Pambazuka News 385: A defining moment for Zimbabwe
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CONTENTS: 1. Editors’ corner, 2. Features, 3. Comment & analysis, 4. Pan-African Postcard, 5. Letters & Opinions, 6. Books & arts, 7. Podcasts, 8. China-Africa Watch, 9. Cartoons, 10. Zimbabwe update, 11. African Union Monitor, 12. Women & gender, 13. Human rights, 14. Refugees & forced migration, 15. Social movements, 16. Elections & governance, 17. Corruption, 18. Development, 19. Health & HIV/AIDS, 20. Education, 21. LGBTI, 22. Environment, 23. Media & freedom of expression, 24. Social welfare, 25. Conflict & emergencies, 26. Internet & technology, 27. Courses, seminars, & workshops, 28. Publications, 29. Jobs
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Highlights from this issue
EDITOR'S CORNER: New format for Pambazuka News
FEATURES: Bill Saidi on Zimbabwe post-Mugabe's one man presidential run-off and lackluster AU summit
COMMENTS AND ANALYSIS:
- Henning Melber on Zimbabwe and the basis for solidarity
- Appeal from Women in Zimbabwe
- Mukoma Wa Ngugi rounds - up various positions on Zimbabwe
- Nathan Geffen on myths and xenophobia
- Andile Mngxitama on why xenophobia should be called negrophobia
- Azad Essa interviews Pierre Matate about the aftermath of the xenophobic attacks
PAN-AFRICAN POSTCARD: Tajudeen Abdul Raheem on Mubarak and Mugabe
LETTERS: Readers' comments and announcements
BOOKS & ARTS: Judith Charlton reviews "Where there is no artist"
PODCASTS: Black History Month interview with Gabrilla Ballard
AFRICAN UNION MONITOR: Zimbabwe at the AUZIMBABWE UPDATE: Nkomo’s warnings into the future
WOMEN & GENDER: Problems in Seychellois paradise
CONFLICT AND EMERGENCIES: Chad troops clash with Muslim group
HUMAN RIGHTS: Bemba transferred to ICC
REFUGEES AND FORCED MIGRATION: Migrants in Mauritania face illegal arrest
SOCIAL MOVEMENTS: RSA pavement-dwellers assaulted
ELECTIONS AND GOVERNANCE: Equatorial Guinea government resign
AFRICA & CHINA: AFRICOM open to working with China
CORRUPTION: Corruption catches up with Kenya’s Grand Coalition
DEVELOPMENT: Steps to sustainable governance
HEALTH AND HIV/Aids: New tool to diagnose MDR-TB
EDUCATION: Fighting for an education in Somalia
LGBTI: MSM research highlights need for safe-sex education
ENVIRONMENT: Chad peacekeepers tread lightly
MEDIA AND FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION: Gambian journalist attacked
SOCIAL WELFARE: New law could raise Kenya food prices further
INTERNET & TECHNOLOGY: New human rights alert service
PLUS: e-newsletters and mailings lists; courses, seminars and workshops, and jobs
*Pambazuka News now has a Del.icio.us page, where you can view the various websites that we visit to keep our fingers on the pulse of Africa! Visit http://del.icio.us/pambazuka_news
New format for Pambazuka News
Pambazuka News Editors
Pambazuka News is getting longer and longer ...
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But, as a result, the long emails we send you are becoming unmanageable. We get a lot of complaints from readers about the excessive length of Pambazuka News.
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From now on, we are going to provide you with the full text ONLY of the lead feature article.
For all other articles, we will include just an extract of each article, with a link to the full text available on the Pambazuka News website. This should allow us to produce shorter emails, and allow you to select which of the articles you want to read in full.
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A defining moment for Zimbabwe
It may be too early to speak of a positive response to calls for a government of national unity. It would be most encouraging to conclude that both parties are agreed on the essence of a GNU. But this would not be an accurate or even remotely hopeful analysis of the scenario. First, there is the violence in which unarmed citizens have been victims of mayhem. Secondly, there is the unresolved question of who should head this GNU - Tsvangirai or Mugabe. If this were going to turn out to be a defining moment for Zimbabwe, you could argue, with good reason, that both men would lower their own personal expectations in favour of their country’s and their people’s. But would that be realistic? asks Bill Saidi.
In essence, what came out of the African Union summit in Egypt, which presumably ventilated the Zimbabwean imbroglio thoroughly, was to leave it to the people to gird their loins for what might turn out to be a bruising or an amicable struggle to rescue the country from the brink of a disaster.
The mildly critical declaration for a call for a government of national unity contained no muscle that one could detect from a distance. Its politeness, as with everything the AU has attempted on Zimbabwe, must have been greeted by huge yawns of boredom by both combatants in the struggle.
It was Zanu PF, rather than the MDC, which appeared to react with a degree of animation to the proposal. Sikanyiso Ndlovu, the Minister of Information, sounded so upbeat it was as if the AU had responded specifically to his government’s call for a government of national unity (GNU). The MDC, almost predictably, introduced the rider that such an arrangement ought to be headed by Morgan Tsvangirai, who beat President Robert Mugabe to the presidency in the 29 March presidential election. Zanu PF would probably engage in a fit of gnashing of teeth before responding to that proposal - just as predictably – with the rejoinder that its leader ought to be the head of such a government.
This will be on the nebulous basis of his so-called victory in the 27 June farce which Zanu PF insists was a free and fair affair in which 85 percent of the voters, presumably, voted freely for Mugabe. There were widespread reports that some voters marked their ballots with “You will rule yourself, not us – we are fed up with you”.
How Zanu PF reached the conclusion that all voters turned up at the polling booths willingly shouldn’t surprise any objective analyst of the Zimbabwean situation. From the beginning, Zanu PF wanted it known throughout the world that it would not accept an arrangement which it had not controlled. The 29 March elections produced results which showed the party being resoundingly trounced by the opposition. But almost all that was overturned: the government took its own sweet time to announce the results. By that time, according to the opposition, “certain things” had been “doctored” and Zanu PF had suddenly performed quite creditably in all the polls.
Yes, it had lost its parliamentary majority in one fell swoop and had performed less than spectacularly in the presidential stakes, but it would live to fight another day – in the run-off of the presidential election.
About 70 people, most of them opposition supporters, were killed in the run-up to the run-off. Mugabe declared publicly that “only God could remove him from office”. It was the kind of contemptuous statement Mugabe has recently made to emphasise his utter disregard for even the elementary requirements for a free and fair election.
Why he would expect the opposition to participate in such a poll is beyond comprehension. Nobody, not even Thabo Mbeki, with his mealy-mouthed stance on Zimbabwe, could speak of the poll as anything other than what others thought of it: a travesty and a sham.
Mbeki would not use those words, but even he must have been frightened at the temerity with which his political idol seemed to regard that charade. Mugabe was swiftly sworn into office and just as speedily flown off to Egypt for the AU summit. Television footage of his reception by his colleagues at Sharm el-Sheikh suggested most of them were a little embarrassed, if not ashamed, at his presence. He may have met some of them privately, but there was notably no TV footage of such tête-à-tête meetings.
What we did see, though, was his media spokesman, George Charamba, almost foaming at the mouth as he shooed off reporters from the president. It was amazing that Charamba found it necessary to tell the West, on camera, “to go hang”. At some time in the future, that portrait of him may return to haunt him time and time again.
Mugabe himself was shown as if he was about to lunge at a reporter who apparently had asked him a question which he evidently found “cheeky”. All in all, it was not at all a worthwhile public relations exercise for Zimbabwe: the president, a man generally regarded as being unfriendly to the media, could only have sent that reputation plunging to the pits of notoriety.
The performance of the AU at the summit was once again as shameful as that of its predecessor, the Organisation of African Unity (OAU), which somehow agreed to hold a summit in Idi Amin’s capital of Kampala, at a time when that odious dictator had displayed the worst traits of a megalomaniac, with a touch of cannibalism thrown in.
Only Raila Odinga seemed courageous enough to speak on camera of a call to expel Mugabe from the AU until free and fair elections are held in Zimbabwe. This is crucial for any future debate on the Zimbabwean situation by the AU or by any other regional or international blocs.
Elections in the country have generally contained an element of farce which most African leaders have refused to acknowledge as such. One good reason for this is that there are only a handful of African countries which could boast of truly free and fair elections since their independence. Many are led by people who achieved power through the barrel of the gun.
Although Mugabe has recently boasted that Zimbabwe’s independence was won solely through the armed struggle, it should not be forgotten that there were protracted negotiations in London – with not an AK47 in sight - at which all the players took part and had to sign an agreement.
Angola and Mozambique, which became independent after a 1974 coup in Portugal ended that country’s colonial adventure in Africa and elsewhere, were handed their independence, virtually, on a platter. Incidentally, that did not ensure a smooth transition. Hundreds of lives were still lost in the internecine bloodshed that followed this orderly handover of power.
In Zimbabwe, 20,000 were killed in a virtual civil war after 18 April 1980. After the AU summit, there appeared to have been noises of conciliation emerging from both Zanu PF and the MDC. It may be too early to speak of a positive response to calls for a government of national unity. It would be most encouraging to conclude that both parties are agreed on the essence of a GNU. But this would not be an accurate or even remotely hopeful analysis of the scenario.
First, there is the violence in which unarmed citizens have been victims of mayhem. Secondly, there is the unresolved question of who should head this GNU - Tsvangirai or Mugabe. If this were going to turn out to be a defining moment for Zimbabwe, you could argue, with good reason, that both men would lower their own personal expectations in favour of their country’s and their people’s. But would that be realistic?
The 27 June election was described as a “joke”, which would sound ghoulish if you considered that people were being killed even as the voting got under way or when the president was being sworn for another term of office. Why most people do not dwell on the bloodstained nature of the election campaign is probably an “African thing”. Most election campaigns on the continent feature a certain amount of bloodletting, witness that in Kenya.
Many Zimbabweans, observing from afar the TV footage of the gory situation in Kenya, swore it would not happen in their country. But it did and most were thoroughly disgusted that they had allowed themselves to be duped by Zanu PF into believing that the party had turned over a new leaf and would exit the political arena quietly, having been thoroughly humiliated by the MDC.
Mugabe was in competition with nobody, Tsvangirai having pulled out and being holed up in the Dutch embassy in Harare. Tsvangirai has been criticised for not standing firmly alongside his supporters in their time of greatest need. He has spent time in exile in Botswana and South Africa, apparently fearing for his life.
One point in his favour is that there is no denying that, if an opportunity was presented to his enemies to liquidate him, the chances are that they would grab it with both hands. He has been severely brutalised in the past, by the war veterans and by “men in dark glasses”, officers of the murderous Central Intelligence Office (CIO).
In 1990, one such officer was charged, found guilty and sentenced to a term in prison for his part in the attempted assassination of Patrick Kombayi, then a candidate for the opposition Zimbabwe Unity Movement (ZUM). The two men were pardoned by Mugabe. Officers of this same clandestine unit have reportedly participated actively in the so-called “retribution” campaign launched by the government and Zanu PF after the 29 March elections.
The impunity with which this campaign was carried out convinced many people, previously unable to believe such brutality could be carried out in the name of a government professing to be democratic and a respectable member of the international community, that Zanu PF was in a real bind. Its chances of winning the election had been eroded by an economy so tattered and derelict its likelihood of ever recovering seemed almost non-existent.
It is this tottering economy which the government has said has been the target of Western economic sanctions. The government, in fact, blames the sanctions for all its economic woes. But an influential British commentator has dismissed sanctions as an effective tool against what he calls “brutal rulers” of Mugabe’s ilk.
Simon Jenkins says in an article in The Guardian newspaper this week: “Economic sanctions are a coward’s war. They do not work but are a way in which the rich elites feel they are ‘committed’ to some distant struggle. They enjoy lasting appeal to politicians because they cost them nothing and are rhetorically macho.” Jenkins refers specifically to the decision by the supermarket group Tesco to stop buying produce from Zimbabwe, “while the political crisis exists”. He contrasts this with the stance of the company’s competitor, Waitrose, which has decided not to stop buying from Zimbabwe. “It believes withdrawal would devastate ‘the workers and their extended families.”
There has never been any universal applause for economic sanctions against recalcitrant nations. Jenkins makes the point by referring to sanctions imposed on a number of nations which he claimed had no effect whatsoever. “In almost every case, sanctions make the evil richer and more secure, and the poor poorer.” Jenkins quotes the dictionary meaning of sanctions “as a specific penalty enacted in order to enforce obedience to the law”.
While he suggests that only an invasion would be effective, he refers to the invasion of Iraq as being considered as “a step too far.” “We toss gestures that will not bring about Mugabe’s downfall, only make the poor less able to resist his thugs. And all so that Tesco can feel better for a day.” "Yet there are many who believe that “every little bit helps”. In other words, even the mildest inconvenience to the people of an offending nation is likely to have an effect on their attitude towards the government.
Zimbabwe’s economy is in the proverbial doldrums, some of it totally unrelated to sanctions, but caused by malfeasance and maladministration. For instance, Mugabe himself has railed against his own cabinet ministers over the corruption involving the land reform programme. Some of them have two, three or even four farms, when he has decreed that they should have only one. Moreover, others have not developed these previously white-owned properties to their previous level of productivity, using them for speculative purposes, instead.
In insisting that the sanctions have hurt most ordinary, average-income earners, the government had hoped to persuade voters not to continue with their support for the opposition. The idea has been to paint them with the same brush as the West, which the government alleges launched its anti-Zimbabwe campaign after the land reform programme.
All this has failed to impress most voters, because, for a majority of workers, the luxuries accorded to cabinet ministers and the heads of parastatal companies are so lavish, they cannot imagine the country suffering any real pain from the sanctions – unless there is a political reason for making the workers the main targets and sufferers.
And since the opposition draws most of its support from the workers, that conclusion is not difficult for them to arrive at. Tsvangirai once said he believed if the South Africans imposed any kind of sanctions on Zimbabwe, they would have such a devastating impact on the economy Mugabe would soon rush to Mbeki on bended knees to beg him to reverse the decision, in return for anything he wanted – including the immediate re-opening of direct talks with the opposition.
Recently, the MDC leader has not been vocal on sanctions, perhaps in the perhaps forlorn hope that Mbeki, under enormous criticism for his lacklustre performance as the main mediator, would at last bend to the wishes of the Zimbabweans and make their geriatric and despotic leader the kind of deal he wouldn’t resist.
* Bill Saidi is the deputy editor of The Standard, an independent newspaper in Harare.
* Please send comments to email@example.com or comment online at http://www.pambazuka.org/
Zimbabwe - The mark of Cain
The farcical run off took place in Zimbabwe, predictably so, in the face of a world opinion dismissing the sham elections and the irrelevant result rightly so already in advance. Mugabe’s legitimacy is one of a dictator, whose power is dependent upon a military junta’s good will. If not for the securocrats and their silent coup after the first round of elections, Zimbabwe would now be governed by political office bearers who would have the legitimacy of a majority of the voters. Even with the state organized terror machinery intimidating the people and forcing them to vote for an unwanted aging despot, his “victory” is nothing but a fallacy and mockery. Shame on SADC, who were willing to witness such a defiance of the people’s will.
Intimidation, repression, physical harm, torture, rape and murder were all part of a so-called election campaign. At the end, the contester - who unlike six years ago in 2002 - could no longer be denied the claim to legitimate political power . Morgan Tsvangirai withdrew for admirably sound ethical and moral reasons. After all, the regime had disclosed its intentions through the systematic use of brute force in ruthless way, To have contested the second round would have been to add further misery, mutilation and death to the long register of human rights violations bordering on crimes against humanity. That would have been an irresponsible symbolic political act.
Anyone who under the given circumstances would blame Tsvangirai for his withdrawal would not only be carelessly naïve, but either Machiavellian or hypocritical to the extreme. When the rule of law is not more than the law of the rulers, reference to formal procedures can only be in support of a totalitarian system. It dictates the rules of the game, and the rulers follow only one goal: to stay in power, whatever it costs.
ANOTHER “TYPICAL AFRICAN” CASE?
Since the turn of the century, headlines produced from the former “jewel in the crown of Africa” (so Nyerere said to Mugabe at Zimbabwean Independence, when he asked him to handle it with care) have contributed to the Eurocentric perception that Africa is all about hunger, civil war, HIV/AIDS and despots, who treat human rights with contempt and with impunity. That Mugabe’s pseudo-anti-imperialist populism made him for many a ‘true patriot’ (mostly outside of his direct sphere of influence, since it is one thing to endorse his rhetoric and another to bear the consequences in your daily living from it) was part of an unfolding tragedy with ironical undertones.
His finger-wagging posture to Blair, Brown, Bush and Co. -- who only applied the usual double standards when criticizing Zimbabwe while keeping a blind eye on other blatant violations of human rights (including their own practices “war against terror” was unleashed) -- misleadingly inferred defiance of Western imperialism. But that was a mere smokescreen to cover up the fact that he was just one of them, if not of their worse kind. After all, he oppressed his own people, who were themselves responsible for a successful chimurenga (liberation struggle) ending with sovereignty in 1980.
Mugabe was then the figurehead of an anti-colonial liberation project based on popular support and the sacrifices of the povo (people). They had reasons to expect a better life after independence and were bitterly disappointed by a new post-colonial elite which eventually appropriated their liberation project .
Mugabe and his cronies betrayed the people’s struggle. It is one thing if the British were to be blamed for not honoring their commitments under the Lancaster House agreement. One could argue that there were no reasons to expect anything different.
But it is another matter when the new rulers betray their own people. This is what finally resulted after twenty years of opposition that had its roots in the workers and urban marginalized. It was they who experienced the brunt of the misery - a misery created not by the external forces and their imperialist agents, but by the new clique of rulers, whose self-enrichment schemes and obsession for power, privilege and luxury led them to treat ordinary people with the utmost contempt.
The next chimurenga was not, as misleadingly claimed, one by the ZANU-PF regime under (self-inflicted) siege, but one by the people against the abuse of power by that government. In contrast to the chimurenga preceding Independence, it was fought by mainly non-violent means against a heavily armed regime willing to use its weapons against those who brought them into power.
The former liberation movement, elected at Independence as government, soon abused its position using state terror against the people. The mass violence in Matabeleland showed that it does not take a lot to turn victims into perpetrators and to act in the same fashion as the colonial oppressors did. So much for liberation and the limits of liberation.
But this is not particular to Africa. It is about the abuse of power and the reign of terror of cliques - a phenomenon of totalitarian mindsets and rulers all over the world. That these are also shaped in the struggle against foreign rule like in the case of Southern African liberation movements, is a sobering lesson from history.
But it is also a lesson about the obligation of those who supported the anti-colonial liberation struggles, wherever they come from and live. Their support for the anti-colonial liberation struggle was an act of international solidarity. Activists from western countries, from Africa and from elsewhere mobilized in support of anti-imperialist. Support also came from the majority of countries within the United Nations, from the Liberation Committee of the OAU and the Frontline States.
Those who now pretend that Zimbabwe is “just another African case” are wrong. Such pseudo-arguments are premised on the fact of these rulers (not leaders) seemingly want to remain in office for the rest of their lives unless driven out by sheer force of the people. This argument usually makes reference to countries like Gabon, Libya, Gambia, the People’s Republic of Congo, Togo and so on (feel free to add). But it overlooks the one fundamental difference: it was international solidarity and in particular African solidarity, as well as an internal popular support by a majority of people, which brought to power the liberation movements in Southern Africa. It was a collective endeavor stretching far beyond the borders of the societies being liberated from settler colonialism. Independence in Zimbabwe 1980 (just as in Namibia 1990 and in South Africa in 1994) was in part an international achievement.
This struggle was not only against unjust minority rule. It was also about the struggle for democracy, human rights, civil liberties and, most importantly, the necessary material redistribution of wealth to allow all these other values to become social and political reality for the broad majority.
Once these goals were betrayed by a new post-colonial elite, solidarity by activists internationally needs to be re-positioned. We now have a responsibility to protect and support those were cheated and denied the fruits of freedom. We have a responsibility to support those who now continue to seek emancipation from new forms of oppression and totalitarian rule.
If we turn a blind eye to this challenge, we become accomplices of those who abused the earlier solidarity for their own narrow and selfish gains. And we become betray those values and norms that inspired us to mobilize in support of the anti-colonial struggles. We ultimately betray not only those who suffer the humiliation imposed upon them by the post-colonial dictators, but also ourselves.
That in the meantime many have realized this can be seen in the recent statements by COSATU and other mass based organizations in the region and elsewhere who have finally abandoned their fence-sitting passivity. The solidarity among organized workers, for example, in Mozambique, South Africa, Namibia and Angola who refused to unload arms destined for the Zimbabwean junta fro the Chinese “ship of shame” was a powerful reinstatement of the notion of international solidarity with the oppressed in a neighboring country.
It is an embarrassment to witness that few, if any, governments have been prepared to take a similar stance, even though they claim to represent the very same people who acted in this spirit of people’s solidarity.
WHAT ABOUT DEMOCRACY?
Zimbabwe shows once again that Frantz Fanon’s prophecy remains a sad truth almost half a century after his untimely death. In ‘The Wretched of the Earth’ he bemoaned “The Pitfalls of National Consciousness” through a party, which “controls the masses, not in order to make sure that they really participate in the business of governing the nation, but in order to remind them constantly that the government expects from them obedience and discipline.” Fanon echoed the concerns articulated almost half a century earlier by Rosa Luxemburg. In her unfinished, posthumously published, manuscript on the Russian revolution, she conceded that, “every democratic institution has its limits and shortcomings, things which it doubtless shares with all other human institutions”. But against Lenin and Trotsky she argued that, “the elimination of democracy as such, is worse than the disease it is supposed to cure; for it stops up the very living source from which alone can come correction of all the innate shortcomings of social institutions. That source is the active, untrammeled, energetic political life of the broadest masses of the people.”
Rosa Luxemburg categorically stated: “Freedom only for the supporters of the government, only for the members of one party – however numerous they may be – is no freedom at all. Freedom is always and exclusively freedom for the one who thinks differently. Not because of any fanatical concept of ‘justice’ but because all that is instructive, wholesome and purifying in political freedom depends on this essential characteristic, and its effectiveness vanishes when ‘freedom’ becomes a special privilege.”
Until gruesomely assassinated by reactionary militia, Rosa Luxemburg lived and advocated for the essential nature of socialism as a democratic form of governance and freedom.
Robert Mugabe and his cronies do not and never have advocated for such values. Those, who continue to support or tolerate his dictatorship based on military rule against the people they misleadingly claim to represent, betray the African liberation project. They deny the very same people their right to freedom just as colonialism did.
By doing so they abort the notion of freedom. They carry Cain’s mark. They do not guard and protect African emancipation, but deny and delay it. They have sacrificed the same values and norms that they claimed to promote during the “struggle days.” And through their inconsequential (non-)response forfeited any moral high grounds. Shame on you!
*Henning Melber is Executive Director of the Dag Hammarskjöld Foundation in Uppsala/Sweden. As a son of German immigrants to Namibia he joined SWAPO in 1974.
*Please send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org or comment online at http://www.pambazuka.org/
Appeal for solidarity by Zimbabwean women
Women in Zimbabwe
On March 29,2008 Zimbabwe went to the polls to elect its next government until 2013. Results for the Presidential elections were announced a month later and people in Zimbabwe maintained peace. From 2 April 2008 the government organised a retribution campaign to target those who allegedly voted for the opposition and since then there has been terror in mostly rural Zimbabwe with youth militia under the command of the army and police confirmed to have gone on to unleash terror in a campaign to teach the rural people how to correctly vote in the forthcoming presidential run off supposed to take place on 23 May according to the law but whose date remains unannounced. As a result of the terror campaign by the military and the youth militia, the most affected are women and children as 80% of Zimbabwean women live in the rural areas.
So far, over 800 homes have been burnt down, over 10 000 people have fled their homes, over 40 people have been shot dead in cold blood, over 7000 teachers have fled their schools as a number have been beaten in the eyes of parents and pupils, Doctors for human Rights report that over 2000 serious cases of physical torture and beatings have passed through their hands and a lot of those they treated have suffered serious fractures to an extent that most are permanently handicapped. The oldest victim of the post election violence is an old woman with 12 grandchildren all of them orphaned and whose son is alleged to have campaigned for the opposition.
The youngest female victim is a 15-year-old girl who was stripped naked together with her pregnant mother forced to lie down and beaten on the breasts and buttocks. Many women including the old have been forced to strip naked and beaten on the breasts and buttocks. 7000 teachers, a third of them women have fled their homes and several schools mostly in rural areas are closed. Several girls and women are feared raped. The youngest child seriously assaulted is only 3 years. Despite calls from all corners of the world for the violence to stop ,it has become worse and we fear more and more people are getting killed and buried.
Our situation is such that an estimated 5 million Zimbabweans mostly professionals and the young have left the country .An estimated 3 million are in South Africa with half being illegal immigrants facing inhuman deportations daily. Women cross border traders cross over the crocodile infested Limpopo River and many have been allegedly raped. HIV and AIDS prevalence is 60% among women and girls and their life expectancy is 34 years. Domestic violence is rife with a woman killed or left for dead weekly. Unemployment is 80% and inflation is 165 000 % and the highest in the world. 95% of women of the 200 000 women made homeless and jobless by the government 2005 Operation Restore Order which demolished their homes and markets that earned them an income has left them in the open cold and in commercial sex work since then and now the same women are alleged to have voted opposition and have gone through torture. At least 6800 girls get raped annually and with the current displacements the number is expected to treble.
Most female teachers have been displaced and many have fled the country and a lot more have sought refuge in the cities. Access to the rural areas has always been a big challenge for humanitarian organisations but now that women in rural areas are held hostage by the militia and the army and the rural areas have been declared no go areas we have seen it almost impossible to assist. Women Directors of NGOs are on government hit list that seeks to arrest, detain and destroy the organizations. Zimbabwean women in rural areas constitute women abandoned by husbands and dumped in the rural areas because of HIV status, they have gone through the war of liberation in the 1960s and 1970s and war songs by the youth militias at their doorsteps have left them semi slaved.
The worst is that they have been beaten because their husbands, brothers, uncles, boyfriends, grandsons and other male relatives allegedly campaigned for the opposition. Old grandmothers struggling to feed orphans and sickly, women who are bed ridden, orphaned HIV positive children, the poorest and weakest have been tortured, terrified, displaced from homes and the organisations that normally help them are denied access and with most of the leaders on the government hit list.
OUR URGENT APPEAL FOR ACTION TO AFRICAN WOMEN AND WOMEN WORLD-WIDE
First we come to you because we have exhausted all channels and have failed to get help and urgent attention. Please help us find how best we can deal with the situation and:
- Appeal to anyone you know who can help victims get immediate help like medication, safe shelter, counseling and support leaders of women’s groups with security as they are also under threat and have been victimised and most of them are on the government hit list for those to be tortured and eliminated.
- Reach out to SADC and AU Countries to put in place measures to protect women and girls fleeing Zimbabwe to take refuge in neighbouring countries;
- Help us to see how we can use the AU protocol for women’s rights for protection of women and girls. Zimbabwe ratified the AU protocol
Help us get SADC and UN put in place a security and protection plan for women and girls and help demilitarise the youth militia and stop torture of ordinary citizens;
- Get our case on crimes against humanity taken to the UN security council. We have all the documented evidence since the terror started in 2000 to have the perpetrators brought to book;
- Help us mobilise female ministers and female vice Presidents to convene an urgent meeting in the region and make appeals to the Liberian President, Her Excellency Ellen Johnson to help us broker peace talks in Zimbabwe with leaders of women’s groups in the continent included;
- Help us set up African women in solidarity with Zimbabwe women focal point persons in African countries who go to their Presidents to lobby them to come to the urgent rescue of Zimbabwean women
- Pass on this message to any networks you know.
* To assist or for more information, please email email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org and we will refer you to the women in Zimbabwe working in various areas.
*Please send comments to email@example.com or comment online at http://www.pambazuka.org/
Zimbabwe: What are we saying?
Mukoma Wa Ngugi
After the African Union issued a statement so tepid that it might as well as have come from a high-school student conference, low expectations have further diminished. The African Union can now be seen in the same light as its predecessor – the OAU, a drum that beats hollow when it most counts for the African citizen.
But nevertheless, Mugabe’s one-man act has irreversibly damaged his reputation. The extent to which Mugabe has misread the continental and international political climate is shocking.African people, who previously saw Zimbabwe as a metaphor of their own countries where the elite exist at the expense of the poor, are abandoning him en mass. Having lost international legitimacy to George Bush and Tony Blair - a remarkable feat considering the extent to which his two adversaries are hated - the African people became his last defense.
But there has always been the African people and their governments. In regards to the African Union statement, Bishop Desmond Tutu expressed dismay by saying that he was "distressed that (AU leaders) have not thought it was important to declare the illegitimacy of the runoff and the illegitimacy of the Robert Mugabe administration.”
The Pan-African Parliament was very clear in its condemnation of the one-man show. Its statement in part reads: “Conditions should be put in place for the holding of free, fair and credible elections as soon as possible in line with the African Union Declaration on the Principles Governing Democratic Elections.”
But the question is this: Why should we expect the AU to accomplish what it cannot and has not in the past? Meles Zenawi is no more democratic than Cameroon’s Biya. The AU is in fact head-quartered in Ethiopia, which is currently occupying Somalia in alliance with the United States. The AU has been ineffective in the Sudan, and in the Congo where over 6 million people have lost their lives since 1996. Why are we then expecting the impossible?
Meanwhile, as if to underline Africa’s tragic reliance on the West, Zambian President Levy Mwanawasa who is also the chair of SADC was “flown to the French capital, Paris, for specialist medical treatment after suffering a stroke in Egypt” the BBC
SADC AND MBEKI
The SADC Election Observer Mission in its June 30th statement is clear about what it thinks of the single candidate presidential. SADC is “ of the view that the prevailing environment impinged on the credibility of the electoral process. The elections did not represent the will of the people of Zimbabwe.”
But SADC as an organization finds its hands tied because the leader (who is also the chief mediator) of its most powerful member state has not taken a proactive stand against Mugabe.
MUGABE: WOLF IN REVOLUTIONARY SKIN?
It has become the norm to begin each analysis of Mugabe with the explanation that he was a revolutionary liberation fighter who has only recently gone rogue, who lost his revolutionary vision somewhere along the way.
But this premise is being reconsidered. Paul Zeleza reminds us that: “The reality is Mugabe lost his anti-imperialist and progressive nationalist credentials a long time ago. As a frequent visitor to Zimbabwe, a country where I was born and where my family lived for many years, the gap between revolutionary rhetoric and voracious acquisitiveness, national liberation and political intolerance was already evident by the mid-1990s.”
But others are going even further, to state that Mugabe has always been a die-hard capitalist who slept cozy with the IMF and the World Bank right from the beginning. To understand just how deeply entrenched western capitalism has become under Mugabe’s watch, see Trading with Mugabe an article that calls for sanctions but nevertheless is revealing.
MORGAN TSVANGIRAI: WOLF IN DEMOCRATIC SKIN?
Will the MDC be able to capitalize on its initial success in isolating Mugabe? First the MDC is hampered by its ties to Western capitalism. For example, it has not been shy to publicly declare that it will invite the World Bank and the IMF to buoy Zimbabwe’s badly damaged economy. Because of its perceived ties to the West, African people have been reluctant to give endorse the MDC, even as they seek ways to express solidarity with the Zimbabwean people.
Itayi Garande in Is it time for the MDC to take stock? writes that: “It is shocking that Tsvangirai's staunch(est) supporters are reluctant to see his political infantilism, unfitness for political decision-making and the fluidity of his political moods - qualities that are responsible for his numerous ruptures with political associates in the MDC.”
Garande goes on to say that: “Tsvangirai at the Dutch embassy was the ‘spectacle of the Century. Coming out to give a press conference and then going back into ‘safety’ was laughable.”
Certainly it is the Zimbabwean people who are the casualties, and as the xenophobic attacks in South Africa clearly underlined, what happens in Zimbabwe reverberates through the region.
But it is also about the democratic process. There will be governments that we do not like – which we should then vote out the next time around. If we simply abort democracy because we do not like what is in the horizon, then we become no better than the West – which has expressed itself in Africa through coups and the support of dictators.
As John Githongo and William Gumede argue, the ultimate casualty is African democracy itself. They write that the “real danger is that Africans will lose confidence in the limited democratic institutions available to them. Nigerians shrugged away the travesty of a poll there last year with alarming cynicism. True feelings will emerge later. Citizens will increasingly find refuge in tribalism, violence or religious fundamentalism. Many, too, will give up and migrate.”
They further argue that: “The AU’s charter must be changed from protecting the sovereignty of individual countries to protecting Africans themselves. A citizen from a member country must have recourse to the AU if he or she is brutalised or discriminated against on the basis of race, ethnicity, creed or gender. There will have to be a transparent procedure to impeach leaders who begin as democrats but become tyrants.”
But isn’t this a circuitous argument? Yes, the charter can be changed but who will enforce it? So we end back where we started.
FENDING OFF THE VULTURES
Zimbabwe is further complicated by the either with us or against us argument famously employed by George Bush Jr. to justify the disastrous invasion and consequent occupation of Iraq. This line goes MDC = Imperialism, Mugabe = anti-imperialism, or conversely; opposition to Mugabe = support of imperialism.
But Horace Campbell argues that “We on the left, in the peace movement, we
acknowledge that [neither] George Bush nor Brown have any moral authority to criticize Zimbabwe because of the unjust war that they're fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. But having said that, we on the left and the progressives, we must take the moral leadership in having solidarity with those opposition leaders, those workers, those human rights workers in Zimbabwe and Southern Africa who are being oppressed by the Mugabe government.
By the same token, Gerald Horne in, Zimbabwe and the Question of Imperialism: A Discussion with Horace Cambell asks “why Zimbabwe gets so much focus and attention on this side of the Atlantic [the West] when Paul Biya, the leader of Cameron a few weeks ago basically named himself President for life and it barely registers a blip.”
To which Horace Campbell responds: “that the government of Senegal, the government of Cameroon does not represent itself as a liberation government. The Zimbabwean government is very aware of the racism that exists in North America. And it is exploiting that racism and the antiracist sentiment among Africans in the west in order to legitimize its repression on the people. The government of Zimbabwe at this moment is illegitimate we must avoid war at all costs. Mugabe says only god can remove him and he will go to war. At present, he is at war with the Zimbabwe people and we must end the silence in the progressive and pan-African community against this type of manipulation and repression in the name of liberation.”
The problem is the absence of a viable progressive movement that progressives can fully support. Hence the progressive left finds it has to defend Zimbabwe against the West with one hand, and chastise Mugabe with the other, while at the same time not speaking out against the neo-liberal policies of the MDC. But, one can easily retort, the absence of a clear alternative does not absolve us of our duty to the Zimbabwean people.
GOVERNMENT OF NATIONAL UNITY OR TRANSITIONAL AUTHORITY?
The lame-duck African Union has joined the European Union and “called on Zimbabwe's political parties to initiate a dialogue aimed at setting up a government of national unity.” It is as if all imagination has left African leadership hence the call to essentially follow Kenya into a political agreement that unites the elite, and leaves the people behind.
The fact that a GNU can be condoned by the African Union – the highest Pan-African body -- points to a very dire future for African democracy, where undemocratic processes are rewarded with a power-sharing agreement. This trend has to stop.
Both ZANU-PF and MDC have so far not agreed to a GNU, but they could just be posturing since at the end of day power and not democracy is the goal. ZANU-PF has said it can enter talks, which will of course legitimize the aftermath of the one-man-election. The MDC can see through this. In a statement released June 30th the MDC states that it “remains committed to participating in a properly constituted transitional agreement that could allow the MDC to form an inclusive government to heal the Country, restore peace, economic stability and lay the foundation for a new constitution and internationally supervised elections once that constitution has been ratified by the people of Zimbabwe.”
The call for a Transitional authority to oversee new elections is also backed by The Pan-African Parliament which from the beginning found that the elections to be null and void further calls: “on the SADC leaders working together with the African Union to engage the broader political leadership in Zimbabwe into a negotiated transitional settlement.”
SANCTIONS OR MORE SANCTIONS?
Will sanctions hurt the Zimbabwean people more than they hurt Mugabe? Trans-Africa Forum in a July 2nd press conference said that while it supports the US call for a Zimbabwe arms embargo, they fear that economic sanctions will hurt Zimbabweans more than it will hurt ZANU-PF. But in addition to sanctions there it the concern over whether the West is being led by imperialist designs or by a genuine concern over African democracy. It is not difficult to figure where many, thinking of Iraq, fall on this.
So the worst possible solution is one that involves western military intervention:. Dr Neo Simutanyi in the June 30, 2008 Zambia Post warns that: “military intervention in Zimbabwe will lead to regional instability and provoke a civil war. There is no doubt that Western governments are itching for a showdown and they need not be right to intervene, they all need a - justifiable excuse. Iraq is a case in point.”
Hence everyone, except Bush and Brown, has called for Western leaders to act within the confines of SADC and the African Union – that it, it should follow their lead. A suggestion that makes sense, except when one considers that SADC bends to South Africa’s will, and the African Union has shown time and time again, it is ineffective when it really matters.
WHERE IS THE HOPE?
When you put all the pieces together, Zimbabwe’s future is bleak, unless a mechanism to involve the African people, who are in solidarity with the Zimbabwean people, is found. And we are seeing the stirrings of that.
The June 24th The Namibian reports that “Namibian political parties and NGO organisations joined international condemnation of President Robert Mugabe government, calling the leader's regime "illegitimate" and consequently pressuring the president Hifikepunye Pohamba to sever diplomatic ties with Zimbabwe.
And over 150 African Civil Societies? have banded together and condemned Mugabe while calling on the AU to act decisively.
Ultimately, African people and not African governments will have to stand for other African people.
*Mukoma Wa Ngugi is co-editor of Pambazuka News.
* Please send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org or comment online at http://www.pambazuka.org/
Shattered Myths: The xenophobic violence in South Africa
On Thursday 22 May, Cape Town changed forever. The xenophobic violence that started 1,200 kilometres away in Gauteng spread to Du Noon township. On Friday the TAC offices began to get reports of violence on trains and Somali shops being looted. The details were scanty, but by Friday evening the consequences became visible even in the affluent city centre. About 150 people sought refuge outside Caledon Square, the city's main police station. Hundreds more gathered at the central train station so they could catch a train to Johannesburg in the morning and then leave the country.
A group of mainly Congolese men at Caledon Square, explained that they had no trust in any South African government institution and demanded to see the UNHCR so they could be repatriated. They said they would not move from Caledon Square until then even if it rained. One of them is a published writer and another lost his computer training school, worth tens of thousands of rands, in the violence. Angry young Burundians screamed at me that they wanted nothing more to do with my country. Malawian youths mournfully described how they felt they had no choice but to return home.
A Malawian husband and wife huddled with their child in the cold train station. The couple had been beaten and they were now returning home. Three men, who had not been beaten themselves were nevertheless terrified and determined to get back to Zimbabwe.
Soon we found out that thousands of immigrants, and some non-Xhosa speaking people from other South African provinces, had gathered into community centres in Khayelitsha, the metropolitan area's largest township, to escape the terror.
As Friday night progressed, we realised that there were thousands of displaced people across the Cape Peninsula and that government was not organised to respond to their urgent needs of food, blankets and sanitation. We managed to organise provisions for Caledon Square and the station, but by 3am we had decided that we would have to be back early in the morning to do the same on a massive scale across the city. I got a couple of hours sleep and went back to work, joined by colleagues and volunteers.
Early next morning, the TAC, AIDS Law project, ARASA and Sonke Gender Justice offices at 122 Longmarket Street were nearly instantly converted from an activist centre into a disaster relief one. Saturday was a chaotic blur: none of us had experience in what had to be done. Dozens of people were doing hundreds of tasks, some answered the endlessly ringing phones and recorded details of new refugee centres springing up all over the city, some put out calls anywhere and everywhere to get food, blankets and other donations delivered to our offices, others raised money. I have a vague recollection of barking orders, shouting, ranting, losing my temper non-stop for 19 hours. Despite the mess, we managed to fulfil nearly every critical demand that came our way. The city's Disaster Management provided a little help but was clearly not prepared for such a large disaster.
The TAC Khayelitsha office, with much fewer resources than us, also quickly revamped itself to become a 24 hour distribution point for emergency relief and assistance, including safety, at one point supporting six refuges in the township sheltering over 2,000 people.
By Sunday, our Cape Town office had dramatically improved the system and turned Saturday's chaos into an ordered operation with a control room that collected information which was then sent to a dispatch system. By Monday, we had a venue where large amounts of donations of essential materials were delivered. ARASA with the assistance of SHAWCO, conducted health assessments of sites. Sonke produced anti-xenophobia posters and t-shirts saying “Foreigner”, which have been an instant hit. Our operation ran non-stop for 60 hours and even when we closed for the first time on Monday evening, it was only for a few hours. The TAC Khayelitsha's operation was as impressive and run by much poorer people.
Hundreds of volunteers, organisations and companies lent a hand. Jewish, Muslim and Christian organisations worked together. Habonim Dror made several thousand sandwiches in one day. The Bo Kaap mosques helped out many of the women and children staying at Caledon Square. His People sheltered up to 800 people at their N1 City church. The Methodist churches all opened their doors to refugees. St Georges Cathedral, the long serving bastion of struggle politics, was the venue for a large anti-xenophobic rally addressed by the Chief Justice. An enormous, urgent and co-operative civil society effort ensured that thousands of people, who have turned Cape Town into a fledgling cosmopolitan city, were reasonably fed and warm after the worst pogrom in our country's post-freedom history.
For three days we almost entirely replaced the role of our incapable state. We built a database of all the refugee sites and shared it with City Disaster Management or anyone else willing to help. And we organised clothes, warmth and food for thousands of people.
Our database eventually listed just under 70 sites and over 20,000 people displaced. By mid-week the numbers had dropped to about 15,000 because people felt safe to return to their homes in some areas. But hundreds, perhaps thousands, caught trains and buses to leave the city and would not have been recorded at all. Many refugees have also been put up in private homes. My guess is that the pogrom drove 30,000 people to spend at least one night out of their homes in the Western Cape.
South Africa's official opposition Democratic Alliance runs the city. The ruling ANC runs the province and national government. For the first few days, there was hardly any response by the provincial and national government. So our media statements were more favourable toward the city. But what shocked us was that the mayor, Helen Zille, and the provincial premier, Ebrahim Rasool, would not meet or work with each other in the face of Cape Town's biggest disaster. Every time we spoke to either party, we would be given long, frankly boring and childish excuses with the one blaming the other for non-co-operation.
The city's response, albeit better than the province at first, was also awful. The inefficiencies can be forgiven - perhaps; the city is simply not prepared for a disaster of this size. However, the decision by the mayor to establish what are essentially refugee camps in damp, cold conditions on the outskirts of the metropole, unserviced by adequate transport or health-care is wrong for many reasons, which will be explained in part two.
The Caledon Square group is steadfastly refusing to go to one of these camps. At one point they went on hunger strike with the simple demand that they wanted a lawyer. Several lawyers offered services free to them the next day. We have since gained their trust and as I write this they are staying in a Jewish school hall in the mainly white suburb of Sea Point not far from the city centre. The people who run the school have been overwhelmed by their dignity and political acuity.
Nearly every immigrant I have spoken to wanted to leave South Africa. It will take time for this entirely justified anger to subside. On the positive side, successful reintegration efforts are happening in a number of places including Khayelitsha, Masiphumelele and elsewhere.
Two weeks ago most people in South Africa and many people throughout the world believed we were the so-called rainbow nation, a country that valued its diversity. Despite hiccups left over from the apartheid era and a high crime-rate, this was apparently a society working hard to be tolerant of difference. On Thursday 22 May I believed I lived in a city that was becoming urbane and sophisticated. These myths have now been shattered - and they were never true. It is shameful that a terror so awful has been unleashed that some people would rather return to failed states like Zimbabwe and Somalia than stay in Africa's richest and, at least so we thought, most successful country.
The decade of racial politics by President Thabo Mbeki who has fostered corruption, paid lip service to accountability and service delivery, denied the science of HIV, prevaricated on crime and helped keep the Mugabe government in power, has been sharply exposed. Government, at every level, failed to respond appropriately to the xenophobes' pogrom. And we all failed to realise how the inequalities in our society would rupture it so hideously so quickly.
This has been a hard, sad, sleepless week in which I found out that the idea of a city I thought I loved never really existed. But through the misery and the barbarism there are slivers of hope: Most immigrants remain part of our society. And there were the diverse ordinary people and organisations who worked together in Khayelitsha and the city centre to do their civic duty in harrowing circumstances to demonstrate that Somalis, Zimbabweans, Congolese, Ugandans, Malawians, Tshangaans and all others belong in Cape Town.
PS: There are numerous people and organisations I would like to mention and thank, but I am bound to forget some critical ones, so I will refrain from attempting this.
PLAYING RACE POLITICS DURING A DISASTER
The state's political failure over the last two weeks in South Africa has been comprehensive. President Mbeki has been accurately and justifiably denounced in the Sunday Times, New York Times and Wall Street Journal and there is nothing further that need be said about this failed leader; he must simply be removed from power.
It is the leaders of the Western Cape and in particular Cape Town whose deplorable leadership needs to be exposed.
Ebrahim Rasool, the Western Cape premier is embattled. His faction no longer controls the ANC in this province and he is plagued with accusations of improper conduct. He also appears to spend far too much of his time trying to remove the mayor from office. I was asked on radio last week what in particular I wished to criticise about his government's response to the mass displacement of people in Cape Town that started on 22 May. The answer was that there is nothing in particular to criticise because the Western Cape government did absolutely nothing useful for three critical days.
But it is Mayor Helen Zille, the leader of the opposition Democratic Alliance (DA), on whom I wish to focus most of this blog. I did not vote for her but before this disaster I was respectful of her and had some positive interactions with her. She has a deserved reputation for efficiency and financial incorruptibility, two attributes sorely needed in South African politics.
She has also been the main political beneficiary of the xenophobic violence and her behaviour indicates that she knows it and will exploit it.
For one thing, many people perceive her to have been the one political party leader to have responded to the displaced people. She can of course thank civil society for doing the bulk of the work that she and Premier Rasool should have worked together to do.
More importantly she undoubtedly realises that the Coloured vote upon whom she depends for power looks very secure. Many Coloured ANC voters or fence-sitters will have been frightened by the xenophobic attacks. If this happened to immigrants, could we be next, they will wonder. They will be concerned about a predominantly African party controlling the Western Cape and therefore be more likely to vote for the DA. Next year's elections, in which her party hopes to capture the Western Cape Province, look promising for Zille.
But Zille has been concerned that by keeping displaced people in community halls where weddings and other events are due to take place she would anger her potential voters. Therefore she has established refugee camps --which she euphemistically calls safe zones-- far from communities and far from the city. Out of sight, out of mind.
These camps are a bad idea for a number of reasons that the UN and other expert relief agencies like Medecins Sans Frontieres have explained. The South African government has no expertise to run them. Containing health epidemics in such crowded unhealthy conditions is extremely difficult. They have the potential to become permanent or at least long-term and they make reintegration even more difficult.
Zille has refused to open community halls, such as the Sea Point Civic Centre for the Caledon Square group, to house displaced people. Many of the Soetwater camp displaced were originally in Ocean View's community hall but she gave in to the community's anger about having them there. Despite her claims to the contrary, we are aware of at least some displaced people being forcibly moved to these camps. The city continues to put pressure on displaced people, especially at smaller refuges, to move there. The Department of Home Affairs has been insisting on immigration status information from the people in the camps, further fuelling distrust.
Also listen to the angry complaints of the displaced people in Youngsfield camp, a military facility incidentally. The Caledon Square refugees refuse to go to the camps because many of them have experienced the horrors of camps like these before in places like Rwanda and the DRC. They also need to get to work and their children to school, a Herculean task if one is based in most of these camps.
There is however an even more important reason why these camps are a bad idea. They signify victory for the xenophobes. The message Zille has sent out is that if you purge your community of people different to you, you can get away with it. The purged will lose and the purgers will win. So much for upholding the rule of law.
Then there have been her spate of thoughtless, even xenophobic, comments. I have been sceptical in the past of accusations against her that she uses race conflict as a political tool. But I have seen first-hand how she did it this past week.
"I have just witnessed a very disturbing incident where migrants behaved extremely abusively and perfectly good food was being thrown around. Some of the food may have been past its sell-by date, but it was good to eat. Local residents are understandably becoming very angry and an explosion will follow unless a serious security force deployment takes place," she told Disaster Management in front of TAC people. Read Eduard Grebe's comment on the TAC website.
“We must all remember that not only refugees, or whatever they are [said dismissively], have rights. Other people have rights too,” she said at the same meeting and in similar words to my colleagues and me at least twice.
“Community Halls were expressly intended from the outset, to be temporary measures during the height of the violence,” she said in email correspondence justifying the camps, with the implication that the camps are not temporary.
“I cannot expect people to cancel a wedding in a community hall at a day's notice,” she told us as an example of some of the people whose rights competed with the victims of last week's pogrom.
In another meeting she pointed out that those who booked community halls are tax-paying South Africans, forgetting it seems that every person who buys something in the country pays VAT and that the Bill of Rights does not differentiate taxpayers from non-taxpayers.
One thought has shaped Helen Zille's response to this crisis: If she plays her cards right, tomorrow the Western Cape belongs to her.
A group of representatives from civil society met her on Wednesday. While grudgingly thankful of our effort, she was rude and officious - like no other politician I have ever met. She cut a lonely figure, unaccompanied by a single colleague. This is the behaviour of someone who thinks she can rule without listening or taking advice. Our president shares these hubristic qualities.
Our party politics is horribly wrong. Both the ANC and DA have failed South Africa, especially in the last two weeks. We need to change things dramatically if we are to avoid a descent into barbarism.
HOW DID IT HAPPEN?
Aziz Pahad and his brother Essop, the President's right-hand man, attempted to explain the outbreak of xenophobic violence in the country's major cities as a product of a third force. For this, the Sunday Times made Essop its Mampara of the Week.
There is no need to introduce conspiracy to understand what has happened over the past couple of weeks.
The outbreak of xenophobic violence can be explained by an unfavourable combination of a few factors: an already violent society, the acceptance –even encouragement– of xenophobia, massive inequality, the increased threat of poverty exacerbated by consistent service delivery failure and demographics.
South Africa's gini co-efficient (the standard measure of inequality) is about 58, making us one of the ten most unequal countries in the world and we are by far the most ethnically diverse of these. There is competition among poor people for basic materials like food and shelter but also commodities that allow people to be more included in our society: televisions, DVD players, cell phones, better clothes and computers for example.
All suburbs across the world's major cities are composed of communities whose members assist each other to obtain wealth. These communities are usually strongly centred around ethnic identity. Xhosas, Zulus, Afrikaners, English, Jews, Muslims, Somalis, Indians, Congolese, Nigerians, Zimbabweans and so on often assist people of their own language, religion or origin with business deals, favourable job applications and the like. In poor suburbs, criminal gangs often form in every group to use muscle to help compete for resources.
Immigrants are usually a more enterprising subset of the population from which they come. They generally realise they have to work extremely hard to thrive in their new country and their community networks are usually very strong. Majority local communities often do not do as well as immigrant or minority ones; they are seldom as organised or close-knit. When competition for resources is extreme, as in South Africa, jealousy builds up and xenophobic and racist ideas becomes common, even though the enterprise of many immigrants helps create jobs and services. Gangs in the local community, especially in a society like ours which is already very violent, target immigrant communities. Low-level xenophobic violence becomes a chronic problem. This has been the situation in South Africa for some time. For example Somali immigrants have been frequently the victims of xenophobic attacks, often murderous ones, in Cape Town in the last few years. The Caledon Square group refugees have told me how they have been targeted by youths in Phillipi township for years. The situation is exacerbated by politicians, particularly local councillors, and journalists making comments which exacerbate xenophobia and racism, as well as the systematic oppression of immigrants by the state.
Soaring food and basic commodity prices have worsened poverty and the perceived competition within townships for resources in recent months. This could have increased the level of xenophobic violence.
At some point in the last two weeks, the number of xenophobic incidents reached a critical point, probably in Alexandra township in Johannesburg. When this happened, the visibility of the violence gave a green light to more and more gangs and individuals who had been considering xenophobic attacks, were prone to it, believed they could get away with it or occasionally took part in them. A domino effect ensued, first in one township and then across townships in Johannesburg and Pretoria and then across cities to Durban and Cape Town.
The above is surely not the full story and some commentators will pick holes in my argument, but it is a far better approximation of what happened than the Pahad brothers' one. Though now there is certainly the possibility of opportunistic politicians capitalising on hatred of immigrants to gain support and substantially worsen the situation.
Intergroup hatred and violence in a diverse society like South Africa has to be consciously confronted. Political leaders have to assume that by doing nothing each time a xenophobic or other hate-crime is committed, the situation can deteriorate into what we've seen in the last two weeks. The President, other political leaders, churches, mosques, synagogues, trade unions and civil society organisations have to speak out continuously against hate-crimes, day-to-day xenophobia and racism.
Yet many political leaders frequently make comments about immigrants being involved in crime, as Helen Zille did a week ago. President Mbeki's failure to recognise the crisis of governance in Zimbabwe means that instead of receiving Zimbabwean immigrants with empathy, they are too often greeted with hatred in townships. His racial invective also worsens matters by creating a consciousness that encourages race-based beliefs instead of rejecting them.
We also need policies that alleviate the burdens of immigration from the poor. Many of Cape Town's poor have migrated here, and continue to do so, from the Eastern Cape over several decades. They compete with newly arrived poor people from other countries. Unfettered competition breeds hate in these conditions; state intervention to help all these communities is critical. We need policies that encourage settlement of new migrants in middle-class suburbs. And as at least one newspaper editor has opined, the Basic Income Grant, or similar, must be seriously considered. So should a large public works programme, not the Mickey Mouse one we currently have. None of this is easy.
Massacres frequently occurred under apartheid. A few were worse than the last two weeks. But what is different is that those massacres were a function of an almost universally reviled racist system. We could comfort ourselves in the knowledge that a better society lay ahead one day. The massacre and terror of the last two weeks is a step back, because that better society, our Constitutional Democracy, had arrived.
So how should we respond? We have to show that xenophobia is not a cultural value we accept. It was the failure of civil society to stand up sufficiently loudly against cultures of racism that helped lead to the genocides of the twentieth century. But we have a strong civil society in South Africa and there are good reasons to believe we can take the country in a more positive direction.
There are some promising signs. There have been several marches, demonstrations and rallies in Cape Town and Johannesburg condemning xenophobic violence or the destruction of democracy in Zimbabwe and there are more to come. Some townships, like Masiphumelela and parts of Khayelitsha, have already begun successful reintegration efforts. A TAC-sponsored advertisement run in the Daily Sun (South Africa's largest selling daily), Sunday Times and Sunday World, signed by many prominent South Africans, calling for an end to the violence helps send a strong message that what has happened is unacceptable and that communities need to stop it from repeating.
Most promising is that out of the volunteer humanitarian relief effort that began at 122 Longmarket Street and in Khayelitsha's TAC office last Friday night are the seeds of a renewed political consciousness. Already there is action to develop a Social Justice Coalition Against Violence and Crime based on principles around which civil society can unite. The disillusionment with our failed politicians must be accompanied by active and sustained engagement by ordinary people to demand better political accountability and leadership. Most importantly we must demand policies that reduce the inequality and poverty that are the foundation of what has just happened. That is the only way we can improve South Africa's tragic politics.
* Nathan Geffen is the Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) Policy Co-ordinator.
*Please send comments to email@example.com or comment online at http://www.pambazuka.org/
South Africa: We are not like them
The sms’s came fast and furious. As furious as the fiery images we were subjected to by our television and our daily newspapers. I dreaded opening a newspaper for days - afraid of being confronted by yet another grisly product of the negrophobic xenophobic violence, which by the end of week three had claimed the lives of about one hundred people and displaced about 100 000, according to some estimates. The mind spins out of its axis, out of the normal.
As the Alexander Township burnt, I was reading text messages from my cappuccino-loving Tito Mboweni-fearing middle class friends. The messages were generally along these lines; “I’m so embarrassed to be South African right now”, or more engaging: “I’m so tired of feeling angry about this and not being able to do something about it…” . Email lists held similar messages of shame; at least Winnie Madikizela-Mandela went to Alexander and told the terrified victims cramped at the police station; “We are sorry, please forgive us. South Africans are not like this”, before hopping back into her nice car and driving back to her life.
Desmond Tutu, our beloved archbishop of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) followed with another “sorry, we are not like that”. The leader of the narrow Zulu nationalist movement, Dr Gatsha Buthelezi, went to the police station as well and cried for the cameras, at the same time as his followers from the hostel he had just addressed continued their war cry that they would kill all the “foreigners”, Hambani! Of course our president in waiting, Mr. Jacob Zuma, was also told by an angry crowd, “Go back to Mozambique with your Mozambiquens." Apparently his favourite solo “Mshini wam” is sung by the marauding gangs as they go about their murderous deeds. The killings, burning and looting continued. Something has definitely broken, the despised are telling their leaders in their faces that they must all go to hell.
A former fiery revolutionary, now a sadistic tax collector friend, phoned one night, also indignant, saying “we need to do something”. He decried the barbarism of the Alexander attackers. The next days, an sms announced the clarion call; “fight xenophobia! Donate food, clothes and money if possible.” I thought about a nice warm latte as an incentive for risking ones life and limb in the fight against Xenophobia via ones cheque-book. Donating your last summer wardrobe is a great revolutionary act, these days. But it’s the hypocrisy I find even more interesting. We are not like them!
If you talk with any black African who has been trying to get refugee status in South Africa you will soon realise that you have a better chance of success at being a midwife to a lioness than being declared a refugee in this land of Mandela. Truth is the many squatter camps which host millions of South Africans are nothing but permanent refugee camps. The multitudes that are trapped in these squatter camps are the excluded of our democracy. Their lives are punctuated by violence 24/7. The multiple violence of hunger, denigration, hopelessness and perpetual terror of what the state is going to do next The poetry of the Abahlali baseMjondolo tells the story of legalised state sponsored violence against the squatters better. Their story is indeed the story of the millions of other squatters.
In slow motion the human rights industry, the government and social movements started to respond to the violence. Frantic meetings were called. The donor world opened its humanitarian wallets. For the first time in a long time I heard that “money was not the problem.” So besides the weekly meetings coordinated by our Chapter 9 institutions (the Human Rights Commission, the Commission on Gender Equality, the Office of the Public Protector etc), the social movements called a march through Hillbrow.
The squatter camps continue to burn, the death toll rises, three demands from both the chapter 9s and civil society become solidified: bring in the army, set up special courts to try the perpetrators and declare a moratorium on arrests and deportations of black Africans. Later a fourth call emerges, where is the president of the country?
The soldiers come in, the special court has been prepared, but a moratorium on deporting the undesirables is proving tricky. The relevant minister has issued a statement, some people celebrate, but they hadn’t read the small print; she said, “Possible suggestions included issuing temporary residence permits,”
I think it is here where champagnes corks were popped, but in the haste to celebrate we didn’t hear her say “so that everyone in the country would at least be recorded and fingerprinted, in the interests of security and stability”.
Tell you what, if I’m black and from the African continent and have seen what the government of South Africa has done to us in the past 14 years I would run away with my finger prints. The post-1994 state regularly sends out the message that black Africans are undesirables. The media portrays “illegals” as criminals, there is everyday public harassment by the police and the home affairs department. These are part of the undeclared war against black Africans. The Lindela repatriation centre is a concentration camp reserved solely for black Africans. There are no white kwerekweres in our country. If you are white you get your papers promptly – papers you don’t need because no police are going to be strip searching you in the street. Cynically, some of the politicians denouncing the Alex people are beneficiaries of Lindela blood money.
As it always happens, the psychology of violence operates on the basis of the weakest link. The kwerekweres are already marked out for harassment by state institutions. Now the poor citizenry are finishing off the job in a demented frenzy. Now we are calling on the same government to help quell the violence it has helped structure. We have a crisis on our hands, thinking has been outlawed
If one paid attention and looked carefully at the body language of those of us who have expressed the most outrage at this barbarity you would see that our concerns are unified by one main consideration - we are not like them, the mad backward, blood thirsty barbarians who don’t know what we are all Africans. They are stupid idiotic fools, sies bayasinyanyisa! I think about the hidden relief of Ivan’s friends in Tolstoy’s short masterpiece “the death of Ivan Ilych”. At one point Tolstoy reports; “In addition to speculations as to the possible changes and promotions which the news of his death gave rise to, the very fact of the death of one they had known so well made each of the rejoice that it was his friend rather than himself who had died”. In this case, we the enlightened middle classes are in some ways delighted that it was not us who burnt the kwerekweres. We wouldn’t do something like that, would we now? Tolstoy says it better: “Fancy that: he is dead, I’m not”.
Our government also saw the opening and its message has been self-righteous, driving Professors Mamdani and Terreblanche to retort:
“We read in the paper that the conflicts in the townships betray the leaders of the struggle in South Africa. But is it not the other way around; that people feel betrayed because they continue to live in apartheid-like conditions?”
The Saturday morning of the march we gather at a park on the base of Hillbrow, the notorious and controversial seedy suburb long abandoned by god and whites. Colourful scuffs, branded clocks shoes, babies strapped on backs or on trendy prams, it’s a happy multiracial march of the enlightened. We snake through Hillbrow, the dangerous suburb we can’t be caught dead in. There are teary moments when a building full of hands waves at our courageous and righteous stand. We wave back, we whistle and clap hands, and it’s a cool sixties-like moment - “one love!”- black and white together, it’s a reassuring illusion. We are euphoric; the lapsed left of yesteryear which has given to minting. It has also come out of the woodwork as well, the golf course can wait until later. Together.
It’s better to think of this outbreak of black violence as some atavistic unexplainable black lashing out at the black. Some deep black thing still untamed by our white God and white education. A failed socialisation process. To think of this violence as a consequence of the relatively comfortable lives we lead would be too much, but if we look at the wealth enjoyed by our white counterparts, if you follow the money trail, historically you will see that the creation of Sandton (that super rich suburb) was made possible by the creation of the sprawling Alexandra (favella right at its door step). Alexandra is the direct product of Sandton. This is a troubling formulation: it points an accusatory finger at the rich. And to be rich is to be white. It says “the violence you see is an outcome of the plunder of your forbearers.”
STEVE BIKO ON NEGROPHOBIA
Long ago Steve Biko, echoing Fanon, explained the love of violence for the excluded. He said, in I Write What I like “Township life alone makes it a miracle for anyone to live up to adulthood. There we see a situation of absolute want, in which black will kill black to be able to survive. This is the basis of vandalism, murder, rape and plunder that goes on while the real sources of evil—white society—are sun-tanning on exclusive beaches or relaxing in their bourgeois homes.”
This negrophobic violence is not new, anyone who lives in a township or squatter camp knows that it is your brothers who will be slaughtering you for your cell phone when the sun goes down at night. Now, this violence has been externalised to the kwerekweres, they are easy targets, like the woman walking alone at night. Go to any township or squatter camp on a Saturday or Sunday and see how Aids deaths are in stiff competition with those dying by knives from the hand of their drinking buddies. Have we pointed to the real source of this evil? Has that source now been given a little melanin for beautification post-1994? To point to history and show that the current violence is not new and it’s a direct consequence of the wealth a few enjoy is to ask for accounting. No, let’s not go there. So we march on.
Some whites call in to radio talk shows, some even write a few letters to the newspapers with concern. If they are killing foreigners, soon they are going to say whites are foreigners too. We must fight Xenophobia, it is not good it can lead to civil war. Yes, once they finish the kwerekweres, in three months, there would still be no houses, no jobs or women. What do they do then? What can they do? Who knows?
But our white counterparts should sleep easy; the job of damaging the black mind has been thorough. Biko says “… the type of black man (sic) we have today has lost his manhood. Reduced to an obliging shell, he looks with awe at the white power structure and accepts what he regards as ‘inevitable position’. Deep inside is anger mounts at the accumulating insult, but he vents it in the wrong direction- on his fellow men in the township, on the property of black people (Biko, 30).”
Biko goes on to show how the black plays double standards. In the presence of whites he praises the government but on the homebound bus condemns the white man. The post-1994 black poor person is in a conundrum. He not only praises the government when the president occasionally comes to visit his township for an imbizo, he has a party card and votes every election for the same government he roundly condemns every night when he goes to sleep on an empty stomach.
As we shout “we are all Africans!” and “Africa for Africans”, slogans not taken up by our hippy fellow marchers, someone pulls me to the side. We walk between the march and the spectators. We are in no man’s land. We must talk, he says. He is young, handsome, and sad and speaks in whispers almost, it is like he wants to disappear. His isiZulu is unmistakably from the plains of KwaZulu-Natal. Please help me understand what to do? He starts and now we are walking close to each other, a Siamese twin like bonding. He continues with gestures calculated to ensure anonymity.
“You say Africa is one but these people hurt us”. He doesn’t point at anyone. Then he says “if you want I could show you the scar which runs through my chest to my stomach”. I beg him not to.
“My young cousin was shot dead in a robbery in Alexandra” he says.
“How do you know it was foreigners?”, I ask.
“Their accents. You know, I can’t go back home, they say I killed my cousin, it’s me who had invited him to come and do a drivers license here in Joburg”.
“But if a South African commits a crime we don’t punish everyone from his village or township”, I try.
“I hear you, but how do you expect us to live? These people accept peanuts and we lose our jobs”.
He tells me two more stories of how jobs were lost by black South Africans and how the foreigners accepted the unacceptable. I try look for ready-made answers, I have none. He disappears, I go marching on.
Someone tells me, “you know its strange, I have seen about six former fellow students in this march. All of them were vocal anti-Zimbabweans at university.” I smile. But at the back of my mind I can’t help think, we are killing each other for jobs? Biko had a point when he said, “the white strategy so far has been to systematically break down the resistance of the blacks to a point where the latter would accept the crumbs from the white table.” Biko didn’t know that we would be massacring each other for the white man’s crumbs.
The creation of the beastly black is directly linked to the development of the South African social and economic structures. Wealth is white, poverty is black, and never the twain shall meet. When the colonialist and the missionaries found us idle and happy in our fat smeared bodies, they gave us the fear of hell, covered our bodies in western clothes, poisoned our minds with their superiority and at gunpoint saved us from our idleness and forced us into the civilising rigours of labour. For those who still refused to work they took their land and forced us to pay all sorts of crazy taxes payable only in their money. We were trapped. Didn’t the rogue murderous bloodthirsty civiliser John Cecil Rhodes, in a moment of arrogant honesty, tell us point blank that;
“Every black man cannot have three acres and a cow or four morgen and a commonage right. We have to face the question and it must be brought home to them [blacks] that in the future nine-tenths of them will have to spend their lives in daily labour.”
Idleness was considered evil and our g-strings and liberated sexual mores declared ungodly. Having turned black misery into wealth, the rich now specialises in idleness, and spends untold fortunes to keep unclad women on the front of their glossy magazines. We were lied to. Karl Marx was behind the times to think that one has to go through the barbarity of capitalism to reach the end of the cruel and stultifying division of labour. The bearded one is articulate about his communist nirvana; “ to do one thing today and another tomorrow, to hunt in the morning, fish in the afternoon, rear cattle in the evening …, without ever becoming hunter, fisherman, shepherd, or critic”. We were there before all of this white madness, forcing men to abandon their families to dig for gold. Can you eat gold? But you must hear the kinds of things that were said about us when they found us in a state of total happy abandon in the Cape around the mid 1500s. Our deeply contemplative lives, exemplified by the Khoisan, were condemned.
When our president eventually decided to address the nation, he appeared in the middle of our TV screens and kept quiet. He was a little black dot. He just sat there motionless making strange noises at best but saying nothing to help us either understand the causes of violence or the measures our beloved democratic country was taking to fight the root causes. For fifteen minutes, our intellectual president simply stared at us. We stared back. Mutual misrecognition.
Now our government is building “safety camps”. They don’t want to call them refugee camps because then they would need to meet UN standards. These standards revolve around key minimums which must be observed to secure a basic right to life with dignity. These are access to water, sanitation, food, shelter and health care. Well, actually over 50% of black South Africans should be declared refugees just to get the chance to enjoy half the rights declared for victims of disaster by the UN. Is it always going to take a tragedy, if not death, for blacks to be seen? Most of the refugees and those who attacked them would never lead a dignified life on any ordinary day, if we applied the standards seriously. Our people live below these standards as they mark time in squalor.
The erection of camps created a commotion. A Joburg paper reported thus: “Tensions continued to build yesterday as residents of various suburbs in Johannesburg protested at the erection of refugee camps in their areas.” The paper went on to report that how some residents feel: “Already we have a high crime rate in this area, we hope this is just temporary,” said Country View resident Aaron Tolman. A black brother also raised his voice of sympathy and understanding: “These are our brothers and sisters and we feel for them. But there should have been proper consultation before the camps were brought in our area,” said another resident Caswell Molokone.
Two weeks before the furor around camps, middle class school children were given almost five minutes in our prime time news. They donated clothes, they even wrote personal letters like “please don’t go, we love you”. Now they are terrified of the same people they loved from a distance. What our TV refused to show was how some black working class areas such as Khutsong in Carletonville had organised a massive rally and declared “no one will be touched in our community, these are our brothers and sisters”. The reason is that Khutsong is a renegade community, a people who have been fighting against the arrogance of our democratic government for more than three years. The Khutsong stance says something about political organisation and capacity to direct anger at the right target.
In the same vein, absent in the media and popular imagination is the first hero of the anti-negrophobia move, one Sipho Madondo, who was killed in Alexandra after he told the angry mob, “I don’t go kill my own”. You would have thought Madondo would have been held up as our hero. No chance! He was no cappuccino guzzling professional human rights activist.
We hate the poor, we hate them because they remind us so powerfully where we could end up and where we come from. That’s why most of the black Diamonds are so terrified of Tito. We hate the poor more because they remind us that black is bad. We march and declare their barbarity because we want to assure our white counterparts and ourselves that we are human just like the whites, we are not like the barbarians killing each other mercilessly. We plead, “There is nothing to fear from us”. We hate more because this violence heightens our sense of the “nervous condition.” We are afraid to be found out and maybe also to find out that our blackness has not been erased totally. The smug smile in the face of our enlightened white liberal friends and colleagues terrifies us because it says, “you are cannibals!”. So we march with our white friends, hand in hand, as guarantors of our common humanity. But we fall short. This bloody black skin. Go away, my black skin!
The white liberal has also derived great pleasure and satisfaction from assisting the refugees. Help is the most potent form of exercising power. Marianne Gronemeyer is articulate on this point. She shows that help is the “elegant exercise of power”. The white liberal and other “helpers” are not racist, their actions speak for themselves. Even the Zionist student body donated some clothes, the same group which supports the legalised dispossession, murder and starvation of Palestinian children. A white militant in the social movements tells a story with the sort of liberal self-effacing trained uncertainty. He says, the majority of displaced people he spoke to at the Methodist Church (central Joburg) told him that white people have been real good to them all the time they have been in South Africa. They say it’s the blacks who are racist. They also told him that South African blacks are lazy. They even gave him some hugs to assure him of their love and brotherhood with whites.
I think “We want to work for you baas, and those others are preventing us because they are jealous. We are your servants, command us, for without you we are not alive”.
What has occurred in the last three weeks has been incorrectly named Xenophobia, actually its Negro “Negrophobia”. Chinweizu describes Negrophobia as “The fear and dislike of blacks is a great disease. It has killed more blacks in the last five hundred years than all other diseases combined: more than malaria, more than epidemics and plagues of all sorts, In the coming years, it could kill far more than AIDS. It is a psychological disease, a disease of the mind, which harvests dead black bodies every day.”
Xenophobia is the hatred of foreigners, but in South Africa, there are no white foreigners, in fact we think of these as benefactors, as tourists, investors and business people who must be protected. We debase and commercialise our art forms for their pleasure. White settlers make up to 10% of our population and own more than 80% of the stolen wealth, but we don’t think of them as foreigners. It’s the black we hate and attack. But it is good if we call it xenophobia because then it becomes a crime without context or history. In this way we absolve the real architects and creators of this barbarism.
Some filmmakers have even sprung to action as part of taking advantage of the rapidly growing anti-xenophobia industry generously funded by donors who wouldn’t want to be left out of the new trend. Apparently, funds earmarked for other “developmental challenges” have now been committed to fighting xenophobia. The filmmakers call their thing “Film Makers against Racism” – finally, whiteness has been absolved, the victim is the perpetrator. To call Negrophobia (which was created by white racism) racism is to create a massive delete button which wipes the slate of history clean. The new industry is in the business of cleansing history of all traces of white responsibility. Now we are even - we enslaved you, but you kill your own. It’s a draw. We can now wait for the images of mutual savagery through the Whiteman’s eyes planted in the retina of the black eye. There are names to be made, prizes to be won and money to be had. Didn’t the same Fanon say; “what is often called the black soul is a white man’s artifact?”
Those who have tried to explain the violence have only shown parts of the whole. In the most history has been forgotten, and the key source, ill begotten wealth, shielded from view. The fact that ours is a neo-apartheid state managed now by yesterday’s anti-apartheid revolutionaries is also concealed. Some have called for the decolonisation of the mind, others have called for a focus on the economics of neo-liberalism. Fanon warned against this atomization of the mind and socio economic and political realities. Let it be said again, it is true the problem is both psychological and a matter of livelihoods. Fanon advised;
… It is apparent to me that the effective disalienation of the black man entails an immediate recognition of the social and economic realities. If there is an inferiority complex, it is the out come of a double process: Primarily, economic; and Subsequently, the internalization –or, better, the epiderminization of this inferiority” (p.11).
Fanon later on advises that the battle against alienation of the black must be fought on both levels (economic and psychological), because “any unilateral liberation is incomplete, and the gravest mistake would be to believe in their automatic interdependence” (ibid). He also says; “There will be an authentic disalienation only to the degree to which things, in the most materialistic meaning of the world, will have been restored to their proper places” (p.12). Here we see that without liberation there can be no salvation. The question remains, what does it mean to be free for blacks? At the same time we must ask, what would it take to restore things to their proper places? Is the current black-on-black cannibalism a spiral to the bottom of existence where we blacks rightfully belong or is it a dress rehearsal for the end of the world? Biko says; “Ground for a revolution is always fertile in the presence of absolute destitution. At some stage one can foresee a situation where black people will feel they have nothing to live for and will shout at their God ‘thy will be done’.(33). Are we hearing a disfigured moan which could find its range and turn into a shout?
*Andile Mngxitama is a Johannesburg based land rights activist and member of the We write editorial collective.
*Please send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org or comment online at http://www.pambazuka.org/
Is this integration?
The barbaric acts of violence against foreign African nationals in South Africa over the past month appears to have drawn to a close. However, thousands remain displaced and face the daunting task of putting their lives back together. Government indecisiveness, continuing xenophobic sentiment and the bitter cold of winter remain sizeable stumbling blocks in advancing the process of their reintegration into South African society. Durban suffered mainly reverberations of the mass violence emanating from Gauteng, but reports of harassment, poor living conditions for displaced refugees and growing fear amongst immigrant communities continue to filter in. What are the underlining issues and are they new? More importantly, how do we move forward? Azad Essa speaks to Pierre Matate, Deputy Chairperson of the KZN Refugee Council, to find out more.
Q. What is the KZN Refugee council?
A. We try to bring back the dignity of foreigners who have been pushed down by the denial to documentation. The council is there to advocate that a person needs to be treated as a person, with respect and with dignity. We are also trying to stop the brain drain; we need to send people back home with skills so they can go back and rebuild their country. We strive to have programs to promote the dignity and pride in their homes. The South African government has failed, in all ways, to utilize the skills offered by foreigners. They leave them exposed and treat them like cows and sheep standing in a queue.
Q. What is the latest situation in Durban?
A. Most of the people have been running to the churches. Local government said they would provide temporary shelters, but this hasn't happened. Right now, people are desperate -where to go, what to do – car guards feel vulnerable, especially at night. The Emmanual Cathedral has around 100 refugees, mostly Zimbabweans. With regards to integration, there is nothing promising from the current situation. eThekwini's City Manager, Michael Sutcliffe said that refugees are a small number, just a minority and therefore not a priority, when compared to South Africans needing housing etc. This is irresponsible. We were forced to be on the streets and there aren't any structures to assist us. We cannot be compared to ordinary South Africans; our situation is different.
Q. Having worked with the Refugee council for so many years, have you had to deal with many cases of xenophobia even before the mass violence that erupted last month?
A. Well, it started with the Somalis in the Western Cape, some time ago. But it wasn't called xenophobia; it was called crime. In 2000, there was a case in KZN, but government denied that this case was a xenophobic crime. Basically the denial of foreigners' rights, whether it is denying documentation or services, exacerbates xenophobic sentiment. The South African community is generally good and friendly, but this sort of structural sentiment has corrupted them. And there were signs. Recently there were meetings held to discuss foreigners. I was at such a meeting in the Albert Park area (in Durban CBD), where foreigners were called smelly, dirty, criminals and drug traffickers. It was a meeting to discuss how to deal with these foreigners. Some one at the meeting asked what we should do with them, and another screamed out, "Burn them". So it is not as if these things were not discussed or not planned.
Q. Is it about poor integration?
A. Integration does not necessarily mean that people have to stay forever. It is about allowing people to be free, being mobile and accessing services, including being skilled. Integrating can be simply providing proper documentation. If foreigners are skilled, they have options: to go back or continue living here, (but) to integrate, people need to be provided accommodation. After twenty years of staying in the communities, people were picked out as foreigners, even if they spoke Zulu. eThekwini Municipaility Deputy Mayor Logie Naidoo struggled when he addressed victims at a police station in Durban. He was speaking English, but the crowd screamed back "Speak Zulu". People were confused, "Were we addressing foreigners?" People were integrated, sharing the joys and sorrows in the informal settlements. They speak the language, understand the culture, but by not creating awareness that these people were now South African and by not giving those with South African ID's housing - that which they are entitled to - their integration was somewhat incomplete. They remained the foreigners in the area.
Q. What about the South Africans who were killed in the violence?
A. Some of these brothers, from Malawi and Mozambique, were naturalized South Africans. They were still killed. This talk that South Africans were also killed gives government an excuse to cover up the xenophobic sentiment. The fact is that they were from somewhere else and were killed for that reason. Another example, a few naturalized South Africans were given housing, but the Department of Housing was accused of giving houses to illegal foreigners. In this case, these were two permanent South African residents but the community does not see your documentation. They just see you as Pierre Matate from Congo; nothing else. Many foreigners are not recorded, not identified. There is no census for this, and so there are no details about these guys. Of course this causes more xenophobia.
Q. You speak about skilling foreigners, why should South Africa invest in foreigners, when their own citizens need to be skilled?
A. It is a human right. By not utilizing their existing skills and abilities, it amounts to intellectual genocide. It is not about skilling them fully; it is about refining their skills. You cannot resolve conflict if you do not provide (some sort of) development. Sending peacekeepers but not looking after those seeking protection in your country is talk in the air. The problem is that foreigners are here to survive and are not political. Let us skill them and allow them to think about going home to develop their country.
Q. The same engineers who have run away from Congo, will move to the UK, to build a place that is already built. If refugees are provided documentation, they can move up and down, meaning that could return home to skill and develop.
A. In any case, investment from and to foreigners happens all over the world. Without this no country can develop. Countries need foreign investment, foreign skills. Apart from playing big brother to Africa, South Africa's real role in Africa is mostly in the air. They are the positive image of Africa – but for what reason?
Q. Needless to say that the South African government response to the crisis has been poor…
A. Instead of bringing people who were attacked, together, address them, attempt to heal them -government was so quick to round them up and pack them off in a bus - with no idea what will become of them. How can they repatriate people back to their country without even thinking of the causes? How about the psychological scars? Why not give them reassurance, offer documentation, protection etc? They offer to pack them off or reintegrate – when there is no housing! We no longer expect mass violence. But we are scared that they shall pick us out one by one, as happened last weekend in Pretoria. But where is the intelligence service? Sometimes we feel that government is behind this
Q: What is the way forward?
A. We need a clear policy. No more of these come today with policy and tomorrow you don't use it games.
1) Immigration act needs to be reviewed and enforced. I am not saying that we should stop people from coming in, but let us have some sort of control, meaning organized documentation. There has to be some sort of control.
2) The Refugee Act - though already amended - should be reviewed again. Those who are here for more than five years should be given permanent residence, like the Zanzibaris of Chatsworth, who were naturalized some years ago. The foreigners who were attacked should be identified and naturalized, if they have been here for more than ten years. This is outlined in the Constitution.
3) Labour law also needs review. You cannot continue to slave and manipulate people. Migrants are being utilized as cheap labour, they will never be managers in South Africa. They know it. We know it. They will be diggers, slaves and will remain in poverty. Also, acknowledging foreigners skills and education is crucial, and this includes allowing foreigners access to scholarships at universities. If education is for all, then it should be for all.
4) There must be a clear policy of integration. Government is saying, "go or stay", but where is the plan?
*Azad Essa is a journalist and researcher at IOLS-Research, UKZN.
*Please send comments to email@example.com or comment online at http://www.pambazuka.org/
Mugabe and Mubarak deserve each other
Tajudeen Abdul Raheem
I skipped the AU summit in Egypt and did not feel guilty about it.
In the past 15 years I can count the number of times that I have missed the OAU/AU summits. And in the few times that I have, it was due to unavoidable circumstances.
I have been part of a core of African activists who have remained engaged with our premier diplomatic and political organisation long before it became fashionable as it has become today. Those were bleak times when the OAU was a pejorative term, a symbol of all that was wrong with Africa especially its leaders.
Today everybody talks of engaging, interfacing, collaborating and working with the AU. It is looked upon as an important forum for African leadership, African problems and African consensus on global issues. African and non-African NGOs in particular have in recent years ‘discovered’ that relating to the AU is important for their advocacy and even funding!
I am not sure that this Donor-driven Pan Africanism is desirable or sustainable. But I am very certain that long after donor priorities have changed and their mercenary grantees retreat from Addis, there will still be Africans engaged with the AU because it is politically important to do so. Their influence is bound to increase in coming years. It is our institution and we have to build it and staff it with genuine Pan Africanists, not the largely bureaucratic careerists of the moment who, consider themselves bosses instead of being servants of the African people. As things change in the various countries in favour of more democracy and accountability the quality of those we send to Addis and those recruited to serve in the organisation will also improve.
The few times that I have missed the OAU/AU I have always felt guilty wherever I was. I regret the shifting dates that prevented me from being at some of the key pre-Summit activities this year but I also found myself not really keen to be at the Heads of State summit. And worse still I am not even feeling guilty about it. Could it be because I am growing tired of the Executive catwalk or the parade of usual suspects, prima donnas and old boy/girl cliques in the political and NGO/CSO meetings?
I do not think so. The pomp and pageantry are part of the buzz. The Summits provide an opportunity to see Africa in its compelling diversity. Whatever cynics and Afro-pessimists may say, the AU Summits are more open than the OAU though bureaucrats of the Union are doing their best to deny or manipulate the access of CSOs, NGOS and other stakeholders. They are abusing their positions to turn into privilege what is an essential right for African citizens in a ‘people-driven’ Union. That’s an ongoing battle that the anti-people bureaucrats of the Union will lose as more and more Africans become engaged in domesticating the AU agenda in our national affairs.
So what was responsible for my underwhelming enthusiasm for the Sharm el Sheik Summit? I must admit it has all to do with the leader and country hosting the summit. Independent CSOs, NGO activism and even democratic opposition in Egypt are treated like traitors and intimidated on all fronts by the Mubarak regime. He has been in power for almost 30 years brooking no opposition and not tolerating even the mildest criticism.
I am not quite sure how much of NGO/CSO activism one can do when one's local colleagues are not able to participate fully. What is the point in bringing other Africans to talk to themselves? These questions apply not exclusively to Egypt as many African countries are guilty of same. Sadly it applies to Ethiopia too. We have to start raising these questions openly and question why the AU should be based (or hold summits) in a country that does not allow freedom of association for its own citizens.
I cannot remember the last time that Mubarak attended an AU or OAU summit since he got lucky in Addis in the mid 1990s. Egypt is theoretically a big power in the AU by virtue of its geopolitical significance in the North of Africa and the Arab world. But it is a weight that has been felt mostly negatively over the years. Egypt cares only for Egypt and most of the time prefers to deal bilaterally with other African countries. For instance Egypt has historically maintained friendly relations with all the countries that have the River Nile running through them no matter how narrowly. These countries include genocidaire Rwanda which it armed with weapons to kill its own people; the murderous Idi Amin of Uganda or Mengistu of the Ethiopian killing fields of Ethiopia and the plethora of governments in Khartoum. Egypt’s main interest in these countries is to retain the unfair Nile agreement ‘negotiated’ to its favour by the British. It has semi colonial relations with Sudan and has always had a different agenda and rival initiatives from the rest of Africa on anything concerning Sudan typically demonstrated by its divisive and diversionary tactics on the continuing genocide in Darfur.
Egypt is supposed to be one of the Pillar countries of NEPAD along with South Africa, Nigeria and Senegal but it is a very silent partner. Therefore Egypt's role in Africa is more in terms of potential and nostalgic expectations of the bygone years of Gamal Abdel Nasser who was very proactive in the formation of the OAU and one of the Key actors in the Bandung conference that led to the Non-Aligned Movement.
That’s a long time ago. Today Egypt sees itself more as a dominant Middle East player than a major African country. No one is asking that Egypt or any of the North African countries choose between the Arab/Middle East and Africa but the balance of loyalties (except for Libya in recent years especially since 1999) is often too tilted in favour of the latter.
If Egypt is not very keen on playing its presumed role in Africa why are we desperate to deliver Africa to it? How do we want to be taken seriously when we force ourselves on an unwilling country? President Mubarak’s longetivity in power and public secret of scheming for his son to succeed him is hardly a walking advert of good leadership in Africa.
It is about time we started choosing countries where the AU summit is held in a more discerning way, as a way of rewarding good members and sanctioning errant states. This will require the revision of the practice of zoning between regions and also the 'cash and carry' approach that makes it possible for any state willing to pay to host the summit.
Standards also need to be upheld and membership rules enforced. For instance Morocco withdrew from the OAU, and never acceded to the AU yet it continues to maintain diplomatic relations with African states. It participates in African sports and other African multilateral activities while actively seeking EU membership. It does not suffer any sanctions for not being part of the AU. Why should anybody respect or take such an organisation seriously?
As if to add insult to injury President Mugabe, against SADC and AU pressures went ahead to run against himself and ensured that the votes were counted in record time for him to be sworn in, in time for the summit. The results of the fist presidential election could not be released for weeks but his one horse race results came in a matter of 2 days! Mugabe's brazen theft of democracy and the inability of the AU to sanction him immediately will make Sharm El Sheik rhyme with sham and Shame.
However rather than see this as yet further evidence of Africa's failure, we should use it for driving a reform agenda that should make it impossible in the future for leaders to contravene the constitutive Act of the AU with impunity. In 1999 the OAU outlawed coups. Cynics did not believe it could be enforced but now it is impossible for a Coupist to take his seat in the AU. General Gueye provided the first test and both ECOWAS and the AU stood firm. Then Madagascar and Seychelles followed and more recently Togo. The new principle wobbled a bit on Mauritania but generally it is upheld.
Similarly, even if it is politically more challenging, it is possible to begin to isolate leaders who ignore the democratic wishes of their peoples. We must begin to create a new political culture of shaming leaders who routinely thwart the wishes of their electorate. They are as undemocratic as the military coupists.
Mugabe needs the AU more than the AU needs him. If the AU can stand up to Mugabe it will be a serious warning to other guilty vote robbers that Africa will no longer tolerate them.
*Tajudeen Abdul Raheem writes this column as a Pan Africanist.
*Please send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org or comment online at http://www.pambazuka.org/
Unconditional solidarity with Zimbabweans
Thanks Mary Ndlovu for such a passionate and insightful piece. I would like to add a third false assumption to the two you have stated- the delusion that Tsvangirai’s election will be “finishing the task of liberation” of Zimbabweans.
Truly finishing the task of liberation will be liberating Zimbabwe from the illegitimate Mugabe regime, from the obnoxious interventions (and sanctions) of the West, and from those who operate as agents of western imperialism. It will be when Zimbabweans are finally able to form an independent and legitimate movement/government that is driven and controlled by the people. We may all have opinions as non-Zimbabweans, but our ultimate responsibility is our unconditional solidarity with Zimbabweans. They have the ultimate say and choice.
And that is why no one (especially not Mugabe) should be allowed to deny Zimbabweans the right and the opportunity to make that choice. The terror, burning, rape, systematic violation of basic rights and killings must stop. We must continue to urge our leaders to break their silence and false solidarity with Mugabe. We must continue to expose and resist those who want to take advantage of the crisis and impose their agenda over the wills of Zimbabweans.
And we must continue to support our brothers and sisters who are at the frontline of the struggle for freedom in Zimbabwe. It will be sad if SADC and the AU fail to take advantage of Tsvangirai’s offer for a Transitional Authority. They can if they choose to. They should at least try. But we can no longer tolerate their inaction on Zimbabwe. In solidarity.
Zim: More needs to be done!
People are suffering in Zimbabwe and it seems like nothing is being done about it. We need more than public statement condemning Mugabe's actions. We need to secure the safety of the citizens of Zimbabwe.
Click here for an online petition directed towards the U.N. Security Council and the neighboring Southern African nations to put more pressure on Mugabe.
The more things change ...
In response to How Europe underdevelops Africa and how some fight back: At least RSA is an independent republic, our last PM & Foreign Minister rechained us as a US colonial possession...idiots. The more things change, the more they stay the same.
"If we fail, the white man, who has been so surprised by our movement, the white man, who has entirely miscalculated every facet of this struggle, will have garnered a new range of knowledge about the potential of the black man and prepared himself to combat us should we ever again rear our ugly head. We owe it, therefore, to Africa not to fail. Africa needs a Biafra. Biafra is the breaking of the chains. It is not enough just to fight the Nigerians or their friends. We have to fight as a starting point of the African revolution…. If the revolution fails, we do a disservice to our race. But…what really frightens the white man is this whole challenge to the direction of international economy…. This is the one black society that on its own can go out and seek raw materials, manufacture finished products and sell them with absolute equality in the open world market. Once this has been demonstrated, you will find that the basis of neo-colonialism has been removed; which is continued economic dominance." —C. O. Ojukwu, at the Biafran People's Seminar, Umuahia, March 5, 1969.
A disturbing fact about most of the material that finds itself published by the so-called Eritrean opposition, such as Nunu Kidane's, is that it has an uncanny similarity to the anti-Shaebia and anti-Eritrea propaganda that we used to be bombarded and suffocated with day and night by the Ethiopian media – both during the former Derg regime era and the current Weyane regime ("Can an Ethiopian change his skin?"). Even the very wording at times seems to have been copied from there. Is this a coincidence? What is more disturbing is the fact that the so-called opposition groups are judging the Eritrean President and the ruling party not in terms of what works they have accomplished and are accomplishing but rather on their personality. This has a disturbing resemblance to the "inferiority complex" so prevalent in Ethiopian societies (particularly the Amhara and Tigrean groups). Is this similarity a coincidence or is "the friend of my enemy..." theory holding true?
Your "article" implies that someone who is apologetic to the woyane's propaganda machines, but apologetics do have their place and I'm not trying to diminish that fact. The problem here is that you see one pretty girl in a dress and think that another pretty girl with a different physical makeup can wear the exact same dress. You're viewing these so-called "problems" in Eritrea through glasses provided to you by your current dwelling's (be it America, Europe, etc.) seasoned and polished socio-economic structure.
When will the opponents of the Government of Eritrea realize – unless they have already done so - that they are fighting Ethiopia’s war against Eritrea by proxy. To the Eritrean people who are wondering which side to stand on, I offer my humble advice: look at history and learn from it! By doing so, you will not be condemned to repeat it. If the modern-day colonialists supports the so-called 101 opposition groups, which for your information hasn’t even published its political agenda and intent, then shouldn’t we be a bit weary of the motive behind all of this? If the modern-day colonialists are angry at us – because our democratic report card fell below their expectations, but at the same time ignore all the atrocities and human rights abuses conducted by suppressive regimes south of our border and pump millions there, shouldn’t we start worrying about their real motives?
One needs to only compare the US Government published Human Rights for Ethiopia with that for Eritrea to see the great disparity in Human Rights records between the two, yet one is punished and the other isn’t. What could be the reason for this double standard? Could it be because the other countries have already kneeled down and submitted their necks to the stiff collar of aid-dependency and Eritrea has not yet done so? Or could it be that our struggle to attain a just and long-lasting democratic system – one that is based on our own experience, tailor-cut to fit the needs of our people and not simply roughly modeled and based on western double standards – poses a threat to their hypocrisy? Perhaps, we are a bad example that could, if left unchecked, show other developing countries that life exists outside the IMF and World Bank walls! Or, as one of the blessed brilliant daughters of Eritrea, Sophia Tesfamariam, had wrote " Eritrea has become a threat - “a threat of a good example”, a beacon of hope in a continent filled with misery and despair, and where Africans, despite their abundant resources, because of corruption and greed, and most of all because of economic programs prescribed by self-serving external forces, have been relegated to live on handouts from the “generous” west."
Wasn’t it Socrates who said that intelligent people learn from other people’s mistakes? As Eritreans let us learn from both our own and other people’s mistakes. Let us judge our leaders not by the shoes they are wearing but by the distance they have covered in their shoes. For a look at the soles of their shoes will reveal not designer names but rather marks and tears of pebbles and stones not to mention thorns and bullets that can map trails of hardship, blood and toil from the highlands of Nakfa to the lowlands of the Danakil desert. Let us judge our leaders not by how they spend their leisure time but on what they do during the day running the country as best as they can and by their track record.
If Eritrea is indeed facing the calamity and imminent destruction that Nanu Kidane would have us believe, then why is inflation not running amok with the economy? Why is corruption still among the lowest in the whole of Africa? Why did the International Failed States Index listed Eritrea at number 44 ahead of countries such as Nigeria, Kenya, Syria, Colombia and Ethiopia (#16) ?
If the society was so rigidly controlled and there was no freedom of press, how come there are no less than Eight independent Internet Service Providers (ISP) while in "Democratic Ethiopia" – to site but an example - there exists one single government-owned and controlled ISP which is "restricted by it’s prohibitive price"? There are countless examples to bring forth that could easily show that the doomsday prophets have their conclusions sadly wrong. However, this is neither the place nor the time to go into that.
Eritrea faces a number of problems that must be addressed and top on the list is the very sovereignty and security of the country. Don’t we in the Diaspora realize that as long as that danger exists, all other discussions, arguments and cyber-warfare is meaningless? Or are some of us going to be among the enemy troops when they cross our borders again and head towards Asmara? I'm sure the author, Nanu Kidane, would definetely answer "Yes" to the latter.
Where there is no artist
Development drawings and how to use them by Petra Rohr-Röuendaal
The importance of appropriate communication was impressed upon Petra Rohr-Röuendaal while teaching in a Botswana squatter camp in 1976. The World Bank had decided to offer interest free loans to residents who wished to build themselves houses, and distributed a leaflet explaining the scheme. Sadly, few of its target audience were able to read it. On pointing this out to the World Bank, the author was commissioned to rectify the matter by producing an educational comic strip, which proved a great success. Since then she has produced a huge number of educational illustrations, run workshops, developed games and puppet shows, and has helped others to do the same.
‘Where there is no artist’ is a collection of over 1,200 drawings on a variety of development themes, mostly Africa based, which may be used free for education or non-profit making purposes. The book is aimed at fieldworkers, teachers, grassroots communities, anyone who needs to be able to create visual aids with very few resources or skills. It contains clear and simple instructions for how to use the drawings; how to copy them, how they may be used – for instance to create posters, games, flannel board figures or comic strips – all with an emphasis on community participation. In addition there is a section on how to draw, and some guidelines on techniques such as lettering and silk-screen printing. The drawings are engaging and skilled, and often humorous. For those with access to a computer the contents of the book are reproduced on two CDROMs, the images being in jpg format.
A valuable resource.
Practical Action Publishing
Available at http://developmentbookshop.com/
Black History Month - Interview with Gabrilla Ballard
In this episode Contact FM leave Chicago and go down South, where they talk with Gabrilla Ballard, singer, songwriter and activist, who tells them what it is like living in New Orleans after the massive 2005 flooding.
This episode was produced by Contact FM 89.7.
AFRICOM open to working with China
Energy-hungry China and the United States, the world’s two greatest oil consumers, are jockeying for influence over Africa’s vast economic potential. But as the two rivals sink their business hooks into the continent, soldiers from the two nations have also rubbed elbows there.
China in Africa: Implications for U.S. Policy
Earlier this month in Washington D.C., Thomas J. Christensen (Deputy Assistant Secretary for East Asian and Pacific Affairs) and James Swan (Deputy Assistant Secretary for African Affairs) briefed the Subcommittee on African Affairs of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on China’s growing presence in Africa and its impact on U.S. policy.
China's UN peacekeepers exceed 10,000
With a third group of Chinese peacekeepers sent to Sudan to replace their predecessors, China has sent more than 10,000 peacekeepers to participate in 18 UN peace-keeping missions. At the request of the United Nations and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, China decided to participate in a hybrid force of the United Nations and the African Union.
IMF to study Congo's China deal before any accord
The IMF said on Tuesday it needed to evaluate the impact on Democratic Republic of Congo's economy of a huge recent Chinese loan and investment deal before it could conclude a formal accord with the African state. The International Monetary Fund's country representative for Congo, Xavier Maret, said the $9 billion mining and infrastructure partnership with China signed by Kinshasa this year had raised questions about Congo's level of indebtedness.
South Africa: Black business rejects ruling allowing Chinese to benefit from BEE
Black business and professional organisations have expressed their dissatisfaction with the Pretoria High Court judgement characterising Chinese South Africans as ‘coloured’, thus qualifying them as beneficiaries in terms of black economic-empowerment, and called on the State “to appeal this irrational decision”.
Black business rejects ruling allowing Chinese to benefit from BEE
By: Christy van der Merwe
Published: 2 Jul 08 - 17:48
Black business and professional organisations on Wednesday expressed their dissatisfaction with the Pretoria High Court judgement characterising Chinese South Africans as ‘coloured’, thus qualifying them as beneficiaries in terms of black economic-empowerment, and called on the State “to appeal this irrational decision”.
“As black business and professional organisations, we reject both the substance and the process that was followed, leading to this shocking judgment. This judgment, in our view, revises a long-held historical view of the democratic struggle in South Africa,” said National African Federated Chambers of Commerce (Nafcoc) president and Business Unity South Africa (Busa) VP Buhle Mthethwa.
A number of black business organisations have instructed attorneys to study the judgment, with a view to exploring possible legal routes. The organisations have also requested a meeting with the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and the Department of Labour (DOL) to further discuss the matter.
“The fact that the DTI and the DOL are the respondents, gives credence to us that this is just an opportunistic thing that looks at economic opportunity. To say that coloured people should compete on an equal footing with the Chinese, on the basis of this judgement is really ridiculous,” added Busa government and stakeholder relations director Lawrence Khoza.
The black organisations represented at the briefing were Nafcoc, the Association for the Advancement of Black Accountants of South Africa (Abasa), the Black Management Forum (BMF), the Black Conveyances Association (BCA), the Black Information Technology Forum (BITF), the Black Lawyers Association (BLA), the South African Black technical and Allied Careers Organisation (Sabtaco), the South African Institute of Black Property Practitioners (SAIBPP), the Black Business Executive Circle (BBEC), and the national Black Business Caucus (NBBC).
The organisations saw the judgement as a “disappointing revision of the struggle for economic emancipation in South Africa”, and called on the South African government, the organised business community, corporate South Africa, and other stakeholders “to express their strong disavowal and disappointment with this shocking decision”.
“To hear a judge of our own country, who understands some of these things that are happening, suddenly just passing that without any consultation with us, or even this matter being debated, we really regard this as just being brushed under the carpet so that we approve this. We vehemently say that this is not on,” said NBBC president DupreeVilakazi.
“The judge did not apply her mind, these errors happen sometimes. I do not blame her personally, because she has not suffered the way I have suffered… she just looks at the law. This is why it is not an administrative issue on the judiciary, it is a political issue that should have been addressed,” Vilakazi added.
It was felt that black economic-empowerment and employment equity interventions should primarily benefit the following black groups: Indian, African, Coloured, but the organisation stated that “Chinese are not coloured”.
“We as black people, who historically have been marginalised by process of legislation, have got to, honestly, jealously guard the gates. I think we have earned our stripes. We are historically disadvantaged because we are the persons who bore the biggest brunt of Apartheid,” explained Zungu investments company executive chairperson Sandile Zungu.
Commentary on recent events
A collection of cartoons from Francis Odupute from Nigeria
Company stops banknote paper delivery
The Management Board of Giesecke & Devrient GmbH, Munich, today decided to cease delivering banknote paper to the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe with immediate effect. The company has taken this step in response to an official request from the German government and calls for international sanctions by the European Union and United Nations.
EU may take measures against Mugabe
The EU has not ruled out taking action against Zimbabwean leader Robert Mugabe in the wake of presidential elections marred by extensive violence. In a statement issued following the elections on Friday (27 June), Slovenia, which currently holds the six-month rotating EU presidency warned "The European Union does not exclude the possibility of taking appropriate measures against those responsible for the tragic events of recent months."
Nkomo's warnings into the future
The following is the speech made by Joshua Nkomo at the funeral ofLookout "Mafela" Khalisabantu Vumindaba Masuku, in Bulawayo on Saturday 12 April 1986, 22 years ago. Tens of thousands of people converged to pay their last respects.
The following is the speech made by Joshua Nkomo at the funeral of Lookout “Mafela” Khalisabantu Vumindaba Masuku, in Bulawayo on Saturday 12 April 1986, 22 years ago. Tens of thousands of people converged to pay their last respects.
Those who rule our country know inside themselves that Lookout played a very big part in winning our struggle. And yet they let him die in prison. I say he died in prison because he died on that bed on which he was detained. It was not possible for him to leave that bed and it was not possible for you to see him. Therefore, I say he died in prison.
Why should men like Lookout and Dumiso, after being found innocent of any wrongdoing by the highest court in this land remain detained? When we ask we get the same answer from the Minister as we used to get from the Smith regime.
Mafela, Lookout, after all his sacrifices, died a pauper in our own hands. We cannot blame colonialism and imperialism for this tragedy. We who fought against these things now practise them. Why? Why? Why?
We are enveloped in the politics of hate. The amount of hate that is being preached today in this country is frightful. What Zimbabwe fought for was peace, progress, love, respect, justice, equality, not the opposite. And one of the worst evils we see today is corruption. The country bleeds today because of corruption.
It is appropriate that the site chosen for Lookout’s grave lies near a memorial to those who fought against Hitler. Lookout fought against fascism, oppression, tribalism and corruption. Any failure to dedicate ourselves to the ideals of Masuku will be a betrayal of him and of all those freedom fighters whose graves are not known.
Our country cannot progress on fear and false accusations which are founded simply on the love of power. There is something radically wrong with our country today and we are moving, fast, towards destruction. There is confusion and corruption and, let us be clear about it, we are seeing racism in reverse under false mirror of correcting imbalances from the past. In the process we are creating worse things. We have created fear in the minds of some in our country. We have made them feel unwanted, unsafe.
Young men and women are on the streets of our cities. There is terrible unemployment. Life has become harsher than ever before. People are referred to as squatters. I hate the word. I do not hate the person. When people were moved under imperialism certain facilities like water were provided. But under us? Nothing!
You cannot build a country by firing people’s homes. No country can live by slogans, pasi (down with) this and pasi that. When you are ruling you should never say pasi to anyone. If there is something wrong with someone you must try to uplift him, not oppress him. We cannot condemn other people and then do things even worse than they did.
Lookout was a brave man. He led the first group of guerrillas who returned home at ceasefire. Lookout, lying quietly here in his coffin, fought to the last minute of his life for justice. It is his commitment to fair play that earned him his incarceration.
Some of you are tempted to give away your principles in order to conform. Even the preachers are frightened to speak freely and they have to hide behind the name of Jesus. The fear that pervades the rulers has come down to the people and to the workers. There is too much conformity. People work and then they shut up. We cannot go on this way. People must be freed to be able to speak. We invite the clergy to be outspoken. Tell us when we go wrong.
When Lookout was in Parirenyatwa he requested to be able to say goodbye to his friend Dumiso. The request was refused. “No!” By our own government!
He is not being buried in Heroes’ Acre. But they can’t take away his status as a hero. You don’t give a man the status of a hero. All you can do is recognise it. It is his. Yes, he can be forgotten temporarily by the State. But the young people who do research will one day unveil what Lookout has done.
Excerpt from Judith Todd’s latest book, Through the Darkness; A Life in Zimbabwe, available from www.zebrapress.co.za
World Leaders: Do not recognise Mugabe
After a terror campaign and a sham 'election' last Friday, Robert Mugabe has declared himself President of Zimbabwe. The country is in crisis and its fate depends on talks between Mugabe and the winner of the first round election -- Morgan Tsvangirai.
Zimbabwe's plight, South Africa's failure
Morgan Tsvangirai's withdrawal from the presidential run-off scheduled for June 27, and his decision to seek the protection of the Dutch embassy in Pretoria, has secured for Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe a Pyrrhic victory. Mugabe's triumph comes at a huge cost to democracy and stability in Zimbabwe, as well as in the region. The actions of the Mugabe regime in the run-up to Tsvangirai's decision demand a strong regional response to what is clearly a stolen victory.
Zimbabwe: Mugabe says opposition must drop claim to power
Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe, defiant despite growing African condemnation of his re-election, said on Friday the opposition must drop its claim to power and accept that he was the rightful head of state.
Zimbabwe at the African Union
AU Monitor Weekly Roundup: Issue 142, 2008
Civil society organisations (CSOs) held, from June 22 to 23, the third Citizen’s Continental Conference in Sharm El Sheikh ahead of the Eleventh African Union (AU) Summit. The Continental Conference provided space for African citizens, the Diaspora, CSOs, and other concerned parties to discuss the summit agenda including the AU audit and the peace and security situation in Zimbabwe, Darfur and Somalia, among other issues. The eleventh ordinary session of the Assembly of the AU Heads of State, convening under the theme of water and sanitation, will also consider the merger of the Court of Justice and the African Court on Human Rights of the AU, the current food crisis, the appointment of the members of the African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child.
As the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) in Zimbabwe announced its pull out of the run-off election scheduled for June 27, the Pan-African Parliament (PAP) observer mission, one of only two official observer groups in the country, confirmed acts of violence perpetrated by government supporters against opposition members.
The PAP also condemned remarks by President Mugabe that the country would go to war if the opposition won the run-off. The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) also sent a 30-member team of observers, led by former Nigerian Head of State, General Yakubu Gowon, to Harare to monitor the presidential run-off election. In a letter addressed to African leaders, including the President of the AU Commission, civil society expressed their concern that the Zimbabwean opposition might not be able to participate in the run-off because of the widespread political violence inflicted on their supporters. The letter commended the efforts of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) in its effort to resolve the Zimbabwe crisis and gave a number of recommendations to be initiated by the regional and international communities to resolve the crisis. SADC leaders convened in an emergency meeting to consider the situation in Zimbabwe, which President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa failed to attend despite his position as chief mediator for SADC, in which they urged President Robert Mugabe to call off the run-off election and begin dialogue towards the formation of a coalition government with the opposition MDC. However, despite MDC’s decision to boycott the run-off election, the elections took place as scheduled and the incumbent President Mugabe was declared the winner. The African Union (AU) election observer team in Zimbabwe declared that the presidential run-off fell short of continental standards, citing violence and biased media coverage. Further, the Pan African Parliament rejected the outcome of the election calling for a re-run despite the endorsement of the results by President Mbeki, said to have recognized the legitimacy of President Mugabe’s re-election in order to sustain the negotiation process. Noting that deepening social and economic interdependence means “that Zimbabwe’s problems are regional and truly African”, there are growing calls for African leaders to set democratic standards, particularly, in order to “make the AU more relevant, Africans must set minimum requirements of democracy and good economic governance for membership.”
Still in peace and security news, the AU Commission strongly condemned attacks by rebel groups against the Chadian army saying that these contradicted the process of dialogue and hindered the promotion of peace and stability in the region.
Civil society meeting during the Food and Agricultural Organisation regional conference in Nairobi blamed the World Bank, International Monetary Fund and World Trade Organisation for not doing enough to avoid the current food crisis in Africa and called for a long-term strategy involving local experience and policy direction to tackle the situation. Further, during a conference of Maghreb farmers and union representatives on grain production and food security, participants encouraged states to allocate more funds for the Maghreb Farmers Union and recommended ‘forming a fund to finance local scientific research and promoting agricultural development by pooling resources and trading expertise’. Meanwhile, the African Development Bank (AfDB) will organise a two-day conference on revitalization of African agriculture in the face of the global food crisis. The conference will re-examine the challenges and opportunities of African agriculture and explore avenues for strengthening food security. The AfDB, together with the World Bank, also organised, in Cape Town, a capacity building workshop in which World Bank representatives acknowledged the importance of regional integration for development and the creation of new regional public goods. For its part, Russia has promised a 500 million-dollar development assistance package to the continent.
The SADC Free Trade Area will be launched in August this year. This economic integration with an enlarged market of more than 200 million people is expected to increase the region’s competitive advantage, trade performance and to attract more foreign direct investment. In East Africa, a report of the air transport sub committee called for a harmonisation of air travel in the region and the establishment of competition rules to reduce the costs of air travel within East Africa.
Finally, a conference of ministers of health attended a one-day session on research for health in Africa. The World Health Organisation Regional Director for Africa, Dr. Luis Sambo, described the conference as a ‘’historic meeting’’ and said that it offered an opportunity for Africa to speak with one voice at the Second Global Ministerial Forum on Health Research, to take place in November 2008 in Bamako, Mali.
Seychelles: Problems in paradise
Annette* is a small, lively woman in her early sixties. Married to an abusive husband -- who once threw boiling water on her, landing her in hospital -- she was not repeating the story with her alcoholic and drug-addicted son. Just as her husband was growing older and calmer, her son was getting increasingly violent.
Africa: Tradition-based approaches in peacemaking, transitional justice and reconciliation policies
What role does traditional justice play in dealing with legacies of human rights abuses? How can interpersonal and community-based practices interrelate with state-organised and internationally sponsored forms of retributive justice and truth telling? This International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (International IDEA) report provides a comparative analysis of traditional justice mechanisms in Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Mozambique, Uganda and Burundi. Most of the countries studied combine traditional justice and reconciliation instruments with other transitional justice strategies.
DRC: War crimes suspect transferred to ICC
Belgian authorities have transferred Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo, charged by the International Criminal Court (ICC) with multiple counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity, including murder and rape, to the Court’s detention centre in The Hague.
Ethiopia: Government prepares assault on civil society
Ethiopia’s government should immediately abandon plans to impose strict government controls and draconian criminal penalties on nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International has said. The two groups called on donor governments, whose behind-the-scenes efforts to see the bill reformed appear to have failed, to speak out publicly against the de facto criminalization of most of the human rights, rule of law and peace-building work currently being carried out in Ethiopia.
Kenya: Government dithers on human rights
"We hurriedly buried the seven in the shallow grave and fled due to fears of attacks," explained Joseph Mwangi Macharia as armed police accompanying him went through the motions of evacuating the cattle farmer’s entire family, all victims of post-election violence in Kenya.
Egypt: UN seeks increased access to detained asylum-seekers
The United Nations refugee agency has interviewed nearly 180 Eritrean and Ethiopian asylum-seekers detained in Egypt to assess their claims for refugee status, and urged the authorities to continue to provide unhindered access to others who are being held.
Kenya: Government carries out assessment of IDPs
The Kenya government has commenced a profiling assessment exercise of the post 2007 Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in Molo district. The exercise was launched on June 5, 2008 at Mkulima primary school in Kuresoi division, Molo district and was expected to end on 3rd July 2008.
Libya: UNHCR signs agreement aimed at ensuring refugee protection
The UN refugee agency has recently signed an agreement with three organizations aimed at ensuring the protection needs of refugees and asylum seekers in Libya. This is in line with UNHCR's responsibility to advocate for better protection of refugees in the context of mixed asylum and migration flows.
Mauritania: Migrants face illegal arrest
Irregular migrants trying to reach Europe are being arrested, ill-treated and collectively expelled from Mauritania without opportunity to challenge the decision according to a new Amnesty International report.
South Africa: Failure to protect
20 June 2008 was World Refugee Day. The theme for this year was ‘Refugee Protection’. For Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), it was a little ironic. In fact, MSF marked the day by placing public messages in major national and regional newspapers, calling for the South African government and the UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) to provide the necessary assistance and legal protection to Zimbabweans guaranteed under international law.
Sudan: UN agency begins health relief efforts in Abyei
The United Nations health agency has started preparations for the expected return of tens of thousands of displaced people to their homes in the disputed central Sudanese town of Abyei. The World Health Organization (WHO) said in a media statement that it is focusing on restoring basic health services for the returnees and controlling the health risks for both the returnees and the people still displaced after deadly fighting erupted in May.
Zimbabwe: Number of displaced “extremely worrying”
The Zimbabwe Exiles Forum said on Friday the South African government needs to take responsibility not only for the number of Zimbabweans fleeing into the country, but also for the growing number of displaced Zimbabweans – a figure that is now estimated at a quarter of a million since the March elections.
Zimbabwe: Refugees left “homeless and hopeless” outside US embassy
While officials at the US Embassy in Harare took the day off to celebrate America’s Independence Day on Friday, almost 200 victims of political violence were still waiting outside the embassy gates seeking refuge and shelter. An estimated 260 people fled their homes to seek shelter at the diplomatic mission on Thursday, as the state sponsored violence against MDC supporters continued.
Global: Cocoa industry fails to deliver on child labor commitments
The chocolate industry has failed to provide consumers with a reasonable assurance that the chocolate they buy was made without exploited and trafficked child labor. Major chocolate companies signed what is referred to as the Harkin-Engel Protocol in 2001, promising to eliminate the worst forms of child labor from their supply chains, after media stories emerged depicting the widespread use of forced child labor and trafficking on West African cocoa farms. After failing to meet their July 1, 2005 commitments, the Protocol was weakened and extended to July 1, 2008. Once again, the industry has missed the deadline.
Kenya: Destruction at Dam Village, Nairobi – Call for action
On Wednesday 11 June, some participants from the Get Organised for Human Rights programme were take to Dam Village, Kangemi, Nairobi. There they met and learned from the Dam Village community about the destruction of the village. On 9 May 2008, in the middle of the night, a demolition force entered the village, and without any warning, forced people out of their homes, destroyed community buildings and homes, thus rendering 300 women, children and men homeless. “We need your solidarity” said Mr Stephen Shipanzi, Chairman of Dam Village.
South Africa: Pavement-dwellers assaulted
On June 29 three police vans pulled up to Symphony Way dressed in riot gear. Without warning, they began pepper spraying people in the settlement and attempted to arrest an older resident named Auntie Tilla. When it was all over, the road's pastor had been assaulted, beaten and abducted and five residents had been pepper sprayed multiple times.
South Africa: Residents convicted for political activism
On Wednesday, July 2nd at the Bellville Magistrates Court courtroom E, two members of the Delft Anti-Eviction Campaign, Jerome Daniels and Ridwaan Isaacs, were each sentenced twelve months in prison - simply for being community leaders at Delft-Symphony Way settlement. Both maintained their innocence on charges of malicious destruction of property brought by Elmory Isaacs, a former resident of the same settlement, who presented no evidence beyond her own testimony.
Delft Anti-Eviction Campaign Press Statement
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - Friday, 4th July, 2008
Delft-Symphony -- On Wednesday, July 2nd at the Bellville Magistrates Court courtroom E, two members of the Delft Anti-Eviction Campaign, Jerome Daniels and Ridwaan Isaacs, were each sentenced twelve months in prison - simply for being community leaders at Delft-Symphony Way settlement. Both maintained their innocence on charges of malicious destruction of property brought by Elmory Isaacs, a former resident of the same settlement, who presented no evidence beyond her own testimony.
During a two hour trial in which the activities of the Anti-Eviction Campaign featured prominently, Ms Isaacs testified that these two community leaders had threatened her with knives of and slashed her tent. Under cross examination, Ms Isaacs conceded that all the evicted occupants of the Delft Symphony N2 Gateway homes had begun their pavement encampment by agreeing as a group to remove any resident who threatened or attacked another. Moreover, she also acknowledged that on the evening in question an individual she had allowed to live in her tent unsupervised had violently threatened another community member. However, she became agitated when asked questions about whether these threats violated this agreement, shouting "this is not about Johnny. This is about my tent, my property." Without presenting any evidence or calling any other witnesses, the prosecution rested its case.
During his testimony, Mr. Daniels, explained that he had verbally intervened to prevent the occupant of Ms Isaac's tent from making good on his threats. But when residents of Symphony Way learned of what had occurred, the community decided to remove this person from the settlement to prevent any future violence from occurring. He insisted that rather than taking part in taking down her tent, he had sought to prevent residents from taking such drastic action.
For his part, Ridwaan Isaacs testified that he had not been in that part of the Symphony Way section when community members dismantled Ms Isaac's tent. It was only later that night that he learned of what had occurred. Another resident of the Symphony Way settlement, Mrs. Evelyn Mokoena, corroborated the testimony of both Mr Isaacs and Mr Daniels. She stated that dozens of community members took the decision to dismantle the tent and took action over the objections of Mr Daniels. Mr Isaacs, she insisted, was not there.
During the course of this testimony, Magistrate Van Graan from Court E, repeatedly interrupted the defence and prosecution attorneys to question defendants about their involvement in the Anti-Eviction Campaign. When Mrs Evelyn Mokoena responded that it was the community that was responsible for making the decision to dismantle the tent, he interjected, "I can't understand under what circumstances does the community take a decision?" When Mrs Mokoena explained that in the informal settlement the community is responsible for making its own decisions, Magistrate Van Graan responded, "Is this what is happening in this country? Is this thing justifiable?"
In closing, the defendants' attorney reiterated that the preceding testimony had proven that neither defendant had touched Ms Daniel's property, with each witness corroborating the other. After a five minute recess, Magistrate Van Graan delivered a guilty verdict, quoting case law that justified his dismissal of the defence's testimony and only accepting that of Ms Isaacs. He explained that while he could not sentence the community, some one had to take responsibility for this offence. In response, the defence attorney recommended a warning, noting that both defendants had children and were currently volunteered their time supporting the residents of Symphony Way. The prosecutor, in response suggested a fine but did not suggest any jail-time for the defendants. However Magistrate Van Graan imposed a twelve month sentence at Goodwood Prison, with a possibility of a six month suspension for good behaviour. While he acknowledged that this charge was not as serious as a murder or rape conviction, he argued that he needed to hold the defendants responsible and teach the Anti-Eviction Campaign a lesson.
Upon hearing of this verdict, the residents of Symphony Way condemned it as unjust and called upon all struggling communities to support them in their effort in seeking the release of Mr. Daniels and Mr. Isaacs before the end of the month. "There are murderers and rapist walking around," asked Mrs Mokoena. "Why aren't they locking them up for twelve months?" Symphony Way resident Francis Jantjies objected to the verdict: "it seems like the justice system in South Africa is not right. Who did the investigation in this case? How are these two being sent to prison for something that the community did?"
Residents of the AEC settlement in Symphony Way believe that Mr Isaacs and Mr. Daniels are political prisoners who are being convicted of something they did not do merely because they are dedicated activists fighting for better lives for their families and community
The Delft Anti-Eviction Campaign is now seeking to raise R7 000 towards an appeal of these convictions. They are also accepting donations to go to the families of Mr. Daniels and Isaacs. The prisoners also desperately need money to by necessities in the prison: socks, underwear, deodorant, razors, telkom cards, etc.
Individuals, communities, and social movements that would like to assist in their fundraising efforts, in showing solidarity towards the defendants and their families, and/or help with future actions, should contact Auntie Jane at 078-403-1302 and Ashraf at 076-186-1408.
For information on how to donate, please visit: antieviction.org.za/donations/
Comoros: Toybou confirmed Anjouan president
Moussa Toybou has been confirmed the winner of Anjouan's hotly contested presidential run-off by the Constitutional Court, beating his challenger, Mohamed Djanfari. Mr. Toybou, 46, polled 52.42% of the votes against Mr. Djanfari's 47.58%, official results showed. Unlike his challenger, who was formerly the Vice President of the Comoros federal government, Toybou had been a complete novice in politics.
Equatorial Guinea: Government resigns
Equatorial Guinea's President Teodoro Obiang Nguema has accepted the resignation of the country's government, calling it "one of the worst ever," national television reported Saturday.
Guinea-Bissau: In need of a state
This latest report from the International Crisis Group, analyses the national and international policies necessary to put an end to the country’s endless cycle of political crises. Despite 35 years of institutional incapacity, Guinea-Bissau has a chance for democratic reforms thanks to the signing of a Stability Pact by the three most important political parties in March 2007.
Mauritania: Government resigns
Mauritania's government has resigned, just seven months into its term, pre-empting a censure motion filed by dissident's within the ruling party. Sidi Mohamed Ould Cheikh Abdallahi, the president, immediately reinstated Yahya Ahmed El Waghef, the prime minister, on Thursday, asking him to form a new cabinet.
Zambia: President in intensive care
Levy Mwanawasa, the president of Zambia, is reportedly recieving intensive care treatment in a French hospital, the vice-president said.Rupiah Banda also denied claims on Thursday that Mwanawasa had died. "The president had [a] satisfactory night at the Percy military hospital in France. The news reports ... are not true," Banda said in a statement.
Zimbabwe: 'Vote fraud proof' emerges
Video footage which appears to show ballot-rigging taking place in Zimbabwe's recent presidential run-off election has been posted on the website of a British newspaper. The footage had reportedly been smuggled out of the country by Shepherd Yuda, an officer at a prison in Harare, Zimbabwe's capital.
Zimbabwe: Outcome of polls illegitimate, says UN Chief
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has criticized the outcome of Friday’s run-off presidential election in Zimbabwe – which went ahead despite international appeals for a postponement given the violence and intimidation that preceded it – as illegitimate. “The outcome did not reflect the true and genuine will of the Zimbabwean people or produce a legitimate result,” Mr. Ban’s spokesperson said in a statement issued today in Tokyo, where the Secretary-General is currently on an official visit.
Global: New handbook for advocacy on extractive industry revenues
Bank Information Center has recently released it's new "Handbook for Advocacy on Extractive Industry Revenues: Good Practices and the IMF’s Guide on Resource Revenue Transparency."
Kenya: Grand corruption catches up with grand coalition
With the revelations that the Director General of Kenya Anti Corruption Commission Mr. Aaron Ringera, the Governor of Central Bank Mr. Njuguna Ndungu and the Finance Minister Mr. Amos Kimunya have conspired to sell Grand Regency Hotel to the Libyan Government, all that Kenyans can do is to immediately boycott doing business with Grand Regency Hotel immediately.
Africa: G8 leaders ready to backtrack on $25bn aid pledge
Leaders of the Group of Eight rich nations are set to backtrack on their landmark pledge at the Gleneagles summit in 2005 to increase development aid to Africa to $25bn a year. A draft communiqué obtained by the Financial Times, due to be issued at the group's July summit in Hokkaido, Japan, shows leaders will commit to fulfilling "our commitments on [development aid] made at Gleneagles" - but fails to cite the target of $25bn annually by 2010.
Five steps to sustainable governance in Africa
Paul Collier, a professor of economics at Oxford University and the author of The Bottom Billion, discusses policy options for helping the poorest countries in Africa. He says "there are severe limits on what we as outsiders can do," but suggests the United States should work on developing a set of international guidelines for natural resource management.
Global: Secret report: biofuel caused food crisis
Biofuels have forced global food prices up by 75% - far more than previously estimated - according to a confidential World Bank report obtained by the Guardian. The damning unpublished assessment is based on the most detailed analysis of the crisis so far, carried out by an internationally-respected economist at global financial body.
Zambia: IMF approves new poverty reduction plan
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) on Wednesday approved a three-year, 79-million-U.S.-dollar plan to support Zambia's efforts to alleviate poverty and sustain economic growth. The new Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility (PRGF) plan succeeds a previous arrangement successfully completed last year, the IMF said in a press release.
Africa: Continent faces 'dramatic physician shortage
The United Nations World Health Organization (WHO) warned that Africa faces a “dramatic” shortage of physicians by the year 2015, according to a new study that has just been made public. It is projected that there will be nearly 13 million doctors by then, a figure that will meet demand and will exceed the target of achieving the benchmark of having 80 per cent of all live births covered by a skilled attendant.
Africa: Human rights and HIV in Eastern and Southern Africa
The Compendium of key documents relating to human rights and HIV in Eastern and Southern Africa is a collection, in five parts, of global, regional, sub-regional and national human rights instruments, policies, legislation and case law that are relevant to HIV and AIDS. In most instances, only excerpts pertinent to HIV and AIDS are provided.
Africa: Powerful new tool to diagnose drug-resistant TB
Clinical trials of a new molecular technique have found it to be effective at quickly identifying multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB) in resource-poor settings. As a result, the WHO has endorsed the use of the test in all countries with MDR-TB.
Africa: Prevention programmes for couples recommended
Mathematical modelling of Zambian and Rwandan populations, based on the rates of extramarital sex and the proportion of couples who are HIV-serodiscordant, shows that the proportion of HIV infections acquired in any one year that are acquired within marriage or in stable cohabiting relationships ranges from 55% to 93%.
Africa: The AIDS road to conmprehensive healthcare for all?
On 28 May 2008, the Institute of Tropical Medicine (ITM, Antwerp) hosted a workshop at the World Health Organization (WHO, Geneva) to review the evidence on positive and negative impacts of the global AIDS response in low-income countries in sub-Saharan Africa on general health systems and services. The workshop involved people working in AIDS and health services, in civil society and in academia with and from Sub-Saharan Africa.
Malawi: Assessment of equity in the uptake of ARVs
This study aimed to assess equity in uptake of antiretroviral therapy in Malawi in 2005, especially according to age (children vs. adults), gender (men vs. women) and income. Particular reference is made to the scaling up of ART and the removal of fees for ART in 2004. Informal interviews were conducted with health sector antiretroviral programme implementers and key policy makers in the Ministry of Health.
Somalia: Fighting for an education
Somalia has been without effective central government for almost two decades. Most state institutions have vanished in large parts of the country -- schools are no exception. In the northeast and northwest of Somalia, where there has been relative stability, schools have been operating almost as normal; it is in the southern and central regions of the country -- including the capital -- that the education system has collapsed.
Malawi: MSM research highlights need for safe-sex education
While lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people in countries such as Uganda continue to fight for their inclusion in the HIV and Aids programmes, Malawian LGBTI community is making noticeable strides towards recognition. This comes after the Center for the Development of People (CEDEP), a Malawian human rights organisation, presented research findings on HIV sero- prevalence study among men who have sex with other men (MSM) in Malawi.
Africa: Towards sustainable management and financing of the DRC forests
This paper considers the challenges that need to be addressed within the Democratic Republic of Congo's (DRC) forest sector if innovative models for the management and financing of the country's forests are to be successfully implemented. These challenges include those related to broader forest governance, i.e. the policy, legal and institutional conditions. It also considers the conditions required to facilitate forest business and enterprises.
Chad: Peacekeepers try to tread lightly
Arid eastern Chad has always suffered water shortages. In 2004, a quarter-million Darfuri refugees settled in the region, placing further strain on local water sources. Intensive labor by a wide range of aid groups -- drilling new wells, building dams to catch rainwater, opening up channels to feed rain into underground reservoirs -- has alleviated but not eliminated the problem.
Gambia: Detained manager granted bail, his passport confiscated
The Kanifing Court trying Dida Halake, former Managing Director of the Observer Company Limited, publishers of the pro-government Daily Observer newspaper, on June 25, 2008 granted him bail after almost two weeks in detention.
Detained manager granted bail, his passport confiscated
The Kanifing Court trying Dida Halake, former Managing Director of the Observer Company Limited, publishers of the pro-government Daily Observer newspaper, on June 25, 2008 granted him bail after almost two weeks in detention.
Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) sources reported that he was granted bail in the sum of 25,000 Gambian Dalasi (about US$1, 1901) and one surety to reappear on July 9.
Halake has been charged with two counts of allegedly uttering seditious words and also giving “false information” to Amadou Samba, a close confidante of President Yahya Jammeh and owner of the newspaper.
MFWA sources say the charges stemmed from information he allegedly sent via Short Message System (SMS) to The Gambian President, Yahya Jammeh. This, according to the prosecution, was a threat to the Observer Company.
The former Manging Director has denied both charges.
Halake, who is said to be of Kenyan-British descent, according to the sources, told the court that he was a British national of Ethiopian parentage. He was ordered to hand over his travelling documents to the Assistant Registrar to prevent him from travelling out of the country.
Halake was arrested on June 12 and detained illegally for eleven days in police custody before he was brought before court on June 23. The court dismissed the charge against him before he was rearrested and new charges preferred against him.
Prof. Kwame Karikari
Tel: 233 21 24 24 70
Fax : 233 21 221084
Website : www.mediafound.org
Email : email@example.com
Gambia: Newspaper journalist violently attacked
Justice Momodou Darboe, a journalist with The Point, a Banjul-based privately-owned independent daily newspaper, was violently attacked by an armed man on July 1, 2008. Darboe suffered serious body injuries.
Gambia ALERT: Newspaper journalist violently attacked
Justice Momodou Darboe, a journalist with The Point, a Banjul-based privately-owned independent daily newspaper, was violently attacked by an armed man on July 1, 2008.
Darboe suffered serious body injuries.
Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) sources report that the assailant, wielding a knife, ambushed the journalist and attacked him after he got down from a taxi around his house in Serrekunda, Gambia’s second largest city.
“I left Kairaba Shopping Centre around 11pm to go home. When I reached the junction of Wellingara, I disembarked from the vehicle I was in and walked in the direction of my compound. Before I reached the safety of my home, a man came from behind and attacked me with a knife,” The Point reported Darboe as saying.
He said although it is difficult to establish the motive of the attack, his assailant made no attempt to rob him of any belonging.
Sources report that the assailant took to his heels when he saw people coming toward the scene.
Darboe later received treatment from a hospital and the matter was reported to the police.
Prof. Kwame Karikari
Tel: 233 21 24 24 70
Fax: 233 21 221084
Ghana: Journalist receives death threats
Gina Ama Blay, publisher and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Western Publications Limited, publishers of the Daily Guide, an Accra-based pro-government daily newspaper on July 2, 2008 allegedly received threats on her life by a caller who only identified himself as “Gajekpo” and claimed to be a soldier in the Ghana Armed Forces.
Ghana ALERT: Journalist receives death threats
Gina Ama Blay, publisher and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Western Publications Limited, publishers of the Daily Guide, an Accra-based pro-government daily newspaper on July 2, 2008 allegedly received threats on her life by a caller who only identified himself as “Gajekpo” and claimed to be a soldier in the Ghana Armed Forces.
According to a July 3 publication in The Statesman newspaper, Blay received the threats verbally on phone followed later by three short text messages on her private cellular phone from “Gajekpo”.
The Statesman’s publication said “Gajekpo” was upset about the previous day’s banner headline of the Daily Guide and threatened the journalist. The headline which read: “JJ Goes Mad” was in reference to a news conference by the former Ghana President Jerry John Rawlings, in which he (Rawlings) castigated the ruling government.
On the phone “Gajekpo” accused Blay of bias threatening that “you would see …we would deal with you”.
Blay told the Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA)’s correspondent, that her life is in danger.
She has since complained to the Ghana Journalists’ Association (GJA) and the security agencies.
The Nima Police have since commenced investigations into the matter.
Prof. Kwame Karikari
Tel: 233 21 24 24 70
Fax : 233 21 221084
Website : www.mediafound.org
Email : firstname.lastname@example.org
Kenya: New law could raise food prices further
Prices of food in Kenya, which have already risen by 50 percent since the start of 2008, could increase further following a new government regulation, a consumer watch group has warned. From October, all food products sold in Kenya will have to bear an approval mark from the country’s bureau of standards (KEBS), which will charge a fee for this service.
Chad: Government troops clash with Muslim group
Chad's security forces have claimed to have killed more than 60 people loyal to a Muslim spiritual leader in clashes in the town of Kouno, around 300km south east of the capital Ndjamena. Government soldiers fought with the followers of Ahmat Ismael Bichara, a "marabout" or holy man, who had allegedly threatened a "holy war" in the country.
Ethiopia: UN food agency widens assistance to feed nearly 5 million
The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) has announced that it is expanding its operations to feed 4.6 million people in Ethiopia, in response to the Horn of Africa nation’s pressing appeal for help in staving off hunger-related deaths. “Ethiopia is facing a perfect storm with soaring food prices and a devastating drought,” said the agency’s Executive Director Josette Sheeran. “We hear the Government’s plea, support it, and are moving to reach all we can.”
Somalia: Death toll grows in clashes
The death toll from fighting between Somali anti-government fighters and Ethiopian and Ugandan forces, has risen to 53 people, according to a human rights organisation. The increased toll was reported on Wednesday by Ahmed Sudan, chairman of the Mogadishu-based Elman Peace and Human Rights organisation.
Sudan: Chief rebel goes on trial
A senior member of a Darfur rebel group accused of taking part in an attack on a city near Khartoum, the Sudanese capital, has appeared in court.nAbdul Aziz Ashur, brother-in-law of Khalil Ibrahim, the leader of the Justice and Equality Movement (Jem), appeared in North Khartoum court on Thursday with seven other suspects .
Egypt: New Human rights alert service
Horytna “Our Freedom” Radio, was introduced to the media world and the internet web as an independent cultural and news radio, paying more attention to the young people and open to various trends and ideas, within a rational framework, characterized by being balanced and accurate in getting the information. It relies on press and radio broadcasting methods of a high level of professionalism put in a simple style and in sound yet easy Arabic language.
Facebook for the masses: Perhaps not for Africa
People who work in the digital divide world, routinely over emphasize the value of information communication technology (ICT) for the poor, often forgetting that technology is nothing more than a means to an end and one that’s only of value if it increases conveniences and the quality of people's lives.
South Africa: 11th AWID International Forum on Women’s Rights and Development
Fundamentalist forces have gained ground around the world, exerting an increased control on women’s lives. The Millennium Development Goals alongside the new aid architecture have restructured development assistance with women’s rights taking a back seat. From November 14–17, 2008, up to 1,500 women’s rights activists from around the world will gather in Cape Town, South Africa to debate and strategize about how to build stronger movements to advance women’s rights and gender equality globally.
The latest issue of Awaaz Magazine features a 40 page tribute to Apa Pant, India's first post independence envoy to Kenya. Coming into Kenya at the height of the struggle for Kenya's independence Apa Pant supported the Kenyan Nationalist struggle against British Colonialism. 3 stories by Benegal Pereira, Peter Wright and Angelo Faria takes the readers through Apa Pant's life chronicling his early life and politics.
Mali: Regional Coordinator, ERNWACA
The Educational Research Network for West and Central Africa (ERNWACA) is pleased to call for applications for the position of Regional Coordinator, based in Bamako, in the Republic of Mali. The deadline for receipt of applications is 14 August 2008.
Fahamu - Networks For Social Justice
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