Pambazuka News 234: Alternatives to neo-liberalism
The authoritative electronic weekly newsletter and platform for social justice in Africa
Pambazuka News is the authoritative pan African electronic weekly newsletter and platform for social justice in Africa providing cutting edge commentary and in-depth analysis on politics and current affairs, development, human rights, refugees, gender issues and culture in Africa.
To view online, go to http://www.pambazuka.org/
Want to get off our subscriber list? Write to email@example.com and your address will be removed
CONTENTS: 1. Highlights from this issue, 2. Features, 3. Comment & analysis, 4. Pan-African Postcard, 5. Advocacy & campaigns, 6. Letters & Opinions, 7. Books & arts, 8. Blogging Africa, 9. Women & gender, 10. Human rights, 11. Refugees & forced migration, 12. Elections & governance, 13. Corruption, 14. Development, 15. Health & HIV/AIDS, 16. Education, 17. Racism & xenophobia, 18. Environment, 19. Land & land rights, 20. Media & freedom of expression, 21. News from the diaspora, 22. Conflict & emergencies, 23. Internet & technology, 24. eNewsletters & mailing lists, 25. Fundraising & useful resources, 26. Courses, seminars, & workshops, 27. Jobs, 28. Global call to action against poverty
Support the struggle for social justice in Africa. Give generously!
Donate at: http://www.pambazuka.org/en/donate.php
Recommended reading this week
EDITORIAL: George Dor from the Southern Africa Centre for Economic Justice introduces a series of articles on alternatives to neo-liberalism
- An alternative vision to water privatisation trends in Ghana
- Economic Demands take on Political Form in Mauritius
- Swaziland: Developing a participatory course in environmental education
- The case of the Malawi Economic Justice Network: Economics for the people, by the people
- Working towards another Southern Africa: The ANSA initiative
LETTERS: Africa in Hong Kong/Human Rights Day
BLOGGING AFRICA: Race riots, air crashes, harassment of women, fuel shortages and the legacies of colonialism
Pan-African Postcard: Time to get tough on Darfur talks, says Tajudeen Abdul-Raheem
BOOKS&ARTS: A review of Kwani, a compilation of contributions by Kenyan writers/Poems on 16 days of activism against violence
GLOBAL CALL TO ACTION AGAINST POVERTY: GCAP trade demands presented in Hong Kong
CONFLICTS&EMERGENCIES: UN out of Eritrea/ICC interviews Darfur witnesses
HUMAN RIGHTS: Call for investigation into Egyptian police killings
REFUGEES: Toddler latest to die in Sudanese refugee protest in Cairo
ELECTIONS&GOVERNANCE: Call for suspension of Zenawi regime/Civil society challenge to dictatorship in Nigeria
WOMEN&GENDER: Gender and Human Rights in the Commonwealth
DEVELOPMENT: All the news from the WTO in Hong Kong
RACISM&XENOPHOBIA: Indymedia Sydney reports on race riots
ENVIRONMENT: Climate talks end in Montreal
MEDIA&FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION: Discussing advocacy journalism
NEWS FROM THE DIASPORA: The Execution of Stan Tookie Williams
ADVOCACY&CAMPAIGNS: Appeal to AU to confront Eritrea on human rights violations
INTERNET&TECHNOLOGY: FrontlineSMS now available FOR NGOS
+ E-newsletters, Fundraising, Courses and Jobs
Please note that this will the last edition of 2005. The next edition of Pambazuka News will be on January 5th. We wish all of our subscribes a restful few weeks.
Case studies in alternatives
How do we challenge neoliberalism and corporate globalisation? Can we develop demands that enjoy the support of those most severely affected and simultaneously lay the ground for an alternative system? How do we develop educational programmes that encourage critical thinking in countries where such thought is actively discouraged? Can the demand for reparations for damage caused by neoliberalism and its predecessors be conceptualised as part of a process of fundamental change? These are the types of questions that are tackled in the series of articles in this week’s Pambazuka News. The articles reflect a growing debate on economic alternatives to neoliberalism from countries as far afield as Mauritius, Swaziland and Mali. In this article, guest editor George Dor, who was responsible for bringing together these articles, introduces some of the issues playing themselves out in the debate over alternatives.
The search for alternatives to neoliberalism is increasingly being identified with the need to transform the entire capitalist system. Debate on socialism is gaining increasing prominence. It is not just the nature of the alternatives that is being explored. The perhaps even more critical question of the process towards these alternatives is also a focus of increasing attention. There is a clear recognition that abstract academic formulas will not provide lasting solutions. Alternatives have to be developed from the ground through struggle. This entails the development of appropriate strategies, with workers, the unemployed and the poor at the centre of decision-making. It also entails the development of a vision of a new society as well as the values and principles that should underpin it.
Resistance and Alternatives
The debate on alternatives has its roots in the relatively recent growth of resistance to neoliberalism and corporate globalisation. In keeping with international developments, there has been an emergence of organisations across the continent around issues such as debt, trade, privatisation, land, food security, water, large dams, conflict and war.
Much of the initial emphasis in these new organisations and related networks was on resisting the very real hardships faced by people in impoverished rural and urban areas, as well as on developing a greater awareness of the neoliberal causes of these hardships. But, even as these organisations were being formed, the question of alternatives was already appearing on the agenda.
As early as 1999, newly-formed Jubilee campaigns and anti-debt coalitions met in Lusaka, Zambia, and identified the need for an “Africa Consensus” in opposition to the Washington Consensus. The concept was further developed by the African anti-debt formations at the launch of Jubilee South later in the year and was renamed the “African Peoples Consensus” in recognition of the very different class interests on the continent. It received further support at a large event of organisations representing a range of sectors and interests, held in Dakar, Senegal, at the end of 2000.
The formation of the World Social Forum sparked forums at continental, regional, country and local levels. The African Social Forum (ASF) was first held at the beginning of 2002, and the Southern African Social Forum (SASF) met before the end of 2003 and for the second time in October this year. Many countries have held national social forums. Discussion on alternatives is an increasingly prominent feature of these forums.
The African Peoples Forum
A West African initiative, the African People’s Forum, has been convening every year since 2002. Just as the World Social Forum is counterposed to the World Economic Forum, the African Peoples Forum is held in opposition to the G8, at the time of the G8 annual meetings.
The four editions of the forum have been held in different outlying towns in Mali. There has been representation from, amongst other countries, Benin, Burkina Faso, Central African Republic, Chad, Congo, DRC, Gambia, Guinea, Ivory Coast, Mauritania, Niger, Senegal and Togo. The forums have included large numbers of small-scale farmers from the eight regions of Mali and the forum held in Fana this year had over 1000 participants.
Mrs. Barry Aminata Toure, Chairperson of CAD-Mali, a coalition for alternatives to debt, highlighted the importance of the forum in contesting the G8 and neoliberalism: “This People’s Forum is a critical opportunity to inform and sensitise African social movements on international political and economic mechanisms, which constrain the national policies of developing countries of the South. Faced with the G8, which plays the role of a totally illegitimate world board of directors, African social movements are organising themselves to formulate alternatives to current neo-liberal policies and are firmly resolved to show their determination.”
The forum in Fana was promoted under the slogan, “From Resistance to Alternatives”. It included debates on alternatives to the system of indebtedness and structural adjustment policies, reinforcing regional integration, finding a new approach to North/South relationships, the need to reinvent the education system in Africa, public funding and community participation in the management of basic social services, the possiblity of withdrawal from cotton agriculture, alternatives to the over-indebtedness of the farming community, alternatives to rice imports from the North and rural women’s access to land and agricultural inputs.
Given the large numbers of farmers, food sovereignty was a central issue. The forum concluded: “We refuse to become the waste bin of the world. We ask for just international regulations that guarantee an equitable trade. The international community should recognize our right to maintain, protect and develop our food capacity, while respecting the diversity of our crops and without threatening other countries’ food sovereignty. This right for each country - or region - we call the right to food sovereignty.”
Debating Values and Principles
Recently, there have been various activities on economic alternatives in Southern Africa, including an afternoon seminar at the African Social Forum in Lusaka, Zambia, in December last year and an economic alternatives workshop in Johannesburg, South Africa, in May this year.
The Lusaka event was a well attended and very well received event, highlighting the importance of engaging in debate on alternatives at events of this nature with a wide range of participants from different organisations and countries. There was a tangible sense that there is a widespread desire to take forward debate on alternatives.
The Johannesburg workshop built on this event by bringing together a somewhat smaller group of participants central to the question of alternatives in their organisations, sectors and countries. The nature of the workshop allowed for a more intensive interrogation of neoliberalism and debate on the nature of economic alternatives, including the process towards developing them.
The workshop concluded that it would again be important to further the debate at the Southern African Social Forum in Harare, Zimbabwe in October this year, including discussion on the values and principles that should underpin alternatives.
The forum was organised very differently to the Lusaka African Social Forum. The organisers deliberately organised the event outdoors in the major public park in central Harare to make it more accessible to people. In general, this proved to be very successful. There was participation in substantial numbers, perhaps some 3 000 in all, including many from the Harare townships and other parts of Zimbabwe. The event had the feel of a forum, with lively discussions, heated debates and very impressive cultural activities. This represents a significant advance on previous forums in Africa, which have often been criticised for coming across more as conferences than social movement events.
However, this did have the unfortunate consequence in that the venues for the different discussions were not easy to find. The economic alternatives activities were some of those negatively affected. The forum programme included various organisations that had applied to make presentations on different aspects of economic alternatives, but only three of these organisations were able to locate the venue.
The South African Centre for Economic Justice (SACEJ) took up the role of facilitating the day-long discussion. Other participating organisations convened a discussion on socialism at a different venue on the same afternoon. Unfortunately, these events took place separately. SACEJ facilitated discussion in a way in which participants were given the opportunity to express their views as to the vision they have of an alternative society and the principles that should guide us towards the realisation of that vision.
It was stressed that current conventional development processes are not acceptable to the majority. Few have benefited. The colonialists and those in post-independence leadership “enjoying the class system hierarchy” had and have ulterior motives. It was passionately stated that “it is time to rise up as people and fight this capitalism.”
The development of alternatives by consultants from abroad and the “NGO syndrome” was criticised. It was argued that universities intellectualise knowledge and make it irrelevant. Universities are not generating holistic, environmentally and economically sustainable approaches to development. Urban, male and age biases were noted and it was asked whether we at the forum, reflecting these biases, are qualified to raise the discussion on alternatives.
It was argued that there is a need to develop theories relevant to alternative economics. Students should be drawn in. We are not sharing information and documentation. People and organisations should pull together across clusters and sectors in developing economic alternatives. There is a need to strengthen and consolidate alternative networks and develop a think tank that interrogates alternatives.
There was a fairly extensive discussion on language. This was sparked off by points raised on the corruption and the black market. The phrase, “black market”, has a negative connotation and is but one example of the way in which the word “black” is used in negative terms. It also assumes that the legal market has an ethical standing. Why not rather use a phrase such as “parallel market”?
The forum itself proved to be far from immune to the use of problematic language. There was widespread dissemination of stickers attacking “Zhing Zhong” goods, motivated by concern at the increase in imports from China, but encouraging the racist conclusion that Chinese people are the problem, masking the neoliberal roots of unfair trade.
It was argued that there is a need for a paradigm shift. We need to move beyond criticising and start the important task of identifying true values and establishing clear principles. Values have to come from the heart. We should look at ourselves. “Are we social ourselves?” Capitalism is not far away, in fact it is within us. The “I factor”, “what do I get out of this”, tends to dominate even in forums like the Southern African Social Forum. We have to change our mindsets, we have to practice the values we identify, it starts with us: “Let’s start by socialising ourselves”.
We also need to be more proactive in setting the agenda. This needs to draw on past values. We have to rethink what we have been doing. For example, in the agricultural sector, we have been changing to modern systems, thus abandoning organic farming and indigenous systems, losing a lot of traditional knowledge. We must engage in research as to what is suitable and what is not.
There were many points made on culture and values. Marginalisation and Westernisation has destroyed cultural and social values. Family forms are being eroded. People have become selfish and corruptible. All too often the poor are exploiting the poor. We need to cultivate a positive image of us as African people, as against, for example, pentecostal values that counter our values. We must introduce cultural values into educational materials and instill these values into the educational system, radio and TV.
The process towards developing alternatives was also addressed. One shouldn’t impose external alternatives. We should be mere facilitators to assist the emergence and strengthening of people’s structures. Inclusion to the benefit of people and participation in decision-making are crucial. An alternative society should embrace the positive qualities of inclusivity and maximum participation of the historically marginalised. It should take into account all of its members.
There must be democratisation throughout society. Those who produce have more control over their lives. There must be democracy in the workplace and educational institutions.
Participants tried the difficult, if not impossible, task of capturing the essence of the values and principles of an alternative society in a sentence:
- An inclusive society where processes and structures combine to allow people to coexist and actively participate in economic and social systems and live a life of dignity and justice;
- An alternative society portrays and projects positive values about human existence and livelihood into economic and social production and encourages development processes with a respect for human dignity
The discussion on values was located within the current context of neoliberal power. It was asked how we work towards a society with our values given existing power relations. Transnational corporations have financial resources, machinery, technical expertise and patents and control trade. To defeat the enemy, sometimes you have to use their tools. For example, small sugar producers should come together to increase their power. Where rights are not given, they must be taken. The building of strong organisations is central to the task of taking up the struggle against neoliberalism and for an alternative society.
It was again stressed that: “It is not supposed to end here.” The discussions need to be taken forward. It was suggested that we need to continue to engage ourselves through a centre that can take up the tasks of disseminating information and networking around the issues.
* George Dor is with the Southern Africa Centre for Economic Justice
* Please send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org
An alternative vision to water privatisation trends in Ghana
Rudolf Amenga-Etego argues against the privatization of water in Ghana and introduces an example of community driven water delivery managed for the public good instead of profits. In a country where in some parts the average citizen earns only 50 cents a day, but is expected to pay the full market price for water, he argues for a water management system that “incorporates the collective wisdom of the community as an operative rule”.
The neo-liberal ideology that is driving water policy globally is rooted in the in the so-called “Washington Consensus”, which is nothing but a market fundamentalist conspiracy to corner the world’s resources to satisfy the greed of a tiny minority. It is an ideology that puts profits before people, threatens our eco-systems through excessive exploitation and turns the essentials of life into mere articles of trade.
Ghana, a country of 20 million people with 10 million of them earning less than 2 dollars a day, is a typical example of a well-endowed country reduced to begging. After decades of trying to adjust our economy to fit into a global trading system crafted by a few corporations with the complicity of the Bretton Woods institutions and spineless governments at their beck and call, we are consigned to the fringes of humanity where life is cheaper than condoms. There are parts of Ghana, the Upper East region being typical, where the average citizen earns only 50 cents a day and is now also expected to pay the full market price for water.
This is a consequence of the signing of a management service contract in November this year, handing over the management of the water service to the private sector. The signing of the contract is significant in a number of ways:
- It signals a change in the World Bank policy, which hitherto favoured leases and concessions. The assumption then was that the private sector would invest in the water sector. This didn’t happen.
- It is an indication that the water corporations now prefer management service contracts that guarantee upfront payments with little or no risks.
- The World Bank remains essentially the smokescreen behind which the corporations operate.
- To the activist, it means “not yet uhuru”.
Management service contracts are essentially attempts to take over public utilities for the purpose of making money without investment risk. The operational principle remains full cost recovery from consumers, irrespective of the ability to pay. Creative and innovative ways of providing safe water, especially to the poor, are ignored and therefore no investment flows into alternative thinking.
In Ghana, keeping water in public hands is an expression of sovereignty. The country has been declared a “highly indebted poor country” (HIPC) by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, who structurally adjusted her into debt in the first place. This is a country at the mercy of aid agencies. Surrendering her water to foreign corporate control will be the final act of capitulation.
There is no shortage of talent in Ghana. What is needed is a management system that incorporates the collective wisdom of the community as an operative rule. It is by involving people not as mere consumers but as citizens with rights, including the right to participate and to hold the management system accountable that will ensure the changes necessary for good water governance and universal access.
Certain policy interventions are key to eliminating the current neoliberal inequalities in water delivery to better achieve the ‘public good’ aspects of water services. These include:
- no prepaid meters for poor households;
- increased amounts of free water;
- better regulation of tariff structures so that they do not penalize the poor; and
- a non- discriminatory infrastructural plan that ensures that poor areas are equally served.
There should also be increased public funding for improving the efficiency of water systems and access. There should be a programme aimed at promoting public sector alternatives including community-based systems.
A celebrated example in Ghana which clearly demonstrates innovativeness is the Savelugu-Ghana Water Company partnership. In 2000, the Savelugu community and the Ghana Water Company signed an agreement to supply water to the Savelugu Township. Roles for both parties were defined, and the terms of the agreement were negotiated. The agreement involves the supply of bulk potable water to the township, which has the responsibility of retailing the water to community members. The bulk price is negotiated from time to time and a community water and sanitation board meets to set the retail price and discuss exemptions.
The success of the Savelugu experiment derives largely from its underlying principle that a community is able to work with a public utility to provide a service for its members efficiently. A recent base line survey by the Foundation for Grassroots Initiatives in Africa (GrassRootsAfrica) stated some of the ways that the township and the Ghana Water Company have benefited from the partnership as follows:
- It has guaranteed supply of potable water from a public utility.
- It is relieved from the complex process of producing and treating water as in other small towns practicing community management.
- The means exists to negotiate with the utility on price and quantity of water to be supplied.
- There is democratic decision-making among community members on tariffs and exemption procedures.
- Profits accrued from water sales are used for expansion and other community development projects.
- There is capacity to negotiate with private sector companies to provide services.
- There is the opportunity to benefit from technical support from the public utility at acceptable costs.
- Equitable access to water supply is promoted through participatory decision-making and management processes.
- Women are involved in decisions on water delivery.
- Social control measures are used to check pilfering and illegal connections and ensure prompt detection and containment of leaking pipes to reduce losses.
The Ghana Water Company:
- It saves on the cost of personnel to bill and collect tariffs from the community.
- It attains a relatively higher economic return per unit of water supplied to domestic consumers, as compared to other parts of Tamale.
- Unaccounted for water reduces to a minimum (near zero), as the community pays for all water consumed.
- It enjoys an intimate and healthy relationship with consumers.
- Pilfering and collusion with consumers to manipulate revenue due to the company is eliminated as the community pays to the company through crossed checks.
The argument that there is no efficient way of delivering safe water without the participation of the private sector peels off in the face of the Savelugu example. Shockingly, in spite of this exciting news, the World Bank is refusing to look that way. The World Bank’s privatization fixation is entirely inappropriate in the delivery of water to the people of Ghana. Activists in Ghana have argued that the government of Ghana and the donor community, if they are really serious about addressing the accountability and efficiency issues alleged to be bedeviling the Ghana Water Company, should be investing in the Savelugu model and investigating ways of replicating it. Wholly community-based systems should also be supported as alternatives to privatization.
* Rudolf Amenga-Etego is with the Foundation For GrassRoots Initiatives In Africa
* Please send comments to email@example.com
Economic Demands take on Political Form in Mauritius
Alain Ah-Vee, Lindsey Collen, Ram Seegobin
Lalit, a political party in Mauritius, has been conducting a campaign for “an alternative economy”. As Lalit’s Alain Ah-Vee, Lindsey Collen and Ram Seegobin explain, its just not acceptable that those who own land refuse to produce food for people to eat, while people who want to produce food to eat have no land.
Since 2004, Lalit, the political party we are members of in Mauritius, has been accentuating its campaign for what we call “an alternative economy”. This involves looking at questions like: “What are the demands that working people and the unemployed today see as eminently reasonable and that, at the same time, put into question the entire economic system? And, how do we identify these demands collectively? What is the process?”
Stated differently, “What is the content of the political program (and by what processes is it developed?) that would bring us, as socialists, off the defensive on economic issues, and on to the counter-offensive? What political demands, in these times, simultaneously pose questions of ownership and economic control?”
This paper is a brief outline of what our campaign means, both as an idea, and in practice, focusing on two of our demands as examples.
Politics in the economy
At certain times in history, the economy moves to the centre of the political stage all by itself. In the press, the “economy” is on separate pages; in the universities, economics and politics are in different departments; and during elections, newspapers and radios avoid any genuine debate on control over the economy. Bourgeois ideologues believe in the two following contradictory statements: that the economy is not linked to politics, and that it ought not to be. The truth is that it is linked, and it ought to be consciously linked to every human being’s political opinions and interests.
Today, sugar and free zone textiles, two of the major sectors of the Mauritian economy, have both become politically hot issues. The price of petroleum products is also being discussed politically. All this is on the agenda because of contradictions within capitalism, exposing very clearly the international realities of the Mauritian economy.
The open-ended political agreement between African, Caribbean, Pacific countries and Europe, known as the Lome Convention, included a sugar protocol. Earlier this year, the sugar quotas and guaranteed prices under the convention’s Sugar Protocol came to an abrupt end. A World Trade Organization Disputes Settlement Unit judgment, provoked by sugar producers in Australia, Thailand and Brazil, ruled that European subsidies on sugar are illegal. So, all the Mauritian Ministers are running around looking for political palliatives to the immense price drop that has ensued, but they are looking within a very narrow choice of economic alternatives.
The first of January saw the demise of the Multi-Fibre Agreement, another political treaty that gave privileged access to European markets to countries like Mauritius for their industrialists’ textiles. So, these two economic sectors, together with oil prices, have leapt out into the political arena. And this is where our Lalit campaign comes in.
Past political debates, strategies, positions and activities help. Lalit, from its earliest beginnings as the Lalit de Klas monthly political magazine from 1974, was well known for constant criticism of the short-term limited form of “development” that could be expected from sugar and textiles. These stands were accompanied by thorough arguments around the need for diversification of the agricultural and agro-industrial sector, for both local consumption and for export, and the need for developing renewable non-polluting energy. One of our early campaigns, in 1984, was called “What future is there in sugar?” It was famous partly because the Government banned our popular slide show on beet sugar and Brazilian workers’ struggles. So, when these two sectors, sugar and textiles, are in crisis, people look to us.
What is the Lalit campaign for an alternative economy, and who is in it? Our aim is to have ongoing economic and political analyses that are sufficient to put us one or two steps ahead of the next moves of the different sections of the ruling class, of the State, the press, and of the political parties in power, so that we are often predicting what will happen next.
At the same time, we involve working class people, union members, women and young people in active research. We publicise this through leaflets, neighbourhood informal meetings, slide shows and public meetings on street corners with PA systems. We use the press, whenever they are not in practice banning us. We make our perspectives known through participation in electoral campaigns, often putting up candidates for parliament or municipalities, through poster campaigns, sometimes hand-painted, sometimes printed, even through court cases, for example challenging the constitutionality of the Privatization Fund Act.
This all involves a two-way movement of ideas not just within our party, from its centre to its branches and districts, but within the women’s movement, the homeless peoples’ movement, education organizations, language promotion organizations, and through working with the trade unions, preferably at delegate or grass roots level. It also involves us being on the political arena during elections, sometimes by putting up candidates, other times by defining the agenda through other means.
By working this way, we come up with demands that workers and unemployed people, whatever their political affiliations for the moment, consider reasonable right now. At the same time, even while we all find these demands eminently reasonable, it is also evident that, as we push for them, we will increasingly find that the present way society is organized will prevent us winning our demands, or winning in full. Thus, there develops a conscious awareness that the demands also involve putting into question the social organization of the economy.
The first effect of both the cuts in sugar prices and the end of the Multi-Fibre Agreement is that bosses and government have only one type of solution. They cut production costs by sacking people, cut losses by closing down factories and make profits by exporting capital to where labour is cheaper (in Madagascar, other parts of Africa, China) or by bringing in cheaper labour on a contract basis. In overall terms, the solution of the bosses and government means making a large percentage of human beings redundant, and as many as possible as poor as possible. They say so themselves.
Let us take the example of the sugar sector, to explain our campaign. Our aim is this: “To build up enough popular support for our demands so that the government is obliged to force the sugar estates bosses to implement them. Or else, how can the sugar estate bosses justify their monopoly control over land and capital?”
Everyone’s political consciousness permits the idea that the people can influence the Government. This is where people’s ideas are at. Everyone also knows that it is difficult to force the sugar estates to do anything they don’t want to. Thus the importance of the “or else”, which opens up the possibility of questioning their ownership and control of the means of production.
If, by contrast, we just said: “Nationalize the Land!”, people would not think the demand reasonable. And they would be right in a way, because it implies that the present government and its state would run agricultural production, whereas our demand does not. Ours implies that the people will mobilize behind a government, which forces the bourgeoisie to act in favour of the people or else risk sacrificing its monopoly control over production. That’s the program.
So, to get down to the nitty-gritty, we have developed, amongst others, the following two related demands:
* That the government obliges the sugar estates to arrange the way they plant their rows of sugar cane so that they can plant other useful crops in between the rows. This inter-line-cropping, as it is called, has already been successfully used, and this is known by all workers, but the sugar estates have limited its use to only once every seven years, when the cane is pulled up. We are proposing a wider spacing, either between all the rows or between half of them, allowing inter-line-cropping every year, before the cane gets too high. This way they will need to take on more workers, instead of destroying jobs. It also means that, instead of burying their heads in the ground ostrich-like over the price of sugar, they would, as we already are, be facing the reality. And it means, with exchange rates making imported things more costly, we could get cheaper potatoes, onions, vegetables, canned and freeze-dried vegetables and cooking oil, as well as food crops for export earnings. It also means that the economy would be more flexible: if it was necessary to pull up some cane altogether, this could be done. The alternatives will already be in the process of taking over. Seeds, know-how, fertilizers, markets, will all already have been acquired, tried and tested. It means, in broader terms, that people are consciously putting political pressure to an economic end.
* That the sugar estates not be given the government permit that they already require by law to close down a sugar factory. Instead, they should be granted a permit to convert their factory into some other agro-industry, such as processing tomatoes, making oil or freeze-drying. Again, this means workers would be taken on instead of being fired, and the economy would be developing. The form of development would be related to what the land produces.
Both demands immediately involve a new fluidity of certain capitalist categories. The concept that the owners have total control over “their” factories and expanses of land stands questioned. The idea that peoples’ labour is just like any other commodity that can be demanded or supplied stands challenged. The idea gets born that some crops are more useful than others.
We also point out the collusion of the State with sugar, by reminding people of the massive subsidies that could be shifted from sugar to whatever people think more useful. All we have to do at a meeting is call on people to list the actions and institutions that support sugar, over time. Many are often entirely government funded. From 1853 to 2005, the State has supported the sugar industry in various ways, including the building of dams and irrigation systems, the opening of tertiary education institutions for agriculture and the establishment of the Mauritius Sugar Industry Research Institute, Bulk Sugar Terminal and Sugar Authority. It has introduced insurance and related funds, devalued the rupee, given concessions on and finally removed the export tax on sugar, granted tax concessions for land conversion and allowed factory closures and job destruction.
This makes us all realize that to change the direction of the economy is not so difficult. Governments that we all elect can and do support parts of the economy.
Now, where do the demands take us? If you win your demands (which is possible), then the victories give everyone who has participated in the campaign confidence, a very particular kind of confidence: that political action can change the way the economy runs. This in turn creates possibilities that working people think up further common demands that will make humans more human, and life more liveable. These can then be put forward, and worked on. And, the more people there are in jobs, means the more people free to participate in political life, and the higher their hopes for a fulfilling life become.
If you lose, then time is immediately ripe for political activists and for Lalit, as a party, to put into question how it is that the bosses can control the means of livelihood, in this way, to the exclusion of other human beings on the planet.
But of course, the winning and losing, because we are thinking beings, are discussed all the time, on the way. Some discussions are around the most theoretical of questions. In particular, Lalit has held dozens of sessions on “What is labour?” based on Karl Marx’s writing, which we have made available in Kreol. We have also initiated debate on the Marx and Engels Manifesto and have developed CD-audio and booklet versions in Kreol.
Other discussions are around practical issues. Here are some further demands that have come out of the campaign:
* The government must use any “European Compensation” money (for which negotiations are taking place) for the conversion from cane to food production, for local use and export.
* Work conditions in the agricultural diversification sector must be improved to the level of the (better) conditions already won in the cane and sugar sector.
* Government must prevent the estates from continuing making people redundant and give them targets for job creation.
* Government must convert the existing “Sugar Authority” into an “Optimal Land Utilisation Authority”. Similarly, it must convert all the institutions that support sugar into institutions that support food production.
* The Cyclone and Drought Fund must be extended to vegetable planters and animal keepers.
* Government must give advances (“fezans”), which are currently only given to cane planters, to all small vegetable planters and animal rearers.
* There must be a stop the destruction of traditional agriculture. Scientific knowledge must be built on to the existing knowledge and experience of the people.
* Profit-based GMO production must be stopped at once. The government must amend the law on bio-technology so that it is based on the precautionary principle.
* Government must compel the private sector to invest in fishing on a large scale, enforcing rights over the Economic Zones around all the islands of our Republic. This includes Chagos and Diego Garcia, now housing the US military base, and Tromelin, occupied illegally by France. The US military base must be closed. A big, nature-friendly fishing industry would be a source of new employment, and would replace the pillage that goes on at the moment.
* Government must itself invest in Barachois, marine farms, and the transformation and preservation of marine products, not just the “Sea-Food Hub” they now have that is like a fisheries “free-zone”.
* Energy production should not be privatised. This process must be reversed, and the CEB Bureaucracy replaced by a “CEB under democratic control”. There should be a massive development of ‘clean’ and ‘renewable’ energy, like solar energy, wind energy, tidal and wave energy. Thus, Mauritius (with a well-organised CEB) can situate itself as a country at the avant-garde of clean, durable and cheap energy production.
* The process of privatization where it has started and the privatization of any further sectors must be stopped.
* Government must oppose any new WTO “round”, and put all existing agreements on hold till a “World-Wide Audit” of the effects of liberalization exposes its crimes.
Our conclusion is that it is just not acceptable that the people who have the land and capital refuse to produce food, while people who want to produce food do not have land and capital. It is not acceptable that people who possess capital don’t create employment while people who need work do not have control over the capital that they themselves produced.
It is not just in Mauritius that capitalist rule is exposing itself as bankrupt. Its rot is showing up all over the place, perhaps most clearly at its centre. The US economy is in double-debt (balance of payments and budget), it is resorting to criminal military activity to exert its influence and it is unable to look after its own people after the cyclone in New Orleans.
Its allies are weakened. Blair has 40 of his own backbenchers not prepared to vote for 90 days’ detention without trial. Howard has had to face 600,000 striking Australian workers. In France, 300 cities were recently taken over by rioting youths, unhappy with unemployment, burning cars by the thousand. In Latin America, challenges to US capitalism grow apace.
Eventually, this destructive capitalist system must be overthrown and replaced by a socialist system where people organise collectively in association with one other. Already, especially in the case of women, we run much of our lives this way. This change will need to happen world-wide, so that, wherever we are, we are part of this future. This will need very clear political demands for the economy, as part of its program, every step of the way.
NOTES: LALIT is a political movement born out of the mass workers’ movements of the 1970s, out of the women’s movement and students rebellion of the same epoch. Its name means “struggle” in Mauritian Kreol and “beautiful” in Hindi.
* Please send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org
Malawi: Economics for the people, by the people
The Malawi Economic Justice Network (MEJN) campaigns for just economic policies by engaging in economic literacy programmes, budget monitoring and lobbying on trade issues and trade agreements that relate to Malawi. Historically, the space for civil society organisations to engage government has been limited or non-existent, leaving MEJN and other civil society organisations (CSOs) with much to do in offering alternative suggestions to influence economic policies.
In the five years (2000-2005) of its existence, the Malawi Economic Justice Network (MEJN) has recorded tremendous achievements in the areas of economic literacy, formulation of Malawi’s PRSP, budget monitoring and trade and trade agreements in Malawi. Through the economic literacy programme, MEJN has reached many people to make them understand the dynamics of the political economy of the country. Its interventions in policy formulation processes show the critical role of civil society organisations (CSOs) as partners with government and donors in poverty reduction programmes.
However, a question that is often asked is to what extent has the work done by MEJN shifted the boundaries of engaging with government to influence economic policy change for the country?
The danger of cooption
The danger and dilemma faced by CSOs working with government, especially in the areas of economic justice, relates to maintaining independence and legitimacy. There is a fine line between implementing their programs so as to be able to influence change of policy and being submerged or co-opted into the government machinery in the process.
This has a lot to do with the political governance that a country has as well. For instance, in Swaziland and Lesotho, which are monarchies or semi-monarchies, the role and influencing abilities of CSOs in the fields of economic justice is greatly diminished. Giving alternative suggestions to the budget process is seen to be opposing the powers of the monarchy to control the economy, hence the weak role of CSOs in Swaziland and Lesotho.
In Malawi, MEJN has been associated mostly with monitoring the national budget. To that effect, MEJN has been making statements as to how budget allocations could be improved through advocating for a prioritized budgeting process and also by involving other stakeholders to scrutinize the national budget. Through its district chapters, MEJN has been able to track budget allocations and even to do satisfaction surveys to check on the quality of the outcomes of the budget allocations.
Government’s View of MEJN’s Role in Economic Justice
A snap survey on the extent to which MEJN’s role is influencing government policy in Malawi indicated varying answers. From government circles, MEJN is seen as a very important partner in development of Malawi’s Economy and it is for that reason that MEJN is always brought aboard whenever government is discussing economic programmes. They regard MEJN as the most active NGO/Network in Malawi that is helping to disseminate information on poverty reduction and educating people in Malawi to understand budgetary issues.
However, according to government officials, MEJN cannot influence government policy in terms of changing economic policy developed by government. Consultations and involvement of MEJN in economic policies is meant to solicit views on the development of economic policies. According to officials from government, it is the role of government thereafter to decide on the formulation of economic policy.
Civil Society’s View of MEJN’s Role in Economic Justice
In civil society circles in Malawi, MEJN is applauded for the work that it has done in the field of economic justice in Malawi, more especially in the area of giving economic literacy to people. However, the country is yet to see the real impact of MEJN’s work in changing policy direction in government circles.
Involvement of MEJN in economic policy formulation by government could be cosmetic in that decisions may already have been made and, for the sake of inclusion of CSOs, MEJN could be called in but not to change anything. There is also the problem which was so apparent with the Muluzi Government whereby people were allowed to talk but government would not listen. And so the government was stubborn despite allowing dissenting or alternative views from civil society. In that type of atmosphere, no matter how good MEJN’s alternative views could be, they would not be effective because of government’s unwillingness to listen and use the ideas.
Another point which has been remarked about MEJN’s role is the fact that MEJN at times has made too much noise without giving alternative criticism or without giving expert advice as an alternative. MEJN has made statements on many aspects, some of which were not within its mandate. A good example is where MEJN commented on purely political matters as opposed to economic issues. This irritated policy makers but also showed lack of focus on the side of MEJN and to a certain degree did undermine MEJN’s credibility.
Lack of focus, lack of specialization and making unnecessary comments has the potential of derailing the work of MEJN and its ability to be taken seriously by policy makers in government.
Influencing policy change and making in government by civil society is a process that requires a democratic, transparent and accountable culture to achieve. It is an on-going process. For the case of Malawi, participation of NGOs in government policy is a recent phenomenon that is still being understood by both parties.
During the Banda era nobody ever thought of opposing a national budget let alone the national assembly. And so the change of the political system has also brought in a political economy that allowed dialogue with NGOs in Malawi. What remains to be honestly achieved is reaching a point where the government would be influenced positively by civil society in policy formulation for the good of the country’s economic growth. MEJN and other CSOs have much to do in giving expert and focused alternative suggestions to influence economic policies.
* Francis Ng’ambi works for the Malawi Economic Justice Network
* Please send comments to email@example.com
Swaziland: Participatory course in environmental education
Imagine an educational process that produces 200 graduates with no internal or external funding, where the institution running the course has no offices or support staff and where knowledge is viewed as a negotiated common commodity for all. Impossible? Unrealistic? Read on to find out about how The Swaziland Environmental Justice Agenda developed their course on environmental justice.
The Swaziland Environmental Justice Agenda (SEJA) is a social movement concerned with a variety of social issues. The issue of environmental injustice is central to SEJA’s concerns. SEJA has developed the Swaziland Participatory Course in Environmental Education, known as the ‘environmental course’, which uses an alternative approach to education to develop a critical understanding of environmental injustice.
According to SEJA’s viewpoint, environmental injustice is embedded in the global economic system, a system that is built around non-humanistic values. Over the years, the system has been sweet-coated by policy announcements that do not translate to sustainable support for people or the environment. The recent military actions that have been launched by the architects of the globalization process have proven that the capitalist values are still the same as those that informed the colonialisation process.
Swaziland is a society where people are not on the information super train. Many people in Swaziland, even the middle class, have no economic means to access the information in magazines and books, on the internet, etc. They are thus kept from the issues that define policy directions and programmes.
Swaziland is a country with an education system that is heavily influenced by its colonial past. It is a system which discourages the development of critical thinking. Free speech is banned in Swaziland by a 1973 decree and the education system has been able to enshrine a culture of compliance to this decree.
The Environmental Course
The SEJA environmental course is a humble act of activism to address this reality and start the process of social emancipation. It has opened up several alternatives to the way in which Swaziland society approaches issues of education.
The purpose of the course is to create an opportunity for environmental and development workers and activists to acquire the knowledge base that will allow them to critically debate the issues that define the progressive agenda. The course has been designed to make it possible for marginalized groups in the Swazi society to access tertiary-level education. The fundamental principle informing enrollment is the “open entry open exit” principle. This means that the course participants come from different educational backgrounds and levels.
Teaching a class with, for example, domestic workers, bus conductors and university lecturers is an experience that is sobering in many ways. It challenges our assumption about knowledge and the way knowledge is “developed”. It also requires alternative means on how education is conducted. The approach and methods of this course are not unique, they draw on Paulo Freire’s ideas, articulated in the book, “The Pedagogy of the Oppressed”.
The reason why we developed the course was the realization that many environmental educators and activists have no deep understanding of the issues. International groups are organizing campaigns in several fronts. Swaziland is always being left behind.
The course is structured around four key themes, namely:
- Theme 1: The Environmental Crisis: Issues, Problems and Risks
- Theme 2: The Response to the Environmental Crisis
- Theme 3: Environmental Education: Processes and Methods
- Theme 4: Curriculum and Programme Development
Each theme is introduced by a core text, which provides an overview of the issues and concepts. Every year, the tutors look at the core text and make changes based on the assignments of the past participants. This is done in an attempt to contextualise the core text to the realities of Swaziland.
In addition to the core text, there is an attachment of further readings, which include academic papers, newspaper cuttings, past participant’s assignments, case studies, reports etc. This allows the participants access to a diversity of perspectives, thus enriching the debates.
To use the first theme as an example, the core text introduces the issue of the economic system as the cause of the environmental crisis. Discussion is informed by a Theodor Shanin essay, “Idea of Progress”. The participants engage the question as to whether the international economic regimes result in improvement of the third world. They debate the availability of loans that continue to worsen the debt crisis.
Environmental education includes a four-dimensional framework for analysis of issues, namely the economic, political, social and biophysical dimensions. This framework opens up a broader spectrum for the analysis of issues. It deepens the ethos of critical thinking, which is an essential element of the development of social praxis. Praxis is the ability of participants to translate learned theory to social action and to translate the experience gained into improved theory.
What has become apparent is that most people in Swaziland have an in-built self-censorship. This is a major contributor to the reality that Swaziland is lacking literature that defines its unique political, social, economic and environmental crisis. The course, by allowing an environment of free speech, is helping to heal this problem.
Contextualization, Reflexivity, Praxis and Reflection
The course process is based on four fundamental principles. The first is the contextual principle, based on the view that a socially meaningful educational process should address itself to the issues that are relevant to that society. The course includes four assignments which act as a mechanism by which the participants discuss and review their individual context. This may be drawn from the work that the participant is engaged in, the campaigns that he or she is currently working on, etc. The course has an immediate benefit for various social programmes. It allows the participants to identify the political conditions that enable or disable social progress. It encourages the application of social praxis.
The reflexivity principle is about the internal mobilization of the participants to take appropriate action to mitigate and correct a social problem that is identified in the contextualisation of their reality. To date, Swaziland’s progressive forces have been able to narrate the political, social and economic conditions prevailing in the country. But, definite actions that can address the conditions have not been taken. This is due to a lack of reflexivity, which is embedded in an education system that discourages critical thinking.
The third principle is that of social praxis. There is a huge difference between theory and practice. An approach to social change that is led by a group of intellectuals that are excited by externally-developed theories and ideologies tends to emphasise theories without making the connection to practice. The course teaching and learning is informed by social constructivism. Knowledge is constructed by people in a social setting. This process detects that knowledge development cannot be created by academics to the exclusion of the people and the social reality. Social programmes of meaning are informed by a sound theory and that theory is continuously being informed by the reality.
Swaziland in the mid-nineties saw the progressive movement wage its greatest challenge to the state yet. The actions, including mass stayaways, demonstrations, petitions and boycotts, were informed by a particular revolutionary theory. Unfortunately the leaders of the different groups did not practice praxis. As a result, the masses lost the necessary steam to sustain the action.
It is essential that an educational process empowers the participant with the ability to take time out from the on-going activities, that he or she engages in reflection. In the social milieu, a number of processes are at play. There are many times that you find that the comrades you are working with do not share the same values as you or the movement you all belong to. The revolutionary comrade, Mphandlana Shongwe, once said during a college class boycott, “It is necessary for one to move out of a supposed straight road, in order to verify that it is still a straight road”. The reflection principle is basically about that, being able to think deeply about process. The power of reflection lies in its ability to bring clarity.
NGOs and Funding
The course is readily distinguishable from those routinely offered in the non-governmental organization (NGO) sector. Many people have been disillusioned by the reality that social programmes under the leadership of NGOs that are purported to be people driven are all too often nothing of the sort. They are conceived by NGO elites. NGO officers in executive offices in capital cities have been able to define the people’s agenda and content of programmes of action. Practice has shown that, even with NGO-driven educational programmes, the content and scope is also determined in a non-participatory manner.
These activities are entirely dependent on the availability of foreign funding. Moreover, the greatest percentage of funds that goes to NGOs is not taken by project activities but by personnel costs that go to finance the unsustainable lifestyles of the NGO elites. It is a sad reality that NGO offices are generally far removed from the problems experienced by their so-called target groups. These groups are defined in different ways, depending on the current fashionable donor description. People are defined in NGO official documents as marginalized people, Orphans Vulnerable Children (OVCs), etc. These descriptions create a barrier to meaningful consultation with them. In subtle ways, those that use these descriptions elevate themselves above their target groups.
The cost of food, accommodation and travel at many civil society gatherings limits the extent to which these programmes are accessible to the people defined by NGOs as poor and not privileged. This artificial over-costing of civil activities is in effect a marginalisation of the people. I was shocked by the paradox that emerged at the annual Environmental Education Association of Southern Africa (EEASA) conference, namely that members continuously complained about the “poor standard” of conference venues. This is not a comment about the organizational shortfalls of the conference, it is rather an indictment of the materialistic values of those that attended. This is true of many conferences of groupings that work for sustainable development and sustainable living environments. There is a related problem in that many comrades hide their true values behind politically acceptable words in fancy documents, publications, conferences, seminars and workshops, while their actions do not demonstrate a shift from the values of the corporate world.
All too often, social groups are not able to develop programmes that address their issues because there is no external funding. But the lack of financial resources is a challenge that has to be overcome. The Swaziland Environmental Justice Agenda has not received any external or internal funding to support its programmes. More than 200 people have graduated from the environment course without the course having received any funding in the NGO sense.
When SEJA embarked on this course, there was no physical office of the organisation. It was started by a small civic group of people concerned about particular issues or problems. There were eight of us, the majority of whom were not members of any political group. Environmental processes are political in nature, but affiliation to a political grouping was never an issue.
The participants brought food for tutorials and ate together. After participants graduated, many volunteered to become tutors for the next round of participants. The course has continued to depend on the ability of tutors to volunteer their time and knowledge. (By volunteering, we do not mean the existence of allowances that are far more than other people’s salaries. These are the tricks other people perform with our good hearts and intentions.)
The course provides a platform on which a new alternative approach to education can be launched. The educational process is emancipatory in a sense that knowledge is a negotiated common commodity for all. It opens up the boundaries of the course content to all stakeholders. It is truly driven by participants, giving meaning to the philosophical orientation that it a participatory course.
The true value of the course must be measured by the extent to which the participants influence people to approach their context with an attitude based on critical thinking and the degree to which it stimulates civic programmes that are no longer informed by liberal economic ideas.
Sivumelwano Nyembe, firstname.lastname@example.org
* Please send comments to email@example.com
Working towards another Southern Africa: The ANSA initiative
Globalisation is often presented as something from which one cannot escape. It is compared to gravity; to resist it is seen as going against gravity. As Margaret Thatcher proclaimed, “There is no alternative” to neo-liberal capitalism. So, mainstreaming in the 1990s and since then has meant joining the bandwagon of capital-led globalisation. It has been widely pronounced to be Africa’s inevitable destiny too, but Alternatives to Neo-liberalism in Southern Africa (ANSA) is an initiative that attempts to provide a framework for alternative policies and strategies, which can bring about sustainable, human development. Their aim is to stimulate the growth of a mass movement which can successfully advocate for a radical alternative for Africa.
Exposing The Myth
A passive acceptance of destiny forced on Africa from outside goes against the grain of Africa’s history. Africans fought to resist colonial occupation, and in some places resistance went on for some three decades after the carving up of Africa at the Berlin Conference of 1884-5. Then, when Africa was finally subjugated and occupied, Africans put up resistance against the occupation itself for another five decades and more, and finally liberated themselves from colonial rule, and its vicious offsprings such as apartheid. In other words, resistance against oppression has been the principal mode of African existence, almost a way of life for most Africans for the best part of a hundred years.
Unfortunately, the first generation political leaders after political independence from 1957 (when Ghana got its independence) through the 1960s and 70s were caught up in the cold war and the ideological battles of the period. Some of them, like Julius Nyerere of Tanzania, tried to experiment with their own versions of African socialism; others like Jomo Kenyatta of Kenya followed the capitalist model; and yet others tried various versions of “scientific socialism”. After the end of the cold war, and the demise of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s, the capitalist system came out triumphant, and all alternative options appeared to have vanished. Hence the increasingly strident assertion of the unavoidability of neo-liberal globalisation.
However, the myth of the inevitability of globalisation is as misleading as the myth about Africa’s passive acceptance. Globalisation is nothing but a policy response of the capitalist nations in crisis, the beginning of which goes back to the mid-1970s. Contemporary globalisation is part of the strategy of transnational corporations backed by the military, political and institutional (including WTO, WB and IMF amongst others) power of the G8 states, collectively constituting the Empire. Its alleged gravitational property has nothing to do with reality; it is a self-serving myth perpetuated by the imperial nations through systematic media disinformation and fatuous academic discourse.
Indeed, capital-led globalisation is even at the root of the crisis in Africa. It is by now agreed by wide sections of Southern African society that the neo-liberal paradigm of development has failed the people. Poverty has not only been entrenched but it has also deepened, and the gap between the rich and the poor has increased.
The ANSA Initiative
It follows that there must be an alternative and that such an alternative is of vital importance. The Alternatives to Neo-liberalism in Southern Africa (ANSA) initiative represents an attempt to address this need. Its roots reach back as far as 1993, when the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZiCTU) took the initiative to formulate an alternative to the Economic Structural Adjustment Programme, ESAP, which had been introduced in Zimbabwe in 1991.
Based on the experience gained in Zimbabwe, in 2003 the ANSA initiative took off, but now as a regional programme and initiative. Initially, a small group of individuals linked to the ZiCTU worked out the principles of an alternative approach and provided scientific and research materials. The project was gradually broadened until, in January 2005, representatives from affiliates of SATUCC adopted the programme. Since then, the initiative has aimed at and gained wider name and recognition among progressive academics, unions, social movements and beyond, both within and outside Africa.
From the beginning, ANSA’s aim has been not to produce another academic report, but to stimulate the growth of a mass movement which can successfully advocate for a radical alternative for our region.
The Root Causes of Underdevelopment
ANSA’s overall economic analysis revolves around dualism and enclavity and external dependency as the root causes of pervasive unemployment, and hence underdevelopment, in Southern Africa.
In plain language, dualism and enclavity describe Southern African economies that are generally characterised by a relatively small formal sector, which co-exists but is separate from a large informal sector, the latter one located both within urban areas and rural regions (the communal sector).
The formal economy consists of capitalists interested in profit making and workers who primarily depend on wages for their sustenance. In Africa it can be assumed that less than 20% of the labour force earns a living in the formal sector. The sector consists of large, medium, small and micro enterprises that are formally registered and recognised; as such they encompass activities in the primary, secondary and tertiary sectors of the economy.
The urban informal is a residual sector, which has come to have a high degree of permanence in many African countries. It is a sector characterised by easy entry and exit, driven by self-employment activities that reflect linkages with the formal sector and rural sector as well as the ingenuity of the individuals involved in the sector. Levels of productivity are low in terms of returns per hour worked, while wages tend to be below poverty levels. This sector absorbs surplus labour from the rural and the formal sector such as retrenchees. Generally about one third of the labour force in many countries tends to be involved in urban informal sector activities. In some regional countries the informal economy is in fact the ‘mainstream’ economy.
The communal sector is the original traditional or pre-capitalist sector with all the variations this entails in the African context. The present-day communal sector is also highly differentiated and has a number of linkages with the formal and urban informal sectors. However, the majority of the households are involved in low productivity farm and non-farm pursuits in which surplus generation is low and primarily not directed at accumulation but consumption. In most African countries, the majority of the households live and work in what we are labelling the communal sector.
The root problem of under-development now lies in the fact that the majority of the labour force is involved in low productivity pursuits that result in incomes and consumption levels that are close to poverty. The relationship between the three sectors and the external world is such that it tends to reproduce the continued marginalisation of the majority and continues to constrain the development of the economy as a whole.
Internal and External Distortions
Underlying this problem of underdevelopment are internal and external distortions, distortions which the ‘free’ capitalist market system has not been able to solve. Indeed, it has even caused, reproduced and strengthened these distortions. They therefore have to be carefully analysed and understood, after which a successful strategy to solve them can be formulated.
The formal sector shows a bias toward large-scale enterprises and against the evolution of dynamic micro, small, medium enterprise. It favours relatively capital intensive methods of production that are not warranted by the amount of labour available, given high unemployment rates. It is biased toward externally driven demand given that the majority of the domestic population lacks effective demand. It favours imports of capital and intermediary goods as well as high income consumer goods given the inability to produce these locally due to lack of critical minimum level of effective demand.
The formal sector is not able to play its dynamic role in terms of transforming the economy through trickle down effects, since the linkages with the non-formal sector are minimal and mostly restricted to use of cheap labour.
The urban informal sector is well known for its deficiencies in terms of lack of capital, improvised technology, high transaction costs and inadequate access to infrastructure. There is an absence of an adequate facilitating legal, regulatory and institutional regime for assets, intellectual property and market transactions As a consequence, the urban informal sector is prone to lateral expansion, depressed returns that verge toward subsistence, stunted growth and endemic poverty for many.
Although the communal sector may have developed production methods and non-farm activities that are appropriate for the environment in which they live, the sector has not been able to be fully integrated into modern forms of economic organisation. The sector shares a number of the characteristics of the urban informal sector, like the absence of social and economic infrastructure, the absence of an adequate facilitating legal, regulatory and institutional regime, high transaction costs and inadequate access to information useful for participation in the modern economy. There is an outward migration of able-bodied males. In some countries the shortage of land due to land degradation or land appropriation is also resulting in increasing marginalisation of peasants.
Thus, participants in both the urban informal sector and the rural communal sector are unable to lift themselves since their capabilities and their environment is highly compromised. They are also not able to benefit from trickle down effects from the formal sector or abroad in the absence of facilitating interventions.
The global environment has had the tendency to perpetuate the underdevelopment based on enclavity. For example, with regard to its interaction with the formal sector, this has been such that it reinforces both primary export and import dependency in a manner that does not facilitate the transformation and upgrading of the domestic economy. Terms of trade have generally been to the disadvantage of the formal sector in African economies. Monopolistic tendencies and protectionism among the developed countries have made it difficult to acquire competitive advantage that would allow the developing countries to compete on an equal level with the developed countries and even allow them to reconfigure their exports and imports.
More generally the international economy has been dominated by private and public interests which have systemically pushed for economic transaction regimes that work primarily to serve their interest rather than the development needs of countries such as those in Africa.
As another consequence of the above problems, African countries find themselves in a dilemma whereby disarticulations at the national level, coupled with external dependency, militate against effective regional co-operation and national development within a regional context as well.
The ANSA Declaration
This analysis shows why a neo-liberal ‘free’ market system can not solve our problems and, at the same time, provides a concrete framework for alternative policies and strategies, which can indeed bring about sustainable, human development. It is the foundation upon which a comprehensive ANSA Declaration has been developed, which, in turn, serves as the basis for ANSA’s further plans and activities.
The declaration sets out the 10 principles of the ANSA strategy:
1. At political and social level, a people-led strategy (as opposed to IMF-WB-WTO-donor-led).
2. At the economic level, an alternative production system, one that is based on domestic demand and human needs and the use of local resources and domestic savings, that is autocentric development (as opposed to the present system that is dominated by an export-oriented strategy, based on foreign investments and ownership).
3. Grassroots-led regional integration (as opposed to the current fragmentation of the region by the Empire).
4. A strategic, selective delinking from neo-liberal globalisation (as opposed to further deepening of integration within the existing iniquitous global system), and preparing for leveraged negotiated relinking in a restructured and transformed global production and distribution system.
5. An alternative policy on science and technology based on harnessing and owning the collective knowledge and wisdom of the people (as opposed to the present blind emulation of techno-science of the empire).
6. A strategy of alliance and networking with national, regional and global progressive forces (as opposed to the present system of co-optation of social forces in the capital-led globalisation process).
7. A strategy with a politically governed redistribution of the wealth and opportunities from the so-called formal sector in society to the informal sectors (as opposed to the present system of misallocation of resources, and the integration of the informal sectors through their providing cheap inputs and a reservoir of semi-employed labour).
8. A strategy where women’s rights are in focus as the basis for a healthy and productive society (as opposed to the present system based on the exploitation of women labour).
9. A strategy where education addresses the needs for sustainable human development, and which is aimed at improving the technical and managerial as well as research and development skills of workers and those directly in control of matters of production and governance (as opposed to education for a bureaucratic and academic elite).
10. A strategy where peoples’ mobilisation and visible demonstrations, and open hearings, in support of the evolving ethical and developmental state, are seen as embodying the democratic strength of the society, creating a dynamic, participatory and radical democracy (as opposed to the present system, where mobilisation is seen as a threat to the existing system, and where the representative democracy can sign away the future rights of people).
Framework for an Alternative Policy
Based on the above analysis and guided by the 10 principles, the ANSA Declaration then submits a detailed alternative policy and strategy for sustainable human development in Southern Africa. It does that both in general terms as well as for the various sectors like manufacturing, agriculture, trade and mining; for macro-economics and finance; for policies like education & training, science & technology and infrastructure; and for cross-cutting issues like gender and culture. Unfortunately it is beyond the scope of this article to present them here.
It should be well understood that the ANSA Declaration only sets out the general alternative policy framework for the region. It is necessary that each country will formulate and push for its own specific alternative policy and strategy within this regional framework. The ANSA Programme is actively working towards this follow up. A training and advocacy programme is also being developed.
As said before, the ANSA programme is not a separate academic exercise; it is aimed at stimulating and facilitating the growth of a mass movement, the ideal being that the numerous localised centres of resistance and initiatives for alternatives will in the end pressurise for change from a common perspective.
ANSA therefore seeks active co-operation and mutual reinforcement with progressive individuals, unions, churches, youth and women groups, social movements etc. within the region, the continent and beyond to join forces to pressurise for often very practical and local alternatives, placed within a broader vision and strategy.
A start has been made already with the Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) where Trade Unions in the SADC are getting together to deliberately and systematically lobby and campaign for alternatives to the anticipated EPAs which are being imposed on us by the EU. Privatisation and commercialisation issues are definite other possible areas of action and levers for a common demand for an alternative policy.
ANSA is not a grouping, a political party or a movement. It is not an advance party either. You cannot become a member. ANSA is a non-partisan, facilitation project, the function of which is to act as a focal point, guide and catalyst that stimulates people, institutions and movements in the region and beyond to join hands and forge alliances in a common pursuit of an alternative to neo-liberalism.
In January 2006 the ANSA Declaration will be launched at the Africa Social Forum in Bamako, Mali. After that it will become available in print, a full version in English and a popularised version in both English, French and Portuguese.
* This article was compiled by the ANSA Co-ordinating Committee
December, 2005 (For more information about the ANSA-initiative, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or, alternatively, at email@example.com)
* Please send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org
Time to get tough on Darfur talks
Tajudeen Abdul Raheem
The clock is ticking when it comes to current peace talks on Darfur currently taking place in Abuja, writes Tajudeen Abdul-Raheem. But this time its not the Government of Sudan who is the spoiler at the talks, but rather the rebel forces, most of whom do not represent their people and are using their time in Abuja to snuggle up to Western donors and have a holiday at the expense of the international community.
This week is very crucial for the now-on-now-off African Union sponsored peace negotiations on Darfur in Abuja. The agreement on security is supposed to be signed failing which these round of talks could be declared dead and all the negotiators, peace envoys, rebels, government representatives and the assortment of various 'international' (meaning non African and predominantly European and American) supporters of the peace negotiations should do their tax payers a big favour and pack their bags and go home.
It is a big irony that the main culprits for this failure will not be the usual first suspect of everyone: the Government of Sudan. There is no doubt that the government is a bad government that is decapitating its opponents and aiding and abetting atrocities in Darfur and also implicated in the imploding civil war in Chad. While the government of Sudan may deserve most of the criticisms against it the obstacles to peace in Abuja are sadly fully manned by the Darfur rebel groups: JEM (Justice for Equality Movement) and SLA (Sudan Liberation Army) and the way in which their international backers continue to treat them with kid gloves and thereby encourage their belligerence.
So fixed are many on the vile nature of the Khartoum government that by definition anybody opposed to it, for whatever reasons, must be good. So desperate have various sponsors of the negotiations become that they seem prepared to get an agreement at all cost. The obsession with delegitimising the Sudan government even while negotiating with it has produced a mixed signal of inertia. At what stage does the illegitimacy of the NIF/CP government become delegitimation of the Sudan state?
These factors have prevented a more objective appreciation of the situation. The painful truth that must be faced is that neither JEM nor SLA (as presently constituted) and the various factions within and between them with their fluid alliances and struggles for personal power and prestige, are in a position to make any deals that will hold for long. How can one justify the enormous expense of having over a hundred rebels in Abuja for weeks and months with only a few of them able to engage in any serious talks and the majority just playing spoilers or peace vultures? They are becoming to Abuja what, for many years, Burundi rebels or Somali factions became to both Arusha and Nairobi respectively: Permanent tourists sponsored by the international community as a kind of direct aid to the local hospitality and leisure industry.
The rebels' attitude makes it much easier for the Sudan government to do nothing other than just watch its ill-prepared bunch and bands of armed rebels. Consequently Khartoum's representatives and commitment remain untested by the mediators and the rebels on many issues because the rebels are too absorbed in their own self-importance to concentrate or focus on the larger picture. While the Sudan government has in Abuja obviously experienced, informed and well connected security and political figures, the rebel groups have chosen to send largely ineffectual, faction-ridden elements. Give or take half a dozen on both sides, all the rebels could be sent back without any impact on the talks.
After all the months of talks one had expected that these rebels would be gaining in experience and acquiring needed skills in engaging in negotiations, but they are rather stagnating and playing reactionary politics with the lives, blood, sweat and suffering of their peoples.
There is no doubt that the cause of Darfur is just but these rebels claiming to represent the suffering masses of Darfur are not doing so justly. Like the Khartoum government they are not legitimate leaders of the people. They are their self-appointed liberators. But unlike many liberation movements in Africa, which had to depend on the people to build and plan with them, these rebels have too many willing regional and international actors indulging their delusions of grandeur.
There are many weaknesses with the AU force in Darfur and also with the mediation framework but clamouring for its replacement with a UN one instead of helping to strengthen it, is a recipe for prolonged dithering on the part of the rebels and the government. A situation in which the rebels seem to have no faith in the AU and implicit confidence in non-African governments and institutions is playing into the hands of the government. The belief by the rebels that the AU will be replaced by a different force and mediators is actually encouraging the rebels to consider their role in Abuja as mere “walk on parts”, since there will be other forums for them outside of Africa for negotiations. By default they are conceding the diplomatic and political terrain in Africa to Khartoum while putting their faith in non-Africans. They obviously have not learnt anything from the crisis of the opposition in Zimbabwe.
While they are not talking with the AU mediators they are flattered to be the darling of many Westerners in the talks. Like the true colonial-minded leaders they are, they feel gratified to be seen with one western diplomat or the other, no matter how lowly placed. It boosts their sense of self-importance. It also gives the diplomats, security operatives and intelligence gatherers masquerading as supporters of negotiations a ringside seat in playing God with African lives. I honestly think the ritual presence of outsiders (especially so called Donor-countries) in these negotiations is, on the whole, negative. They are not putting pressure on the rebels to engage positively and instead seem to be encouraging their belligerence.
The priority should be to make the ceasefire effective, stop the massacres and protect the civilians. These can only be achieved through making the African Union troops more effective and expanding their mandate if possible through the UN Security Council. If this is not possible, the AU should do so by itself and seek the necessary international support to carry out the mandate. This also means that the loopholes in the original ceasefire that are being exploited by the government and its killer groups and the rebels too, need to be plugged. It means putting all pressure on Khartoum and the rebels to sign off the security agreement and be held accountable for it. In the worse case scenario, the AU needs to show political courage and call the bluff of the rebels by calling off the talks and advising them to call back when they are ready for serious talks and agreement. Meanwhile the threat of not giving Khartoum the diplomatic and political honour of hosting the next summit, due in Khartoum in January, should be made clear if the government continues to kill its own people. A government and opposition force whose power depends on mass suffering and death of their own peoples should be denied the company of other Africans and all decent peoples the world over.
* Dr Tajudeen Abdul-Raheem is General-Secretary of the Pan African Movement, Kampala (Uganda) and Co-Director of Justice Africa
* Please send comments to email@example.com
Eritrea: Support appeal to AU to confront Eritrea on human rights violations
On 9 December, the day before International Human Rights Day, CIVICUS and the Eritrean Movement for Democracy and Human Rights issued a letter of appeal, signed by 21 other civil society organisations, urging the member states of the African Union to acknowledge and take action on the Government of Eritrea’s ongoing human rights violations. Since 2001, the Eritrean government has systematically clamped down on the rights to freedom of expression, assembly and association, and denied prisoners of conscience the rights to fair trial and due process of law. There are currently no independent political parties, media, human rights or other critical civil society organisations operating in Eritrea.
Africa in Hong Kong
What we need is to do our work and to use our freedom in all the fields! How long will we wait for someone to do it for us? Our leaders must re-direct the talks in Hong kong.We can't continue to wait for the WTO to solve our famine and agricultural needs.
Human Rights Day
Greetings from Johanesburg. Two comments if I may.
1. Congratulations on a fine magazine, it is an essential part of my reading. Well done to you, your staff, and all your contributers. It opens up my knowledge and understanding of Africa in it's widest sense, through reportage of all it's other struggles, campaigns, and the growing awareness and solidarity of it's peoples.
2. Dr Tajudeen Abdul Raheem's human rights article on Human Rights Day is one of the best (short) expositions that I have read in some time. My congratulations to him and to you for publishing it.
Edited by Binyavanga Wainaina
Published by Kwani Trust, 2005
Distributed by African Books Collective Ltd.
This latest release by the Kwani Trust is the third in a collection of books. Short stories, academic essays, cartoons, photographs, travel writing, poems, journalistic articles – anything goes in the Kwani? compilations. Founded by Kenyan writers, Kwani? is meant to get a new generation of Kenyans interested in reading. Kwani? also provides excellent insight into life in Kenya and other parts of Africa – in its many forms. Included in the anthology are the voices of activists, students, and members of U.K.O.O. F.U.L.A.N.I (a collective of Kenyan hiphop artists involved in social justice); they are joined by a number of established poets and authors. There are serious pieces, tongue in cheek satires, political commentaries, quiet observations on the mundane – each contribution is as diverse as the country which has produced the writers.
There are a number of themes that run throughout the book, but none as strong as the legacies of colonialism. Brilliantly analysed by Professor Wambui Mwangi in “Imperative Matters: Jee, Huu Ni Ungwana? Or The Scramble for Africa,” the story/essay takes the reader on a journey through African post-colonial studies. Debating the effects of colonialism on academics who study Africa in its post-colonial form, this is a brilliant examination of the ironies of African academia.
An interesting journalistic/human rights addition to Kwani? comes in the form of Billy Kahora’s “The True Story of David Munyakei.” The piece tells the story of Munyakei, who, noticing irregularities in the practices of his department, blows the whistle on corruption taking place in Kenya’s Central Bank in the early 1990’s. The story details his life history, focusing primarily on the effects that exposing this corruption have had on him and his family. Finding Munyakei 10 years later parallels this account. Having moved to the Kenyan countryside, Munyakei is living a subsistence lifestyle with his wife and two small children, having been pushed out of Nairobi with few opportunities for work because of his once high profile. He is finally recognised for his contribution to fighting corruption by Transparency International, and is awarded their Integrity Award. They have also started a campaign to have Munyakei’s job reinstated, as well as for the compensation of back pay which was lost as a result of the events. But the story doesn’t have a happy ending – readers are left with no closure – Munyakei still struggles on to provide for his family and regain what has been lost.
“She,” by well-known author M.G. Vassanji, contributes to the short stories included in Kwani? Offering a group of small characters, including a Tanzanian female National Guard, an American Peace Corps volunteer and a Kenyan, “She” tells a love story that unfolds on a posting in a small Tanzanian village where the three are teaching. Unfolding over a series of letters years after they left that village, the characters share what they could not communicate in person.
Kwani? also offers a number of creative and powerful poems. Written by Ed Pavlic, “Checkpoint, North of Lagos,” presents the everyday details of transportation. Bribery and the threat of violence run throughout the lines of this poem, but are treated as if they were normal, or ordinary. The tiny details – a wedding band, a belt buckle – these, rather than the danger of aggression, stand out.
Kwani? first appears to be an intimidating mishmash of writing. The format of the book is loose, imaginative, and follows no prescribed format. But this design makes it what it is – an extremely provocative compilation of young talent, offering insight info Kenyan life and critical thinking.
* Reviewed by Karoline Kemp, a Commonwealth of Learning Young Professional Intern with Fahamu.
Africa: African Colours – online exhibition
African Colours presents its first online exhibition with the theme 'African Cultures, African Colours'. The display is a rich pool of artistic and creative talent, with works of art drawn from Eritrea, Sudan, Uganda, South Africa and Kenya. Participating artists include Thom Ogonga, Kanyiva Kahare, Alex Mbugua, Maggie Otieno, Beatrice Wanjiku, Tabitha wa Mburu, Leon Kuhn, Kevin Kariuki, Fitsum Berhe, Annabelle Wanjiku, Patrick Kirono, Wilson Mwangi, Samuel Githui, Nelly Wanjiru, Veroniccah Muwonge, Mary Ogembo, Yassir Ali, Salah Ammar, Patrick Mukabi, Peterson Kamwathi, David Mwanik and Simon Muriithi.
Poems: Child and Mother
Poems on 16 days of activism against violence
The two poems below were submitted by Ann Kithaka. She wrote: "Please accept two poems to commemorate the 16 days of activism against violence. They are dedicated to the
African Woman, to our mothers, sisters, and daughters, who continue to suffer even in this age of enlightment."
You saw him last night;
Your enraged father;
Half-naked; drunk as a skunk.
Tottering into your room.
Poised on your bedroom doorway;
Baying for blood,
You saw me too;
Cowering at the corner,
Holding into your bedpost;
My red night dress torn in the middle;
Bloody hair piece hanging askew my head;
Face puffy and swollen;
Cowering like the coward that I am,
Entreating him to spare me tonight!
I saw the fear in your eyes,
And that of your elder sister,
Who stared around her in a daze
Wishing the bad dream away.
But the macabre drama
Refused to go away.
She took refuge beneath
Your double Decker bed.
But you, my brave little solder,
You stood firm;
Your plaintive voice
Beseeching him to stop;
STOP DADDY! DON'T BEAT MUM!
He did not stop.
You saw him came after me
Like an enraged bull
You saw him grab my waist,
Jerking me away;
Pulling me this way and that way
Trying to ply me off the bedpost.
How i resisted, protesting loudly
Shouting at the maid
To come to my rescue--
But she slept on,
The impunent girl!
You saw him strike my
Tear streaked face,
And as I reeled in pain
He dragged me off,
Pulling me towards
To complete the battering.
I felt you leap off your bed,
And follow us,
Enraged like a tigress,
In defense of her young one.
I felt him brace himself,
As he steadied himself
For the mighty kick that
Knocked you flat into the cold floor.
Then I saw red!
The adrenaline pumped into my veins
My heart beat wildly,
I started gasping for air;
And in an instant
Reason fled away;
I kicked him hard,
And beat him hard
Crawling at his sweaty face,
Blow upon blow,
Shrieking like a woman possessed.
Did you see him crumble
Like David's Goliath,
As I knocked the wind out of him
Cutting his life-line off?
Did you feel me
Gather you in my flail hands,
Whispering my fright into your ears,
Before we took flight into
The dark night?
Written August 2004
I shall extend you no reprieve,
For your blatant silence,
When they spilt my virginal blood
On alter of tribal misogamy.
Had your indomitable maternal instinct,
Taken a compulsory leave of absence.
Were you a manacled captive,
Your leap, thrust and heave
Insufficient to stop the sacrilege
So callously, wrought on me .
Show me the gag then,
That stopped you from condemning ,
Or even cursing this macabre rite.
Where was the spirited female fraternity?
Could their ingenuity not conjure
A conspiracy to cut only a small bit
Instead of this sadistic butchering
Of all that is soft and best in me,
Leaving my womanhood this gaping scar
This jagged relic of primitivism
That has so eroded my self-esteem
Leaving me vulnerable and insecure.
Could not the council of elders
Be appeased by a surface job,
Could they not mother?
Africa: Race riots, air crashes, harassment of women, fuel shortages and colonial legacies
A number of African bloggers have written on the Australian race riots. MentalAcrobatics from Kenya - Mental Acrobatics (http://www.mentalacrobatics.com/think/archives/2005/Dec/race_riots_in_a.php) discusses the riots in the context of Australia’s “White Australia Policy” which itself is rooted class conflict between “convicts and exclusives”. Australia is well known for its disgustingly abhorrent treatment of indigenous Australians which continues unabated today. It is therefore hardly surprising to hear that race riots have broken out and even less surprising to hear that once again it is Islam that is being blamed yet again. He concludes by pointing out that there is a lesson for Kenyans:
“Remember Mboya's quote on, ‘avoiding the pitfalls of those who run before us?’ Not only on a tribal level but on a racial level as well. For example when you ignore one part of the country while formulating a development agenda justifying it with statements like, ‘well they are not really Kenyan’ disaster will come, did come.”
Chippla’s Weblog - Chippla's Weblog (http://chippla.blogspot.com/2005/12/reforming-nigerian-aviation-sector.html) writes critically on the Nigerian aviation sector following yet another plane crash in which 110 people died, of whom 52 were children. Chippla has already written extensively on the previous two crashes and here he questions “the wisdom in allowing airliners older than 22 years to remain in service in Nigeria”. Apparently there is a law to this effect but it has not been implemented. The post goes on to provide a brief historical overview of the Nigerian airline industry from the early days of Nigerian Airways to the present liberalisation of the domestic airline industry.
“With the rush to liberalize the domestic airline market in Nigeria, common sense seemed to have been thrown to the dustbin. For instance, the airplane which crashed two days ago was not only 32 years old but was actually bought five years ago when it was 27 years old according to this report. Why should a carrier be allowed to buy an airliner this old? Furthermore, the airliner in question, a DC-9, was bought in 2000 at a time when its manufacturer McDonnell Douglas no longer existed (McDonnell Douglas was bought over by Boeing in 1997) which would have made it difficult to obtain spare parts.”
He concludes that temporary solutions should no longer be tolerated and there should be nothing less than an outright ban on aged airliners.
Freedom for Egyptians - Freedom for Egyptians (http://freedomforegyptians.blogspot.com/2005/12/social-freedoms-and-chastity-in-egypt.html) posts about the different responses in Egypt and the US to women being harassed by their partners. Using a female friend as an example, he writes that in Egypt harassment of a woman is not discussed or followed through in order to avoid spoiling her reputation:
“A family might advise their daughter never to mention a harassment issue no matter what because if a would-be groom learns that somebody tried to harass his future wife he might consider not marrying her. The reason is always that if a woman has good manners, she would not have been harassed in the first place. Having a harassed daughter in the family is a lasting stigma, because this means that she did not respect herself. Reporting violated rights is not an issue.”
On the other hand in the US when a woman reports sexual harassment either to her employers or her apartment owners, she is treated with respect and her concerns and fears are taken on board. He goes on to discuss “social freedoms” of women in Egypt and female circumcision both of which are used to control and subjugate women to “complete sexual obedience”.
Unashamedly pro American and libertarian, Rantings of a Sandmonkey - Rantings of a SandMonkey (http://egyptiansandmonkey.blogspot.com/2005/12/europeans-pissed-at-ahhnold-over.html) has a rant about the European media being “mad and disappointed at Arnold for rejecting clemency for Tookie's execution”. He is referring to the execution of convicted murderer and ex-gang leader, Stanley Tookie Williams at midnight on Monday in California. Clearly in favour of capital punishment, Sandmonkey writes in response to calls for clemency by the European media and human rights organisations:
“Let's see if you can follow this with me: Tookie killed people, and he founded a gang that killed people and ruined hundreds if not thousands of lives. The fact that after his arrest, conviction and being put on death row he finally saw the light and wrote a couple of children books against joining gangs, well, it's pretty goddamn convenient and doesn't change what he did. Will executing him bring back those he killed? No. Will it bring some sense of justice to the families of his victims? Sure. Is it an appropriate way to make him pay for his crimes? Nope. He should be executed 4 times, one time for each life he took by his own hands. But since that's impossible, killing him once will have to do. The fact that you can only kill him once, well, that's the travesty of justice. Ok?”
South African blogger, Mzansi Afrika - Mzansi Afrika (http://mzansiafrika.typepad.com/mzansi_afrika/2005/12/fuel_shortages_.html) writes about the recent fuel shortages in South Africa which are causing planes to be delayed and petrol stations to run dry. Apparently the cause of the shortages is being blamed on the change to unleaded fuel as from 1st January 2006, though it is not clear why this should cause fuel shortages. Coming from an oil producing country - Nigeria - where fuel shortages have been an everyday part of life for as long as I can remember, I don’t hold much sympathy for this temporary blip in fuel consumption for South African motorists - unless of course it continues for the next three decades!
Black Star Journal - Black Star Journal (http://blackstarjournal.blogspot.com/2005/12/shame-on-you-george.html) comments on George Weah’s refusal to concede defeat in the Liberian elections:
“The political neophyte lost a runoff to veteran opposition leader and economist Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, despite the fact that most of the political class endorsed him. I'm not sure if Weah is sore about losing to a woman or if his influential entourage is upset about not having access to the spoils of power.”
Given Liberia’s recent violent history, Weah’s macho muscle flexing behaviour is distasteful and irresponsible and transforms his reputation as an “honest” man into a spoiled brat and one who if not careful could lead the country into further violence.
Nigerian blogger in London, Soul On Ice - Soul on Ice (http://obifromsouthlondon.blogspot.com/2005/12/smells-like-biafran-money.html) raises the issue of Biafra which is once again in the news as the Movement for the Actualisation of a Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) calls for strikes in Eastern Nigeria in support of a new Biafra. Referring to the Nigeria civil war (1967-1970) in which a million plus people died including Soul’s own relatives, he concludes that 35 years on little has changed – the legacy of colonialism lives on.
“From Nigeria, Palestine all the way to Pakistan and India wars and tribal tensions flourish. You gotta love the British Colonist. First they enslave us and then leave our lands in ruins. Incapable of unifying because of marked differences. Differences ignored because of the hunger and greed for everything African. Divide and conquer. The art of war. The sun tzu doctrine. For how can you drive out the invader if you are fighting amongst yourselves? The British legacy lives on till this day. Amen.”
* Sokari Ekine produces the blog Black Looks, http://okrasoup.typepad.com/black_looks
* Please send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org
Global: Gender and Human Rights in the Commonwealth
The purpose of this book is to contribute to current policy-making, programme planning and implementation on Gender and Human Rights. It is intended for a wide audience of policy makers, magistrates, judges and lawyers, academics and civil society organisations grappling with these issues, and is published by The Commonwealth organisation. It is also intended as a conceptual and policy-oriented resource for those committed to implementing and supporting the Human Rights goals of the new Commonwealth Plan of Action for Gender Equality 2005-2015.
Global: The economic human rights of women and girls - a justice issue
Systems of power universally limit power and opportunity for women. Like other systems, churches everywhere are only beginning to tackle the systemic reasons for genderism. Some, of both genders, having been helped by some church workers and wise ones in their communities, will have been moved towards understanding and action. Such individual actions are commendable but systemic change in power is required on a very large scale that most have not imagined yet. It will take generations for substantive change, and it could come faster in developing countries, as women and men mobilize there.
Global: U.N. gender equality starts at the top
A leading international women's rights group has launched a campaign calling on the U.N. Security Council to consider a woman candidate for the post of the next secretary-general. With Kofi Annan's tenure as U.N. secretary-general ending next year, Equality Now drew up a list with the names of highly-qualified women leaders who should be considered for the position. "The question is not whether or not women will do a 'better job' at the helm the of U.N., the question is why, since the founding of the U.N. 60 years ago, has a woman never been selected -- or at least publicly considered -- to serve as secretary-general, despite the fact that there are many qualified candidates and despite the promises made by governments to reach gender equality within the U.N.?" said Taina Bien-Aime, executive director of Equality Now.
Nigeria: Women ignore bike ban
Women in the northern Nigerian state of Kano are ignoring a ban stopping them travelling on public motorbike taxis. On Monday (December 12) religious authorities began implementing the ban passed earlier this year. In accordance with Sharia law, men and women are not allowed to travel together on public transport. The women say there are not enough public transport alternatives in the state that adopted Sharia law in 2000.
South Africa: Time for an emergency plan to end gender violence
The man who would be president is accused of rape. A soccer star admits to having sex with an under age girl but claims it was consensual and he did not know her age. His wife is charged with assaulting an alleged lover. A young woman in her prime is kidnapped from college and brutally murdered. A jealous lover is charged with killing a police woman. Two young girls disappear from their home in Soweto. A teacher, found guilty by a disciplinary committee of rape, is still teaching in a school. These stories and many more have dominated the headlines since the last Sixteen Days of Activism campaign that runs each year from 25 November (International Day of No Violence Against Women) to 10 December (Human Rights Day). No matter what the outcome of investigations and court cases still pending, the reality that underpins each of these stories is that gender violence is not abating, according to the Agenda website.
Sudan: Health care oasis develops for women
In post-war Sudan, reproductive health care is becoming an everyday topic and reality in the capital, which hosts Africa's only university for women. Women in rural areas and the war-torn south are largely cut off from such advantages. Here among the dozen or so red brick buildings spread across 20 acres in the ancient city of Omdurman - the northern third of Sudan's capital of Khartoum - sits the remnants of a dream that is beginning to reawaken after decades of war.
Africa/Global: Urgency of Completing Negotiations for Human Rights Council This Year
Civil society statement to UN member states
"We, the undersigned organizations and individuals dedicated to protecting and promoting human rights, are watching with keen interest the discussions now underway to create a new Human Rights Council at the United Nations. We are writing to you now, on the eve of International Human Rights Day and in honor of the victims of human rights violations in every corner of the globe, to urge each of your governments to adopt a General Assembly resolution by the end of this year establishing a Human Rights Council that will be stronger and more effective than the Commission on Human Rights."
Africa: CICC Advocacy and capacity building missions
As the Court’s activities move forward on the ground in Africa, the Coalition for the International Criminal Court continues to raise awareness about the International Criminal Court, build civil society support and push more ratifications and implementation of the Rome Statute in a number of countries in sub-Saharan Africa. For a detailed list of activities in these countries, follow the link.
Egypt: Police killings of voters requires urgent, independent investigation
Amnesty International is calling on the Egyptian government to launch an urgent, independent investigation into police shootings outside polling stations on 7 December which left at least eight people dead and tens more injured. The organization said the investigation should focus on the circumstances in which police used lethal fire and ensure that any officers or other officials responsible for using or ordering excessive force should be brought to justice.
Ghana: Systematic human rights violations still persistent
Extra judicial killings, torture and detention without trial as systematic human rights violation still occurs in Ghana...although we are in a constitutional era, Nana Oye Lithur, Executive Director of the Commonwealth Human Rights Institute (CHRI), on Tuesday (December 13) noted. She said the persistence of human right violations in the post-National Reconciliation Commission (NRC) era called for concern, if another NRC were to be prevented in the future.
Global: Most Wanted Corporate Human Rights Violators of 2005
In honor of international human rights day, Global Exchange has released a report on the “Most Wanted” Corporate Human Rights Violators of 2005. "We developed this list to illustrate that on issues as diverse as assassination, torture, kidnapping, environmental degradation, abusing public funds, violently repressing worker rights, releasing toxins into pristine environments, destroying homes, and causing widespread health problems, it’s not just governments that are to blame. Corporations carry out some of the most horrific human rights abuses of modern times. For the full list, please follow the link."
Rwanda: UN Tribunal gives former Rwandan senior official 25-year sentence for 1994 genocide
The United Nations tribunal on the 1994 Rwandan genocide today (December 13) sentenced retired lieutenant colonel and former member of parliament Aloys Simba to 25 years in prison after finding him guilty on two counts concerning genocide and crimes against humanity. The International Criminal Tribunal on Rwanda (ICTR) said this was the first case it had decided which specifically concerned the massacres of Tutsi civilians in Gikongoro prefecture and the sentence was based on his participation in the massacres at the Murambi Technical School and in Kaduha Parish.
Sudan: Government says rights' group Darfur report "ridiculous"
The Sudanese government dismissed as "ridiculous" a rights groups' report saying officials at the highest level of government were responsible for abuses in Darfur and should be investigated for war crimes. New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) released a report on Sunday (December 11) saying Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir and 20 other government and army officials and militia leaders should be scrutinised for ordering, condoning or carrying out atrocities. HRW said it based its report on eyewitness accounts, government papers and its own investigations. Senior Foreign Ministry official Mutrif Siddig responded on Monday (December 12) saying, "This report is highly politicised. ... This report is ridiculous, it is baseless, it depends on the propaganda and the campaigns of the rebel groups."
Botswana: Refugees do not get ARVs
Because of resource constraints, refugees are not provided with anti-retroviral therapy and they are no longer on the Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission (PMTCT) programme, says Ross Sanoto, the under secretary for political affairs in the Office of the President in Botswana. Initially the expectant mothers had access to PMTCT programme but it was recently halted. Private organisations and individuals willing to help provide refugees with anti-retroviral therapy were free to do so provided they had the capacity to sustain the supplies even when the refugees returned to their countries.
Egypt: Toddler latest to die in Sudanese refugee protest in Cairo
Deng Kual, 4, is the latest person to die as the peaceful protest against the UNHCR enters its third month. The number of protesters has more than doubled since the group decided to stage their demonstration on September 30 near the regional office of UNHCR. The group insists that UNHCR assist in their relocation, saying they can no longer endure the discrimination, inopportunity and abuse they experience in Egypt. However, with the death of Kual and two others before him, the group is now coming under fire, even by activists who are dedicated to defending their rights.
Kenya: Urban refugees in Nairobi: Protection, survival and integration
This article examines the legal status and economic livelihoods of Ethiopian and Somali refugees in Nairobi. The article challenges the Government of Kenya's official position and the popular local perception that refugees are an economic burden and argues instead that most urban refugees are successful, self-sufficient entrepreneurs. By highlighting refugee self-sufficiency in Nairobi, this article lends support to the idea of local integration as a viable, durable solution to their situation of protracted exile.
Liberia/Ghana: Liberian Refugees Still Wary of Returning Home
Last month marked a turning point in the country's turbulent history with the election of Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf as president. But politicians, aid workers, security experts and diplomats agree that the challenges are immense. And many Liberians living in exile have decided to wait and see. One particular concern is the continued presence of jobless ex-combatants throughout Liberia. The refugees are also worried about a lack of assistance upon returning home and a lack of job opportunities in Liberia.
Sudan/DRC: Congolese refugees in South Sudan prepare to go against the flow
The UN refugee agency has finished registering a group of 851 refugees from the DRC who have been in South Sudan for the past 40 years – but now want to go home. The group left the country between 1965 and 1968, in order to escape post-independence chaos and fighting, as well as the coup that brought Mobutu Sese Seko to power. Even though a significant proportion of the group were born in South Sudan and are well integrated into Sudanese society, the majority told UNHCR that they have a strong desire to return to the land of their ancestors.
Sudan: IDPs not safe from violence, aid workers say
Displaced people in the strife-torn western region of Darfur continue to be threatened and harassed even after their arrival in camps, aid workers say. Violence, however, is just one side of the coin. Many IDPs suffer more subtle forms of harassment and abuse that make daily life in the camps a constant misery.
U.K/ Zimbabwe: Asylum seekers in 'cruel limbo'
Thousands of Zimbabweans who have been refused asylum in Britain are staying on to live hand-to-mouth on food and shelter given by strangers because they are terrified to return to their violent homeland. The Zimbabweans' plight follows a move by the government to appeal against a ruling by the Asylum and Immigration Tribunal that there was a 'real risk' of Zimbabweans being given inhuman treatment if they were sent home. The ruling, following a widespread hunger strike by Zimbabweans held in detention centres and a public furore over their return, led to all removals being halted.
Uganda: Relief efforts hampered in one of the world's worst internal displacement crises
The situation endured by most of the nearly 2 million internally displaced people (IDPs) in northern Uganda continues to worsen as rebel attacks have caused fresh human displacement. A recent study conducted by the Ugandan Ministry of Health found that over 1,000 deaths occur each week in the north, with the majority of deaths being attributed to malaria and HIV/AIDS. The study revealed the multitude of protection concerns related to the government’s forced encampment policy as overcrowding in IDP camps has a direct affect on health.
Africa/Global: Civil Society, Democratisation and Foreign Aid
A recently published paper by the Institute of Development Studies summarises the findings of a comparative research project on the contribution of civil society organisations to democratisation in Africa. Drawing primarily on empirical case studies of civil society organisations in South Africa and Uganda, and related material from Ghana, the research examines their ability to influence government policy and legislation through tangible shifts in policy and legislative priorities and their implementation, and to widen the opportunities available to citizens to participate in public affairs, promoting a culture of accountability and challenging the power of the state to dominate decision-making.
DRC: Catholics urge 'No' vote
A senior Roman Catholic has said voters in Democratic Republic of Congo should reject a draft constitution in next Sunday's (December 18) vote. A "No" vote would delay elections due next year under a deal ending DR Congo's five-year civil war. A BBC correspondent in DR Congo says 55% of the population is Catholic and church leaders are seen as influential. Pierre Anatole Matusila said the constitution had not been explained properly to the population. "When I do not know what it is about, I say 'No'," said a statement released by Mr Matusila's Congress of Congolese Catholic laymen. It added that the 'No' would be a sanction against the way politicians use lies and manipulation to rule the country.
Egypt: Vote sets path for change
The Muslim Brotherhood has done better than anyone expected in the Egyptian elections. It has around six times as many seats as it did in the last parliament. Real democracy is still something to dream about for Egyptians who want reform. Turnout was very low. Years of autocracy crushed political life in Egypt and left the people cynical about voting. But from the evidence of these election results, if Egypt has a democratic future, it is Islamist. Officially, the Muslim Brotherhood is a banned organisation. In real life it is tolerated and its candidates stand for parliament as independents.
Ethiopia: Call for suspension of Zenawi regime
Since the May 15, 2005 election, there has been a historic clash between the yearning by the Ethiopian people to found a democratic order, and the derailment of this democratic process by the incumbent regime in order to perpetuate its tyrannical rule through large-scale repression in Ethiopia. The world must take a stand on this clash between the aspiration of the Ethiopian people to make a new history of democracy or be forced by repression to remain in the old history of dictatorship. The stakes are so high, the decision is so urgent, and the risk of letting repression decide the destiny of this old country to slide into a tyrannical order so great, that all in the whole wide world that have power to contribute to name, shame and expel the Meles dictatorship must do it by acting right now. Tomorrow is too late. Words are not enough. Empathy is not enough. Only action and deed count to make a difference.
By the Network of Ethiopian Scholars (NES) - Scandinavian Chapter
December 8, 2005
Title: Urgent Call on the AU, USA, Britain, EU and All Other bodies to Suspend the Meles Regime and Impose Sanctions Until it Stops the Large Scale Repression in Ethiopia.
Since the May 15, 2005 election, there has been a historic clash between the yearning by the Ethiopian people to found a democratic order, and the derailment of this democratic process by the incumbent regime in order to perpetuate its tyrannical rule through large-scale repression in Ethiopia. The world must take a stand on this clash between the aspiration of the Ethiopian people to make a new history of democracy or be forced by repression to remain in the old history of dictatorship. The stakes are so high, the decision is so urgent, and the risk of letting repression decide the destiny of this old country to slide into a tyrannical order so great, that all in the whole wide world that have power to contribute to name, shame and expel the Meles dictatorship must do it by acting right now. Tomorrow is too late. Words are not enough. Empathy is not enough. Only action and deed count to make a difference.
When the Meles regime fearing that the youth may come out in protest due to opposition call for a stay away lightening strike, uses indiscriminately and brutally pre-emptive force and violence to herd 50 thousand by putting them in a malaria infested concentration camp; and when Meles unleashes his troops to shoot to kill; and when the regime is reported to use one razor blade to shave the heads of 50 people at a stretch; something deeply troubling is taking place in the country. The large scale human rights disaster engineered on false pretext in response to what the regime claimed as opposition calls for ‘insurrection’ is intolerable and must invite strict sanctions against the perpetrating regime. What more evidence does the international community want to see? Is not what is happening enough to alert the world to take action? Meles must be in the dock and should not be treated with any diplomatic courtesy. He stands accused for violating human rights, democracy, rule of law, and the constitution. The world court of judgment must be sharp and clear and the message from the world to Meles must be: you cannot be treated with respect when you routinely disrespect, kill, maim, frame and blame the ordinary people of Ethiopia for the ‘crime’ of standing for democracy. The world must say and mean it you are expelled until there is evidence that you have come back to your senses and shown respect for human rights and freedom of association and assembly.
2. Continuous History of human Rights Violations
For seventeen years prior to coming to power and fourteen years after they acquired power, Meles and his inner circle that rule Ethiopia today have been routinely violating human rights. Human Rights Watch reported in 1991 that they came to power with a record of deliberate and systematic violation of human rights behind them. Meles has never stopped the violation of human rights. If anything the scale and scope of the violations has increased in magnitude, cruelty and perfidy. As before, after Meles came to power he has continued the practice of violating human rights on a large scale. The local Human Rights Council have recorded over 3,500 confirmed deaths due to human rights violations by the regime from 1991- 2003. This figure relates only to the reported cases. There are clearly many cases of unreported violations probably as large as the number reported, if not more. Add to this the nearly 100,000 people that died in a war with Eritrea that both sides and the world in general called the “stupidest war” fought somewhat ominously between 1998-2000 at the most inauspicious time of the human race’s entry into the 21st century. 1
Consider also the escalating human rights violations after 2003 until now. What is striking with the new violations is the degree of cruelty is way beyond anything seen before. The current rulers anticipate and target a population group such as what they designate as unemployed youth, go after them, beat them, shoot them and cart them away into malaria infested areas like the Dedessa concentration camp and expose them to health risks. As a consequence thousands of young people, students and urban youth have contracted malaria. The rulers have also used the same blade to shave a number of people exposing them again to HIV/AIDS health hazards. The number altogether can run roughly into nearly 200,000 people killed. There is a case here probably to answer for crime against humanity.
3. Strange the Donors Have Always Looked Away?
What is remarkable is that all along Meles and his group have been welcomed by the donor community in both periods despite the fact the donors knew perfectly well their crimes. The donors too congratulated the Ethiopian people for their historic turn out in the May 15, 2005 election. And when election fraud became evident and key independent observers corroborated it, the donors went ahead any way supporting a regime with a trademark and history of routine human rights violations.
The regime launched the election in May to buy “respectability” more from the donors to attract further aid than from any commitment to human rights, democracy and good government. Meles entered the election certain that he would win. According to the opposition and a number of independent observers, he lost the election with a landslide. He panicked at this news, and true to form, resorted to unleashing force and violence on the people and nation. The June 8 massacre ensued with thousands jailed, and a reported 46 people killed. Meles’s drama to play the democratic game came with the huge cost in blood, tears and sorrow to the Ethiopian people.
Mr. Blair invited Meles to Gleneagles at the G8 giving him clear signal that large scale repression against the Ethiopian people, whose only crime is to say no to a system of fascistic governance that very much mirrors the now defunct apartheid rule in South Africa, is okayed. If it were Mr. Mugabe, Mr. Blair will have been hollering mad to get him evicted. But Meles has been selected arbitrarily as a poster boy, a darling who has been invited to the Blair Commission for Africa on dubious criteria. By comparison what has Mugabe done? We have not heard he sent 50,000 youth into a malaria-infested concentration camp? Has Mr. Blair seen the report on Channel 4 on the gross violations of human rights that is going on right now in Ethiopia? What is the reason for the double standard by Mr. Blair?
4. The Leopard Never Changes its spot.
Meles was at the head of a circle of narrow-minded persons who have a record of despising the Ethiopian people or Ethiopia as a nation first in order to rule it over. They came with an ideology of nihilism by propagating Ethiopia is a “fiction”, and calling further Ethiopia as an ‘invention.’ At a time when the Ethiopian people manifested a collective will in the May 2005 election, Meles and his inner group ruling over Ethiopia were enraged. The election brought the idea of Ethiopia as a nation, people and country to the forefront. This went against everything they fought for. They plotted to repulse the democratic movement with force and violence. 90 percent of the voting population turned out to voteindeed making this a founding democratic moment in the nation’s long history. It was the first of its kind. How selfish and cruel can Meles and his clan be then, when they stole the historic moment and imposed blood, tears and tyranny on the nation? Imagine if in 1994 the South African victory over apartheid has gone off the rails. It would have been an unimaginable loss. In the great historical clash between democracy and tyranny, Meles chose squarely to impose tyranny over the people. What has not changed is his authoritarian constant behaviour. Indeed the leopard never changes its spot, whatever the pretences may be.
5. Why Poachers of Democracy will not be its Gamekeepers?
Meles and his inner core of Tigrayan narrow ethnicists came to power with a dual strategy. Their Manifesto in 1976 called either to form a separate greater Tigray state by encroaching and stealing real estate from the neighbouring provinces of Wollo and Gondar or to control the rest of Ethiopia in order to protect what they regarded Tigrayan interests. When they found it was feasible for them to control the rest of Ethiopia, they decided to use the other strategy to rule over the rest of Ethiopia. The latter strategy has nothing to do with any commitment to see Ethiopia develop and enshrine enduring democratic institutions. No, they tried to control Ethiopia and impose power and resource allocation by using the pernicious discriminatory criteria of ethnicism. At the heart and soul of their current cruel repression lies the politics of ethnicism where what is clearly emerging is that the landslide defeat that they forcibly reversed is related to their deep fear that they will lose control over Ethiopia in order to continue their discriminatory policies for the favoured region one of Tigray against regions with large populations in Ethiopia. The very nemesis of democracy in Ethiopia is the ethnic politics of controlling the majority in order to discriminate for the minority rule in Ethiopia. There is now open discussion that Meles & Co would prefer more to destroy Ethiopia than give up power through the free votes of freely expressing citizens. At the heart of the gross human rights violations is this bankrupt ethnic-racist policy of a minority regime afraid of the majority’s assertion of the right to self-govern by using the opportunities open through the first multiparty election ever held in the country’s history? It is an axiomatic law that any fair and free election in Ethiopia would never bring to power Meles, his group or party. No wonder 75 % of his cabinet were deselected in this highly rigged May, 2005 election. Imagine if the election has been free and fair, all would not be elected.
When Meles repeats ad nauseam Ethiopia cannot survive without ‘democracy’, he means precisely he cannot survive in power without entrenching ethnic discrimination for the allocation of resources and political power in Ethiopia. He means basically the status quo must not be changed. Over the last 14 years using bountiful donor money of over 20 billion dollars, he has managed to create a dense clientele ethnic based ruling class drawn from many ethnic groups who have developed a distinct interest and are now willing to destroy the country rather than lose their privileged existence. Despite this massive donor aid, those needing food- aid have grown from 7 million to 12 million. Poverty production is taking place and not poverty alleviation. Donor money has created scoundrels that are anti- Ethiopian with contempt for the poor. We have no leaders committed to serve the people with public ethics, sense and policy.
Meles is now regretting the day when he bowed to the pressure of donors to accept multiparty election and international observers. Meles was also attracted by the large budget to fund the election that he received from donors. It is not any commitment derived from principle that made him to permit a relatively open multi-party election in the pre May 15,2005 period. It is the expectation of no threat to winning hands down by playing the multi-party election game that tempted him. And when the losses became big, he went for criminalising the opposition and engineered the crises by accusing the opposition of fomenting “insurrection” and committing “ treason.
Ethiopia has never seen such a reasonable opposition so committed to human rights, democracy, and good governance. The opposition tried to accommodate the wishes of the regime. They called for dialogue; for a national transitional Government, for an election recount or re-run of the election, and even abandoned all these and simply asked for fair procedures in parliament. The regime refused and preferred to criminalise the opposition and arrest them when the latter was left with no option but to call the people to use the right of assembly enshrined in the constitution.
6. The Essence of Minority Control is Discrimination and Dictatorship not Democracy
Unless the international community understands the context and logic of how a minority wants to control a majority by creating discrimination and division as a means of rule, they would never be able to understand Meles and his choices more to murder than take the open invitation of the people and opposition to enter into dialogue. What emerges is that Meles is not prepared to play by a rule of the normal democratic game that would make him exit graciously in the event of massive electoral defeat that he faced on May 15, 2005. Only when the rule of the game makes him a winner is he prepared to accept democracy, not when he loses. This makes it crystal clear that this regime would not submit to the will of the people now or for the foreseeable future. There is nothing more that Meles fears than the fear that his minority rule would succumb to the rule of the majority if Meles and his core allies do not divide by using a frame and blame tactic to keep apart particularly the majority population of the Amara and Oromo people. Nor does Meles ever want to see any alliance between the parties representing these communities. He knows unity of these two communities will spell the end of his minority rule as the majority vote of the South African black population ended the white minority regime in that country. The repeated threat of Rwanda genocide in Ethiopia logically follows from Meles’s own preference to create a bloodbath rather than lose power through democratic election. Meles has been clear all along the alternative to losing power for him is violence against the opposition and the people. He is not prepared to sacrifice minority rule and ethnic discrimination of resource and political allocation for the sake of democracy. If the world quickly wakes up to his devious strategy and stops funding his now evident large-scale repression by evicting him from all the global organisations that he managed to sneak into, the better would be the investment for human rights and democracy in Ethiopia.
7. Concluding Remark
We call on the African Union, The UN, the EU, USA and UK and others in the world community to support the Ethiopian people in their struggle for human rights, democracy and good government. And the international community must realise that Meles the poacher cannot be the gamekeeper of human rights, democracy, rule of law and good Government. We call the international community to recommend the strict application of targeted punitive measures and sanctions against the regime’s key figures, freezing their back accounts, putting travel bans and assisting with the struggle to bring them to justice for gross violations of human rights. All opposition leaders and all other prisoners must be released immediately and unconditionally. All the Ethiopian Gulags from Dedessa to other parts of the country must be removed. All freedoms must be respected. The donors must stop supplying billions to Meles until he releases all prisoners and accounts for all the murdered, the unlawfully jailed and the bullied. The world must stand up and be counted and support Ethiopia and the people at this critical hour in the country’s long history.
Professor Mammo Muchie, Chair of NES-Scandinavian Chapter
Berhanu G. Balcha, Vice- Chair of NES-Scandinavian Chapter
Tekola Worku, Secretary of NES-Scandinavian Chapter
9220- Aalborg East
Tel. + 45 96 359 813 or +45 96 358 331
Fax + 45 98 153 298
Cell: +45 3112 5507
Email: email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
Ivory Coast: Ivorian PM confident on election, disarmament
Newly elected Ivorian Prime Minister Charles Konan Banny on Sunday said he was confident that the task of organising new elections as well as disarming fighters in the divided west African state would be met. Banny, who is continuing consultations both within and outside the Ivory Coast met South African President Thabo Mbeki on Sunday for talks on his recent appointment as well as challenges within his troubled country. "If I did not think I could help to solve that important question I would not have embarked on this mission," Banny said in response to a question on whether he thought elections by October next year and the disarmament of rebels and militia were possible.
Kenya: Let mass rallies for snap elections begin
Just like a dog which returns to its vomit, the emergent Dictator Mwai Emilio Kibaki of Kenya has re-appointed thieves, traitors, opportunists, murderers and tribal chieftains in a "New look Cabinet" that has met with strong and immediate condemnation country wide. After losing the November 21st Referendum, dissolving the Cabinet and keeping the country waiting for two weeks apparently to "consult" with former Dictator Daniel arap Moi, Imperialist representatives in Kenya, corrupt Mount Kenya Mafia cartel and other political rags, KESDEMO believes that Kenya does not have a President at Nairobi State House but a mental patient who should be examined urgently by independent Doctors.
Liberia: Weah rally sparks clashes
Police in Liberia have clashed with supporters of George Weah, who was defeated in last month's election. Police fired tear gas at the protesters in a suburb of the capital, Monrovia. Violence began after Mr Weah addressed several hundred supporters, alleging the election had been rigged and saying his rival would not be sworn in. Ex-football star Mr Weah lost to economist Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf in the polls, judged fair by most observers. Mr Weah told hundreds of supporters at a rally on Sunday (December 11) that he would block January's inauguration of Mrs Johnson-Sirleaf as president.
Malawi: Catching up with Malawi's female legislators
More than a year ago, Inter Press Service (IPS) profiled several of the women who had won seats in Malawi's Parliament, something that enabled them to break new ground in the drive to make the legislature less of male-dominated forum. This month, IPS decided to catch up with some of the women again. Had their experiences in Parliament lived up to expectations or down to apprehensions? What lessons could they pass on to other women who had their sights set on becoming parliamentarians?
Nigeria: Civil society challenge to dictatorship
Statement by human rights activists and CSO representatives on the third term agenda
"We, the undersigned human rights activists and representatives of various Nigerian civil society organizations hereby resolve as follows: To launch a campaign of action and challenge of the looming and emerging dictatorship in Nigeria. As we have done in similar circumstances in the past, we as civil society organizations, stand united and will defend our democracy and our fatherland. We are returning to the trenches and to the barricades from where we fought military dictatorship to a standstill, to once again fight another kind of dictatorship, dressed in civilian garbs."
Issued: Thursday December 8, 2005
Lagos and Abuja, Nigeria
Statement By Human Rights Activists and Representatives of Civil
Society On the Political Agenda of President Olusegun Obasanjo
We, the undersigned activists and representatives of Nigerian civil
society and various human rights organizations, concerned about the
state of democracy in our fatherland;
Worried that Nigeria appears to be on the drift to anarchy,
lawlessness and break down of rule of law and due process under
President Olusegun Obasanjo, and that like a bad dream, the specter of
a sit-tight dictatorship looms in Nigeria once again, less than eight
years after the brutal dictatorship of General Sani Abacha;
Concerned, that having waited patiently in the hope that President
Olusegun Obasanjo on whose behalf opportunistic and sycophantic
messengers have being mounting a third term campaign, would intervene
decisively to re-assure Nigerians that it is not true that he intends
to abuse and desecrate the Constitution;
Worried that it has become clear that the third term agenda is no
longer a joke, but a grand design by undemocratic forces to fritter
away our hard-won democracy, for which some of our colleagues and
scores of other Nigerians died;
Convinced, that with "all the President's men" now in the forefront of
this unholy campaign, it is quite clear that it is a plan being
executed at the behest of President Obasanjo or, at the very least,
with his blessings;
Further convinced, that it is a monumental tragedy in our time, that
the greatest beneficiary of this democracy would seek to sacrifice it
all, at the altar of personal ambition;
Recounting that the late General Sani Abacha took us down this same
road only in recent years, when he manipulated every aspect of the
political programme to seek to achieve his ambition to remain in
office as President after the end of his transition programme;
Noting the parallels that exist between General Sani Abacha's
political machinations and manipulations, and President Olusegun
Obasanjo's ongoing corruption of the present political system;
Particularly, the manipulation of the major political parties, causing
divisions in their ranks and propping up individuals who are amenable
to his undemocratic ambition. And the manipulation of the ruling
Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), through a membership re-registration
exercise and holding of party congresses even in violation of court
orders, and whose sole objective is to oust from the party all
dissenting voices and opposition to President Obasanjo's third term
Noting Further, the manipulation of the constitutional reform process
to make it possible for President Obasanjo to "serve" a third term,
through a selective amendment of the Constitution and reports of plans
to corrupt the legislative arms of government and the States' and
National Assembly levels, aimed mainly at extending President
And curiously, the failure of the Independent Corrupt Practices and
Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) and the Economic and
Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), to investigate and act on these
reports, when both bodies are usually quick to investigate
allegations against the President's "enemies" or former lackeys who
have fallen out of favour;
Anxious, that Nigeria, does not again descend into arbitrary and
undemocratic rule in view of the increasing intimidation and
harassment of dissenting voices and opposing views across the country
and repression of the media, by the Intelligence and law enforcement
agencies, who have become ready tools for despotism;
Further anxious, that the credibility and integrity of the
anti-corruption process have been seriously compromised through their
use as political weapons of intimidation and elimination of opponents
of President Obasanjo;
We, the undersigned human rights activists and representatives of
various Nigerian civil society organizations hereby resolve as
1. To launch a campaign of action and challenge of the looming and
emerging dictatorship in Nigeria. As we have done in similar
circumstances in the past, we as civil society organizations, stand
united and will defend our democracy and our fatherland. We are
returning to the trenches and to the barricades from where we fought
military dictatorship to a standstill, to once again fight another
kind of dictatorship, dressed in civilian garbs.
2. We immediately resolve to boycott participation in all events
including public hearings being orgainsed by the Senator Ibrahim Mantu
led committee in the National Assembly to amend the Constitution.
3. We further ask the current National and State Houses of
Assembly across the country, to defer requests and all moves to amend
the Constitution until the Electoral Law is passed and a free, fair
and transparent election is conducted in 2007, in line with the
current 1999 Nigerian Constitution.
4. We call on President Olusegun Obasanjo to publicly, clearly and
unequivocally announce that he will not seek to amend the current
Nigerian Constitution, and if asked will not accept to remain in
office under any circumstance, as President of the Federal Republic of
Nigeria, beyond May 29, 2007.
5. We urge all Nigerians to be alert to the clear and present
danger facing Nigeria and to stand with us for the sake of our
future, the future of our children and our country, and in opposition
to dictatorship and arbitrary rule.
6. We will wage a vigorous and sustained battle and will not be
deterred by the harassment and intimidation of our members, the signs
of which are already evident.
1. Dr. Beko Ransome-Kuti - Center for Constitutional
2. Olisa Agbakoba - HURILAWS
3. Clement Nwankwo - Constitutional Rights Project
4. Mike Ozekhome - Universal Defenders of Democracy
5. Richard Akinnola - Centre for Free Speech
6. Festus Okoye - Human Rights Monitors
7. Priscilla Achakpa - Women Environmental Project
8. Edetaen Ojo - Media Rights Agenda
9. Bamidele Aturu - Democratic Alternative
10. Abiodun Aremu - United Action for Democracy
11. Y. Z. Ya'u - CITAD
12. Dominic Ogankpa - Justice Dev. and Peace Commission
13. Olanrewaju Suraju - Citizens Assistance Centre
14. Santos Ayuba Laraba - League for Human Rights
15. Gad Peter - League for Human Rights
16. Mma Odi - Rural Women
Empowerment and Development Network
17. Fabian Okoye - Global Rights
18. Femi Falana - West African Bar Association.
19. Lanre Arogundade - International Press Centre
20. Dr.Jibrin Ibrahim - Global Rights
21. Tunde Aremu - International Press Centre.
22. George Mary - Lagos.
23. Ndubuisi Obiorah - Center for Law and Social Action
24. Innocent Chukwuma - Transition Monitoring Group
25. Titus Mann - Civil Liberties Organisation
26. Ibrahim Muazzam - Center for Research and
27. Mimidoo Achakpa - Women's Right to Education Program
28. Clement Wasah - Comm. Action for
29. Mohammed G. Wuyo - Borno Coalition for Dev. And Progress
Sierra Leone: Politician’s bid to form rival party makes waves
The leader of a breakaway political party is making waves in Sierra Leone as the country begins to look ahead to presidential elections and watches the final exit of a once 17,500-strong UN peacekeeping mission. Charles Francis Margai was arrested on conspiracy charges this week, sparking a fiery reaction from supporters in the capital, Freetown, with one vowing people would "cause havoc" if the presidential hopeful remains in detention.
Tanzania: Awaiting outcome of poll
Initial results in Tanzania's parliamentary and presidential elections are expected to be announced shortly following Wednesday's (December 14) poll. Turnout was high and the only reports of violence came from Zanzibar, where opposition protesters were hurt in clashes with police. The governing Chama Cha Mapinduzi party is expected to retain its majority. The election had been delayed for several weeks following the death of a vice-presidential candidate. Campaigning ended on a dramatic note on Tuesday, when presidential frontrunner Jakaya Kikwete collapsed at a rally.
Uganda:All should take stand on Besigye trial
According to an opinion in a local Ugandan daily, the events of the last couple of weeks (an incumbent president triggering a legal process resulting in the arrest and incarceration of his leading opponent in an election to be held within five months on arguably dubious charges) belong in the annals of infamy of Ugandan political history.
Address by the President of South Africa, Thabo Mbeki, to the Parliament of the Republic of Uganda
Zambia: Civil society takes on law makers
Zambian civil society groups intend to start a nation-wide media campaign to discredit legislators from the ruling Movement for Multiparty Democracy who voted against a law to form a constituent assembly for adopting the country's fourth national constitution. “We are coming up with what we call a 'shame' list, which is basically a list of the 65 Members of Parliament who rejected the constituent assembly motion demanded by the people,” declared Oasis Forum chairman Reverend Japheth Ndhlovu. The Oasis Forum, an influential civil society group, also led the fight that defeated former president Frederick Chiluba's bid for a third term.
Zimbabwe: Mugabe party endorses crackdown
Zimbabwe's ruling party has held its annual conference, backing government moves to clamp down on critics. The resolutions were yet more bad news for the country's political opposition, civil rights groups and other critics. The Zanu-PF meeting called for action against civic groups and NGOs it said were sponsored by Western countries. It urged the government to implement a constitutional amendment allowing the authorities to confiscate the passports of those who it sees as a threat.
Africa/Global: Parliamentarians against corruption
The Global Organization Against Corruption (GOPAC) is an international network of parliamentarians dedicated to good governance and combating corruption throughout the world. Their website is intended to be a portal for parliamentarians and others, interested in joining forces to fight corruption and promote good governance.
Global: Transparency International calls for stronger anti- corruption leadership
The world marked International Anti-Corruption Day on 9 December, two years after the historic signing of the United Nations Convention against Corruption in Merida, Mexico. Releasing the Global Corruption Barometer 2005, Huguette Labelle, the new Chair of Transparency International argued that "Stronger leadership is essential if corruption is to be defeated".
Kenya: Dropping of graft-tainted minister in new line-up said to appease donors
Dr Christopher Ndarathi Murungaru's loss of a cabinet position appears to be President Kibaki's way of tipping his hat to the donor community as well as anti-corruption lobbyists. Dr Murungaru, the MP for Kieni in Nyeri District [central Kenya], was seen as a close ally of the president. Dr Murungaru served in Mr Kibaki's first cabinet as the minister in the Office of the President in charge of Internal Security. After allegations of corruption, many of which seemed to point at his management of the ministry's affairs, he was dropped early this year and shifted to the less glamorous Transport Ministry where he swapped positions with Mr John Michuki.
Nigeria: Nigeria to return bail-jumping governor to Britain
Nigeria will return the impeached governor of oil-producing Bayelsa state to Britain, where he jumped bail to escape a money-laundering trial, President Olusegun Obasanjo said on Saturday. A court in London has charged Diepreye Alamieyeseigha with laundering 1.8 million pounds. Alamieyeseigha fled Britain last month and returned to Nigeria, where as governor he enjoyed immunity from prosecution. But on Friday the Bayelsa state assembly stripped him of his immunity by impeaching him, and he was immediately arrested.
Sao Tome and Principe: ‘serious flaws’ in award of oil contracts
The Attorney General’s Office of Sao Tome and Principe says it has found “serious flaws” in the way that contracts were awarded to oil companies to explore offshore waters shared with Nigeria. It said in a report published on December 9 that several of the companies chosen six months ago to explore the Joint Development Zone (JDZ) shared by Sao Tome and Nigeria lacked the technical know-how and the financial muscle necessary to carry out the work.
South Africa: The good and the bad in the fight against corruption
South Africa has made progress in the fight against corruption, but more needs to be done to eradicate the vice, say analysts - this as the world marks International Anti-Corruption Day, Friday. "There have been efforts within government to clean up corruption," Ayesha Kajee of the South African Institute of International Affairs, a Johannesburg-based think-tank, told IPS. She pointed to the response to claims of graft in a multi-million dollar arms deal, as well as to an oil scandal and a parliamentary travel voucher scam.
Africa/Global: PRSPs and aid
In spite of recent initiatives to harmonise donor practices and align aid behind a PRSP-based partnership between developing country governments and donors, there is no systematic monitoring by developing country governments, at an individual country level, of whether donors are living up to their pledges on aid quality and support for the PRSP framework, or behaving consistently across countries. To redress this situation, Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPCs) have led the preparation of a methodology to enable them to assess the quality of aid they receive as part of the process of designing overall national debt and new financing strategies. This document sets out the HIPCs' findings and recommendations.
Africa/Hong Kong: Red Carpet for Delegates, Harassment for Activists
After months of rumours that opponents of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) will wreak havoc on the city, activists here say Hong Kong authorities have launched a targeted campaign of harassment. Trouble for activists could start right at Hong Kong airport, where authorities have rolled out a red carpet for ministerial delegates and high officials. Among those taken aside for interrogation were French farmer and activist Jose Bove, three Thai campaigners and four prominent Filipinos - including leaders of the country's left-wing political movement, its largest feminist organisation and a prominent trade union leader.
Africa: African members of parliament issue statement on WTO
"We, Parliamentarians from Africa attending the Sixth Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), being elected representatives of the people of Africa, and faithful to our oversight role, have keenly followed the process of multilateral trade negotiations since the failed fifth MC in Cancun in 2003. We have noted with concern that while the Doha Ministerial Declaration’s Paragraph 4 explicitly calls for the needs and interests of developing countries to be at the heart of the Doha Work Programme (DWP), vested interests in powerful countries of the North have hijacked the process and content of the DWP and is determined to deliver a “Round for Free” to developed Members of the WTO. We insist that the development concerns in all aspects of negotiations that have been raised by African Members and other developing countries must be addressed and explicitly agreed upon (with clear targets, indicators and timelines) as an integral part of the negotiations."
Key sites for keeping updated on events in Hong Kong
- Third World Network Africa
- Focus on the Global South
- Third World Network
- Hong Kong People's Alliance on the WTO
- WTO: Derail, Dismantle, Destroy
Africa: PAP shows some resolve
When the Pan African Parliament (PAP) began its fourth sitting late last month, it seemed that the pomp and ceremony accompanying the unveiling of the assembly's new chambers would not be matched by any increase in the initiative displayed by its members. But, after a first week spent largely in discussions of protocol, procedure and budget, the continent's parliamentarians demonstrated a sudden and promising resolve to beef up the institution.
Africa: The myth of market liberalisation exposed
A look at Vietnam and Mexico exposes the myth of market liberalisation according to a recent article by Larry Elliott, economics editor of the Guardian. Titled "Two countries, one booming, one struggling: which one followed the free-trade route?" the article argues that the chances of securing a comprehensive trade deal are non-existent, with the talks in Hong Kong now really about damage limitation and the apportionment of blame.
Global: Bush plans overhaul of US foreign aid system
President George W. Bush’s administration is drawing up plans to carry out the biggest overhaul of the US foreign aid apparatus in more than 40 years in an attempt to assert more political control over international assistance, according to officials and aid experts. The proposed reorganisation could lead to a takeover by the State Department of the independent US Agency for International Development. Critics in the aid community fear the reorganisation will lead to a politicisation of foreign assistance.
Global: IMF approves $4.8bn debt relief
The International Monetary Fund has approved a $4.8bn (£2.8bn) plan to cancel the debts of 20 of the world's poorest countries. It is part of the multilateral debt relief initiative agreed by leaders of the G8 industrialised states last July. With the World Bank and IMF they set a target of writing off $55bn of debts from the world's poorest nations. Around 70% of the debt is owed to the World Bank, while the rest is owed to the IMF and African Development Bank. The World Bank is expected to announce a $38bn debt relief package later in December.
Global: Rogue State? US Spurns Treaty After Treaty
In 1989, the United Nations put forth the Convention on the Rights of the Child -- a treaty that protects the civil and economic rights of children around the world. To date, 192 nations have ratified the treaty. Only two have not. A decade later, just seven countries voted against the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC), an independent body created to prosecute genocide and crimes against humanity. And in October of this year, members of the U.N. Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) voted overwhelmingly to pass a new treaty aimed at protecting cultural diversity worldwide. Only two states voted against it. The United States is the only nation to oppose all three. And the list of U.N. treaties and conventions that Washington has not signed or has actively opposed goes on and on.
Global: The abolition of textile quotas is causing social catastrophe
The liberalisation of world trade in textiles has turned the sector on its head and had a devastating social cost, according to a report published on 6 December by the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions entitled ‘Stitched Up: How those imposing unfair competition in the textiles and clothing industries are the only winners in this race to the bottom’. As anticipated, China is cashing in on the unfair competition it imposes on its developing country rivals, with exports to the United States and Europe rising by 70% and 45% respectively between January and April 2005. China ’s advantage is mainly due to the unbridled exploitation of the workforce, characterised - amongst other things - by abnormally low salaries, excessive working hours and frequently intolerable health and safety conditions.
Global: Who's round the table?
This online document addresses ways in which civil society can participate in aid. The report reviews civil society's involvement in aid and considers a number of country case studies where theory has been put into practice. The authors note that many development actors are currently formulating their own rationales for widening participation in aid coordination processes. These rationales are founded in arguments for democratic representation, efficiency of aid, prioritisation of poverty eradication, good governance and a rights-based approach to development.
Southern Africa: South Africa's fuel shortage hits neighbours
The fuel shortage in South Africa has started affecting supplies in neighbouring countries dependant on exports from the regional economic power and some petrol stations in Namibia, Botswana, Lesotho, Swaziland and Mozambique have already run dry. Airlines have been unable to refuel and the shortage has caused flight delays.
Africa/Global: A guide to sexual and reproductive health rights
This guide, published by the Swedish Association for Sexuality Education (RFSU), provides a comprehensive introduction to the political debate surrounding sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR). It discusses the changes in the approach to population issues that emerged from the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development, emphasising the conference's explicit recognition of reproductive rights as human rights. Countries pledged to reduce maternal mortality, fight HIV and AIDS, and improve people's sexual and reproductive health and rights. The guide discusses the controversy over the goals that were adopted and the reservations expressed by many countries.
Ivory Coast: Family unified in fight against HIV
They could be any ordinary couple in their 30s with a daughter named Sylvie, who just celebrated her fifth birthday. But the reality behind the picture-perfect smiles of Paul and his wife, Viviane, is grim. Viviane and Sylvie are HIV-positive, and Paul, a 37-year-old with a degree in medicine, can't stop wondering why he never contracted the illness. "Is there any research done on couples like us?"
Lesotho: Land where everyone from the King down has AIDS test
The African kingdom of Lesotho, a nation afflicted by one of the worlds worst AIDS pandemics, is to become the first country in the world to offer HIV tests to its entire population. Its ministers and public health officials will announce a 12 million (7 million) programme this week to test the 1.9 million people living in the mountainous enclave within South Africa for the human immunodeficiency virus. In a groundbreaking move for African healthcare, King Letsie III of Lesotho is likely to become the first monarch to take the test publicly.
Mozambique: Guardian Examines Challenges To Reducing Mother-to-Child HIV Transmission
London's Guardian on Saturday examined the hurdles Mozambique is facing in trying to reduce mother-to-child HIV transmission. About 35,000 infants contract the virus from their mothers annually in Mozambique, and only 3% of women in the country were tested for HIV in 2003, the Guardian reports. Clinics are able to reduce the risk of vertical HIV transmission by giving pregnant women and their newborns the antiretroviral drug nevirapine and by performing caesarean-section deliveries.
Nigeria: African Nations Need To Provide Comprehensive Care to HIV-Positive People, MSF Says
Nigeria and other African nations need to provide comprehensive health care, including antiretroviral medications, to HIV-positive people at no cost in order to prevent treatment interruptions and drug resistance, Medecins Sans Frontieres said on Tuesday at a news conference, Reuters reports. MSF this week at the 14th International Conference on AIDS and Sexually Transmitted Infections in Africa in Abuja, Nigeria, released a study that surveyed 122 HIV-positive patients who came to an MSF clinic in Lagos, Nigeria, after receiving treatment from other clinics or hospitals.
Nigeria: ICASA Conference Attendees Debate Abstinence Education as Prevention Method for HIV
Experts last week said the subject of teaching abstinence to prevent HIV/AIDS led to debate among many attendees at the 14th International Conference on AIDS and Sexually Transmitted Infections in Africa, which took place in Abuja, Nigeria, Agence France-Presse reports. About 7,500 representatives, primarily from African nations, attended the six-day conference, which had the theme "HIV/AIDS and the Family".
South Africa: The impact of AIDS - new report
An AIDS epidemic as severe as the one plowing through South Africa will change society. But how and along what lines? 'Buckling: The impact of AIDS in South Africa', tackles the question in distinctive and critical-minded fashion – and arrives at disquieting and surprising conclusions. A detailed, multidisciplinary review of research evidence, this short book adopts a unique perspective which reveals more clearly the contingency and complexity of the epidemic's effects. It shows how conventional conceptions of AIDS impact (and programme responses) tend to reflect dominant ideological fixations – particularly the overriding emphasis on productive processes and economic growth, governance and security – and how the wellbeing of humans typically is refracted through those preoccupations.
14 December 2005
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Centre for the Study of AIDS
University of Pretoria
Tel: +27 12 420 4410 / +27 83 580 9138
Fax: +27 12 420 4395
A path-breaking new publication on the impact of AIDS in South Africa
Pretoria – An AIDS epidemic as severe as the one plowing through South Africa will change society. But how and along what lines? Buckling: The impact of AIDS in South Africa, a new publication by Hein Marais, tackles the question in distinctive and critical-minded fashion – and arrives at disquieting and surprising conclusions.
A detailed, multidisciplinary review of research evidence, this short book adopts a unique perspective which reveals more clearly the contingency and complexity of the epidemic’s effects. It shows how conventional conceptions of AIDS impact (and programme responses) tend to reflect dominant ideological fixations – particularly the overriding emphasis on productive processes and economic growth, governance and security – and how the wellbeing of humans typically is refracted through those preoccupations. Many accounts of AIDS impact, Marais demonstrates, are misdirected. They ignore the distribution of risk and responsibility in society, and skirt the interplay of the epidemic with the dynamics that determine the distribution of power, resources and entitlements. As a result, they under¬play the inordinate extent to which the epidemic’s burdens are being deflected onto, and concentrated among the least-privileged sections of society – causing even harsher polarization and petrifying social arrangements. Commonplace under¬standings of the epidemic’s impact and of the kinds of strategies that could contain and repair the damage, Buckling argues, must be revised.
The Introduction of Buckling positions South Africa’s epidemic and its anticipated impact in a wider historical and ideological context. Chapter Two (‘Gauging the epidemic’) examines the epidemiological evidence and the controversies surrounding it.
Chapter Three (‘Ground Zero’) reviews and critiques the cus¬tomary narratives of AIDS impact on households, of orphan-hood and of home-based care, and shows how the epidemic is accentuating and hardening some of the most grievous features of society. Chapter Four (‘Fall-out’) pans wider to scan and critique the popularized images of societal impact, offers an alternative analysis of AIDS impact in South Africa, and proposes a minimum social package to reduce the damage.
To download this new publication please visit: http://www.csa.za.org/filemanager/fileview/101/
About the author:
Hein Marais is a South African writer and journalist. He is the author of, among other publications, the book South Africa: Limits to Change – the political economy of transition (Juta/Zed, 2001) and the multidisciplinary review of HIV/AIDS policy in South Africa, To the Edge (2000), co-author of the United Nations‘ 2002 Report on the Global HIV/AIDS Epidemic (2002), and has been principal author of the annual United Nations’ AIDS Epidemic Update for the last five years.
About the Centre for the Study of AIDS
The Centre for the Study of AIDS (CSA) is located at the University of Pretoria. It is a 'stand alone' centre which is responsible for the development and co-ordination of a comprehensive University-wide response to AIDS. The Centre operates in collaboration with the Deans of all Faculties and through Interfaculty committees to ensure that a professional understanding of the epidemic is developed through curriculum innovation as well as through extensive research.
Support for students and staff is provided through peer-based education and counselling, through support groups and through training in HIV/AIDS in the workplace. A large number of student volunteers are involved in the programme, as are many community groups, ASOs and NGOs.
To create a climate of debate and critique, the Centre publishes widely and hosts AIDS Forums and seminars. It has created web- and email-based debate and discussion forums and seeks to find new, innovative, creative and effective ways to address HIV/AIDS in South African society.
Sudan: Campaign to focus on HIV/AIDS affected children
The Sudanese National AIDS Control Programme (SNAP), the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) and other partners have launched a campaign focusing on the impact of the disease on children. They said as many as 300,000 people under age 25 in Sudan were living with the HI virus.
Africa: Link between research development policies
This paper from Global Development Network says Sub-Saharan African countries have realised in recent years the centrality of higher education as a means to achieve development. Indeed through enhancing the production of knowledge and know-how, research becomes an engine of endogenous and sustainable development. Today research in African universities and in national centers of research is mainly sustained by financial support from international cooperation. The low level of development these countries suffer from leads research to be relegated to the background of the governments' national and economic policies.
Botswana: Access to education may be limited by new fees policy
A move to reintroduce school fees in Botswana is causing controversy, with politicians and education experts warning that it may be a step backwards. Opposition parties have called on parents to defy the government's decision to reintroduce fees when the new term starts in January 2006. In October, Botswana's parliament approved legislation reintroducing school fees for pupils at junior secondary and senior secondary schools in 2006. Fees were abolished in 1987 in a bid to get more children into schools, and enrolment rates soared. However, the government has said it would have to cut high annual expenditure on basic education. Education Minister Jacob Nkate noted although the state was still committed to the principle of equal access to education, it was no longer economical to continue a wholly subsidised education system.
Global: Educating children with disabilities
This briefing paper from the Academy for Educational Development discusses the classification of children with disabilities in educational systems, including how such classifications vary across countries. It argues that the implications of the differing classification criteria affect the provision of educational opportunities for every child, regardless of the nature or level of his or her physical, mental, or sensory disability.
Morocco: Gender bias in schoolbooks
On 9 December, HREA announced in Rabat the conclusion of its study on gender bias in schoolbooks in Morocco. The study was part of a year-long programme to review textbooks in Morocco for human rights and gender equality. Fifty primary school textbooks were reviewed. Says HREA project coordinator Mustapha Kak: "The list of suggested books covered most subject matters, especially those subjects thought to contain concepts and principles related to human rights and gender equality", explains Mustapha. Textbooks for Arabic, Art, French, Family Education, Geography and National Education, History, and Islamic Education were analysed. The study was conducted in cooperation and coordination with the Ministry of Education.
Somalia: Primary attendance lowest in the world, says Unicef
Only one out of every five children in Somalia is enrolled in primary school, the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) said in its State of the World's Children report for 2006. Somali children are further disadvantaged by disease, conflict and harsh environmental conditions, the agency added. "The net primary attendance ratio is lower than anywhere in the world, at just 12 percent for boys and 10 percent for girls," the report said. "Years of underinvestment have left Somalia lagging behind the rest of the developing world in education."
Southern Africa: Women 'must study maths, science'
Women in southern African are being encouraged to study maths and science to contribute more to the socio-economic development of the region. Studying these subjects would boost their involvement in decision-making that affects agriculture, food security and poverty alleviation, said delegates at the Southern Africa Mathematics and Science Association (SAMSA) meeting last Wednesday (30 November) in Malawi. At present, a mathematics or science class in southern Africa has just two or three women for every seven or eight men, according to SciDev.
Zambia: More girls in school thanks to policy reforms
More Zambian girls are attending school after government interventions such as allowing teenage mothers back to school and waiving fees and uniforms. Re-admission in many schools has doubled since the Ministry of Education introduced the re-entry policy prohibiting the expulsion of pregnant girls in 1997, according to official statistics. The policy requires girls to go back to school not later than a year after giving birth, while other interventions have also increased the enrolment rate.
Africa/Australia: Rally Against Racism
Indymedia Sydney reports on some of the responses to the Australian race riots in Sydney suburbs.
* The National Union of Students said: "Racism from some of the media and political leaders have whipped up fear and anger to lead to the disgraceful violence at Cronulla. This rally wants to show that people are fed up with this racist violence and that enough is enough."
* The Australian Arabic Council (AAC) said: "For some time politicians and media commentators have been fanning the flames of racial tension and finger pointing. 'Middle Eastern appearance' despite years of campaigning by the AAC continues to be used by politicians and law enforcement agencies (especially in NSW)."
Chad: World Bank concerned over bid to gut oil revenue law
The World Bank has “serious concerns” about the Chad government’s plan to do away with a special fund that safeguards petrodollars for future generations, the institution said. The trust fund was among innovative socio-economic measures required by the World Bank in return for financing part of a vast pipeline from Chad to the Atlantic Ocean off Cameroon. But the Chad government says it needs to tap into the petrodollars now to tackle a financial crisis and bolster security in the country.
Climate debt: Making historical responsibility part of the solution
A recent report by Friends of the Earth International argues that an analysis of historical responsibility leads to the conclusion that compensation based on ecological debt should be added to a rights- based approach for determining fair shares of environment space. In its analysis, it observes that issues related to past and present contributions to the climate crisis as well as actions that have undermined development opportunities in poor countries, have yet to be adequately recognized and addressed by the Kyoto protocol. The report presents the relationship between historical responsibility and climate debt as it has evolved from the focus on ecological debt and climate justice to where it stands today. Recommendations for a just and equitable climate framework are made.
Ghana: Privatisation of water continues
The Government has announced the award of the so-called Management Service Contracts by which transnational business corporations propose to take over Ghana Water Company's operations. Last Tuesday, 22nd November 2005, a contract was signed with a consortium made up of a Dutch company, Vitens, and Rand Water of South Africa.
Ladies and Gentlemen of the Press,
The National Coalition against Privatisation of Water has called this media interaction to discuss latest developments in the World Bank and Government of Ghana water privatisation programme.
The Management Contract - Private Gain, Public Pain
The Government has announced the award of the so-called Management Service Contracts by which transnational business corporations propose to take over Ghana Water Company?s operations. Last Tuesday, 22nd November 2005, a contract was signed with a consortium made up of a Dutch company, Vitens, and Rand Water of South Africa.
Before this latest version of privatisation, i.e. the management contract, they told us that privatisation will bring hundreds of millions of private investment into the water sector. We know now that that was a lie. The truth is that hundreds of millions of our public money , money belonging to you and I, is being handed over to the monopoly control of multinational companies worth billions. In other words, the poor and thirsty of Ghana are being forced to invest their scarce finances in companies that are already so rich and big that their national markets have become playgrounds that are too small for them.
The entire thinking behind the,Management Contract for Urban Water pretends that this contradiction does not exist. This pretence is a fraudulent one. But the real truth of what the management contract is all about is in the actual provisions of the contract.
Expatriate Luxury and Misery for Ghanaian Workers
A management fee of about 10million (10 Million Euros) or about ¢108 billion (108 billion cedis) will be paid to a maximum of 13 expatriate staff (i.e. General Manager plus 10-12 ?specialists?). But of Ghanaian water workers are being thrown out of work in a process that has created angry cries of cheating, lack of transparency and has left behind in the water sector a rump of aggrieved, demoralised workers with uncertain futures who are suddenly expected to work miracles to transform the water sector, just because a new foreign master has arrived to crack the whip.
According to the unsigned copy of the contract that has been made public, this multi-billion payment entitles the privatised management to (clause 3.1.2):
i. Conclude contracts with customers for the supply of potable water
ii. Issue bills on delivery of potable water and discharge of sewerage
iii. Receive payments from customers; and
iv. Disconnect customers for non-payment (and for other grounds)
The operator will inherit a functional water system and close to 2,900 experienced staff who will then continue in their existing functions of operating the water system?s technical services, operating commercial services (connection, invoicing, metering, collection and disconnection) and operating administrative and accounting services. The transferred or seconded GWCL staff will also carry out the operators plan to repair, replace and rehabilitate the existing system with public funds.
For their reward, these workers, whose numbers have been reduced by 1,200 in recent weeks, will face a new round of mass lay-offs within 18 months, and share in the amount of severance money that has already been trumpeted as having been allocated to the earlier batch of 1,200 laid-off workers (clauses 7.1.2 and 7.1.3)
Income Tax Free
In contrast, the private management’s inheritance comes with the handsome fee of 10 million euros, for which the Operator, its sub-contractors and their foreign personnel shall be exempted from paying Taxes. (clause 6.7.1.).
GWCL Debts: This inheritance does not include responsibility or liability for the debts that currently saddles our water sector. Perhaps the promoters of the privatisation believe that it is not fair to burden the innocent multinationals with the financial fallout of our genetic national incompetence and mismanagement. It is only fair to give our caring foreign friends the most skilled human resources and the assets whose development and maintenance has contributed to the debt.
One of the primary causes of the serious debt overhang of the water sector is its dependence on foreign exchange. The disinvestment in the water sector over the years and its control by powerful elites, as if it were private property for their private profit, meant that it was never possible to develop an integrated water industry in which inputs are produced locally, creating jobs, generating economies of scale, supporting industries and saving foreign exchange. The whole operation was import and foreign exchange dependent, although its only revenue was and will continue to be in cedis (perhaps only until the day that those who are creating a global water market under their control will start exporting water while citizens go thirsty). Any shock in the exchange rate made any foreign purchases or credits suddenly unpayable.
This is what happened in the late 1990?s in Ghana. It is what will happen again and again when our primary agricultural export prices collapse and our currency is devalued.
Foreign Exchange Dependency Deepens
But privatisation makes us even more dependent on foreign exchange. It makes us more vulnerable to the fundamental un-sustainability of an industry that requires foreign exchange for its most basic technical and financial operations but is entirely reliant on cedis for its revenue. Multinationals have every interest in sourcing inputs from their subsidiaries abroad. They have no interest in developing an integrated domestic water industry that weans itself from foreign exchange dependence. And no matter how bad this has been, there never was the additional burden, until now, of paying the water sector management millions of precious foreign exchange, tax free!
No doubt our clever friends in the Project Management Unit will reply: but all the foreign exchange for the management fee has been provided and pre-financed by the World Bank. Except that is not true for the last years of the contract when there is a shift to paying for privatisation from the cedi revenues (25% of the contract fee in year 5). And the World Bank grant is part of a package of donor funding that is expected to continue to provide continued credit, to be repaid, to fund our water sector in coming years. Even today, it is the cedi revenues that will pay for all the extra ?incentive compensation? (schedule 5B of the management contract) the operator expects to get on top of the multimillion euro base fee.
Incentive to Hike Tariffs Revenue and Prices
In the same way that the promoters of privatisation want us to believe that private management does not add to our foreign exchange burdens and to the un-sustainability of the water sector, they also tell us that it will have no impact on tariffs.
Technically, it is true that the private operator cannot unilaterally raise tariffs. It can only apply to the PURC for a tariff adjustment. But this is primarily a paper procedure. In the first place, the political problem of tariff adjustment has been taken care of by the introduction, on the insistence of the IMF and multinational water companies, of an automatic tariff adjustment formula. The tariff is automatically adjusted when various indicators change, many of which like prevailing interest rates and exchange rates- have absolutely nothing to do with the level of efficiency or inefficiency of the water sector. This guarantees that tariffs are always set at a level that has built-in prices to ensure not only full cost-recovery but also a profit margin to attract private companies who would like to repatriate their profits abroad in hard currency.
Furthermore, we must remember that the management operator has every interest in maximising tariff revenue. They gain twice from this. First, they will be paid extra for increasing revenue. Secondly, it is this same revenue from which other performance bonuses will be paid. But also a full quarter of the operators? fee from year 5 (and inevitably an even bigger proportion in subsequent years), worth ?500,000 (five hundred thousand euros) or ¢5.4 billion in today’s values. Meanwhile, one of the major performance indicators for the operator is to reduce the numbers of non-paying water users. The logic is that a dwindling number of payers must provide a growing source of revenue. The only way to achieve this is to raise tariffs.
Expanding Access to Poor
Although this is one of the stated objectives for the management contract it is clear from the foregoing, increasing foreign exchange expenditure, rising tariffs etc that there is no serious commitment to it. Indeed, while there are clear targets for say reduction of non-revenue water (by at least 5% a year) there is absolutely no target for expanding services to the poor. The irony is that one of the ways to increase non-revenue water is to cut off those who are too poor to pay for water and therefore consume it without increasing the company?s business revenue!
Moreover, the operator is not expected to expand the areas that are currently serviced by GWCL (clause 3.1.1). Any planned expansion of the service area must be negotiated between the Ghanaian authorities and the Operator and for an additional fee. All the claims that the poor will be served are completely unfounded. No wonder the usually diplomatic Public Utilities Regulatory Commission, referring to the improvements promised by privatisation, has been forced to conclude: ?it is not expected that these improvements will impact heavily on those who are currently deprived of direct access to service. (page iv. Social Policy and Strategy for Water Regulation, PURC, February 2005)
Rural Communities Neglected
No one needs to be surprised by this. As we have said repeatedly, if the main aim of privatisation was to serve the needy then it would have been targeted first and foremost at the most deprived rural communities. But serving the needy was never the real objective of privatisation. That is why the rural communities who are so poor that they are not even deemed to constitute a viable water market have been cut off completely from the blessings and joys of privatisation and have been consigned to the cruel ghetto of low-level local privatisation, occasional donor and voluntary charity and wilful government neglect.
So if the private management is bringing no investment, is increasing foreign exchange dependence, is increasing the pressure for higher tariffs and will not serve the poor then what is its exact contribution going to be to deserve to take from us millions we can ill-afford?
Perhaps the Big Foreign Chief Manager and his twelve specialists apostles will do something to repair, rehabilitate and renew the system in a way that our Ghanaian minds cannot even begin to imagine?
Global: Climate talks end in Montreal
More than 150 nations agreed Saturday (December 10) to launch formal talks on mandatory post-2012 reductions in greenhouse gases talks that will exclude an unwilling United States. For its part the Bush administration, which rejects the emissions cutbacks of the current Kyoto Protocol, accepted only a watered-down proposal to enter an exploratory global "dialogue" on future steps to combat climate change. That proposal specifically rules out "negotiations leading to new commitments." The parallel tracks represented a mixed result for the pivotal two-week U.N. conference on global warming, doing little to close the climate gap between Washington on one side, and Europe, Japan and other supporters of the Kyoto Protocol on the other.
Official webpages of the convention:
Blogs written by environmentalists during the convention:
Global: Forests could be better used to combat climate change, FAO
Deforestation accounts for 25 percent of all man-made emissions of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide (CO2), the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) warned here on Friday (December 9). As a result, FAO is offering to provide data and technical advice to countries attending the UN climate change conference in Montreal to find ways to create financial incentives for reducing forest loss in the developing world. "FAO's newest data on the role of forests in mitigating climate change, contained in our recently released Global Forestry Resources Assessment (FRA 2005), provides a clear picture of the contribution that forests make to countering global warming – and of how deforestation exacerbates the problem," said Dieter Schoene, of FAO's Forestry Department.
Global: How America plotted to stop Kyoto deal
A detailed and disturbing strategy document has revealed an extraordinary American plan to destroy Europe's support for the Kyoto treaty on climate change. Put together by a lobbyist who is a senior official at a group partly funded by ExxonMobil, the world's biggest oil company and a fierce opponent of anti-global warming measures, the plan seeks to draw together major international companies, academics, think-tanks, commentators, journalists and lobbyists from across Europe into a powerful grouping to destroy further EU support for the treaty.
Senegal: Climate change impacting hard on semi-arid Sahel nations
Three decades of increasingly patchy rains and drought are taking a heavy toll on the people of the Sahel nations, the semi-arid countries strung along the southern fringes of the Sahara, according to a group of scientists and specialists on climate change. “We’ve noted an increasing number of extreme events across the Sahel, where you can have heavy rain all of a sudden then nothing for several weeks,” Arona Diedhiou, a research fellow at Senegal’s Institute for Research and Development (IRD), said after a weeklong seminar on climate change organised by the Amma-Afrique project.
Africa: Exploring the causes of armed conflict
In recent years, political disputes have triggered armed conflicts and vast population movements in Africa’s Great Lakes region. Recent research suggests that access to natural resources is both a cause of these conflicts and a factor in sustaining them. Research from the Africa Centre for Technology Studies, Kenya, examines the relationship between armed conflict and access to agricultural land. Studies in Rwanda, Burundi and eastern Democratic Republic of Congo show that changes in land use and land access are significant factors in armed conflicts.
Africa: Why advocacy journalism?
A Multimedia Training kit developed by Highway Africa defines Advocacy Journalism as the promotion of a position on an issue or cause in a single-minded manner, or tackling an issue by highlighting your own position in relation to it. It is therefore easy to see how the idea of advocacy journalism as the subjective coverage of an issue came about. Advocacy, although promoting a certain position, does so with the aim of achieving certain goals, usually influencing public policy and resource allocation decisions within political, economic, and social systems and institutions - that directly affect people's lives. This article in the Public Agenda of Accra and reposted at www.journalism.co.za examines the issue.
Egypt: Scores of journalists assaulted during elections
The Egyptian Organization for Human Rights (EOHR), Reporters Without Borders (Reporters sans frontières, RSF) and the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) have voiced alarm at attacks by Egyptian authorities on journalists covering the parliamentary elections. Since the first round of voting in the three-round election began on 8 November 2005, more than 50 journalists have been assaulted, detained or prevented from covering the polls. CPJ says the ruling National Democratic Party (NDP) and security forces have ordered supporters to beat and harass voters and journalists. Harassment has increased as members of the banned Muslim Brotherhood movement, who run as independent candidates, have gained seats.
South Africa: Media barred from Zuma court appearance
The SA National Editors Forum (Sanef) condemned what it called Tuesday's secrecy and exclusion of the media from a court appearance of Jacob Zuma. Zuma was charged with rape and released on R20 000 bail until his trial starts on February 13. Sanef continued that reporters were barred entry to the court and were not allowed access to the charge sheet and no reasons could be obtained early on Tuesday.
Zimbabwe: Mirror editor suspended again
The Zimbabwe Mirror Newspaper Group (ZMNG) board has defied a High Court order lifting the suspension of the paper’s founding editor-in-chief and CEO, Dr Ibbo Mandaza, writes Gugu Ziyaphapha in an article reposted on www.journalism.co.za The publishing group slapped Mandaza with a fresh suspension letter outside the court building soon after Justice Bharet Patel lifted Mandaza’s October suspension. The group publishes the Mirror and Sunday Mirror.
Zimbabwe: Zimbabwe Curtails Travel Rights of Critics
According to reports in Zimbabwean newspapers, President Robert G. Mugabe has placed between 15 and 64 human rights activists and critics on a list of people who are banned from traveling outside the country because they allegedly threaten the country's national interests. The ministries of Justice and Foreign Affairs are deliberating draft regulations that will require Zimbabweans to obtain exit visas to travel outside the country.
Africa/Global: The Execution of Stan Tookie Williams
The state of California rewarded redemption with cold-blooded murder - justified with a press release and carried out in the dead of night, writes Alan Maass on the website www.zmag.org Stan Tookie Williams was put to death in the execution chamber at San Quentin Prison just past midnight on December 13. The former leader of the Crips in Los Angeles has spent the last decade of his life as one of the most powerful and articulate voices warning youth against violence, crime and prison. Gang truces negotiated along the lines of his “Protocol for Peace” have saved lives across the U.S.
Africa: CSO Consultation on Engagement with AU
FEMNET and CREDO
FEMNET and CREDO invite African civil society organisations to a consultation on engagement with the African Union to be held in Nairobi 13-14 January 2006. The organisers hope to facilitate discussions on how to progress thematic, sub-regional or country specific areas of work within a Pan African context. The consultation will have a modest agenda around the Khartoum Summit in January 2006 and future autonomous civil society engagement with the AU. The Khartoum Summit presents a potentially tricky moment for the AU with the on-going investigation by the ICC into allegations of international crimes, including war crimes, crimes against humanity, and possible genocide, against elements of the government of the Summit’s host government and its allied militias. Sudanese CSO’s are also under assault from a raft of new measures designed to marginalise them. The consultation also offers an opportunity to bring these concerns sufficiently to the attention of the summit and delegations attending it. Should you (or a suitable representative - preferably a woman be interested in and able to participate, kindly confirm your participation as soon as possible or by Thursday January 5th 2006 with Roselynn Musa at fax: (254) 20.3742927 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
December 13, 2005
Re: Invitation to the African Civil Society Consultation on Engagement with the African Union (AU)
On behalf of the coordinating committee for the African Civil Society Consultation on Engagement with the African Union (AU), the African Women’s Development and Communication Network (FEMNET) and CREDO for Freedom of Expression and Associated Rights are pleased to invite you to attend a two-day consultation, scheduled to take place from January 13-14, 2006 in Nairobi, Kenya.
The consultation, bringing together African civil society and the African diaspora aspires to develop an effective demand and partnership platform with the African Union (AU). It also hopes to facilitate discussions on how to progress thematic, sub-regional or country specific areas of work within a Pan African context. The consultation will have a modest agenda around the Khartoum Summit in January 2006 and future autonomous civil society engagement with the AU. Click here for draft programme and concept paper for the consultation.
The Khartoum Summit also presents a potentially tricky moment for the AU with the on-going investigation by the ICC into allegations of international crimes, including war crimes, crimes against humanity, and possible genocide, against elements of the government of the Summit’s host government and its allied militias. Sudanese CSO’s are also under assault from a raft of new measures designed to marginalise them. The consultation also offers an opportunity to bring these concerns sufficiently to the attention of the summit and delegations attending it.
Should you (or a suitable representative from your organisation) be interested in and able to participate, kindly confirm your participation as soon as possible or by Thursday January 5th 2006 with Roselynn Musa at fax: (254) 20.3742927 or email: email@example.com
Organisations are strongly urged to send female delegates as the organisers are striving to achieve 50/50 gender parity participation.
Sponsorship is available for a limited number of places based on sub regional/Geographic and thematic representation namely:
Central Africa, East and Horn of Africa, North Africa, Southern Africa, West Africa and the African Diaspora
Democracy and (good) governance; Human rights; Gender equality and women’s rights; Freedom of expression and the media; Academic and intellectual freedom; Economic and social rights; Human Security, peace, conflict and internally displaced and refugee rights; Food security; Health with special attention to HIV/AIDS and other public health issues; Legal and policy analysis; International financing, investment and trade; Environment; Human and social development; Education, science and technology and ICT; Historical and cultural rights
Indications of interest should state which of the geographical and thematic areas you/your organisation work in also sending in a maximum one page paper outlining thematic and REC/Country specific issues and areas you are prioritising.
If you wish to be a discussant on any thematic area kindly send in a maximum of a further one page synopsis.
We look forward to your presence at and active participation in the consultation.
L. Muthoni Wanyeki
For Coordinating Committee
DRC: African Union weighs military operations in Kivu provinces
A mainly military delegation of the African Union arrived in Goma, the administrative centre of the province of North Kivu, on 18 November 2005, to assess the possible deployment of AU troops in the Eastern DRC. The head of the delegation, South African Brigadier General Hougaard, conveyed the strong will and determination of the organization to deploy troops to fight foreign armed groups residing and operating illegally in the DRC.
Eritrea: UN pulls out Eritrea peacekeepers
The UN Security Council has decided to pull US, Canadian and European staff serving in the peacekeeping mission in Eritrea out of the country. Some 180 personnel, who are military observers and civilians, will be temporarily relocated to Ethiopia. The move follows Eritrea's demand that the UN staff should leave by Friday. Tensions along the border between Ethiopia and Eritrea have risen with reports of troop movements on both sides in recent months.
Mozambique: An artistic throne of weapons
Seventeen long years of civil war in Mozambique, have left behind a scarred terrain and the brutal legacy of widespread economic misery and famine. Worse, a whole generation was born into war and grew up never knowing peace – since the scars of the spirit take the longest to heal.The war started in 1977 and by the time a ceasefire was finally declared during 1992, an estimated seven million guns littered the landscape. But in an effort to initiate something positive out of the void, 'Throne of Weapons' scheme was borne of desire to create a symbol of peace to transcend the violence which had created it and in the process herald a new beginning.
Rwanda: Junior army officers learn humanitarian law
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the Rwanda Defence Forces have organised a four-day competition for 21 junior army officers from six countries in an effort to integrate international humanitarian law into other aspects of military operations, officials told IRIN on Wednesday. "As we advocate for peace, attention should be placed on international law principles," Gen Marcel Gatsinzi, Rwanda's defence minister, said. "We have to always try, as much as we can, to safe lives of innocent civilians."
Somalia: Move to Lift Arms Embargo Faulted
The United Nations Security Council has traditionally tried to cut off arms supplies to some of the world's politically troubled countries - including Somalia, Cote d'Ivoire, Liberia, Rwanda and Sierra Leone - in order to restore peace and stability in post-conflict situations. But a move to lift the U.N. arms embargo on Somalia - as proposed by the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) which brokered that country's reconciliation process - has generated strong warnings from activist groups and Africa-watchers.
Somalia: Somalia’s Islamists
Somalia’s long civil conflict and lack of central governing institutions present an international security challenge, says the International Crisis Group. "Terrorists have taken advantage of the state’s collapse to attack neighbouring countries and transit agents and materiel. The country is a refuge for the al-Qaeda team that bombed a Kenyan resort in 2002 and tried to down an Israeli aircraft. Since 2003, Islamist extremists have been linked to murders of Somalis and foreigners. If governments are to counter the limited but real threat of terrorism in or from Somalia, they need to align closer with Somali priorities – the restoration of peace, legitimate and broad-based government, and essential services – and make clear that their counter-terrorism efforts are aimed at a small number of criminals, many of them foreigners, not the Somali population at large."
Southern Africa: Twelve million southern Africans need food urgently
Some 12 million people in southern Africa, mainly in Zimbabwe and Malawi, need emergency food aid, the United Nations said on Tuesday, saying the situation in the region was serious despite South Africa's bumper harvest. In its latest Africa report, the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) said good harvests were expected in the Sahel region below the Sahara desert, after a severe food crisis in 2004/05 which hit income and nutrition levels hard.
Sudan: FMR focuses on progress in peace implementation
The Refugee Studies Centre of the University of Oxford has published a special issue of its magazine Forced Migration Review (FMR), focusing on the prospects for peace in Sudan. The magazine offers a range of opinion on the inclusiveness of the peace process, the Comprehensive Peace Agreement’s prospects for success, feasibility of plans to assist the return of IDPs and refugees, and recovery and development strategies.
Sudan: Global court seeing Darfur witnesses outside Sudan
The prosecutor of the new International Criminal Court said he was investigating killings, mass rapes and other atrocities in western Sudan but could only interview witnesses outside of lawless Darfur. Luis Moreno Ocampo, an Argentine who was asked by the U.N. Security Council in March to prosecute those responsible for atrocities in Darfur, also told the council that the Sudanese government had been cooperating with him. But Sudan's Justice Minister Mohammed al-Mardi told Reuters in an interview that Moreno Ocampo's investigators would not have any access to Darfur.
Dead End in Darfur?
Sudan: Scores killed in ongoing clashes in West Darfur
Continuing clashes between two communities of Arab nomads near the town of Zalingei in West Darfur have left around 60 people dead and hundreds of families displaced, aid workers said on Thursday. "The clashes near Zalingei started a month and a half ago, with ups and downs, but they resumed six days ago [on 9 December]. The fighting was very intense," said Lorena Brander, spokesperson for the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in Sudan.
Africa/Global: Strategic Technology Planning Guide
Ungana-afrika have developed a technology planning toolkit for the development community. As explained in the toolkit, technology planning is "the process of strategically deciding what technology should be implemented to best complement an organisation's mission, strategy and activities. It involves a frank assessment of the current environment and an analysis of what can be improved upon with technology tools to improve organisational effectiveness. It is also useful in identifying innovative program delivery opportunities made available through technology."
Africa/Global: Technology policy globally continues to dominate
APC’s Latest Annual Report:
The APC annual report includes APC’s advocacy work for the United Nations summit on the information society (WSIS) as well as in stimulating and supporting accelerated ICT policy and regulatory reform in six African countries including Nigeria and the Democratic Republic of Congo. And it includes other major highlights like the community wireless project that is training one hundred technicians in Africa and produces training materials in English, French and Arabic.
FrontlineSMS now available
FrontlineSMS is an affordable, standalone turn-key 'out-of-the-box' solution that allows small organizations, NGO's, charities, etc. the ability to access 'group' SMS technology anywhere a mobile network signal can be reached. No connection to the Internet necessary.
Kenya: eQuest uses SMS for HIV/AIDS awareness
eQuest is a short messages service (SMS) based contest that aims to increase HIV/AIDS knowledge and discussion among youth aged 15 to 24 in Kenya using mobile phones. It aims to encourage young people to seek and find information on HIV/AIDS through SMS. The project is implemented by the Program for Appropriate Technology in Health (PATH) with funding from the Vodafone Group Foundation through the Elton John AIDS Foundation.
Uganda: WentAfrica2005 aims to build ICT capacity
WentAfrica2005 on Blogger.com (http://wentafrica.blogspot.com/) is an electronic record of the Women's Electronic Networking Training, which began in early December at Kampala, Uganda. WENT Africa training workshops aim to build the capacities of women and their organisations in Africa to utilise new Information and Communication Technologies in social development work and policy advocacy.
Zambia: ICTs empower women in rural Africa
Kalomo district, some 400 kilometres South of Lusaka, is a hub of hospitality business in the area. The tourist capital Livingstone about 120 Kilometres away and other places of tourist interest makes it a place of tourist attraction. But inadequate infrastructure, especially the bad road conditions, no electricity and lack of communication facilities discourage people from stopping by. To address these issues, Bwacha women ICT club based in the centre of Kalomo town, thought of marketing produce of the local area using the internet in order to make ends meet.
Advocacy International – New Ezine on Nigeria and debt
This site aims to build understanding of the real economic situation of Africa's most populous country, with the aim of lifting Nigeria out of debt and poverty. The site includes news from inside Nigeria, and analysis of the economic situation and the latest debt negotiations. If you would like to receive the regular newsletter, go to the subscribe
section on the homepage.
Africa: African African Democracy Forum (ADF) Newsletter now available online
The African Democracy Forum (ADF) recently issued its second ADF Newsletter, which is now available online. This issue features three articles: "The African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) and the Role of Civil Society: Lessons from Ghana"; "Critical Analysis of the Economic and Social Rights of Congolese Citizens Recognized in the Transition Constitution"; and "A Critique of Southern African Development Community (SADC) Principles and Guidelines Governing Democratic Elections." The newsletter also includes reports on ADF activities and a profile of an ADF member organization, the Zimbabwe Election Support Network.
Global: Accountability in Action Newsletter
The One World Trust promotes education and research into the changes required within global organisations in order to achieve the eradication of poverty, injustice and war. It conducts research on practical ways to make global organisations more responsive to the people they affect, and on how the rule of law can be applied equally to all and educates political leaders and opinion-formers about the findings of our research. You may sign up for the newsletter by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
Global: Interim Developments' Newsletter
Investing in Gender Equity: this issue of Interim Developments focuses on the business and organisational benefits of gender diversity in Africa. It includes an exclusive interview with Wendy Luhabe on leadership and management, highlights the strategic importance of the Human Resources function within African organisations, reports on the skills implications of Nigeria's banking reforms and showcases the Pan African Women's Inventors and Innovators event in Ghana.
Alliance Magazine - December 2005 edition available
This edition includes the articles:
- Elkanah Odembo and Faith Kisinga ask how the philanthropy sector in East Africa can realise its potential;
- Interviews with the new heads of the Council on Foundations and the European Foundation Centre, Steve Gunderson and Gerry Salole.
PRESS RELEASE - FOR IMMEDIATE PUBLICATION
30 November 2005
Alliance - December 2005
The December 2005 issue of Alliance, with a special feature on the future of
philanthropy, has just been published.
Articles in the current issue include:
***Katherine Fulton and Gabriel Kasper ask how US philanthropy can fulfil its
***Pushpa Singh, Ingrid Srinath, Anmol Vellani and Priya Viswanath look at
how Indian philanthropy can tap the growing affluence of the world's largest
***Rory Tolentino and Tina Pavia examine the potential of diaspora donor
organizations and NGO coalitions to bring about lasting social change in the
***Agustin Landa argues for Mexican philanthropy to be based on social
investment rather than charity.
***Fernando Rossetti and Cindy Lessa assess the development of Brazilian
philanthropy since the coming of democracy, and consider what more still
needs to be done.
***Vera Dakova argues that the revival of philanthropy in central Europe is
largely a matter of reconnecting with the past
***Vadim Samodorov asks if philanthropy can become the secret weapon of
***Elkanah Odembo and Faith Kisinga ask how the philanthropy sector in East
Africa can realise its potential.
***Interviews with the new heads of the Council on Foundations and the
European Foundation Centre, Steve Gunderson and Gerry Salole.
*** Barbara Merz and Lincoln Chen on the growing importance of remittances
to Mexico from Mexicans living and working in the US.
To find out more about the current issue and its contents, please click here:
For further information, contact Alliance Business Development Manager Anand
Shukla on + 44 20 7735 8006, or at email@example.com
Grants to NGOs for human rights education activities
The ACT Project has entered into a new phase in its support for global action to promote human rights education at the field level. The fifth phase (2005-2007) of the ACT Project puts a special emphasis on activities related to human rights education in the primary and secondary school systems (including, for instance, material development/translation; workshop/training course for relevant authorities, teachers and other education personnel; school competitions and debates), although not exclusively supporting grants in this area.
LAUNCH OF THE 5TH PHASE (2005-2007) OF THE ACT PROJECT: GRANTS TO NGOs FOR HUMAN RIGHTS EDUCATION ACTIVITIES
The ACT Project has entered into a new phase in its support for global action to promote human rights education at the field level.
The fifth phase (2005-2007) of the ACT Project puts a special emphasis on activities related to human rights education in the primary and secondary school systems (including, for instance, material development/translation; workshop/training course for relevant authorities, teachers and other education personnel; school competitions and debates), although not exclusively supporting grants in this area. This is to create synergy with the newly-proclaimed World Programme for Human Rights Education (2005-ongoing) , whose first phase (2005-2007) focuses on the primary and secondary school systems. In principle, the time allocated to the grant recipients to carry out the funded activities will be of six months (tentatively, March-October 2006).
The following countries will participate in the 5 th phase of the ACT Project:
Central African Republic
Democratic Republic of the Congo
The Pacific region
Europe, North America and Central Asia:
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Republic of Moldova
Serbia and Montenegro
The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia
Latin America and Carribean:
Specific details (application forms, eligibility requirements and deadline for submission of projects) are available in each selected country by OHCHR/UNDP Country offices. Please contact the OHCHR ACT Coordinator at the address below should you wish contact information for those offices:
OHCHR, Palais des Nations
CH - 1211 Geneva 10, Switzerland
(fax: +41 22 917 90 10)
Guide to Equality in the Family in the Maghreb
The first in Women's Learning Partnership Translations Series, The Guide to Equality in the Family in the Maghreb, is an innovative advocacy tool for reform of the family law in Muslim-majority societies. The Guide outlines a process that relates meaningful social change to women’s capability to make deliberate and thoughtful choices.
Sur International Journal on Human Rights
Call for papers
Sur International Journal on Human Rights welcomes contributions to be published in its coming issues. The Journal is published twice a year, distributed free of charge to approximately 3,000 readers in over 100 countries. It is edited in three languages: English, Portuguese and Spanish and can also be accessed through the Internet at www.surjournal.org The journal is especially aimed at academics and activists dedicated to the study and the defense of human rights.
Adaptive Management Strategies
The seminar 'Adaptive Management Strategies' will be held during February and March 2006 in Tanzania and Kenya. The seminars are designed for decision makers that work for organisations in Eastern Africa and operate on international levels.
Our seminars 'Adaptive Management Strategies' will be held during February
and March 2006 in Tanzania and Kenya. The seminars are designed for decision
makers that work for organisations in Eastern Africa and operate on
The seminar contains in brief:
Day one: Intercultural influences, definition of culture, essential
characteristics and their influences on the work floor, the different
meanings of time, mutual perceptions
Day two: Management Competencies, managing human capital, operational
management strategies, the history and future of quality, quality management
Day three: Refining Leadership styles, motivational factors, instructive
behaviour, conflict management, change management, business etiquette
Dates and venues:
Nairobi, February 20,21 and 22 in The Stanley
Mombassa, February 27,28 and March 01 in Whitesands
Dar es Salaam, March 6,7 and 8 in the Moevenpick Royal Palm Hotel
Cost US $ 375,- per person inclusive all materials, lunches and coffee tea
We would be very pleased to provide you with the brochure which contains
more details, if we are provided with your postal details.
We look forward to hearing from you,
38 Rue de Montbrillant
T. + 41 - (0)22 734 16 71
Online human rights learning centre
On Human Rights Day, Human Rights Education Associates (HREA) officially launched its online Human Rights Learning Centre. It is the result of many years of labour by HREA staff and volunteers in making our large collection of learning tools available in an interactive format. The Human Rights Learning Centre provides activists, educators, students and interested citizens with introductions to hundreds of human rights topics. Visitors can read daily human rights news, find human rights documents, take quizzes, complete opinion polls, or find suggestions for further action or how to teach about a specific human rights issue.
The 2nd World Forum on Human Rights
In May 2004, the city of Nantes hosted the 1st World Forum on Human Rights, initiated and supported by UNESCO, under high-patronage of Mr. Jacques Chirac, President of the French republic. The 1st Forum of Nantes gathered 1000 participants representing 70 different nationalities. The 2nd World Forum on Human Rights will be held in Nantes from 10th to 13th July 2006 (2006 will mark the 40th anniversary of the adoption of the International Covenants on Civil and Political Rights and Economic, Social and Cultural Rights by the General Assembly of the United Nations).
10 – 13 July 2006, Nantes (France)
THE 2nd WORLD FORUM ON HUMAN RIGHTS
In May 2004, the city of Nantes hosted the 1st World Forum on Human Rights, initiated and supported by UNESCO, under high-patronage of Mr. Jacques Chirac, President of the French republic. The 1sr Forum of Nantes gathered 1000 participants representing 70 different nationalities.
The 2nd World Forum on Human Rights will be held in Nantes from 10th to 13th July 2006 (2006 will mark the 40th anniversary of the adoption of the International Covenants on Civil and Political Rights and Economic, Social and Cultural Rights by the General Assembly of the United Nations).
The 2nd Forum of Nantes will be organized by the International Convention Center of Nantes, under the leading responsibility and with the financial support of Nantes Métropole, urban area of Nantes.
The aim of the Forum of Nantes is to join together, on an equal footing, all the categories of actors of the field of Human Rights (political leaders, diplomats, academics, representatives of intergovernmental organizations, NGOs and actors of the economic sphere...), to contribute to the reinforcement of the co-operation between these actors and to the development of international networks engaged in promotion, protection and the setting of Human Rights worldwide.
Under the general title drawn from the words of Sergio Vieira of Mello - "To make Human Rights a reality for all" -, the members of scientific committee accepted three main topics of debate :
Discriminations and diversity (in a worldwide context of diversity of cultures)
Economic Globalisation and Human Rights
Responsibilities and solidarities (what respective responsibilities for the various categories of actors, what solidarities, for what implementation of Human Rights ?)
A transverse approach concerning cities and local governments responsibilities from all the areas of the world will be get on.
Into each one of these main topics, workshops, conferences and round-tables should be organized on more specific sets of themes. An appeal to proposals will be mailed without delay with the practical way to register.
Contact : Franck Barrau, General Coordinator, World Forum on Human Rights, Nantes Metropole, 2, cours du Champ-de-Mars, 44923 Nantes Cedex 9, France. T. + 33 240 99 52 41 ; F. +33 240 99 52 99. firstname.lastname@example.org http// : www.forum-humanrights.org
Du 10 au 13 juillet 2006 à Nantes, France
LE 2E FORUM MONDIAL DES DROITS DE L’HOMME
En mai 2004, la Ville de Nantes a organisé le 1er Forum mondial des droits de l’homme, à l’initiative et avec le soutien de l’UNESCO, sous le haut-patronage de M. Jacques Chirac, Président de la République française. Le 1er Forum de Nantes a rassemblé un millier de participants représentant 70 nationalités différentes.
Le 2e Forum mondial des droits de l’homme aura lieu à Nantes du 10 au 13 juillet 2006 (l’année 2006 sera marquée par le 40e anniversaire de l’adoption par l’assemblée générale des Nations unies du Pacte international relatif aux droits civils et politiques et du Pacte international relatif aux droits économiques, sociaux et culturels).
Le 2e Forum de Nantes sera organisé par la Cité des congrès de Nantes, sous la responsabilité éditoriale et avec le soutien de Nantes Métropole, communauté urbaine de Nantes.
L’objectif du Forum de Nantes est de réunir, sur un pied d’égalité toutes les catégories d’acteurs du domaine des droits de l’homme (responsables politiques, diplomates, universitaires et chercheurs, représentants d’agences intergouvernementales, des organisations intergouvernementales et acteurs de la sphère économique .) pour contribuer au renforcement de la coopération entre ces acteurs et au développement de réseaux internationaux engagés dans la promotion, la protection et la mise en uvre des droits à travers le monde.
Sous le titre général emprunté au regretté Sergio Vieira de Mello : « Faire des droits de l’homme une réalité pour tous », le comité scientifique du 2e Forum de Nantes a retenu trois grands thèmes de débat :
1. Discriminations et diversité (dans un contexte mondial de diversité des cultures)
2. Globalisation économique et droits de l’homme
3. Responsabilités et solidarités (quelles responsabilités respectives des différentes catégories d’acteurs, quelles solidarités, pour quelles mises en uvre des droits ?)
Une approche transversale concernant les responsabilités des villes et des gouvernements locaux sera menée.
Pour chacun des principaux thèmes, tables-rondes, ateliers et conférences sur des thématiques plus spécifiques pourront être organisés. Un appel à propositions sera lancé prochainement avec les modalités pratiques d’inscription.
Contact : Franck Barrau, Coordinateur general, Forum mondial des droits de l’homme, Nantes Metropole, 2, cours du Champ-de-Mars, 44923 Nantes Cedex 9, France. T. + 33 (0)2 40 99 52 41 ; F. +33 (0)2 40 99 52 99. email@example.com http// : www.forum-humanrights.org
Africa: Gender Based Violence Coordinators - Christian Children's Fund
The GBV Coordinators in Africa will be responsible for managing and implementing grant-funded GBV projects and for integrating GBV into CCF's overall program strategy.
Chad: Gender & Representation Specialist - Oxfam GB
The purpose of this position is to support effective implementation of the technical aspects of Oxfam's public health response in eastern Chad; to promote gender equity throughout the programme cycle and provide gender analysis to support the implementation of Oxfam's programme.
Kenya: Executive Director - The African Women's Development and Communications Network (FEMNET)
FEMNET is seeking a new Executive Director. Ethical, strong and visionary African women, who are committed to African women's autonomy and choice in all areas and who would like to contribute to the African women's movement are hereby invited to apply for the position.
Kenya: PSEA Project manager - FilmAid International
FilmAid International is a non-governmental organization that uses film to promote health, strengthen communities and enrich the lives of the world's vulnerable and uprooted. FilmAid is currently implementing programmes for refugees and their host communities in Kenya and Tanzania.
Somaliland: HIV & AIDS advisor - Somaliland National AIDS Commission (SOLNAC)
The HIV & AIDS Advisor will work with the Somaliland National AIDS Commission (SOLNAC), and its members, assisting in developing its institutional capacity in overseeing, planning and coordinating the multi-sectoral efforts in addressing HIV & AIDS in Somaliland, including mainstreaming gender and advocacy in HIV & AIDS prevention, care and treatment.
Global: GCAP Hong Kong update
Today (December 13) marked the opening of the WTO, with actions inside the building and on the street. For GCAP it was an eventful day. The morning began with the publication of the Nelson Mandela adverts in the Financial Times Asia and the South China Post, with a message to the WTO delegates from Nelson Mandela, an op-ed in the South China Post by Martin Khor and commentary by Henri Valot. Later in the morning, GCAP campaigners made the formal handover of the e-action to EU Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson . In just three short weeks, the national coalitions of GCAP and the whiteband site managed to get an amazing total of 476,733 e-actions! In front of a huge media scrum, GCAP's trade demands were handed to Peter Mandelson by Sumie Arima, Thomas Deve and Rezual Karim Chowdury inside the WTO centre.
Global: Trade union body renews support for fight against poverty
The International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU), the world’s largest trade union body, today (December 11) reiterated its support for the Global Call to Action against Poverty (GCAP), the world’s largest anti-poverty campaign. Speaking at an Executive Board meeting in Hong Kong, ICFTU’s General Secretary Guy Ryder called on world leaders to put development back into the development agenda. “In Hong Kong for this 6th WTO Ministerial, the international trade union movement stands side by side with the rest of civil society demanding that national governments gathered here use global institutions to improve the lives of billions of people,” said Ryder.
Global: White Band Day 3 - GCAP campaigners around the world put spotlight on trade justice
On 10 December, three days before the opening of the WTO Ministerial in Hong Kong, Global Call to Action against Poverty campaigners across five continents mobilized to demand that the World Trade Organisation Ministerial delivers trade justice for the world’s poor. A wide array of actions from rallies to peoples’ caravans to public performances took place, all with the objective of putting a spotlight on trade injustice. To find out more about what happened in your region and around the world, follow the link.
South Africa: GCAP - External Consultants
The congruence of G8 Summit in Scotland, the UN World Summit + 5 and WTO Ministerial Meeting in Hong Kong and the revisions of Beijing + 5 and Cairo + 5 led to 2005 being seen as a landmark year in relation to the 2000 Millennium Declaration and the fight against poverty, injustice and exploitation and men and women's rights violations. It was in this context that the Global Call to Action against Poverty (GCAP) was established in September 2004 as a means for a joint mobilization and collaboration for the year 2005. One year after the Johannesburg consultation in September 2004, the Global alliance and the national campaigns are confronted with the decision of whether to continue their cooperation beyond 2005 and if so, how to frame a possible next phase (2006-2007) of the call. 2005 is coming to an end, and with it, the global policy platform, global structures and days for global mobilisation days agreed in Johannesburg, September 2004 have expired. TWO EXTERNAL RESEARCHERS are therefore being sought, to carry out a comprehensive review of the campaign to date, with a view to developing a report that will inform further dialogue on the future of GCAP.
The congruence of G8 Summit in Scotland, the UN World Summit + 5 and WTO Ministerial Meeting in Hong Kong and the revisions of Beijing + 5 and Cairo + 5 led to 2005 being seen as a landmark year in relation to the 2000 Millennium Declaration and the fight against poverty, injustice and exploitation and men and women's rights violations.
It was in this context that the Global Call to Action against Poverty (GCAP) was established in September 2004 as a means for a joint mobilization and collaboration for the year 2005. The call focused its global efforts around the coordination of three days of mass mobilisation and policy influence under the symbol of the white band on July 1st, September 10th and December 10th. National and regional GCAP processes also developed their own mobilization and political influence strategies in the lines of GCAP global demands. Many specialist groups such as the Feminist task force of GCAP used other global processes such as Beijing plus 5 to make linkages between GCAP demands and their own agendas.
One year after the Johannesburg consultation in September 2004, the Global alliance and the national campaigns are confronted with the decision of whether to continue their cooperation beyond 2005 and if so, how to frame a possible next phase (2006-2007) of the call. 2005 is coming to an end, and with it, the global policy platform, global
structures and days for global mobilisation days agreed in Johannesburg, September 2004 have expired.
TWO EXTERNAL RESEARCHERS are therefore being sought, to carry out a
comprehensive review of the campaign to date, with a view to developing a report that will inform further dialogue on the future of GCAP. This report will provide a critical analysis of both the past history and present circumstances of the campaign, as well as
practical proposals for the next steps. The review process will draw on national and regional consultative meetings, a widely distributed consultative questionnaire, key supporting documents as well as informational interviews with significant GCAP informants as well as with those organizations, individuals and networks who are not GCAP supporters yet. The report will also include a comprehensive financial report of GCAP's expenditures and funding.
- To provide GCAP with an independent and rigorous assessment of the accomplishments and challenges of the campaign
- To collect experiences, generate preliminary lessons and provoke ideas and recommendations for the future of GCAP, which may include re-inventing the call beyond 2005, and especially over the next two years (2006-2007)
- To provide a comprehensive analysis of GCAP's finances.
With an understandably short time frame, the study will be steered more towards capturing results though there will also be room to make comments and learn about processes, activities and actions. Questions that will inform what we could do differently could include; which ways of working should GCAP maintain? What should global GCAP not do since others are taking care of it? Is there GCAP policy objectives
that need to change?
The findings of the review will be instrumental in making decisions about the way forward and in particular preparing for the next global International Facilitation Group meeting in March 2006, in Beirut.
The overview will be done by 2 external consultants (one to focus on the qualitative aspects of the campaign and the other on the financial aspects) The process will take 30 working days, starting at the beginning of January 2006, and a draft report is expected for
initial review by the GCAP co-chairs by THE 8TH OF FEBURARY 2006. The final report will be circulated to GCAP members by the 20TH of February 2006. In carrying out their tasks, the researchers will work closely with two internally appointed GCAP informants. Monitoring and support of the whole exercise will be provided by the GCAP beyond 2005 Steering Committee.
PAMBAZUKA NEWS IS PRODUCED AND PUBLISHED BY FAHAMU
UK: 2nd Floor, 51 Cornmarket Street, Oxford OX1 3HA
SOUTH AFRICA: The Studio, 06 Cromer Road, Muizenberg 7945, Cape Town, South Africa
KENYA: 1st Floor, Shelter Afrique Building, Mamlaka Road, Nairobi, Kenya
Fahamu Trust is registered as a charity in the UK No 1100304
Fahamu Ltd is a UK company limited by guarantee 4241054
Fahamu SA is registered as a trust in South Africa IT 372/01
Fahumu is a Global Support Fund of the Tides Foundation, a duly registered public charity, exempt from Federal income taxation under Sections 501(c)(3) and 509(a)(1) of the Internal Revenue Code.
Support the struggle for social justice: $2 (one pound) a week can make a real difference Donate online at http://www.pambazuka.org/en/donate.php
Get Pambazuka News Headlines Displayed On Your Site
Would you like Pambazuka News headlines to be displayed on your website?
RSS (which stands for Really Simple Syndication) is an easy way for you to keep updated automatically on Pambazuka News. Instead of going to our website to see what's news, you can use RSS to let you know each time there's something new.
Visit: http://www.pambazuka.org/en/newsfeed.php You can choose headlines from any or all of the Pambazuka News categories, and there is also a choice of format and style. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Visit http://www.pambazuka.org/ for more than 25,000 news items, editorials,letters,reviews, etc that have appeared in Pambazuka News during the last two years.
Editor: Firoze Manji
Online News Editor: Patrick Burnett
East Africa Correspondent, Kenya: Atieno Ndomo
West Africa Correspondent, Senegal: Hawa Ba
Editorial advisor: Rotimi Sankore
Blog reviewer: Sokari Ekine
COL Intern: Karoline Kemp
- Rwanda: Elizabeth Onyango
- US: Robtel Pailey
- Zimbabwe: Tinashe Chimedza
Website technical management: Becky Faith and Mark Rogerson
Website design: Judith Charlton
Pambazuka News currently receives support from Christian Aid, Commonwealth of Learning Fahamu Trust, Ford Foundation, New Field Foundation Fund of Tides Foundation, Oxfam GB, and TrustAfrica and many indidividual donors.
SUBMITTING NEWS: send to email@example.com
The Newsletter comes out weekly and is delivered to subscribers by e-mail. Subscription is free. To subscribe, send an e-mail to with only the word 'subscribe' in the subject or body. To subscribe online, visit: http://www.pambazuka.org
This Newsletter is produced under the principles of 'fair use'. We strive to attribute sources by providing direct links to authors and websites. When full text is submitted to us and no website is provided, we make the text available on our website via a "for more information" link. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org immediately regarding copyright issues.
Pambazuka News includes short snippets from, with corresponding web links to, commercial and other sites in order to bring the attention of our readers to useful information on these sites. We do this on the basis of fair use and on a non-commercial basis and in what we believe to be the public interest. If you object to our inclusion of the snippets from your website and the associated link, please let us know and we will desist from using your website as a source. Please write to email@example.com
The views expressed in this newsletter, including the signed editorials, do not necessarily represent those of Fahamu or the editors of Pambazuka News. While we make every effort to ensure that all facts and figures quoted by authors are accurate, Fahamu and the editors of Pambazuka News cannot be held responsible for any inaccuracies contained in any articles. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you believe that errors are contained in any article and we will investigate and provide feedback.
(c) Fahamu 2006
If you wish to stop receiving the newsletter, unsubscribe immediately by sending a message FROM THE ADDRESS YOU WANT REMOVED to email@example.com Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org should you need further assistance subscribing or unsubscribing.