Pambazuka News 869: Trump trade wars, BRICS labour and neo-slavery in Italy

The author writes about the current trade wars between the United States of America and its allies and their potential impact on global capital. 

Across the world, trade unions are under unprecedented threat, as just witnessed in the United States where the Janus vs. AFSCME Supreme Court decision denudes an already weak labour movement of public sector power, for conservatives are aiming at “starving unions of funds and eventually disbanding them altogether.” Where, then, does organisational hope for working people lie?

Italy’s race relations between white Italians and its African migrants and black Italians, while not stellar may not be as dire as race relations in America, but economic opportunities afforded to blacks in Italy, is certainly not as promising as in America.

There is a question that has vexed me – and, I am sure, so many others – as to why, after being subjected to so much untold suffering for nearly four decades by the Zimbabwe Africa National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF), any “normal” person would still prefer to vote for their tormentor to keep on tormenting them.

On 13 July 2018, the 84th birthday of Olumo Wole Soyinka, the 1986 Nobel Laureate for Literature, I honour him by revisiting a debate that is raging on the Internet over what many call my misreading of his work, especially with reference to my interpretation of his play, Death and King’s Horseman. Literary experts have been marvelling about the “Author’s Note” that accompanies Death and the King’s Horseman by Wole Soyinka. 

Ottilie Abrahams was undoubtedly one of the most remarkable personalities of contemporary Namibia. She led through example as a political leader, grassroots activist, feminist and educationist from early on in her life.

Over the past seven months, ever since the military coup that ousted former Zimbabwe dictator Robert Gabriel Mugabe in November last year, the country has been inundated with several slogans and mantras meant to legitimise and justify those who took power – however, what is most painful is the use of blasphemy, through the abuse of God’s name for political expediency.

Rosatom—Russia’s state nuclear energy corporation—has recently signed memorandums of understanding (MOUs) with a number of African nations to build nuclear power plants within their borders. I spoke to David Himbara, a professor of international development and African energy activist, about the likelihood of Rosatom actually building these nuclear plants.

The author writes about the importance of Ethiopia hosting the 19th plenary assembly of the Catholic Church’s Association of Member Episcopal Conferences in Eastern Africa, in a country rich in religious traditions. 

In this essay we will take time to clarify some areas that seem to confuse some people in the on-going Biafra separatist movement in Nigeria. Over the years, as will be expected; the move for the independence of Biafra has undergone some transformations. These changes seem to have created a sort of mixed messages in the minds of both observers and participants. So, at this point it is really important that we try to clarify some of the seemingly ambiguous aspects of the movement. 

There is no definitive model of criminal justice in the United States. Instead, one’s ideas on criminal justice are shaped by philosophical viewpoints, criminological theory, and the most up-to-date research. It is the aforementioned factors that create the six models of criminal justice used today by all areas of the justice system.

Foreign apathy towards African notions of being and belonging might be destroying African families living in Western societies.

A meeting of 40 unions and civil society formations was convened by the South African Federation of Trade Unions on 28–29 June 2018 to broaden participation and to shape the agenda of the Working Class Summit (WCS) to be held on 21- 22 July 2018 at the University of Johannesburg Soweto Campus. 

A call for book chapters on the on-going relationship between China and Africa. 

 Pambazuka News 868: The “Anglophone Crisis” and elite politics   

President Paul Biya of Cameroon has been silent for long in relation to the on-going unrest in the country's English speaking region. His silence has made matters worse and it is time he took decisive measure to resolve that crisis if he wants history to remember him after his nearly 40 years in power. 

After years of supporting a market-led land reform programme and not heeding criticisms of this policy, the African National Congress (ANC) leadership has adopted a radical policy of land expropriation without compensation, which would make it legal and within the constitutional bounds for the state to expropriate land in the public interest without compensation. 

Although participation in “bourgeois politics”—as we used to call electoral politics—has never been absent from the Nigerian Left’s general programme, it has also not been made a “categorical imperative”. I am, however, now persuaded that it has become generally accepted in the ranks of contemporary Nigerian Leftists that intervention and participation in the country’s electoral struggle—for office or for power, as an organised political force and in alliance or acting separately—have become both categorical and urgent. 

The author examines the current socio-economic and political situation of Mozambique after 43 years of the country's independence from Portugal. 

The recent grenade attack in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe has been described by close allies of the president, as an assassination attempt against President Emmerson Mnangagwa. Whether that is true or not remains to be seen.  What is a fact is that the president might have politically benefited from that unfortunate event. 

The author, a public servant in the Department of Health of South Africa, offers an analytical view of the country's current state of the health sector, especially in rural areas of South Africa. 

We are Ethiopian Americans and Ethiopians living in the United States. Our open letter is a follow up to a letter that 32 leaders of conservative organisations sent to President Trump that was copied to you in your capacities as the Prime Minister of Ethiopia and the head of the host nation to the African Union. 

Activists are promoting the need for a broad-based coalition of popular forces to fight for the rights of the working calss. 

On Tuesday, 19 June 2018, our United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley announced United States’ withdrawal from the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) now meeting in Geneva. The UNHRC is stacked with human rights abusers including Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, and, till now, the US itself, but this is still an ugly gesture, like refusing to accept the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court, ditching the Paris Climate Accords, and shredding the Iran Nuclear Deal. 

Faced with persistent criticisms, Russia has finally announced it will most likely host the first high-level Russia-African Union forum next year, a replica or a carbon copy of the Forum on China Africa Cooperation or European Union–African Union summit, signalling its readiness to work towards deepening and strengthening multifaceted engagement with Africa.

During the Vietnam War, American historian Howard Zin wrote: “all wars are wars against civilians, and are therefore inherently immoral” and “political leaders all over the world should not be trusted when they urge their people to war claiming superior knowledge and expertise.” 

Kim Jong-un’s third trip to China took place just one week after his historic summit in Singapore with United States President Donald Trump. 

Professor Adebayo Adedeji, one of Africa’s foremost development thinkers, who passed on last April, will be laid to rest on 7 July. He was instrumental to the formation of several Regional Economic Communities in Africa, earning him the title of “Mr. ECOWAS”. This is an articulation of the immortal vision of this great son of Africa, who became a professor at 36 and government minister at 40.

Nominations are now opened for the 2018 West African Youth Awards (WAYAwards), which recognizes spirited youth leaders who are making outstanding contributions to the development of Africa - and the realization of the Agenda 2063 vision plan of the African Union. 

The author shares a number of lessons that African countries can learn from North Korea, especially the country's self-reliance ideology through economic, political and military independence. 

From the Horn to Southern Africa similar destabilisation efforts were met with condemnation over attacks on political rallies. 

The author argues that soccer is a global phenomenon with enormous political and economic potential, and those who invest massively in it, will reap great economic, social, political and cultural benefits. 

The rise of Abiy Ahmed in Ethiopia and the revival of Africa’s short memory of hate are inseparably linked.

Africa has been in trouble since 1441 when the Portuguese sailors, Antão Gonçalves and Nuno Tristão, “threw down rusted anchor” in Cabo Branco on the coast of modern Mauritania, went on land, collared 12 Africans like wild game, decked them down the rotten holes of a pirate ship and chain-ganged them into Portugal as chattel slaves. 

The author shares his experiences during this year's Mwalimu Nyerere Intellectual Festival, which was the 10th edition of that event that celebrates the life and legacy of President Julius Nyerere. 

The on-going state-building efforts in Somalia require a leader who is genuinely patriotic, competent in post-conflict statecraft, and conscious of the social ills stoking conflict, violence, and divisions in the country and who is willing to cooperate with other actors in those state-building efforts. 

Some reflections on the various political alliances involving the Nigerian Left. 

Pambazuka News 867: The BRICS summit returns to South Africa 

The rapper Ewok captured the spirit of progressive social forces in South Africa with his condemnation of [BRICS] elite politics at a March 2013 protest outside the Durban International Convention Centre, South Africa: “You dropping BRICS from above? We’re throwing bricks from below!”

As the heat picks up around BRICS 2018, chaired by South Africa, debate from the BRICS Think Tank and from the left is coming to the boil as to the value of BRICS participatory processes. Patrick Bond’s critique of the BRICS Think Tank and Academic Forum meetings held at the Sandton Convention Centre between the 28th and 31st of May is that the lack of critical commentary on BRICS state corruption, amongst many other factors, “reflect(s) servility to local power” (Pambazuka, 31 May). 

The leaders of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa will meet in Johannesburg from 25-27 July 2018 for the 10th BRICS Summit. Prior to the Summit a number of other BRICS dialogues are taking place, including the Business Council, Academic Forum, Civil BRICS and BRICS Youth. BRICS Youth was set up in 2013 to put youth voices on the BRICS agenda and to promote and popularise BRICS amongst young people ages 15-34 in each country. 

Last month’s approval of a New Development Bank loan of US $200 million to expand the Durban container port occurred without the Sandton-based bankers doing adequate consultation or analysis. This is not only unacceptable in a democratic society, especially for such an important and controversial project. It also makes mockery of claims the Brazil-Russia-India-China-South Africa (BRICS) bloc acts differently than arrogant Washington bankers.

With ever-rising interest on loans in South Africa, there are growing calls to create community banks that use the "profits" to the benefit of community members, and not to continue enriching billionaire bank executives. 

On 8 June 2018, Julius Malema of South Africa and Jefferson Koijee of Liberia were pictured on social media in a meeting the details of which are not yet public. However, social media reactions from young political enthusiasts across the continent have suggested that the two firebrand politicians discussed issues common to their struggles and potential opportunities for exchange of experiences, practices, and strategies in revolutionary engagements. 

Antigua and Barbuda is an eastern Caribbean nation, which is a federation of two islands that were former British colonies that became independent in 1981. Barbuda following Hurricane Irma in 2017 had most of its infrastructure destroyed. Most Barbudans now live as refugees on the island of Antigua. 

On 14 June 2018, the South African police fired rubber bullets at protestors, injuring five and arresting nine in Limpopo province. Another day and another protest is no longer newsworthy, especially if no one is killed and those arrested can be easily forgotten, as the wheels of the overburdened court system turn ever so slowly.  

The author offers a personal assessment of the state of politics in South Africa, just a few months leading to the 2019 national and provincial elections

Ideas we have been told, rule the world. Some ideas could start as being ridiculous or laughable, and then they become global success stories. Like electricity, like rail travel, like air travel, and Facebook, and Twitter, they all started as abstract ideas in the heads of some folks with unusual thoughts. Sometimes, I would marvel at the 21st century leaps of technology and would wonder how we had been able to fare for so long without them. Ideas come as answers to questions raised with the intention of solving problems. 

There are renewed calls for an independent state of Igbo people, but what form would Biafra of 2018 look like? The author shares his thinking. 

It was with deep sorrow that I was rudely confronted on 25th April 2018 by the news of the demise of my mentor, Professor Adebayo Adedeji, the quintessential development expert who held sway at the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) from 1975 to 1991.

Ethiopia is a rising star among anti-gay countries in Africa as it continues to push for new legislation to further crackdown on the LGBTQ community. The country is a place where homophobia thrives and discrimination against sexual minorities is state-sponsored.

Pambazuka News 866: Remembering Rodney and decolonising the academy 

The rising gap between the top rich including chief executive officers of private banks whose salaries are beyond imagination and the majority who are very poor in South Africa is worrying. The culture of greed capitalism has to stop to avoid a national catastrophe. 

The severed head lay on the side of its face, and Jide was looking into a sinewy aperture with goo. He couldn’t see the eyes: he saw just bloodied vessels, ribbon muscles and things a biology major would have been thrilled to identify. Gooey sinews, veins and stringy things flamed out perpendicular to a protruding greyish white, and waxy-looking lifeless tongue. Because the head was so close, he could not tell if the congealing deep red-brown blood streaks on the earthen floor, on which they lay were his. He knew he had been hit hard on the skull and could feel a gash in his head. Then there was the overpowering stench that dazed him. It woke him up.

Hillary Clinton, former Democratic presidential candidate, former senator and former first lady of the country, claimed that, “The US democracy is facing threat”. Thence, there’s no scope to consider the cautionary signal in a casual way.

Life is more than big houses, luxury cars and individual liberties. All these things have their place in life, but our being on this planet is for humanity. Life without love, compassion and humanity is not worth living even if one had all the riches that the so-called modern countries can offer. 

The hard-core warmongers aren’t happy with the just completed Kim-Trump Singapore summit. The warmongers love warmongering and war as these increase their amount and rate of profit. Reactions to the latest diplomatic development in the Korea region speak this love. The warmongers feel pain as they find Kim, the North Korean leader, in a favourable position. Hence, to this group, the summit is a failure.

The summit between DPRK leader Kim Jong-un and his US counterpart Donald Trump in Singapore has drawn the attention of the international community given DPRK’s long tradition of struggle against imperialist military intervention.

Nigeria’s Fourth Republic, which is currently running, was born on 29 May 1999—with Olusegun Obasanjo as inaugural executive president. A year later, on 29 May 2000, the president proclaimed 29 May of every year Nigeria’s “Democracy Day”. The day was also added to the list of the country’s national public holidays. It was a unilateral executive decision—by which I mean that neither the proclamation of “Democracy Day” nor the declaration of public holiday was endorsed, before the acts, by the constitution or any legislative body or any other institution of the Nigerian state or any organised public opinion.

The election, on 1 June 2018, of a Woman Representative of the Rukungiri District, South Western Uganda from the opposition Forum for Democratic Change was a big blow to the ruling National Resistance Movement. Was this just an ordinary by-election that went wrong for the ruling party or there is more to worry about? In any case, President Museveni's party needs to do some soul-searching. 

The American Conservative Organisations and Religious Establishments sent a open letter to Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed about the World Bank's case of racism against Dr. Yonas Biru and Black employees in the Bank. 

The political terrain in Nigeria, today has two colossal parties—PDP and APC—vying for power at the national level. However, it appears to be merely déjà vu as the binary trend has had similar appearances in Nigeria’s chequered history and experiment with democratic politics. Indeed, they have all been alignments and realignments of Nigeria’s ruling elite classes.

People want more than what is on offer with the now decayed, mostly elitist and self-constructed “choice” between models, writes Dale T McKinley.

Mozambique, a country with a long history of military and political instability, faces on-going economic and political uncertainty. Economically, it continues to be profoundly impacted by the negative consequences of the so-called “hidden loans”. Politically, the sudden death of Afonso Dhlakama, leader of Resistência Nacional de Moçambique (RENAMO), and the emergence of what is being called “Islamic radicalism” in the northern part of the country cast doubt upon Mozambique’s prospects to live under full peace and stability. 

This article is a critical-theoretical reflection on a graduate programme at Makerere University – the Interdisciplinary PhD in Social Studies at Makerere Institute of Social Research (MISR).  

Thirty-eight years have passed since Walter Rodney was assassinated in Guyana on 13 June 1980 in Georgetown, Guyana’s capital city, but his legacy lives on beyond his home-country. 

Pambazuka News 865: Working people’s demands 

With claims that the South African Federation of Trade Unions is planning to embark on a two-day strike to intensify the struggle against the recent proposed amendments to Labour Relations Act, the Basic Conditions of Employment Act and the National Minimum Wage Bill, it is a good time to examine the social conditions and the factors on which a mass strike can be born in the new phase of the struggle. 

Leaving wage and expropriation of farms where workers are abused should be an answer to farm workers plight.

As the world commemorates the 200th anniversary of Karl Marx, the author reminds us of how this great German political philosopher was and still is a divisive figure on all sides of the political divide. 

The Nelson Mandela Centenary will be making headlines around the world on 18 July. But 50 years ago, Mandela was in prison and the African National Congress was virtually defunct within South Africa. Instead, it was a students’ organisation that reignited the struggle against apartheid. 

There are many international legal instruments that outlaw child labour. However, there are more than 250 million children in the world who are involved in child labour because of various reasons including poverty in families that force children to work to help their families and weak labour laws that do not punish sectors benefiting from child labour among other reasons. The author discusses about other reasons, consequences of child labour and offers a number of recommendations to end that cruel practice. 

South African academics and think tanks met on 28-31 May 2018 for deliberations leading to the July 2018 BRICS heads of state summit to be hosted by South Africa. Most of these scholars believe that the BRICS countries offer an alternative to Western imperialism, but the author argues that they are seriously wrong. 

African farmers are facing serious challenges because of increased engineering of seeds and the determination of leading global agro-chemical corporations to dominate the African agricultural sector. 

I would like to preface this piece with the following four declarations: One: My dominant interest in Election 2019 is the strengthening of the Nigerian Left in the country’s electoral and non-electoral politics. That is the only real change that can take place and that Nigerian masses deserve. Two: By the Left I mean the aggregate of socialism and popular democracy. This historical-ideological-political tendency is both anti-capitalist and anti-imperialist in orientation and logic. Three: Nigerian Leftism in the present historical epoch goes beyond being a “weapon of criticism”. It is also a programme of liberation. Four: The effectiveness of Left political interventions depends, to a large extent, on Leftists’ understanding of what is actually happening. This is an elementary service the Left owes itself. None of these declarations is new. They are only being pulled together for this piece.

The Africa Liberation Day is held amid on-going struggles against imperialist militarism and economic exploitation. 

The article tells us how on-going debates about stolen African artefacts, in particular those from Ethiopia, and held in Western museums, have divided opinions of policy-makers in Europe. 

Pambazuka News 864: Decolonising African minds

The author offers a detailed analysis on how to decolonise African minds and to fight against neo-colonialism, not only in South Africa, but also across Africa. 

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