Pambazuka News 284: Special Issue on Trade and Justice
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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. Books & arts, 8. African Union Monitor, 9. Women & gender, 10. Human rights, 11. Refugees & forced migration, 12. Elections & governance, 13. Corruption, 14. Development, 15. Health & HIV/AIDS, 16. Education, 17. Environment, 18. Land & land rights, 19. Media & freedom of expression, 20. News from the diaspora, 21. Conflict & emergencies, 22. Internet & technology, 23. Courses, seminars, & workshops, 24. World Social Forum 2007, 25. Jobs
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Featured This Week
Pambazuka News Editors
This edition of Pambazuka News includes the fourth in a series of four special issues published over the last year dealing specifically with issues of trade and justice. Together with this edition, over the last year, we’ve published a total of 26 articles tackling all aspects of Africa’s involvement in the global trade regime.
FEATURE: Developed nations have failed to address the issue of food security in agricultural negotiations, argues Jagjit Plahe
COMMENT AND ANALYSIS:
- Tope Akinwande explores the links between the unequal terms of global trade and immigration of Africans to Europe.
- Richard Kamidza documents the lack of consultation in the Economic Partnership Agreements negotiating process, claiming that in some cases even cabinet ministers don’t know the details.
- Babacar Ndao says the subsidy regime is tragic for African countries.
- Patrick Bond writes about Africa's largest ever industrial subsidies in South Africa and what they mean for the poor
PAN AFRICAN POSTCARD:
- Tajudeen Abdul Raheem decries the degeneration of African leaders demonstrated by Ethiopia's invasion of Somalia
- Issa Shivji points out that the Tanzanian government needs to seriously revisit its development paradigm.
CONFLICT AND EMERGENCIES: Links to news on Sudan, Somalia, Ivory Coast, Senegal and the DRC
HUMAN RIGHTS: Protect Somali children from conscription
WOMEN AND GENDER: War crimes against Congo’s women
REFUGEES AND FORCED MIGRATION: Kenya deports Somali refugees
ELECTIONS AND GOVERNANCE: A new administration for Hiran region
DEVELOPMENT: Cape Verde wants special status at ECOWAS
CORRUPTION: The South African Communist Party slams corruption in South Africa
HEALTH AND HIV/AIDS: HIV/AIDS spread linked to malaria
EDUCATION: Review of 2006 higher education highlights
ENVIRONMENT: Keeping the Sahara in check
MEDIA AND FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION: Africa and Western media hostility
NEWS FROM THE DIASPORA: Bad blood, blood diamonds
PLUS: e-Newsletters and Mailings Lists; Fundraising and Useful Resources; Courses, Seminars and Workshops
Mobile phones for social justice: Calls for expressions of interest
Mobile phone technologies have taken Africa by storm. The technology has raised new possibilities for activism by human rights and social justice organisations and for service delivery in fields such as health care, banking and agricultural information.
In 2007, Fahamu and Tactical Tech will hold a conference in Nairobi, Kenya, that will aim to enable those using mobile phone technologies in activism or service delivery work to exchange their experiences of using the technology in the African context and plan strategies to support their work. The conference will explore areas related to the use of mobile technology in the African context, future trends, best practice and available tools and resources.
The conference will establish an African regional network of those who use mobile phone technologies and facilitate an ongoing support network. The meeting will also lead to the development of a toolkit on mobile phones put together by an international team of practitioners with relevant expertise.
As part of the development of this initiative, Fahamu is conducting research to consult widely and involve as many interested parties as possible in the network and 2007 conference.
Fahamu would like to hear from you if you have:
- Used, are currently using, or planning to use, mobile phone technology in human rights and social justice work in Africa;
- Used or are currently using mobile phones in service delivery work in Africa;
- Developed or are in the process of developing technologies related to mobile phones;
- Plan to use mobile phone technologies in the future in Africa.
Interested individuals and organisations are asked to send an expression of interest not longer than one page to email@example.com with the following information:
- Name of organisation or individual
- Contact Details
- Nature of past, existing or planned work involving mobile technology, including a description of the project, the problem it sought to address and its successes or failures. Alternatively, we would welcome seeing any reports you may have produced (any such information will be treated confidentially if that is your preference).
If you would like to discuss this on the phone (preferably using something like Skype) please let us know.
It is envisaged that the conference will be held in May 2007. Funds will be available for travel, accommodation and limited expenses of invited participants.
Further information about Fahamu can be found at www.fahamu.org and www.pambazuka.org
Special Issue: Trade and Justice (IV)
Pambazuka News Editors
This edition of Pambazuka News is the fourth in a series of four special issues published over the last year dealing specifically with issues of trade and justice. Together with this edition, over the last year, we’ve published a total of 26 articles tackling all aspects of Africa’s involvement in the global trade regime.
The first edition in this series was released in January 2005 and asked the question: Can trade in the era of globalisation be ‘just’? Articles examined Africa’s historical and current trading relationship with the rest of the world. The second edition was released in June 2005, and tackled the relationship between trade and human rights. Articles looked at the impact of trade policies on the right to health in Kenya, the crude oil trade and community rights in the Niger Delta, the rights of informal traders in Africa, genetically modified crops and the right to food, cotton and farmer rights in West Africa. The third reader, released in September 2005, explored the issue of trade and women’s rights. The articles profiled the damaging effect of trade policies on women’s rights. The articles in today’s edition deal predominantly with trade and agriculture.
Taken together, these articles provide an insight into how ill-considered trade policies have a profoundly negative impact on the rights of communities. Whether it’s the absence of women’s voices at global trade negotiations, the decimation of country health systems as a result of international trade policies or the sacrificing of community rights in the interests of multi-national corporations in the Niger Delta, it’s clear that trade polices impose a profit first and people last regime on Africa. You can read all of these articles by clicking on the links below. Each of the articles has a comment function, enabling you to debate the points made in each article.
The focus on trade justice has been complemented by the launch and development of a Pambazuka News web page featuring recorded interviews, poetry and performances with a general theme of trade and justice. Visit http://www.pambazuka.org/en/broadcasts/index.php to listen to these broadcasts.
Many of these articles have also been published in the French edition of Pambazuka News, either in their original French versions or in translated form. Visit http://www.pambazuka.org/fr
Lastly, all of these articles will shortly be published together in a book.
Trade justice one: http://www.pambazuka.org/en/issue/240
Trade justice two: http://www.pambazuka.org/en/issue/257
Trade justice three: http://www.pambazuka.org/en/issue/268
This initiative has also included the production of a series of interviews and recordings that can be listened to or downloaded at http://www.pambazuka.org/en/broadcasts/podcasts.php, or you can subscribe to the podcasts at http://phobos.apple.com/WebObjects/MZStore.woa/wa/viewPodcast?id=202044276
We acknowledge with thanks the support of HIVOS for the production of these special issues of Pambazuka News and associated podcasts.
Sacrificing the right to food on the altar of free trade
The right to food vs international trade commitments. That’s the balance that developing countries have to strike in a globalised world. Increasingly it’s the food security of their populations that is being sacrificed, with developing countries having to negotiate the right to food within the World Trade Organisation, says Jagjit Plahe. “How, when and if states can regulate trade to uphold the right to food will be determined by international trade rules, and not by international human rights standards,” she states.
One of the underlying reasons for the collapse of the Doha Development round in July 2006 was the failure of developed nations to address the issue of food security in the agricultural negotiations. In a context where a worldwide backlash has developed against the WTO, this article examines the broad implications of the WTO Agreement on Agriculture (AoA) on the right to food.
It is argued that the Agreement fails to recognise key factors which affect food insecure countries’ capacity to improve their situation, and in fact establishes conditions which perpetuate food insecurity.
Food Security  in a Human Rights Framework
Food security is a “multifaceted concept, variously defined and interpreted” (FAO, 2003a, p. 3). The World Bank (1986) for example, defines food security as: “access by all people at all times to sufficient food, in terms of quality, quantity, and diversity for an active and healthy life without risk of loss of that access.”
The United Nations Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights goes a step further and defines food security in the context of the human right to food. The right to food covers both the availability and the accessibility of food. According to the Committee the availability of food constitutes the “quantity and quality sufficient to satisfy the dietary needs of individuals” and therefore “refers to the possibility of feeding oneself directly from production land or other natural resources, or from well-functioning distribution, processing and market systems that can provide more food from the site of production to where it is needed” (UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, 1999). Importantly, the definition focuses on the role of the state to ensure food security. As Zhang notes:
“International human rights law imposes upon States obligations to respect, protect and fulfil this right, like any other basic human right. Thus, to ensure food security is in fact the implementation of obligations under international human rights law” (2004, p. 567).
The Food and Agricultural Organisation (2003b) estimates that 842 million people in the world are undernourished, of whom 798 million people are from the third world. Developing countries therefore have a mammoth task at hand to address food insecurity. These countries however also have the responsibility to uphold their obligations under international trade law. Currently, 15 out of the 20 countries which are chronically food insecure (where over 35 percent of the population is food insecure) are members of the WTO. Similarly, 24 out of 28 food insecure countries where between 20 to 34% of the population is food insecure, are also members of the WTO. These states have to undertake a precarious balancing act between their various obligations under international law. Their options to address food security are seriously limited by their obligations under the AoA.
The notion of food security in the WTO’s AoA
The raison d’etre of the AoA is to liberalise global trade in agriculture. The AoA’s stated long-term objective is “to provide for substantial progressive reductions on agricultural support and protection sustained over an agreed period of time, resulting in correcting and preventing restrictions and distortions in world agricultural markets” (WTO, 1995). The neo-classical assumption behind this objective is that the market will address problems of food security . These assumptions are well stated in various WTO documents.
The 1986 GATT Punta del Este Declaration for example, which set out the negotiation objectives of the Uruguay Round, starts off by asserting that GATT contracting parties are:“Determined to develop a more open, viable and durable multilateral trading system” and that they are “convinced that such action would promote growth and development” (GATT, 1986).
Supporters of the AoA argue that liberalised trade in agriculture will enhance food security since global resources will be allocated more efficiently. Using the theories of comparative advantage and factor endowments , they argue “that the differences in productivity and opportunity costs of production between countries” are the main reasons why countries should engage in international trade (FAO, 2003a, p. 13). They contend that free market conditions will create win-win situations for all, and “those [countries] that gain from trade [can] fully compensate those that lose, and still be better off: the total gain will be better than the total loss” (FAO, 2003a, p. 14).
One of the objectives of the Punte Del Este Declaration clearly reflects this view, stating that negotiations will “bring about further liberalization and expansion of world trade to the benefit of all countries, especially less-developed contracting parties” (GATT, 1986).
In supporting free market conditions, the AoA seeks to reduce the role of the state in agricultural production and trade. This has both direct and indirect implications for food security, particularly in developing countries where agriculture plays such a vital role in the national economy. Agriculture accounts for over 50 percent of total employment in the third world. In food insecure countries however, the role of agriculture is far more critical, comprising 30 percent of GDP and employing nearly two thirds of the work force (FAO, 2003b, p. 16).
The AoA therefore has extremely profound and far-reaching implications for developing countries. These implications have brought to the fore an intense and bitterly divisive debate on the roles and responsibilities of the state in a globalising era. As well as being ideological, the debate is also based on some very specific structural problems with the AoA, which have had the effect of allowing developed countries not only to continue to protect their agricultural sectors, but ironically, to increase their protection. Critics of the AoA therefore argue that far from achieving food security, the AoA has had the opposite effect (Murphy, 2002; Oxfam 2005; IATP, 2005; Bernal 2003; Stevens, Greenhill, Kennan and Devereux, 2000). This is not only due to the simplistic ideological assumptions which underpin the agreement, but also because the agreement legitimises and perpetuates an imbalance in world agricultural trade which prevents developing countries’ agricultural sectors from growing in the way that is necessary for improved food security.
The food security implications of the AoA
Given the human rights definition of the right to food, nation states have an obligation to protect the livelihoods of small farmers, enabling them to produce food for their local community and ensuring that they gain a fair share in the commodity chain if they are engaged in production for the export market. Also, the state should have the right to protect the livelihoods of small farmers who suffer from cheap agricultural imports. The AoA however curtails the freedom of nation states to protect food security. The following section examines food security implications of the AoA.
The neo classical model, which underpins the AoA assumes that all countries will be better off under free trade. The model however ignores several key elements of the economics of international agriculture. Firstly, it does not address the reality of declining terms of trade (the ratio of export prices to the ratio of import prices) for primary products. Countries that are chronically food insecure primarily export raw materials which increasingly face declining terms of trade in the world market ; the products they export fetch a much lower price in the world market relative to the price of their imports. Moreover, unprocessed commodities like sugar, tea, coffee and cocoa beans for example, constitute a very small portion of the overall price of chocolates, sweet biscuits, processed tea and coffee. In many cases, farmers engaged in the production of primary products for export are simply price takers and have not shared in the big gains which have taken place in global markets (MacEwan, 1999 p. 53).
Secondly the model assumes that “buyers and sellers in different markets meet each other as independent agents, in which no single buyer or seller has a monopoly” (Kanji and Barrientos, 2002, p. 19) and that a reduction in trade barriers will lead to more opportunities for all potential buyers and sellers.
Freer trade does not automatically lead to market access. The integration of producers and exporters in developing countries is carefully “managed” by lead firms (Humphrey and Schmitz, 2001). These lead firms are often huge multinational corporations based in the OECD countries, and they wield immense power over agricultural commodity chains. The liberalisation of agricultural markets does not benefit all agents in commodity chains equally, especially those that are locked in at the production stage. The existing literature on the governance of commodity chains in the current era of globalisation does not point to “equal gains for all”. In fact, some coffee, cocoa, horticultural and fruit farmers from developing countries in Latin America and Africa, have steadily become poorer, or have lost their livelihoods altogether, because of the concentration in agents further downstream – branded merchandisers, international traders and supermarkets – and due to structural adjustment and deregulation of agriculture in their own countries (Gwynne, 1999; Dolan et al, 1999; Fold 2001; Ponte, 2001; Ponte, 2002).
Thirdly, the model assumes that the global market is competitive. However the reality is that agriculture is the most highly protected sector in international trade, with the OECD countries subsidising their domestic production by US$ 1 billion a day. High subsidies in rich countries - which have led to dumping in the world market - threaten small farmers in poor countries and hamper their exports.
The AoA does not discourage dumping
Dumping is defined as the sale of products in the global market at less than the cost of production. Dumped agricultural produce in world markets leads to the widespread displacement of farmers from their own markets in the developing world, because they cannot compete with highly subsidised products (Bernal, 2003, IATP, 2005). These farmers lose their livelihoods and become food insecure. Also, farmers in developing countries who are engaged in production for the export market suffer from severely depressed prices, due to the high levels of dumping in the world market.
Various studies outline the complex implications of domestic and export subsidies in OECD countries (Beierle, 2002; Matthews 2000; Matthews, 2001; OECD 2001a; OECD 2001b, Murphy, 2002; Diaz-Bonilla, Robinson, Thomas and Yanoma, 2002; Oxfam 2002; Oxfam, 2005).
One of the main implications of the AoA for food security is that it has not curtailed the high levels of trade distorting protection given to agricultural producers in the OECD countries and therefore it has not curbed dumping in international markets. This is because the baseline periods chosen under the AoA (1986-88 which was the time from when agricultural support had to be reduced) was a time when “trade distorting” domestic and export support was historically high in the OECD countries (Beierle, 2002, p. 33).
Also, there were no reductions in commitments for domestic subsidies, which are deemed to be “minimally trade distorting” under the AoA, a term which remains undefined. As the OECD contends, “it is virtually impossible for domestic support measures to be fully de-linked from production and trade and therefore nondistortionary” (2001, pp. 63, 64).
The EU alone spends US$ 120 billion a year on domestic support (Beierle, p. 30). The high subsidies allow the EU and the US to dump agricultural produce in world markets. According to Oxfam (2002, p. 17), half of the world’s maize is exported by the US alone. However, the US export prices are one-fifth below the cost of production. Similarly, the EU is the largest exporter of white sugar, and the EU export price of sugar is one-quarter of the actual production cost. Approximately 60 percent of domestic agricultural support in OECD countries is exempt from domestic support commitments under the AoA (Oxfam, 2002, p. 18). The three major users of domestic support - the EU, the US and Japan - have met their AoA requirements despite the fact that domestic support has in fact increased in these countries since 1995, when the AoA came into effect.
The proposed changes - under the Doha Round of negotiations - to the domestic support pillar do not address the flawed structure of the AoA or the simplistic assumptions of the neo-liberal model on which the AoA is based. The categories of domestic support (trade distorting and non-trade distorting) are still maintained, despite the fact that domestic support has actually increased in the post-Uruguay round era. With these categories still in place, it is quite unlikely that the proposed changes will have any far-reaching implications in terms of dumping. Ironically, one of the main ways in which developing countries can protect their own markets from dumped products is through the use of tariffs. However, they no longer have the automatic right to use tariffs to address dumping: while AoA rules make room for dumping, they prevent developing countries’ use of tariffs.
Curtailed use of Tariffs
Tariffs are the most viable tool available to developing countries to protect their markets from price volatility and from sudden increases in imports. The market access rules of the WTO require all members to reduce both tariff and non-tariff barriers. In the current round of negotiations, developing countries have argued for special safeguard mechanisms (SSMs) as well as provisions for special products (that would be exempt from reduction commitments). While this approach has not been rejected out-right by the OECD countries, the fact is that developing countries no longer have the freedom to pursue policies to protect food security. In order to uphold their human rights obligations developing countries now have to negotiate this right within the WTO.
In the current era of globalisation, developing countries are struggling to uphold both their internationally recognised human rights and international trade obligations. In terms of food security, the WTO’s AoA does not acknowledge nation states’ food security obligations or needs. A state can no longer automatically take measures to protect the right to food, but must negotiate for this right at the WTO. How, when and if states can regulate trade to uphold the right to food will be determined by international trade rules, and not by international human rights standards. The right to food should be fundamental. However, in this era of liberalised trade, it has been compromised.
• Jagjit Plahe is an activist and academic currently based at Monash University in Melbourne where she coordinates that International Trade Policy Unit. She is in the process of completing her doctoral thesis which is on the Political Economy of the WTO’s TRIPS Agreement and the Indian Rice Value Chain. Formerly, Jagjit worked with EcoNews Africa based in Nairobi where she was actively involved in initiating the Debt Cancellation movement. While at EcoNews, also authored a book entitled “Multilateral Agreement on Investment: National Sovereignty for Sale?”
• Please send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org or comment online at www.pambazuka.org
 The terms food security and the right to food are used interchangeably in this paper.
 The AoA only addresses the effects of trade liberalisation on net-food importing countries, and the issue of food aid. Article 16 of the AoA calls on developed country Members to take action as is provided in the framework of the “Decision on Measures Concerning the Possible Negative Effects of the Reform Programme on Least-Developed and net Food-Importing Developing Countries.
 Factor Endowments or Heckscher-Ohlin (HO) is the leading theory in terms of what determines a given country’s trade pattern (Gionea, 2003, p. 54). The theory was first developed by Swedish economic historian Eli Heckscher and later by his student Bertil Ohlin. According to Ohlin, “Commodities requiring for their production much of [abundant factors of production] and little of [scarce factors] are exported in exchange of goods that call for factors in the opposite proportions. Thus indirectly, factors in abundant supply are exported and factors in scanty supply are imported (Ohlin, 1933, p. 92).
 Importantly, the AoA does not address tariff escalation (where higher levels of tariffs are applied to higher levels of production) in the OECD countries, which actually discourages developing countries from investing in value added activities.
 In addition, the formula to reduce trade-distorting support was calculated on an aggregated basis, rather than a commodity-by-commodity basis. This allows developed countries to continue to provide much higher support to sensitive commodities, and still stay within the AoA limits Mathews (2001, p. 82).
Beierle, T. C. (2002) “From Uruguay to Doha: Agricultural Trade Negotiations at the World Trade Organization”, Discussion Paper 02-13, Resources for the Future, Washington D. C.
Bernal, L. E. (2003) “The WTO Agriculture Negotiations and Developing Countries”, A background paper on the occasion of the 5th WTO Ministerial Conference in Cancun, Mexico 10-14 September 2003, Caritas, CIDSE.
Diaz-Bonilla, E. Robinson, S. Thomas, M. and Yanoma, Y. (2002), “WTO, Agriculture and Developing Countries: A Survey of Issues”, International Food Policy Research Institute, Washington D. C.
Dolan, C. Humphrey, J. and Harris-Pascal, C. (1999) “Horticulture Commodity Chains: The Impact of the UK Market on the African Fresh Vegetable Industry”, IDS Working Paper 96, Institute of Development Studies, University of Sussex, Sussex.
FAO, (2003a) “Trade Reforms and Food Security: Conceptualising the Linkages”, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Rome.
FAO, (2003b) “The State of Food Insecurity in the World, 2003, Monitoring Progress towards the World Food Summit and Millennium Development Goals”, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Rome.
Fold, N. (2001) “Restructuring of the European Chocolate Industry and its Impacts on Cocoa Production in West Africa”, Journal of Economic Geography, 1(4): 405-420.
GATT, (1986) “Punta Del Este Declaration, Ministerial Declaration of 20 September 1986”, General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, Geneva.
Gionea, J. (2003) International Trade and Investment: An Asia Pacific Perspective, McGraw-Hill, Australia.
G20, (2003) “G20, History” available at: http://www.g-20.mre.gov.br/history.asp [accessed on 5 July 2005].
Gwynne, R. N. (1999) “Globalisation, Commodity Chains and Fruit Exporting Regions in Chile”, Royal Dutch Geographical Society, 90(2): 211-225.
Humphrey, J. and Schmitz, H. (2001) “Governance in Global Value Chains”, IDS Bulletin, 32(3).
IATP, (2005) “Planting the Rights Seed: A human rights perspective on agriculture trade and the WTO”, Backgrounder No. 1 in the THREAD series.
Kanji, N. and Barrientos, S. (2002) “Trade Liberalisation, Poverty and Livelihoods: Understanding the Linkages”, IDS Working Paper 159, Institute of Development Studies, Brighton, Sussex.
MacEwan, A. (1999) Neo-liberalism or Democracy, Zed Books, New York.
Matthews, A. (2000) “Multilateral Trade Reform in Agriculture and the Developing Countries”, Trinity Economic Paper Series, Paper No. 2000/10.
Matthews, A. (2001), “Developing Countries’ Position in WTO Agricultural Trade Negotiations”, Development Policy Review, 20(1): 75-90
Murphy, S. (2002) “Managing the Invisible Hand, Markets, Farmers and International Trade”, Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy.
OECD, (2001a) “Agricultural Policies in OECD Countries: Monitoring and Evaluation, Highlights”, Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development, Paris.
OECD (2001b) “The Uruguay Round Agreement on Agriculture: An Evaluation of Its Implementation in OECD Countries”, Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development, Paris.
Ohlin, B. (1933) International and Interregional Trade, MA: Harvard University Press, Cambridge.
Oxfam (2005) “Kicking Down the Door: How upcoming WTO talks threaten farmers in poor countries”, Oxfam Briefing Paper 72.
Oxfam (2002) “Boxing Match in Agricultural Trade: Will WTO negotiations knock out the world’s poorest farmers?” Oxfam, Briefing Paper 32.
Ponte, S. (2001) “The Latte Revolution? Winners and Losers in the Restructuring of the Global Coffee Marketing Chain”, Centre for Development Research, Copenhagen.
Ponte, S. (2002) “Brewing a Bitter Cup? Deregulation, Quality and the Re-Organization of Coffee Marketing in East Africa”, Journal of Agrarian Change, 2(2): 248-272.
Stevens, C. Greenhill, R. Kennan, J. and Devereux S, (2002) “The WTO Agreement on Agriculture and Food Security”, Commonwealth Secretariat.
United Nations Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, (1999) “Substantive, Issues Arising in the Implementation of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights: General Comment 12: The right to adequate food”, E/C.12/1999/5, United Nations, Geneva.
World Bank, (1986) “Poverty and Hunger: Issues and Options for Food Security in Developing Countries”, Washington, DC, USA: World Bank.
WTO, (1995) The Results of the Uruguay Round, World Trade Organisation, Geneva.
Zhang, R. (2004) “Food Security: Food Trade Regime and Food Aid Regime”, Journal of International Economic Law, 7(3): 565-584.
Europe, The “Promised Land”
The last summer has seen a surge in immigration to mainland Europe form some African countries. While European leaders are attempting to stop the wave, Tope Akinwande points to the hypocrisy of massive farm subsidies received by European farmers and the trade policies that make it impossible for African agriculture sectors to survive.
Like their other fellow members of the human race, Africans have migrated since the dawn of history. They have moved in response to demographic, economic, political and related factors . In recent times, there has been a spotlight on African immigration to European countries. As the legal requirements for entry into Europe become stricter and more cumbersome and as opportunities of a decent livelihood shrinks in sub-Saharan Africa, its people have resorted to desperate means in order to gain access to what is generally considered to be the “Promised Land” for many Africans outside Europe. This has been ever more apparent in west Africa, where young people travel through deserts, stow away in ships, and employ all sorts of means in order to reach Europe.
How did this situation arise? In the 1960s and the beginning of the 1970s, Africa’s future looked bright. It was the post-independence “self-determination” era laden with all sorts of opportunities; almost all of the agricultural-based African economies could meet the needs of its people. An average African had no cause to risk their life by travelling in a desperate fashion to Europe when their basic needs could be met in their country of origin.
Africans who ventured to Europe for further studies were in a hurry to return to their countries of origin as prestigious and lucrative jobs with all the accompanying benefits awaited them. Afterwards, they only travelled to the western world for business and leisure. The few African students who stayed back in Europe were considered as failures who could not find their feet back home.
However, things have taken a dramatic turn for the worse. Africans and especially west Africans - probably because of the coastal closeness to Europe - are the new “Boat People” fleeing abject poverty occasioned by lack of opportunities in their countries of origin. They are constantly in the international spotlight either being rescued by European coast guards, attended to by tourists or having their bloated bodies occasionally washed to the shores.
In the summer of 2006 – summer is said to be the preferred travel time as the sea is supposedly calmer - it was almost a daily occurrence to see demeaning images of tired and hopelessly-looking African men and women rescued by European coast guards after risking their lives to get to the Spanish Canary Islands. They used make-shift boats to negotiate the treacherous waves of the Mediterranean Sea with the aim of escaping poverty back home .
According to the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), and the United Nations Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, over 27,000 illegal immigrants have turned up in 2006 on the Spanish Canary Island off the west African coast.
While the rescued sojourners are considered to be “fortunate” to have stepped onto the shores of Europe despite the excruciating difficulties awaiting them, many Africans are not lucky enough to be intercepted mid-sea by coast guards. They perish with their desperate dreams. So far in 2006, the Spanish coast guard has accounted for 500 bodies found in the ocean around the Canaries.
Origin of the problem
Compared to the 1960s and early 1970s, Africa’s growth performance in the 80s and 90s has been very bad. The 1980s have been described as a “lost decade” , while the children of that era and the 1990s have been famously tagged the “wasted generation” by the Nigerian Nobel Laureate, Wole Soyinka.
Despite the strong belief held by many Africa analysts that the economic woes of Africa are rooted in its “largely documented history” of colonialism which culminated in a façade called “independence” and the Cold War which institutionalised despotism, kleptocracy, and big-man politics, the Structural Adjustment Programmes (SAP) imposed by the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF), have made it impossible for African countries to meet the basic needs of their people.
Introduced in the 1970s to galvanise the economies of African countries, following the decline in the prices of agricultural products, SAP came with tough conditionalities such as privatisation, wage freezes, privatisation, elimination of price controls and lifting of trade barriers.
Instead of encouraging economic development, SAPs created a new phenomenon of Heavily Indebted Poor Countries who could not meet the basic needs of their people.
In its 22 June 2006 edition, The Economist in its characteristic sanctimonious manner posited that “rich countries have been generous lately, with extra aid and debt relief, giving many struggling economies a breath of air. By the end of last year, 29 countries, 25 of them in Africa, had had their debt burden eased…” The magazine goes on to wonder if “…Africa, often dubbed the hopeless continent, (is) finally taking off?”  For once, a magazine that has carelessly dubbed Africa as a “Hopeless Continent” conceded that “Africa itself deserves the credit for the upswing “of its economy in the past year” .
Like most of its counterparts in the international media, what “The Economist” failed to acknowledge is that the dividends of the so-called debt relief are easily drowned by one phenomenon - the international trade policies of the “generous” industrial nations it was talking about. The debt relief issue is like giving something out with the left hand and taking it back with the right hand.
In March 2005, the British government, who has been in the forefront of the Highly Indebted Poor Countries Initiative (HIPCI), published a detailed report of the £1.7bn it gave to agricultural companies as subsidies. At the same time, the US -though planning to reduce its subsidies to American farmers by 5 percent – gave about $9bn .
How on earth would African farmers compete with their European and American counterparts on the world food market? Would African governments whose national budgets are sometimes smaller than the subsidies western farmers receive be able to subsidise their farmers to “even the scores”? They will have to face incessant unrest at home while the rest of their citizens “hit the road” or set off for European coasts.
Oumar Hamadoun Dicko, Foreign Affairs Minister of Mali, could not have been more precise on the causes of the recent wave of immigration of west Africans: “Immigration is going to continue unless we address fundamental issues like the unequal terms of trade,” he says. “African farmers can’t compete and are out of world markets,” he concludes in a recent interview with United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs . He surely knows what he is talking about since Mali’s cotton farmers have been greatly affected by the subsidies enjoyed by their western counterparts.
According to the Malian Foreign Affairs Ministry, 4 million, or over a third of Mali’s 11.7 million people are currently out of the country . It is noteworthy that the majority of these Malian emigrants are from Kayes, the main cotton-producing area of the country. They have had to leave their cotton farms to try their luck in Europe.
Monies remitted by this large Malian Diaspora have been vital in meeting the needs that the government has been unable to meet. Many Malians in the Diaspora are building schools, dispensaries, and other amenities in their regions. The Malian Ministry of Foreign Affairs concedes that annual Malian Diaspora remittance exceeds 200 million US Dollars, which is more than half of the country’s export earnings.
While a lot of talks have been going on about agricultural subsidies as the main international trade policies that have hampered trade and development in Africa, it is interesting to know that there are many other types of subsidies such as “fishing subsidies” that have not made life easier for developing countries.
Recently, the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) accused Japan of paying the highest subsidies to its national fishing industry at $US2-billion dollars. The report also indicated that the 15-member European Union, China, and the United States are leading underwriters . These governments give their farmers and fishing companies subsidies in the form of grants, loans and loan guarantees, equity infusions, tax preferences, and price or income support.
Thiaroye-Sur-Mer is a fishing town a few kilometres from Dakar, the capital of Senegal. A few years ago and up till the end of 2005, one could see hundreds of fishermen - both young and old - selling fish to locals and large-scale buyers from Dakar and elsewhere. Today, Thiaroye-Sur-Mer has almost become a ghost town as almost all the younger fishermen have all taken to the seas; this time not to fish but to try their luck in Spain’s Canary Islands. They sold their means of livelihood (boats, fishing nets, etc) and bought a one-way ticket on a boat to a supposed better future in Europe.
Like many sub-Saharan African countries, Senegal has been going through an excruciating SAP that has completely destroyed its economy. Its main source of income – groundnut - is no longer well-priced on the international market as many substitutes have been derived. Senegal’s fishing industry is losing its momentum as the country has been inundated with subsidised food, including fish from Europe and Asia, making it impossible for local fishermen to sell their wares at a decent rate and meet the basic needs of their families. The only way for these young Senegalese fishermen to survive and meet the needs of their families is by trying their luck in Europe. This has become a way of life in a country where monies remitted by the Senegalese Diaspora sometimes accounts for 90 percent of income in many households.
Which way forward?
With the recent wave of immigration to the Spanish Canary Island, European governments, led by Spain, have been trying to curb the immigration of Africans who are willing to risk their lives to reach Europe at all costs.
The incidents of September and October 2005 where Spanish coast guards opened fire on ill-equipped boats full of African immigrants led to the adoption of the “Rabat Declaration” on 11 July 2006 by 57 European and African countries. The Declaration enjoined the 57 signatory countries to set up an action plan that will get to the core of the problem.
In September 2006, the European Union promised to provide Mali with US$542 million over five years to control the emigration of its citizens. Mali is expected to use the money to start various projects aimed at discouraging young people from emigrating.
International NGOs are also trying to encourage young Africans to stay back in their countries. For example, the Spanish Red Cross has embarked on an awareness campaign in Senegal to demystify the notion of success attached to emigration. They are emphasizing the harsh realities.
African celebrities have also thrown themselves into the fray. One of the most successful African singers, Senegalese Youssou N’Dour is lending his notoriety and voice to the anti-emigration campaign. In collaboration with IOM and other well-known Senegalese musicians, he has recorded a single titled “Emigration” where he enjoined the youth not to abandon their country. One thing missing in this beautiful and groovy record is that Youssou N’Dour forgot to suggest alternatives to Senegalese and African youth.
Can these initiatives work? Since all the aforementioned initiatives, there have been cases of African boat people arriving in Spain and as recent as September 2006 in Malta, thus exasperating the government of the tiny country that has just joined the European Union.
As one route is being blocked, Africans perfect their “travelling techniques”.On 20 November 2006 Europa Press Agency reported how 1,293 west Africans, braving a very harsh winter, arrived in Spain’ s Canary island with many of them using well-built fishing vessels. They also travelled with enough provisions (food, winter clothing, etc. ) to see them through their journey of death. Interestingly, some immigrants devise or go back to the old routes, probably thinking that immigration authorities’ would have shifted focus away from them.
As I had indicated earlier on, there are a lot of initiatives to curb illegal immigration with the latest one being the first Ministerial Conference on Migration and Development between EU and the entire African continent slated for 22 and 23 November 2006. One of the expected outcomes of the Conference was the establishment of a framework for a joint collaboration between Europe and Africa to curb illegal immigration. The framework will consider major causes of immigration such as economic integration and development.
When one considers the impact of the remittances made by African immigrants - both legal and illegal - to their national economies and how it is being sadly flaunted and praised as an alternative to foreign earnings, it is not foolhardy to wonder if African politicians are really sincere and keen on curbing the flow of their citizens to the west. Why should they bother when the emigration of their citizens “relieves” them of the headache of sourcing funds to embark on development projects such as building of schools, hospitals, roads, etc. ? If they genuinely work towards stopping them from emigrating, what alternatives do they have for farmers who cannot sell their produce? Have they got any alternatives for young graduates and school leavers they are churned out in millions into joblessness and despair?
It is noteworthy that while African politicians are silently grateful for the “subsidies” they get from their citizens in the Diaspora, western politicians are not keen on stopping the subsidies they give to their citizens as their national interest and particularly political survival in their respective countries depends on keeping their farmers and citizens happy.
As long as this political deadlock is not broken, the west and Europe in particular, should be prepared to receive more and more people.
• Tope Akinwande is a Desk Officer at the West Africa Department of TEARFUND, a leading UK relief and development NGO working in partnership with Christian agencies and churches in over 70 countries to tackle the causes and effects of poverty. His views do not necessarily reflect those of TEARFUND.
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(1) ADEPOJU, Aderanti (2005): “Creating a Borderless West Africa: Constraints and Prospects for Intra-Regional Migration”. UNESCO, Paris, p12
(3) OSHIKOYA, Temitope & MLAMBO, Kupukile (1999): in “The African Economy: Policy, Institutions and the Future”. (Ed) Steve Kayizzi-Muyerwa. Routledge, London and New York, p33
(4) The Economist (22 June 2006): “Africa’s Economy: A glimmer of Light at Last?” London, p24
(6) The Guardian (23 March 2005): Editorial. London, p8
(7) See www.irinnews.org for full interview
(9) See www.wwf.org for full report
EPA road-show rolls on
Negotiations between African countries and the European Union aimed at finalizing free trade deals known as Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) are continuing apace. As part of the process that will finalise EPA deals sometime in 2007, Eastern and Southern Africa countries have just submitted a draft EPA document to the EU. But, in this article, Richard Kamidza documents the astonishing lack of consultation in the negotiating process, claiming that in some cases even cabinet ministers don’t know the details. One of the sectors that could face the biggest battering is agriculture, already buckled by three decades of structural adjustment and rich country subsidies.
Southern Africa hosted several Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) events between September and November 2006. Of these, the 7-8 September 2006 regional conference organized by the Trade and Development Studies Centre (Trade Centre) - whose theme was ‘Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the Eastern and Southern Africa (ESA) experiences in negotiating the EPAs with the European Union (EU)’ - is my point of reference. Senior officials of the ESA configuration, the EU delegation in Harare, policy makers and civil society organizations (CSOs) attended the event.
At that meeting, the ESA-EPA draft document, which was officially submitted to the EU with a response timeframe of end of September 2006, was circulated to participants. An excited Dr Moses Tekere, ESA-EPA Advisor, remarked: “It is a wise strategy meant to outwit our counterparts in the EU…The ball is now in the EU’s court, and a timed response is likely to work in favour of the ‘happy family ESA’…”
However, this mirrors a competitive race of African configurations of wanting to be the first to reach out to the EU’s negotiating machinery in spite of limited capacity, timeframes and space to assess outcomes in light of emerging national and regional economic units and the aspirations of consumers.
But, being the first to knock at the EU negotiating machinery’s doors not only fuels pessimism in the process, but also points to a bleak future for ESA economies under a legally binding trade regime. While the ESA-EPA advisor expresses triumph and optimism on the draft, the failure to widely consult at various stages of the process has a strong bearing on outcomes, especially with regards to consumers, smallholder farmers and other small to medium-producers.
ESA-EPA intellectual leadership  opted for ‘text-based’ negotiations, hence compiled a comprehensive ‘wish list’ document to form the basis for actual negotiations with the EU. Its main highlights include the scope of the agreement coverage: trade cooperation, trade related issues, trade in services, fisheries, economic and development cooperation, development finance cooperation, institutional framework and dispute settlement; and the schedule for eliminating customs duties a day after the agreement’s entry into force. These provisions aim to increase production, supply and trading capacities as well as enhance capacity to lure investment and technology.
The submission of the draft has fuelled fears of negative implications and outcomes likely to tie ESA economies to Europe in an unbalanced framework. This scenario perpetuates an unjust trade regime that has the potential to undermine national and regional economies, and in the process, compromise regional integration efforts.
Various meetings of the ESA processes and lobbying missions to the EU have continuously raised the need to redress supply-side constraints including unreliable public utilities (electricity and water); poor public infrastructure (run down roads, bridges and railways); weak institutional policy frameworks (fluctuating exchange rates, high inflation rates and poor fiscal measures); low labour productivity (arising from poor education, health and housing provisions); and an unfavourable investment climate coupled with inadequate resources to foster socio-economic transformation. In addition, countries have weak production structures and/or capacities.
While the above requires huge resources in order to improve the situation, many countries do not have the capacity to mobilise such resources both externally and internally due to a poor investment climate and low gross national savings (GNS) ratios, respectively. In addition, many countries have been experiencing dripping developmental assistance inflows.l
In this respect, the ESA-EPA draft text says “…every 5 years the ESA-EU EPA Council shall undertake a formal and comprehensive review to ascertain if the development benchmarks have been attained by individual ESA countries as well as determine whether EU’s trade and development policies and assistance have contributed to individual ESA countries achieving the development benchmarks.” This vindicates the prevailing fear that outcomes may fail to assist in the development of respective countries and that development may be overlooked, and in the process remain elusive to the future developmental trajectory of the respective ESA countries.
The ESA text was crafted against the backdrop of increasing pressure from the World Trade Organization (WTO) to open up their markets and let their farmers “compete” with the heavily subsidised food and other agricultural produce dumped into their economies by the EU and other industrialized economies. The same economies have been subjected to neo-liberal policies driven by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund for over three decades, which forced African governments to dismantle public agricultural research and extension programmes and drop whatever protection and incentive mechanisms existed for their small farmers and other small-to-medium-size producers. In addition, the same African governments are then forced by the same agencies to devote their most fertile land to the growing of export commodities for markets in the North, thus pushing small farmers off their land and food production out of rural economies.
The concluded South Africa-EU Trade and Development Cooperation Agreement (TDCA) has impacted on the economies of the Southern African Customs Union (SACU) and other regional countries, especially on agricultural development, market competitiveness of both agricultural and non-agricultural products and policy space for future intervention in support of vulnerable sectors (such as rural farmers) and consumers.
To date TDCA exposes other regional economies (SACU and non-SACU countries) to the highly competitive EU environment which heavily subsidises its agricultural producers. It is therefore possible that products from EU end up flooding the markets of non-TDCA signatories due to porous boarders that are difficult to police, a development that leads to de-industrialisation (downsizing), de-agriculturalisation (forcing farmers off their agricultural activities), unemployment, underemployment and poverty.
EPAs are associated with huge adjustment costs relating to revenue losses. As the TDCA shows, Swaziland, Lesotho, Namibia and Botswana, which prior to the new trade regime were guaranteed 45, 42, 28 and 17 percent respectively of the total SACU imports are estimated to lose between R1.9 billion and R3.5 billion in revenue. This translates to falling fiscal expenditures necessary to support agricultural development, social service delivery, infrastructural development and livelihoods.
In the case of ESA, the rejected text acknowledges that agriculture supports a significant number of people (about 70% of the population) whose production is solely for household consumption with a minor role in commercial agricultural market. The text further lists areas that require assistance from the EU. What is instructive is the fact that EPAs are likely to flood ESA markets with subsidised agricultural products, a development that has future negative implications to the sector and the entire economy.
Many ESA citizens have memories of the negative implications of the neo-liberal policy project on their economies and subsequently to their livelihoods. Many economic units are now exposed to globally driven ‘one-size-fits-all’ policy agendas in addition to EPA driven global market competition. While many stakeholders through various levels of interventions hope to contribute to the outcome, it seems that the ESA-EPA intellectual leadership is now immune to such crying voices in addition to being unwilling to reach out to many noble ideas through consultation.
Knowing very well that most ESA countries are largely dominated by agriculture and agricultural related activities, failure to involve constituencies in this sector display ESA-EPA intellectual leadership’s insensitivity to the plight of smallholder farmers, other producers of agricultural related products and consumers.
To date a significant number of the population live on one meal a day. Wide consultation and deep involvement of other stakeholders and citizens is in line with the spirit of the Cotonou Agreement. Consultation is not about making assumptions on other social and economic units, but rather about direct or indirect soliciting of their views. While the ESA-EPA leadership has not appreciated the above, it is sad that an opportunity that should have facilitated ESA stakeholders and citizens inputting to the process prior to the submission of the said draft is missed. ESA-EPA intellectual leadership has less confidence in wide consultations and deep involvement. They seem to only consult those with moderate views. So in the process, they leave out the views of broader constituencies. Given this critical moment, it is thus imperative to consult even radical views, including those calling for a stop to EPAs.
Since the launch of the ESA-EPA road map in Mauritius, February 2004, the intellectual leadership has not organized a single meeting with non-state actors’, particularly civil society, a separate platform that is necessary to broaden their horizon on issues of livelihoods and survival strategies of ordinary citizens. This is not a resource-constraint weakness, for on some occasions, configurations of officials have failed to avail themselves when resources were made available. This is equated to snubbing civic body meetings and processes meant to benefit the future trade regime between Africa and EU; and to lack of ‘open door policy’ ready to embrace civic bodies’ voices – both moderate and radical, a platform that has been ably provided for by their EU counterparts.
In this respect, many campaign missions by civic bodies to the EU, have seen them directly engaging with the EU Commissioner, Director-General Trade, Director-General Development, EU Parliament and other influential institutions. However, a lot of inputs from these missions have failed to filter into the said draft because the ESA-EPA intellectual leadership has failed to open its doors for such voices, which are deemed radical. Lobbying powerful EPA institutions and structures in Europe require radical elements. One wonders why those in charge are not yet ready to accept and value such inputs.
Historical bilateral trends show EU emerging a ‘winner’, a position likely to mirror the current EPA process. African configurations need to learn why this is always the outcome. While it is necessary to appreciate the prowess of EU in defining trade relationships with its former colonies, it is equally important to harness all available resources, particularly views of non-state actors which have not filtered through.
The ESA region can improve its negotiating capacities by harnessing all available human resources, including critical voices. Many stakeholders engaging EPAs have valuable inputs, which have the potential to add value to the outcomes. Coordination of all voices, especially of critical constituencies calls for an “open door policy” coupled with expressed intent to accommodate different views. Coordination is about accountability of outcomes; reaching out to broader constituencies; and building synergies and networks aimed at ensuring positive outcomes necessary to promote pro-poor development and address livelihood needs in ways that ameliorate widespread poverty. Coordination is about soliciting other views on emerging positions deemed not yet official.
While there have been appeals to popularize the draft, one wonders what are the appropriate messages and strategies to use, and which constituencies to target given that the fourth draft has been rejected by the EU and the ESA team has remained numb about it. Its rejection filters from European civil society networks. Why the draft was not shared with stakeholders boggles the minds of citizens, especially those likely to be affected by the outcomes.
The appeal to popularize the draft raises questions including: should we focus on the weakness of the document with the view to improve the final output or to lobby its acceptance in the EU negotiating machinery? Should we focus on the inherent intellectual weakness at the ESA leadership level that fails to widely consult broader constituencies before serving the ‘menu’ on the EU’s table? Should we focus our energies on exposing those, who, all along have been seeking glory, that is, eager to append their signatures regardless of the flawed process and outcome? Should we focus our energies on intellectual ESA-EPA leadership, which is increasingly detaching itself from the reality on the ground?
The above not only raises serious challenges within all African configurations, but also points to deficiencies in synergy building, strategic alliance formations and policy driven strategies among various stakeholders aimed at concluding a just trade regime. Soliciting opinions of other stakeholders has remained elusive in the ESA-EPA intellectual leadership.
At the 21st Plenary Assembly of the SADC Parliamentary Forum, it emerged that the EPA processes have not been shared adequately with other organs of states in respective member-states despite the relevance of such institutions. Though MPs are important they are largely at the periphery of the process. From the discussions, it was clear that no sharing of countries’ positions was done. In fact, from the sentiments, most of them were not consulted and in many states EPAs are yet to be discussed at the Cabinet level. Indeed, some MPs in this Forum are Ministers who profess ignorance on the process. This development illustrates poor coordination of all organs of state, and non-state institutions in the process; and lack of intellectual supervision by those in charge with the view to ensure that all the voices are consulted.
• Richard Kamidza is a senior researcher at The African Centre for the Constructive Resolution of Disputes (ACCORD)
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 Its role is to guide the EPA process, provides technical direction and is responsible and/or accountable for the outcomes.
Liberalisation of agricultural production and social injustice
Babacar Ndao writes that rich countries are not concerned with the development agenda, but are interested in an agenda that aims to pursue their own interests. This means “...maintaining large subsidies and high tariffs to suit large multi-national agribusinesses, whilst doing very little for their own producers.”
Poor global governance, the result of unequal relations, must be regulated by the institutions created to do so. This is not happening at the moment. And failure to do so may lead to terrible consequences and upheaval across the board.
Internationally, the technical infrastructure paid for by the wealthy has distanced itself from electoral politics. Further, unelected multinationals and international financial institutions dictate the direction of the world. Nationally, public institutions which should regulate unequal relations have been progressively weakened and/or suppressed by the technostructures.
Locally, market demands and globalisation are destroying families and communities.
States must regain sovereignty
Rich countries have discarded the development agenda to pursue an agenda that suits them: maintaining large subsidies and high tariffs to suit large multi-national agribusinesses, whilst doing very little for their own producers. The rich countries have pressured developing countries to open their markets, then dumped surplus production on them with no regard for the development costs. The subsidy regime and the compulsion to open markets are fundamentally incompatible and unjust. Indeed they are tragic for African countries.
The loss of sovereignty for African states unable to refuse these conditions constitutes the principal cause of the agricultural crisis in Africa. Readjustment policies of the Bretton Woods institutions (World Bank, IMF), and the rules of the WTO such as EPA agreements constitute the most significant aspects of this situation.
Two constants have marked the history of West African agriculture:
- a deficit of sovereignty for several countries unable to define development policies required to improve their situation
- the terms of trade have continued to decline to the detriment of African economies.
African decision makers have been disempowered from freely following policies and programmes to which their people aspire, as a result of being forced to accept technical assistance within the framework of bilateral aid and the conditionalities attached to assistance within the multilateral framework.
Africa is the only continent in the world where the amount of agricultural and food production has decreased as the population has increased. If these trends continue, Africa will not achieve the MDG objective of halving poverty and hunger by 2015. The situation may yet get worse.
It is widely recognised that if Africa is to develop substantially, it is essential that it is able to control food production and fight poverty, since agriculture accounts for the employment of 70% of the population and represents 30% of GDP.
In addition to being an important source of foreign currency for African states, agriculture ensures essential functions such as:
- the right to have sufficient, healthy and high-quality food
- the right to a decent income
- the right to a healthy environment
However, despite its importance, for several decades there has been a crisis in agriculture caused by the unjust requirements of the Agreement on Agriculture (AsA) at the heart of the WTO. The increase of poverty combined with an exponential demographic increase (3% per year) weakens the index of poverty which varies between 72% and 88% in the rural areas and between 44% and 59% in the urban areas.
Taking into consideration the weakness of agricultural revenue, very few rural households are able to earn enough to meet their food needs for seven months of the year and many others are not able to earn enough to cover their basic needs for even four months of the year.
The economic and social consequences
The policies of adjustment, notably those connected with the liberalisation of the trade in agricultural products cause significant damage to African economies. Their introduction has marked increases in hunger, poverty, inequality, unemployment and the degradation of natural resources. They have relegated all strands of agriculture into an advanced process of decline.
The crisis and the poverty consequently generated has produced a constantly precarious and deteriorating quality of life entailing the crumbling of values. This deteriorating quality of life challenges the continued existence of the traditional societal model. On the other hand, the disruption of some of the ethical and cultural norms is prompting new strategies of survival and organisation. However, some have become the victims of the changes in cultural norms whilst others are exposed to well-known serious, social threats such as: theft, attack and criminality; begging and child labour; educational and health threats; emigration and exodus. These and so many other features are explained in large part by the increase of poverty and the deterioration of living conditions caused by politics of realignment.
The most serious danger is the exclusion of women who are primarily engaged in agricultural work. In reality, women are the last refuge and bulwark against a descent into total food insecurity. The result of subjecting the sector completely to market forces is that there is no longer the slightest security.
Illustrative of this is the situation in Casamance, in the south of Senegal, where it is the women who grow rice, and where a peace process has been initiated in a region which had been in a state of war for more than 25 years.
Before 1970 these families had never known hunger and were proud of this fact. But the liberalisation of the rice sector has meant these families can no longer survive financially. There was no longer any (financial) incentive to grow rice. Food insecurity and conflicts over land are the likely reasons for the discontent generally felt in this southern region.
The situation is precarious: Africa’s share of world trade has decreased from four per cent to one percent. This situation finds its causes in several phenomena: the limitations of national markets; the restrictions of intra-regional trade (lack of infrastructure and tax barriers) and the difficulties of access to the markets of developing countries. Bearing in mind the highly unfair competition of imported products since the opening of African markets, additional elements are the steep decline in the price of food-processing and agricultural products, and increasing difficulties in the distribution and sale of local products in the domestic markets.
Solutions and means for managing the situation
Overcoming poverty begins by ceasing to generate it. Agricultural development is no longer popular with donor countries - international development aid has fallen by a third from the 1984 level - so it is essential to invest massively in the rural economy.
These elements, which act as the fundamental basis of world agriculture and which constitute the basis of the breakdown of world agriculture, show that the solutions to the globalisation of agriculture inevitably require the reform of the liberalised system at the root of the current situation. This also necessarily requires mobilisation on an international scale to find the means of achieving feasible solutions to this crisis.
Worldwide trade requires interdependent and complementary mechanisms of control and regulation. This issue is real because in a completely liberalised market, without any regulation, a remunerative price is not assured.
It is important, for those of our countries who are at the same stage of development, that our markets should have protected spaces. We must promote the emergence and development of such markets by ensuring them the opportunity of protection from external markets but at the same time ensuring open internal markets.
International aid conditionalities of institutions such as the IMF and the World Bank, EPA agreements, commercially driven agreements such as the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), and bilateral agreements constitute restrictions on agriculture which are as serious or perhaps worse than the WTO. The quest for a peaceful and just world must bring ethics to international relations, especially within leading institutions and assure good global governance.
It is urgent to consolidate rural development. More than 80% of the world poor live in rural areas, and the promotion of agricultural growth is an essential element in all strategies which aim to help lift them out of poverty. It is most important that investments, and not just the minimum, are made in the infrastructure and in rural markets in order to promote agricultural growth.
• Babacar Ndao is with the Network of Farmers' Organizations and Agricultural Producers of West Africa (ROPPA) of West Africa. ROPPA brings together rural organisations of 12 West African countries – Senegal, Gambia, Guinea-Conakry, Guinea-Bissau, Sierra Leone, Mali, Togo, Benin, Ghana, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire and Niger.
• This article was translated by Translated by Naomi Robertson. Please send comments to email@example.com or comment online at www.pambazuka.org
The Coega industrial zone complex
The South African government is channeling Africa’s largest-ever industrial subsidies into the Coega industrial zone complex and port, located in the country’s fourth largest city, the Nelson Mandela Metropole (better known by its apartheid-era name, Port Elizabeth). Government proponents say Coega represents sound industrial and development policy, but a growing legion of critics are labeling it a corporate welfare boondoggle in a country that does not have resources to spare.
Aside from tailor-made infrastructure, including a 20 meter deep port, the key attraction of Coega for foreign investors is super-cheap energy. Following a year of frequent brownouts in the two largest metropolitan areas, Johannesburg and Cape Town, a fierce debate has erupted over the idea of providing discounted electricity to industrial users when citizens cannot get a dependable supply at any price. Mismanagement of the state electricity company, Eskom, in the course of its corporatization has interfered with a steady supply.
The main beneficiary of Coega's cheap energy, the Canadian firm Alcan, agreed in early December to a quarter-century power supply agreement from Eskom -- the world’s fourth-largest power company -- at an extremely generous price, less than the $0.02 cents per hour that bulk industrial consumers pay. This is already the world’s cheapest electricity, but Alcan insisted on the subsidy due to volatile commodity prices, a factor that has caused consternation in prior deals the South African government made with large mining houses and metals smelters such as BHP Billiton, the Anglo American group and Mittal Steel.
Alcan and Eskom claim that the deal will bring job creation and foreign exchange earnings, and pay off for the country. Using imported bauxite, Coega’s $3 billion aluminum smelter could by 2014 produce 720,000 tons of the metal annually in one of the world’s biggest smelters. Fewer than 1,000 permanent jobs will be created in the process, however
Coega is one in a long list of post-apartheid megaprojects undertaken by the South African government. These include the Pebble Bed Nuclear Reactors (one of the first global deployments of a new nuclear energy technology that purports to offer new safety guarantees), the Lesotho Highlands Water Project (six vast dams under construction) which supplies Johannesburg its water [see "Making the Earth Rumble," Multinational Monitor, May 1996], and the "Gautrain" elite fast rail network that will link Johannesburg, Pretoria and the country’s largest airport. An impoverished South African majority, increasingly well organized and mobilized, is challenging these megaprojects and demanding instead that state resources be deployed to deliver basic services to the majority, on a more ecologically sustainable basis.
The costs of corporate welfare
Coega’s site will include a new port, container terminal and Industrial Development Zone (IDZ), utilizing vast public investments -- at least $1.5 billion, including a $300 million tax break for Alcan -- and enormous quantities of land, water and electricity. The new employment anticipated at the port/IDZ would be the most expensive, in terms of capital per job, of any major facility in Africa. Environmentally, the costs of the Coega projects in water consumption, air pollution, electricity usage and marine impacts are potentially immense.
The infrastructure under construction is unprecedented in Africa, and dwarfs the basic-needs development infrastructure required by deprived citizens of Mandela Metropole and across the Eastern Cape. Hence controversy has surrounded the decision-making process to construct the port and IDZ. Reports of conflicts of interest for key decision-makers cloud the project’s governance. Coega was also initially meant to represent a key site at which European industrial firms involved in arms sales to South Africa could make “offset” investments that would create jobs, so government could justify to the public its corruption-ridden $6 billion weapons purchase. These so far haven’t been forthcoming.
Socially, there are significant costs as well. Several hundred families were already displaced to build Coega’s infrastructure, and those in the area will bear the brunt of the environmental toll exacted by the project. The opportunity costs of Coega include as many as 10,000 jobs lost in economic sectors which either must close or cannot expand, including the existing salt works, mariculture, fisheries, agriculture and eco-tourism. Most importantly, community and environmental activists point to far better prospects for employment creation and socio-economic progress if resources were used elsewhere. Six years ago, the Mandela Metropole Sustainability Coalition proposed an alternative economic development scenario. The alternative strategy prioritizes basic-needs infrastructure investment throughout the Eastern Cape and, at Coega, the development of state-supported eco-tourism and black-owned small-scale agriculture and mariculture.
Of the many subsidy components of Coega, civic groups find Eskom’s new deal most worrying, given the persistent electricity shortage across South Africa and the problem of mass disconnections of poor people for whom electricity remains too expensive. Using roughly 1,300 MegaWatts, about 3 percent of the country’s total, Coega will constitute an enormous new drain, requiring expensive new transmission lines from Eskom’s coal-fired generators 1,000 kilometers away.
Moreover, South Africa’s carbon dioxide emissions are already running approximately 20 times higher than even the United States on a per capita income basis. Ironically, Environment Minister Martinus van Schalkwyk returned triumphant from the November climate change treaty renegotiations in Nairobi, claiming that "South Africa achieved most of its key objectives." Those included promoting "Clean Development Mechanisms."
By bringing the vast "ghost on the Coast" (the long-empty Coega’s nickname) to life through the new subsidies, the national government will substantially increase carbon emissions. Yet because Alcan promises to use relatively energy efficient technologies, the market-oriented New York-based group Environmental Defense has suggested that Coega be considered worthy of Clean Development Mechanism investments by large international polluters, which would permit them to continue present rates of emissions. In promoting these kinds of investments, Van Schalkvyk says that his government is sending "a clear signal to carbon markets of our common resolve to secure the future of the Kyoto regime." But there are vast problems with the new emissions trading system, and projects such as Coega show why this market should not be expanded in ways that generate new ecological problems without making a dent in overall emissions.
Captive regulation and revolving doors
From the standpoint of meeting basic needs for electricity, South Africa's regulation of Eskom and municipal distributors has not been successful. This is not only because of an extremely weak performance by the initial National Electricity Regulator -- Xolani Mkhwanazi, who subsequently became, tellingly, chief operating officer for BHP Billiton Aluminum Southern Africa -- but also because government policy has increasingly imposed "cost-reflective tariffs," as a 1995 document insisted. The key issue is whether all consumers must cover the costs of the electricity they use, or whether richer and industrial consumers pay higher rates to subsidize the poor.
The 1998 White Paper allowed for "moderately subsidised tariffs" for poor domestic consumers. (White Papers are formal governmental policy statements.) But it also stated, "cross-subsidies should have minimal impact on the price of electricity to consumers in the productive sectors of the economy," meaning industrial users should not subsidize costs for poor residential consumers.
In addition to Mkhwanazi, the man responsible for Eskom’s late-apartheid pricing -- Mick Davis -- left the parastatal’s treasury to become the London-based operating head of Billiton. Davis took the post after former Finance Minister Derek Keys gave permission for an Afrikaner-controlled industrial company (Gencor) to expatriate vast assets in order to buy Billiton from Shell. After apartheid ended, Keys became chief executive of Billiton.
Ironically, the deals that gave Billiton, Anglo American and other huge corporations the world’s lowest electricity prices came under attack in 2005 by Alec Erwin, the minister of public enterprises. The package Davis had given Billiton for smelters north of Durban and in Maputo, Mozambique, during the period when Eskom had extreme overcapacity, resulted in prices that often dropped below $0.01 per kiloWatt hour, when world aluminum prices fell. (Most households pay five times that amount.)
Erwin reportedly insisted on lower "financial-reporting volatility." Because the amount the foreign companies pay for energy changes with the value of the rand, every time the rand changes value by 10 percent, Eskom’s wins or loses $300 million. Erwin said the utility should work to escape from existing contracts. From Billiton’s side, Mkhwanazi replied that any change to the current contracts could be "a bit tricky for us. … We would adopt a pragmatic approach and, who knows, perhaps there will even be some sweeteners in it for us."
But the allegedly new approach was not applied at Coega, where Erwin as trade and industry minister from 1996 to 2004 had led negotiations for a new smelter. According to the chief executive of the parastatal Industrial Development Corporation (IDC), Geoffrey Qhena, "The main issue was the electricity price and that has been resolved. Alcan has put a lot of resources into this, which is why we are confident it will go ahead."
Meanwhile, however, to operate a new smelter at Coega, lubricated by at least 15 percent financing from the IDC, Alcan and other large aluminum firms were in the process of shutting European plants that produce 600,000 metric tonnes between 2006-09, simply "in search of cheaper power," according to industry analysts.
The main Alcan negotiator, 49-year-old Cynthia Carroll of the United States, was recognized for her skill in browbeating South African officials when in late 2006 she was named CEO-designate at Anglo American Corporation. Breaking the longstanding tradition, dating to the era of founder Ernest Oppenheimer, of giving the top job to insider elderly male candidates, Anglo’s offer was seen as a way to better position the firm -- South Africa’s largest even though its financial headquarters since 1999 is in London -- for further international metals deals.
Coal-fired power, climate change and carbon trading
The state’s decision to provide Alcan such vast subsidies at Coega comes amidst rising elite and popular consciousness about climate change problems. For years, global rulers have avoided action on CO2 emissions, as reflected in October in Monterrey, in the wake of the July St.Petersburg summit of the G8 group of rich countries, which ignored climate change. In Monterrey, the G8’s energy ministers were joined by 12 other major polluters, including South Africa, but again, no commitments were made to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Three weeks later, however, the British government released The Stern Review: The Economics of Climate Change, which estimates climate change costs of 5-20 percent of global GDP at current warming rates. Former World Bank chief economist Nick Stern calls for demand-reduction of emissions-intensive products (the opposite of Coega), energy efficiency, avoiding deforestation and new low-carbon technology.
The key problem is that Stern and the establishment want many of these improvements to be financed via carbon trading. Likewise, in 2002, Princeton University researcher Nipun Vats and Environmental Defense – through its “Partnership for Climate Action” relationship with French aluminum firm Pechiney (subsequently purchased by Alcan) – promoted Coega as eligible for subsidies under the Clean Development Mechanism. Coega could receive such subsidies if it can show its technology is cleaner than existing aluminum suppliers, and in turn that the energy-savings smelter technology can only be profitably financed through "additional" investment resources using carbon trading mechanisms like the World Bank’s Prototype Carbon Fund.
In November, Alcan said it would proceed with the $2.7 billion aluminum Coega smelter thanks to vast electricity subsidies from Eskom. Within days, University of Cape Town Environmental Studies Professor Richard Fuggle -- the country’s most respected environmentalist -- attacked the increase in CO2 emissions due to Coega in his retirement speech. He described Van Schalkwyk as a "political lightweight" who is "unable to press for environmental considerations to take precedence of “development."
According to Fuggle, "It is rather pathetic that van Schalkwyk has expounded the virtues of South Africa’s 13 small projects to garner carbon credits under the Kyoto Protocol’s CDM, but has not expressed dismay at Eskom selling 1360 megawatts a year of coal-derived electricity to a foreign aluminum company. We already have one of the world’s highest rates of carbon emissions per dollar of GDP. Adding the carbon that will be emitted to supply power to this single factory will make us number one on this dubious league table."
Civil society begins to react
In Mandela Metropole, emerging resistance to Coega’s guzzling of water and power will add to existing popular unrest. In South Africa during 2004-05, the police counted more than 5,800 protests against government, possibly the highest per-person rate in the world. In China, with 1.3 billion people, there were 87,000 mainly rural protests, while South Africa’s population is 45 million.
Thirty years ago, in the wake of the Soweto uprising near Johannesburg, the revitalized anti-apartheid social movements known as civic associations were founded in Port Elizabeth’s impoverished townships, thanks in part to the legacy of black consciousness and community empowerment activist Steve Biko, killed by the city’s police in 1979.
Twenty years later, the assistant city engineer for hydraulics wrote a blunt memo about the prospects for imposing a redistributive tariff to help poor consumers through cross-subsidization, funded by higher prices paid by large industrial users: If such a plan "were to be implemented for industry, Coega would not go ahead."
The redistributive scheme subsequently adopted by the city does not assure low-income citizens basic electricity and water access. In other words, the perceived need to pump cheap water and electricity into Coega industries will likely sabotage government’s objectives of social justice, public health, and economic growth via municipal services.
In all these respects, say critics, the Coega port and IDZ exacerbate the apartheid economic legacy of division, marginalization and grandiose, unworkable public-investment schemes. Such ventures were traditionally grounded not in a logic of development, but instead reflected the power of special interest groups.
Civil society resistance to this sort of maldistribution is already quite advanced, but often takes the form of illegal reconnections after prolific disconnections by municipalities and Eskom. To alter policy decisions, what is needed is a more sustained campaign for radically new industrial policies as well as tough state regulation of emissions. It may be inspired by the case of Coega, which stands out as a beacon of irresponsibility and corporate welfare.
• This article was originally commissioned by
http://www.multinationalmonitor.org and is reproduced here with kind permission of the author. Patrick Bond is director of the Centre for Civil Society at the University of KwaZulu-Natal in Durban: http://www.ukzn.ac.za/ccs
• Please send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org or comment online at www.pambazuka.org
Does Meles think he’s Africa’s George Bush?
Tajudeen Abdul Raheem
Where did the New Leaders go wrong?
It is a new year but excuse me if I do not begin with the customary seasonal platitude. Ethiopia's Meles Zenawi, playing the role of a Bush clone in Africa presented us with a Christmas present of bombs in Mogadishu. LIke Israel in Lebanon he claimed to be supporting the 'legitimate' government by offloading bombs on the Airport! For a country that cannot feed its own peoples Ethiopia seem to be overfeeding its defence (or is it offensive?) establishment.
In the Middle East, while Muslims were preparing for the Eid. American Cretins, otherwise called Iraqi government, presented Saddam's head to their Patron-Saint in Washington on Eid Day. Ironically the Eid El Kabir, was institutionalised as Ram slaughter in place of human slaughter but Bagdad and Washington reverted back to the barbaric practice.
I am not sure how many of us can say Happy New Year in these circumstances?
Prime Minister Melees Zenawi of Ethiopia is one of the most intellectually engaging leaders on the African continent today. He is one of the small groups of younger and supposedly dynamic leaders that burst on to the political scene in the 1990s for whom President Yoweri Museveni (who had come to power earlier in 19856) became a titular head. They were generally referred to as ‘New generation of African Leaders’. I was, along with many colleagues inside and outside the Pan African Movement, a great proponent for these leaders. They represented a fresh approach to leadership, seemed to be clear ideologically and politically. They spoke with confidence and inspired many Africans and friends of Africa that indeed ‘African Solution to African problems’ was indeed a reality.
But did we celebrate too early? Were our hopes and enthusiasm misplaced? By the mid-1990s, many of these leaders began to show personal, political and ideological strands that made people to wonder whether these are not ‘old wines in new bottles’. To some of their opponents these leaders are even worse than the former dictators they replaced.
I am not one of these perpetual pessimists who always seem to see an unending bad news that imprison the present and moors us permanently to our inglorious and the more unsavoury parts of our history. A lot of positive changes did take place and are still taking place in many countries. And we did learn to dream again but more importantly renewed our hopes.
Whatever one thinks of Museveni now he is not an Idi Amin. And Meles is no Mengistu. Whatever may have happened in the DRC, we did well to remove Mobutu. Whatever anyone thinks of the RPF or Kagame in Rwanda we should never feel or be made to feel guilty for ending genocide and putting the country on a path of normalcy.
We can explain what has happened to these leaders and what they may have become without forcing the parallels that they are not different from past dictators. Such blanket criticism negates many of the positive things that have happened and continue to happen, albeit, unevenly across the continent.
Like other enthusiasts, I am still asking why and what happened to some of those I got to know fairly well. For now I would like to share 10 reasons why the ‘New Leaders’ seem to have extinguished or are extinguishing the hopes they had inspired. It may not wholly apply to all of them but the pattern is generic.
One: They come as liberators but the longer they stay in power the more they become oppressors, intolerant of dissension or even discussions within their own political and military formations, among original leaders and in the wider society. Check in all these countries where the original leadership has remained intact even five to ten years after assumption of office.
Two: The vanguard of the masses slowly become vanguard of the ruling party / clique and soon degenerates into vanguard of the leader. Take the example of Eritrea‘s Issias Afwerki, who has managed to turn a country we all thought was going to be a shining example of a ‘future that works’ into a large garrison. They wrote a beautiful constitution that was ‘people-driven’ but became ‘Leader jammed’ and remains gathering dust. The people had their say but the leader had his way!
Three: They usually come in with big dreams and enormous commitment to the masses but the paraphernalia of power, the glitz, pomp and pageantry and all the trappings begin to take over. The ascetic ones amongst them begin to enjoy the good life and could not have enough of it. Add to that the institutionalized culture of sycophancy, jungle fatigues soon give way to the best of Savoy row suits, Gucci shoes, Rolex watches, etc. The comrade has now ‘arrived’ and will not be in a hurry to vacate he State House which he once detested. Some of them made a point of not occupying huge palaces vacated by their predecessors but soon moved into them or build even more imposing ones ‘on national security grounds’.
Four: A ruling group that had been held together for many years (from rebel groupings until they capture power) by shared ideology and perspectives become more and more built around the personality of the leader, his family, in-laws, freelance opportunists and other cronies recruited for ‘loyalty’ rather than any commitment to the country or people.
Five: The interest of the party, the government and the people become indistinguishable from the whims and caprices of the Leader. To oppose him was to oppose the people.
Six: The progressive changes they have brought about in the country become ‘gifts’ from a benevolent leader to his hapless citizens. Again here we should not throw away the baby with the birth water. Generally these leaders did turn around the economy and political arrangements in their countries. Things did improve even if in most of the cases, they were growth without development anchored on neo liberal policies beloved and imposed by the IMF / World Bank.
Seven: The one failing that many people -- especially their former comrades --find unpardonable in these leaders are their ideological somersaults. Most of them were revolutionaries who began their political carriers and rebel lives as firebrand anti imperialists but soon became converts to the free market and new best friends with the imperialist countries especially the USA and other Western powers. What angers many is the way in which some of them even use their new approval by Washington as a badge of honour replacing their former revolutionary icons!
Eight: These former revolutionaries, who previously espoused Pan Africanism, resigned themselves to ‘better managing’ the neocolonial state and soon became engrossed in competition rather than cooperation with their former comrades. Instead of more Pan Africanism, they engaged in less as they reduced relationship with other states to one of bilateral economic and political arrangements. The consequence of this is a tragedy like the DRC where we built a Pan Africanist Alliance to get rid of Mobutu, but could not sustain it after victory because every state wanted to have a pliant regime in Kinshasa instead of a Pan Afrianist regime in the interests of the people of DRC people and those of the region. Liberators become looters and occupiers...
I have saved the last two reasons deliberately to the end because they help explain the folly of Meles in Somalia.
Nine: This is the twin evil of these leaders becoming both victims of their militaristic means of getting and retaining power and wallowing in external validation by the same Western powers that not too long ago were praising our dictators as ‘moderate’.
Most of these leaders do not know how to negotiate without having their AK47s corked. They are used to conquering. Therefore, even when they profess democratic reforms, they are being tactical rather than strategic. They expect their peoples to be forever grateful and to accept incremental changes as decried by the leader. The only institution they trust is the armed forces. That’s why Ethiopia could fight Eritrea and Uganda and Rwanda can do the same in a third country despite assumptions of solidarity and affinity between the leaders.
Ten: My last reason -- and probably more decisive -- is the flattery and endorsement by the West. It makes these leaders feel that they are doing their peoples a favour. But more than that, it gives them illusions of becoming global players and they instinctively ally themselves behind geo-political and economic strategic interests of the West. But in these days it means lining up behind the USA and bush for all kinds of Bush wars.
Meles’ Ethiopia is the current worst practice of this. I am not one of those who think that Meles is just doing what Washington wants. What he has done is to use Bush’s doctrine to affirm his alliance but also justify his narrow national and sub-regional security concerns.
In invading and occupying Somalia, Ethiopia even has the legitimacy of the IGAD (Inter-Governmental Authority on Development) and AU backed process that led to the formation of the TFG (Transitional Federal Government).
But as intelligent as he is, why can he not learn from his Washington friends that, as in Afghanistan or Iraq, it is easier to occupy a country than govern it in peace. Are they not talking to Rwanda and Uganda about their experience in the DRC? Why does Meles think that Somalia will forever remain weak militarily? If a country with almost 100 % Muslims want to be governed Islamically how undemocratic is this? Does Meles not realize that the TFG will remain what we call in Hausa ‘GWANATIN JEKA NA YIKA” (i.e. a puppet regime)? Sooner than later, its allies will turn against it the way Kabila senior turned on his Kigali and Kampala allies.
It was Prime Minister Meles who famously insinuated that African leaders may be having psychiatric problems because ‘they repeat the same things but expect different outcomes’. Since he was a medical student before leaving for the Bush, it is perhaps about time he turned his diagnosis to himself.
* Dr Tajudeen Abdul-Raheem is the Deputy Director, Africa, for the UN millennium, Campaign. He writes this weekly column in his personal capacity as a concermed Pan Africanist.
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One year on in Tanzania: A false start
Issa G Shivji
President Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete came to power on a populist vote. Wamachinga, the semi-employed and unemployed youth of Dar es Salaam symbolized his populist support. He promised them one million jobs.
Kikwete’s first task was to convert his populist support into a popular support. Populism is fragile; it is ambivalent and can go in either direction, progressive or reactionary. In a country like Tanzania with over 12,000 villages, in which live some 80 per cent of the population, mostly smallholder peasants, converting populism to popularity means establishing a close rapport with village communities.
Mwalimu Julius Kambarage Nyerere did have such rapport but it was top-down, paternalistic. Mwalimu did not see peasants as an agency for change; peasants could not bring about change, rather he saw change being brought to them. Edward Moringe Sokoine had a developmental conception of the village. Sokoine saw the village as a harbinger of self-reliant, national development and the peasant (a rich peasant?) as an agency of change. Whatever the differences, there was one fundamental thing common to them. Both men were persons of unimpeachable personal integrity, which endeared them to the masses and strengthened them against pressures from local reactionary and foreign imperialist forces.
A fourth phase president who would make a difference would have had to combine the popular rapport of a Kambarage with the sober developmental vision of a Moringe. We therefore needed a JMK. In his first year, I envisioned President Kikwete in khaki perched on a landrover conversing with villagers, visiting even those villages where they still think Nyerere is the president. It was not to be. Instead, we found the President jet-trotting to foreign lands, including the most hated bullies of this world, chasing ‘development’. If investors needed to be charmed, that could well have been done by his charming Prime Minister. But JK needed to be in the country to transform himself into a JMK.
While the populist support was not converted into a popular support, worse, within one year the President lost even his populist support, thanks to his short-sighted lieutenants who mercilessly chased away Wamachinga thus piling up the numbers of unemployed. Now the President will have to create not one million, but perhaps 1.4 million jobs to accommodate the former Wamachingas!
The ‘who’s who’ in the cabinet would give a signal of the President’s direction. In the people’s perception, the previous vigogo had indulged in an orgy of self-enrichment, ujasiriamali. They could not name names in public for fear of being persecuted by the State but in their palavers - majiweni and mabarazani - they could tell you who owned what and how he/she got it. The tip of the iceberg was an utterly inexplicable sale of government houses.
True, Mwalimu’s leadership code was killed and buried in Zanzibar by Mzee Ruksa. What we did not know then was that it was a signal to forsake even elementary political ethics. In the second half of the third phase government the neo-wabenzi, against whom the leadership code was promulgated in the first place, went berserk, holding directorships in companies, sometimes in the very sector under your ministry; awarding tenders to sons, and cousins and girlfriends; accumulating real estate; having a finger in every business pie, fair or foul, and much more. People were not only disappointed with this type of ujasiriamali, they were simply disgusted - and despaired.
People expected a messiah in JK who would deliver them from the orgy of self-enrichment. They expected him to signal a different direction by, at least, choosing into his cabinet people of unquestionable personal integrity. As a symbolic gesture he would have perhaps declared that those who took government houses had disqualified themselves from the potential pool of ministers. That alone would have sent a signal that he meant business, that he was truly a man of the people. And Kikwete could have done it; he was riding on a wave of 80 per cent vote. For reasons best known to him and his advisers, the president rubbed salt into the wound by announcing that he too had “bought” a government house!
The 2005 nomination process of the presidential candidate within the CCM was one of the worst in the party’s history. Politics of ethnicity and race were freely deployed; the amount of money used could have only come from slush funds provided by tycoons; factional fights and intrigues abounded. Many felt in their bones that the party could crack. That did not happen. But the party came out of elections more fractionalized than it had entered it. Any farsighted leader of a political party in that situation had two major tasks.
First, to cement the party with a vision and a programme transcending factions and primordial prejudices. Second, to re-establish the integrity of the party and its leadership. Two party posts would be germane to this double-task, the post of the secretary general and that of the treasurer.
The party cried out for a sober organizer as the secretary general, not a cheer-leader used to haranguing people as if they were some empty tins fit only for making noises. It called for a treasurer who would be absolutely above board and known for his/her personal integrity, who would not compromise in matters of money. Again, the chairman did not measure up to the expectations in his party appointments.
Social and economic development
One year is not long enough to assess the developmental performance of a regime. But it is long enough to gauge its developmental direction. In this case, the fourth phase government seems to have decided, either consciously or by default, to stay the course. The course was set by the Mkapa regime: mindless privatisation and marketisation of the economy, including privatisation of strategic sectors, for example, finance and insurance; commodification of public goods and services, for example, land, water, energy, health and education and ruthless and unregulated exploitation of resources by multinationals – minerals, timber and forests and other bio-resources.
The experience of mining companies and the fiasco of privatized management in the water and electricity should have made the fourth phase government to revisit the course rather than stay it. The current power crisis, whose origins could be traced to the scandalous IPTL deal and equally scandalous imposition of Net Group management by force (remember that FFU accompanied the South African management when taking over TANESCO offices against resisting workers!), has been made worse by the outrageously scandalous Richmond saga. The credibility of the regime has hit rock-bottom, and the president’s studious silence only helps to feed the rumour mills of Dar es Salaam.
After some twenty years of the neo-liberal direction of the economy, one would have thought that the new government would have made a sober assessment in the light of its own experience and the experience of other countries, particularly Latin America where neo-liberalism has been discredited to the boot. Instead, we have accepted to be part of the perverted logic of IFIs (International Finance Institutions) which attributes lack of success to insufficient reforms – so reform is the only industry that shows exponential growth rates! When shall we be done with reforms?
Space does not allow going into details. But the least that is expected is that we seriously revisit our development paradigm. Are Mkukuta and Mkurabita serious developmental programmes? Which country has reduced poverty by cash transfers without developing the economy? And where is an example of success of De Soto’s Mkurabita?
If there is one area where both the third and fourth phase governments have shown utter lack of appreciation of the world situation, it is in the country’s foreign alignments. True, there is only one superpower but that does not mean one has to go into its armpit. This superpower is a vicious military power with a clear military design on Africa. It is therefore very difficult to understand Tanzania accepting to send a brigade to Lebanon and co-sponsoring the US-authored UN resolution for intervention in Somalia. The design of the US on the Eastern seaboard is clear – to string it with military bases from Djibouti through Somalia and Dar es Salaam to Durban. Tanzania is one country which has a relatively stable polity and the lingering Nyerereist legitimacy in Africa. Its landmass connects the Indian Ocean to the heart of rich Africa, the Democratic Republic of Congo. For these and many other reasons, US eyes Tanzania. It is surprising therefore that instead of keeping safe distance, our leadership goes out of its way to court this dangerous military octopus.
It is school-boyish to think that non-alignment does not make sense in the unipolar world. It makes more sense today than ever before. Remember Bush has drawn the line – you are either with us or with the “terrorists”, which means anyone who is against US foreign policy. Under these circumstances, non-alignment means ‘we are neither with you nor with the terrorists!’
By the same token, it is again surprising that Tanzania is increasingly courting and embracing another vicious military power totally aligned with the US – Israel. Hopefully, our leadership will realise its folly before it is too late.
The union question
This has been the continuing subject of discussions and frustrations in the media. The tail continues to wag the dog. The mpasuko in the union cannot be resolved without resolving the mpasuko in Zanzibar. And for resolving the mapasuko, the CCM has to rise above political opportunism. The problem is that the CCM leadership fails to discipline the Zanzibar CCM because mainland CCM factions opportunistically seek out the most reactionary elements in Zanzibar, lest the ‘opposition’ get into power. This is a groundless fear. There is no force in Zanzibar which would want to break the union but if the situation continues as it is, where Zanzibar fails to build a national consensus, then indeed the union could breakup. The JK government has failed to move on this score. One needs to be firm; flabbiness of position wouldn’t do. Sharing of power in Zanzibar is not going to rock the Tanzanian boat at all, nor, in fact CCM’s hegemony. Those who are opposed to national unity on the Islands are purely doing so out of personal interest and personal interests cannot be allowed to wreck a country.
In sum, then, the immediate task facing the fourth phase government is to take a serious stock, not only of its one year in power, but also the direction in which the country has been moving for the last twenty years. For any government to lose its massive support within a year is very serious indeed and it requires serious attention, not escapism and scapegoating.
• This article first appeared in The Citizen, a Tanzanian daily, on 21st December, 2006. Issa Shivji is a retired law professor.
• Please send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org or comment online at www.pambazuka.org
Africa: Aid Darfur
Tens of thousands of people have been killed in Sudan's Darfur region. Over 200,000 have fled across the border to Chad. Millions more are homeless. Most are women and children, terrified while the fighting continues.
On homosexuality in Africa
I enjoyed reading the article ‘On Transgender Human Rights Issues in Africa’ www.pambazuka.org/en/category/comment/38727. As an African woman and AIDS activist, I think we have to be real about sexuality and stop thinking we can tell other human beings how they should enjoy sex. When are we going to learn to do what is right instead of telling people what they need to do to be happy? We enjoy Western values, but when it comes to homosexuality, we know what Africans need. How can we fight HIV/AIDS if we are busy assuming all Africans are heterosexuals? We need to break the silence and keep it real because we are killing our people through isolation, discrimination and stigma.
It is unfortunate that people are focusing on what is going on in the private lives of Africans instead of fighting poverty, HIV/AIDS, rape, and domestic violence which women of Africa face daily.
We have to respect South Africa for accepting homosexuals as citizens too, who deserve the same rights as heterosexuals. When are some Africans going to stop acting like judges or God and let people enjoy God's blessings to have sex without their input? African traditions prepare women to serve men. When are we going to be free Africans enjoying our lives without biased rules and regulations imposed by other human beings?
Will African governments finally tackle corruption?
In 2005, the United Nations Convention against Corruption became the first legally binding, global anti-corruption agreement, marking a historic milestone in the fight against corruption. On 9 December 2006, a day set aside to celebrate international anti-corruption day, 28 African countries committed themselves to tackling corruption by signing the Convention.
This is not the first time that many African governments have committed to cracking down on corruption. Yet, actions speak louder than signatures and corruption remains rife across the region. In fact, it was once estimated by Transparency International that over $30 billion in aid for Africa – an amount equal to twice the gross domestic product of Kenya, Uganda and Ghana combined –has ended up in foreign bank accounts. It is safe to say that corruption has played an undeniable role in preventing economic prosperity, democratic development and civil society’s trust in governments across the African continent. This has been reflected yet again in Transparency International’s latest Corruption Perceptions Index. Of the African countries surveyed, Botswana was viewed as the least corrupt, being ranked at number 37, while Guinea performed especially badly, coming in at 160 out of a potential 163.
For the first time, the UN Convention against Corruption provides a single, overarching means for all countries in the region to fight and eventually remove the scourge of corruption. More specifically, chapter two of the Convention provides different measures that a country should implement in order to achieve the ultimate goal of stopping corruption and removing the fog of secrecy that often clouds government operations and decision-making processes.
One means by which African countries can go a long way to battling corruption is by adopting and implementing an effective right to information law, which would also underpin many of the other measures set out in the Convention.
An effective right to information law places an obligation on the government to regularly disclose as much information as possible about its policies and decisions to the public, and provide information to individuals when they request it. If a right to information law is introduced, then it can act as an important tool in fighting corruption - it can effectively transform the strong and traditional culture of secrecy within government into one of transparency and openness.
An effective right to information law also helps to ensure that governments formulate and implement development projects in a responsible, transparent and participatory manner. Development projects often significantly suffer as a result of funds being siphoned off, resulting in severe delay, and sometimes even a failure to complete projects. With a right to information law in place, governments would be obliged to share information on such projects with the public who can then monitor their development. In fact, the right to information would give the public a voice in determining what local projects should take place in the first place and how these can be designed to more effectively improve their lives.
If governments in Africa are serious about cracking down on corruption, cleaning up their governments and securing the long term democratic development and economic prosperity for their citizens, then there is no better time to implement their commitments under the UN Convention against Corruption and prioritise the drafting and implementation of an effective right to information law.
2006 Global Accountability Report Now Available
The Global Accountability Index is the first initiative to measure and compare the accountability of transnational organisations across sectors. In doing so, it extends basic principles of democracy to the global level. The 2006 Report presents the findings of research into the accountability of 30 of the world's most powerful organisations on the basis of four dimensions of accountability: transparency, participation, evaluation, and complaint and response (see Figure 1). Each sector has leaders and those that fall behind, there is significant room for improvement and for valuable learning to be shared across sectors. Copies available for download from the Oneworld Trust website.
Africa: Is Violence Inevitable in Africa?
'Is Violence Inevitable in Africa' offers a survey of perspectives on collective violence and conflict prevention and resolution in Africa. The volume covers many subjects, such as ethnic conflict, decentralization, power-sharing, and peacebuilding.
Africa: AU accuses Sudan of Darfur raid
Sudan's air force has carried out new bombing raids against two rebel areas of Darfur province, the African Union says. The fresh attacks on Saturday threatened to de-rail a peace deal between Sudan and the Sudan Liberation Army (SLA), the main rebel group, the AU said in a statement on Sunday (31 December 2007).
Update on 8th Ordinary summit of the AU, Addis 22–30 January 2007
AU-Monitor website provides the latest intelligence on what is coming up at the next summit meeting.
* The AU Commission has decided not to organized CSOs and women pre-summit this time
* The Summit aims at focusing on the role that Science and Technology and innovation could play towards Africa’s socio-economic development
The following issues will be discussed at the summit:
* Modalities for the election of Members of the AU Commission (Executive Council and the Assembly)
* The African Charter on Democracy, Governance and Elections (PRC and Executive Council)
* African Union Government (Assembly)
* Conflict – Peace and Security Council
* Chairperson of the African Union - who will be next? Will it revert to Bashir?
* Integration of NEPAD into the AU Structures and Process – by the Assembly
and lots more.
Africa: HIV tests for Oprah's girls
Pupils from the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls will be sent for HIV/Aids testing with their parents' consent, said Oprah Winfrey at the opening of the school at Henley-on-Klip, Meyerton, on Tuesday (2 January 2007). The school for girls from disadvantaged backgrounds was officially opened by Winfrey at a star-studded event.
Africa: South Africa remains lesbian-bashing society
“Growing up as a lesbian woman in South Africa is not easy," Lindiwe Radebe says. "It is a country that is ruled by homophobia and where we are not protected. I know this because I have been assaulted because of my sexual orientation." Her story reads like a crime novel.
DRC: War crimes against Congo's women
In the fertile hills of eastern Congo Kinshasa (DRC), the region's women tell tales of war crimes crueller than others can imagine. They are angry with brutal rebels groups, Rwandans, the national army, mineral companies and the US, which they say supplied the arms. And the greatest war crime of all, they warn, is not letting their voices be heard even today.
Gambia: Prostitutes Raided in the Gambia
"The sale of living female flesh for sexual gratification of men and income generation for the body seller is a trade old as society," said allgambian.net Staff Writer Lamin Sabally. Recently in urban Gambia, government cracked down on prostitutes leading to severe consequences in the law courts.
Liberia: Indecent Dressers Must Be Arrested
A student of the Louise Arthur Grimes School of Law, Alascal Wisner, has accused the Gender Ministry for doing little or nothing to educate youth against the growing level of indecent dressing that has permeated the society by Liberian girls.
Nigeria: In Search of Gender Equality
The United Nations (UN) has set an agenda of 'A World Fit for Children', while promoting gender equality as the focus of its third Millennium Development Goal (MDG-3). UNICEF, in its new report, believes that if this goal is achieved its benefits will be felt not just among women and children but in many other spheres, from poverty and hunger reduction to environmental sustainability and global health; and that gender equality is critical to child survival and development.
Sudan: Allegations of sexual abuse reveal weak monitoring
A United Nations investigation has been launched into allegations of sexual abuse and rape of children as young as 12 by international peacekeeping staff in southern Sudan, a spokesperson said on Wednesday. An article in the British Daily Telegraph newspaper on Tuesday reported that at least 20 children said they had been picked up in the southern Sudanese capital of Juba by UN peacekeepers and forced to have sex, often in official UN vehicles.
Uganda: Struggle for Equal Status
Women are among the most marginalised in our society, says this article in the New Vision. "Since they also tend to be the poorest, getting justice is always a nightmare for them. But a bill passed in December 2006 is set to change this."
Cameroon: Striking prison guards "tortured"
More that 50 prison officers, on strike for one week, have been detained by the Cameroonian army and taken to an unknown location, according to human rights groups. Reports indicate that the striking warders have not been given anything to eat or drink and that several have been tortured.
Egypt: Refugees – little hope on the horizon
Sudanese refugee community leaders are claiming that their living conditions in the Egyptian capital are worse than ever, one year after scores of their members were killed by Egyptian troops. The precise number of Sudanese refugees living in Egypt is not known, however observers put the number between one and three million.
Global: Rwanda genocide accused remanded
A British court has remanded four Rwandan men accused of taking part in the 1994 genocide of minority Tutsis. The men, in their 40s and 50s, appeared in a Westminster magistrates’ court on Friday (29 December 2006) after they were arrested in raids conducted in various parts of Britain.
Global: UN chief keeps distance from death-penalty ban
United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon started his first day on the job on Tuesday (2 January 2007) by departing from the traditional UN opposition to the death penalty, saying nations can make their own decision.
Somalia: Protect Children From Conscription
An increasing number of children are being conscripted into Somalia's fighting factions, exposing them to attacks and separating them from their families, humanitarian agencies have warned.
Zimbabwe: Mugabe strips critic of citizenship
The government of Robert Mugabe has, in an attempt to silence one of the president's fiercest internal critics, stripped the owner of Zimbabwe's largest private newspaper group of his citizenship. The Zimbabwe registrar general said Trevor Ncube, publisher of South Africa's Mail and Guardian newspaper, was not entitled to Zimbabwean citizenship.
Zimbabwe: Police nab 20,000 illegal miners
The police in Zimbabwe have announced that they have arrested at least 19,239 people for their involvement in illegal mining and smuggling of precious minerals from the country. Hazardous artisanal mining has become one of the last possible revenue sources for Zimbabwe's many unemployed.
Africa: Authorities prepare for foreign workers' return to SA
The South African Border Control Operational Co-ordinating Committee (BCOCC) is preparing for the expected influx of foreign migrant workers back into the country after the December holidays.
DRC: Clashes, displacement in the east
Thousands of people have been displaced from their homes in eastern DRC due to renewed clashes between the regular army, and forces allied to renegade commander Laurent Nkunda, according to military sources and the UN peacekeeping mission, MONUC.
Kenya: Floods displace more people
A further several thousand people have been displaced by floods in west and northeast Kenya following a week of heavy rains, the Kenya Red Cross Society (KRCS) has reported. Areas under water include Budalangi, Migori, Nyando and Kisumu in Nyanza in Western Province, the KRCS said.
Kenya: Somali refugees deported
Kenyan authorities have deported hundreds of Somali refugees who tried to seek refuge in the neighbouring country to escape fighting back home. Police in Kenya escorted the refugees across the border into Somalia from a registration centre in Liboi on Wednesday (3 January 2006).
Sudan: Violence displaces more civilians in Darfur
Thousands of people have gone into hiding in hills near the North Darfur village of Abu Sakin after Arab militias continued their destructive rampage across parts of the western Sudanese region, aid workers said.
Uganda: UK Deports 160 Ugandans
At least 160 Ugandans were deported from the United Kingdom this year compared to 120 who were returned in 2005. Another 25 Ugandans who sought asylum in the UK were arrested and are in detention. The detainees were arrested under the UK Immigration Act.
Africa: The Disease of African Presidents
In some South African communities, tokoloshe is believed to be a wicked genie that inhabits a good person who gradually or suddenly turns into an ogre. An ogre is a "giant or monster in legends and fairy tales, that eats humans." This article from the East African Standard discusses Africa's leaders.
DRC: Congo gets new prime minister
Joseph Kabila, the newly-elected president of the Democratic Republic of Congo, has named Antoine Gizenga, the 81-year-old opposition veteran, as the country's new prime minister.
DRC: Kabila allies get top jobs
An adviser to Joseph Kabila, the Congolese president, has been named as head of the Democratic Republic of Congo's new national assembly, in a ballot during which presidential allies swept key parliamentary posts.
Nigeria: Opposition at crossroads
Like most countries in Africa, the Nigerian opposition seems to be at a critical crossroads. With a few months before Presidential elections, the strongest opposition parties in Nigeria - Action Congress (AC) and All Nigerian People Party (ANPP) - are in a wonderland as to who would become the single candidate after the two parties seek for a coalition to unseat the ruling party from power.
Somalia: A New Administrator for Hiran Region
The Somali president Abdulahi Yusuf Ahmed has issued a decree on Monday (1 January 2006) installing a new administrator in Hiran province, central Somalia. The new administrator will replace Yusuf Ahmed Hagar Dabageed, who was the chairman of the province.
Guinea: EU aid back but social problems remain
The European Union and Guinea signed a deal on Friday to turn the spigot on EU aid for the first time in four years, but transparency and economic issues still dog the country’s creaking post-socialist economy, and the aid will not dent the main concerns of powerful unions that called strikes twice this year.
Nigeria: Transcorp Not Enjoying Any Special Privilege
The management of Transnational Corporation of Nigeria (Transcorp) Plc has declared that the company is not enjoying any special privilege from the federal government. This declaration was made by the Group Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of the company, Mr. Bernard Longe.
South Africa: SACP slams corruption in SA
One of the biggest threats facing democracy in South Africa is corruption, the South African Communist Party (SACP) said on Wednesday (27 December 2006). "Apart from HIV/Aids, joblessness and poverty, the single biggest threat facing our democracy is growing corruption in both the public and private sectors," said SACP president Blade Nzimande in the party's new year message.
Africa: Africa's Fund-Hungry Miners
Resource companies operating in Africa have increasingly been eyeing Chinese investment with mixed feelings. On one hand, they view the Chinese as useful partners because they offer vast markets for commodities, but on the other hand their emergence as investors in African resources presents unwelcome competition.
Africa: Cape Verde wants special status at ECOWAS
After entering into negotiations with the European Union (EU) over special ties and leaving the West Africa free travel union, the government of Cape Verde now has announced its desire to loosen its attachment to the Economic Community Of West African States (ECOWAS). The Cape Verde government soon will present ECOWAS with proposals for "special status" of the island nation.
Africa: Mainstreaming Disaster Risk Reduction Programs
Relief assistance efforts in emergency situations that hitherto were based on a single approach have not been effective and mainstreaming disaster risk reduction in to the development program is what the country needs, a new research recommended.
Africa: High-tech tools to beat meningitis
A young girl, unconscious by the time her mother brought her to a rural clinic in southern Burkina Faso, had the classic symptoms of meningitis: fever, stiffness, vomiting. With treatment, doctors hoped to be able to save her life although she may be permanently disabled: deafness, epilepsy or paralysis are among the effects of the disease.
Africa: Libya condemns foreign pressure in HIV case
Western criticism of death sentences handed to five Bulgarian nurses and a Palestinian doctor by a Libyan court shows a lack of respect for the Libyan people, Libya's foreign ministry said late on Thursday (28 December 2006). The medics were sentenced last week for deliberately infecting 426 children in the late 1990s with the virus that causes Aids.
Botswana: HIV/Aids Spread Linked to Malaria
There may be a link between malaria and the spread of the virus that causes Aids across Africa, research by scientists working in Kenya suggests. The study, published in the journal Science, says the way the two diseases interact can help them spread faster.
Global: What is palliative care?
The advent of antiretroviral therapy has brought greatly reduced morbidity and mortality among people living with HIV disease. Unfortunately, it has also meant that we often focus on the clinical aspects of therapy and viral suppression to the exclusion of the enduring principles of palliative care: attention to the physical, emotional and spiritual distress of those patients and families affected by life-threatening disease.
Malawi: HIV/Aids Leaves Young People Struggling to Survive
Chisomo Jonasi, 12, who lives in Lirangwe, on the outskirts of Blantyre, Malawi's second city, lost both his parents to AIDS-related illnesses 18 months ago. He now spends most of his time doing odd jobs in people's gardens to support his three siblings, the youngest of which is five.
Uganda: K'la Men Rush to Get Circumcised
Clinical male circumcision has hit a new high in the wake of renewed child kidnaps countrywide and emerging reports that the practice reduces risks of HIV infection. A survey done by Daily Monitor in Kibuli, Mengo, Nsambya and Rubaga Hospitals, shows that male circumcision has increased tremendously in the past few months.
Uganda: Rising HIV Infection Rocked Health Sector
The year 2006 saw the health sector marred by controversies and Uganda slipping off the ladder as a global setter in the HIV/AIDS fight. The Uganda AIDS Commission found that the number of Ugandans living with the disease rose from 5.6% in 2000 to 7.1%, the sixteenth international AIDS Conference in Toronto Canada, heard.
Africa: African scientists eligible for European funding
For the first time, researchers in Africa and other developing countries will be able to apply for European Union (EU) funding under nearly the same terms as European researchers, as opposed to a limited amount of funding for earmarked projects. Especially South African scientists already have known how to make use of these funds.
Nigeria: Review of 2006 Higher Education Highlights
The second part of the series continues with the discussion on the report of the accreditation exercise released by the National Universities Commission (NUC) in early January 2006. As pointed out in the first instalment, the report startled three first generation universities (namely UI, UNN and OAU) whose law programmes lost their accreditation.
Rwanda: Efforts Needed Against Alcohol in Schools
Establishing effective prevention programmes in schools requires an understanding of the effects of early alcohol use in students, as well as developing policies and strategies, argues Rwanda's Minister of Education in The New Times newspaper.
Algeria: Keeping the Sahara in Check
Two hundred kilometres. A long distance to some, perhaps, but in the context of desertification in Algeria, alarmingly short. Going in to 2007, the Sahara will have advanced to within 200 kilometres of the Mediterranean coastline of this North African state.
Burkina Faso: Arsenic poisoning wells
With signs that people are developing diseases linked to arsenic poisoning, the government said on Thursday (28 December 2006) that it had turned off pumps to 11 deep-water wells in areas in the north of Burkina Faso where water is particular scarce, adding that it may still have to close down hundreds more wells.
South Africa: Probe Into Death of Millions of Crabs
Marine and coastal management scientists are investigating the cause of death of millions of larval crabs that washed up along the Table Bay coastline for the past two weeks. The death of the tiny crabs is, at this stage, not thought to be related to the death of more than 80 tons of fish in Rietvlei, near Table View, according to city spokesman Pieter Cronje.
Africa: Africa Draws Guidelines for Land Information
Delegates from African Union member states and some world best-practice countries gathered in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, from December 4-8, 2006 in the initial step to develop comprehensive guidelines for land information management in Africa.
Botswana: San barred from ancestral land
Despite winning their right to return home after a long-fought court battle, the San are not being allowed back in the Central Kgalagadi Game Reserve (CKGR), in the Kalahari Desert, according to an advocacy group. In December 2006 the High Court of Botswana ruled that the San, also known as the Bushmen, had been wrongfully evicted from their ancestral homeland in the CKGR in 2002.
Africa: Africa And Western Media Hostility
"People wonder why Africa is portrayed badly in the media, and the conclusion always comes to, in my own opinion, the combination of our own handiwork and the dominating power of the western media that be," writes Ademola Ariyo in Nigeria's Daily Champion newspaper in response to an article by Raymond Tarek Belleh of Baden-Wurttemberg, Germany, on nigeriaworld.com. Ariyo recommends Belleh's article to all interested in the exploitation of Africa by the Western media.
Africa: The 'Blood' That Rwanda, S.A, Uganda Share
New Year celebrations tend to start early in South Africa. Fireworks were going off in the neighbourhood where we were living on the night of December 30, 2006. On New Year's Day we were at lunch at Nigerian journalist Dele Olojede's home in Johannesburg.
Somalia: Union Call for Charter to Protect Journalists
As troops loyal to the transitional federal government took control of almost all of Somalia today (29 December 2006), Reporters Without Borders and its partner organisation in Somalia, the National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ), called on the government and all other parties to the conflict to respect the work of journalists.
Zimbabwe: Registration Fees for Media Gazetted
Government has gazetted application fees for the registration of mass media services and accreditation of journalists. Application for registration of mass media service and a news agency would be $600 000.
Global: Bad Blood, Blood Diamonds
This article tackles the history of diamond mining in the context of the movie Blood Diamonds, taking issue with a CNN report and exposing the history of De Beers diamond company.
Africa: A New War for Africa
“The Ethiopians now are advancing, but that is not the end," Omar Idris, a senior official of Somalia's Union of Islamic Courts (UIC), told the BBC on Wednesday (27 December 2006). "We know what happened in Iraq, the experience of the Americans... I think this is very, very early to say that the Islamic Court forces were defeated."
Africa: Study of successful mediation in African conflicts
This penetrating study of successful mediation in a half-dozen violent conflicts across the African continent focuses on a hitherto neglected dimension of mediation and the motivations of the parties in conflict—and of the mediators themselves—in initiating the mediation option.
Chad: President and rebel leader sign peace accord
Chad's president and the leader of a rebel faction that tried to oust him earlier this year signed a peace accord in Libya late on Sunday (24 December 2006), but other Chadian insurgents dismissed the deal and vowed to fight on. Several rebel groups bent on overthrowing President Idriss Deby have been fighting a low-intensity war in the desert, mountains and scrub of eastern Chad, occasionally striking further west.
DRC: Rekindled clashes displace thousands in Ituri
Thousands of people have fled the village of Fataki, 70 km northeast of Bunia, capital of Ituri district in Eastern DRC, following clashes between militia and the regular army, officials of the United Nations peacekeeping mission, MONUC, said.
Ivory Coast: Ivorian rebels reject talks offer
Ivory Coast's northern-based New Forces rebels have rejected an attempt by the country's president to bypass a UN-backed peace plan and hold direct talks with them. Last month, Laurent Gbagbo, the president, had suggested direct talks with the rebels to end the partition of the cocoa-growing country after the civil war in 2002 and 2003.
Senegal: Senegalese president's ally slain
Suspected separatists in Senegal's Casamance province have killed a prominent local ruling party official and slit his throat. Armed men attacked Oumar Lamine Badji, a leading member of the president's ruling Democratic Party (PDS), late on Saturday (30 December 2006) at his home in the village of Sindian.
Somalia: Government proclaims take-over of Islamists' territories
Somalia's government claimed Tuesday (2 January 2006) to have full control of territory wrested from Islamists with Ethiopia's military help, but militia fighters took no notice of orders to turn in their weapons in the capital. In Kenya, President Mwai Kibaki urged his Somali counterpart Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed to resume peace talks with the Islamists, who still pose a security threat despite defeat, in order to achieve stability.
Pambazuka News Editors
The Weblog Awards are a non-profit project created in 2001 to award the best blogs. Pambazuka News encourages readers to vote for Sokari Ekine's blog, Black Looks: http://www.blacklooks.org/. Many of you will aleady be familiar with her work in the weekly blogs round-up in Pambazuka News.
Vote for ‘black looks’ in the "best Middle Eastern and African" section at http://2007.bloggies.com/
Africa: Developing Countries Set the Standards
Developing countries led by India, China, Brazil are now taking the lead in setting global standards in the rapidly transforming telecommunications sector due to convergence of hitherto separate communications and entertainment services, says Hamadoun Toure, the new secretary general of the Geneva-based International Telecommunications Union.
Tanzania: Internet Fuels Explosion in 'Degree Mills'
"Degree and diploma mills" have been around for hundreds of years, and they are still flourishing all over the world. These are bogus universities and colleges that sell diplomas or degrees - a piece of paper itself rather than the educational experience.
Nigeria: Government Signs Three Year Agreement With Microsoft
The Federal Government in line with its avowed commitment to deploy information and communications technology to accelerate economic growth has signed a three year agreement with Microsoft. The partnership agreement signed in Abuja will ensure the implementation of initiatives that will contribute to effective governance, and to the social and economic development of Nigeria.
Global: The new 100 most useful sites
“In 2004, the internet was a different place: there was, for example, no YouTube, and most people online didn't have broadband. That's changed dramatically. The arrival of Web 2.0 has brought sites where the interaction is as fast as if it were on your machine,” says this article in South Africa’s Mail and Guardian, which looks at the "cream of the crop" when it comes to websites.
Global: African borderlands and frontiers
From 22 to 24 November 2007 the Belgian Association of Africanists organizes an international conference on “Borderlands and Frontiers in Africa”. This conference will take place in Leuven, Belgium. It welcomes contributions from scholars across the humanities and social sciences working in and on Africa, and it especially welcomes contributions by African scholars.
Global: Call for papers
While research on colonial architecture and space has found a broad academic interest during the past several decades, research on the architectural staging and spatial implications of the worldwide expansion of religion has found much less concern.
Global: Research Conference in African Studies
The Graduate Research Conference in African Studies is an interdisciplinary conference intended for students at all levels of their graduate careers. The conference aims to provide a friendly and informal setting in which students can discuss their research.
Kenya: WSF Delegates Expected to Strain Host City
This month could see Nairobi overrun by thousands more foreign visitors than it can house or move about comfortably, industry sources say. Hotel managers who struggled with about 6,000 delegates at last year's climate change conference predict tough times if a planned international meeting attracts even half the number of international guests organisers expect.
WSF 2007: Overview of registered activities
On this page you will find 5 Excel databases with all activities registered for the World Social Forum event to take place in Nairobi from January 20 to 25, 2007. We are in the process of drawing up the program, taking into account the different needs for the activities as required in the Activity Registration Form.
DRC: Deputy Country Director, Finance & Administration
The Deputy Country Director, Finance & Administration will oversee the administrative, logistical, human resource and financial health of the programme, as well as liaise with partners and diverse stakeholders of the peacebuilding field in the DRC. S/he will report to the Country Director.
DRC: Strategic Portfolio Performance Officer
The SPPO will perform the following duties: - Develop the methodologies and systems of quality assurance and data validity of grant data and performance based decision processes, and develop institutional capacity to improve the performance culture at all levels (Global Fund unit, Sub-recipients, CCM, civil society).
Ethiopia: Emergency - Assistant Logistics Officer
Assists in the logistics & supply component of the Emergency Programmes through improving the logistics system for procurement, importation, inventory control, warehousing and distribution of supplies and equipment to DPPA/B warehouses, and project sites.
Sudan: Country Director
In order to coordinate its future operation in the Greater Darfur, ACTED is seeking an experienced candidate who would be available within the next few weeks for the position of Country Director Sudan.
Zimbabwe: Regional Food Security Officer
Assist National Societies and Federation Delegations in the region to develop and implement food security programming during the food insecurity operation in line within the four core areas of Disaster preparedness, Disaster response, Health & Care and Promotion of Humanitarian Values as defined in Strategy 2010.
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