationally and its favourable attributes for promoting development and strengthening cooperation among nations are duly used.
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South Africa, the Indian Ocean and the IBSA-BRICS equation: Reflections on Geopolitical and Strategi
South Africa's entry into the Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (BRICS) forum in 2011 alongside its membership in the trilateral forum of India-Brazil-South Africa (IBSA) raises a number of issues in the nature of trends analysis. These have to do with the relationships among the developing countries of the so-called global South, overlapping into the realm of emerging powers. These can be considered semi-developed countries exhibiting robust rates of growth, development, rising living standards and growing regional geopolitical influence in an increasingly multipolar global environment.
Read More

On SA's membership of the BRICS
On a visit to the ancient central Chinese city of Xian in 2006, my Chinese government interlocutor told me this story about the Chinese psyche. He said that throughout their lives, the Chinese have to choose between being the head of a duck (part dwarfism), or becoming a tail of a dragon (part giantism). A similar challenge has dogged the psyche of South Africa's diplomacy since the dawn of our democracy in 1994: does SA settle to be a head of the African duck (a giant amongst dwarfs)? Or does SA aspire to be a tail of the world's mighty dragons like China, Russia, Brazil and India (a dwarf amongst emerging giants)?
Read More

China’s role in North-South Sudan relations
The governments of South Sudan and Sudan have some unresolved issues left over from divorce that was finalised in July. From border demarcation to oil resources, one would expect South Sudan and Sudan to be at each others throats by now, but that hasn’t been the case at all. Faced with sudden loss of its hard currency earner – oil – Sudan crafted a budget that was filled with glaring shortfalls. To make up for the loss of its share of oil – about 75% worth – Sudan imposed exorbitant transit fees that would allow it to recoup upward of $2 billion annually.
Read More

Chinese Troops In Seychelles – Analysis
The republic of Seychelles has come in news with the stationing of the Chinese troops in Mahe. The archipelago nation is located at a strategic location as it lies in the path of major shipping lines. This has raised a pertinent question as to what has provoked China to station troops in Seychelles. Is piracy the only reason for this or there are other ulterior motives behind the stationing of the troops?
Read More




Elections & governance

Chad: Opposition unites for Chad's first local polls

2012-01-10

http://bit.ly/w0L0IE

Chad's main opposition parties have announced they had formed a broad alliance to challenge President Idriss Deby Itno's ruling party in the central African state's first local polls. Sixteen of Chad's main opposition parties - grouped under the Coordination of Political Parties for the Defence of the Constitution (CPDC) umbrella - will field joint candidates in the 22 January election.


Ethiopia: Politicians on trial for terrorism

2012-01-10

http://bit.ly/yx5enc

Two politicians who had been rising stars in Ethiopia's ethnic Oromo opposition movement have pleaded 'not guilty' to terrorism charges in Addis Ababa. Bekele Gerba and Olbana Lelisa appeared in federal court to hear charges accusing them of conspiring to overthrow Ethiopia's government by force. They also stand accused of being recruiters for the Oromo Liberation Front, an outlawed separatist group.


Guinea Bissau: Uncertainty after president's death

2012-01-15

http://bit.ly/wTGZIz

The death of the president of Guinea-Bissau, Malam Bacai Sanhá, could usher in a replay of the military uprisings that have set an unmistakable seal of instability on the political life of this small West African country. Sanhá, who died Monday 9 January in Paris, was one of the few surviving heroes of the liberation struggle against the Portuguese colonial army. That enabled him to play a mediating role in the frequent disputes for power in Guinea-Bissau, which gained independence in 1974.


Kenya: Court delays election

2012-01-16

http://bit.ly/AoZOD4

Kenya's High Court has ruled that the country's next presidential and parliamentary elections should be held in March 2013 and not in August, unless the ruling coalition collapses. The east African country's next election will come under intense scrutiny because it will be the first under a new constitution, and the first since the 2007 poll that gave rise to fighting in which more than 1,220 people were killed. The government had proposed amending the constitution to delay the vote to December because of logistical problems, prompting petitioners to ask the High Court for a ruling.


Nigeria: Government to cut fuel prices

2012-01-16

http://bit.ly/ysm5pu

Nigeria's president has announced that the government will subsidise fuel prices to immediately reduce the price to about $2.75 a gallon, amid a crippling nationwide strike over fuel prices in Africa's most populous country. Protests have seen tens of thousands march in cities across the nation. Soldiers barricaded the country's commercial capital of Lagos and the entrances to protest venues in the second-largest city of Kano. Jonathan's speech comes after his attempt to negotiate with labour unions failed late on Sunday night to avert the strike entering a sixth day.


Nigeria: Oil disaster met by silence

2012-01-10

http://bit.ly/AqEanm

Last month, on the other side of the Atlantic, the oil giant Royal Dutch Shell's operation caused from 1m to 2m gallons of oil to spill into the ocean off the coast of Nigeria, also as the result of an industrial accident. 'You may wonder where the outrage against Shell is?' asks Michael Keating in this article on the www.commondreams.org website. 'To say that it is nonexistent except for a few responses from the environmental community would be an understatement. The simple fact is that Shell and its "sisters" in the West African oil patches are rarely scrutinized except in the most egregious cases – which this one surely is – and the world seems to simply expect that the people of Nigeria should live with these sorts of occurrences because they unfortunately lack the political and media clout to do otherwise.'


Senegal: Is Youssou N’dour qualified to be President?

2012-01-11

http://bit.ly/zCU1Rx

While internationally renowned Senegalese singer Youssou N’dour's entry into the Senegalese political field has made headlines, here's blogger Africa is a Country's view: 'The truth is, most serious analysts don’t give N’dour a chance and in some quarters his candidacy is viewed as a publicity stunt - among other factors, N’dour, who has a large fan audience outside Senegal, has no electoral organisation in place; enters a a crowded opposition field; while the incumbent (Abdoulaye Wade) is an experienced campaigner and controls the electoral machinery.'


South Africa: ANC marks centenary

2012-01-10

http://bit.ly/yrefM2

Tens of thousands of people are gathering in South Africa to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the African National Congress - the continent's oldest liberation movement. The party has been in power since 1994, when Nelson Mandela was elected the country's first black president. The ANC played a pivotal role in the struggle to end apartheid, and it still holds a strong majority of public support. But with in-fighting, allegations of corruption, and criticism from many sectors, there are concerns that the current party leadership is failing to live up to the titans of old.


Southern Africa: Parties, politics and potential collapse

2012-01-10

http://econ.st/AgaimL

This article from The Economist looks at potential political developments during 2012 in the countries of South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Madagascar, Angola, Zambia, Malawi and Swaziland. While some countries are expected to hold steady, others are set for potentially seismic political changes.


Swaziland: Explosives trial begins

2012-01-16

http://bit.ly/wDmmNP

The first day of trial for the two explosives suspects, Maxwell Thanduk’khanya Dlamini and Musa Ngubeni began 12 January amid much drama. This was after police and political activists were engaged in a showdown after the latter were ordered out of the courtroom for being inappropriately dressed. President of the banned People’s United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO) Mario Masuku, and political activist Mphandlana Shongwe then gave over 10 police officers a tongue-lashing at the Magistrates Court.




Corruption

Angola: $32 bn vanishes from oil-rich Angola's state coffers

2012-01-10

http://bit.ly/w2veNS

A staggering $32 billion is missing from the state coffers of Angola, a nation that is steeped in poverty, blatant social inequality, and among the worst-ranked in the world for its life expectancy, infant mortality and corruption. New York-based Human Rights Watch said in December that the government of Angola should promptly provide a full public accounting for $32 billion in missing government funds, thought to be linked to the country's state oil company Sonangol.


Nigeria: Billions lost to corruption could be used for fuel subsidy

2012-01-16

http://bit.ly/wpNvBL

As a nationwide strike and protests against the lifting of the fuel subsidy paralysed Nigeria last week, analysts say the billions of dollars a year lost to corruption in the oil industry could have been used to leave the subsidy in place. 'We know that because of the corruption and irrelevant people placed in certain key positions in the sector, a lot of crude oil is being lost,' Garba Ibrahim Sheka, a senior lecturer in economics at Bayero University in the northern city of Kano, told IPS.




Development

Global: Breaking the mould

2012-01-16

http://bit.ly/xCckwF

There is now substantial evidence of the role of financial liberalisation in triggering financial crises, and on how these crises particularly affect the poor. Latin America is a clear example of a region that in the 1980s and 1990s, under the conditionality and advice of the World Bank and the IMF, embraced financial liberalisation, suffered several financial crises and is now increasingly relying on different forms of regulation of inflows and outflows. Argentina, Brazil and Costa Rica are among the countries that have recently implemented capital account regulations. This report reviews the evidence available on the impact of the measures implemented in these countries.


Southern Africa: What impact will EPAs have on sugar, grapes and cotton?

2012-01-15

http://bit.ly/wNqq1U

The Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) that are being negotiated by the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries on one hand and the European Union on the other are essentially Free Trade Areas covering trade in goods, services, trade related areas and other non trade issues. This report looks into the effects EPAs will have on the countries in Southern Africa, focussing on the effects on the production and value chain of three products; sugar, grapes and cotton.




Health & HIV/AIDS

Mozambique: Own antiretroviral drugs to be produced

2012-01-10

http://tgr.ph/yoHS50

Alexandre Manguele, the southeastern country's health minister, announced that the first ARVs produced in Mozambique, in partnership with Brazil, will be ready by July 2012. In doing so, it will be the first African country – rather than private sector supplier – to produce its own stocks of the drug, which can prolong the lives of HIV sufferers by decades.


Senegal: Addressing Aids in Senegalese prisons

2012-01-09

http://bit.ly/wdp2nD

Senegal has among the lowest rates of HIV in Sub-Saharan Africa, at less than one percent. But the most vulnerable group is men who have sex with men (MSM), nearly 22 per cent of whom are HIV-positive. Prisons are high-risk environments for the transmission of the disease, due to the prevalence of hard drugs, violence and sexual relations. There is no mandatory testing in prison, and for those prisoners who, either knowingly or unknowingly, are living with HIV, the stresses of living in prison – including overcrowding, unsanitary conditions, and poor nutrition – mean their health is even more compromised.




Education

South Africa: Stampede highlights education chaos

2012-01-10

http://bit.ly/wJhHO4

Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande's 'wonderful problem' came back to haunt him when a woman was killed and 17 people injured in a stampede at the University of Johannesburg. Speaking at a hastily convened press conference following the accident, Nzimande announced that the department would move to a "central application process" to alleviate problems regarding university registrations. This was a far cry from the minister's comments last year when he brushed off criticism of the large queues outside the University of Johannesburg (UJ), calling it a 'wonderful problem'. In a repeat of last year's chaos, hundreds of matriculants queued outside the university once the matric results were released seeking to submit late applications for study.


Zimbabwe: Teachers threaten to strike

2012-01-10

http://bit.ly/yrNA1D

Zimbabwe's minister of education, David Coltart, says he is 'powerless' to stop a strike by the country's civil servants, as teachers press for higher salaries of $540 - more than double their current $250 paycheck - in a fresh sign of trouble that threatens to rattle Zimbabwe's fragile unity government.




LGBTI

South Africa: 'Set me free so I can become a cop'

2012-01-11

http://bit.ly/x2lAVc

30 January 2012 is the latest date set for the sentencing of Zoliswa Nkonyana’s murderers, according to blog Writing Rights. Nkonyana was killed because she was lesbian. Activist Zackie Achmat writes in commentary on a reposted news article on the site that the inefficient, ineffective and unjust criminal justice system in Khayelitsha and throughout our country continues to punish Nkonyana’s family and friends with the delay in sentencing the killers. The Social Justice Coalition together with Equal Education, Treatment Action Campaign and Triangle Project have instituted a formal complaint for a Commission of Inquiry into SAPS, the Metro Police and the other agencies.


Uganda: Call for anti reproductive rights laws to be scrapped

2012-01-16

http://bit.ly/AjYTmV

A Ugandan advocate for sex workers and homosexual rights, Busingye Kabumba has said prostitution and anti-abortion laws should be repealed to encourage the sexual and reproductive health and rights of young women. Kabumba, a lecturer at Makerere University’s Faculty of Law in Kampala also said there was a 'need to streamline the Ugandan legal framework in light of the international legal structure on the sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHRs) for young women in the country.'




Environment

Africa: Young scientists issue communique on climate change

2012-01-16

http://www.pambazuka.org/images/articles/565/COP17_IKS_Communique_AYSICCIKS.pdf

A group of young scientists meeting on the sidelines of COP17, held in Durban, South Africa last year, has resolved to mobilise African young scientists and youth within and outside Africa to promote the role of African indigenous knowledge systems in climate change adaptation and mitigation through
research and community engagement.




Land & land rights

Global: 'Our struggle is for the permanence of agriculture'

2012-01-10

http://bit.ly/xMFbcP

'I believe that African movements are in a process of emerging from the control of the big NGOs that have historically managed their struggle. La Via Campesina in Africa shows that this process will be as powerful as it has been in Latin America, or even more powerful, because this is an awakening that allows them to say, maybe for the first time, "we can speak for ourselves, nobody can speak for us".' In this interview with Alberto Gomez, the national director of UNORCA (Unión Nacional de Organizaciones Regionales Campesinas Autónomas) in Mexico, he discusses the UN climate summit concluded in Durban in December and what it means for agriculture.


Global: European banks fuelling food price volatility and hunger

2012-01-12

http://bit.ly/zcgLxK

European banks, pension funds and insurance companies are increasing global hunger and poverty by speculating on food prices and financing land grabs in poorer countries, according to a new report by Friends of the Earth Europe. The report analyses the activities of 29 European banks, pension funds and insurance companies, including Deutsche Bank, Barclays, RBS, Allianz, BNP Paribas, AXA, HSBC, Generali, Allianz, Unicredit and Credit Agricole. It reveals the significant involvement of these financial institutions in food speculation, and the direct or indirect financing of land grabbing.


Sudan: Farmers fear land grab by foreigners

2012-01-12

http://bit.ly/yCkUqY

When South Sudan became an independent state in July 2011, northern Sudan lost most of its oil fields to its new neighbouring country. In an effort to revive the country's struggling economy, the Sudanese government has been selling or leasing vast swaths of fertile land to foreign investors. But in areas where agricultural land is the basic source of living for people, there is much anger over what farmers say is a government policy that promotes foreign land grabs, favouritism, and exploitation, reports Al Jazeera.




Food Justice

Kenya: Cash transfers and coping with poverty

2012-01-16

http://www.pambazuka.org/images/articles/565/HSNP Case study report- Turkana.pdf

This report from the Hunger Safety Net Programme Secretariat (HNSP) defines the behavior of HNSP beneficiaries receiving cash transfers in coping with and overcoming the challenges of extreme poverty magnified by shocks of environmental extremities of drought, famine, floods and socio-economic marginalisation. Further, it documents how some beneficiaries have been able to build some form of stable livelihoods (a desired knock on effect) using the cash transfers and in the context of the three year prolonged drought.


South Africa: Western Cape farm workers and dwellers speak out

2012-01-16

http://pambazuka.org/en/category/food/79165

The Commercial, Stevedoring, Agricultural and Allied Workers Union (CSAAWU), the Mawubuye Land Rights Forum, the Trust for Community Outreach and Education, and the Democratic Left Front (DLF) launched the Speak-Out Campaign on the 27th of November 2011 at a mass meeting in Robertson (some 2 hours from Cape Town). Farm workers and farm dwellers spoke of the inhumane living and working conditions that they face each and every day. They do backbreaking work to produce food for everybody yet they are forced to work under unsafe and unhealthy conditions, to drink dirty water, live without electricity, live with threats of evictions, to live on poverty wages and to suffer abuse at the hands of the bosses. The Speak-Out Campaign aims to bring an end to the oppression and exploitation of farm workers and farm dwellers by coming together to build solidarity, strength and hope amongst the rural working class.
WESTERN CAPE Farm Workers and Dwellers Speak Out

Joint Statement by CSAAWU, Democratic Left Front, Mawubuye Land Rights Forum and the Trust for Community Outreach and Education

27 December 2011

The Commercial, Stevedoring, Agricultural and Allied Workers Union (CSAAWU), the Mawubuye Land Rights Forum, the Trust for Community Outreach and Education, and the Democratic Left Front (DLF) launched the Speak-Out Campaign on the 27th of November 2011 at a mass meeting in Robertson (some 2 hours from Cape Town). Farm workers and farm dwellers spoke of the inhumane living and working conditions that they face each and every day. They do backbreaking work to produce food for everybody yet they are forced to work under unsafe and unhealthy conditions, to drink dirty water, live without electricity, live with threats of evictions, to live on poverty wages and to suffer abuse at the hands of the bosses. The Speak-Out Campaign aims to bring an end to the oppression and exploitation of farm workers and farm dwellers by coming together to build solidarity, strength and hope amongst the rural working class.

Since its launch, the Speak-Out Campaign has been attacked by farmers. CSAAWU shop stewards and workers have been dismissed in the Robertson area. A shop steward and worker leader was dismissed at Voorspoed farm for ‘insubordination’, for handing out Speak-Out Campaign fliers. Workers on four farms went on illegal strike action for three days standing in solidarity with their shop steward, making real the slogan ‘an injury to one is an injury to all’. Another shop steward was dismissed at Lamontanara Cheese factory. These are workers who struggle to defend the dignity of workers, who have said enough is enough – workers should have clean water to drink, decent housing, a living wage, they should have that which they need for a decent life. Things can and should be better. The bosses have dismissed them for these things – for standing up and building workers’ organisation. They have been dismissed to intimidate other workers, to try to break CSAAWU and the campaign.

On the 18th of December the Speak-Out Campaign held a second meeting in Klaasvoogds, Robertson. Workers once again spoke of health and safety problems – one worker is in hospital as a result of a tractor falling on him. The worker had to wait for hours for the ambulance to come because the farmer refused to take him to hospital. Workers are forced to use the bushes as toilets, jeorpardising their safety. Workers are not provided with transport and there is no public transport in rural areas. Because of this workers are not able to get medical care when they are ill, some have been sexually abused whilst hitchhiking to get medical care. Clean water and electricity remain urgent matters. Workers also spoke of the high deductions that are taken off their wages without explanation, sometimes leaving them with R150 per week. Some farmers have gone on holiday and left workers without money, food and water. These are crimes against workers that get perpetuated each and every day by bosses.

The Speak-Out Campaign has already started putting pressure on farmers, workers are forcing change. On Uitkyk farm, the farmer restored electricity and is in the process of upgrading a workers’ house that was unlivable in. On Vinkrivier farm, upgrading of houses has begun, some transport has been provided and the farmer has agreed that workers can pay for their electricity directly rather than through the farmer, who used to charge them more to make a profit. Sometimes farmers say that they are doing these things as favours to workers and workers must resign from the union if farmers make these undertakings. We say these things are not favours. We are not grateful. Decent housing and water and electricity are basic necessities that each person should have. We say that workers will not be threatened and bribed into leaving the union.

The Speak-Out Campaign is building workers confidence and hope in the possibility of change. One worker said he had been waiting for over 9 years for this, for workers to stand together and demand a better life. Another worker said when he read the CSAAWU leaflet he thought ‘this is it’. Another said that he is struggling not for himself but for his children and his children’s children so that they will not suffer in the same way. At the meeting, workers raised R600 for the two dismissed shop stewards, showing that they could put solidarity into practice.

Upcoming events:
· On the 29th of January the Speak-Out Campaign will hold a mass meeting at Karingmelk farm, agter Paarl, Durbanville.
· On the 5th of February the Speak-Out Campaign will go to Ladismith to hold a mass meeting.
· On the 21st of March, Human Rights Day, there will be a mass event calling for a criminal tribunal of farmers.

We call on working class organisations and progressive forces to stand in solidarity with the rural poor and working class:
· Build the Speak-Out Campaign. Let us bring working class organisations together to struggle against the bosses and their government.
· Workers have undertaken to defend their leaders. Each CSAAWU member will collect R5 each week to ensure dismissed workers will get their wage, that they can feed their children. You can do the same; you can share your loose change with workers.
· At Leuenkuil farm, Paarl, the farmer has gone on holiday leaving 150 workers with no money, food or water. At Wonderfontein farm, Robertson, a similar situation faces another 150 workers. The situation on these farms is desperate and intolerable. Send messages of protest to Wine Industry Ethical Trading Association (WIETA): 0828641816, Fax: 021 880 0576, email:[email protected] Both farms export wine to Norway & Sweden. Their treatment of workers violates WIETA standards. Their products should not be handled or sold.
· Donate any old clothing and non-perishable foods that you can.
· CSAAWU’s bank details are as follows: Bank: Standard Bank; Account number: 072003596; Account name: CSAAWU

FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT:
1. CSAAWU
- Email: [email protected];
- phone CSAAWU office: 021 9518072
- Trevor Christians (CSAAWU General Secretary): 0835462911
- Karel Swart (CSAAWU Deputy General Secretary): 0729913371
2. DLF
- Mercia Andrews: 082 368 3429, [email protected]


Southern Africa: Food price pressures weigh heavily on the region

2012-01-09

http://bit.ly/AymKP8

A tight grain supply outlook after several bumper harvests is set to fan food price pressures in southern Africa, fuelling salary demands and threatening to knock the region's fragile economies out of kilter. Erratic rains have delayed the planting of the crucial maize crop in Zambia, pushing inflation towards double digits, while bread basket South Africa is importing the staple despite abundant harvests because of worries it has exported too much. With a high proportion of households in the region spending much of their limited income feeding themselves, rising food inflation is likely to further stoke union demands in wage negotiations.




Media & freedom of expression

Côte d'Ivoire: Body found may be missing reporter

2012-01-10

http://bit.ly/AxgCiN

Investigators in Ivory Coast have unearthed a body which they say may belong to Franco-Canadian journalist Guy-Andre Kieffer, who went missing in country's economic capital Abidjan in 2004, his brother told France 3 television. The team of French and Ivorian investigators have sent samples from the body, exhumed in the Issia region several hundred kilometres (miles) to the northeast of Abidjan, to France for genetic identification tests.


Ethiopia: Standing with Ethiopia's tenacious blogger, Eskinder Nega

2012-01-16

http://bit.ly/yGVoyZ

It would be hard to find a better symbol of media repression in Africa than Eskinder Nega. The veteran Ethiopian journalist and dissident blogger has been detained at least seven times by Prime Minister Meles Zenawi's government over the past two decades, and was put back in jail on 14 September 2011, after he published a column calling for the government to respect freedom of speech and freedom of assembly and to end torture in prisons. Eskinder now faces terrorism charges, and if convicted could face the death sentence. He's not alone: Ethiopia currently has seven journalists behind bars. More journalists have fled Ethiopia over the past decade than any other country in the world, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists.


Global: Call for UN action over journo deaths

2012-01-16

http://bit.ly/x6sptD

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has urged the United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to take drastic action against governments of the most dangerous countries for media after it published its annual list of 106 journalists and media personnel killed in 2011. The Federation says 2011 was another bloody year for media and blames governments' failure to uphold their international obligations for the ongoing violence targeting media. In a letter to the UN Secretary General, the IFJ calls for effective implementation of international legal instruments to combat the prevailing culture of impunity for crimes against journalists.


Rwanda: Proposed media law fails to safeguard free press, says Article 19

2012-01-16

http://bit.ly/yWQ5CM

A revised media law promised by the Rwandan government prior to and during its Universal Periodic Review at the UN Human Rights Council in 2011 fails to safeguard the right to freedom of expression and a free media, says Article 19. The State retains its control over the media in the draft Law by determining rules for its operation and defining journalists’ professional standards. Media freedoms and the right to freedom of expression are not safeguarded and can be restricted in violation of international law due to overbroad definitions and the creation of vaguely defined prohibitions.


South Africa: #ANC100 debate lays bare divisions over South Africa media

2012-01-16

http://bit.ly/xPFkBc

On 8 January 1912, South African intellectuals - including pioneering black newspaper publishers Pixley ka Isaka Seme, editor of Abantu-Batho, and John Langalibalele Dube, editor of Ilanga lase Natal - formed Africa's oldest liberation movement, the African National Congress (ANC), in the Wesleyan Church in Bloemfontein. During centennial commemorations of this event, twitter users made the #ANC100 hash tag a global trend. The lively social media debate illustrated both the discomfort many Africans feel toward criticism of their leaders, and the role as scapegoat that the media is currently playing as the ANC struggles to hold onto a decisively positive legacy, says this Committee to Protect Journalists post.


South Africa: Remembering Henry Nxumalo, pioneer under apartheid

2012-01-09

http://bit.ly/xtVeQr

Just over 55 years ago, on New Year's Eve 1957, trailblazing South African journalist Henry Nxumalo was murdered while investigating suspicious deaths at an abortion clinic in Sophiatown, a suburb west of Johannesburg. Nxumalo's short-lived journalism career was remarkable - he operated as one of the first black journalists under apartheid and pioneered undercover investigative journalism in South Africa.




News from the diaspora

Global: How the State Department uses rap to spread propaganda abroad

2012-01-11

http://bit.ly/w7CgVg

Since 2005, the US State Department has been using hip-hop as a bridge for foreign cultural diplomacy. Operating under the auspices of then-public diplomacy undersecretary Karen Hughes, the 'Rhythm Road' program began sending 'hip-hop envoys' to, mostly, the Middle East, hoping to promote transnational understanding through music and dance, writes Julianne Escobedo for www.alternet.org 'The State Department's actions mirror its efforts during the Cold War, when they dispatched prominent jazz musicians to counter Soviet propaganda about life in America. The Al-Jazeera piece brings up that this program sends Muslim hip-hop artists, in particular, to Muslim-majority countries to discuss their experience in the United States.'


Haiti: Two years on and Haitians still bear the brunt of slow aid

2012-01-12

http://bit.ly/x0iTBy

Two years after Haiti was devastated by a 7.0 magnitude earthquake, international aid donors have delivered only half of the billions of dollars promised for reconstruction, according to UN data. Just $2.38-billion (53 per cent) of the $4.5-billion pledged for recovery programmes in 2010-2011 has been delivered, figures from the UN special envoy for Haiti show.




Conflict & emergencies

Africa: Weapon sales small but dangerous

2012-01-10

http://bit.ly/yYeVQl

Lethal arms flows to sub-Saharan Africa, including South Africa, accounted for 3.4 percent of the global volume of imports of major weapons between 2006 and 2010. Excluding South Africa, the region's share shrinks to 1.5 per cent, a new report by the prestigious Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) says. The report points out that in sub-Saharan Africa, which has virtually no arms industry of their own, states have received major arms through legal transfers from a wide variety of countries worldwide. During 2006-2010 China accounted for 25 per cent, Ukraine for 20 per cent and Russia for 11 per cent of the volume of major arms supplied to the region.


Angola: Floods leave Angolan returnees stranded

2012-01-09

http://bit.ly/x8gB8m

Several thousand Angolan returnees from the neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) are stranded by floods in northeastern Angola. They are among the first casualties of what promises to be a very wet rainy season in parts of southern Africa. 'At least 50,000 people - 24,000 of them returnees - in 10 villages in Uige Province [northeastern Angola near border with DRC] have been affected by the flooding, rains and hailstorms in the past four months,' said Antonio Maiandi, head of the Evangelical Reformed Church of Angola, which has been trying to help those affected.


Kenya: Somali fighters in deadly cross-border raid

2012-01-16

http://bit.ly/xXAXGi

Somalia's Islamist al-Shabab group have killed at least six Kenyans in a cross-border raid, claiming revenge for Nairobi's troop deployment against the al-Qaeda-linked group, police and fighters said. Four police officers, a local government official and a civilian were killed in the attack by assailants, using firearms and an explosive device, said regional police chief Leo Nyongesa.


Nigeria: Sixteen dead as Nigeria chaos grows

2012-01-11

http://bit.ly/A5TDc0

Ethnic and religious violence in Nigeria claimed 16 more victims, with gunmen killing eight in the north and a mob torching an Islamic school in the south, as a fuel strike added to the deadly tension. Amid the sectarian and social turmoil, Nobel literature prize laureate Wole Soyinka, one of the country's most respected voices, warned that the continent's most populous nation was heading toward civil war.


Somalia: 'Somali militants' seize Kenyan officials in Wajir

2012-01-12

http://bbc.in/zpmeap

Gunmen have killed six people and abducted three others in the latest attack in the north-eastern border region with Somalia, police say. A local police chief told the BBC that Somali militants were to blame for the raid in Wajir district, in which two local officials were seized. There have been several attacks since Nairobi sent troops into Somalia to fight the al-Shabab Islamist group. No-one has claimed responsibility for the latest attack.


South Sudan: Call for protection of ethnic groups

2012-01-09

http://bit.ly/wYWQIn

Minority Rights Group International (MRG) has condemned the recent attacks between the Lou Nuer and Murle communities in Pibor, Jonglei state, South Sudan, and called on the government to take immediate steps to protect civilians from all ethnic groups. 'In the long term, the government must also address the root causes of violence among minority communities through political representation, disarmament and equitable distribution of natural resources.'


Sudan: The crisis in Abyei

2012-01-16

http://bit.ly/zvUr3P

In January 2011, Abyei’s residents were supposed to vote in a referendum to determine whether they wanted Abyei to remain in Sudan, or join what is now the independent nation of South Sudan. The Government of Sudan and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) failed to organise the referendum due to a dispute over who was eligible to vote. The past year has seen the worst violence in Abyei since the second civil war, with a series of attacks by militias, backed by the Government of Sudan, culminating in a full-scale invasion of the territory by Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) in May 2011. Around 110, 000 Ngok Dinka residents fled the area, and have yet to return. It is now just over a year since Abyei’s aborted referendum, and there is little prospect of a resolution in the near future, says a report from the Small Arms Survey.




Fundraising & useful resources

Africa: Survey of African civil society organisations on security sector work

2012-01-16

http://pambazuka.org/en/category/fundraising/79149

WACSI on behalf of African Security and Governance Project Members, supported by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) and the Open Society Institute (OSI), is conducting a survey to collate views on the need and practicality of a Pan-African Capacity Building Network of CSOs, Networks and Research Institutions working in security sector in Sub-Saharan Africa. The information from the survey will be used to decide whether there is a need and relevance for the creation of a Pan-African Capacity Building Network of CSOs working in the security sector. Kindly see the link to the survey in English and French. Complete all columns of the questionnaire to support the initiative.

English: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/RYDFFZD

Français: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/RD3NVHN


Africa: The African women in cinema project

2012-01-09

http://bit.ly/yw0Lga

This project includes the virtual Center for the Study and Research of African Women in Cinema, which features a Primer for African Women Cinema Studies, a guide to the film and book, Sisters of the Screen as well as a timeline, related links, and 'voices' of African women in cinema from diverse sources. Moreover, it includes the ever expanding features of the Internet, Facebook pages, Youtube Channel (including Vimeo and Dailymotion, and Blog).


Global: Free materials on global justice

2012-01-15

http://bit.ly/AusRXc

War on Want has a range of material available for download on their website. Reports include: Food Sovereignty: Reclaiming the global food system; A Bitter Cup: Exploitation in the tea industy; Sour Grapes: Wine workers come from the poorest sections of society; Anglo American - The Alternative Report.




Courses, seminars, & workshops

Egypt: Training for photographers

March - October 2012, Cairo, Egypt

2012-01-16

http://bit.ly/ysWemF

Al-liquindoi is partnering with Contemporary Image Collective and NOOR to produce this long-term training opportunity for Egyptian documentary photographers and photojournalists. This program is supported by a grant from Open Society Foundations. The program provides fully funded training and support to Egyptian 15 photographers who are using the medium to critically explore current social,economic and political issues in Egypt and the region.


Kenya: Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology (MMUST) annual conference

28th – 30th June, 2012, Kenya

2012-01-09

http://pambazuka.org/en/category/courses/78951

Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology (MMUST) Annual Conference for 2012 will be hosted by the Faculty of Education and Social Sciences (FESS) on the theme ‘Action Research in Higher Education and Development in Africa’. The Conference seeks deeper understanding of people, places and processes in action research and their impact on development in Africa.
MMUST ANNUAL CONFERENCE, 2012

Theme: Action Research in Higher Education and Development in Africa

Date: 28th – 30th June, 2012

Venue: Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology, Kakamega, Kenya

Host: Faculty of Education and Social Sciences (FESS)

Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology (MMUST) Annual Conference for 2012 will be hosted by the Faculty of Education and Social Sciences (FESS) on the theme ‘Action Research in Higher Education and Development in Africa’. The Conference seeks deeper understanding of people, places and processes in action research and their impact on development in Africa.

Since independence in the 1960s, the traditional expert-driven technocratic top-down approaches in various development fields have led to or exacerbated social inequalities and prevented the achievement of the full potential of production processes or human capabilities in Africa. In the recent past, however, there has been thinking and efforts towards trying to develop methodologies, modify mindsets and share the design, conduct, application and use of research in the development of Africa. The goal is to produce a better account of the situation that could be used for practical problem-solving on the continent. Consequently, there have been calls for a more cooperative approach to action research based on mutual learning between professionals and the public.

Higher education plays an important role in generating new ideas, and in accumulating and transmitting knowledge necessary for development. Through research and teaching, it helps produce expertise, manage development, engineer social transformation, and preserve social values and cultural ethos. In seeking to find solutions to challenges facing the development question in Africa, action research becomes truly relevant to specific situations on the continent. However, different management traditions, tensions between insider and outsider knowledge, lack of reciprocity, failure in communication across cultures and exclusion of marginalised voices from theory, policy and practice of development are some of the challenges that face Africa in its development efforts and they call for interrogation.

The forthcoming conference, therefore, is interested in scholars and practitioners sharing their reflections on experiences in action research in/on Africa. The conference will explore both the agonies and the ecstasies of trying to engage in truly collaborative work before, during and after research on the continent. The conference will focus on innovative approaches in seeking the value of partnering proactively in action research so as to transform Africa by providing high quality life to her people. More specifically, case studies like Kenya Vision 2030 whose objective is to help transform society meet the Millennium Development Goals through an all-inclusive and participatory development process are particularly welcome.

Conference Sub-themes include, but are not limited to, the following:

1. Action Research in Science and Technology, Innovation and Development
2. Action Research in Education
3. Collaboration and Partnership in Action Research in Higher Education in Africa
4. Impact of Action Research on Development
5. Global Competitiveness, Leadership and Development
6. Democracy, Research and Development
7. Power Relations in Action Research

Important Conference Information
Presentations at the conference are requested in three formats: panels, papers and posters.

Panels: Abstracts for workshops for up to 2 hours are welcome. A motivated introduction to the conference sub-/theme not exceeding 300 words plus 100-word abstracts for each planned contribution to the workshop should be submitted electronically to [email protected] and [email protected] no later than 1 February 2012. Name and affiliations applicants should be included.

Papers: Abstracts not exceeding 300 words and stating the name and affiliation of all authors clearly should be submitted electronically to [email protected] and [email protected] no later than 1 February 2012. Papers presentation and discussion will be allowed 25 minutes each.

Posters: Posters will be presented on boards and electronically throughout the conference.

One-page abstracts of maximum 300 words, indicating preferred subtheme and stating the name and affiliation of all authors clearly, should be submitted electronically to [email protected] and [email protected] no later than 1 February 2012.

Acceptance of presentations will be announced by 22 February 2012. Full papers will be accepted latest 30th April, 2012 at 5pm East African Time.

Conference Registration
East Africans - Early Bird KES 5000 (Five thousand Kenya shillings); after 31st
May, 2012 KES 6000 (Six thousand Kenya Shillings)
Non-East Africans – Early Bird US $ 150 (One hundred fifty US Dollars); after 31st
May, 2012 US Dollars 200 (Two hundred US Dollars)
Students – Early Bird KES 1500 (One thousand five hundred Kenya Shillings for East
Africans) and US $ 80 (Eighty US Dollars for Non-East Africans); after 31st May, 2012 KES 2000 (Two thousand Kenya Shillings for East Africans), and US $ 100 (One hundred US Dollars for non-East Africans)
Exhibitions: KES 10, 000 (Ten thousand Kenya Shillings)

Conference Products: Reviewed Papers will be published in a book as Conference Proceedings and in the FESS Journal of Education and Social Sciences.

Important Dates
1st February 2012: Submission of abstracts.
22nd February 2012: Notification by the Scientific Committee on accepted abstracts.
Conference Languages: English and Kiswahili.


Norway: System Dynamics-based Development Planning Course

10 April - 18 May 2012

2012-01-09

http://pambazuka.org/en/category/courses/78952

This course is an intensive introduction to System Dynamics, a unique framework for understanding and managing complex development problems. Through case studies and practical exercises, the course will equip participants with the knowledge and skills required to effectively understand, map, and analyze complex national and global development challenges using a systemic perspective, and to determine the best approaches to mitigate them. The course is designed for professionals working in the field of development planning, especially policy advisors/analysts, and implementation and evaluation specialists from government institutions, research institutes, advocacy and civil society groups, private foundations, and international development agencies.
System Dynamics-based Development Planning Course
April 10 - May 18, 2012
Bergen, Norway

Full Course Description

The current global economic crisis, with its impact on trade, food production, energy supply and demand, and amid the growing concern about global warming, are a manifestation of complex development dynamics that we have failed to fully understand.

An increasingly complex and interdependent world demand that we understand how our social, economic, and environmental systems interact, so that we can preempt and mitigate the unintended consequences of policy decisions. It demands experts who think systemically and who combine comprehensive forecasting tools with other skills to develop policies grounded in knowledge of their likely impact decades in the future.

The System Dynamics-based Development Planning Course addresses this need. The course is an intensive introduction to System Dynamics, a unique method for understanding and managing complex development problems. Through case studies and practical exercises, participants will gain the knowledge and skills required to effectively analyze complex national and global development challenges, and determine the best approaches to mitigate them.

The course will also examine the Threshold 21 model, a scenario-playing model that represents a comprehensive and realistic view of how the economic and social relations work, and highlight the key factors that affect our lives and the environment. This framework has received favorable evaluations from UNDP and UNEP, and has been used by governments of many countries to prepare national development plans, especially poverty reduction strategies, and strategies to meet the MDGs.

Who Should Apply
The course is designed for professionals working in the field of development planning, especially policy advisors/analysts, and implementation and evaluation specialists from government institutions, research institutes, advocacy and civil society groups, private foundations, and international development agencies.

Course Fee
The course fee is US$3,440. The fee covers on-campus accommodation, course materials, and administrative fees.

Date
April 10 - May 18, 2012

Location
University of Bergen, Norway

Application Deadline
All applications must be received by January 27, 2012.

Further information
For further information and application materials visit http://www.millennium-institute.org/courses or contact [email protected]




Publications

Global: Race and Food

Journal Exposes the Racial Structure of the Food System

2012-01-16

http://pambazuka.org/en/category/publications/79148

The Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity, the Center for New Community, and Indiana University Press have announced the publication of 'Food Justice', a new issue of the journal Race/Ethnicity: Multidisciplinary Global Contexts that explores the intersection of race and food in the national and global food systems. With a wide range of academic- and activist-authored papers, the issue takes readers through the entire food chain from - 'field to fork' - in an examination of the challenging intersections between race, sustainability, food safety, access to healthy food, land ethics, food worker justice, and food sovereignty.
Race and Food: Journal Exposes the Racial Structure of the Food System
Press Release

The Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity, the Center for New Community, and Indiana University Press today announce the publication of “Food Justice,” a new issue of the journal Race/Ethnicity: Multidisciplinary Global Contexts that explores the intersection of race and food in the national and global food systems.

With a wide range of academic- and activist-authored papers, the issue takes readers through the entire food chain from—“field to fork”—in an examination of the challenging intersections between race, sustainability, food safety, access to healthy food, land ethics, food worker justice, and food sovereignty.

Wherever food is produced, picked, processed, packed, or purveyed low-wage workers of color predominate in the hard, dangerous jobs that feed the world on cheap labor and rampant exploitation of food workers within a toxic framework of abiding racial structures spanning the global community. And wherever food is sought by those who can least afford it, those same racial structures prevent or prohibit access to decent, nutritious, and affordable food. If all people are to be well-fed with good, healthy, affordable food there can be no avoidance of addressing the fundamental, structural racism at the heart of the food system. In short, race and food are inextricably related.

According to Charlotte Williams, Field Organizer for Food Justice Initiative, Center for New Community, “A just food movement must be grounded within the framework of racial justice. With a renewed sense of urgency, food workers, urban and rural organizations and communities, and neighborhood leaders are working together to dismantle the racial structure of the food system that continues its defeat of the average citizen through low-wage jobs, harsh working conditions, and poor quality, high-cost food.”

“At every level in the food system,” Andrew Grant-Thomas, Editor-in-Chief, Kirwan Journal said, “people and communities of color are deeply impacted by this racial structure.”The special issue was a collaboration between the Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity at The Ohio State University (Columbus) and the Chicago-based Center for New Community and its Food Justice Initiative and is published by Indiana University Press.

###

The Race/Ethnicity: Multidisciplinary Global Contexts journal is a highly regarded academic publication regularly citied by social justice activists, educators, community organizers, policymakers, and students alike. The Journal is published three times a year by Indiana University Press in partnership with the Kirwan Institute and the Office of Diversity and Inclusion at The Ohio State University. Information on subscriptions and bulk purchases of single issues is available from the Press athttp://www.jstor/r/iupress or by calling
1-812-855-8507 or 1-800-842-6796.

The Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity was established in 2003 as a center for interdisciplinary research at The Ohio State University. The Kirwan Institute partners with people, communities, and institutions worldwide to think about, talk about, and act on race in ways that create and expand opportunity for all. For more information, go to kirwaninstitute.org.

Indiana University Press, founded in 1950, is proud to play a part in today's increasingly-essential global dialogue and to provide readers with a world of ideas, discoveries, and perspectives. Its titles feature scholarly essays, fiction, poetry, and art in a wide range of subject areas including legal studies, feminist and American philosophy, Judaism and science, Middle East women's studies, feminist studies in religion, film, bioethics, folklore, African American and African studies and literature, electronic services, modern literature, Victorian studies, transnationalism, and environmental ethics, among others.

The Center for New Community is a national organization committed to building community, justice, and equality. The Center is grounded in many faith traditions, and builds community where the dignity and value of all humanity is manifest. Based in Chicago, the organization defends democracy, empowers communities, and promotes equality in its commitments to cultivate civic life and advance systemic change in partnership with local leaders, organizations, congregations, and other institutions.

Subscriptions Contact:

Customer Service Department
Indiana University Press
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http://www.jstor.org/r/iupress

Media Contacts:

Linda Bannister, Indiana University Press, 1-812-855-9449, [email protected]

Charlotte Williams, 1-312-266-0319, ext. 12, [email protected]





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