Pambazuka News 860: Working on Africa’s self-reliance

Since President Nana Akufo-Addo launched his “Ghana Beyond Aid” agenda we have been treated to the same partisan responses. Sadly, none of it goes beyond the usual partisan debate that we are used to hearing from our learned parliamentarians.

After more than 40 years since the Arusha Declaration, initially published in Kiswahili, was declared on 5 February 1967, it feels as though, before levelling any critique or disagreements one might have, difficult not to simultaneously acknowledge the sheer optimism, ambition and ingenuity in its underpinning that now seem dreams away from what could be expected from a present day government. 

Britain is hosting the 2018 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in an attempt to revive its Empire after Brexit. African countries need to be vigilant to avoid any trade agreements with Britain that do not serve the interests of ordinary African citizens. 

The majority of Africa Union member states, 44 out of 55, have signed a free trade agreement whose aim is to create a single African market of economic cooperation thus creating the biggest economic zone in the world. 

The aim here is to summarise my current position on the question of geopolitical restructuring of Nigeria. I say “current” because as far as I can remember, I started thinking seriously—and then debating and writing—about restructuring from 1986 as a member of the Political Bureau. Today, 32 years later, I am still thinking and writing on the subject. The present piece is implicitly a draft memo on this important political subject to the Nigerian Left. And, for the avoidance of doubt, the category “Nigerian Left” means the aggregate of socialism and popular democracy in Nigeria today.

Among the titans of dignified defiance to white settler apartheid rule, was Winnie Madikizela-Mandela  – who not only kept the name of Nelson Mandela alive in the international public consciousness for 27 years – but was a charismatic leader in her own right who remained committed to the people of Azania/South Africa. 

Morocco has recently been engaged in an unprecedented, frenzied media and diplomatic campaign of misinformation and propaganda in which it has threatened to take military action to forcibly annex the Liberated Territories of the Sahrawi Republic (SADR), alleging that the Frente POLISARIO had violated the terms of the 1991 UN-supervised ceasefire in Western Sahara.

The African National Congress Western Cape Provincial Secretary Comrade Faiez Jacobs, Muslim Judicial Council Deputy President Mawlana Abdul Khaliq Allie, Chairperson of the National Coalition 4 Palestine Reverend Edwin Arrison and others held a press conference, which, among others things, announced that there would be a public protest march on 15 May 2018 in Cape Town, South Africa to the Parliament of South Africa. The march will be in solidarity with the Palestinian people’s #GreatReturnMarch as well as in protest against Israel’s recent killing of over 30 Palestinians including youth and journalists. We will be demanding decisive action to be taken by our government starting with the implementation of the downgrade of the South African Embassy in Israel to a liaison office. 

Blacks are being incarcerated at disturbingly high rates for seemingly minor infractions in the United States. The cost of posting bail is often relatively exorbitant for indigent blacks, who end up remaining in jail, as their rights are further infringed on. Despite the disproportionately high incidence of black arrests, African Americans do not necessarily violate the law more than other ethnic groups, but may in fact, be victims of over-policing and prejudice exhibited by rogue members of law enforcement. Having more black lawyers may save black men from jail.

A tribute to the African icon Winnie Madikizela-Mandela. 

Imperialism again carries on a direct aggression against Syria. And, with its bloody claws, heinous imperialism again asserts its age-old axiom: Everything is and will be dominated; no effort for a peaceful life will be allowed.

An exceptionally interesting debate about how imperialism is now behaving.

A doctor pushing for the legalisation of FGM told a court on Thursday that she was tired of "unending expert witnesses".Tatu Kamau told a Machakos court that she had been receiving affidavits from these witnesses by email almost every day. It has become difficult to respond to them, she said when the case was mentioned, noting they have been sent since she filed her petition.

Pambazuka News 859: The question of land in South Africa

Almost 24 years after the creation of “New South Africa,” there are loud and angry voices that the constitution of South Africa must be amended and there is a strong demand that there be expropriation of land without compensation. If the constitution is amended, the author demonstrates why it is important that another mistake is not made with regard to the country’s constitution on the fundamental issue such as land. 

In this piece, I argue that there is a historical continuity that should be put into perspectives that in times of difficulty, capitalist interests find ways to reconcile ideological differences to cohesively self-correct. Using this dialectical materialism approach, I conclude that the ANC-led government has been its own impediment on land redistribution through a combination of bureaucratic lethargy, corruption and dogmatic adherence to artificial constructs of the “market”.

The property relations of a city in South Africa are a phenomenon that has its roots on the colonial interruption of our history and they, today, affect the political economy of higher education generally and the living experiences of students in particular. The fact that universities, old and new, are buildings with a physical address stationed in cities, they are, therefore, not immune from the overall economic challenges facing the nation and how these structurally impact the daily life of a people. 

The author argues that arable land that is used for entertainment and other recreational activities in South Africa could be used for agriculture to feed millions of South Africans who cannot afford a decent meal. Trying to "safeguard" the interests of the middle class by keeping that land for leisure instead of using it for the general good will not protect the interests of the middle class either.

The withdrawal, this week, by the Emmerson Mnanagwa government of the tender awarded to Geiger International for the dualisation of the Beitbridge-Harare-Chirundu Highway, reveals shocking levels of corruption by the Zimbabwean authorities, which awarded the tender to an undeserving company in the first place. The US $2.7 billion tender was awarded to Geiger International in 2016 and close to three years later, no construction has started. The government has cited lack of progress on the project, as the reason for the cancellation of the tender, while the contractor has remained mum. But what could be the reasons for the lack of progress?

This is a reflection on a public lecture by Professor Horace Campbell, Kwame Nkrumah Chair in African Studies, University of Ghana at the occasion of the University's 70th anniversary. 

The response to the anniversary of martyrdom of Martin Luther King, Jr. continues to conceal the historical truths.  

“Robeson may have joined the ancestors but his example, his intelligence, his political acumen remains as a lodestar we would all do well to study—and exemplify”, Gerald Horne.

 

The sting in the comments by erstwhile British Prime Minister, David Cameron, describing Nigeria as “fantastically corrupt” will linger for a long time. Perhaps what makes the animadversion more jarring was that it was made within hearing distance of Nigeria’s supposed incorruptible leader, President Buhari. The throng of hierophants eager to define Nigeria’s identity before its youth can shape their own destiny, capitalised on the nation’s perceived weakness. Nigeria was described as a nation of huts (Donald Trump) and unflatteringly categorised under sh*thole countries (Donald Trump).

A demographic dividend is not only contingent on a rapid decline in fertility and mortality. It also requires strategic investments in promoting equality, health and family planning, education and skills development, and job creation. When countries harness the demographic dividend, their young people become more empowered, healthier, better educated and have more equal access to opportunities.

Tanzania is a unique country in sub-Saharan Africa in having a single, widely used and accepted African national language that connects its entire population. Kiswahili – a language estimated to have at least 100 million speakers across the continent is mostly spoken there; it is also the only official international language of Africa that is really indigenous to the continent. Tanzania boasts highest proficiency in the language, although there is a craze amongst the country’s population threatening to take that pride away.

Pambazuka News 858: Struggles of the exploited and oppressed

This contribution draws on time spent interviewing, walking with villagers and witnessing the eroding base of women’s security and empowerment in rural and informal sectors in some African countries, a trend that has heightened in the last decade. The countries in question share some common features: a colonial legacy of peoples displaced from their ancestral lands; vast and valuable natural resources; high illiteracy rates among rural populations; patchy rural infrastructure; the vestiges of weakened traditional accountability systems; and investment policies that significantly favour the industrial commodity chain [*] over peasant-based food sovereignty.

Despite the Western mainstream media presenting the 2011 uprisings in Africa's North as "protests against autocratic regimes", the author argues that those streets demonstrations were anti-imperialist in nature and were a continuation of similar protests that have been occurring since the late 1960s. 

The fishermen of Kabarole District appear to have blown the whistle on an audacious act of bio-piracy. They brought to the attention of the authorities that they were being barred from access to the 53 crater lakes that they have fished in from time immemorial. In law this is known as a customary right. It cannot be extinguished simply by putting up barbed wire or waving guns about. But that is just what the District Fisheries Officer of Kabarole tried to do when he leased all 20 lakes to Ferdsult Engineering Services who then proceeded to “re-stock” some lakes and claim ownership of all them.

The author argues that origins of the global economic crises are to be found within the capitalist and imperialist system. 

Winnie Mandela is the incarnation of black spirit and pride. She was the incarnation of the struggle of oppressed black South African under the apartheid regime. She is truly an inspiration to the younger generation. 

East African Community member states must stand with Rwanda in its fight against US imperialism and its unfair trade system. 

The United States African Command’s effort to deepen its penetration of the continent faces resistance; with the recent opposition coming from Ghana’s opposition parties. 

Organisers of the upcoming Women’s March on the Pentagon are calling on the Democratic Party-sponsored Women’s March and March for Our Lives to expand their message to include the eight billion lives on the planet, all of which are imperilled by US weapons and wars. I spoke to Riva Enteen, a former National Lawyers Guild Programme Director and a member of the steering committee for the October Women’s March on the Pentagon.

African heads of state and government have recently signed what is now the world’s largest free trade area known as African Continental Free Trade Area. While the excitement is still in the air, it is important to reflect on what this landmark step means concretely, and also suggest some areas that need special attention.  

Former Botswana President Ian Khama is well known for disregarding the established etiquette amongst Africa’s political elite that turns a blind eye to the pursuit of self-interest by fellow leaders in the name of diplomacy. He repeatedly called for Zimbabwe’s former President Mugabe to step down and openly criticised him. On the surface it seems that Khama’s moral grandstanding can be justified given Botswana’s reputation for good governance and economic stability. Yet looking back at the decade of his rule, this narrative has been hollowed out by a man that showed himself to be less of a leader and more of a ruler.

Recently in Zimbabwe, the new administration, which has taken power from Robert Mugabe, has been on an aggressive drive to seek re-engagement with its erstwhile enemies under the aegis or mantra that “Zimbabwe is open for business”. What is yet to be known is to what extent is Zimbabwe opening up to global capital.

The author, recalling his life experience as a young activist of the Left, calls on the Nigeria political Left to unite and prepare for the 2019 presidential in Nigeria.

South Africa has a serious drinking problem, but alcohol companies always get their way out. The author calls more regulations to ensure that alcohol companies pays for the consequences that come with heavy drinking in the country. 

In just over a year, Nigerians will exercise their vote to determine their leader. China’s erstwhile leader Mao Tse-Tung once said, “To occupy a high office, one must first be master of the low office.” However, the path to the top job in Nigeria has been predominantly through violence. Historically, service and meritocracy were alien to assuming the office of the Nigerian presidency. But, the youth of Nigeria now clamour for change. It is pertinent to study the path to the United States presidency as a model, and view the son of Africa, who changed the path to the most powerful office in the world. We can learn a thing or two from President Barack Obama.

The following are three political incidents/developments from two matured bourgeois democracies.

Dear readers, 

Pambazuka News will be on Easter break during the week of 26 March 2018. The next publication will be on 5 April 2018. Thank you very much for your continued support.

The Editor.

CONTENTS: 1. Features  2. Announcements


Features


 

Stench of state failure in Zambia’s cholera outbreak

Aisha Bahadur

Despite more than a decade of externally funded water and sanitation infrastructure projects in Lusaka, the city’s slums are the epicentre of the most recent cholera outbreak that still lingers six months after the first case was reported. The government’s heavy handed response to this outbreak has added insult to injury for poor communities living in, what is referred to in politically correct parlance as, peri-urban areas. It is the poor that suffer the indignity of sanitation and water inadequacies, a result of more than two decades of failed policy intervention. 
 

 

Mozambique forced to restructure after debt default

Abayomi Azikiwe

Economic growth proves unsustainable for the Southern African state of Mozambique in present world situation due to financial implications that have been going on for some time now. 

 

Zimbabwe open for business, code for international finance capitalism

Netfa Freeman

President Emmerson Mnangagwa has used all types of media including The New York Times to paint a rosy picture of the current situation in Zimbabwe in order to attract foreign investment. Has really anything changed since Mnangagwa took over four months ago? 

 

Another reason why imperialism wanted Libya overthrown

Abayomi Azikiwe

Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy detained for questioning over Gaddafi loan, reminding us of another reason imperialism wanted the Libyan leader assassinated. 

 

“I may not get there with you”

Julius A. Amin

Remembering MLK on this 50th anniversary of his assassination
Martin Luther King Jr. had many enemies during his time, but he never stopped having a positive spirit. As we remember the 50th anniversary of his assassination, we also remember one of his appeals of “doing something good for others”. 

 

Tanzania in The Economist’s view – a deliberate misrepresentation

This is a response to The Economist’s piece “Tanzania’s rogue president: Democracy under assault” published in the Africa section on 15 March 2018. Upon reading this piece, two questions come to mind: Why this? And why now? The Economist has covered Tanzania’s new presidency three times (May 2016, October 2017 and March 2018). All three pieces revolved around the increasing political repression and human rights violations under the new presidency. 

 

Lucrative politics, poverty and democracy in Nigeria

Wole Olubanji

The political establishment appears to be working against the interests and aspirations of the majority of Nigerian people. Especially since the previous economic recession started, almost every policy of government has had the counter-effect of aggravating the burden of the people – from the deregulation of the naira, to paying a ransom for the release of the young ladies kidnapped by Boko Haram. 
 

Free at last? How I met a White Yoruba man from Puerto Rico that was not Bruno Mars

Olurotimi Osha

Historical migration patterns, and the transatlantic slave trade engendered significant cultural and even linguistic osmosis, as various ethnic groups mixed together. Although we find that with the effluxion of time, new identities take more shape, it is difficult to make an argument for discreteness in ethnic or cultural identity. Thus, race it appears is a social construct.

 

MDC Alliance, “Zimbabwe’s future government”

Japhet M. Zwana

The confidence exuding from Zimbabweans that, this time things will be different, is evident in the opposition leadership and its rank. 

 

To end gender-based violence we must listen to girls

Faiza Jama Mohamed

As I reflect back on my 35 years of activism fighting injustices against women and girls, my feelings are conflicted. On the one hand, I have a sense of fulfilment arising from all I have contributed and the gains won along the way. But on the other, I know gender equality is still a dream, not a reality, and all I have done is just a drop in the ocean.

 


   Announcement


Over the last five years, Fahamu has been implementing Participatory Budgeting in four counties in Kenya namely Kajiado, Kwale, Kisumu, and Makueni (and in Embu to some extent). Citizens within the four counties have been able to engage with their county governments in setting their development priorities, monitoring implementation of the development agenda and put to task government officials where they have failed in implementing the citizens’ development agenda. More specifically, this project has enabled citizens to access information on budgets and expenditure of resources that are utilised in their counties. Fahamu through the Global Giving initiative is seeking to scale up this project. We need your support.
 

Pambazuka Android App is now on Google Play Store

As a way to reach more people and to make your experience with Pambazuka News better, we have developed an android app as another tool to create a better reading experience with mobile devices. The app will have periodic updates to cater for changing readers' requirements and experiences.to cater for changing readers' requirements and experiences.
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Despite more than a decade of externally funded water and sanitation infrastructure projects in Lusaka, the city’s slums are the epicentre of the most recent cholera outbreak that still lingers six months after the first case was reported. The government’s heavy handed response to this outbreak has added insult to injury for poor communities living in, what is referred to in politically correct parlance as, peri-urban areas. It is the poor that suffer the indignity of sanitation and water inadequacies, a result of more than two decades of failed policy intervention. 

Economic growth proves unsustainable for the Southern African state of Mozambique in present world situation due to financial implications that have been going on for some time now. 

President Emmerson Mnangagwa has used all types of media including The New York Times to paint a rosy picture of the current situation in Zimbabwe in order to attract foreign investment. Has really anything changed since Mnangagwa took over four months ago? 

Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy detained for questioning over Gaddafi loan, reminding us of another reason imperialism wanted the Libyan leader assassinated. 

Martin Luther King Jr. had many enemies during his time, but he never stopped having a positive spirit. As we remember the 50th anniversary of his assassination, we also remember one of his appeals of “doing something good for others”. 

This is a response to The Economist’s piece “Tanzania’s rogue president: Democracy under assault” published in the Africa section on 15 March 2018. Upon reading this piece, two questions come to mind: Why this? And why now? The Economist has covered Tanzania’s new presidency three times (May 2016, October 2017 and March 2018). All three pieces revolved around the increasing political repression and human rights violations under the new presidency. 

The political establishment appears to be working against the interests and aspirations of the majority of Nigerian people. Especially since the previous economic recession started, almost every policy of government has had the counter-effect of aggravating the burden of the people – from the deregulation of the naira, to paying a ransom for the release of the young ladies kidnapped by Boko Haram. 

Historical migration patterns, and the transatlantic slave trade engendered significant cultural and even linguistic osmosis, as various ethnic groups mixed together. Although we find that with the effluxion of time, new identities take more shape, it is difficult to make an argument for discreteness in ethnic or cultural identity. Thus, race it appears is a social construct.

The confidence exuding from Zimbabweans that, this time things will be different, is evident in the opposition leadership and its rank. 

As I reflect back on my 35 years of activism fighting injustices against women and girls, my feelings are conflicted. On the one hand, I have a sense of fulfilment arising from all I have contributed and the gains won along the way. But on the other, I know gender equality is still a dream, not a reality, and all I have done is just a drop in the ocean.

Pambazuka News 856: Saving Lake Chad and the ambiguous handshake 

The international conference on saving the Lake Chad was held in Abuja, Nigeria on 25-28 February 2018. The theme of the meeting was “Saving the Lake Chad to revitalise the Basin’s ecosystem for sustainable livelihood, security and development.” With over 1600 participants and presenters attending, this meeting grappled with the issues of how to go about saving Lake Chad. It was concluded that the Transaqua project, which would take water from the right tributary of inter-lacustrine region, and the River Congo, conveying the 2,000km water channel to Chari River is the preferred feasible option to save the Lake. 

The handshake between Uhuru Kenyatta and Raila Odinga on Friday 9 March 2018 shocked and surprised their respective supporters. What has left many dumbfounded is the fact that the other major key political players of both Jubilee and National Super Alliance were not privy to this meeting of the two hitherto political nemeses. Is it the beginning of a true national reconciliation process? 

One of the propositions of Leftists’ theory of history is that human beings are the makers of their own history. A corollary to this – that human beings do not make this history simply as they wish, but that they make it with materials and circumstances fashioned and transmitted by and from the past – is as important as the main thesis.

The announcement of a date for general elections in a country roiled in political conflict and ruled by an unpopular leader should be regarded as a positive move. But not so in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. 

Africans should be interested in General Reynaldo Bignone who died on Wednesday, 7 March 2018, at a military hospital in Buenos Aires, Argentina where he was serving a life sentence for crimes against humanity. But, why should Africa be interested in knowing him?

While Zimbabwe President Emmerson Mnangagwa is trying to convince the world that he is making progress since replacing his mentor, former President Robert Mugabe, a number of Zimbabweans in the diaspora do not agree with his assessment of the current situation in the country. 

Sanctions added by the Trump and Trudeau administrations to Obama era sanctions against Venezuela impose new burdens on ordinary Venezuelans who are just trying to live their lives. Unilateral sanctions are illegal under international law. Over 150 prominent US and Canadian individuals and organisations have signed the letter below which is being delivered to US Senators and Congress Members as well as Canadian Parliamentarians.

 This article is an edited transcription of an address that Abayomi Azikiwe delivered at the Annual Detroit African American History Month Forum held on 24 February 2018. The gathering was chaired by Kelley Carmichael of Workers World Party Detroit branch.

According to a former employee, Swedish liquor retailer Systembolaget says it will consider terminating its contract with South African wine producer Leeuwenkuil unless standards at its vineyards are improved.

While hip-hop is now mainstream with a commercial global appeal, its history instantiates the classic elements of the dialectics of cultural and musical artistry. And many of its principal actors, who were once villains decades ago, are still on the stage, and now handsomely paid.

Seventeen years after it was established, and eight years after opening its Secretariat in Arusha, the Pan African Lawyers Union (PALU) is growing again! We are happy to announce the establishment of six (6) new staff positions within our Secretariat in Arusha, mostly at senior officer level. This will dramatically scale up the ability of the organization to serve its institutional and individual members and its broader stakeholders, and to continue to be a major development actor on the African continent and with its diaspora. 

Tagged under: 856, Jobs, PALU

Pambazuka News 855: Women’s Day, land reforms and forgotten heroes 

On this year's International Women's Day, Dinah Musindarwezo, Executive Director of FEMNET, calls on us to continue fighting for women's rights and to do so with the clarity and tenacity that will finally end all forms of discrimination against women and girls and sustainably instigate gender equality across all spheres.

As the world celebrates this year’s International Women’s Day, Faiza Jama Mohamed, who has immensely contributed to the struggles for African women’s rights for many decades. 

The controversial announcement by the African National Congress that land will be expropriated without compensation has raised contentions on land reform in South Africa. Land is symbolic of the discontent at post-apartheid transformation but it is real agrarian reform to improve income and livelihoods that is desperately needed for the black majority that are living below the poverty line. 

The South African parliament has voted for a motion to amend the constitution that will allow the government to expropriate private land without compensation. However, a true resolution of the land question must be in accordance with the needs of those who work and live off the land. This means the destruction of all existing tribal and feudal relations in the rural areas and the nationalisation of the land.

Post-1994 South Africa has a theatrical crisis of selective amnesia and partisan remembering of history. History telling, whether at school, university, in the media or public celebrations and commemorative events, is biased towards a singular political trajectory and one particular school of thought that is portrayed as the sole agents of the socio-economic and political transformations that have apparently occurred in the past 24 years. 

The article critiques Black Panther movie’s narrative as dictating the terms of black people’s responses to systematic violence. It does this by critically examining the imagery and story around ancestral connections. I argue that the movie is used to craft a modern colonial imagination of Africa’s future. I delve into the symbolisms in this movie and analyse them in light of the arguments made.

This brief commentary seeks to explain why President Museveni will never carry out the necessary electoral reforms. To do so would amount to Museveni committing political suicide for he will lose all subsequent elections. As a strong believer in the zero-sum game theory, Museveni, as an experienced and seasoned manipulator, kleptocrat and dictator cannot permit electoral reforms that will limit his current advantages in successfully rigging presidential and parliamentary elections. Fundamentally, Museveni is in power not because of the electoral process. It is because of his military victory and control over the National Resistance Army (NRA), his personal army.

Power is sweet, even unavoidable, at times. Call him president, commander-in-chief, head of the security council, party chief, and chairman of everything from innocuous intra-governmental agencies to multi-lateral conglomerates baptised into China’s mainstream socialistic agenda; Xi Jinping may be brewing a cocktail too detrimental to the future of democracy in Africa.

This article describes and comments on Russian President Vladimir Putin’s 2018 “State of Nation Speech”. 

Since 2016, news about African traders leaving China has spread. According to analysts, the world commodity price drop rather than China’s economic restructuring is a contributing factor in making African traders leave China. 


In this interview, Her Excellency Hanna Simon, Ambassador of the Republic of Eritrea to France talks to Pambazuka News correspondent, Sarraounia Mangou Tete, in Paris on wide-ranging issues, key among which include the sanctions imposed on this young horn of Africa nation by Western imperialist powers.

Although the Nigerian military repeatedly overthrew civilian governments to combat corruption, its reign of terror was wasteful and institutionalised corruption in Nigeria left the country more divided than ever. To build a world-class military that Nigerians deserve, President Buhari, a former military officer, must first purge the military of corruption.

It is fitting that Africa converse with Africans at home and abroad, as opposed to continually beseeching Caucasians in the language of acquiescence to the destructive power of the paradigm; the language of compromise and culpability in the paradigm’s corruption; the language of ignorance of our wealth, our power, and our collective heritages; the language of defeat. Why should Africa present an image of itself as a place yearning to take an inferior place among inferior Caucasian nations, when Africa is the source of the very concept of civilization?

Tagged under: 855, Maggie Brito, Pan-Africanism

Pambazuka News 854: Africans in the diaspora and Africa’s quest for democratisation  

This is an autobiographical account of Louise Owusu-Kwarteng’s parents’ migrational and settlement experiences in the United Kingdom, with reference to Buchi Emecheta’s novel Second Class Citizens.

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