Pambazuka News 836: Confronting imperialist capture

Since independence 53 years ago, Kenya has had four presidents – three of them from one ethnic community. Control of state power has ensured that the Kikuyu and related groups have benefited from national wealth far more than other communities. Recently, economist Dr. David Ndii sensationally called on those communities that feel excluded to secede.

Nation building is a serious business that requires clarity of vision and self-sacrifice, preparing the grounds for succeeding generations to prosper. It is not the prestige and grandeur of office that facilitates development and progress but the due attendance to the responsibilities of office.

Over two years into the International Decade for People of African Descent, very little has been done to achieve the objectives of the UN General Assembly declaration. It is not enough to make such a declaration. Serious efforts must be made to implement it for the benefit of Black people.

How does a man whose close and immediate family are designated by neo-Nazis as filth and the dregs of humanity then fail to condemn, without equivocation or excuses, such racism? Trump is either ignorant of history, or is so enarmoured by the idea of White supremacy, that he fails to comprehend that the ideas enacted under Hitler being regurgitated in the US in 2017 by persons who see him as President and being equivalently praiseworthy as Hitler is an affront and not a compliment.

Kenya’s elections are always full of drama. And the recent one on 8 August was no exception. What looks like a simple process of voters casting their ballot, and these counted to determine the winner, turns out to be a complex matter of raising more questions than answers.

Even if embattled President Zuma were to leave (and replaced by, say, Cyril Ramaphosa), the country is nowhere near getting out of its political crisis.  Why not? It is because the problem lies, essentially, in the captured polity of the South African state and economy.  This has deep historical and systemic roots.

The Brazil-Russia-India-China-South Africa summit in Xiamen from September 3-5 is already inscribed with high tension thanks to Sino-Indian border conflicts. But regardless of a welcome new peace deal, centrifugal forces within the fast-whirling world economy threaten to divide the BRICS. South Africa, which plays host to the BRICS in 2018, is already a victim of these trends – even as President Jacob Zuma continues to use the bloc as a primary crutch in his so-called “anti-imperialist” (talk-left walk-right) political survival kit.

Tagged under: 836, Global South, Patrick Bond

Pambazuka News 835: Struggle, suffer, sacrifice for justice

The debate about Africa’s middle class has largely ignored earlier analyses on African elites.

If the US wants to create jobs and promote consumption of America-made products by Americans as Trump claimed during his electoral campaign, it will be hard for him to achieve such goals. The US economy is strongly tied to other economies around the world. With Trump’s rhetoric about protectionism and nationalism in an increasingly globalised world, it would be interesting to see how the US charts alone its trade and economic future.

The book ploughs through the complex issues relating judicial struggles over sexual and gender-based discrimination, social justice and poverty and the adjudication of presidential elections in East Africa.

Celebrating 90 years for Mama Sobukwe is a major feat. It is a sterling life which is exemplary for all, young and old, men and women, that one can serve, suffer and sacrifice for freedom. Her circumstances do not differ much from those of Afrikan women in the rural areas and at the bottom of the pyramid in the social structure.

Americans must acknowledge the scourge of open and concealed racism whose ugly face appears in the form of Charlottesville, hundreds of thousands of black people and other minorities languishing in incarceration, police brutality, discrimination against minorities, as well as diseases rampant in impoverished communities at the bottom of America’s social, economic and political pyramid.

Over the last 38 years, particularly since the end of the civil war in 2002, President Dos Santos has ruled Angola through securitisation of the society, repressing all dissent and restricting freedom of expression, association and assembly. Will space for civil participation open up after one of Africa’s longest serving rulers leaves power following elections this week?

Kenyan political elites are using the mechanism of the election to cloak their authoritarianism in democratic credibility and shield themselves from international suspicion. The vote, so essential to popular participation and self-government, has become a critical component for a new electoral authoritarianism.

To replace pedagogies of the oppressed with education for the practice of freedom and to implement education for self-reliance, we must alter radically the political organization of the modern state of capitalist modernity.
 That is Mwalimu Nyerere's legacy in education, which remains relevant today.

It has always been a source of pride that one of the principal factors underlying Somaliland’s success in achieving reconciliation, peace and the establishment of an indigenous democracy was the integrity, basic honesty and national commitment of its leaders. But during the last seven years, this record of largely clean and open governance has surrendered to a culture of greed, nepotism and rampant corruption.

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari returned to the country this week after spending more than three months in the United Kingdom being treated for an undisclosed illness. His short, pre-recorded speech upon arrival did little to address the many concerns of the Nigerian people at this time - at least according to this author.

From a humble centre for American Studies, the Salzburg Global Seminar now runs several academies and programmes focusing on imagination, sustainability and justice, among other topical issues of global concern. It also produces several publications on various themes and has several institutional and individual donors and partners across the globe.

Taking advantage of media interest in protests over monuments to historical figures with racist views, activists in Halifax are pushing to remove commemorations of two individuals who helped conquer Africa. And there’s no lack of other such memorials to target across the Great White North.

Following the 8 August 2017 elections whose results are disputed, the Government of Kenya embarked on a crackdown on selected non-governmental organizations. There have also been reports of killings and sexual harassment by police and suspected state-sponsored gangs especially in urban slums assumed to be support bases of the opposition NASA coalition.

Pambazuka News 834: Sham elections, deadly choices

Kenya’s election this year amounts to nothing less than a coup by the incumbent, Uhuru Kenyatta. Every effort was made to infiltrate and control the electoral body. The heavy security preparations and the deluge of peace messages suggest that the outcome was already predetermined and the people’s resistance anticipated.

 “August 2 is the anniversary of the beginning of the Second Congo War, so we commemorate it to remind Congolese communities at home and abroad that since that date, millions of Congolese have been killed, raped, kidnapped, and enslaved for our natural resources. We need to remember them and work to bring an end to the killing."

Indicative was the debate preceding the vote: not a single speaker spoke in defense of President Zuma, who after all is also the party leader. The opposition was eager to explain that the motion was not about removing the ANC from government, but Zuma from presidency. In contrast, those taking the floor for the ANC, appealed to members to protect the government from regime change and not abandon the party loyalty.

Rwanda’s sole hero Paul Kagame “won” the 4 August election by 99%. Emboldened by his Western benefactors and cheerleaders, Kagame rules with reckless intransigence and impunity. He has conveniently forgotten that the civil wars of 1959 and 1990s were about the exclusion of whole ethnic groups from state power. The dream of freedom and peace remains distant for Rwandans.

What is now being praised as a “peaceful” election was in fact the connivance of racist global capital against the Kenyan people. The so-called victory of Uhuru Kenyatta is a victory of private business. Kenyans should expect the collapse of public institutions in the next few years and increased militarization to keep the people in perpetual fear.

Tanzania’s famous founding president Julius Nyerere was a teacher. But despite the government’s commitment to education in its development agenda, many young people shun the teaching profession. Salaries are low, classes big and teaching has little prestige among the professions.

Tagged under: 834, Education, Mary A. Mosha

Bankie was a Pan-Africanist in his own class. He would not want Pan-Africanists to fall into sentimentalism about his passing on to the Ancestral world. Rather he would want us to dedicate our work to the liberation of the African people, particularly working towards black people’s knowledge of self.

A confidential audit report from Norwegian government-owned alcoholic beverage retailer Vinmonopolet has uncovered harassment, unionization prohibitions and salaries below the minimum wage at several of its wine producers in South Africa.

Like many young people across Africa, Ugandan youth face the challenge of acquiring appropriate skills and deploying them in achieving their dreams. An essay competition at Kampala International University gave students the opportunity to reflect on this issue and to explore solutions to youth unemployment.

The urgent need for South Africa’s rehabilitation may only begin with a united voice of the people that speaks and acts on behalf of all who live in the country and gives the highest priority to the elimination of a political regime that has gone rogue. As former minister of finance, Pravin Gordhan, said, “We did during apartheid, we can do it again”.

Global resource extraction interests in collaboration with corrupt local elites are providing incentives for a genocide against Indigenous people in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and a virtual media blackout allows this travesty to continue unchecked.

As he launched the African Regional Centre of the New Development Bank (NDB) in Johannesburg on Thursday, nearly 18 months behind schedule, South African President Jacob Zuma must have had mixed feelings. Strife-riven Brazil, Russia, India and China are more risky allies than Zuma reckoned when in 2010 he accepted Beijing’s invitation to join the club.

Tagged under: 834, Emerging Powers, Patrick Bond

When Helena Terra heard that ProSavana, a giant agribusiness project proposed for northern Mozambique would be presented for “judgment” at the Permanent People´s Tribunal in South Africa, she was convinced that their struggle against the project was gaining momentum.

Pambazuka News 833: Kenya, Rwanda elections: Hopes and fears

Given Kenya’s generally violent politics, next week’s election has raised considerable anxiety inside the country and throughout East Africa. A lot depends on whether the electoral body will deliver a free, fair and credible poll. Or Kenyans will be well advised to store up some Ugali – the national staple food – in case the post-election period stretches out before things are finally settled.

Kenya’s ethnic diversity is both a blessing and a curse. Whereas the diversity is a great heritage to celebrate, ethnicity has been used to create division for political ends. The country goes into elections on 8 August sharply divided along ethnic lines. Kenyan voters will do well in this election to elect leaders who are dedicated to serving the whole country, not sections of it.

Rwandan dictator Paul Kagame will stage sham elections this week to keep himself in power for another term. He has already arranged to stay in office until 2034, if he chooses. Those who challenge the vote count often wind up dead, or in prison, like Victoire Ingabire – which is fine with Washington, Kagame’s major backer.

The Canadian mining giant Barrick Gold’s African subsidiary, Acacia Mining, is embroiled in a major political conflict in Tanzania. With growing evidence of its failure to pay royalties and tax, Acacia has been condemned by President Magufuli, had its exports restricted and slapped with a massive tax bill. Barrick enjoys considerable government backing.

President John Magufuli of Tanzania aka the Bulldozer has embarked on a campaign to end the abusive exploitation of the country’s natural resources by greedy multinational extractivists. Caught in Magufuli’s cross hairs is the Canadian mining group Barrick Gold whose record globally is a litany of human, economic and environmental abuses.

Nigeria’s historic problem of failed nation-building cannot be cured by merely amending the flawed constitution handed down by the military in 1999. The exercise is futile. What the country needs is a national Constituent Assembly to draw up a new constitution restructuring Nigeria, which then should be put to a referendum.

President Donald J. Trump has withdrawn the U.S. from the Paris Climate Accord offending the Europeans, particularly Germany, and isolating his country from the rest of the world.  Moreover his views on climate change disregard the facts this article will elaborate.

Schulenburg has provided a blueprint that is both original and far more attractive and coherent than any of the recommendations of the many reviews of peacekeeping authorised by the UN Secretariat for the past 15 to 20 years.

A black middle class in such a socially segregated society merits closer attention as to its definition and its further deconstruction. Which are the characteristics, the aspirations, the self-definition, but also the political orientations of such a group?

Kenyans, like other citizens elsewhere in Africa, demand and hope for “free and fair” elections. But the key issue is that Kenya is still a neo-colony. In these circumstances elections, whatever the outcome, will not fundamentally change the material conditions of life the people. The struggle against neocolonialism must continue.

Pambazuka News 832: Reclaim the humanism of Socialism

The crisis facing South Africa and the world today has its roots in: (1) the barbarism and injustices of market supremacism, racial supremacism and patriarchy; (2) the inadequacy of liberal democracy; (3) the excesses of commandist communism and vanguardist Marxism and (4) the failure of the dominant discourse to locate racism and patriarchy as much central to the problems we face as capitalism. The crisis can only be appropriately dealt with by appealing to the radical humanism of Socialism.

Mama Sobukwe epitomises the collective experiences of many Black women throughout the Afrikan continent and diaspora whose roles and contributions in the liberation struggle remain unacknowledged, written out of popular historical narratives, biographical memory and national consciousness.

If Zimbabwe’s heroines Mbuya Nehanda and Sekuru Kaguvi were here today, what would they have done as the country is run down by erstwhile liberators gone rogue? Fold hands and watch? Make social media jokes out of their suffering and laugh at themselves? Throw stones at those who dare rise and speak out? No! Those two were allergic to indignity, exploitation, suffering without action, disenfranchisement and subjugation.

 

The book is a fascinating portrait of a deeply courageous, intelligent, shrewd and determined woman possessed, at an early age, of a sense of high destiny and a deeply patriotic commitment to serving her country – even if that meant making frankly rebarbative choices. Serleaf has been consistently pragmatic, determined to undo decades of despoliation visited upon Liberia by successive regimes, in some of which she served.

Respected humanitarian agencies collected a mountain of donations in the name of Haiti earthquake victims, they largely squandered it, and they then refused to account for it. How did they get donors to give the money? Through exaggerations, truth-twisting and outright lies. And the international press spread those lies and gave them credibility.

The new government of Lesotho has promised to tackle the scourge of corruption. But Basotho are familiar with such pledges that never translate into action. Political will is not enough to eliminate corruption where the vice is endemic, performs the basic function of maintaining political stability and is key to winning an election.

Entrepreneurship is more than just an economic term — it is a way of thinking. Creating jobs, empowering people and giving individuals access to better lives is certainly a development goal which all countries aspire to. But while South Africa has embraced the rhetoric, it has yet to create the economic ecosystem necessary for entrepreneurship to thrive.

Trump’s myopic motto, ‘America First’, is complemented by an unspoken one, ‘Africa Never.’ His refusal to take notice of Africa will be deleterious to US-Africa relations. Luckily, one of the unintended benefits of Trump’s dissing of Africa is the realization of people of African origin worldwide that they need to pursue a common agenda.

It is ironic that those who are criticizing Trump on Africa today seemed to have taken a vow of silence when Barack Obama befriended and wined and dined the most ruthless African dictators. Obama overlooked their deplorable human rights and corruption records in the name of counter-terrorism cooperation.

Peasants across Africa are intensifying their struggles against land grabs and other harmful policies that promote industrial agriculture. At a recent international conference organized by the world’s largest peasants movement, Via Campesina, African peasants had opportunities to share their experiences of struggle and to learn.

Djibouti is poised to transform itself if it takes advantage of this current moment of infrastructure and investment boom.

The proposed amendment of the Constitution is not only unjust; it raises questions of the democratic principle of separation of powers among the arms of government. Government (Executive) is arbitrarily seeking to overturn the decision of the Supreme Court (Judiciary) using its parliamentary majority (Legislature).

The disturbances created by the wealthy are part of the imperialists’ intervention plan in Venezuela. The disinformation campaign carried out by the mainstream media is a key component of that effort. So, no one should be surprised by the profusion of Orwellian statements and the incessant vilification of President Maduro in mainstream coverage of Venezuela.

Pambazuka News 831: Biko and the Black world today

No new plantation has succeeded since independence, either state-owned or private. But it has not stopped Frelimo leaders since Samora Machel from dreaming of giant mechanised farms funded by hundreds of millions of dollars from abroad.

The G20’s Compact with Africa is meant to force open African doors to European and generally western investments. African governments have been told in no uncertain terms that for them to receive foreign direct investments, they must improve conditions for such investments. Using its financial muscle the west (through Berlin) is waging war against Africa.

Human beings, including Europeans, have migrated throughout history and continue doing so. Migration is, therefore, not a problem; it is part of humanity. What is a problem is failing to understand why people migrate and using recent refugee flows from war-torn countries such as Syria, Iraq and Libya to politicise and militarise the whole issue.

A South African court has found a police officer guilty of shooting dead 17-year-old protester, Nqobile Nzuza. The judgement sends a strong message to all police officers who act on the instructions of politicians to brutalize unarmed citizens demanding their rights.

Forty years after Steve Biko’s murder in detention, the world we live in has not changed fundamentally for Black people. Regardless of where you reside in the world, how educated you are, religious, progressive or nice you may think you are, if you are Black you are guaranteed the scorn, humiliation, violence and death that Biko and others had to confront.

The moral case for Black reparations has effectively been made, but the legal argument has met much frustration in the courts. The authors believe that the period after 1808, when U.S. participation in the international slave trade was outlawed, is key to clearing the legal hurdles to reparations.

Breaking up Nigeria into several nations to solve its current problems, as some people suggest, will not work. The resulting chaos will be unimaginable, throwing much of West Africa into crisis. The better option is for all Nigerians to commit to work to build one Nigeria that works for all.

In response to a protest outside a white editor’s home, the South African Editors Forum (SANEF) sought court orders to stop Black First Land First activists from harassing, intimidating and threatening journalists and editors over their reporting. But SANEF did not show similar concern when Black journalists came under attack. Why the double standards?

Gambians must not forget the atrocities committed by President Jammeh’s regime and demand that the perpetrators of crimes be brought to justice. The government of President Barrow should relentlessly pursue and reclaim all the ill-gotten wealth accumulated by Jammeh’s family and its cronies. Any call for unity, reconciliation and forgiveness will be meaningless without truth and justice.

In Zambia, as with elsewhere in Africa, Canada’s mining industry, foreign policy and neoliberalism overlap tightly. It is a subject Canadians ought to pay attention to if they want their country to be a force for good in the world.

Reparatory Justice must be the clarion call of the African Peoples at home and abroad. This was the Declaration of the 2nd Kwame Nkrumah Intellectual and Cultural Festival which was held in Accra from 25 June to 1 July, 2017. The Festival was hosted by the Institute of African Studies of the University of Ghana under the auspices of the third Kwame Nkrumah Chair, Professor Horace Campbell.

Several civil society organizations have voiced their support for protests in Morocco and other North African countries facing growing state repression, resource theft and imperialist expansion. They call for respect for people’s rights and just development.

The world changed this past week in ways that it may take decades to fully appreciate. With the opening of its first overseas military base in Djibouti, China sent an unmistakable message that its role in the world is changing. The implications for the Middle East and Africa are immediate, but the larger message is that China is no longer pretending to be an inward-looking, exclusively Asian power.

Pambazuka News 830: African youth, where are you? 

There is only one reason why the US is obsessed with North Korea. It allows the US to maintain a massive military presence in East Asia. If not for tensions on the Korean peninsula, the US would lose its rationale for its network of military bases in the region, which are primarily meant to threaten and contain China.

Activists from anti-capitalist militant organizations in North Africa met in Tunis on 4th and 5th July 2017 to set up the North African Network for Food Sovereignty. The network is a unifying structure for struggles in the region and will be involved in local, continental and international mobilisation.

Only a quarter of Malawian children who enter primary school finish the eight-year course. And almost 70 percent of Malawians aged 15 years and above do not have a secondary school education. The numbers are worse for girls, at 74 percent. This is part of Malawi’s colonial legacy.

Instead of being locked in crowded camps surrounded by barbed wire, the 1.2 million refugees in Uganda are given large plots of land in sprawling settlements to build homes or, if they like, small farms. If agrarian life isn’t for them, they can move freely around the country, traveling to towns or to the bustling capital of Kampala, which 95,000 refugees call their home.

Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary for Interior Maj. Gen. (rtd) Joseph Nkaissery died suddenly on Saturday, 8 July 2017. Nkaissery is certainly a notorious symbol of human rights abuse and his death brings to an end one of the saddest chapters in Kenyan history.

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