Pambazuka News 827: Herstory and violence on women

One of the main issues around Lesotho’s general elections, including the recent poll of 3 June 2017, is the incredibly low voter turnout. Much of the commentary on this blames election fatigue, among other things. The 3 June general election was, for example, the third in five years. But, is there more to Lesotho’s voter apathy than election fatigue? 

Pambazuka News 826: Africa's class problem

The political climate remains fragile and the mentality of most opposition politicians hardly offers meaningful alternatives. This is possibly an explanation – but no excuse – for the undemocratic practices permeating almost every one of the region’s nations. Beyond multi-party systems with regular elections, they resemble very little of true democracies.

Mahmood Mamdani, the executive director of Makerere Institute of Social Research, is not an angel. And certainly the programme is not his fiefdom. MISR’s current mission  takes seriously Frantz Fanon’s resolute plea to the African revolutionary intellectual to not simply revert to our world of yore - the pre-colonial, pre-modern, primordial, etc. - but to rethink it anew.

A man of strong beliefs and convictions, Cde Toivo dedicated his life to the fight against oppression by the then South Africa authorities, rejecting apartheid South Africa’s reduction of sovereign Namibia into its colony. His life was the personification of solidarity, the quest for self-determination and unyielding commitment to the liberation of his people.

The labour movement has been unable to de-link itself from its archenemy: capital. As its structures bureaucratise, as its leaders become career unionists, as it opens investment companies and pays staff increasingly inequitable salaries, it increasingly mirrors the very thing it is fighting. If the South African Federation of Trade Unions is to meet its promise, it must be fundamentally different from the organisation it was born out of.

Shutting down and criminalizing use of the internet has become a weapon in the government’s cyber warfare strategy against the Ethiopian people, particularly the youth. The internet is making it exceedingly difficult for dictatorships to cling to power and rule tyrannically. It has created a walless, borderless, wireless, seamless, restless and fearless world.

“Sir, you have served white monopoly capital with distinction. You have worked for them as an agent and a counter-revolutionary, selling out our right to have transformation of the apartheid economy. You have betrayed the values that define a disciplined cadre. Today you live large in arrogance and attempt to lecture us when we, as soldiers for our liberation, are dying as paupers.”

The crisis in Cameroon continues to fester without much international concern about serious human rights violations. With his close ties to France and his support for the American-led war against Boko Haram terrorism in the north of the country, President Paul Biya may ignore local pressure. But the conflict between the French-speaking and English-speaking parts of Cameroon will not simply vanish.

The judgment has been handed down on Helen Zille, leader of South Africa’s opposition Democratic Alliance, muzzling her from any party related communications in future. She said that colonialism wasn’t all bad. Her tweet was insensitive but true, the backlash furious and nonsensical. Why? I blame black guilt, which I understand very well, because I’m white.

A group of Nigerian citizens has expressed serious concern about the state of the nation, citing rising intolerance, violence and division. They call upon leaders at all levels and the people to confront the growing sense of uncertainty and fear by taking action to reassure all that there is a clear pathway to equity, unity and security in Africa’s most populous nation.

Recognising the structural basis of the organisational failure of the socialist movement is necessary for arriving at a correct conception of the organisational challenge confronting the movement. Explaining this failure by the contingent factors commonly adduced, it is only possible to arrive at a structuralist and mechanistic conception of the challenge. Only by recognising the structural character of the failure is it possible to realise that the challenge before the movement is to transform itself into an organic element and instrument in the struggle of the oppressed.

We invite interested applicants to join a small team of dedicated editors who produce Pambazuka News each week. This is an opportunity to deepen your understanding of and support to social justice struggles and to strengthen your editorial skills.

Tagged under: 826, Announcements, The Editors

Pambazuka News 825: G20 Compact with Africa: Whose agenda?

Prof. Mahmood Mamdani imperils the survival of the programme he heads at Makerere University by his capriciousness and reliance on political connections. This raises serious questions about his integrity as a person, scholar and administrator. Mamdani has for a long time abused the goodwill of many well-meaning but unsuspecting people who looked up to him.

The Manchester atrocity lifts the rock of British foreign policy to reveal its Faustian alliance with extreme Islam, especially the sect known as Wahhabism or Salafism, whose principal custodian and banker is the oil kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Britain's biggest weapons customer.

As neoliberalism plunges deeper into crisis, militarism and wars are being promoted and intensified throughout the world, especially in Asia-Pacific. There is a need to build a global anti-war and social justice movement that opposes militarism and wars of aggression; respects the right to self-determination of oppressed peoples; and supports various forms of resistance to imperialist aggression and intervention. 

The fuel subsidy regime was a huge scam in the Nigeria oil and gas sector, with the state colluding with its friends to steal from the people. It was during this time that entrenched corruption such as inflation of the subsidy figures, the rise of proxy marketers, over-invoicing and non-record keeping became common.

The hope that the end of apartheid would herald a better life for the oppressed in South Africa has evaporated. Their conditions today are materially as bad as under apartheid - and even worse in some cases. But the upper classes are having the time of their lives. Working class struggles should be intensified and linked, based on self-organising and direct democracy to bring about real change.

Baby Jayden Khoza, aged just two weeks old, was killed during violent repression of a community protest by the police. The baby’s killing underlines the utter inhumanity of the post-apartheid South African state in dealing with poor people who only demand the right to a decent life. Jayden could have become a teacher, a doctor, a leader in his community or even a revolutionary president; an honest president.

Extra-judicial killings are “normal” in Kenya, especially targeting poor young men in urban slums who police accuse of being criminals. The exact numbers of the victims – and their stories – remain unknown, because few people or organizations have the courage or interest to document this form of state violence. Mathare Social Justice Centre has just published details of these killings in their own community. Read the report here.

America’s Africa policies have consistently remained destabilizing and predatory over the decades, despite the well-choreographed pretenses. It is this imperialism that has impeded the capacity of African nations to direct their future. Despite Africa’s vast mineral and agricultural wealth and labor power, a renewed debt crisis compounded by US interference is reversing the modest gains made in past years.

Nigerian author Chido Onumah argues that Nigeria’s key problem is nationhood. Except for a popular revolution that would fundamentally change the country, restructuring is the best option. That way, the country will remain one in order to deal with other serious issues such as poverty. “And the restructuring we are pushing is not to divide the country along ethno-religious lines but to create a civic nation along the principles of federalism.”

The Igbo cannot possibly be a part of the proposed new Nigeria, no matter how attractive the idea is made to look by its advocates. On 29 May 1966, the Igbo renounced forever their Nigerian citizenship. While wishing Nigeria and Nigerians well in their quest for a workable solution to their national problem, the Igbo have unequivocally opted for a separate Igbo identity and the separation of their territory from Nigeria.

‘With 15 eventful years of legal visibility under my belt, I can’t help reflecting on the moments that have most profoundly shaped the contours of my life. It was certainly the bittersweet days of living under the radar that moulded me into a fully minted, itinerant Liberian with an American twang.’

Often considered to be largely insulated from the unrest and upheaval brought about by the Arab Spring, Morocco is now facing mounting turmoil throughout the country. The methods inherited from colonization and currently used by the government are doing little to appease the basic demands of a population hungry for equal opportunities and social justice.

Banro operates in a region that has seen incredible violence over the past two decades and the secretive company has been accused of fuelling the conflict. In 1996 Banro paid $3.5 million for 47 mining concessions that covered more than one million hectares of land in Congo’s North and South Kivu.

As business continues to grow in influence globally, sometimes enjoying asymmetrical power relations with developing states, a new report notes serious concerns over private sector practices that are leading to increased human rights abuses and attacks on fundamental freedoms.

Britain is voting in a snap general election on June 8. From Brexit to security and future immigration policies, the manifestos of most parties will have implications for refugee protection.

Ironically, by pulling out of the Paris Agreement, Trump, the great negotiator, may expose America to greater global backlash than if he had just stuck with the agreement while doing little to nothing to actively address climate change.

The G20 Compact with Africa downplays climate change and sustainability, relegating them to mere side-effects of doing business. There is no acknowledgement of the ecological debt the North owes the South. For sustainable development, climate justice and action,  it is imperative that the G20 meeting  gives more attention to  climate  justice.

If African leaders had an ounce of self-respect, they would be expressing their absolute condemnation of the US withdrawal from the Paris Accord, or using this moment as an opportunity to speak out on the dangerous consequences of not taking climate change seriously.

On Monday-Tuesday next week, Berlin will host the G20 finance ministers’ negotiations with African elites led by a South African, Malusi Gigaba. Is this the next neo-colonial defeat for the continent, harking back to another process 132 years ago?

With its Compact with Africa the German G20 presidency is actively promoting private loans and investment as solutions to infrastructure deficiencies on the African continent. The Compact aims at using public resources in order to improve the investment climate and mobilize private capital to finance investment critical to achieving sustainable development.

 The international community must ban the import of all goods produced in illegal Israeli settlements and put an end to the multimillion dollar profits that have fuelled mass human rights violations against Palestinians, said Amnesty International today. 

Pambazuka News calls for articles for a special issue on the legacy of this eminent Nigerian-born writer, considering her reflections on and representations of both the personal and political elements which shaped the experiences of Africa and its diaspora.

Tagged under: 825, Announcements, The Editors

Pambazuka News 824: Resisting death and destruction

The book makes a strong call for a critical reading of the meaning of Eurocentrism and the values of knowledge, insisting on the need to interrogate and explain the “organization/order of knowledge” and its “descriptive/prescriptive statements”. It is a vigorous call for urgency in exposing the persistent coloniality present in academia.

Nigeria began to unravel 50 years ago, on 27 May 1967. Since then, successive governments have failed to forge a nation out of what was left behind by the British colonialists. Nigeria works for only a small part of the population. The rest are largely on their own. There have been calls – and attempts - to break up the country. But this is not feasible today. Nigeria needs to be restructured in a way that ensures the interests of all its people are given top priority.

The struggle of the black working class majority of Freedom Park, South Africa, is not just for land on which to build housing – although that is obviously a central issue and key demand; nor is it just against the accompanying political and police violence and intimidation. It is a struggle against the injustice, violence and corruption of a system that puts the power, privileges and profits of a few before the lives and wellbeing of the majority.

On 23 May 2017 Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus of Ethiopia was elected WHO Director-General. In a letter released a head of the election, over 200 scientists, policy experts and others concerned persons are urging the new Director-General to recognize and address factory farming as a growing public health challenge. Just as the WHO has bravely confronted companies that harm human health by peddling tobacco and sugar-sweetened beverages, it must not waver in advocating for the regulation of industrial animal farming.

If the Nairobi River were a human being, it would have choked to death by now. Despite various attempts to restore it over the past decades, the river continues to choke with garbage, industrial waste, agro and petro chemicals, heavy metals and other pollutants, which have caused the extinction of aquatic life and turned the river into an eyesore. Nairobi River is a huge potential resource for the city. It should not be left to die.

Faced with a growing crisis, President  Zuma has raised the prospect of a radical reorientation of the ANC and the possibility of radical economic transformation. Alarmed, another faction of the South Africa’s capitalist class has thrown its support behind the Zuma Must Fall movement. In this article Zimbabwean socialist Munyaradzi Gwisai unpicks the situation in South Africa. He explains that the working class and poor must avoid the dangers of both Zuma’s ‘fake left-turn’ and the Zuma Must Fall protests. What are the lessons, Gwisai asks, for South Africa from the movement that rose-up against Mugabe in Zimbabwe in the late 1990s?

The notion of state capture is currently very topical in South Africa, in both popular and academic circles. According to the popular view, President Jacob Zuma, along with a number of senior civil servants, has been captured and is doing the bidding of a well-heeled expatriate Indian family, the Guptas. A more plausible explanation of the nature of this relationship is required.

The ruling parties in the two countries have adjusted in different ways since taking power. SWAPO has entrenched its political dominance in all spheres of society since independence. The ANC is in decline and faces massive public protest and political opposition. In both cases the presidents have resorted to populism to pursue their agendas.

This week 26 years ago a new regime took power in Addis Ababa. The Tigrean People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) is listed as a global terrorist organization. Unsurprisingly, its scorecard in Ethiopia features endless famine, land grabs, violent repression, dictatorship and corruption – with the generous support of the US and its allies.

Why do African governments seem unable to create jobs for their teeming throngs of young people, who are then forced to make dangerous journeys abroad in search of a better life? Wrong economic models. In addition, nations waste resources through corruption and investing in huge militaries and police forces often deployed against dissidents. Crooked leaders collude with the West to steal Africa’s resources to develop Europe. So, what would stop young people from following African stolen resources to the West?

The mass killings in Rwandan in 1994 are often invoked inside and outside the country for ulterior purposes. In Canada, the story is part of developing a “do-gooder” foreign policy mythology designed to lull the nation into backing interventionist policies. More generally, a highly simplistic account of Rwanda ‘94 has repeatedly been invoked to justify liberal imperialism, particularly the responsibility to protect doctrine.

Without an iota of suspicion, a German national who fell in love with Kenya and embarked on a business venture there lost his marriage, was fleeced of his investments and could not get any help from the authorities. Last year, a stroke certainly related to these frustrations nearly sent him to the grave.

The African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights has taken on issues of sexual orientation and gender identity, topics that some may have considered too “controversial” but that fall squarely within the ambit of human rights.

The latest terrorist attack in England, which killed or injured dozens of teenagers, raises a question for every British, French and American parent: Is continued interventionism in the Middle East and Afghanistan worth it?

The author’s recent trip to Cuba confirmed his confidence in the power of people to transform their lives. It is also clear that “the US government has not stopped its ceaseless attack on the Cuban Revolution and probably never will as long as the US possesses an imperialist system.” Nevertheless, every Cuban he spoke to “reiterated how the revolution remains non-negotiable.”

If you were the Pope, what would you have told Donald Trump on his recent visit to the Vatican?

Pambazuka News 823: The absolute necessity of revolution

Some 130 years ago, European powers met in Berlin to hatch an agenda of subjecting Africa and its peoples to mere vassals, property to be possessed and exploited for the benefit of white people. African Liberation Day celebrates the African people’s successful resistance to this oppression. The Day is also a proud commemoration of the role Africa has played in the advancement of human freedom.

History is not as far removed from the crises afflicting Africa today as many people seem to think. Imperialism has fought against the continent’s genuine independence and socialist development over the last five decades. As Nkrumah said, independence was only the prelude to a tougher struggle for the right of Africans to conduct their affairs according to their own aspirations.

The Igbo genocide is the foundational genocide of post-(European)conquest Africa. It inaugurated Africa’s current age of pestilence. The genocide has been studied most expansively. Thus, to understand the politics of the genocide and the politics of the “post”-Igbo genocide is to have an invaluable insight into the salient features and constitutive indices of politics across Africa in the past 51 years.

Who should be held accountable for the continued violations of rights, and the deprivations of life and dignity, experienced by African refugees and migrants?

Author Abdi Samatar’s muddled account of the history of Somalia is full of errors and inconsistencies. For reasons probably known to him alone, he avoids engaging with the existing scholarship on the post-colonial period. The author seems to be pursuing a certain political agenda, and not solely interested in providing a rigorously researched study of Somali history.

Nubians have lived in Kenya for a century, but they are still discriminated against by the government that treats them as foreigners. Getting a national identity card is very difficult. And even after that, Nubians are vetted throughout their lives. Now their efforts, including engaging regional human rights mechanisms, to negotiate the complex bureaucracy are beginning to bear fruit.

Gaddafi was certainly not killed for humanitarian reasons. He wanted to empower Africa. He had a plan to create a new African Union, based on a new African economic system. He wanted to introduce the Gold Dinar to back African currencies, so they could become free from the dollar. He wanted to protect Africa’s vast natural resources from Western looting. The imperialists eliminated him.

As in many post-colonies, the Socialist movement in Nigeria has failed due to the organic divorce of the movement from the struggles of the oppressed. Revolution is no longer seen as a practical necessity, largely because of the movement’s petty bourgeoisie class origins. To revive the movement, this class needs a deep and radicalising experience of privation and oppression out of which it can find no escape but revolution.

The third generation of African freedom fighters is growing impatient with the contradictions of ongoing coloniality in the Motherland. Europe and its allies continue their imperialist subjugation and plunder with the support of puppet leaders as Africans suffer. A new anti-imperialist wave is gathering momentum across Africa to complete the continent's unfinished liberation.

Every single revolutionary who has walked this Earth has said it: The liberation of humanity is impossible without the liberation of women. And, for the millionth time, here is why:

It is important to understand the political significance of this Day. It is not just a Day to celebrate our African pride but also a date to remember the freedom fighters of the continent and to keep in mind all the battles still to be fought for the definitive liberation from neocolonialism. It is a Day to denounce all foreign interference in Africa.

Pambazuka News 822: Standing up to capital

The objective of the special issue is to examine the discourses of national, inclusive and equitable transformation as opposed to a mere exercise of power transfer between political elites.

The vision for an African-led clean energy revolution is in danger of being thrown off course because of attempts by the European Commission (EC) and France to hijack the Africa Renewable Energy Initiative.

In many parts of Africa, urban development is often anti-poor. In support of local and international capital, urban governments condemn and demolish property owned by impoverished people, pushing them into misery. The residents of Gulu Municipality in northern Uganda have come together to resist eviction meant to pave way for “modernization” of the city.

With allies like Rwanda’s Paul Kagame, Washington is causing immeasurable suffering on the Congolese people because they happen to sit on $24 trillion worth of resources that are critical to the American war machine.  If Americans want to act in solidarity with the Congolese they should stop pretending that US foreign policy is rooted in justice, and instead support citizen movements like TELEMA that are fighting for change in DRC.

Preparations are under way around the world for protests against the G20 summit in Hamburg, Germany, this July. Protesters will be resisting attempts to restrict civil liberties, criminalise protest and/or justify repression.The protests will include a congress, blockades, actions of mass civil disobedience and a big demonstration.

As the South African government continues to march forward with the Traditional Khoi-San Leadership Bill, one must consider the nature of power it wishes to further instill. There is a nexus between corrupt traditional leadership, the tourism industry and rural dispossession. Here, the moral and historical thread lacing the Traditional Khoi-San Leadership Bill is examined.

Is it wrong to simply give money to the poor? Will giving money turn us into enablers and make the poor entitled? We don’t trust the poor to make the right choices with our money, so we do it for them. This is why it is common for aid to come with rules depending on the giver’s beliefs. But there  is evidence that giving money to the poor empowers them to make the right choices and uplift their lives.

It was a win for French imperialism. Once elected, Macron, like his predecessors, was scheduled to open his presidency with a visit to French troops stationed abroad, in this case Mali. They are tasked with defending French domination against both Islamists and rival imperialists – to defend, against the interests of humanity, the illegitimate notion of "Françafrique", that France has an inherent right to dominate much of Africa in collusion with other imperialists.

Elites whipped up mass hysteria that Le Pen is a fascist to put the neoliberal globalist Macron in power. Macron and the rest of the globalist elite are advancing an order in which global capital freely chases cheap all over the world, then comes back to sell products with no tariffs, and even sues any government that becomes inconvenient for them.

It is an unconscionable tragedy of incalculable historical consequences that Barack Hussein Obama, the first African-descent president of the US republic in 233 years ended up with a dreadful presidential legacy supporting the Igbo genocide – executed on the ground by Nigeria, an Islamist-led state, and its suzerain state Britain.

The revolutionary pan-Africanist would have been 92 years this week. His struggles for the liberation of Black people from imperialism and its twin, racism, remain as relevant and inspirational as ever.

Special Issue: Activism in Africa

African citizens, activists and organisations are finding new and innovative ways to resist, organise and mobilise in the face of mounting restrictions on their rights to freedom of expression, assembly and association.

Campaigns demanding the fall of something or someone have been a feature of the South African movements scene in recent times. How far have these campaigns succeeded in articulating and achieving their agendas? The author argues that fallism represents both continuity and discontinuity of the traditions of the historic liberation movements and emergent social movements in South Africa.

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