Pambazuka News 244: China in Africa - the new imperialism?
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CONTENTS: 1. Highlights from this issue, 2. Features, 3. Comment & analysis, 4. Pan-African Postcard, 5. Advocacy & campaigns, 6. Letters & Opinions, 7. Obituaries, 8. Books & arts, 9. Blogging Africa, 10. African Union Monitor, 11. Women & gender, 12. Human rights, 13. Refugees & forced migration, 14. Elections & governance, 15. Corruption, 16. Development, 17. Health & HIV/AIDS, 18. Education, 19. Environment, 20. Land & land rights, 21. Media & freedom of expression, 22. Conflict & emergencies, 23. Internet & technology, 24. eNewsletters & mailing lists, 25. Fundraising & useful resources, 26. Courses, seminars, & workshops, 27. Jobs
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Featured this week
FEATURES: China – The new kid on the block or an old wolf in new clothing? Stephen Marks investigates
COMMENT AND ANALYSIS:
- Hydro-power, big dams and broken communities. Frank Muramuzi reports on a hydro-power conference in South Africa
- Ochieng Rapuro on the night the Kenyan government cracked down on the media
- Questions and answers on biopiracy, the new resource robbery
- Hetty Kovach on reforming the International Monetary Fund
LETTERS: Cartoon anger and Uganda’s no-party to multi-party elections
PAN-AFRICAN POSTCARD: Remember Kwama Nkrumah? Tajudeen Abdul Raheem takes us back to the coup of February 24, 1966
BLOGGING AFRICA: Sokari Ekine summarises the voices of African bloggers
BOOKS AND ARTS: Kenyan Indian poet and spoken word artist Shailja Patel catches up with Faustin Linyekula, Congolese Dancer and Choreographer
CONFLICTS AND EMERGENCIES: Diamonds still driving DRC conflict, says new report
HUMAN RIGHTS: US to launch predator strikes in the Horn?
WOMEN AND GENDER: Bridging the gender digital divide in FOSS
ELECTIONS AND GOVERNANCE: New-look Ugandan parliament as big names fall in poll
DEVELOPMENT: African 'Cotton Four' preparing new proposal on domestic support
CORRUPTION: Kenyan private lawyers earning millions from government
HEALTH AND HIV/AIDS: The science of HIV/AIDS in South Africa
EDUCATION: 115 million primary school-age children out of school, says report
ENVIRONMENT: The interaction between the environment and trade
LAND AND LAND RIGHTS: State sends police after land grabbers in Kenya
MEDIA AND FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION: Radio station unblocked in Uganda
FUNDRAISING AND USEFUL RESOURCES: Online fundraising workshops
PLUS… information on Courses and Jobs.
* Pambazuka News would like to apologise to its readers for the lack of updates to the website www.pambazuka.org This has been necessitated by the changeover to a multi-language website. www.pambazuka.org will be fully functional shortly.
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WIN TICKETS TO UK SCREENING OF TSOTSI
Come to an exclusive preview of this year’s most critically-acclaimed film, Tsotsi, in the Magdalen College Auditorium (Longwall St entrance) in Oxford at 8.00pm on Friday 10 March, a week before the film goes on general release across the UK on 17 March.
ABOUT THE FILM
Set amidst the sprawling, crime-ridden streets of Johannesburg - where survival is the primary objective - this award-winning film traces six days in the life of a ruthless young gang leader, who ends up caring for a baby he accidentally kidnaps during a car-jacking. With the baby’s welfare at stake, he is compelled to confront his own brutal nature and face the consequences of his actions, if he ever wishes to find redemption in his life.
Nominated for an Academy Award, a Golden Globe and two BAFTA Awards, Tsotsi is an epic and uplifting drama about the ultimate triumph of love over rage.
Tsotsi is in cinemas nationwide from 17 March (certificate 15). For more information, go to www.tsotsimovie.com
In addition to its Oscar, Bafta and Golden Globe nominations, Tsotsi has already won numerous awards including: Audience Award, LA Art Film Festival; People’s Choice Award, Toronto International Film Festival; Audience Award, Edinburgh International Film Festival; Audience Award, Denver International Film Festival; Greek Parliament Award, Thessaloniki Film Festival.
Screening takes place on Friday 10th March at 8pm
At Magdalen College Auditorium (Longwall St entrance), Oxford
Entry £5 (£3 concessions)
Proceeds to Fahamu’s programme in South Africa
WIN FREE TICKETS!
Email firstname.lastname@example.org with the names of the countries that by 12 February 2006 had ratified the African Union's Protocol on the Rights of Women in Africa. Closing date 6 March at 0900 hrs GMT. The first 10 correct entries picked out of a hat will each receive a free ticket.
China in Africa - the new imperialism?
From oil fields in Sudan to farms in Zimbabwe, China’s presence in Africa can be seen and felt everywhere. In recent times, writes Stephen Marks, China’s relationship with Africa has shifted from Cold War ideology to a more classical pursuit of economic self-interest. But its not all negative – as the global economic giant bulges, opportunities also arise for Africa.
China’s increased presence in Africa is part of a wider effort to ‘create a paradigm of globalisation that favours China’ . In the past China’s African presence benefited from a shared history as an object of European imperialism and its ideological commitment to anti-imperialism and national liberation. China’s declared principles of respect for national sovereignty and non-interference in internal affairs appealed not only as a contrast with the suspect motives of former colonial powers, but for less elevated reasons to rulers threatened with internal dissent.
But more recently China’s policy has shifted from Cold War ideology to a more classical pursuit of economic self-interest in the form of access to raw materials, markets and spheres of influence through investment, trade and military assistance - to the point where China can be suspected of pursuing the goals of any classical imperialist.
The new orientation found institutional expression in the first China-Africa Co-operation Forum held in Beijing in 2000 - a mechanism to promote diplomatic relations, trade and investment between China and African countries. In the same year, China-Africa trade passed $10bn for first time . By 2003 it reached $18.5bn. According to some estimates it is on course to reach $30bn this year . More recent Chinese estimates claim that it is already approaching $40bn .
By 2004, nearly 700 Chinese companies were operating in 49 African countries . The December 2003 Forum in Addis Ababa, attended by Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao and UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, attracted 250 African businessmen and 150 from China.
The earlier ‘ideological’ phase of Chinese-African relations was part of a global strategy which by the mid-70s saw some 15,000 doctors and over 10,000 agricultural engineers from China serving all over the ‘third world’. In Africa China undertook ambitious infrastructure projects such as the Tanzam railway between Tanzania and Zambia, in parallel with a Western-financed road system. Chinese influence was also promoted through provision of technical expertise, doctors, scholarships and aid. Today over 900 Chinese doctors still work in African countries . Military assistance was concentrated on ideological allies [including at different times Ethiopia, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia]. By 1977 trade with Africa reached a record $817m .
China’s aid policy
There are areas of continuity with earlier Chinese policy however. Low-interest loans have been extended at non-commercial rates, and leveraged a second time or forgiven at China-Africa Cooperation Forums - earning China diplomatic support at the UN [eg over Taiwan].
Chinese medical, agricultural and engineering teams continue to operate in many African countries.
‘Since 1963, some 15,000 Chinese doctors have worked in 47 African states treating nearly 180 million cases of HIV/AIDS. At the end of 2003, 940 Chinese doctors were still working throughout the continent. Beijing prefers technical support over financial aid to African countries for obvious reasons. Financial aid stretches resources and diverts capital from significant needs at home, therefore investments in trade and projects that have a chance at providing returns are more popular than direct aid and loan programs.’ 
The continued emphasis on educational opportunities and the provision of expert assistance helps in identifying China as a paradigm of ‘soft power’. But the 15,000 African students who have studied in China since independence  have obviously brought China some commercial as well as political returns.
China’s economic role
‘Almost every African country today bears examples of China's emerging presence, from oil fields in the east, to farms in the south, and mines in the center of the continent. According to a recent Reuters report, Chinese-run farms in Zambia supply the vegetables sold in Lusaka's street markets, and Chinese companies - in addition to launching Nigerian satellites - have a virtual monopoly on the construction business in Botswana’. 
‘The 674 Chinese state companies involved in Africa have invested not only in booming sectors such as mines, fishing, precious woods and telecommunications, but also in others that the West has neglected, even abandoned, as less profitable. As a result, Zambia’s Chambezi copper mines are being worked again and supposedly exhausted oil reserves in Gabon are being explored. In 2004 Chinese investments represented more than $900m of the $15bn of foreign direct investment (FDI) in Africa. Of the thousands of projects under way, 500 are being exclusively directed by the China Road and Bridge Corporation, a state enterprise, helping to place 43 Chinese companies among the 225 global leaders in the area. In Ethiopia China is involved in telecommunications; in the Democratic Republic of Congo it has done work for Gecamine, the state-owned mining company; in Kenya it has repaired the road linking Mombasa and Nairobi; and it has launched Nigeria’s first space satellite. As an incentive to Chinese nationals, eight African countries have been officially designated tourist destinations.’ 
For China, Africa represents:
- A key source of raw materials, especially crude oil of which China is now the world’s second largest consumer, with over 25% of its oil imports coming from Sudan and the Gulf of Guinea .
According to Chinese Customs figures reported by the BBC in January 2006, in the first 10 months of 2005 trade between China and Africa rose by 39% to over $32bn, largely fuelled by imports of African oil, mainly from Sudan. According to the US Energy Information Administration [EIA] China accounted for over 40% of the total growth in global oil demand over the past four years. 
- A market for cheap Chinese-made products.
- Opportunities for investment in infrastructure [hydro-electric plants, pipelines, factories, hospitals]
especially in potential markets where western firms are deterred by political considerations such as sanctions or political instability.
Indeed, where Western firms may be deterred by domestic pressures from NGO’s or by the impact on corporate image of a connection with repressive or corrupt regimes, China benefits by a ‘double whammy’ - its freedom from such pressures makes it a more attractive partner for some regimes, and the absence of competition from Western multinationals creates the possibility of larger profits. 
‘China, through the China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC), is the most visible and significant investor in Sudanese oil exploration, transportation and production infrastructure. These investments enabled Sudan to begin exporting oil in 1999 and eventually become a net oil exporter. Though Sudan's current production capacity of 310,000 barrels per day (bpd) is relatively insignificant compared to the global production of approximately 82 million bpd, its product is of a high quality. Such so-called "light-sweet crude" is in short supply in global markets, and sells at a premium over Middle Eastern crude which has a higher sulphur content. China's investment in Sudanese oil production capacity has resulted in Sudan's output now amounting to five percent of China's total imports. Significantly, China is Sudan's single largest customer of oil, taking over half of Sudan's exports in 2003.’ 
Though China won its original oil exploitation bid in Sudan in 1995, it was Washington’s decision to cut ties two years later which gave China its opportunity to step in. While Washington still maintains partial oil sanctions against Sudan, China has become Sudan’s biggest trading partner, taking 60% of the country’s oil exports, amounting to 9 per cent of China’s total oil needs.
“We started in Sudan from scratch” said Li Xiaobing, a Chinese Trade Ministry deputy director dealing with Africa. “When we started there, they were an oil importer, and now they are an oil exporter. We've built refineries, pipelines and production." He dismissed a question about Sudan's human rights record, saying, "We import from every source we can get oil from." .
In return China has used the threat of its Security Council veto to stall or dilute resolutions on Darfur. According to China’s assistant Foreign Minister Zhou Wenzhong: “I think the internal situation in the Sudan is an internal affair, and we are not in a position to impose upon them.”
This combination of infrastructure investment, trade and political support at the UN constitutes what has been called a ‘complete package’.
The favour is reciprocated. According to Awad al-Jaz, Sudan’s Energy and Mining Minister, “the Chinese are very nice. They don’t have anything to do with politics or problems. Things move smoothly, successfully”.
China’s ability to offer a complete package free of extra-commercial conditionality is also illustrated by Angola, now China’s second-largest trading partner in Africa, which buys 25% of its oil production.
At the end of 2004 the Chinese export bank Eximbank approved a $2bn credit for rebuilding infrastructure destroyed in the civil war. In return China would receive 10,000 barrels of oil a day.
The line of credit - at 1.5% over 17 years - might look disadvantageous to China in the short term, but Chinese companies will secure the lion’s share of lucrative contracts for national reconstruction. Local people are unhappy. As independent economist José Cerqueira pointed out: “There is a condition in the loan that 30% will be subcontracted to Angolan firms, but that still leaves 70% which will not. Angolan businessmen are very worried about this, because they don’t get the business, and the construction sector is one in which Angolans hope they can find work.” 
The availability of the Chinese loan is believed to have encouraged Angola to resist pressure from the IMF and Western countries to improve the transparency of its oil sector and make other reforms in what has been described as Africa’s most corrupt country. A planned donors’ conference was postponed in mid-2005. But China’s ambassador to South Africa described the pressure for transparency as a condition of the conference as ‘uncalled for’. 
Nonetheless Angola was to see a rare example of China intervening to ensure that its assistance was not put to improper use. On 9 December 2004 Chinese pressure forced the business go-between Antonio Pereira Mendes de Campos Van Dunem to resign from his post as secretary of the Angolan council of ministers after the British watchdog on transparency, Global Witness, announced that the money was in danger of being diverted to other uses. Some of the money went to fund government propaganda for the 2006 general election .
Despite this diversion, the line of credit has also made possible the funding of railroad repair, road building, office construction, and a fiber-optic network .
In Zimbabwe, China has also taken the opportunity provided by Western disengagement and pressure for change, to offer itself as an alternative source of no-strings assistance and investment. As part of what Robert Mugabe calls his ‘look East’ policy, China delivered 12 fighter jets and 100 trucks to Zimbabwe’s army when the country was subject to a western arms embargo .
In 2004 a delegation of 100 Chinese businessmen headed by Wu Bangguo, chair of China’s legislature, agreed joint venture deals in mining, transportation, communications and energy.  In addition, China was reported to have sent crates of T-shirts for supporters of the ruling party in the 2005 elections, and provided a radio jamming device located at a military base outside the capital to prevent independent radio stations from broadcasting during the election campaign.
China was also reported to have designed Robert Mugabe’s new 25-bedroomed $9m mansion, and donated its special cobalt-blue slate roof tiles.  In the words of Emerson Mnangagwa, speaker of Zimbabwe’s Parliament: “With all-weather friends like the Peoples Republic of China...Zimbabwe will never walk alone.”
A football stadium in Freetown, originally donated by China in the 1970s, in the earlier, ideological phase of China’s relations with Africa, has now been joined by a Chinese-built government office block, parliament building and military headquarters. Chinese firms have also invested in a sugar plant, a tractor factory and an industrial complex, as well as renovating and managing the biggest hotel.
"We like Chinese investment because we have one meeting, we discuss what they want to do, and then they just do it," Sahr Johnny, Sierra Leone's ambassador to Beijing, told the BBC’s Lindsey Hilsum. "There are no benchmarks and preconditions, no environmental impact assessment. If a G8 country had offered to rebuild the stadium, we'd still be having meetings about it."
But Hilsum found that this was precisely what worried local anti-corruption campaigners, among them Zainab Bangura of Sierra Leone's National Accountability Group. "We've spent 15 years working on conventions against corruption, and now the Chinese come in and they haven't signed up to any of it. They're secretive and they only deal with governments - they don't consult civil society or anyone. I'm worried that African governments will see China as an alternative to G8 countries, because with the Chinese they don't have to worry about good governance and all that." .
China - the new imperialist?
Moeletsi Mbeki, deputy chairman of the South African Institute of International Affairs, has called the trade relations between South Africa and China "a replay of the old story of South Africa's trade with Europe."
While admitting the benefits of trade, he points out that exports from China and Hong Kong to his country are double those from Africa and almost double what South Africa exports to China. "We sell them raw materials and they sell us manufactured goods with a predictable result - an unfavourable trade balance against South Africa."
In a classic re-run of the trade relations established by European imperialism, South Africa, like other African states, exports raw materials to China while importing cheap Chinese products which compete with, and undercut, local industries. The South African trade union federation COSATU has called for restriction of Chinese imports and has urged retailers to stock a minimum of 75% of locally made goods. .
South African campaigners can point to Chinese exports of textiles to South Africa, which grew from 40% of clothing exports to 80% by the end of 2004. But local industry also suffers from the growth of low-cost Chinese exports to the USA and Europe, which cuts off prospective African exports in those markets. This effect has been particularly aggravated since the end of the Multi-Fibre Agreement [MFA] . ‘Once the MFA expired in January 2005, however, Chinese exports to the United States soared and African exporters found they could not compete. More than 10 clothing factories in Lesotho closed in 2005, throwing at least 10,000 employees out of work. South Africa’s clothing exports to the United States dropped from $26 million in the first quarter of 2004 to $12 million for the first quarter of 2005.’ 
In October 2005 trade union representatives from the clothing, textiles, footwear and leather sector from Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Madagascar, Mauritius, Namibia,
Tanzania, Nigeria, Lesotho, Swaziland, Zambia, Zimbabwe and South Africa met in Cape Town to discuss the effects of the phasing-out of the Multi-Fibre Arrangement (MFA). They concluded that the African continent has lost more than 250 000 jobs over the past few years, as cheap textiles and clothing imports from China have flooded the domestic African markets. 
They called for African governments to impose temporary safeguard measures allowed under China’s accession to the WTO which provide for limitations of 7.5% on China’s percentage of the domestic market until 2008. The USA and EU have already concluded such limitation agreements which will have had a beneficial knock-on effect on African producers, by slowing down the pace at which Chinese exports to the USA and EU can displace African exports.
In the words of the Eurpean Commission, their agreement ‘also provides a window for adaptation for producers in developing countries whose textile exports to the EU were being displaced by a surge in imports from China’. 
Perhaps in anticipation of such a quota being imposed, China’s ambassador to South Africa recently announced that China will ‘voluntarily limit the export of garments and some textile items to South Africa’ . SA officials confirmed that talks were still continuing, and China had offered to help with training in the clothing and textile industries.
The announcement got a cautious welcome from the industry and from the South African Clothing and Textile Workers Union (SACTWU) whose members had lost some 60,000 jobs between January 2003 and November 2005. Industry sources claimed clothing imports from China had risen 40% in the previous nine months.
In Zambia only 20 local textile factories remain out of 250 20 years ago, and Chinese competition is blamed  Leonard Hikaumba, president of the Zambian Congress of Trade Unions, bemoaned what he called the dumping of cheap textiles and electronics goods by Chinese exporters. "The beneficiaries of these are the exporters, not us," he said. 
In Nigeria the textile and clothing workers union estimates some 350,000 jobs have been lost directly because of Chinese competition and 1.5m indirectly over the last five years. According to the Union’s secretary-general,"Most warehouses in Lagos have been converted to churches because there are no manufactured goods to warehouse."
The Kenyan clothing industry has also warned of further job losses as Chinese imports crowd local producers out of the domestic market as well as the European market, where quotas on Chinese imports [see above] are due to be relaxed. Firms in Kenya’s Export Processing Zone [EPZ] reported at the end of 2005 that 14 factories had closed with the loss of 7000 jobs since January that year with the remainder operating at 50% capacity .
China’s policy on arms sales has also caused concern. The Beijing Declaration, adopted at the first China-African Cooperation Forum in October 2000, provided that China would co-operate in stopping the illegal production, circulating and trafficking in small arms and light weapons in Africa. However Chinese weapons, even including land mines, have appeared in Burundi and the Congo, quite apart from the legal sales of weapons to such regimes as Zimbabwe and Sudan. Three small-arms factories were said to have been built by China outside Khartum, whose output was subsequently found among arms captured by southern rebels.
The way forward
It would be wrong to suggest that China’s impact only raises problems, or is merely a re-run of past imperialisms. The fact that Western corporations and government now face competition can give African states more room for manoeuvre, and an alternative to accepting the dictates of the IMF. Naturally, NGOs, human rights campaigners and trade unionists have concentrated on cases where this room for manoeuvre has been exploited by repressive regimes seeking to avoid pressure exerted on Western governments to impose some minimal human rights or environmental conditions. But that does not mean that the ‘Chinese option’ could not also be exploited to widen the room for all African states, not only those abusing human rights.
In this respect, China’s willingness to advance a loan to Angola regardless of IMF conditions could prove a beneficial precedent in other cases. And China’s willingness to invest in sectors which Western investors have neglected, such as cotton production in Zambia, should be welcomed even if China sees them as ‘loss-leaders’ for more directly self-interested involvement.
Indeed at least one US Africanist has sketched out an optimistic [some might say utopian] scenario in which the USA and China co-operate on a programme to further human rights and sustainable development in Africa as in the long-term interests of both.
‘The question then is does China want to be seen in Africa as the defender of rogue states, the more aggressive seeker of Africa’s natural resources, without regard to transparency, development and stability there? Is there room for developing some rules of the road, some common objectives, some ways in which Chinese economic gains for Africa (and itself) can come side by side with building more stability and democracy there? Are there incentives – more joint ventures, more common work on both the exploitation and preservation of natural resources in Africa (e.g., the rain forests) – that the United States can offer? In sum, are there more areas of win-win situations in Africa for both the United States and China? It is better to explore these possibilities than to start down the path of trying to limit Chinese influence, for the odds are against that happening any time soon.’ 
However remote the prospect of these counsels proving acceptable in the corridors of power in Washington and Beijing, African civil society needs to consider how to react to China’s challenge which avoids uncritical acceptance on the one hand or mere rejectionism on the other. There are lessons to be learnt from the experience of other nations in the ‘majority world’ in engaging with China’s economic dynamism in ways which turn a problem into an opportunity, and encourage the emergence of what Chris Alden has called ‘an Africa that can say no’ .
Regimes stigmatised in the West as ‘rogue states’, often with good reason, will not be willing or able to insist on much conditionality in return for a Chinese lifeline. But that should not prevent African civil society from researching and advancing a package of measures which could be put forward as a necessary conditional component of Chinese investment packages. These could include training prorammes, technology transfer, the fostering of local management skills, and the reservation of a proportion of Chinese investment and infrastructure projects for local firms and labour.
The experience of a number of Latin American states may provide a model here. Brazil, Chile, Mexico and Venezuela have all experienced increased Chinese trade and investment but have combined this with positive trade balances, due in part to bilateral agreements giving preferential access for key sectors or products.
Most recently, Brazil and China have agreed that China will set quotas for eight types of Chinese textile exports to Brazil, according to the Brazilian Trade Ministry's Web site. The products account for 60 percent of Brazil's textile imports . Further research and exchange of information would show how much of the Latin American experience could be generalised to provide policy conclusions applicable in an African context.
Recent signs that China may be considering similar quotas for South Africa are encouraging, as is the accompanying talk of assistance for retraining and restructuring. But it is not unduly cynical to see such initiatives as an attempt to forestall stronger measures. A more comprehensive package, negotiated Africa-wide, is needed; especially since quota agreements under the WTO will expire in 2008, and are in any case open to abuse by ‘quota hopping’. 
Further work could also indicate the potential for integrating into a single package, as Alden has suggested, such issues as:
- Building on China’s existing commitment to bilateral debt write-offs;
- Raising China’s dumping practices before the WTO’s dispute machinery; or tying Chinese action on this and other trade issues to further raw material agreements;
- Promoting gains for local consumers and the local economy in all trade and investment deals;
- Building on China’s existing commitment to AU peace-keeping in Darfur, and on the commitment in the 2000 Beijing Declaration to control illegal arms sales; and seeking to extend the commitment to more responsible regulation of China’s own lawful arms sales.
Research is also needed into the feasibility of the suggestion that the existing China-African Cooperation Forum be used as the institutional forum for such a process, with an agreed code of conduct reinforced by an annual review process, and even a parallel civil society forum, similar to hat introduced at South Africa’s suggestion into the Non-Aligned Movement’s summits.
A closer study of China’s own policy-making processes and the development of Chinese thinking might indicate if the prospect of China accepting and participating in such a process is more than merely utopian. As Chris Alden concludes:
‘While stability is recognised to be a prerequisite for development, the proximity of Beijing or its parastatals to African governments that systematically abuse rights of its citizens only compromises the achievement of this long-term aim. After all, China need only hearken back to its own experience of decades of banditry before 1949 to recognise the devastating effects that externally fostered conflict can have upon society and the prospects for economic development.’
* Send comments to email@example.com
* Stephen Marks is a freelance writer and researcher specialising in
development and human rights issues.
 Economic growth and soft power: China’s Africa Strategy
 China’s African Safari
YaleGlobal, 3 January 2005
 New highlights in China-Africa comprehensive cooperation
 The Chinese are coming
4 July 2005
 China’s Rising Role in Africa: Presentation to the US-China Commission
Princeton N. Lyman
July 21, 2005
 China’s trade safari in Africa
Le Monde Diplomatique
Jean Christophe Servant
 China-Africa trade jumps by 39%
BBC News 6 January 2006
 China in Africa: all trade with no political baggage
New York Times, August 8 2004
 Boston Globe 24 December 2005
 A rising China counters US clout in Africa
Christian Science Monitor March 30 2005
 The Emperor's New Clothing Deals
Business Day (Johannesburg)
February 21, 2006
 Textiles: China Voluntarily Cuts Back Exports to South Africa
 ‘Tsunami of cheap goods’ overwhelm African jobs
 Leveraging the Dragon: Toward "An Africa That Can Say No"
eAfrica, 1 March 2005
 Domestic textile exports to face quotas in Brazil
China Economic Net 13 Feb 2006
Hydro-power, big dams and broken communities
South Africa will host a high-profile conference next week that aims to unlock the “hydropower potential of Africa as a major energy option to promote sustainable development, regional integration and poverty eradication in Africa in support of NEPAD.” But as Frank Muramuzi of the African Rivers Network points out, civil society participation - and the voice it gives to communities who have been devastated by the big dams needed for hydro power – has not been a given. Meanwhile, the World Commission on Dams (WCD), which provides a tool for dam projects to better meet needs, for greater transparency and for equitable sharing of benefits, is still largely standing by.
Next Monday, 6 March, African governments and the hydropower industry will gather for an event that will weigh heavily on the future of dams in Africa. ‘The African Ministerial Conference on Hydropower and Sustainable Development’, hosted by the South African government and planned in close collaboration with the International Hydropower Association, has a single objective: "to unlock the hydropower potential of Africa as a major, renewable energy option to promote the sustainable development, regional integration and poverty eradication in Africa in support of NEPAD." Conference organisers have a clear plan to present an African declaration on hydropower mid-March at the World Water Forum in Mexico.
The conference planning process has been fraught with resistance to civil society participation. But things are looking brighter as a shift in the planning has opened up, albeit late in the process, to civil society inclusion. What space will be given for the voice of civil society at the conference remains to be seen.
However, the conference may serve as a gateway for the significant funding earmarked for African development which received high priority by financial institutions and northern governments in 2005. But without critical analyses of projects, this support may deliver ill-chosen infrastructure selected without fair consideration for more equitable and sustainable options. Large dams rank among the most notoriously flawed development projects. In Africa, as elsewhere around the world, large dams have too often failed to deliver promised benefits while impoverishing rural communities in their wake.
The story may sound like a broken record to many Africans, but it does not have to be played into the future. A tool for planning energy and water development including large dams, the World Commission on Dams (WCD), has been standing by for five years; it could result in projects that better meet local needs, while also leading to more transparent planning processes, less corruption, and more equitable sharing of benefits.
On November 16, 2000, Nelson Mandela and other notables including the president of the World Bank launched the report of the WCD report at a glitzy ceremony in London. The report, “Dams and Development: A New Framework for Decision-Making”, was the result of two years of intense research and analysis. Initiated by the World Bank and the World Conservation Union (IUCN), and run by a team of commissioners from all sides of the big-dams debate, the report was the first independent evaluation of the performance of the world’s large dams.
The WCD found that large dams provide important water and power supply services, but that their social, environmental and economic costs are often unacceptable. The Commission estimated that large dams have displaced a total of 40 to 80 million people, and that many of these people were impoverished in the process. The WCD managed to find consensus through a process that brought conflicting interests -- the dam industry, governments, affected communities, and civil society organizations - to the table. It was hailed as a new model for resolving international conflicts. Its lessons could readily apply to much of Africa’s resource conflicts.
Dam projects such as the Kariba (Zambezi River) and Manantali (Senegal River) have shown that the environmental, social and economic costs of large dams are often higher than predicted, while benefits to everyday Africans have been overstated. The World Bank-financed Kariba Dam, the largest man-made reservoir in the world at the time of its construction, neglected the 57,000 Tonga people forced to move for the project. Their lives and livelihoods, and those of their children, have been diminished by the project, and today they are poorer than they were before the dam. Two more large African dams, High Aswan (Egypt) and Akosombo (Ghana), were similarly constructed at the expense of displacing tens of thousands of Africans.
Akosombo was built for an energy-intensive aluminum smelter, yet a great majority of Ghanaians still lack access to electricity. Today, Cameroon wants to build the Lom Pangar and Nachtigal dams for the Canadian aluminum company Alcan, but Cameroonians who are not yet on the grid will continue to wait in the dark for modern energy services. The livelihoods of those downstream of such dams as Cahora Bassa (Mozambique), Tiga and Challawa (Nigeria), Lesotho Highlands Water Project (Lesotho) and Manatali have seen their economic livelihoods squeezed as the river ecosystem on which they depend is degraded, their health impacted as water quality is reduced, and their communities broken apart by the flooding from large reservoirs. Across most of Africa, the lessons of these projects - which informed the WCD report and its recommendations - have not yet been translated into African water and energy planning processes.
But the picture has changed from 50 years ago, and civil society is speaking out against bad development projects with an ever-louder voice. Today, communities in Sudan are struggling to obtain proper compensation and rehabilitation for the 50,000 people now being resettled for the Merowe Dam. In Mozambique, Uganda, and Cameroon, communities and NGOs are fighting for access to project information and to have public concerns addressed. In South Africa, Zimbabwe, Nigeria and Ghana, communities are working to get reparations for the past injustices they have suffered because of dam projects.
The WCD offers a people-centred approach that will avoid yesterday’s impacts and fulfill the water and energy needs of Africans without sacrificing communities and the environment. The report’s recommendations are a blueprint for international best practice against which all new projects are being measured. Key to better projects is to first assess the needs -be it energy, water supply, or irrigation needs - and assess all available options in a balanced, transparent and participatory manner. Policy, regulatory, and new project options should all be considered to find the most effective solutions. New projects, such as dams, should only go ahead if they find demonstrable public acceptance, and if the rights of affected people are guaranteed. By creating a level playing field and involving all legitimate interest groups, the recommendations of the WCD offer the best way to select water and energy development solutions.
The WCD report did not fade away after its launch. Today, it influences the decision-making of many institutions. Governments (including those from South Africa, Germany, Sweden and Nepal) initiated national processes to translate the report’s recommendations into policies. Multi-stakeholder dialogues are now being launched in more countries, including Ghana, Mozambique, Nigeria, and Uganda. Many financial institutions are committed to considering the report’s recommendations in their future water sector lending. Communities affected by large dams have started to insist on respect of their rights as recognized by the WCD. A conference to commemorate the 5th anniversary was held in Berlin on November 16, 2005. Its focus: implementing the recommendations of the WCD.
The broad coalition that supports the WCD approach sees that its use will improve the planning processes for water and power projects. Yet critical actors are missing. After the WCD dissolved, the World Bank, a key financier of dams, walked away from the report that it had initiated, and announced that it would not follow its recommendations. Instead, the Bank embarked on a strategy to build more dams, which completely disregarded the WCD’s findings. The World Bank’s new dam strategy ignores 70 years of experience with corrupt decision-making, ruined rivers, impoverished communities, and unpayable debts. Dam builders are hoping that the Bank’s dam strategy will inject new lifeblood into their ailing industry.
The World Bank is now considering financing Bujagali Dam in Uganda, and keeping its eye on Lom Pangar Dam in Cameroon, as well as a few dams proposed under the Nile Basin Initiative. With the World Bank doling out the G8 funds for Africa, large-scale infrastructure such as dams will surely be big winners. Without applying the lessons learned from past flawed projects and the recommendations for improved planning by the WCD, the majority of Africans will once again surely be losers.
Organisations from across Africa, linked through the African Rivers Network, are anxious to work with governments and dam builders who are ready to follow the model of the WCD. African governments, NEPAD, the World Bank and the dam industry should fully embrace the approach of the WCD, which offers the best chance to avoid the costly and painful mistakes of the past. These entities should work to align their decision-making processes with the WCD recommendations, help rectify the outstanding injustices done by dams in Africa, and ensure that future dam projects in Africa comply with the WCD.
* Frank Muramuzi is coordinator of the African Rivers Network, a network of African dam-affected communities and NGOs working for justice in Africa’s energy and water development. For more information on ARN, please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org For the official conference website: www.hydropowerconference2006.co.za
* Please send comments to email@example.com
The night the Kenyan government cracked down on the media
An early morning raid on media institutions in Nairobi has shocked Kenyans accustomed to media freedom and a vibrant local press, as well as sparking alarm amongst human rights groups, donors and opposition politicians. Ochieng Rapuro gives an account of the situation.
Hooded and heavily armed policemen on Thursday morning raided the offices of the Standard Media Group, shutting down KTN television station and burning copies of the edition of the Standard newspaper. The raid came three days after three journalists working with the media house were arrested by the police and kept in custody beyond the 48 hour limited provided for in law.
The journalists were arrested over publication last Saturday of a story claiming that President Mwai Kibaki held a secret meeting with Mr Kalonzo Musyoka, an opposition MP and a former member of the Kibaki Cabinet who was sacked after he campaigned against a Government supported draft constitution last November.
The Government suffered a devastating defeat in the referendum vote that divided the Kibaki Cabinet. Last Saturday’s story had claimed that Mr Musyoka had met the President at State House, Nairobi where they held discussions on a wide range of political matters including the appointment of Mr Musyoka as the Vice President.
Though Mr Musyoka himself has denied ever holding such a meeting with the president, he has since issued a statement disassociating himself with the latest events and maintained that there were legal channels to seek redress.
Yesterday, the Minister of State in charge of Internal Security, John Michuki, said the raiders were police officers acting on official orders. A statement issued by police late afternoon said the raid had been conducted in the interest of national security. The statement said intelligence gathered by the police had indicated the Standard Group had the intention of orchestrating ethnic hatred in the country.
Human Rights groups condemned the police action as unlawful use of state security machinery to curtail press freedom. The groups said it was the latest in a series of actions that the Kibaki administration had undertaken to curtail press freedom since coming to power in January 2003.
The police operation was led by the Nairobi Area Criminal Investigations boss Sammy Githui and his operations counterpart Jim Njiru. In the shadows of darkness the police squad first attacked the media house’s head offices in Central Nairobi before moving to its press located in the city’s industrial area. It was the night that the autocratic hand of the Kenyan government came down hard on the media as it moved in to immobilize the printing press.
Despite initial denials, it was clear that this was a police raid. Workers at the Standard’s printing press offices said the leader of the raiders was heard communicating with a senior police officer at the Buruburu Police Division (OCPD) informing him that the operation was underway. Mr Justus Nyawaya, the night supervisor, says he saw a group of heavily built men armed with AK47 rifles and wearing red reflective jackets ordering the workers to lie down.
The invaders rounded up all the guards and their dogs and held them hostage for the entire three hours that the operation was underway, taking away mobile phones and personal effects from the workers and snatching the company’s car keys from the drivers.
* Ochieng Rapuro is an Editor with the Standard Newspapers
* Please send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org
* See the Reuters report 'Raid on media group shocks Kenyans' (http://tinyurl.com/kwefv) for more information.
Biopiracy: The new resource robbery
Anti-suppressants, treatment for diabetes, antibiotics, anti-fungals, infection fighters and vaccines - all of these are naturally occurring in Africa, and have been used for centuries, but these practices are being threatened as Western laboratories pilfer both knowledge and resources. With the release of "Out of Africa: Mysteries of Access and Benefit Sharing," some light has been shed on the increasing trend of biopiracy across the African continent. Beth Burrows of the Edmonds Institute, a non-profit public interest group which focuses on environmental education, answered some questions from Pambazuka News about this report.
Pambazuka News: Can you define biopiracy?
Beth Burrows: As was noted in the introduction to Out of Africa, the agreed to definition for the purposes of the Out of Africa work was: "Where there is access to or acquisition of biodiversity (and/or related traditional knowledge) without prior informed consent, including prior informed consent about benefit sharing, on the part(s) of those whose biodiversity (or traditional knowledge) has been ‘accessed’ or ‘acquired’, there is biopiracy - i.e., theft."
PZN: How are the development of Africa and biopiracy related? What does sustainability have to do with protecting biodiversity?
BB: Africa has a great wealth of biodiversity. It should be able to control how that "wealth" is used and to ensure that it is always used for the benefit of the (current and future) peoples and other biodiversity of the continent. Exactly how each country and group of people envisions its own development is beyond my competence (or audacity) to say; each group would have to be asked that question for itself.
If biodiversity cannot be sustained, then clearly it will not be "protected" or available to future generations. It is likely that those who have stewarded biodiversity for centuries - the people who live with it - are the best judges of how to sustain and protect their own biodiversity.
Merely consuming biodiversity to facilitate short-term development schemes would not seem wise in terms of conservation (and future use). This was the understanding of those who created the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). The treaty was meant to stand on three legs - conservation, sustainable use, and equitable sharing of benefits derived from sustainable use. As Hamdallah Zedan, former Secretary of the CBD once wrote referring to equitable sharing of benefits: "The latter objective is of particular importance to developing countries, as they hold most of the world's biological diversity but feel that, in general, they do not obtain a fair share of benefits derived from the use of their resources for the development of products such as high-yielding varieties, pharmaceuticals and cosmetics. Such a system reduces the incentive for the world's biologically richer but economically poorer countries to conserve and sustainable use their resources for the ultimate benefit of everyone on Earth."
PZN: What are the ethical considerations behind biopiracy, and what sort of protection is currently in place for biodiversity in Africa?
BB: The ethical considerations behind biopiracy - or, more correctly, behind the objection to biopiracy - are the same as those behind the objection to theft and disrespect and colonialism.
Whatever "protection" against biopiracy that exists in Africa would have to exist on the national level (although in some places in other parts of the world, some local communities have set their own rules of access and refused access to biodiversity for anyone not abiding by those rules). National protection would be reflected in laws on access to and benefit sharing (ABS) from biodiversity in each country. There would also have to be rules governing the recognition of the rights of indigenous and local communities to their biodiversity.
Although many countries have signed the Convention on Biological Diversity, many still do not have such ABS rules or have not implemented those they may have. Further, the CBD itself has still not agreed to binding international requirements for access and benefit sharing. (The CBD parties are in the process of negotiating such requirements right now.) Unfortunately, many of the signatories have not yet passed national laws to govern access and benefit sharing in relation to the genetic resources of the country (and that of various indigenous peoples within their countries).
PZN: What are the repercussions, both environmental and social, that occur as a result of biopiracy? How are indigenous cultures and communities denigrated when biopiracy occurs?
BB: This is a question you would have to ask each group from whom material or traditional knowledge has been taken (with permission, recognition, and/or remuneration). Not all groups would necessarily feel or think the same. Not all loss of biodiversity (or degradation or overconsumption of biodiversity) would have the same effect in every place.
In general, the human repercussions may range from a sense of having been robbed, to a sense of having been disrespected, to a sense of having been neglected altogether. Each people must decide for themselves what is the repercussion. It is not for a "non-member" to make this decision.
On the environmental level, it is also difficult to give a general answer to the question of repercussions from biopiracy. This is a subject for investigation on the national (and local level). At its worst, it is possible that biopiracy may put so much pressure on a genetic resource that it may disappear altogether from the place in which it originated. Biodiversity can become rare and expensive and finally entirely unavailable to those for whom it was once abundant and freely used.
PZN: Can you estimate, in financial terms, how much profit has been made as a result of biopiracy in Africa?
BB: No. You would have to do this research on a theft-by-theft basis. While some "thefts" may have turned out to be entirely unprofitable, others may have resulted in profits of billions. And then, of course, there is the whole problem of deciding what is "profit" and who keeps the books.
PZN: What needs to happen, at both an international and local level, to ensure that biopiracy doesn't occur? What policies need to be in place, and what do communities need to do to protect the biodiversity of their areas?
BB: At all levels, communities need to decide under what conditions they will allow access to their biodiversity and traditional knowledge. They need to have a system in place to deal with those who may come to access their biodiversity. The system should be known to everyone.
On the national level, this system must be enfolded in law, as it must on the international level where, it is hoped, a floor on ABS (access and benefit sharing) will be set (below which it is not acceptable to go). There may need to be capacity building in some places to ensure that effective laws are created and obeyed. In some parts of the world, this might mean capacity building in law. In other places, it might mean capacity building in ethics. For the system to work, academic researchers would have to understand that times have changed and the conditions under which they access biodiversity have changed as well.
Further, there would also need to be concurrent changes in patent law on the national and international level to ensure that no one gets a patent on any invention without revealing the source of any biological material used in the "invention" and without attaching a copy of the relevant access and benefit sharing agreement to the patent application. Here, I must note that it is even more complicated than I have stated. For example, many peoples find patents granted on biological materials to be unethical and undesirable; for them any ABS agreement would involve agreements not to patent the material, knowledge, or any derivatives from either.
The necessity of resolving all these many difficult issues is why the nations of the world, with a few exceptions, see the benefit of negotiating an ABS treaty in the context of the CBD.
* Interview conducted via email by Karoline Kemp, a Commonwealth of Learning Young Professional with Fahamu.
* Please send comments to email@example.com
Unable to Vote with One’s Feet? Developing Countries and the IMF
When it comes to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), most people agree that change is needed. Disagreement arises when discussing the type of change. Some say the IMF has done so much damage and is so discredited that it should be scrapped altogether. Others argue for varying degrees of reform that will move the IMF towards being an organisation that is accountable and democratic. Here, Hetty Kovach from the European Network on Debt and Development discusses what needs to be reformed.
Over the last couple years, many emerging economies have turned their back on the International Monetary Fund (IMF), due to a serious lack of faith in the Fund’s policy advice and frustration at their severe under-representation and lack of voice within its structures . In December 2005 for example, both Brazil and Argentina made surprise announcements that they would settle the entirety of their debts to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) ahead of schedule. According to the Argentine Government, this decision was taken explicitly to free Argentina from IMF conditionalities and interference. In South Africa, the Government refused to even start borrowing from the IMF, probably after having looked at the rest of the continent’s experiences with the Fund.
One might think that with the announcement last year by the IMF to cancel its portion of debt owed by some HIPCs, many developing countries would also at last have the choice to be IMF-free; unburdened by the load of IMF debt payment. Unfortunately, nothing could be further from the truth. Firstly, last year’s debt cancellation deal only covers a handful of developing countries. For example, in Africa only14 countries will benefit this year, with a further 18 still pending. Secondly, as long as nearly all official donors/creditors continue to tie their much-needed aid and bilateral debt relief to the presence of an IMF program (or signal in the case of the new Policy Support Instrument in Nigeria), developing countries will remain in the IMF’s grip, pushed to take out new programs and implement new Fund conditions, no matter how politically intrusive or development unfriendly these policies may be.
Civil society organizations both in the South and the North have campaigned for many years for bilateral donors to de-link their funding from the IMF, but progress has been slow. Donors argue that they are dependent on IMF macroeconomic analysis in the absence of another institution with the Fund’s economic capacity and reach. A couple of years ago the European Commission made it an official policy to not automatically withhold money from a developing country that goes off-track with the IMF, reserving the right to continue lending if it feels this is appropriate. The UK Government last year also announced a new conditionality policy, which again in theory de-linked funding from the IMF signal. However, in reality, neither of these policies have been put into practice and tested and remain firmly on paper only.
If exit from the IMF is not an option for most developing countries in the foreseeable future, then how can the IMF better meet developing countries needs or at the very minimum do least harm?
There are three key areas which are in urgent need of reform if the Fund is to play a more constructive role in developing countries. Firstly, the IMF must radically reform the conditions it attaches to its lending programs. The Fund needs to provide developing countries with more space to determine their own economic policies. The 2005 G8 Declaration argues that ‘developing countries have the right to decide their own economic policies’). However, current Fund conditions severely restrict the economic policy choices available to developing countries. Specifically, the Fund needs to provide far greater fiscal flexibility, allowing countries to scale-up their spending in order to meet the internationally agreed Millennium Development Goals. The Fund also needs to stop imposing trade liberalization and privatization as a condition of their lending. These are clearly beyond the Fund’s mandate, are highly political and have unproven poverty impacts.
Secondly, the Fund needs to realize process matters and radically transform the way it goes about devising and negotiating its lending programs. The Fund should move from imposing a one-size-fits-all approach to macro-economic stability and growth and instead provide developing countries with a set of different policy scenarios, giving countries the final choice. Negotiations should also be far more transparent, participative and subject to democratic oversight.
Thirdly, and finally, the Fund needs to rapidly change its own institutional set up. Not only is it unrepresentative of developing countries, despite these countries comprising of 40% of its members, but it is also inadequately structured and ill-equipped to deal with developing countries needs. The Fund needs to decentralize further and employ more staff with social science backgrounds.
The case for radical reform of IMF conditionality
What is wrong with the type of policy conditions the Fund is imposing on developing countries? International policy makers, civil society organizations (CSOs) and academics from both the North and the South are extremely concerned that the Fund’s insistence on setting very low inflation rates and stringent fiscal deficit targets as a means to achieving macroeconomic stability are undermining the ability of countries to grow, hindering their ability to reach the internationally agreed Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and, in some cases, causing countries to refuse increases of much-needed aid.
No one, least of all civil society, is arguing that macroeconomic stability does not matter, but there is a significant degree of latitude in academic and policy circles as to what levels of inflation, budget deficit and reserves are needed to achieve ‘stability’, particularly in relation to achieving growth. Take inflation, for example, the Fund almost consistently imposes inflation targets of 5% or below in developing countries, arguing that any higher than this is harmful to growth. However, a recent United Nations Development Program (UNDP) study argues that inflation rates anywhere between 5 – 10%, if not higher, correlate well with growth, with lower than 5% inflation rates often having a harmful impact (UNDP 2005, Mckinley, T. MDG-Based PRSPs Need More Ambitious Economic Policies. Policy Discussion Paper, United Nations). This is extremely worryingly, as according to a recent study by Oxfam International 16 out of 20 countries they looked at with an IMF program had inflation targets of less than 5% (Oxfam International, “The IMF and the Millennium Goals: Failing to deliver for low income countries” September 2003. Briefing Paper No.54).
On budget deficits, the picture is even worse. The Fund imposes a high degree of fiscal austerity, with their policy conditions targeting deficits of 3% and below. This is something even developed countries find hard to achieve, the United States being a case in point. What is the danger here? Imposing limits on the budget of developing countries is often at odds with the spending these countries desperately need to meet the MDGs.
The most recent example of the negative impact of IMF fiscal austerity can be seen in Mozambique, where an IMF cap on budget spending has resulted in Mozambique effectively turning away donor money in order to stay within the confines of IMF spending limits. In November last year, Mozambique issued its draft PARPA (Plano de Accao para a Reducao da Pobreza Absoluta 2006-9; Mozambique's PRSP) which said aid would increase from $889 million in 2006 to $1,044 million in 2008, but remain constant after that. Donors, however, were upset and said they had stressed to the government that more money was available. But the Ministry of Planning and Development appears to have based its figures on the IMF cap, rather than money actually available. The IMF has put a limit on the government's current spending, committing it to cutting its deficit from 4.5 bn new meticais ($225 million) in 2005 to 3.8 bn new meticais ($190 mn) in 2006. This is, in effect, the amount of budget support the government is allowed to spend, yet budget support is predicted to increase from $274 million to $308 million.
Another clear example of the impact of harmful IMF budget deficit caps is on healthcare in Africa. A World Health Organization study in 2004 showed that overall healthcare to Africa is falling (World Health Organisation (2004) Public Health Spending Per Capita Per Region table cited in ActionAid 2005, Rowden.R ‘Changing Course: Alternative Approaches to Achieve the Millennium Development Goals and Fight HIV/AIDs’ p28).
However, according to a recent study by the Joint Learning Initiative on Human Resources for Health and Development, in order to fight HIV/AIDs effectively, countries in Sub-Saharan Africa need to radically expand their healthcare spending, tripling the size of their current workforces ((2005) The Joint-Learning Initiative Strategy Report: Human Resources for Health Overcoming the Crisis, Harvard University Press cited in ActionAid 2005, Rowden.R ‘Changing Course: Alternative Approaches to Achieve the Millennium Development Goals and Fight HIV/AIDs’ p28). This type of increase to the wage bill is totally out of the question in many African countries due to expenditure ceilings imposed by the IMF. Zambia is a case in point. In June 2003 Zambia was disqualified from receiving the IMF’s Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility (PRGF) due to the Government breaking the Fund’s strict budget deficit ceiling, which did not allow the government to go beyond a 3% budget deficit. The budget overrun was largely a result of the Government raising the pay of public sector workers, after union negotiations and a parliamentary decision to give low paid public sector workers a pay increase. The IMF withheld US$175 million in funds, with other donors following suit; the European Commission, for example, froze US$38 million in aid.
The Zambian Government was forced to renege on its wage agreement, undermining its own democratic procedures and in November 2003 it began new negotiations with the IMF, with the condition that it must keep its budget spending in line with their conditions. After a long civil society campaign to raise awareness of the need to employ more teachers by the Global Campaign for Education, the IMF did in the end revise its deficit targets, but this is the exception to the rule.
A recent Oxfam paper looked at the trade-offs countries make in reaching severe deficit reductions of 3% or below in relation to health and education spending. They examined 20 countries and calculated how much money these countries could have channeled into health and education had it not been for the need to meet the IMFs fiscal deficit targets. The result was that current expenditure on health and education could have been doubled and in some cases even tripled.
When the Fund is challenged on the matter of budget deficits, its standard reply is that countries must live within their means. This disregards a well-tested economic policy model which allows for expansionary fiscal and monetary policies to enable growth in productive areas. Historically, periods of rapid economic growth in Continental Europe, the USA and Japan were associated with large programmes of public expenditure and even larger budget deficits. Right now the Fund denies governments the ability to borrow domestically on productive areas.
The bottom line is that the Fund needs to ensure that it is not stopping countries from scaling up their spending on development.
Another area of concern is the structural or more institutional conditions the Fund sets. In particular, imposing privatization and trade liberalization, both of which can have harmful poverty impacts and have little to do with achieving macroeconomic stability.
The UK Government in its new conditionality policy set out last year has acknowledged that privatization and trade liberalization policies have had dubious poverty impacts and should not be set as conditions, unless serious analysis of their poverty impacts has been undertaken beforehand. The Fund argues that it has dramatically reduced the number of structural conditions it sets, but progress has varied across countries according to a Eurodad study, with reductions of 50% in some and virtually none in others (Eurodad (2003) Is the IMF pro-poor? ). Numerous countries are still subject to this type of condition. Cameroon, for example, has a water privatization condition as part of its IMF PRGF. Cameroonese trade unions and NGO partners are preparing a mobilization against this, as happened in Ghana a couple of years ago around World Bank driven water privatization.
Process Matters - Ensuring Better Negotiations
The second major area in need of reform is the way the Fund negotiates its lending programs in LICs. The Fund must stop prescribing a one-size-fits-all approach in this area and move towards a scenario building approach. This would entail taking account of specific country conditions and being explicit about the trade offs of different policy approaches. This is clearly not happening right now. A recent study by AFRODAD of IMF low-income programs in seven African countries, revealed that in all but one country, the IMF had failed to provide different scenarios regarding inflation, deficit and public spending targets (Afrodad (2004) Understanding the PRGF and its implications for Development). A recent IMF review also found “little evidence that the staff advises the authorities on a range of available policy options and implementation plans during the process of program development” (2005b:40). Instead, the review noted that “process of program design… tends to be driven more by an interplay between the staff and the authorities’ initial views, with the staff exploring the room to accommodate the authorities’ preferences rather than proactively developing policy options”(IMF 2005b:40). The review calls on the staff to be more proactive in this area in the future.
Secondly, the Fund needs to carry out, in a much more systematic way then present, poverty social impact analysis (PSIA) on differing macroeconomic policy choices. The Fund did promise to start undertaking more PSIAs in 1999, but progress to date has been dismal. The unit in the Fund charged with undertaking this analysis, for example, has only four people. This is clearly not good enough. Eurodad analysis has also shown that IMF has undertaken very few PSIAs to date, particularly on fiscal policy issues (Eurodad Hayes L. (2005) Open on Impact).
Finally, the Fund has to do more to ensure that negotiations happen in an open and participative manner, with civil society groups and other government line ministries than the finance ministry present. Importantly, the Fund should do more to ensure that its program documents are subject to parliamentary oversight before being signed. All too often citizens are forced to head to the streets to be heard. Between late 1999 and the end of 2002, the World Development Movement documented 238 separate incidents of civil unrest involving millions of people across 34 countries against IMF and World Bank imposed economic policy conditions (World Development Movement (2005) Denying Democracy).
Governance – Need for an Overhaul
Thirdly, and finally, there are major problems with the IMF’s governance. Most commentators point to the lack of representation and voice of low-income countries and middle income countries at the top of the organization. This is undoubtedly true, but little is said about other aspects of organization, like the need to allocate greater administrative funding to work in LICs. Currently 75% of lending programs are in LIC, but these programs only receives 11.5 % of administrative funds. There is also a real need to decentralize the IMF further to give greater decision making power to resident representatives who operate within country. Last, but not least, there needs to be more staff recruited from social and political science backgrounds to ensure a cultural change in the way programs are designed and implemented.
Undertaking these reforms would go someway to making the Fund more development friendly. Given that developing countries cannot vote with their feet and exit the IMF, it is imperative the IMF cleans up its act and does the least harm in the developing world.
* Hetty Kovach is Policy and Advocacy Officer for the European Network on Debt and Development (www.eurodad.org)
* Please send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org
Nkrumah’s legacy 40 years after the coup
Tajudeen Abdul Raheem
Tajudeen Abdul-Raheem remembers the life of Kwame Nkrumah, ousted from power in a coup 40 years ago on February 24. Vilified in life, in death Nkrumah has been vindicated and many of his ideas are only now coming to fruition.
Last Friday, February 24, marked the 40th anniversary of the overthrow of the government of Kwame Nkrumah in a military coup that was inspired, orchestrated and sponsored by the combined forces of local reactionaries and external neo-colonialist powers, especially Britain and America for whom Nkrumah's militant Pan Africanism was abhorrent. It was a day of infamy that signalled the retreat of radical nationalism in Africa and delayed any hopes of uniting Africa and defending it against imperialist predators and their local agents.
But the overthrow of Nkrumah did not diminish the dream. In his exile years in Conakry, until his death in 1972, Nkrumah continued to write, speak and mobilise for a radical socio-economic and political transformation of Africa from Cape Town to Cairo.
His writings became more rigorous and programmatic because he had the benefit of having being in power before and therefore was able to critique his own experience and suggest ways of moving forward. Unlike many people who become 'pragmatic' with loss of power and advancing age, Nkrumah became even more revolutionary.
One of the reasons given for the coup was that Nkrumah was 'communist'. Another one popular among enemies of Pan Africanism at home and abroad was that Nkrumah allegedly wasted Ghana's resources on African liberation. It did not matter to his critics that this 'communist' programme was never hidden from the people of Ghana who successively voted for Nkrumah's party and their allies despite tremendous opposition from political rivals representing business and Ghana's largest nationality group, The Ashanti, and their junior partners. The 'wasted' resources they talked about included full and open support for liberation movements across Africa to free Africa from colonial rule and apartheid racism in southern Africa.
Today everybody, including our former colonisers who also kept apartheid alive for four decades, have all become 'our partners in development' and profess good will towards Africa. Yet they opposed our liberation and did not forgive Nkrumah for daring to challenge their racist prejudice and boldly doing something about it, not only in Ghana but across Africa. For this he was derided, caricatured, ridiculed and attacked even out of power and after death. After several failed attempts to assassinate him failed they got their agents within the armed forces of Ghana and the police to launch a coup while Nkrumah was out of the country.
Ghana became orphaned and did not recover its confidence as a country again for many decades. It is a testimony to Nkrumah's success that 40 years after he was overthrown Ghanaian governments and leaders will still be judged (and judged poorly) against him. Even his enemies are forced to acknowledge him as a true national leader and statesman who was genuinely committed to the welfare of the people of Ghana and Africa.
Was Nkrumah perfect? Definitely not. He did make many mistakes. As Cabral famously remarked in his tribute to Nkrumah at a state funeral in Conakry, April 1972, if Nkrumah died of cancer it was 'cancer of betrayal'. But he did not just stop at blaming those who betrayed Nkrumah he also used the African idiom, 'Food only cooks in the pot' to ask why it was possible for him to be toppled. Many people still supported Nkrumah but the party that was the organic link between him and the masses had been hijacked by cliques.
Is there any difference today? How many of our previously radical leaders are still popular with the masses? The longer they stay in power the more distanced and distancing from the people they become. They begin to consume the propaganda that 'without you the country will collapse'.
Time they say is a final arbiter. The ideas that Nkrumnah lived and died for continue to reverberate across the continent. It is clear to everybody today that Pan-Africanism is not a dream anymore but a precondition for the survival of Africa and Africans in the face of new rampaging and rapacious exploitation, packaged as globalisation. Those who had accused Nkrumah of being too impatient had the honesty to admit in public that they were wrong and regretted that they were not as radical as Nkrumah had been. Africa could have been saved the wasted decades.
History has absolved Nkrumah in many ways. At the dawn of the new Millennium the BBC ran a campaign for the African of the Millennium. There were so many nominations and it was obvious that many interests were routing for Nelson Mandela, but in the end Kwame Nkrumah was the clear choice of the majority of the listeners.
It is not only at the symbolic level that Nkrumah has been rehabilitated. Some of the important institutions created by the African Union were issues on which Nkrumah was vilified in the 60s. Examples include his call for an African High Command. Now we have a Peace and Security Council, working on a Common Defence Pact and the AU has plans for a Standby Force.
Nkrumah campaigned for one Union Government and they said it was impossible, but today we have elements in place like the Pan African Parliament and the African Court of Human Rights. There are discussions at senior levels on actualising a Central Bank for Africa. There is a standing committee of heads of state that is working on ways of accelerating the process for the creation of a Union of African States by 2009 as proposed by Libya. We may not get there that soon but that we are seriously re-engaging these issues means that Kwame Nkrumah has not died in vain.
We cannot call for his soul to rest in peace. Instead we ask that his spirit continues to haunt us so that we can realise for this generation and safeguard for the future, the United Africa for which he lived and died.
* 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
Global: Bamako appeal from WSF
The Bamako Appeal, issued from a meeting just before the World Social Forum, Bamako, January, 2006, has now been launched for signature, in French, English and Spanish, by the Dakar-based Forum Tiers Monde/Third World Forum. “The Bamako Appeal and the proposals for a plan of action included in the document were adopted by the Assembly of Social Movements of the World Social Forum which met in Caracas on January 29, 2006, in the frame of the polycentric WSF 2006.”
South Africa: Unban Ashwin Desai
The following is an extract of the petition to the Vice-Chancellor of the University of KwaZulu-Natal to demand the unbanning of internationally acclaimed academic and activist, Ashwin Desai.
"We the undersigned write to express our concern over your decision to bar Ashwin Desai from seeking a position at the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN). This decision constitutes a violation of a basic form of academic freedom: the right for anyone to be fairly considered for a position in the academic community for which they are qualified. We urge you to reconsider this decision and allow Ashwin Desai to apply and be fairly considered for paid (as well as honorary) positions at UKZN."
Follow the link for the full letter and to sign the petition.
From Salman Rush-to-Die to the Danish Cartoons
The article "From Salman Rush-to-Die to the Danish Cartoons", Pamabazuka 2006-02-16, by Tajudeen Abdul-Raheem, refers.
The author has marred his point of view with lots of "ifs" and "buts" to an extent the confused reader starts wondering which of the two opposing camps the writer really supports – the extremists or the moderates. On the other hand, it is unreasonable to expect a totally peaceful demonstration out of 1.4 billion angry Muslims worldwide.
Tajudeen Abdul-Raheem got too philosophical on an otherwise simple and straightforward case of people outraged by the publication of what they regard blasphemous stuff. His reference to Salman Rushdie, Khomeini's Fatwa and Bradford clerics is somewhat irrelevant here, though his style will please those Muslims who strive to be in the good books of the West. Judging from his name I take that the author is a Muslim. I sincerely hope he is not one of those "Muslim Liberals" who antidote their "Islamic Stigma" with atheism so as to become acceptable to the Anti-Islamic West. It is always "Islam and the West" and not "Islam and Christianity" simply because there is little of Christianity left in that part of the World.
Uganda: From no-party to multi-party
Andrew M Manyevere
There are many similarities between the Ugandan political situation and that of Zimbabwe. While Uganda did not have political parties from the post Idi Amin era, Zimbabwe has had a dictator in President Robert Mugabe.
The Congo crisis of 1998 was a political situation which benefited the Uganda army as well as the Zimbabwe army in addition to all top officials in these countries. The visit in Congo was not nationalistic at all but very selfish, causing clashes between African states
Considering that after the first shock at the coming back of Besigye from exile and his announcement of the formation of the opposition Forum for Democratic Change (FDC), Museveni launched a militia to suppress the strength of opposition, a replica of what Mugabe did in 2000.
Zimbabwe has gone through the militia era but not through a military coup era as yet and I do not see many of us longing or wishing for any such experience anyway.
The difference between Uganda's passage to freedom and that of Zimbabwe is that Uganda has a rich background of very able leadership, unlike Zimbabwe which was born and is dying under the pillage of a dictator of the magnitude of Idi Amin. Ugandans need to be praised for sustaining a fight for democracy. Besegye like many other heroes of liberation should be encouraged to fight on and set a better face of Uganda. Similarly, Morgan Tsvangiarai has to be given exhortation to carry on.
The Eagle has flown away: A tribute to Dr Bekololari Ransome-Kuti
(2 August 1940-10 February 2006)
It was with sadness that I learnt of the death of Dr Bekololari Ransome-Kuti. Beko died at the time in our life as a nation that we needed him more that ever before. His contributions to the enthronement of democracy, respect for the rule of law and human rights were monumental. He was both a leader and a follower. His passion for fairness, justice and due process were legendary. His love for the ordinary Nigeria was unimaginable. No wonder his doors at his Imariam close residence in Lagos were open to all and sundry. His loss is a national loss and a personal one for me and for most of us.
Beko will be remembered for his struggles against military dictatorship in Nigeria. These struggles earned him stints in various prisons and dungeons across Nigeria. To date, he remained one of the most arrested, assaulted and imprisoned human rights activists in the annals of the nation. Beko had been in and out of prison not on account of criminality but on account of his dogged determination to speak truth to power at all times.
He, together with his older sibling the late legendary Afro beat superstar Fela Anikulapo Kuti, faced constant harassment by the rouge bands of military and of security operatives at different times in our national history. In 1977 under the military dictatorship of General Obasanjo, the military assaulted and burnt down the family’s home in the Moshalashi area of Lagos. The patriarch of the family later died as a result of the injuries that she sustained during the attack and arson on the family’s home. These events, rather than weakening Beko, made him stronger as he continued his crusade for a better Nigeria till the very end. In furtherance of the military agenda of cowing critics and opponents of their misrule, Beko was in 1995 charged with the most ludicrous charges - faxing defendants' statements to persons unknown and "trying to manage an unmanageable society". The Abacha junta gave him a double life sentence in the infamous “phantom coup mistrial”. The term was later commuted to 15 years imprisonment following popular outcry over the trail and sentence.
In his lifetime, Beko was accomplished in his endeavours. He qualified as a medical doctor at the age of 22, having graduated from the University of Manchester, England in 1963. Whilst at Manchester he was President, Nigerian Students, in Manchester. Beko was a fellow of the Medical College of Nigeria and General Medical Practice and West African College of Physicians, while also doubling as a member of the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) and Nigerian Medical Council. He held several other national posts in the Nigerian Medical Association and was member and later chairman of Lagos University Teaching Hospital Board.
As a human rights and pro-democracy activist, Beko belonged to several Non-Governmental Organisations some of which he either founded or helped to found. He was chairman of Campaign for Democracy; President, Committee for the Defence of Human Rights, and Executive Director, Centre for Constitutional Governance, which he founded a few years after his release from prison in 1998. He was prominent in the struggle against the annulment of the June 12, 1993 elections.
On a personal note, I remember how Beko assisted us with his facilities when I returned to Nigeria in 1999 to help set up the Nigeria office of the Centre for Democracy & Development (CDD). At that time when communication in Nigeria was most problematic, Beko generously offered us the use of his office facilities ranging from telephone, facsimile, Internet etc. He played a great role in helping CDD establish its presence in Nigeria. Even programme wise, he was always there for us when we needed him, offering all kinds of support that we needed at that teething period. It would have been difficult for us to achieve the remarkable success that we did if not for people like Beko, who believed in the vision of CDD of being a prime catalyst for change as well as the need to bridge between activism and academy.
After he founded CCG a few years later he never failed to consult with colleagues on any issue that he had doubts about. This is a clear demonstration of his humility and openness.
His fame and sharp intellect did not deter him from being a calm and patient listener. Though he had the opportunity of living a privileged life; he chose the path of struggle and lived a Spartan life.
Let me in concluding this tribute to Beko borrow the words of my brother, Chidi Odinklalu: “Beko was witty, cheeky, irreverent, talented, courageous, determined, logical, artistic, honest. And in all this and more, the best.”
Rest in perfect peace Dokky. You paid your dues to your country and all your sacrifices will be etched in our memory until the fullness of time.
* See http://www.tribune.com.ng/120206/news03.htm for more information about Dr Bekololari Ransome-Kuti.
* Please send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org
‘My dance is nothing more than an attempt to remember my name’
Kenyan Indian poet and spoken word artist Shailja Patel caught up with Faustin Linyekula, Congolese Dancer and Choreographer, at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco. This is a compilation of the conversation.
Faustin Linyekula: My name is Kabako. Kabako is my name. Once Kabako, forever Kabako. I have a story to tell.
I came to dancing late, over 20. I grew up dancing like most people dance, because in my country, we have sound everywhere. But for many years I could not call myself a dancer. Because I believe in rituals, and I had not gone through the rituals, the training, to be a dancer. I was an actor using his body. So I began by deconstructing movement – line and point.
Shailja Patel: Why did you go back to Congo?
FL: Because I was tired of being a stranger. The most painful was to be a stranger in Kenya – in another African country. I spent 6 years as a tourist in Kenya. I could not get papers. Every year, I crossed the border into Uganda for one day, then came back in, so I got a tourist visa stamp in my passport.
For many years in exile, I thought: Perhaps my only true country is my body.
Theater is, first of all, a body in front of other bodies. Not light, text, or story.
SP: Why do you stay in the Congo, despite all the difficulties?
I was born and raised in a land where there was never any room for an individual. No one had a right to think.
I have inherited a pile of ruins. What can I do to make it a space where I can continue dreaming? Is it possible to continue dreaming without running away? I create using all these things which are collapsing around me which are all I have.
I was born in a country called Zaire. On 16th May 1997, I was still a Zairean. On the 17th of May, 1997, I woke up to be told I was Congolese. That my name was Faustin.
My name is everything that makes me.
Under Mobutu Sese Seko, it was illegal to have a name that was not Zairean. Whoever had a foreign name was kicked out. Whoever wore a tie was put in jail.
Every morning in school for the “revolutionary half-hour”, we sang the glories of Papa Mobutu. I studied Latin for 6 years in school.
When I perform from ritual – like something my grandmother taught me – it’s not ritual any more. On stage, under lights, it becomes something else. Performance.
Between 1998 and 2003, over 5 years, 3.3 million people were killed in my country.
Is it really possible to tell these stories, so far outside reality, and make them comprehensible?
My work is people-specific. A series of solo journeys for each performer.
Leaving it open for each one to tell their own stories, because I feel powerless.
In developing each individual’s journey, I could never think of what will come out.
There is never a sense of a given. In movement, nothing is given. Everything has to be found.
We had a female dancer in the company. She left to live in Europe, do other things. We did not replace her. People are not interchangeable. For us, from inside, we know there is a hole in the wall, and it is important to remember the hole in the wall. But we hope it is not seen from outside.
A theater venue in Kinshasa: a piece of land. A fence around. Concrete block in the middle. Open air.
8 power cans. 8 switches. When there is a performance, people bring chairs, and sit.
When I work in these circumstances, I redefine theater. Is it a building, or a relationship between performer and audience?
You always have malaria at one point or another.
The rice we eat is 16th grade rice from Thailand.
We eat frozen fish from Namibia, yet we have deep rivers and lakes. For many years the country has produced nothing for its own people.
The country is very rich.
The leaders are very rich.
They make sure we know how rich they are.
The people are very poor.
Even those who pray all night
In our minds, we are still, to date, colonial subjects.
Legitimacy, in any African country, still comes from outside. Your own people may hate you. But if America, Britain or France like you you will stay leader.
SP: How do you balance making art with all you need to do to support your art – travel, fundraising, marketing, etc.?
FL: There is no balance. You just go. You just move.
We, the privileged, why should we complain or run away?
Maybe we don’t care about arts. We just need to believe in something where no one believes in anything anymore.
We just need a space to keep dreaming.
SP: Can you talk about your next work?
FL: My next work is called Festival of Lies. There is a two-hour version and a 6-hour version. Because you need time to talk about history. We are collecting stories, but we only tell lies, about ourselves and the country. At the end, we see who is winner.
Question (from audience member): What happened to the pygmies, with their rich culture and polytonal music, during the war?
FL: It’s very interesting that you ask about pygmies. The pygmies were eaten. Literally eaten, during the war. There was this belief that eating human flesh confers special powers.
But there are still some left?
FL: The average life expectancy for a Congolese is 41.
The average life expectancy for a pygmy is 29.
Kabako is my name. I had a story to tell you. But there was so much noise in my head that I forgot it. I am sorry. My dance is nothing but an attempt to remember my name.
For more about Linyekula, go to www.kabako.org
For more about Patel, go to www.shailja.com
Africa: A Nose for Money
Set in the fictional and reluctantly bilingual land of Mimbo in contemporary Africa, A Nose for Money, the latest novel by Francis Nyamnjoh, revolves around the tragedy of Prospère, a semi-literate Mimbolander searching for the finer things in life. It offers a graphic depiction of the inevitable frustration of a society that places wealth above love. The author interweaves traditional African culture and modern politics to capture the urban African pysche in a compelling and heart-rendingstyle. This cautionary tale may shock the reader, but the haunting character of Prospère is a masterpiece.
The week in blogs: 'No I don’t live in a tree when I go back to my country Nigeria'
Ethioblog - http://nazret.com/blog/index.php?title=nigeria_to_send_671_university_lecturers&more=1&c=1&tb=1&pb=1 - reports that Nigeria is to send 671 university lecturers to Ethiopia as part of an aid package – The Technical Aid Corps. They will also be sending experts on Cassava. President Obasanjo is quoted as saying:
“Like Nigeria, all other countries in the African continent need to do some soul-searching…Nigeria was passing through an interesting reformist period, which we believe we need. All of us in Africa need critical self-analysis if we are to get to where we should.”
Since when did Obasanjo do any soul searching – the Niger Delta is in flames and religious violence has taken over 100 lives with thousands injured, and then there is the state of education in the country. Yesterday Nigerian blogger Emmanuel Oluwatosin - http://www.yemma.com.ng/best-nigerian-university-ranked-6340-in-the-world-2/ - reported that no Nigerian university was ranked above 6000 in the world and only 2 were ranked in the top 100 in Africa: University of Ibadan (57 in Africa, 6304 in the world), Obafemi Awolowo University (69 in Africa, 6645 in the world).
Koranteng’s Toli - http://koranteng.blogspot.com/2006/02/comfort-food-and-rare-groove.html - publishes an extensive review of Food Culture in Sub-Saharan Africa by Fran Osseo-Asare.
“It covers the continent, dipping into all the regional flavours. There's lots of historical insight about the types of ingredients used, the crops, animals, fisheries etc. It's one of those books you can open at any page and find lots to chew on (pun intended, tongue in cheek etc). Most culinary books concentrate on recipes but this goes beyond that into the cultural and social significance of food (from who prepares it, traditions surrounding it, special meals etc).”
Koranteng is also a music reviewer and he takes the recipes and provides an appetising feast with a “musical menu of comfort food and rare groove”.
Kenyan blogger, ThinkersRoom -http://www.thinkersroom.com/blog/2006/02/get-real-poverty-eradication-101/ -
posts a piece titled Poverty Eradication 101 in which he writes that poverty will not be eradicated because there are just too many vested interests in maintaining it.
“Poverty has created a proliferation of global bodies, departments, companies, organizations, boards as well as a host of jobs that allows millions of people and dozens of governments to butter their bread…Poverty has allowed NGOs to proliferate all over the world, purporting to be working round the clock to deliver man from his poverty and deliver him to a world of manna, wine and cake here on earth…Poverty has allowed countries to earn still more money, for its coffers and for its people.”
One Arab World - http://onearabworld.blog.com/586323 - comments on the recent discovery of yet “another ancient Pharaohs temple the size of a small city in downtown Cairo”. His main focus however is not the discovery but the man who always takes credit for anything to do with Egypt’s antiquities, Zahi Hawass, Chief of Antiquities.
“What pisses me off usually about this guy is how he completely eclipses everyone that works with him, intentionally I believe. Whenever something noteworthy is discovered it’s Mr. Hawas and noone else gets mentioned. Its as if he's literally an Indiana Johns!”
“Zahi Hawass really fancies himself. Why on earth does he wear that stetson hat is a mystery to me. The guy might know about his subject but you never hear of anyone else in that supreme council of antiquities, do you? Everything that is discovered, and many are by sheer luck, has to involve him one way or another, I have not seen another Egyptian name alongside Zahi Hawasss ever to the extent I feel he is superman who works alone, a modern day real Indiana Jones that is only missing the whip.”
Jewels in the Jungle - http://jewelsnthejungle.blogspot.com/2006/02/ugandan-elections-2006-til-cows-come.html - has an extensive review of media and blog posts and commentary on the Ugandan elections last Thursday.
“Museveni wins. The people of Uganda will have to wait ‘til the cows come home for real democracy and political freedom to take hold, yet again. Personally I find the fact that Museveni has won a third term as President of Uganda an affront on the struggles for true democracy all across Africa and around the world. That the Ugandan Parliament changed the country’s constitution to allow Museveni to remain in power speaks volumes about the real intentions of this leader and his political party, the National Resistance Movement.”
Confessions of the Mind - http://confessionsofnneka.blogspot.com/2006/02/africa-is-continent-and-not-country.html - is sick and tired of people referring to Africa as a country and not a continent. Her criticism is not just of Europeans using this term but her fellow Nigerians who talk about going back to Africa rather than Nigeria. She gives as an example a conversation she has with a Nigerian who did not know she too was Nigerian.
“I was highly irritated in the way he was going on about going to Africa, how he speaks African like it was some country, I asked what part of Africa and he looked at me and repeated Africa again.”
Is it really 2006, the 21st Century? One wonders when explanations like these still have to be made.
“No I don’t live in a tree when I go back to my country Nigeria which is in West Africa, notice the way I wrote it. Yes we have malls, supermarkets, cars, roads, buildings. Yes we were taught English, from school, at home, everywhere; in fact we speak English quite well, better than the people who own the language. 99% of Africans are multilingual, meaning we can speak 2 or more languages. No, not all Africans have flies circling our bellies and mouths.”
* Sokari Ekine produces the blog Black Looks, http://okrasoup.typepad.com/black_looks
* Please send comments to email@example.com
Somali: AU mission to Somaliland says recognition overdue
The African Union is coming under increased pressure from the breakaway Somaliland Republic to accord it recognition.
This follows revelations that an AU fact-finding mission to Somaliland between April 30 and May 4, 2005, had expressed the opinion that Somaliland had been made a "pariah region" by default. It strongly recommended the country's recognition, saying that since its declaration of independence in 1991, Somaliland has been steadily laying the foundations of a democratic "modern state."
Africa: Women need a 'new and more powerful voice' says Lewis
Stephen Lewis, UN Special Envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa, speech on UN Reform and Human Rights
"As recently as ten days ago, I wasn't at all sure what I wanted to say in this luncheon address. Then, on February 16th, the United Nations announced the appointment of a new High-Level Panel on UN System-Wide coherence in areas of development, humanitarian assistance and environment. My uncertainty was swiftly brought to an end. The appointment of the panel was done in response to a fiat delivered by the governments of the world during the General Assembly last September. In the so-called 'Outcomes Document' of that gathering, the Secretary-General was 'invited' to launch work 'to further strengthen the management and coordination of United Nations operational activities so that they can make an even more effective contribution to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals, including proposals for more tightly-managed entities in the fields of development, humanitarian assistance and the environment.'"
Speech to a conference on UN Reform and Human Rights, Harvard Law School, Saturday, February 26, 2006 Delivered by Stephen Lewis, UN Special Envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa, 12:30 pm
As recently as ten days ago, I wasn't at all sure what I wanted to say in this luncheon address. Then, on February 16th, the United Nations announced the appointment of a new High-Level Panel on UN System-Wide coherence in areas of development, humanitarian assistance and environment. My uncertainty was swiftly brought to an end.
The appointment of the panel was done in response to a fiat delivered by the governments of the world during the General Assembly last September. In the so-called "Outcomes Document" of that gathering, the Secretary-General was 'invited' to launch work "to further strengthen the management and coordination of United Nations operational activities so that they can make an even more effective contribution to the achievement of the . Millennium Development Goals, including proposals for . more tightly-managed entities in the fields of development, humanitarian assistance and the environment."
Quite a mouthful, although positively mellifluous in the literary aesthetics of UN reform. And I may say, just as an aside, that if the High-Level Panel ever deigned to seek my opinion, I would love to provide some thoughts about the role of some of the multilateral 'entities'.
However, that's not why I raise the panel. I raise the panel because there are fifteen members, and of the fifteen appointees, with the whole world to choose from, three are women. Twenty-seven years after the passage of the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women, now ratified by 180 governments; thirteen years after the International Conference on Human Rights in Vienna, when we coined the mantra "Women's Rights are Human Rights"; eleven years after the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing, twice now reaffirmed at five-year intervals; almost exactly one month after the inauguration of the first-ever woman to be elected President in Africa (Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf of Liberia); two weeks before the 50th anniversary session of the Commission on the Status of Women; and in the very year when the new President of Chile broke all known precedents to inaugurate a cabinet of exact gender equality, the multilateral system disgorges a high-level panel of fifteen people to look at the re-design all those areas of the United Nations system which so significantly address the lives of women, and but three members of the panel are women.
Now it's obviously difficult for me to be critical; the UN is my second home. And for more than twenty years now, I've loved and defended the organization, whatever warts it may display on occasion. And I shall continue to be a multilateral patriot. But in the spirit of UN reform, which is the centerpiece of this conference, allow me to say that when I read the composition of the High-Level Panel, the natural instinct was to throw up one's hands in dismay and ask, "When will things ever change?" What do you have to do to get multilateralism to embrace even the simplest element of gender equality: the element called 'parity'? I'm reminded, by extension, of the Commission on Africa, appointed last year by Prime Minister Blair, with three women amongst seventeen members: by far the weakest part of the Commission report was the way in which it dealt --- or more accurately, failed to deal --- with the women of Africa. It is ever thus. Over and over again we're guilty of the same folly. I remember Lord Acton's dictum: "There is another world for the expiation of guilt, but the wages of folly are payable here, below."
Women, world-wide, are paying here, below, for that folly with their lives. I see it all around me in the AIDS pandemic in Africa, exacting a carnage amongst women that knows no parallel in modern history. What is more, in the presence of AIDS, it's virtually impossible to talk plausibly of women's human rights . every right a woman might have can be held to the ransom of the virus.
And that's but one reason why we need a revolution in the way in which the multilateral community operates. Three women out of fifteen may seem a relatively minor matter, but I would argue that it's symptomatic of a much larger truth: if you believe, as I believe, that the United Nations can fundamentally improve the human condition, then multilateralism has to learn that women comprise more than fifty per cent of the world and you simply can't continue to promote, as nation states promote, the kind of intellectual bafflegab which holds women in thrall. And it's bafflegab to imagine that the UN 'operational activities' can ever be reformed or even refreshed if we continue to confine them to the old categories of development, humanitarian assistance and environment.
Even worse, it's darn near criminal to believe, as so many nation states apparently believe, that mainstreaming gender through those three operational activities will lead to improvement in the human rights of women. It never has; in fact, mainstreaming, with its pathetic illusion of transformation, leads to a cul de sac for women. What is needed --- I've said it before, and I shall say it ad nauseam --- is an international women's agency, within the United Nations, to do for women what UNICEF does for children. It's as simple and straightforward as that.
So when the United Nations appoints another high-level group to achieve reform, not only is gender parity decisive, but so is the added investigation of UN entities that deal with women an integral part of that reform. "Operational activities" and "operational entities" then become development, humanitarian assistance, environment AND women. Without wishing to cause offence, I want to say that UN reform without a separate, definitive track for women is a travesty. I have no idea how we will get multilateralism to understand that; I have no idea how we can wrench nation states out of their miasma of sexism, but I know, as I stand here, that a reform exercise of the kind now contemplated constitutes a mortal blow to the women of the world.
To talk of UN reform and human rights for women, in the same breath, under present circumstances, is laughable.
The question then becomes, how do we move in the right direction? Let me speak openly: at the moment, in multilateral terms, the United Nations is hopelessly fragmented in its dealings with women's issues and women's human rights.
The vehicle that would seem, on the surface, to best embody the hopes and needs of women is UNIFEM, the UN Development Fund for Women. But it's not even an agency; it's a mere department of the UNDP, and it has a budget so modest and a staff so small as to belie any possibility of an agency on a grand scale. I don't belittle UNIFEM: it does its best, but its best is shackled by a lethal combination of parsimony and misogyny within the international system.
Then there's UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, which, for my money, is an increasingly impressive international agency with growing scope and inspired leadership. And despite the unwarranted attacks by the United States administration, with which we're all familiar, UNFPA continues to persevere in a splendid display of indomitability, doing excellent work on the ground.
The problem, however, is mandate and resources. UNFPA necessarily focuses on sexual and reproductive health, and although its 'mission statement' broadens those priorities, the mandate never really extends to the full range of issues relating to women, nor does it have anywhere near the resources for its present mandate let alone a broader design.
Of smaller import is the Division for the Advancement of Women that operates out of the secretariat, and acts, amongst other things, in an advisory capacity to the Secretary-General, but to all intents and purposes, the world would not subside in grief if the DAW were folded into another agency.
Nor do I think that I can or should overlook UNICEF. In a vast myriad of ways, the lives of young women and girls are intertwined with the work of the world's premier children's agency. However, the inevitable tendency is to see women primarily as 'mothers', and that serves to limit the vast array of other characteristics and roles that define the world of women. UNICEF is not the answer, nor would it wish to be the answer.
If we are to have a separate women's agency, with financing of at least a billion dollars a year (in order even to approximate the wealth and clout of other UN agencies), and several thousand staff (UNICEF has more than eight thousand), then we have to start afresh. It is surmised by many that UNIFEM would like to emerge as the strong women's arm of a revitalized UNDP, rather than as an adjunct to a dominant UNFPA. But I'd be inclined to argue that we need an entirely new agency, with a new name, a broad, encyclopedic mandate, headed by an Under Secretary-General (as an aside, I must point out that in one of the most egregious and perverse insults to women in the multilateral universe, the head of UNIFEM is ranked as a "D2", a touch better than middle management, but purely on a par with a number of individual country representatives from various of the agencies. On the other hand, every single special representative of the Secretary-General [overwhelmingly male] is of higher rank. In the lexicon of human rights violations, the situation stands as an example of shameless patriarchal assault).
We're in an intense period of UN reform. This is the moment when the women's movement, and all of its supporters, should confront every member of the international community, and lobby with indefatigable tenacity. The recommendations of this newly-appointed high level group are meant to influence the decisions of the next Secretary-General and the member states. We must find a regional champion in each of the major regions of the world, and have that country carry the banner of women's rights, calling on an ignited civil society for support. There will be a natural aversion to creating new entities, but Pavlovian instincts cannot be allowed to get in the way. We're not just fighting for women's human rights, we're fighting for women's lives.
And that's how I'd like to end the making of this argument. What I'm about to say will not sit well with some, but my views are informed by nearly five years of observing the brutal march of the AIDS pandemic across the continent of Africa.
It is my conviction that the staggering, disproportionate vulnerability of women to HIV/AIDS could have been diminished, dramatically, if the multilateral system had an agency to take up the cudgels on behalf of women. At some point in time, history will demand an explanation for the torpor that transfixed the international community while women were being decimated, and are still being decimated, in numbers that would numb the mind of Einstein.
How can we ever explain the fact that the funeral parlours and graveyards of Africa are filled with the bodies of young women in their late teens, twenties and thirties? I've just returned from Swaziland: in its most recent representative sample of ante-natal clinics, over fifty-six per cent of the women between the ages of 25 and 29 are infected. How is that other than Armageddon? How can we ever explain the fact that fewer than ten per cent of pregnant women in Africa have access to prevention of mother-to-child transmission in the year 2006? How can we ever explain the fact that fewer than ten per cent of the women in Africa know their HIV status in the year 2006? How can we ever explain the fact that grandmothers, aged, impoverished and failing, have become the last resort of orphan support in 2006? How can we ever explain the fact that young girls in a number of high-prevalence countries still don't have knowledge of how the virus is transmitted? How can we ever explain the fact that laws against sexual violence and marital rape, and laws to embody property rights and inheritance rights, are still not a part of the legislative fabric of several countries at the epicentre of the pandemic in 2006? How can we ever explain the fact that so many international human rights instruments, from the African protocol for the rights of women to the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, have been ratified by a host of African states, only to find them dishonoured in the breach? How can we ever explain the fact that the women of Africa carry the continent on their backs, and reel under the burden of care, unacknowledged and uncompensated, while the world looks on with eyes of glass? How can we ever explain the fact that the Millennium Development Goals, six of the eight of which explicitly address women, will never be reached in Africa by the year 2015?
I'm tired of ranting into the void. We need, need now, need desperately, a mass movement in support of women's rights, whose culminating achievement will be the creation of an international, multilateral women's agency. By sheer accident of timing, the appointment of the High-Level Panel gives us a perfect entry point. If the Panel, however male-laden, however cerebrally-resistant, were to take on board the issue of women as a fourth frame of reference, and emerge, for the first time in the 61-year history of the United Nations, with a recommendation that gave to women an organizational vehicle to change and challenge the world, then we would have the breakthrough that gives voice, breath and sinew to the meaning of equality.
Agencies of the UN system are capable of changing the world. Look at UNICEF in the 1980's when it advanced the Child Survival Revolution; look at WHO in the last two years as it initiated anti-retroviral treatment which will prolong millions of lives; look at the World Food Programme today, expanding its mandate to touch ever greater numbers of the uprooted and disinherited of the earth.
A true international, multilateral agency for women can do the same. There are infinite numbers of studies to show that to achieve the human rights of women leads, irresistibly, to the amelioration of the human condition without distinction as to race, sex, language or religion. God knows, that's what the world needs. It's sad, therefore, that in his report to the Commission on the Status of Women, whose meetings begin in two days time, the Secretary-General is forced to point out "that in no country in the world has women's full de jure and de facto equality been achieved."
It's 2006. What a commentary on male hegemony.
In the New York Times last Thursday, February 23rd, there was a front-page story by Michael Wines, describing the exodus of hundreds of refugees from a refugee camp in Zambia. They were searching for food. The world community, yet again, had failed to provide the resources sufficient to feed the hungry. It was a story laden with heartbreak. Inevitably, in such refugee situations, the majority of the adults affected are women.
They need a new and powerful voice. They need an advocate that never allows the world to forget the sorrow it perpetuates.
They need a women's agency.
Global: Bridging the gender digital divide in FOSS
Social justice advocates welcome the development of Free Open (or Libre) Source Software (FOSS) and regard it as having the potential to make a significant contribution towards bridging not only the digital divide, but also the gender divide. According to the Association for Progressive Communications, the Free Open Source movement is based on ''Open'' pillars: Open Source, Open Standards and Open Content. FOSS (or FLOSS, as it is sometimes called) gives a licence to users to access software source codes, modify them and redistribute the original or modified programs. Women, both in the North and South, stand to gain tremendously from the FOSS movement and it is hailed as having the potential to deliver appropriate information and communication technology on a grand scale to disadvantaged groups.
Global: Gender and health equity resource guide
The purpose of this resource guide, produced by the Institute of Development Studies (IDS), is to give an overview of gender sensitive interventions and initiatives directly or indirectly related to health that have been tried at macro and micro levels. Through mapping different experiences, the guide provides information on lessons learned, results achieved, and the challenges that have emerged in promoting gender and health equity. It includes information on gender-sensitive approaches, working methods, practical methodologies and tools which can be incorporated into policies and programmes. In pulling these resources together the aim of the guide is to create a practical reference mechanism for those involved in implementing programmes and policies worldwide.
Global: International donors fill void left by US funding hold
A new fund will support women's health organizations around that world that have been cut off from US aid because their stance on abortion is not in line with the Bush Administration's. The UK has already pledged $5 million. While the rest of the world is working to mediate the harm of the Global Gag Rule, the United States continues to march down a destructive path by cutting funding to foreign assistance programs that benefit the health and empowerment of women and children.
Libya: 'Protective' facilities serve as places of arbitrary punishment
The Libyan government is arbitrarily detaining women and girls indefinitely in “social rehabilitation” facilities, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today (February 28). Officially portrayed as protective homes for women and girls “vulnerable to engaging in moral misconduct,” these facilities are de facto prisons. The 40-page report, “A Threat to Society? Arbitrary Detention of Women and Girls for ‘Social Rehabilitation'" documents numerous and serious human rights abuses that women and girls suffer in these facilities. These include violations of their rights to liberty, freedom of movement, personal dignity, privacy and due process.
Uganda: Shift in AIDS policy tied to US
Uganda's first lady Janet Museveni is running for a seat in parliament on Feb. 23. Anti-AIDS activist Beatrice Were might have supported her a few years ago. But now she blames her for restigmatizing the disease with help from U.S. funding.
East Africa: US to launch predator strikes in the Horn
East Africa could be the site of lightning strikes by US special forces and aerial drone weapons in coming years as part of what the Pentagon is terming "the long war" against Islamist militants. The Horn is specifically cited in the recently completed Quadrennial Defence Review as one of the global regions of growing concern to US strategists.
Ethiopia: Prisoners of conscience prepare to face 'trial'
As international concerns regarding the human rights situation in Ethiopia escalate, Amnesty International has called for the immediate and unconditional release of opposition leaders, human rights defenders and journalists who will face trial on charges that include treason, violent conspiracy and "genocide". "These people are prisoners of conscience, imprisoned solely on account of their non-violent opinions and activities," said Kolawole Olaniyan, Director of Amnesty International's Africa Programme. "It is unacceptable that they are now facing serious criminal charges that could lead to death sentences and possible execution."
Global: Amnesty calls for no delays in adopting human rights council
Amnesty International has called on all governments to adopt without delay the draft resolution on the Human Rights Council presented today (February 23) by the President of the General Assembly as the first concrete step in meeting the 2005 World Summit’s commitment to strengthen the United Nations' Human Rights machinery. "This is an historic opportunity that governments must not squander for selfish political interests. It is time for those that have imposed so many tawdry compromises to allow the General Assembly to establish the Human Rights Council", said Yvonne Terlingen. "Still, this is only a first step. Governments must now show the political will to make the Council an effective human rights body," said Yvonne Terlingen, Amnesty International's UN representative.
Kenya: Terror law to be changed to admit confessions
The Attorney-General's office will reintroduce the extraction of confessions by police through the amended Criminal Law (Amendment) Act 2005. An official from the National Counter Terrorism Centre, said this would be reintroduced albeit with regulatory mechanisms to bar its abuse. The centre falls under the A-G's office. He said it was difficult to get a conviction against suspects accused of engaging in acts of terror if the law stops the police from extracting confessions. Kenya has ratified international human rights treaties and is due to give its initial report on torture to the UN committee.
Liberia: Orphanages accused of child trafficking
Liberian children are being sold for adoption in dubious circumstances and others are living in sub-standard orphanages, according to rights groups in the West African nation. Some institutions, while purporting to help orphans, are charging huge sums of money for adoptions, the National Child Rights Observation Group (NACROG), said in a report this week. NACROG, comprising representatives of local and international NGOs, civil society, and several ministries, is asking the government to investigate three orphanages and calling for a halt to all adoptions from Liberia.
Sierra Leone: Searching for truth and reconciliation
Report of the Sierra Leone Working Group on Truth and Reconciliation
"It is now over 15 months since the presentation on 5 October 2004 of the report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) to the President of Sierra Leone at a well-attended ceremony in Freetown. The presentation should have ushered in the ‘follow-up phase’ to the work of the TRC. Yet at the time of writing, the work of implementing its recommendations is not even close to beginning. First, there was a long delay in making the report of the TRC available to Sierra Leoneans. Copies of the report only arrived in August 2005. In the previous month, the Government of Sierra Leone (GoSL) published a White Paper in response to the report that was widely regarded as weak and inadequate. All this prompted many Sierra Leoneans to fear that the TRC process had fatally lost momentum."
SEARCHING FOR TRUTH AND RECONCILIATION
IN SIERRA LEONE
AN INITIAL STUDY OF THE PERFORMANCE AND IMPACT OF THE TRUTH AND RECONCILIATION COMMISSION
The Sierra Leone Working Group on Truth and Reconciliation
SEARCHING FOR TRUTH AND RECONCILIATION
IN SIERRA LEONE
AN INITIAL STUDY OF THE PERFORMANCE AND IMPACT OF THE TRUTH AND RECONCILIATION COMMISSION
“And differing judgements serve to declare,
that truth lies somewhere, if we knew but where”
(William Cowper, English novelist, 1731-1800)
It is now over 15 months since the presentation on 5 October 2004 of the report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) to the President of Sierra Leone at a well-attended ceremony in Freetown. The presentation should have ushered in the ‘follow-up phase’ to the work of the TRC. Yet at the time of writing, the work of implementing its recommendations is not even close to beginning. First, there was a long delay in making the report of the TRC available to Sierra Leoneans. Copies of the report only arrived in August 2005. In the previous month, the Government of Sierra Leone (GoSL) published a White Paper in response to the report that was widely regarded as weak and inadequate. All this prompted many Sierra Leoneans to fear that the TRC process had fatally lost momentum.
In recent months, there has been progress. Following private interventions by the Commissioners of the TRC and civil society campaigning, there was a parliamentary debate on the TRC report in November 2005 and a Bill is due to be tabled before the legislature which reportedly contains many of the key recommendations in the report.
This bumpy start to the ‘follow-up phase’ is only the latest of many difficult moments for the TRC. It has been a deeply flawed and problematic process from its birth in 1999, when the peace agreement was signed.
Although the story of the TRC process is not yet over, the Working Group on Truth and Reconciliation (WG) has undertaken an initial assessment, based on over 30 interviews and meetings between April and August 2005 with Sierra Leonean and international stakeholders in the process, of the performance and impact of the TRC – this with a view to identifying what lessons can be learnt for future transitional justice initiatives elsewhere and developing recommendations for action that will help ensure that the ‘follow-up phase’ here in Sierra Leone is credible and effective. While most of those we interviewed were happy to be quoted, a small number were willing to do so only if it could be ‘off-the-record’. While events have inevitably moved on somewhat with regard to the ‘follow-up phase’ since the interviews and meetings were conducted, we have nonetheless included a section on this issue. We accept that the views of some of those quoted with regard to the ‘follow-up phase’ now have changed. However, we believe that they remain valid as an insight into feelings at the time of interview.
We hope that this report will be seen as a constructive early contribution to what should be a much wider and deeper debate in Sierra Leone and internationally. The WG believes that an independent evaluation of the TRC should be jointly commissioned by all stakeholders to the process during 2006, with a commitment to publishing its conclusions and recommendations promptly and in full. This should include a systematic sampling of public views through focus group work. The importance of getting down to community level cannot be overstated. The sampling would also be an opportunity to discover public views about the Special Court, which ran concurrently with the TRC.
It is particularly important that Sierra Leonean voices are heard at the international level, where criteria for assessing the successes and failures of the Sierra Leonean ‘experiment’ may be different from those locally and where different agendas may shape the conclusions reached. People have a right to know the truth about the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
With regard to the ‘follow-up phase’, we are aware that the historical record elsewhere is not encouraging. Few TRCs have been characterized by effective follow-up. Even in the South African case, there is widespread disaffection on the part of victims’ support groups about the response of the Government to the recommendations of the TRC report, not least in the sphere of reparations. If there is not a credible and effective ‘follow-up phase’, many Sierra Leoneans will legitimately ask whether the TRC was ever more than an expensive ‘talking shop’.
Our study has identified a series of key issues in relation to which important lessons should be learnt regarding the TRC process in Sierra Leone. They concern:
• The role of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights
• The appointment and role of Commissioners
• The relationship between the TRC and the Special Court
• The issue of local ownership and participation
• The role of international NGOs
• The ‘follow up phase’
The report explores each of these issues in turn, drawing directly upon statements made by interviewees where appropriate. It then sets out some proposals for the way forward during the ‘follow-up phase’.
1 The TRC process – Lessons to be Learnt
1.1 The role of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights
When the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) agreed in 1999 to play the leading role in organising and overseeing the implementation of the TRC process, the decision was widely welcomed. Mary Robinson, then High Commissioner, had been a signatory in June 1999 of the Human Rights Manifesto for Sierra Leone, which endorsed the idea of a TRC. However, based on the interviews we have conducted for this report, Sierra Leonean and international stakeholders were generally very disappointed by the performance of the OHCHR. There was a remarkable consensus on this issue amongst interviewees who disagreed on many other issues. Here are a few examples of what people said:
“The role of Geneva was experimental. The experiment should not be repeated. It did not succeed” - John Kamara, National Commissioner
“The OHCHR operated a remote control system over the TRC” – Bishop Humper, Chairperson of the TRC
“Geneva spoilt the whole thing…” – Bondu Manyeh, TRC Counsellor
“The problem was that the Commission was treated as a programme of Geneva. It didn’t give it the attention it should have done” – Yasmin Sooka, International Commissioner
“The Commission did need help, but it was the wrong model” – Priscilla Hayner, ICTJ
The OHCHR was widely seen as having fatally combined an unhealthy obsession with micro-management with an inadequate capacity to undertake a professional oversight role. It was allegedly weak at raising funds and then very slow to release them. It was also claimed by some interviewees that OHCHR exercised excessively close control over staffing appointments to TRC Secretariats during both the preparatory and operational phases. TRC Commissioners had little say over appointments. Numerous interviewees stated that OHCHR proved highly reluctant to work openly and transparently with Sierra Leonean civil society organisations. Indeed, at times it seemed to be pursuing strategies of ‘divide and rule’ amongst those organisations. Some interviewees noted the strong role of Nigerians at all levels of UN involvement, whether at the OHCHR in Geneva or in UNAMSIL and UNDP within Sierra Leone itself and referred to allegations that procurement and staffing decisions came to reflect such nationality networks.
We are not in a position to judge the truth or otherwise of such allegations. The same is true of wider allegations and counter-allegations regarding nepotism and corruption within the TRC Secretariat during both the interim and operational phases. An audit of the TRC has been conducted by KPMG. It is attached as an Appendix to the final version of the TRC report. The WG believes that, while it makes a valuable contribution, it nonetheless leaves important questions unanswered. In addition, it does not cover the period when the TRC report was being edited and printed in Accra, Ghana. An independent evaluation of the TRC process should revisit these allegations again to see what more it can uncover.
1.2 The appointment and role of Commissioners
There was a widespread feeling amongst those we interviewed that, despite the efforts that were made to ensure that the appointment process for the four national commissioners was credible and produced national commissioners that were independent of the Government, these efforts were unsuccessful. For example, it is commonly believed that the Government was able to prevent Bishop Biguzzi, the Bishop of Makeni, from being appointed Chair of the TRC.
Here are a few examples of what people said:
“Bishop Humper was not suitable material” – Charles Lahai, Former Executive Secretary, National Forum for Human Rights
“National Commissioners tried to protect party people” – Helen Bash-Taqi, Director, Global Rights
“We need to ask why a process which was fine produced pro-government commissioners” – Priscilla Hayner, ICTJ
“At the start they were seen as SLPP-ers, but at the end of the day they went (minus Commissioner Torto) along with our findings on the government and CDF” – Howard Varney, Head, Investigations Unit, TRC
There was widespread concern that the Chairperson of the TRC was known to be a close supporter of the ruling party, the Sierra Leone Peoples’ Party. In addition, it was felt by many we interviewed that he had been a largely ineffective Chairperson – an impression reinforced for Sierra Leoneans by the apparent inactivity witnessed since the report was presented to the President in October 2004. While we encountered praise for individual national commissioners, the dominant view was that overall they had lacked dynamism and energy. Bishop Humper, when interviewed, disagreed that he and his colleagues had ever been anything other than impartial.
As for the three international commissioners, while there was consensus that international involvement had been necessary in order to uphold the credibility of the TRC, there was a widespread feeling that they had not spent enough time in Sierra Leone and, when there, had shown insufficient willingness to travel to chiefdom and village level outside Freetown. Their part-time status had also limited their ability to address weaknesses in the TRC process when they arose.
Here are some examples of what people said:
“Having international commissioners was by and large a success, but being part-time was a problem” – Bishop Humper
“The international commissioners needed to be there permanently. The role of the international commissioners was marginal compared to that of the international staff” – Marieke Wierda, ICTJ
1.3 The relationship between the TRC and the Special Court
This has been a highly contentious issue. We encountered a wide range of views amongst those Sierra Leonean and international stakeholders that we interviewed about whether running the two accountability mechanisms concurrently had been wise or not.
The majority of Sierra Leoneans interviewed argued that it had been a mistake and that the credibility of both institutions had been negatively affected by doing so. Many referred to the way in which Sam Hinga Norman had been prevented from testifying before the TRC by his indictment and arrest by the Special Court in 2003 as indicative of the way in which in practice the two institutions clashed. Few felt that the timing was coincidental and it suggested that the Special Court too was vulnerable to political manipulation. In addition, many believed that the arrival of the Special Court on the scene effectively relegated the TRC to ‘second class status’ in the hierarchy of accountability mechanisms and that donors increasingly deserted the TRC.
Overall, then, efforts to conceptualize and operationalize a coherent and clear relationship between the TRC and Special Court were unsuccessful. Every Sierra Leonean we interviewed referred to the way in which ordinary people were confused by the relationship between the two institutions until very late in the TRC process, fearing indictment by the Special Court should they co-operate with the TRC. Many interviewees felt that in future the option of sequencing such institutions should be kept open. The majority of Sierra Leoneans interviewed felt that the TRC should have come first, although a minority felt that the Special Court should have preceded the TRC. One or two even asked whether in retrospect the mandate under law of the TRC might have been amended when the Special Court was established to create a South African-style conditional amnesty procedure for those who committed gross human rights violations but who were not covered by the definition employed by the Special Court of ‘greatest responsibility’. This might have addressed the feeling among many victims that those people have entirely escaped justice.
Here are some examples of what Sierra Leoneans said:
“It was always clear that the Special Court had priority over the TRC, so the relationship between the two was not an issue” – Helen Bash-Taqi
“The establishment of the Special Court created a problem. It scared off victims and perpetrators” – John Kamara
“I was told by the elders that I would go to prison if I gave a statement to the TRC. There is no support in the village for the Special Court. I now regret not talking to the TRC. I would still like to tell my story.” – Amara Ndomawa, Gbekah village, Lower Bambara Chiefdom, Kenema district
“It was common while taking statements to find fear of the Special Court. Some refused for that reason. Not many perpetrators came forward. The problem was inadequate sensitization.” – Daisy Marion Bockarie, Statement Taker for the TRC, Kenema District
“Some TRC researchers went to work for the Special Court later…it was very unfortunate that they ran together” – James Vincent, Consultant
“The Government requested the Special Court, but it was a ‘forced request’…The TRC was affected by concurrence. The Special Court is a runaway train that has lost direction” – Senior Government Official who wished to remain anonymous
These perspectives were different from those held by many (but not all) international stakeholders. The majority of international stakeholders interviewed felt that the relationship between the TRC and Special Court was poorly handled but that this did not mean that concurrence could not work well in other situations. Views differed as to where the blame lay for the poor relationship.
We are worried that an ‘official view’ may take shape at the international level that the ‘experiment’ was a success and that concurrence will uncritically be endorsed as ‘best practice’. For example, the then Chief Prosecutor, David Crane, claimed that he had persuaded Luis Moreno Ocampo, the Chief Prosecutor at the International Criminal Court, that it should copy the Sierra Leonean experience in other countries. This potential disconnect underscores the importance of local experience being given due weight in evaluations of transitional justice initiatives around the world.
Here are some examples of what international stakeholders said:
“The relationship between the TRC and the Special Court was never clarified. If two such institutions were to co-exist again, they should be sequenced” – Benedict Sannoh, Head, UNAMSIL Human Rights Section
“Sequencing would have been a disaster for the Special Court. I was the TRC’s biggest supporter but it undermined itself, it drifted. It had an inferiority complex” – David Crane, Chief Prosecutor, Special Court (2002-5)
“As far as possible, we should not have them running together in future. There will be tensions between truth, justice and reconciliation” – Yasmin Sooka
“Where both are on the table, I would generally recommend they take place simultaneously. But we should avoid blueprints and need to hear local voices more” – Priscilla Hayner
“Why was no action taken to ensure that the relationship was harmonized at the legislative stage?” – Bishop Humper
1.4 The issue of local ownership and participation
The majority of Sierra Leonean and international stakeholders that we interviewed felt that the TRC process had fallen seriously short of what had been hoped for in terms of local ownership and participation. The sensitization exercise during the preparatory phase was widely viewed as deficient. For example, there was a tendency to assume that radio messages would be enough by themselves to alert Sierra Leoneans to the existence of the TRC when what was needed was to work with civil society organizations to ensure that each chiefdom and village was visited and re-visited. Only by these means could public confidence and understanding of the TRC process – and its relationship to the Special Court - have been achieved. While this failure partly reflected lack of funds, it also reflected a reluctance to develop a genuine partnership with local civil society organizations that could have assisted. During the operational phase of the TRC, this failure to sensitize adequately was compounded by the fact that there were not enough statement-takers employed and public hearings took place only at District Headquarters level. Many Sierra Leoneans were unable to tell their stories to the TRC as a result. Another criticism expressed was that those who did testify before the TRC did not receive adequate counselling support afterwards.
Finally, strong views were also expressed about the failure to use traditional reconciliation mechanisms appropriately. Particular anger was directed by some at incidents where such mechanisms were allegedly ‘customized’ to fit the time available before the Commissioners and staff had to move on to their next appointment. In general, many felt that not enough time had been given to the reconciliation aspect of the TRC’s mandate. At other points, ‘western’ models of reconciliation were reportedly employed, such as handshakes or hugs, which had little relevance to the Sierra Leonean context.
Here are some examples of what people said:
“The TRC was job creation for a lot of external people and now the job is over” – David Tam-Baryoh, Journalist
“This was supposed to be our baby” – Ngolo Katta, National Coordinator, CCYA
“There was not enough sensitization. Most people in the provinces are still ignorant or confused about the TRC… we were ready to assist. But they never came to ask to work with us” – Claude Kondor, Director, Network of Collaborative Peacebuilding
“Statement-takers got down to chiefdom level. The public hearings had the biggest effect. It created demand – more than we could handle. But the statement-taking phase was too short. So were the hearings. Only a few victims spoke. The TRC did not make enough use of civil society. It was centralized in Freetown. The Makeni office was always empty and unused.” –
Gibril Massie Bah, TRC Coordinator, Bombali District
“We expected the researchers to accompany us. They never did... in the public hearings, people often had no more than 5-10 minutes to speak. I didn’t see any perpetrators speak in the Kenema hearings.” – Daisy Marion Bockarie, Statement Taker for the TRC, Kenema District
“The TRC has not achieved any true reconciliation. The ‘shaking hands’ approach does not work here. Perpetrators tended to play a ‘role’ in hearings. Victims are still waiting for revenge. It needed a cultural dimension and sustainability for at least three years” – Joe Rahall, Green Scenery
“90 per cent of those who testified before hearings wanted a second or third opportunity to see a counsellor… There was not enough follow up due to lack of time and money. There is now a sense of abandonment.” –Bondu Manyeh
“The TRC could have managed partnerships much better… it lost the support and engagement of the best in civil society… on reconciliation, it was unable to crack some of the local dynamics” – Marieke Wierda
“We were still debating what reconciliation should mean right at the end of the TRC. No programme on reconciliation was developed until October 2003 – right at the end… it was too little too late” – Howard Varney
1.5 The role of international NGOs
A number of Sierra Leonean stakeholders that we interviewed expressed the view that the role of international NGOs in the TRC process was not always as positive as it could have been. There was particular reference to the way in which certain international NGOs, most notably the International Centre for Transitional Justice (ICTJ), based in New York, failed to address apparent ‘conflicts of interest’. The ICTJ has provided ‘expert services’ not just to the TRC but also to the Special Court. At the same time, it has sought to work with local civil society. Some felt that its role as provider of expert services undermined its capacity to support effective independent monitoring or advocacy by local civil society of either the TRC process or the Special Court. Similar views were expressed about the International Human Rights Law Group (known in Sierra Leone today as Global Rights) during the preparatory phase of the TRC.
The ICTJ and Law Group have a close relationship with the OHCHR and other parts of the UN system. Sierra Leoneans have become aware of the international networks that exist in the sphere of transitional justice in the course of the TRC process. The time may have arrived for these international networks to be rendered more transparent and for potential conflicts of interest such as those raised by our experience in Sierra Leone to be addressed. Nobody doubts the need for professional expertise in the sphere of transitional justice; however, experience shows there will be occasions when the perspectives and interests of governments, multilateral agencies and local civil society will diverge. Surely it will then become difficult for the ICTJ to combine an ‘expert services’ role to governments and multilateral agencies with support for civil society
Here are some examples of what people said on this issue:
“There is a danger that the ICTJ becomes a ‘purveyor of elite deals’” – Piers Pigou, Consultant on Transitional Justice issues
“I have never considered this an issue, but if others do then we need to look at it. First and foremost we are civil society advocates.” – Priscilla Hayner
“Perhaps we got too intent on propping up the TRC. We could have engaged more in civil society capacity building. But we were never in a conflict of interest” – Marieke Wierda
“Sometimes it felt as if the ICTJ was sitting on the fence” – Charles Lahai
“You cannot be both poacher and gamekeeper” – Bishop Humper
“There seemed to be an ‘incestuous relationship’ between the ICTJ, Law Group and Geneva. They were the custodians and validators of what was happening” – Yasmin Jusu-Sheriff, Former Executive Secretary of the TRC
Several interviewees also referred to ARTICLE 19’s role in the TRC process between 1998 and 2002, arguing that the organization came to be too narrowly identified with the WG.
1.6 The ‘follow-up phase’
The Sierra Leoneans we interviewed between April and August 2005 were deeply frustrated by the long delay that had occurred in publishing the final version of the TRC report. So too were many international stakeholders, although some felt that it had been unavoidable because of the poor quality of the report – including the omission of some conclusions and recommendations that had previously been agreed – that was presented to the President in October 2004. Whatever the reasons, between October 2004, when it was presented to the President, and August 2005, when copies of the final report arrived in Freetown, there were reportedly only ten copies of the report in the entire country. Expectations had been raised, only then to be dashed. The former Chairperson of the TRC, Bishop Joseph Humper, claimed that the reason for the long delay was that the report was being re-edited and typographical errors eliminated. He assured people that no doctoring of the report was taking place.
While the final version of the report remained unavailable, key sections – the overview chapter and the chapters summarizing the findings and recommendations – of the report presented to the President were made available on the internet by the ICTJ. Quite legitimately, some Sierra Leonean and international civil society organizations began the process of producing appropriately simplified or ‘customized’ versions of what was available and taking the findings and recommendations down to chiefdom and community level for dissemination and debate.
Here are some examples of what people said about the delay that occurred in making the TRC report publicly available:
“We feel betrayed by the TRC “ – Alhaji Jusu Jaka, Chair, Amputees Association
“The delay has been potentially fatal. Momentum has been lost” – Howard Varney
“It has been an anti-climax. We need to know what came out of it” – Father Francis Ishmael, Makeni Town
“We are very concerned that the government may be doctoring the report” – Helen Bash-Taqi
In July 2005, the GoSL published its White Paper in response to the TRC report – at the time, the final version of the report had still not been distributed in Sierra Leone. The contents of the White Paper appeared to confirm fears raised by many of our interviewees that the government was not committed to implementing the recommendations of the TRC report, as it is required to do under the 2000 Act:
“The government is not serious, it is not interested in the exercise” – David Tam-Baryoh
“Kabbah will bury his head in the sand” – Yasmin Jusu Sheriff
“The government wants to sweep the report under the carpet… civil society needs to put it on the agenda” – Howard Varney
Reservations were also expressed by some of the Sierra Leonean stakeholders that we interviewed in relation to the organizational arrangements proposed by the TRC for the ‘follow-up phase’.
The TRC report calls for a Follow-up Committee to be established, which should be part of the Human Rights Commission (HRC). But, although the enabling Act to establish the HRC was passed in 2004, the body does not yet exist. There are reports that Commissioners are to be appointed in the near future. That would be not before time. But it will still be a considerable period before the HRC is ready to assume its full responsibilities.
Here are examples of what people said on this issue:
“The HRC Act may have to be amended once the TRC report is out. So the two must be taken together. This is why there has been a delay in setting up the HRC” – Hon FM Carew, Minister of Justice and Attorney-General, GoSL
Why was the establishment of the HRC conditional upon the publication of the final version of the TRC report? The mandate of the HRC extends well beyond its intended responsibilities in relation to the TRC. In addition, we believe that the linkage of the HRC and the TRC is spurious. It is difficult to avoid the suspicion that the linkage made by the Minister of Justice reflected a lack of real commitment at the time of interview to either institution. We hope that the official view has changed since last year.
At the time we conducted our interviews, others were also worried about the dangers of linkage:
“The government should not use any linkage between TRC follow-up and the HRC to delay things” – Benedict Sannoh
“The follow-up committee should be other than the HRC. Or, at least, we could have an interim committee prior to establishing the HRC” – Jo Rahall
Our experience shows that past Sierra Leonean governments have been skilled at undermining ostensibly autonomous institutions. How can we be sure that the HRC will not be so undermined? Civil society needs to remain vigilant on this score.
We believe that the TRC should have recommended that an interim follow-up committee involving all stakeholders be established pending the creation of the HRC. It is not too late to do so. Accordingly, the WG calls for the immediate establishment of an interim follow-up committee that spans both government and civil society.
The TRC report also recommends that the National Council for Social Action (NACSA), should be given responsibility for coordinating the Reparations programme. The programme will deal with the needs of victims in the areas of health, housing, pensions, education, skills training and micro-credit, community reparations and symbolic reparations.
The WG is concerned that NACSA, as a parastatal, may also lack the independence required properly to carry out the mandate given to it. It is crucial that NACSA counter such fears by ensuring that processes of designing and implementing the Reparations programme are open, consultative and inclusive from the start. There is work to be done to improve relations with the National Amputees Association, whose chair, Alhaji Musa Jaki, stated when interviewed: “I am not confident that NACSA will do a good job on reparations”. He claimed that on a previous occasion, when US $10,000 for the Amputees Association was channelled through NACSA, it received only one-tenth of that sum.
It is also striking that the Special Fund for War Victims has still not been established. Provided for under the 1999 peace agreement, there is no good reason why its establishment should have had to await the publication of the final version of the TRC report or further legislation. The WG calls for its immediate establishment and urge Sierra Leoneans to begin to contribute whatever they can afford towards it. We also call on donors to contribute to the Fund.
Here are some examples of what people said about the TRC process if there is no credible ‘follow up’ phase:
“It will not have been worth doing without follow-up. People will turn against the whole idea of the TRC” – Daisy Marion Bockarie
“The follow-up phase is crucial to bringing peace and reconciliation in Sierra Leone” – Bondu Manyeh
“The value of the TRC will depend on its results. For now, it is necessary to suspend judgement” – Bishop George Biguzzi
The TRC was established to help tackle the ‘root causes’ of conflict in Sierra Leone. Our interviewees had some interesting views on this question when spoke to us:
“The root causes are yet to be addressed.” – Benedict Sannoh
“There are not many signs of a new mentality. There is a lack of vision, a lack of leadership… the regional divide is not being addressed… corruption and the economy are still a problem…but there is a greater level of awareness of human rights, a greater openness, a greater willingness to challenge” – Bishop George Biguzzi
“There is no work. The cost of food is increasing by the day. Things were cheaper before the war… Everybody is fed up” – Amara Ndomawa
But let us end on a more hopeful note. Very few of the Sierra Leonean or international stakeholders that we interviewed were willing to write-off the TRC. Some felt that even if there was no adequate follow-up it will still have made a valuable contribution to building peace. For example, Father Joe Turay, Fatima Institute, Makeni Town, said: “The TRC has counteracted our passivity and fatalism. It ensured that problems were not buried. It was a key moment in the process of reconciliation. The TRC, however flawed, started this process. We can’t expect the TRC to do everything”. Marieke Wierda from ICTJ argued: “The final report is very good. It is a great advocacy tool”.
Now is indeed the moment of truth in terms of whether the TRC leaves a lasting positive legacy or not. Now is the time for Sierra Leoneans to take back control of their TRC. We call on civil society and government to work together in good faith to ensure that the ‘follow-up phase’ of the TRC process delivers on the hopes and expectations of the people of Sierra Leone.
The WG makes the following recommendations for consideration in relation to future transitional justice initiatives.
Those involved in designing and implementing future transitional justice initiatives should:
- Consider carefully whether the OHCHR is the best body to lead in organizing and co-ordinating TRCs
- Establish stronger safeguards to prevent political interference in transitional justice processes
- Ensure that international commissioners working for TRCs spend enough time in-country to discharge their roles effectively
- Take steps to avoid ‘conflicts of interest’ in terms of the role of international NGOs
- Ensure that local ownership and participation are more strongly reflected in sensitization work, evidence giving/collection and reconciliation initiatives
- Keep open the possibility that judicial and non-judicial institutions of accountability should be sequenced rather than run concurrently
- Ensure that never again will such institutions operate concurrently without clear and accepted rules governing their relationship and that neither should enjoy effective supremacy over the other
- Establish the principle that all transitional justice processes should be subject to independent evaluation and that reports arising should be published promptly and in full
The WG makes the following recommendations for consideration with regard to the ‘follow-up phase’ to the TRC.
The Government of Sierra Leone should:
- Take steps to encourage the dissemination of the final version of the TRC report
- Support the immediate establishment of an interim follow-up committee comprising all Sierra Leonean stakeholders
- Establish the HRC without further delay
- Establish the Special Fund for War Victims without further delay
- Mandate NACSA to undertake a Reparations programme that is open, consultative and inclusive, working closely with civil society
- Support the establishment of an independent evaluation of the TRC process
Sierra Leonean civil society should:
- Co-operate in the dissemination of the final version of the TRC report
- Take the lead in devising community-level reconciliation programmes
- Assist in the provision of extensive counselling services for victims
- Co-operate fully with the GoSL and NACSA in implementing the Reparations programme, provided they have demonstrated commitment and good faith
- Assist in raising funds for the Special Fund for War Victims
- Campaign for the establishment of an independent evaluation of the TRC process
The international community should:
- Support the dissemination of the final version of the TRC report
- Encourage the GoSL to establish the HRC and Special Fund for War Victims without further delay
- Support the establishment of a Reparations programme that is open, consultative and inclusive
- Support an independent evaluation of the TRC process in Sierra Leone
List of Interviewees who were prepared to be wholly or partly ‘on the record’
A Sierra Leonean interviewees
5 April 2005
David Tam-Baryoh, Journalist and Executive Director, Centre for Media and Technology
6 April 2005
Helen Bash-Taqi, Director, Global Rights
Charles Lahai, Executive Secretary, National Forum for Human Rights
Joe Williams, National Forum for Human Rights
Ngolo Katta, National Coordinator, CCYA
Rt Rev Dr Joseph Humper, former Chair of the TRC
7 April 2005
Yasmin Jusu-Sheriff, Attorney-at-Law and former Executive Secretary of the TRC
Hon FM Carew, Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, GoSL
John Kamara, former National Commissioner, TRC
8 April 2005
Benedict Sannoh, Head, Human Rights Section, UNAMSIL
Peter Mustapha, National Coordinator, Working Group on Truth and Reconciliation
9 April 2005
Alhaji Jusu Jaka, Chairman, National Amputees Association
10 April 2005
Foday Sesay, Executive Director, Democracy and Development Association-Sierra Leone
James Vincent, Consultant
11 April 2005
Claude Kondor, National Coordinator, Network for Collaborative Peacebuilding-Sierra Leone
Unisa Sesay, Programme Manager – Information, Communication and Education, NACSA
Jo Rahall, Executive Director, Green Scenery
Bondu Manyeh, Executive Director, Graceland (former TRC Counsellor)
12 April 2005
Father Francis Ishmael, Priest, Makeni Town
Bishop George Biguzzi, Bishop of Makeni
Gibril Massie Bah, Treasurer, Northern Province Working Group on Truth and Reconciliation (former Coordinator for the TRC, Bombali District)
Father Joe Turay, Director, Fatima Institute, Makeni Town
Andrew Cooper Jnr, National Amputees Association, Bo Town
Daisy Marion Bockarie, Eastern Province Working Group on Truth and Reconciliation (former statement-taker for the TRC in Kenema District)
13 April 2005
Josephine Jeneba Bendu, Ministry of Women, Gender Welfare and Women’s Affairs, Kenema
Amara Ndomawa, Gbekah village, Lower Bombara Chiefdom, Kenema District
Mariama Shariff, Niahma village, Bumpeli Ngao, Bo District
John Koroma, Director, Centre for Human Rights and Peace Education, Bo Town
Patrick Adu, Coordinator, Eastern Province Working Group on Truth and Reconciliation
14 April 2005
Mohamed Sidi Bah, Programme Manager, NACSA
Abu Brima, National Coordinator, NMJD
John Caulker, National Chairperson, Working Group on Truth and Reconciliation
B International interviewees
11 April 2005
David Crane, Prosecutor, Special Court of Sierra Leone
20 May 2005
Piers Pigou, Consultant on Transitional Justice Issues
5 May 2005 (finished 11 May)
Yasmin Sooka, Director, Foundation for Human Rights (South Africa) (former International Commissioner on the TRC)
9 May 2005 (finished 19 May)
Priscilla Hayner, ICTJ
30 June 2005
Marieke Wierda, Sierra Leone Program Officer, ICTJ
2 August 2005
Howard Varney, former Head of Investigations Unit, TRC
The Special Court - Extracts from interview with David Crane and other comments by interviewees
This report is not primarily concerned with the Special Court. However, interviewees inevitably had observations to make about it. We felt that it might be useful to set down some of these observations for the record so that they can be drawn upon in future evaluations of the performance and impact of the Special Court. We begin with extensive extracts from an interview held with David Crane, the Prosecutor until June 2005:
A Extracts from interview with David Crane
“There have been five main innovative aspects to the Special Court:
1) The town hall programme, which evolved into the outreach programme
2) Notice pleading to shorten indictments
3) Working with the TRC
4) Giving ‘other inhumane acts’ the force of law
5) The Legacy Programme…”
“The Witness Management Programme was another innovation…”
“The Special Court was for and about the people of Sierra Leone…”
“’Greatest responsibility’ was a doable mandate…it was either ‘greatest responsibility’ or nothing…”
“[in the Town Hall Programme] we used the oral tradition of ‘palavers’… I would step down from the podium… I asked to part of ‘your family’ and then listen to them… its like you are a God…”
“The Special Court and TRC together was positive…”
“The judge arrested Hinga Norman, not me…”
“Sequencing would have been a disaster for the Special Court…”
“The Special Court is largely done now… the only missing element is Taylor and it is ‘when’…”
“We are not in the popularity business…”
“Six of the nine in the dock are AFRC/RUF… 20 individuals are ‘off the street’ and out of commission… Compaore is untouched but we will continue to name and shame him and Gaddafi….”
“We have broken up the guns-diamonds ring…”
“Ocampo is incorporating the Special Court into his strategy…”
“There have been no major weaknesses. We had a plan…”
B Selected comments by other interviewees on the Special Court
“The legalism of the Special Court confuses people…” – Helen Bash-Taqi
“Right now it doesn’t make sense… Gibril Massaquoi is a potential indictee and yet is a witness” – Ngolo Katta
“Is this court really for Sierra Leone?” – Benedict Sannoh
“The Special Court is pressurizing the government on reparations… I support the Special Court… I don’t argue with ‘special responsibility’…” – Alhaji Jusu Jaka
“Nobody in the Special Court asks Hinga Norman ‘why?’… the context is missing… it is an obscene display of wealth and wastage… it keeps asking for more money… the Government will soon ask for the Special Court’s accounts” – Anonymous government official
“Its unfair to criticize the Special Court about those it couldn’t indict… the Special Court outreach is doing its best but still only reaches a small percentage of the population… it has not struck a fatal blow against impunity, but it has not been a waste of time. Truth and especially justice do not come cheap” – Jo Rahall
“People get paid to testify… Lots of damage is being done by the Special Court…the Special Court outreach is very effective, it is limiting the damage. It is doing what the TRC should have done… Kabbah wants the Special Court over before he leaves office” – James Vincent, Consultant
“I supported the Special Court in principle but in practice it was not necessary…I would have preferred the South African model – truth for amnesty” – Unisa Sesay, NACSA
“I was originally told in 2001 that it was unlikely to start until 2004 and that there would therefore be little overlap with the TRC” – Yasmin Jusu-Sheriff
“Those responsible, sooner or later, must face justice… it’s a good signal… it needed a strong international component…” – Bishop Biguzzi
“If Taylor appears, it will transform its reputation… “ – Father Joe Turay
“The Special Court outreach has visited. They wanted to know our views on Hinga Norman… many were afraid when it came and are still afraid… the Special Court has no support in the village… who was most responsible for the death of my wife? The person who gave the order…” – Amara Odomawa
“A big minority supports the Special Court… People thought the Court would be mainly AFRC/RUF” – John Koroma
“The Special Court got off on totally the wrong foot with the local legal community… it is not perceived as ‘Sierra Leonean’” – Marieke Wierda
Tanzania: Justice for Maji Maji
A hundred years after their ancestors went to war with Germany to resist colonial rule, Tanzanians are now contemplating seeking war reparations for the atrocities committed by the Germans during the Maji Maji war. The two-year war, which was fought between 1905 and 1907, started at Nandete in Kilwa district, Lindi region but soon spread to other southern areas of the country such as Songea in Ruvuma region. A total of 249,530 people died during the war, which affected the Ngoni, Matumbi, Waluguru, Makua, Yao and Makonde people.
Zimbabwe: Will the Human Rights Council do better than the Commission?
In this interview, Ambassador Boniface Chidyausiku of Zimbabwe discusses the progress that a new Human Rights Council would bring and points out the "sticking points" in the debate. Chidyausiku has concerns that the Council will contain double standards, where countries like the US are not called upon for activities in Iraq and Guantanamo Bay, yet developing states are punished for "unsubstantiated and politicized issues." Chidyausiku believes Washington has been unable to control the Human Rights Commission, and hence seeks to change the body.
Africa: Homeless but not stateless, living in limbo
Forced by war or humanitarian disasters to flee their homes but keeping within the borders of their own countries, 12 million so-called "internally displaced persons" face a legal and human tragedy in Africa. Calling it "one of the biggest under-addressed challenges facing Africa", Dennis McNamara, the United Nations emergency relief coordinator and director of the Inter-Agency Internal Displacement Division, says urgent attention must be paid to the uprooted civilian population in countries like Sudan, Somalia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda and Burundi.
DRC: Courage of refugees should be matched by solidarity of international community, says Guterres
UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres Tuesday welcomed 401 Congolese refugees home as they disembarked in Baraka from a former German imperial warship that is said to the oldest working vessel in the world. "Karibu sana, karibu sana, karibu sana," Guterres called out to the returnees in Kiswahili – "you are very welcome" – as they arrived in this port in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) after an eight-hour journey across Lake Tanganyika from refugee camps in Tanzania where they have lived for up to nine years.
Liberia: American dream keeps refugees from going home
While fighting stopped in Liberia well over two years ago, thousands of refugees sheltering in camps in the lush forest region of neighbouring Guinea have no intention of going home, not now, not ever. Their sights are fixed on the board by the camp entrance that proves there remains a chance of seeking refuge in the United States.
Somalia: Somali Bantu refugees in Boston
The Somali Bantu are often called "Africa's Lost Tribe." During Somalia's civil war in 1991, the Bantu had no allegiance to other Somali clans and thus no means of protection. They suffered looting, rape and murder at the hands of warring factions and fled on foot to refugee camps in Kenya. Photographer Roberto "Bear" Guerra recently spent several months documenting the lives of Somali Bantu refugees in Boston.
Southern Africa: Harmonising migration policies in SADC
Migration is and will continue to be a reality globally and in Sub-Saharan Africa. Harmonisation of migration policies could lead to significant advantages in terms of global integration and will have many direct benefits for Southern African states. Recently, the Southern African Migration Project (SAMP) and the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) co-hosted a Migration Dialogue for Southern Africa (MIDSA) workshop - MIDSA is a consultative process that aims to facilitate regional dialogue on migration policy issues amongst governments in SADC.
Sudan: Refugees can return under new accord with Ethiopia
Some 73,000 South Sudanese refugees currently in Ethiopia can start going home thanks to an agreement signed by the United Nations refugee agency and the Governments of Ethiopia and Sudan. The tripartite agreement, which was signed in the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa on Monday, sets out the legal framework for the repatriation as well as the roles and obligations of all three parties, according to an official with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), who said it includes crucial provisions on the voluntary nature of the returns.
Africa: Poor people and democratic citizenship
Afrobarometer (a series of comparative national surveys) has recently produced a paper outlining the relationship of poor people to democratic citizenship. A democratic political regime has long been regarded as an attribute of high-income, industrialized economies. If it turns out that democratic stability in the medium to long-term depends on the economic wellbeing of citizens, then democracies can be expected to be especially fragile in world regions where many people live in poverty. This research has some intriguing results based on the following questions: 1) Are poor people any more or less attached to democracy than rich people? And 2) Are they any more or less likely to act as democratic citizens?
Liberia: Is Ellen Johnson Sirleaf overstepping her boundaries?
During her installation on 16 January 2006 as Liberia’s president and Africa’s first elected female president, 67-year old Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, said her main preoccupation would be to lead Liberia away from its turbulent past. She promised to end corruption in Liberia and work for its re-building after 14 years of devastating civil war. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf urged Liberians to join her in these tasks so that together Liberians could “begin anew, move forward into a future that is filled with hope and promise”. As concerns corruption in Liberia, she promised to “wage war against corruption regardless of where it exists or by whom it is practiced”.
South Africa: In local elections, women still far from “holding up half the sky”
When they met in Gaborone last August, heads of state of the Southern African Development Community pledged to make sure that women are equally represented in all areas of decision-making in line with an African Union position. The local government elections taking place in South Africa in March are one of the first test cases for the often glaring gap between the grandstanding of leaders at regional events and what actually happens on the ground. As leader of the African National Congress (ANC) President Thabo Mbeki will not have to hang its head in shame. But other parties have some serious soul searching to do, and as head of state Mbeki will need to ask what can be done to bridge the gap between his party and all the rest.
South Africa: Municipal protests indicate struggle of communities
Over the past year South Africa has seen pockets of municipal protests around the country as residents have vented their anger about poor service delivery. The government for its part appears to be well aware of the simmering dissatisfaction amongst citizens. The government’s ‘Project Consolidate’ implicitly acknowledges long-standing problems in the sphere of local government. ‘Project Consolidate’ is in effect a rescue plan for municipalities. 136 of the 284 municipalities country-wide fall within its remit, indicating the extent of the problem. In his state of the nation address, President Mbeki acknowledged that local government was, in part, failing to fulfil its mandate to citizens, according to IDASA.
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ANC takes Khutsong with 232 votes
Uganda: New-look parliament as big names fall in poll
Big name losers in the Uganda general election and surprise wins in key constituencies have brought into focus what shape the country's eighth parliament is likely to take. A sizeable chunk of President Museveni's Cabinet were defeated in last week's general election. Significantly, powerful voices that characterised legislation in the past 10 years have been silenced or have dropped out, leaving the field for new MPs to take up the mantle of leadership.
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- Uganda: Observers declare poll peaceful despite vote-buying and violence
Uganda: Old parties blame debacle on militarism
As the Democratic Party and Uganda Peoples Congress come to terms with the resounding defeat of their flag-bearers in Uganda's presidential elections last week, the consensus is that they were victims of a growing trend towards militarism in Ugandan politics. Presidential candidates for the Uganda People's Congress and the Democratic Party turned in dismal performances, with a combined tally of less than 5 per cent of the vote. Given that they are Uganda's oldest political parties and that the candidates were no novices, analysts argue that three decades of violence in Uganda is taking its toll on young voters who believe that one can win political power only through the power of the gun.
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Uganda: Opposition leader to challenge poll results in Court
Zimbabwe: New hope?
Seventeen years ago a militant University of Zimbabwe student leader, Arthur Mutambara, and the radical national trades union leader Morgan Tsvangirai openly criticised the way the country was being governed by President Robert Mugabe and his ZANU PF government. The two were among the first Zimbabweans to experience the wrath of Mugabe against his critics as popular discontent began to stir. They were arrested in October 1989 following a series of anti-corruption demonstrations which led to the first-ever closure of the Harare-based University of Zimbabwe. Today Mutambara, 39, and Tsvangirai, 53, are radical opponents, each leading rival factions of the badly split opposition Movement for Democratic Change, MDC, which for years was Zimbabweans' main hope of political change in their country. Whichever faction eventually triumphs will decide which man gets the chance to topple the ZANU PF government and become only Zimbabwe's second state president since independence in 1980.
Cameroon: Cameroon arrests three senior officials for graft
Cameroon has detained three former senior officials and 13 others on corruption charges, a week after the International Monetary Fund warned that graft remained an obstacle to debt relief. "Judicial cases have been opened against a number of officials accused of embezzlement, corruption, forgery and use of forgeries," Deputy Prime Minister Ahmadou Ali, in charge of Justice, said in a statement late on Tuesday. The communique did not name those detained but sources at the state prosecutor's office said the three senior officials included the former general managers of Cameroon's state real estate company (SIC) and the state land loan fund (CFC).
Global: How can civil society monitor commitments?
Last year, the Global Call to Action against Poverty (GCAP) established four key policy demands: debt cancellation, trade justice, a major increase in the quantity and quality of aid and national accountability - focusing mainly on accountability of national governments with regard to realising the Millenium Development Goals (MDGs). In this context, several civil society coalitions have produced MDG shadow reports alongside those of National Governments which were prepared for the United Nations World Summit in September 2005. The civil society reports, which were produced in an exemplary consultative manner, have observed amongst others things that many National MDG Reports had failed to consult with civil society organisations which deal directly with communities.
Kenya: Private lawyers earning millions from the government
Plans by the Kenya government to engage private-sector lawyers to prosecute cases arising from the Goldenberg and Anglo Leasing financial scandals have turned the spotlight on the Attorney-General's procurement procedures, after it turned out six lawyers were paid Ksh72 million ($1 million) to handle a five-day case arising from the constitutional review crisis. The advance payment of Ksh72 million by the Office of the Attorney General last year to a group of six private lawyers has sparked a controversy within the legal fraternity, with questions raised about the manner in which the lucrative contract was shared out and how it was procured.
Nigeria: Shell told to pay Nigeria's Ijaw
A Nigerian court has ordered oil giant Shell and its partners to pay $1.5bn to the Ijaw people of the Delta region. The Ijaw have been fighting since 2000 for compensation for environmental degradation in the oil-rich region. They took the case to court after Shell refused to make the payment ordered by Nigeria's parliament.
Uganda: Ending corruption through accountability
It is widely recognised that corruption can limit poverty reduction and economic growth. Improved accountability will help reduce corruption and improve the quality of crucial public services, but there is little evidence to demonstrate how a culture of accountability can be developed.
Africa: 'Cotton Four' preparing new proposal on domestic support
The four African countries that originally proposed the Cotton Initiative will produce a proposal on cutting domestic support in the “coming days”, Benin told the Cotton Sub-Committee on 31 January 2006 in its first meeting since the 13-18 December 2005 Hong Kong Ministerial Conference. The Cotton Four (Benin, Burkina Faso, Chad and Mali), sub-committee chairperson Crawford Falconer, and some other countries said work on domestic support will be urgently needed if members are to meet the 30 April deadline for “modalities” that was agreed in Hong Kong. The Hong Kong Ministerial Declaration says cuts in trade-distorting domestic support on cotton will be deeper and quicker than those agreed for agriculture as a whole, but does not spell out how much deeper or faster, according to the Millenium Development Goals Campaign.
Congo: World Bank agrees conditions for debt relief
The World Bank has agreed to a series of conditions needed to be met by the Republic of Congo, mainly improving transparency in oil revenue accounting, for the central African country to qualify for debt relief. The Bank said its board agreed in principle on Friday on an "approach" for Congo-Brazzaville to eventually take part in the global debt relief program for poor countries launched in 1996, known as Heavily Indebted Poor Countries Initiative (HIPC). This approach, it said in a statement, was designed to "improve financial transparency and accountability and serve the interests of the poor" and was subject to the approval of the International Monetary Fund, according to Reuters.
Egypt: Timing off for free trade with US
The United States will not seek to close a free trade agreement with Egypt this year because the "timing" is not right, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said before a trip to Middle East that includes a first stop in Egypt. It was widely believed Washington, which had planned to reach the agreement with the government of President Hosni Mubarak by year’s end, had switched course after what it saw as backsliding on Egyptian promises to reform its political system. There was widespread police-inspired violence during parliamentary elections late last year as the government openly sought to block opposition voters from reaching the polls. Nearly a dozen people were killed in the election violence. Rice, however, denied the trade pact was being withheld to penalize the Egyptian government.
Global: Annan prepares for privatisation of UN
UN Secretary General Kofi Annan commissioned a study by a US consulting firm into outsourcing a UN department. This Business article asserts that the UN has drawn up plans for privatizing the bulk of its staff at its New York headquarters and to outsource their work overseas. With Washington pressuring the UN to cut costs, the study explores possibilities for privatization from the conservative to the radical.
Global: Economic growth fails poor in Africa
Provided economic growth remains on track, it is anticipated that global poverty will fall to 10% of the population by 2015, achieving the target. However, worldwide figures mask the true picture. Asia is making good progress, driven by growth in China and India; but there is little movement elsewhere and many countries in sub-Saharan Africa have gone backwards, seeing an increase in the proportion of people in extreme poverty. During the 1990s, millions more people fell into extreme poverty in Sub Saharan Africa, according to the report by DFID.
Kenya: Bilateral trade agreement with Venezuela
Kenya has signed an agreement with the Venezuela government to enhance bilateral co-operation between the two countries. The bilateral agreement would also include technical assistance in oil exploration. The deal could also allow Kenya to buy crude oil at lower prices from the South American country, the world’s fifth largest oil exporter. Foreign Affairs minister, Rafael Tuju and Venezuela’s Deputy minister for Foreign Affairs for Africa, Reinaldo Bolivar, signed the agreement in Nairobi.
Kenya: Inflation up as cost of food soars
Persistent increases in the cost of food coupled with high world oil prices pose the biggest challenge to keeping inflation in check. The Central Bank of Kenya says that the expected long rains in March could help mitigate the problem, but there is still need to allay fears of persistent inflation. Releasing the 17th Monetary Policy Statement, CBK governor said the CBK continues to seek the five per cent inflation target, despite the challenges.
Southern Africa: Loan Contraction and Debt Management
AFRODAD, in collaboration with the SADC Parliamentary Forum, convened a second Dialogue between SADC Parliamentarians and representatives of Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) in Windhoek, Namibia on 15 and 16 February, 2006 to discuss the question of Loan Contraction and Debt Management in the region. The workshop, which brought together about 12 Parliamentarians and 20 CSO representatives, was held under the theme 'Dialogue on the Loan Contraction Process and Debt Management in SADC' and was a continuation of an earlier Dialogue between Parliamentarians and representatives of CSOs that was held from 23 - 24 August 2004, in Harare, Zimbabwe. At the end of the meeting, Communique was issued, which is available through the link below.
COMMUNIQUE of the Parliamentary-Civil Society Organisations’ DIALOGUE ON LOAN CONTRACTION AND DEBT MANAGEMENT AND DEVELOPMENT IN SADC REGION, 15-16 FEBRUARY 2006, SAFARI COURT, WINDHOEK, NAMIBIA
i. We, the members of Civil Society Organisations and the Southern Africa Development Cooperation Parliamentary Forum gathered at Windhoek, Namibia on 15 to 16 February 2006, and having deliberated on loan contraction and debt management and development in the SADC region
ii. Recalling the AFRODAD-facilitated first meeting between members of the SADC Parliamentary Forum and Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) in Harare, Zimbabwe from 24 to 25 August 2004 and reaffirming our commitment to the recommendations made thereof
iii. Agreeing that debt, especially for consumption and its related conditionalities is undesirable and should be avoided at all cost
iv. Noting with serious concern the continued capital flight in the form of annual debt service payments and untaxed corporate profits
v. Reiterating that there is a need to involve parliamentarians as elected representatives of the people and civil society in loan contraction and debt management and in development in general.
vi. Acknowledging that effective debt management and nationally-owned development strategies form the indispensable foundations for sustainable development in the SADC region and that they are the pillars for tackling poverty reduction, gender inequality and HIV and AIDS as well as other challenges.
vii. Emphasizing the urgent need for an effective, comprehensive, durable and development oriented solution to the debt problems of African countries;
viii. Cautiously welcoming the decision of the G8 countries to cancel 100% of outstanding debts of eligible HIPCs to the IMF, IDA and AfDB, however expressing concern about the attached conditionalities and limited countries that will benefit;
ix. Stressing the need to consider additional measures and initiatives including the fair and transparent arbitration process aimed at ensuring long-term debt sustainability through increased grant-based financing;
We therefore commit ourselves to:
1. Continue with the dialogue, share information and work together on debt management and development.
2. Invest in a stronger Parliamentary-CSO working relationship on debt and other development challenges particularly in the area of information sharing, research and bill sponsoring
We urge our governments to:
1. Set up debt management committees, institutionalise debt policies and improve data
management on debt in our countries
2. Involve Parliaments in loan contraction processes as well as in the management of the debt thereof
3. Carefully consider project sustainability before loans are approved
4. Ensure Parliaments and CSOs are included in debt policy formulation and management
5. Allocate adequate expenditure to poverty reduction programmes and projects, HIV and AIDS and gender equality
We urge both our governments and donors to honour their commitments and to put the emphasis on sustainable development rather than sustainable debts.
And we demand:
1. A fair and transparent arbitration process as a mechanism for debt management under the umbrella of the United Nations.
2. Inclusive monitoring and evaluation of the use of all public resources
3. Mutual accountability between donors and aid recipient countries on development outcomes
4. Mutual agreement on loan policy conditions as equal partners with development partners
5. Poverty and social impact assessment on all loans where there is concern regarding impact on the poor
6. More and better and quality aid anchored on clear exit strategies
Uganda: EU food rules stifle exports
A new food regulation by the European Union (EU) has created a non-tariff barrier to products under Uganda's bio trade programme, a bio trade officer has said. Susan Bingi, who is in charge of the programme, said although the regulation was put in place in 1997, it had been largely unknown in developing countries yet they are the main exporters to the EU. "This regulation is intended to ensure food safety. It requires novel foods to be subjected to extensive scientific research to prove food safety beyond doubt. This presents a barrier to exotic foods entering the EU," Bingi said.
Angola: Cholera outbreak confirmed, 8 dead
Cholera, a disease associated with poor sanitation and access to potable water has claimed eight lives in a suburb of the Angolan capital, Luanda. The UN's World Health Organisation (WHO) said that 40 cases of the highly contagious disease, spread through contaminated water or food, were reported in the last few days in the Boavista shantytown located to the north of the capital.
Angola: The dangerous profession of motherhood
The United Nations Children's Fund estimates that for every 1,000 live births in Angola, 17 women die from pregnancy-related causes. Angolan women are thought to carry a one-in-seven risk of maternal death, higher than the one-in-16 risk for sub-Saharan Africa -- and much, much worse than the one-in-2,000 and one-in-3,000 risk in Europe and the United States. To a large extent, these figures are a legacy of Angola's 27-year civil war between government and the Union for the Total Independence of Angola (União Nacional para a Independência Total de Angola - UNITA).
Ethiopia: Dead birds to be tested for Avian Flu
Samples from a poultry farm in southern Ethiopia where thousands of chickens have died are to be sent to Europe for further analysis to determine whether the birds died of avian flu, an official said on Tuesday. Local tests have found "flu-like" symptoms in 49 chickens from the farm, but more tests were needed to determine what exactly killed the birds.
Global: Poultry industry at the root of bird flu crisis, says report
Small-scale poultry farming and wild birds are being unfairly blamed for the bird flu crisis now affecting large parts of the world. A new report from GRAIN shows how the transnational poultry industry is the root of the problem and must be the focus of efforts to control the virus.
GRAIN PRESS RELEASE
Embargoed until 27 February 2006 (00:01 GMT)
REPORT SAYS GLOBAL POULTRY INDUSTRY IS THE ROOT OF THE BIRD FLU CRISIS
Small-scale poultry farming and wild birds are being unfairly blamed for the
bird flu crisis now affecting large parts of the world. A new report from
GRAIN shows how the transnational poultry industry is the root of the
problem and must be the focus of efforts to control the virus. 
The spread of industrial poultry production and trade networks has created
ideal conditions for the emergence and transmission of lethal viruses like
the H5N1 strain of bird flu. Once inside densely populated factory farms,
viruses can rapidly become lethal and amplify. Air thick with viral load
from infected farms is carried for kilometres, while integrated trade
networks spread the disease through many carriers: live birds,
day-old-chicks, meat, feathers, hatching eggs, eggs, chicken manure and
animal feed. 
"Everyone is focused on migratory birds and backyard chickens as the
problem," says Devlin Kuyek of GRAIN. "But they are not effective vectors of
highly pathogenic bird flu. The virus kills them, but is unlikely to be
spread by them."
For example, in Malaysia, the mortality rate from H5N1 among village chicken
is only 5%, indicating that the virus has a hard time spreading among small
scale chicken flocks. H5N1 outbreaks in Laos, which is surrounded by
infected countries, have only occurred in the nation's few factory farms,
which are supplied by Thai hatcheries. The only cases of bird flu in
backyard poultry, which account for over 90% of Laos' production, occurred
next to the factory farms.
"The evidence we see over and over again, from the Netherlands in 2003 to
Japan in 2004 to Egypt in 2006, is that lethal bird flu breaks out in large
scale industrial chicken farms and then spreads," Kuyek explains.
The Nigerian outbreak earlier this year began at a single factory farm,
owned by a Cabinet minister, distant from hotspots for migratory birds but
known for importing unregulated hatchable eggs. In India, local authorities
say that H5N1 emerged and spread from a factory farm owned by the country's
largest poultry company, Venkateshwara Hatcheries.
A burning question is why governments and international agencies, like the
UN Food and Agriculture Organisation, are doing nothing to investigate how
the factory farms and their byproducts, such as animal feed and manure,
spread the virus. Instead, they are using the crisis as an opportunity to
further industrialise the poultry sector. Initiatives are multiplying to ban
outdoor poultry, squeeze out small producers and restock farms with
genetically-modified chickens. The web of complicity with an industry
engaged in a string of denials and cover-ups seems complete.
"Farmers are losing their livelihoods, native chickens are being wiped out
and some experts say that we're on the verge of a human pandemic that could
kill millions of people," Kuyek concludes. "When will governments realise
that to protect poultry and people from bird flu, we need to protect them
from the global poultry industry?"
 The full briefing, "Fowl play: The poultry industry's central role in
the bird flu crisis", is available at http://www.grain.org/go/birdflu
Spanish and French translations will be posted shortly.
 Chicken faeces and bedding from poultry factory floors are common
ingredients in animal feed.
Kenya: Underpaid nurses lured away
In a dimly lit ward at Nairobi's Kenyatta Hospital, Florence explains why she has lost heart in what was once a revered profession. Shutting the door on fretting relatives who wander the corridor with steaming pots of porridge for the sick, she says it was all so different when she qualified 20 years ago.
Nigeria: Fighting misconceptions is first hurdle in battle against bird flu
“It’s a government set-up,” “It’s a white man’s disease,” “Getting close to chickens kills.” Since Africa’s first cases of the deadly H5N1 virus were reported in northern Nigeria early this month, rumours, conspiracy theories and scepticism have been rife. And as the federal government steps up the battle to stem the spread of the virus, many Nigerians are still puzzling over what to make of this strange poultry disease that has created such panic in the west.
South Africa: The science of Hiv/Aids
Science, human rights and good governance can make the world a better place, begins the introductory article of the latest Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) newsletter. "This is why we must protect all these things. If they are undermined, our country's development will falter. Ordinary citizens must make sure that government respects science and our rights and that it ensures that scientific and technological advances benefit all. Science must be held to account for its inadequacies. But we must not allow our own government to misuse legitimate questions about science to refuse us our rights." Click on the link to read the newsletter.
Tanzania: Struggles to spend AIDS billions
With billions of dollars pouring in to fight Africa's HIV/AIDS epidemic, Tanzanian AIDS counsellor Gandencia Bazil has a simple request. "We need a bicycle," said Bazil, who heads the AIDS committee in this village near Lake Victoria, an area where an estimated 12 percent of people are infected with HIV. This predicament is repeated across Africa, where despite a huge jump in overseas assistance and government AIDS budgets, the cash earmarked to fight the epidemic is often not making it to the desperate people who need it most.
West Africa: 12 nations band together to fight off H5N1 threat
Twelve West African nations on Thursday pledged to work together to fight the deadly H5N1 virus and called on the international community to back a joint emergency fund dedicated to the battle against bird flu. In a statement issued after two days of talks in the Senegalese capital, the group of nations - two of them bordering Nigeria, the only bird-flu-hit country in Africa to date - agreed on “the need for a concerted and coordinated approach in setting up national campaigns” against the virus.
Zimbabwe: Zimbabwe allocates $830,000 to purchase ARVs
The Zimbabwean government has allocated about $830,000 to purchase antiretroviral drugs for people living with HIV/AIDS in the country, Owen Mugurungi, head of the AIDS and TB unit in the Ministry of Health and Child Welfare, said last Wednesday, Xinhuanet reports. Speaking during a Southern Africa HIV and AIDS Information Dissemination Service forum on universal access to treatment in Zimbabwe, Mugurungi said the drugs would benefit at least 25,000 HIV-positive people currently on antiretroviral therapy.
Ethiopia: Nigeria assists with university teachers
President Olusegun Obasanjo has agreed to consider the request by Ethiopia for 671 university teachers in addition to the 31 already sent from Nigeria to enable that country to cope with the new universities being opened. The President who stated this when he received the out going Ethiopian Ambassador, Mr. Yohannes Guinda Ginbi on 28 February at the State House, Abuja said the request would be considered under the Technical Aid Corps (TAC) scheme in addition to sending some experts on cassava.
Global: New report on children out of school
One hundred and fifteen million primary school-age children are out of school according to a joint UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS)/ UNICEF global estimate. This number equals 18% - or almost one in five - of the children worldwide in this age group. And many of the children who are in school may never complete their primary education or finish it without attaining even basic literacy skills.
Ivory Coast: After years of delay students in north sit exams
Students in the rebel-held north of Cote d’Ivoire, their educations stopped cold by conflict, have begun sitting school exams after more than two years of doubt. The exams opened to mixed reactions in the northern city of Korhogo, most students and parents happy to move past years of limbo, but others complaining that after such a long wait the government – who announced less than two weeks ago that the exams would go forward – should have given more notice.
Kenya: 47,000 to miss Varsity places
Only candidates who scored a B+ of 67 points will make it to Kenya's public universities. This is heartbreaking news for thousands of parents whose children sat the Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education examination in 2004. The Joint Admissions Board (JAB) broke the news as it announced that more than 47,000 candidates who sat the KCSE examination in 2004 would not join the six public universities although they had met the minimum qualifications. JAB, the team of public university administrators that picks students, said yesterday the institutions would admit 10,632 of the 58,239 who qualified.
Kenya: Girls' and women's education
This UNESCO study sheds light on underlying reasons for persistent gender gaps in education in Kenya. The analysis offers an understanding of how far we have to go in achieving the Education For All (EFA) goal of eliminating gender disparities and achieving gender equality in education. From gender and historical perspectives, Fatuma Chege and Daniel N. Sifuna systematically examine all levels of education - early childhood, primary education, secondary education, adult literacy, higher education, technical and vocational education and informal sector training and employment.
Nigeria: Injection of cash for teacher training
Education Minister, Mrs. Chinwe Obaji said for sustainability of Education For All by the year 2015, the Federal Government has set up Federal Teachers' Corps Scheme (FTCS) as well as earmarked the sum of N6 billion for training of 40,000 teachers. Mr. Oshiomole had blamed the dwindling of qualitative education in the country on the Federal Government saying, "we must link our education policy to our developmental policy. The strength of a nation does not lie on numbers but on quality of human capital".
Zimbabwe: Education bill adopted after heated debate
The House of Assembly has adopted amendments made by the Upper House to the Education Amendment Bill after a heated debate as parliamentarians were divided over the contentious issue of school fees. The Lower House was divided with 45 Zanu-PF lawmakers voting in favour of the adoption of the amendments and 25 MDC legislators opposing. The Bill was read for the third time and it now awaits Presidential assent for it to become law. It seeks to provide for the charging of fees and levies in line with the Consumer Price Index (CPI) as published by the Central Statistical Office (CSO).
Zimbabwe: Travel costs force students to stay home
Mthatheni Sibanda scribbles in an untidy notebook as he watches over his family's vegetable stand at a mini-market in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe's second city. The 19-year-old is a final year advanced-level student trying to balance the needs of school work with finding the money for his transport to school. Like several Zimbabwean students, Sibanda can only afford to attend class twice a week. "I really would love to be at school with other children, especially since I am preparing for my final examinations," he said.
Botswana: De Beers's mine a hundred times larger than previously announced
In a surprise revelation, the Botswana government has said that a diamond mine on the land of the Central Kalahari Bushmen would affect 5,027 square kilometres of land - well over a hundred times more than previously announced, reports Survival International.
Chad-Cameroon: Report highlights EIB role in oil and pipeline project
A new report highlights the role of the European Investment Bank as financer of so called "development" projects in the South, including Africa. The question raised is: development for whom? The research, entitled "The European Investment Bank In The South. In Whose Interest?", gives insights around that question.
Global: The interaction between environment and trade
While most governments see trade as a central ingredient to development, they pay little attention to how trade interacts with the environment. This UN Environmental Programme report looks at national and international environmental agreements and how trade agreements affect the environment. To promote sustainable development, governments have to take a close look at how their trade policies influence the environment.
Kenya: Assault of the biopirates
They come as tourists and we urge them to feel at home in our land and to travel as far and wide in it as they can. Others come as associates of a clique of "conservationists" who have maintained a traditional hold on Africa's conservation policy and practice. Some come openly as researchers or students eager to dig as much information out of the countryside as possible. Yet others live with us, either as "visiting scientists" working in our national research institutions and universities or as "expert" expatriates.
Somali: People, animals in fierce contest for water
Reports of baboons and hyenas attacking communities in drought-stricken Somalia are becoming common. The wild creatures are said to be locked in competition with human beings in search of water as the merciless drought currently affecting the entire Horn of Africa region exhausts both food and water supplies.
South Africa: The 'green death' of exotic tree plantations
Exotic tree plantations have earned the name 'green death' from eco-activists, who point out that they displace native species, very few of which can live in plantations. Plantations in the eastern parts of South Africa are particularly notorious for consuming grassland, now considered our most threatened biome.
South Africa: What's to be done about the energy crisis?
You stagger into the kitchen in the early morning, dying for that first cup of coffee, but the kettle remains stubbornly cold. You may manage to get your car out of the electronically operated security gates, but you might as well have stayed at home because the traffic lights aren't working and there's chaos on the roads. And when you get to work, your computers/cash registers/power tools/espresso machines crash. Elements of this unhappy scenario will have been all-too-familiar to most Capetonians at various times over the past few months as Eskom's ability to produce a regular supply of electricity has imploded. But what's to be done? asks IOL.
Tanzania: Power firm seeks new plants because of drought
Tanzania's power company on Thursday (February 23) invited bids for two gas-powered plants to boost electricity production following a drought that has reduced hydro power. East Africa's worst drought in years is threatening 11 million people with famine, and the power cuts are one of the first signs of what many say will be its widespread cost to the region's economy, as reported by Reuters.
Global: Is it time to change from outside horizontal to indoor vertical farming?
Most demographers agree that by 2050, the world's population will rise to at least 9.2 billion. It will take an increase to the world's agricultural land the size of Brazil to feed this population - far more than is available. Horizontal farming is destructive of ecosystems, habitat, and water and is a significant cause of climate change. Advocates of vertical indoor farming believe that - if practiced on a large scale in urban centres - it has potential to: sustainably feed the world. A single building 30 stories high with a city block footprint could feed 10,000 people.
Global: Land tenure reform and gender equality
This brief explores the reform of land tenure institutions which re-emerged in the 1990s, and asks if these reforms are any more gender sensitive than those of the past? The paper highlights that a focus of the recent reforms has been on land titling, designed to promote security of tenure and stimulate land markets. The reforms have often been driven by domestic and external neoliberal coalitions, with funding from global and regional organisations which have argued that private property rights are essential for a dynamic agricultural sector. However, democratic transitions, though often fragile, have opened up new possibilities for agrarian reform, placing inequalities in land distribution back on national agendas. The involvement of social movements, including women's movements, and their domestic and international allies has been the other hallmark of recent policy debates on land.
Kenya: State sends police after land grabbers
The Criminal Investigations Department has taken over investigations into the scandalous acquisition of huge tracts of public land by powerful personalities as documented in the Ndung'u Report. The news broke on the second day of a week that Justice minister Martha Karua declared would be characterised by the arrests of Anglo Leasing and Goldenberg suspects, who have all been asked to surrender their guns and passports.
Guinea: Newspaper suspended, journalists barred from working
The Committee to Protect Journalists says it is troubled by the National Communications Council's decision last Wednesday to suspend the private bimonthly Les Echos for two months and ban two of the newspaper's journalists from working during that time. The decision by the government-controlled council cited "the publication of false news and an attack on the honor and dignity" of a government minister, Kiridi Bangoura. Bangoura brought a complaint against the newspaper after it published an article in the February 20 edition accusing him of "becoming rich off the back of Guineans."
Kenya: Council summons 'Standard' editor
The Media Council of Kenya has summoned the Standard Weekend Editions Managing Editor, to appear before it over a story the paper published. Kenya's Minister for Information and Communication had described the story as a "fabrication published with ill motive." A government spokesman said the story was meant to injure the integrity of the Presidency and mislead Kenyans. He also demanded, in a statement, that the writer of the story and editors who participated in the story be punished.
South Africa: Elections blog launched
The Mail & Guardian Online has invited South Africa's biggest political players to write blogs, or online diaries, in the run-up to the local elections, thus providing them with a new means of communicating with voters and promoting debate. All major political parties were approached with this offer. The political parties that were not represented, decided not to take up the offer to blog.
Tunisia: Journalist released after 15 years in jail
Reporters Without Borders has noted the release of Hamadi Jebali, editor of the weekly Al Fajr, on 25 February 2006, after 15 years in prison. The Tunisian authorities have also freed the "Zarzis Internet-users" who were jailed in April 2004. Jebali and the group of six so-called "Zarzis Internet-users" were among the 1,600 prisoners who received a presidential pardon, on 25 February 2006. Jebali, whose publication Al Fajr, is the organ of the Islamist movement An Nahda, has been in jail since 1991. He was sentenced to one year in prison for defamation after publishing an article by lawyer Mohammed Nuri calling for the military courts to be abolished.
Uganda: Radio station unblocked
The 93.3KFM signal, a subsidiary of the Monitor Publications, has been restored after being off-air for two days reportedly for relaying results from last Thursday’s poll without the authority of the Electoral Commission. The Monitor managing director, Conrad Nkutu, who claimed that the station and the newspaper’s websites were blocked by the Government, said the internal affairs minister, Dr. Ruhakana Rugunda, told him on Friday that security agencies had jammed KFM and blocked the paper’s website.
DRC: Diamonds still drive conflict, says report
This Partnership Africa Canada report shows how illicit diamond trafficking remains the biggest obstacle on the bumpy road to peace and stability in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Armed militias smuggled an estimated $200-300 million worth of diamonds out of the country in 2005. Given the importance of the diamond industry in the DRC - it sustains 800,000 people and their families - the Kinshasa government and the UN peacekeeping mission must take action to ensure that benefits reach those who live and work in diamond mining areas.
DRC: Hundreds flee fighting in Ituri District
Hundreds of civilians have been displaced by fighting between United Nations-supported government troops and militiamen in the northeastern province of Orientale in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), according to the head of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in Bunia, Ituri District. Three hundred displaced persons fled fighting in the town of Tcheyi and arrived in Aveba village, 12 km south, on Monday, Modiba Traore said.
DRC: Warning of 'huge risk' of new conflict
Warning that there is "a huge risk for conflict to rise again" in the Democratic Republic of the Congo's (DRC), the top United Nations refugee official has called on the international community to provide greater support for the vast country's transition to full democracy for the first time in 45 years. "The scale of the problem, the complexity of the problem, and the nature of the problem are such that all our resources combined together won't easily solve it," UN High Commissioner for Refugees AntÃ'nio Guterres told ambassadors from donor countries in Kinshasa, capital of a nation that is moving towards national elections in June after the most lethal fighting in the world since World War II.
Eritrea: Asmara rejects talks on border dispute
The Eritrean government has rejected a proposal by the United Nations Security Council to hold talks with an independent commission to resolve its ongoing border dispute with Ethiopia. "The final and binding decision of the Boundary Commission marks the legal conclusion of the Eritrea-Ethiopia issue once and for all," said a statement issued by the Eritrean foreign ministry on Monday. Eritrea was referring to the original ruling of the commission, which was handed down in April 2002, according to Alertnet.
Ivory Coast: Faction leaders recommit to peace
The five key players in Cote d’Ivoire’s conflict have renewed their commitment to peace efforts after holding their first face-to-face talks at home since war broke out more than three years ago. While there were few concrete agreements, Tuesday’s four-hour meeting behind closed doors broke new ground and brought fresh hopes of a breakthrough in stumbling efforts to reunify the West African nation, divided between a rebel-held north and government south since 2002.
Nigeria: At least 123 killed as anger over cartoons fuels existing tensions
At least 123 people have been killed in four days of sectarian violence across Nigeria, after protests over caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad fuelled underlying religious and ethnic tensions. Two-thirds of the deaths in the past six days have occurred in the mainly Christian southeast city of Onitsha, where groups of armed youths took to the streets to seek revenge against Muslims in reprisal for deadly attacks on Christians last weekend in the predominantly Muslim north.
Somalia: Breakaway state has achieved peace, stability, democracy
It is not without justification that the breakaway republic of Somaliland is seeking international recognition and refusing to rejoin the Transitional National Government in Somalia. While the government of Abdullahi Yusuf is still looking for a suitable capital, Somaliland has been holding regular parliamentary and presidential elections, albeit without the international community paying much attention. Since the disintegration of Somalia provoked by the collapse of the Siad Barre administration in early 1991, leading to the breaking away of Somaliland into a self-declared independent republic, there has been an accelerated process of state building.
Sudan: Khartoum wants to keep UN out of Darfur
Sudan has begun a campaign to keep African Union troops in Darfur and prevent a UN force from taking over efforts to restore peace in the conflict-wracked region, the top UN envoy in Sudan said Tuesday. Jan Pronk said an anti-UN climate is heating up strongly in the Sudanese capital, Khartoum, with threats and warnings that handing over to a UN force would put Sudan "in the same situation as Iraq a couple of years ago."
* See http://platform.blogs.com/passionofthepresent/2006/03/from_darfur_to_.html for the latest news from Sudan.
Uganda: UK attacked over arms dealing
The UK has failed to act on promises to plug loopholes that allow the sale of arms to countries with poor human rights records, aid agency Oxfam says. It says that military vehicles were sold to Uganda by a South African subsidiary of the UK firm BAE Systems. These were used to quell demonstrations and disperse opposition supporters as recently as 10 days ago, it says.
Africa: Ungana student development program
Ungana-Afrika is developing a replicable concept for ICT student development programs that involve ICT students to provide capacity building and technology support for civil society organisations, SMEs and smaller public sector offices. Visit their webpage for more details.
Global: Google launches web page creator
Google launched on Thursday a service that lets people create their own Web pages hosted by the Internet giant. Google Page Creator, which is in beta, has sample layouts and lets people type in content, upload images and publish their pages, without knowing HTML. People can create multiple linked pages and are allowed 100MB of storage on the service.
Global: WSIS secretariat freezes web-pages for Geneva, Tunis phases
The Executive Secretariat of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) has announced the freezing of the web-pages of both the Geneva and Tunis phases of the summit. This is coming as it has taken a firm step in updating media professionals on the post-WSIS related information by maintaining its 'WSIS E-Flash' medium.
Kenya: Kenyans set to buy 34 percent of Telkom
It is now official. The Government will sell 34 per cent of Telkom Kenya to the public through the Nairobi Stock Exchange. Another 26 per cent of the Government's shares in Telkom will be sold to a strategic investor. The President made the announcement while opening the national information and communications technology (ICT) workshop in Nairobi. The State will also sell nine per cent of its shareholding in mobile phone operator Safaricom, to Vodafone Airtouch of the UK.
Uganda: Uganda catches online campaigning fever
Last week’s election in Uganda illustrated just how far-reaching the Internet’s impact on politics has become. The African nation’s first multi-party election in over twenty years took place last Thursday, with the presidency and all seats in parliament up for grabs. Technology played a much more significant role in the proceedings than it ever has before.
Global: New UNAIDS website and newsletter
UNAIDS has launched a new version of its website complete with a new navigation, branding and logo. The website, which will also be available in French, Spanish and Russian, provides content specifically chosen for each audience group; business and labour; civil society; donors; media; people living with HIV/AIDS; policy-makers; researchers; the UN family; and women as well as an easier more intuitive navigation structure.
Europe: EADI Prize for Development Studies
The European Association of Development Research and Training Institutes (EADI) announces the 2006 prize for excellence in development research. The prize, worth €1 000, will be awarded for an essay on an issue of development studies in any field of the social sciences submitted and written by a postgraduate student from an EADI member country or attending a programme at an institutional member of the Association. All entries for the EADI Prize for Development Studies should reach the Association's offices in Bonn no later than 31 May 2006 by e-mail.
Global: Development in Practice
This is an international refereed journal of practice-based analysis and research concerning the social dimensions of development and humanitarianism. It aims to provide a forum for debate and the exchange of ideas among practitioners, academics, and policy shapers, including activists and non-governmental organisations (NGOs). By challenging current assumptions, the journal seeks to stimulate new thinking and ways of working.
Global: Funding Seminar - Collaborating with the Commonwealth
The past year has shown increasing recognition by funding bodies that higher education has an important role to play in fulfilling the international development agenda. Examples of these new initiatives and funding schemes will be covered at this one-day conference put on by the Association of Commonwealth Universities and the Commonwealth Scholarship Commission in the UK, which aims to provide a concise, yet comprehensive, briefing of current opportunities. Bringing together funding bodies, UK universities, potential overseas partners and academics, there will be an emphasis on creating collaboration with developing country institutions. 24 March 2006, London, UK Application Deadline: 15 March 2006. For further information on registering for this event, contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Global: Online fundraising workshops
The Gilbert Center professional briefings are intended for the professional staff of nonprofit organizations, specifically those working in communication, fundraising, or technology. Packages tend to be tightly focused on a particular professional field and online workshops deliver lessons that can be immediately applied within a particular professional's field of authority.
Africa: Development Youth Media
Development Forum '06 - Jun 4-8 2006 - Bamako, Mali
This is a unique event for media professionals to exchange knowledge about media productions with children and youth in developing countries. Forum topics include: quality production; technical aspects; training; project planning; monitoring and evaluating Impact, networking and fundraising.
Global: Challenges and triumphs facing women of African descent in the 21st century
This event will address in a sincere, interactive dialogue issues in education, health, economic empowerment, politics/government, spirituality, and social / cultural diversity. There will be 30 participants, including 20 women and the rest young adults (males and females). The participants will be coming from Liberia, Nigeria, Ghana and the US.
Theme: Challenges and Triumphs Facing Women of African Descent in the 21st Century
Goal: To address in a sincere, interactive dialogue issues in education, health, economic empowerment, politics/government, spirituality, and social / cultural diversity.
Where: Liberian Embassy, 5201 16th St. NW, Washington, DC 20011
When: Saturday May 26 & 27, 2006
Title of Sessions:
Day 1- African Women under the Palaver Hut – Workshop, Discussion Forum
Day 2 – African Cultural Panorama and Celebration
The event will include 30 participants including 20 women and the rest young adults (males and females). The participants will be coming from Liberia, Nigeria, Ghana and the US. The topics we will address deals primarily with our empowerment and roles in the past and now. What must we do now to effectively aid in alleviating ignorance, disease and poverty in out respective countries at the local, regional, national and international levels?
Global: Online course on the human right to food
This online course will review recent advances relating to the human right to adequate food, and also develop skills in applying it in specific contexts. It will use the Yahoo! Groups software. The course will begin on March 20, 2006 and end on June 12, 2006. It will be offered online through TRANSCEND Peace University. Detailed information about the course and about TPU and its registration procedures is available at http://www.transcend.org/tpu/
Nigeria: Codesria sub-regional methodological workshops for social research
Nigeria - Ibadan, 24 - 28 July, 2006
One of the major weaknesses of contemporary social research in and about Africa is its lack of careful attention to epistemological and methodological issues. This weakness has made itself manifest at a time when the increasing complexities of the social dynamics that shape livelihood on the continent and the wider global context call for a greater investment of effort in the refinement of the procedures and instruments of investigation and analyses with a view to achieving a more accurate and holistic assessment of rapidly changing realities.
Sub-Regional Methodological Workshops for Social Research in Africa, 2006 Special Session for Nigeria - Ibadan, 24 - 28 July, 2006
Sub-Regional Methodological Workshops for Social Research in Africa
2006 Special Session for Nigeria
Theme: Fields and Theories of Qualitative Research
Date: 24 - 28 July, 2006
Venue: Ibadan, Nigeria.
Call for Applications
One of the major weaknesses of contemporary social research in and about Africa is its lack of careful attention to epistemological and methodological issues. This weakness has made itself manifest at a time when the increasing complexities of the social dynamics that shape livelihood on the continent and the wider global context call for a greater investment of effort in the refinement of the procedures and instruments of investigation and analyses with a view to achieving a more accurate and holistic assessment of rapidly changing realities. But instead of such an investment of effort, we are increasingly witnessing an astonishing neglect or misapplication of theory and method on a scale and with a frequency that calls for intervention. At one level, the neglect that has taken place has comprised a serious trivialisation of basic research protocols and their reduction to a fetishistic evocation of superficial recommendations thinly disguised with ritualistic appeals to rigour that are not reflected in the analyses undertaken. At another level, methodological issues have simply been instrumentalised in ways that ensure that narrow ideological considerations and pre-determined outcomes take precedence over science. Furthermore, it is not uncommon to come across studies in which methodological questions are outrightly ignored in the name of an alleged specificity or immediacy that amounts to the exclusion of African social realities from universal debates on the validity of scientific frames of analyses. The result is that in those debates, studies produced on Africa come across as a mix of purely literary discourses without an empirical anchorage or anecdotes hidden under a “scholarly” discourse that is not only pretentious but also vacuous. Consequently, the knowledge produced is bereft of heuristic value and simply becomes an element that, wittingly or unwittingly, justifies a predetermined set of economic, political and social policies. This is clearly not an acceptable state of affairs, if only because it impoverishes African social research. It is, therefore, high time that the social research community revisited and discussed the methodological foundations of current knowledge about Africa in order first to put an end to scientific impunity as it manifests itself within and outside Africa, and give a new impulse to the African social sciences through support programmes targeted at younger researchers.
The future of young social researchers begins with an excellent mastery of core research processes and their patient application to concrete situations as demanded by their work in the field, the archives, and the library. Unfortunately, the combination of the prolonged crises in African higher education systems and the poor example set in the writings of an increasing number of Africanists who have succumbed to the temptation to take liberties with methodological rigour mean that younger African researchers are poorly served in matters of training for independent social research. It is for this reason that the CODESRIA Secretariat has decided to convene young African researchers to methodological workshops on epistemological and methodological issues in social research designed to fill the gaps in their formal and informal training. The workshops are meant to serve as a critical space that would offer experience-sharing in the basic epistemological and empirical prerequisites for rigorous scientific imagination. The workshops will not only offer insights into the current state of the art but also provide an occasion for a critical review of contemporary research procedures, tools and theories as seen from an African perspective. The major question which the workshops will address can be summarized as follows: How can the researcher productively establish a link between dominant theoretical approaches and concrete situations in the field whilst simultaneously taking into account the state of knowledge, the techniques to be mobilized, and the evolution of African societies? In answering this question, the workshops will privilege qualitative research methods and tools on the basic premise that the popular tendency to oppose quantitative and qualitative methods is due to a wrong assumption that the former offers an exactness and “hardness” which the latter is supposedly too “soft” and “fickle” to match. Without diminishing the importance of quantitative research and methods, participants in the workshops will be encouraged to explore qualitative methods of capturing African social dynamics which do not always or often find expression, fully or partially, in figures and which are, therefore, lost to those who are wedded to rigid and exclusively quantitative approaches.
The 2006 session of the CODESRIA sub-regional methodological workshops will explore the conditions for the employment and validation of qualitative perspectives in African contexts. To this end, the workshops will be open to all the social research disciplines. These disciplines are uniformly confronted with broadly similar difficulties of understanding social reality and the challenges posed by techniques of data collection and analysis, which, on account of their “qualitative” nature, are suspected by some to be seriously lacking in scientific rigour. Each workshop will have the following concerns at its core:
i) A critical assessment of the distinction between “quantitative” and “qualitative” research with particular attention to the question of measurement in the social sciences. Participants will be taken through presentations and exercises aimed at showing that the mode of processing data that is collected depends both on the field constraints encountered and the paradigmatic options of data interpretation that are available. The procedures for the “quantification” of “qualitative” approaches will also be reviewed through discussions on the distinction between the non-metrical and “comprehensive” presentation of data and the more mathematical renditions favoured by the quantitativists.
ii) A presentation of the methodological principles of “object construction” which enables the researcher to transcend the illusions of immediate knowledge and undertake a hypothetical reconstruction of social reality. This demands that the status of the researcher, as well as the systematic role of theories and tools be subjected to intense epistemological control.
iii) An assessment of various techniques of data collection and “fact-finding” instruments available to the researcher. The usual tools of qualitative research such as interviews, observation, archival studies, and the less usual ones such as photography, will be reviewed, so as to locate their potentiality for construction of successful research projects.
The Special Nigerian edition of the methodological workshops that is on offer for 2006 is designed for doctoral students and young, mid-career African researchers based in Nigeria. The working language to be employed during the workshop will be English. The session will be led by a director who will be assisted by a team of three lecturers, all with an acknowledged expertise in the application of social science research methods. Senior researchers wishing to be considered for a role as resource persons are invited to send an application which indicates their interest and includes their current CV and an outline of issues they would like to cover in four lectures of two hours each. The outline submitted should be detailed enough to enable the director of the workshop compile a syllabus for the guidance of the resource persons and laureates. Apart from the actual preparation of lectures and field visits, the resource persons will also be expected to submit a bibliographic list of texts relevant to the theme of the workshop and which can be made available to the laureates.
As to the advanced postgraduate scholars and younger, mid-career researchers wishing to be considered for participation in the workshop, they are also required to submit an application that should comprise the following:
i) A letter of motivation which should also clearly indicate the area of research or topic on which they are working;
ii) A statement of their research project (maximum of three to five pages) stating clearly the problematic that is being addressed, the kinds of field research to be undertaken, the theoretical and methodological framework being used, as well as the methodological and epistemological problems encountered;
iii) A detailed and up-to-date curriculum vitae;
iv) Two reference letters, one of which must be from the thesis supervisor and the other from the head of the department in which the applicant is registered. The reference letter from the supervisor is expected to address the relevance of the research project, the state of progress of the research and the theoretical and methodological approaches used, as well as the results expected. The reference letter from the head of the department is expected to attest to the qualities and academic potential of the candidate; and
v) A letter confirming the institutional affiliation of the applicant.
Applications will be selected on basis of the innovative nature of the research question being addressed, a commitment to gender balance that is central to CODESRIA’s institutional strategy, and the desire for a geographical diversity that will, in itself, constitute an important aspect of the learning experience at the workshops. Applications must be submitted by 31 May, 2006. They should be sent to: CODESRIA Sub-Regional Methodological Workshops,
CODESRIA, P.O. Box: 3304, Dakar, CP 18524 – Senegal.
Tél: +221-825.98.22/23 — Fax: +221-824.12.89
Nigeria: Gender, poverty and the environment in Africa
Themes of this conference include:
* Gender and poverty in Africa: Emerging issues.
* Poverty as a bane of environmental degradation in Africa.
* Imperatives of environmental degradation in Africa: The role of gender.
* Poverty Alleviation Strategies in Africa: A challenge to African Leaders.
GREEN EARTH RESOURCES NETWORK INTERNATIONAL (
GRENERI) AN INTERNATIONAL NON-GOVERNMENTAL
In collaboration with
Centre for Gender Studies Benue State University Makurdi, Nigeria.
AN INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE
THEME: GENDER, POVERTY AND ENVIRONMENT IN AFRICA.
A CHALLENGE FOR AFRICAN LEADERS
DATE: 25th – 29th April 2006
VENUE: THEATRE, ARTS’ COMPLEX BENUE STATE UNIVERSITY, MAKURDI. NIGERIA
* Gender and poverty in Africa: Emerging issues
* Poverty as a bane of environmental degradation in Africa.
* Imperatives of environmental degradation in Africa: The role of gender
* Poverty Alleviation Strategies in Africa: A challenge to African Leaders
* Gender, Poverty and the African economy
* Rural women and Poverty Alleviation in Africa: Options and strategies
* Urban women, Poverty and environmental Protection in Africa.
* Poverty and unemployment situation in Africa: challenges and options
* Inter-relationships between gender and environmental management
* Inter-relationship between poverty and environmental degradation and management
* Harmonization of gender, poverty and environmental protection paradigms
* African leaders and the challenges of environmental protection
* Gender, poverty and development in Africa: Challenges and hopes.
Note: Participation are free to prepare papers relating to the theme but not limited to the sub themes.
a. Notice to participants
i. All intending participants are expected to send in the Abstract of not more than 250 words, of their paper to the Conference Organising Committee on or before 10th April 2006.
ii. All papers must be computer typeset using Microsoft words with 1.5 line spacing on A4 size paper and copies on 1.44mb floppy diskette
iii. All papers should have a separate title page with full name(s) of the author(s), institutional affiliations / place of work and postal or email addresses.
iv. All papers should conform to the current edition of APA or MLA reference style and should not be less than 15 papers.
b. Conference fees:
i Registration N1000 (Nigerians) $100; £50 (non Nigerians)
ii. Conference fee: N5,000 (Nigerian) $300; £100 (non Nigerians)
iii. Journal Assessment fee: N 1,500 (Nigerians) $100; £50 (non Nigerians) Total: N7,500. $500; £200
c. Methods of Payments:-
a) Bank Draft payable to GRENERI MAKURDI
b) Direct Payment into Acc. No. 2532010017577 First Bank Plc. Makurdi
c) Pay Cash at Registration Point.
d. Arrival and Conference proceedings;
i. (25th April, 2006) Arrival and Registration
ii. (26th April, 2006) Opening Ceremony and Presentation of lead papers.
iii. (27th - 28th April 2006) Seminars / paper presentations
iv. (29th April, 2006) Closing ceremony and departure.
ii. Colleges of education
Iv. Donor Agencies
v. Non-Governmental Organisation (NGOs)
Vi. Federal and State Ministries of:
a. Women Affairs
b. Lands and Survey
c. Water Resources and Environment
d. Works and Housing
e. Animal and Forestry
g. Justice, etc.
vii. Corporate bodies, Oil & Gas Establishments, etc
viii. Social Welfare Officials, Local Govt., Etc.
ix. Legal Practitioners, Parliamentarians, etc.
CONTACTS AND ENQUIRIES
President / CEO
Green Earth Resources
Network International (GRENERI)
No. 23 Iyorchia Ayu Road
P.O. Box 623, Makurdi, Nigeria
Phone: 08029834537, 08051355048,
Chairman Organising Committee
Barr. U.D Ikoni, Esq
Dept. Of Private & Public Law
Faculty of Law
Benue State University
GRENERI … Giving our Environment a meaning.
The first edition of the African Journal of Environmental Law and Development Studies (AJEDS), a publication of GRENERI is out. Copies will be available at the Conference Registration Desk. The cost is N500.00 only.
South Africa: Call for abstracts and notice of conference
The Public Health Association of Southern Africa (PHASA) is pleased to announce its Third Public Health Conference to be held in Johannesburg, South Africa, from 15 th - 17th May 2006. The conference will be co-hosted by PHASA, the Gauteng Department of Health, the University of the Witwatersrand School of Public Health, the International Epidemiological Association and the Health Systems Trust.
CALL FOR ABSTRACTS AND NOTICE OF CONFERENCE
PRE CONFERENCE WORKSHOPS 15 MAY 2006
The Public Health Association of Southern Africa (PHASA) is pleased to
announce its Third Public Health Conference to be held in Johannesburg,
South Africa, from 15 th - 17th May 2006. The conference will be co-hosted
by PHASA, the Gauteng Department of Health, the University of the
Witwatersrand School of Public Health, the International Epidemiological
Association and the Health Systems Trust. This conference brings together
professionals working in all disciplines of public health to share research
findings pertinent to population heath in the Southern African Region.
The Conference Theme: "Making health systems work'
The conference will focus on two sub-themes -
* Decreasing the burden of disease and
* Increasing equity, effectiveness and efficiency.
Abstracts are invited from anyone working towards improving population
health through community, health service and health systems interventions
and people working at the policy level.
Abstracts under the theme of the burden of disease include such issues as:
* environmental health,
* occupational health,
* communicable diseases
* non communicable diseases, and
* epidemiology of diseases
This theme will present papers on disease burden, changing patterns of
disease, the consequences of disease burden both social and clinical, the
causes of disease burden again both social and clinical, violence against
Under the theme Equity Efficiency and Effectiveness , include such issues
* addressing health systems research,
* health information systems,
* policy implementation,
* research on equity and health and human rights,
* human resources for health.
Instructions for preparing the abstract document:
* The document must be named with the surname and initial of the first
author. If you submitting more than one abstract then use Arabic numerals to
distinguish between the different abstracts: e.g. Keller H 1, Keller H 2,
and Keller H 3.
* The abstract must be typed in single spacing, be clear and legible.
* The abstract must be submitted in English
* The abstract title in boldface, capital letters (uppercase) and
* Author to be underlined (Please do not underline co-authors)
* Institutions affiliation, city, state or country of first author
* Where appropriate, the text may be structured using the following
headings: 1. Objectives, 2 Methods, 3 results, 4 conclusions
* No. of words for whole abstract (300, excluding Title, Authors and
Abstracts should be sent to email@example.com to reach us no later than
the 15th March 2006.
Authors will be informed whether their papers/posters have been accepted by
no later than 5 April 2006. Although every effort will be made to comply
with presenters' preferences, the final decision on whether a presentation
should be given as an oral paper or a poster remains with the Scientific
Acceptance of papers/posters does not in any way imply financial support to
attend the conference.
PowerPoint presentations will be requested from the authors shortly to
ensure a smooth running of the programme.
PowerPoint presentations should be submitted to firstname.lastname@example.org by 28
April 2006. This will eliminate presentation problems such as empty CD
brought to the conference, incorrect presentations, long time frames of
loading presentations, etc.
The conference organiser needs to obtain permission from you to give a copy
of your PowerPoint presentation to delegates who might request a copy. If
you do not wish your presentation to be copied, please notify the conference
The Organising Committee wishes to emphasise that oral contributions and
poster presentations are equally important. Posters are simply an
alternative means of presenting information and data; they will not be
regarded as second-class work. Poster sessions will form a prominent
component of the scientific programme.
Please consider the following guidelines when preparing your poster. Please
also note that delegates will be allocated a poster board which accommodates
the below size of a poster. The organising committee will not be held
responsible for larger size posters and will not seek alternative places for
Acceptance of papers/posters does not in any way imply financial support to
attend the conference.
Surface space of Poster Boards:
Height 2380 mm
Width 950 mm
Please note the average poster is 1000 mm high x 900 mm wide.
Details of display times and poster no (for boards) will be mailed to all
All speakers, delegates and exhibitors must submit a registration form and
wear their name badges at all times. No casual attendance will be permitted.
The registration fee includes the following:
* access to all sessions
* conference materials
* refreshments and lunches each day
* courtesy transport at scheduled times
* Welcome Reception on 15 May 2006
Please note that the registration fee does not include accommodation, any
social events or tours.
Students will qualify for the reduced registration fee only if a letter from
their study leader, in support of their attendance, is accompanied with
their registration form. Students will not be permitted to attend the
conference if payments are received without the letter.
(Deadline date: 15 March 2006)
Late/on site registration
(Deadline date: 15 May 2006)
(Deadline date: 15 March 2006)
Late/on site registration
(Deadline date: 15 May 2006)
(Deadline date: 15 March 2006)
(Deadline date: 15 March 2006)
Late/on site registration
(Deadline date: 15 May 2006)
[Foreign delegates must pay an additional R100.00 for foreign transfer
costs. This does not apply to credit card payments]
(Deadline date: 14 March 2006)
Late and on site registration
(Deadline date: 15 May 2006)
(Deadline date: 14 March 2006)
Late/on site registration
(Deadline date: 15 May 2006)
Local delegates R250.00
International delegate R300.00
Payment of fees
Payments can be made by personal cheque, credit card or bank/wire transfer.
Please clearly indicate the person/'s names on the deposit slip or your
registration no (this is received on receipt of your registration form) in
order for deposits to be linked to your registration. A copy of the deposit
slip must be faxed to +27 (0) 717-9359
First National Bank of South Africa (FNB), Braamfontein Branch, Johannesburg
Branch No. 251905
Account No. 62053727304
Account Name: Wits Commercial Enterprise
A copy of the deposit slip must be faxed to Brenda Lacey-Smith at +27 11
717-9359 clearly providing the name of the delegate and the conference on
Cheques must be made payable to: Wits Commercial Enterprise
Cancellations must be sent in writing to Brenda Lacey-Smith, Wits Conference
PHASA Conference, Private Bag 3, Wits, 2050 or fax +27 11 717-9359 or email
For cancellation before 5 May 2006, a cancellation charge amounting to 20%
of the registration fee will be deducted from the refund. No refund for
cancellations will be granted for any reason after 5 May 2006.
Early registration deadline 15 March 2006
Late/on-site registration deadline, 15 May 2006
Cancellation deadline date, 5 May 2006
Presentation submission deadline date, 15 March 2006
Exhibition deadline date
14 April 2006
Bursary deadline date
15 March 2006
Workshop registration deadline
14 April 2006
Accommodation and Transport booking deadline
14 April 2006
Ms Brenda Lacey-Smith
Tel: (011) 717 9354
Dr R Jina
Wits School of Public Health
University of the Witwatersrand
7, York Road
Park Town, 2193
Johannesburg, South Africa
Tel: +27 11 717 2543
Fax: +27 11 717-2084
FOR MORE INFORMATION VISIT THE WEBSITE: www.wits.ac.za/phasa
South Africa: Driving change - developing firearms policy for safer societies
This Conference will focus on the relevance and application to data collection, policy development and practice of researchers and practitioners in the field of reducing and preventing firearm related death and injury.
Chad: Resident Journalism Advisor - Gender Issues Reporting
Internews Network is currently seeking a Resident Advisor for Gender Issues Reporting for our community radio project and production studio in Chad. The project is designed to ensure that residents of the region (both permanent and temporary) receive accurate, up-to-date information on events and activities taking place within the region. Reports will be disseminated in multiple local languages in order to reach the greatest number of people.
Kenya: Country Director
Christian Children’s Fund
Key responsibilities of this challenging position based in Nairobi, Kenya will include: the provision of vision and strategic leadership for the Kenya programme (the largest of CCF’s operations with a budget of $10 million) with full operational responsibility; articulating CCF’s vision and mission; designing and implementing a strategic plan to address the causes and effects of poverty and other adverse conditions affecting children in the country. This position will attract a leader with plenty of initiative and extensive high level management experience within an NGO/development context.
Senegal: Regional Humanitarian Coordinator
The RHC will 1) facilitate the acquisition of emergency preparedness, mitigation, and response 2) perform the designated activities under the direct supervision and in consultation with the Regional Director as the designated “Humanitarian Lead,” activating Humanitarian Response Department support, coordinating with the regional office, activating the Oxfam International and partner’s network, and otherwise implementing contingency plans 3) The RHC will also support integration of conflict transformation skills.
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