Pambazuka News 482: South Africa: An unfinished revolution?
The authoritative electronic weekly newsletter and platform for social justice in Africa
Pambazuka News (English edition): ISSN 1753-6839
CONTENTS: 1. Action alerts, 2. Announcements, 3. Features, 4. Comment & analysis, 5. Pan-African Postcard, 6. Advocacy & campaigns, 7. Letters & Opinions, 8. Emerging powers in Africa Watch, 9. Highlights French edition, 10. Zimbabwe update, 11. Women & gender, 12. Human rights, 13. Refugees & forced migration, 14. Social movements, 15. Africa labour news, 16. Emerging powers news, 17. Elections & governance, 18. Corruption, 19. Development, 20. Health & HIV/AIDS, 21. Education, 22. LGBTI, 23. Environment, 24. Land & land rights, 25. Food Justice, 26. Media & freedom of expression, 27. Conflict & emergencies, 28. Internet & technology, 29. Fundraising & useful resources, 30. Jobs
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Highlights from this issue
- Call for global moratorium on synthetic biology, as construction of world's first self-reproducing synthetic organism is announced
- Celebration of the life and legacy of Dr Tajudeen Abdul-Raheem
- Africa Liberation Day – 25 May 2010 (Nairobi)
– Neville Alexander: South Africa: An unfinished revolution?
– Andrew Mwangura: Somalia: Pirates or protectors?
– Khadija Sharife: East Africa's looming famine – Gibe III
– Alemayehu G. Mariam: Birtukan Midekssa: 'Ethiopia is the country of the future'
– Kwame Opoku: Democratisation through vandalism?
– Sokari Ekine: Solidarity for sentenced Malawian gay couple
COMMENT & ANALYSIS
– Rick Rozoff: New colonialism: Pentagon carves Africa into military zones
– Chambi Chachage: Whose plantation is it anyway?
– Sehlare Makgetlaneng: African continental integration: In defence of Kwame Nkrumah’s position
– Horace Campbell: Earthquake in the Catholic Church: Truth and forgiveness
– L. Muthoni Wanyeki: We must protect victims, Ocampo's witnesses too
ADVOCACY & CAMPAIGNS
- Palm oil stations worsen food security and climate change
- Support the gray-haired witnesses hunger strike 6/21 at DOJ!
EMERGING POWERS IN AFRICA
– Pushing the African agenda at the Shanghai ExpoZIMBABWE UPDATE: New Furore as Mugabe names judges
WOMEN & GENDER: Haunted by rape dilemma in DRC
CONFLICT AND EMERGENCIES: Gun battle in Malagasy capital
HUMAN RIGHTS: Impunity persists in Africa
REFUGEES AND FORCED MIGRATION: UN must continue to protect Chad civilians
EMERGING POWERS NEWS: Emerging powers news roundup
SOCIAL MOVEMENTS: Farmers mobilize against EU trade agenda
AFRICA LABOUR NEWS: South Africa’s train workers go on strike
ELECTIONS AND GOVERNANCE: South Sudan swears in Salva Kiir
CORRUPTION: Obiang trying to bribe UNESCO
HEALTH & HIV/AIDS: Aids activists speak out
DEVELOPMENT: $780m power line by 2015
EDUCATION: Ending silence on violence in schools
LGBTI: Malawi gay couple’s conviction condemned
ENVIRONMENT: International Day for biological diversity
LAND & LAND RIGHTS: Liberia’s land-rights tensions not abating
FOOD JUSTICE: Niger raises severe hunger forecast
MEDIA AND FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION: 2009 Africa Press Freedom Report
INTERNET & TECHNOLOGY: Scaling mobile services for development
PLUS: Jobs, Fundraising & useful resources, publications, courses, seminars and workshops
*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
World's first self-reproducing organism: Panacea or Pandora's Box?
Synthia is alive … and breeding
As Craig Venter announces lab-made life, ETC Group calls for Global
Moratorium on Synthetic Biology.
In a paper published today in the journal Science, the J. Craig Venter
Institute and Synthetic Genomics Inc announced the laboratory creation of
the world's first self-reproducing organism whose entire genome was built
from scratch by a machine.(1) The construction of this synthetic organism,
anticipated and dubbed "Synthia" by the ETC Group three years ago, will
stir a firestorm of controversy over the ethics of building artificial life
and the implications of the largely unknown field of synthetic biology.
Panacea, or...? According to today’s publication, "Synthia" could be a boon
to second-generation agrofuels making it – theoretically – possible to feed
people and cars simultaneously. The article further suggests that Synthia,
or synthetic biology, could help clean up the environment, save us from
climate change, and address the food crisis. "Synthia is not a
one-stop-shop for all our societal woes," disputes Pat Mooney, Executive
Director of ETC Group, an international technology watchdog based in
Canada. “It is much more likely to cause a whole new set of problems
governments and society are ill-prepared to address."
Pandora's Box? "This is the quintessential Pandora’s box moment - like the
splitting of the atom or the cloning of Dolly the sheep. We will all have
to deal with the fall-out from this alarming experiment," comments Jim
Thomas of the ETC Group. "Synthetic biology is a high-risk profit-driven
field, building organisms out of parts that are still poorly understood.(2)
We know that lab-created life-forms can escape, become biological weapons,
and that their use threatens existing natural biodiversity. Most worrying
of all, Craig Venter is handing this powerful technology to the world’s
most irresponsible and environmentally damaging industry by partnering with
the likes of BP and Exxon to hasten the commercialization of synthetic
Synthetic biology refers to the construction of novel life-forms using
synthetic DNA made from off-the-shelf chemicals - a form of "extreme
genetic engineering". The team behind today’s announcement, led by
controversial scientist and entrepreneur Craig Venter, is associated with a
private company, Synthetic Genomics Inc, bankrolled by the US government
and energy behemoths BP and Exxon. Synthetic Genomics recently announced a
$600 million research and investment deal with Exxon Mobil in addition to a
2007 investment from BP for an undisclosed amount. Venter, who led the
private sector part of the human genome project ten years ago, has already
applied for patents related to Synthia's technology.(4)
Although high-profile backers of synthetic biology now occupy key positions
in the US Obama administration(5) there still remains no proper national or
international oversight of new high-risk, technologies that carry vast
implications for humanity and the natural world. In 2006, ETC Group joined
with other organizations to demand the formal, open and inclusive oversight
of synthetic biology(6) and have since called for a global halt on research
pending the development of global regulations. ETC Group has reiterated
that call at a scientific meeting of the United Nations Convention on
Biological Diversity in Nairobi attended by more than 100 governments.(7)
Pandemonium? The lack of global rules governing the field also concerns
many governments, illustrated by the biodiversity talks in Nairobi.
Mundita Lim of the Philippines delegation to the CBD expressed her
country’s concerns "about the serious potential impacts of synthetic
biology on biodiversity... we believe that there should be no field release
of synthetic life, cell or genome into the environment until thorough
scientific assessments have been conducted in a transparent, open and
participatory process involving all Parties, indigenous and local
communities that will all be potentially affected by these synthetic life
forms with unknown consequences on biodiversity, the environment and
livelihoods." Today’s announcement will give new urgency to the debate on
synthetic biology and provide a dramatic example of the need for rigorous
oversight over new technologies before their environmental or commercial
release is permitted.
1) Science, 20 May 2010, "Creation of a Bacterial Cell Controlled by a
Chemically Synthesized Genome," by D. Gibson; J.I. Glass; C. Lartigue; V.N.
Noskov; R.-Y. Chuang; M.A. Algire; M.G. Montague; L. Ma; M.M. Moodie; C.
Merryman; S. Vashee; R. Krishnakumar; N. Assad-Garcia; C.
Andrews-Pfannkoch; E.A. Denisova; L. Young; Z.-Q. Qi; T.H. Segall-Shapiro;
C.H. Calvey; P.P. Parmar; J.C. Venter at J. Craig Venter Institute in
Rockville, MD; G.A. Benders; C.A. Hutchinson III; H.O. Smith; J.C. Venter
at J. Craig Venter Institute in San Diego, CA. The paper acknowledges
'generous funding' from Synthetic Genomics Inc for this work, that three of
the leaders of the scientific team hold executive positions at Synthetic
Genomics Inc and that the J Craig Venter Institute itself holds stock in
Synthetic Genomics Inc.
2) For a graphic overview of the investors behind Synthetic Genomics, Inc,
see ETC Group's 2007 Poster "The Men & Money Behind Synthia." available
3) Some details of Synthetic Genomics deal with BP are available at
http://www.syntheticgenomics.com/media/bpfaq.html and reporting of their
deal with Exxon Mobil is available at http://nyti.ms/sf5A6
4) ETC Group News Release, 7 June 2007, "Patenting Pandora’s Bug, Goodbye,
Dolly...Hello, Synthia! J. Craig Venter Institute Seeks Monopoly Patents on
the World's First-Ever Human-Made Life Form" online at
5) US Energy secretary Steven Chu was feted by press as "The Secretary of
Synthetic Biology" when he was named to office last year (see
http://bit.ly/9pMDp8), reflecting his previous role as head of Lawrence
Berkeley National Lab where he oversaw a $600 million dollar investment by
BP in the university’s synthetic biology labs. On the other side of that
deal was BP chief scientist Steve Koonin, now Undersecretary for Science in
the DOE. Koonin reportedly spearheaded BP's investment in Synthetic
6) Open Letter on Synthetic Biology from Civil Society, May 2006:
7) ETC Group currently has three staff members in Nairobi at the meeting of
the Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice to
the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (SBSTTA 14). The topic of
synthetic biology is under discussion at SBSTTA 14 under an item concerning
the biodiversity risks of next generation biofuels.
Twitter - ETC Group will be putting out occasional updates on this news
story on Twitter using the hashtag #SYNTHIA - we encourage other to use the
Join us on Facebook
Celebration of the life and legacy of Dr Tajudeen Abdul-Raheem
First anniversary celebration (6 Jan 1961 – 25 May 2009)
The first anniversary celebration of the life and legacy of Dr Tajudeen Abdul-Raheem, pan-African friend, comrade, brother and inspiration to so many, is to be held in London on:
Date: Saturday 22 May 2010 Venue: Amnesty International Human Rights Action Centre, 17 – 25 New Inn Yard, London EC2A 3EA Time: 1pm - 6pm
The celebration is open to the public and all are welcome to attend.
The celebration is jointly organised, in the spirit of Pan-Africanism, by friends of Tajudeen, including his widow Mounira Chaieb, Justice Africa, the Centre for Democracy and Development, the Pan African Development Education and Advocacy Programme, the Royal African Society and Pambazuka News.
The day will comprise speeches on the life and works of Tajudeen, the launch of a book of the compilation of Tajudeen’s postcards entitled 'Speaking Truth to Power', performance poetry and traditional African music and the launch of the Tajudeen Abdul-Raheem Educational Trust.
We welcome all other organisations, groups and persons who wish to join our efforts to honour and continue the work of Tajudeen.
'Forward ever, backward never' Kwame Nkrumah (1909–72) 'Don't agonise, organise!' Tajudeen Abdul-Raheem (1961–2009)
Africa Liberation Day – 25 May 2010
Nairobi Safari Club (Lilian Towers) – 16.00 – 18.30
Jointly convened by Fahamu, UN Millennium Campaign, Oxfam International and Kenya Human Rights Commission
AFRICA: 50 YEARS ON, HOW IS PAN AFRICANISM STILL RELEVANT?
Panel discussion 16.00 – 18.00
Occurring each 25 May, Africa Liberation Day has been celebrated as a day for Pan Africanist reflection since 1963. This day takes place in a year when Africa will host the World Cup, some African countries will celebrate 50 years of independence and the world reflects on 10 years of the Millennium Development Goals and 15 years of the Beijing Platform for Action for Women.
Resource-persons include: Charles Abugre, Rachel Shebesh and Irungu Houghton
ONE YEAR ON, WHAT IS THE SIGNIFICANCE OF TAJUDEEN ABDUL-RAHEEM AND HIS IDEAS?
Book launch 18.00 – 20.00
Launch of the late Dr Tajudeen Abdul-Raheem’s collection of writings 'Speaking Truth to Power: Selected Pan-African Postcards'
Resource-persons include: Anyang’ Ny’ong’o, Firoze Manji, Ndungu Githuku and Sarah Mitaru
This year also marks the first anniversary of the passing away of Dr Tajudeen Abdul-Raheem (1961–2009), who died on the Mombasa road this day last year. Dr Abdul-Raheem served a range of African organisations including the Africa Research and Information Bureau, the Pan-African Movement and Justice Africa before becoming the UN Millennium Development Campaign Africa director in 2006. His weekly ‘Pan-African Postcards’ were published regularly in Pambazuka News and in several African newspapers. This book is the first comprehensive attempt to bring his opinion editorials together. A limited set of copies will be available on a first-come, first-served basis at the launch.
Both events are open to the public.
Walter Rodney 30th Anniversary Commemoration Committee
Dear friends of Walter Rodney,
13 June 2010 will be 30 years since Walter Rodney was assassinated in Guyana. In tribute to Walter Rodney and to rekindle and remind ourselves of his contribution to the understanding of oppression and the forces of oppression, we call on you to organise activities in your community in the month of June.
Walter left us with a simple task. As the ultimate teacher of the nature and art of oppression, he left us with the task of carrying the torch. His message was clear and unambiguous. We have the benefit of his life work of scholarly activism, which can be used by the working people to cut through the maze of the politics of race that consume our societies.
Today, more than at any other time in history, our people, the working people, can begin anew to engage the new phase of the struggle for transformation. To that end we encourage the self-mobilisation of activities across the world under the theme 'Walter Rodney: Racial Unity, Resistance and Transformation'.
The Walter Rodney 30th Anniversary Commemoration Committee can be contacted as follows:
- Guyana: Andaiye at 592 227 7481 or by email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Canada: Jai Parsram at 416 289 1346 or by email: email@example.com
- USA: Wazir Mohamed at 765 373 8421 or by email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- UK: Luke Daniels by email: email@example.com
Co-coordinators, Walter Rodney 30th Anniversary Commemoration Committee Andaiye and Horace Campbell
‘The Africa I Live In’ short story competition: Call for entries
Opportunities when African writers meet on the same pages at the continental level are few and sometimes, decades apart, especially when this congregation is within Africa itself. For young, un-established writers, this kind of opportunity and the chances that it offers are even rare.
Kwani Trust is pleased to announce such a congress with the launch of this Africa-wide short story competition. The official narrative of ‘inherent’ goodness, indigenous beauty and widespread historicism has now been running on empty for a while. So we seek newer stories that reflect our day to day lives both private and public: the stories and narratives exchanged in schools, colleges, public transport, offices, churches, pubs, streets, suburbs, estates, trading centres, valleys and hills; stories told through song and dance, paint and brush, word and phrase, lens and shutter – stories now being told by a new generation, spurred by new imaginations, revealed by new narratives and expressions.
This call-out is unique for targeting writers under the age of 30, on a continent in which young people virtually have no international airing. It is an important, historical opportunity that opens the way for new directions in African writing to emerge, an exciting vent which is likely to throw up endless surprises.
Published authors will be paid a fee of $100.
Submission guidelines for short stories on new African writing
Deadline: 30 June 2010
* Word count: 3,000 – 8,000 words.
* Theme: ‘The Africa I Live In.’
* This is adult fiction (in the sense that it is not ‘children’s fiction’). Since we are targeting a certain generation, we will only accept entries from writers born after 1978.
* The work ought to be in English or ‘Englishes’ – particularly since we are not making translations.
* The story must be ‘new’ in the sense that it is ‘unpublished in book form’. (We will accept submissions which have previously been published in magazines.)
* Please send submissions by email, in Word form, to firstname.lastname@example.org or by post as a typescript (no handwritten scripts please) to the Kwani Trust address:
PO box 2895-00100
* Name of author (Times New Roman, 12. Bold left justified)
* Contact address, telephone number and email (Times New Roman, 12. Bold left justified)
* Title of short story (Times New Roman 14, bold, centered)
* The story should be in Times New Roman, black, size 12, justified, 1.5 line spacing.
* Page numbers and name of author on every page please.
* Word count at the end of the story, bold and left justified.
If your story is chosen for any of the Kwani publications, they will ask you to provide a few sentences about yourself and your work (around 200 words).
For more information about the Kwani Trust, check http://kwani.org/main/
South Africa: An unfinished revolution?
In her historical novel, ‘A Place of Greater Safety’, which is played out against the backdrop of the Great French Revolution through an illuminating character analysis and synthesis of three of that revolution’s most prominent personalities, viz., Maximilien Robespierre, Georges-Jacques Danton and Camile Desmoulins, Hilary Mantel imagines the following conversation between Lucile Desmoulins and Danton:
‘So has the Revolution a philosophy, Lucile wanted to know, has it a future? She dared not ask Robespierre, or he would lecture her for the afternoon on the General Will: or Camile, for fear of a thoughtful and coherent two hours on the development of the Roman republic.
‘So she asked Danton.
‘“Oh, I think it has a philosophy”, he said seriously. “Grab what you can, and get out while the going’s good.”’
This sentiment, I make bold to say, puts in the bluntest possible way the dominant sense of disillusionment and disbelief that most middle class South Africans have when they feel compelled to ‘whine’ and complain about where we appear to have landed in post-apartheid South Africa. All the heady hopes which even those who were not in or of the Congress Alliance had in 1994-95 seem to have turned into ash.
There are few thinking South Africans today who would be prepared to say that they are happy with how things have turned out. Because the title of my talk is bound to raise all kinds of expectations about its content, it is essential that I state clearly at the outset that I shall not wander off again into the well-trodden paths that are supposed to bring the excited novice to an understanding of the relationship between the ‘bourgeois democratic’ and the ‘socialist’ revolutions or, even more superiorly to the realisation that ‘the revolution’ is permanent and that the first necessarily ‘grows over’ into the second under the conditions that obtain in semi-industrialised or newly industrialising countries. These debates are as relevant today as they were at the beginning of the last century. I do not for one second wish to deny the importance of getting conceptual and strategic clarity in this domain. For, without such clarity, we do no more than tap about in the dark in the hope of finding by chance a route out of the suffocating maze of the world capitalist system. I shall, however, have occasion to refer to this subject briefly when I discuss the illusion of the ‘National Democratic Revolution’.
In the Marxist paradigm, the word ‘revolution’ has very precise meanings. Most often, it is used to refer to a ‘social revolution’, i.e., the displacement of the rule of one class by that of another, usually by violent means, i.e., in the course of a civil war or an armed struggle. Thus, for example, the Great French Revolution formally put an end to the rule of the feudal nobility and the clergy in France and, later, in the rest of Western Europe, and the Great October Revolution ended the rule of the Tsarist aristocracy and of the incipient Russian bourgeoisie. It ought to be clear to everyone here tonight that, in South Africa, we have not, in this very precise sense, experienced a social revolution. If anything, the post-apartheid state is more capitalist than its apartheid parent. To deny the continuity between the apartheid capitalist state and the post- apartheid capitalist state, as some people actually do, is a futile and quixotic exercise.
A ‘political revolution’, in this context, refers to what we would nowadays term ‘regime change’. That is to say, certain fundamental changes in the form of rule and of the institutions of the state machine are brought about without, however, a concomitant change in the fundamental power relations at the level of the economy and of the management of the repressive apparatuses of the state. In my view, what we have experienced in South Africa during the past two decades is precisely such a political revolution. For reasons of focus, I shall refer only briefly to the third social dimension, i.e., the ‘cultural revolution’, important though it is to grasp the integral but intricate relationship between these three aspects of any revolution.
Why and how the regime change came about is not the focus of my address this evening either. There have been many scholarly analyses, biographies of significant actors as well as insightful journalistic articles and documentaries on the transition from apartheid to post-apartheid South Africa. Read together, these provide us with a range of perspectives, which help us to make sense of the often bewildering events of the period. Instead, I want to talk about the fact that most South Africans, certainly most oppressed and exploited South Africans, feel that they have been, if not betrayed, then certainly misled. And, because I do not believe that political action is a monopoly of so-called politicians, I want to talk about what we can do in order to get out of the state of shock into which we have been driven. I want to talk about what we can do to find again that vision of a different South Africa that inspired all of us in one way or another regardless of what political tendency we belonged to at the time. For, I believe that if, through discussion and practical action, we can again visualise that other South Africa, we will very soon put behind us the barbaric and vulgar universe in which we are forced to try to survive with dignity today.
Let me also make it clear that in spite of the implication in its title, I have no idea what ‘the finished revolution’ would have looked like or what it will look like. Revolutions, I think, are never completed. Radical social transformation, even when it is imperceptible in the here and now, is a continuous and complex process. But, even though this is an essential part of the meaning of revolution, this objective process has to be articulated in concrete programmes and strategies for any kind of revolution to eventuate. The success or failure, the ‘completeness’ or otherwise of the revolution we speak of in South Africa can only be measured against the extent to which, roughly, the set of ideas and programmatic demands that have guided all sections of the national liberation movement since the axial period, 1928–1945 approximately, and which were refined and differentiated according to the ideological predispositions and class position of the different tendencies within the broad movement , were realised in the course of the 80 years that have elapsed since then. Without reducing the complexity of contemporary South African history to some simplistic formula, I believe one can say without any distortion that the discourses of the national liberation movement were characterised by the intersection of nationalist, liberal-democratic and broadly socialist paradigms and that the particularity of one or other political tendency was determined by the ways in which its exponents blended or interpreted these three discursive strategies, each of which, of course, derived from and reinforced specific class interests, whether or not the social actors involved were conscious of these.
Since the main burden of my talk concerns the developments after 1994, it seems to me most realistic and, in an important sense, also fair, to take as the point of departure for my analysis the general demands of the Freedom Charter, which guided the political strategy and tactics of the Congress Movement since 1955. Given the decision to negotiate a deal with the apartheid regime rather than getting entangled in a 100 years war, such as that raging in Palestine, the leadership of the Congress Alliance had to make definite decisions about which of the demands of the Charter could be put on the back burner, as it were, in order to make a deal acceptable to the economic and political elites of the old regime.
Today, it is obvious to all who wish to look, that the fundamental concession was made with the agreement not to touch the existing property relations except for the virtually unimplementable provisions about land restitution and the clauses referring to affirmative action. To put it differently, these agreements deliberately restricted the horizon of the ‘revolution’ to the conditions that prevail in any bourgeois democracy. This means that the middle-class leadership of the Congress Movement were albeit ‘temporarily’ in effect abandoning their pro-poor and pro-proletarian comrades and the mass of its working class members and supporters. This is where the theory of the ‘National Democratic Revolution’ was called upon to play a useful mediating role. At the crucial moment, i.e., when the actual concessions were being made, the NDR found its programmatic expression in the now forgotten ‘Reconstruction and Development Programme’ (RDP). The simple, clear language of former President Mandela’s version of it is how most of the oppressed and exploited masses understood the promises made by the leadership in the early 1990s:
‘The ANC drafted a 150-page document known as the Reconstruction and Development Programme, which outlined our plan to create jobs through public works; to build a million new houses with electricity and flush toilets; to extend primary health care and provide ten years of free education to all South Africans; to redistribute land through a land claims court; and to end the value-added tax on basic foodstuffs. We were also committed to extensive affirmative action measures in both the private and public sectors. This document was translated into a simpler manifesto called ‘A Better Life for All’, which in turn became the ANC’s campaign slogan.’ (Long Walk to Freedom, p.605)
Mandela goes on to emphasise that he regularly reminded his audiences that ‘freedom’ would not translate into some kind of Cinderella-like overnight change into prosperity. In essence, he was truthfully warning his people that now the class struggle would become brutal and unrelenting. Unlike some of his left-wing comrades, he did not try to sell this straightforward fact as a so-called ‘National Democratic Revolution’.
But, before I expand on this matter, let me say a few words about individual psychology and shifts of social or class positions. I should like to phrase this as simply and authentically as possible, since it is at this level that resentment and hostility are engendered when one criticises a movement, such as the Congress movement, that has become so powerful and hegemonic in South Africa.
I do not doubt for one minute that most, if not all, members of that movement sincerely believed in the ringing trumpet tones of the Charter: The people shall govern; There shall be houses, security and comfort, and so forth. It is probable even that many, but certainly not the majority, of the leaders considered that the deviations from the trajectory which the Charter seemed to suggest, i.e., away from the race-based capitalism of more than 100 years towards some kind of African socialist or at least social democratic future were no more than tactical adjustments necessitated by the realities of the political terrain at the end of the 20th century after the collapse of the Soviet Union.
It is impossible to guess at how each of the prominent individuals actually came to terms with the psychological dissonance caused by the need, as they saw it, to carry out one or more ideological somersaults. Not all of them were as public and as forthright as Mandela himself, especially in his famous U-turn with respect to nationalisation as the policy of the ANC. The biographies of many of the actors undoubtedly provide some insight into this matter. All I wish to stress here is that any blanket statement about ‘sell-out’ and ‘betrayal’ could only be made at the most general and abstract level against the background of the avowed previous ideological or programmatic positions of the individuals or groups of people concerned.
I want to say as clearly as possible that apart from incorrigible revolutionary socialists, such as myself and many others who were routinely maligned as ‘ultra-Leftists’ or even more anachronistically, as ‘Trotskyites’, the bourgeoisie and a few of the leaders of the Congress Alliance were clear that the 1993-94 agreements were in essence about stabilising the capitalist state and system in South Africa and creating the conditions for its expansion as a profitable venture. Examples of this understanding are today easily accessible even though they are, for obvious reasons, condemned as prejudiced, false, malignant and even ‘unpatriotic’ by those who are now the powers that be. A few of the more significant statements will suffice to make the point. As early as 24 April 1991, almost 20 years ago, John Carlin, the South Africa correspondent of The Independent wrote:
‘Mr Mandela and the other ‘moderates’ in the ANC leadership [...] believed that the government and the ANC would be equal partners in the voyage to the “New South Africa”, that apartheid would go and they, as the natural majority party, would glide into power ... In one sense [that] trust was not misplaced. Mr de Klerk will remove apartheid from the statute books. [...]. But this was never the issue; he knew from the day he came to power that this was what had to be done. The real issue was to retain power, to perpetuate white privilege and the economic status quo after apartheid had gone.’ (Cited in McKinley, Dale T. 1997. ‘The ANC and the Liberation Struggle: A Critical Political Biography’ p.122)
Of course, de Klerk also miscalculated on the dynamics of the negotiations but the essential point remains true. Today, thanks particularly to Professor Terreblanche’s summary of the hidden negotiations about the economic aspects of the negotiated settlement, we know that there was no innocence on the side of the leadership of the ANC and of prominent leaders of COSATU (Congress of South African Trade Unions) and the SACP (South African Communist Party), in spite of disagreements on policy, which fact became evident most dramatically with the eventual imposition of the policy of GEAR (Growth, Employment and Redistribution). Chapters 3 and 4 of Terreblanche’s book ought to be compulsory reading for any remaining doubting Thomases in the former liberation movement. We cannot thread our way through the intricacies of the debates and the manoeuvres that led to the shifts in the approach of the ANC leadership. The following statement gives a crystal clear picture of what actually happened:
‘At stake was not only the economic policy of a democratically elected government but also the nature of South Africa’s future economic system. Given that South Africa was the most developed country in Africa, the stakes were extremely high, and the negotiations were strategically hugely important for the corporate sector. For almost 20 years all the joint attempts of the corporate sector and the NP government to find a new accumulation strategy had been unsuccessful. After almost 20 years of prolonged stagflation, the latter was desperate to convince the core leaders of the democratic movement what the economic ideology and economic system in a democratic South Africa should be.
‘The strategy on which the corporate sector and the ANC agreed during the informal negotiations in 1993 can be described as the fourth phase of the AAC-led [Anglo- American Corporation NEA] search for a new accumulation strategy. [...] The main characteristic of every phase of the AAC-led search for a new accumulation strategy was that the supreme goal of economic policy should be to attain a high economic growth rate, and that all other objectives should be subordinated to this. By convincing ANC leaders to accept the AAC’s approach, the corporate sector in effect persuaded – or forced – the ANC to move away from its traditional priority, namely to uplift the impoverished black majority socially and economically.’ (Terreblanche, Sampie. 2002. A History of Inequality in South Africa 1652 – 2002. pp. 95-96)
Although it is tempting to dwell on the details of this shift, I think the essentials are clear enough. There ought to be no doubt in anyone’s mind after a close reading of this text that, and why, the bourgeoisie, the self-same capitalist class of yesterday, is in command of all the strategic positions, no matter what the ‘democratic’ posturing of the politicians might be. And, although it would be an oversimplification to maintain that the ANC at the beginning of the 21st century has become a party of the capitalist class, it ought to be equally clear that the bloodletting and the cruel battles that are currently tearing the organisation apart are precisely about how soon it will become such a party rather than the supposed broad church, as which it continues to be marketed by the bureaucratic leadership. The sketch I have given, without any attempt on my part to join all the dots, does, I think, explain to a large extent why we have been catapulted into the ugly world of modern-day capitalist barbarism with its devastating features of high and growing unemployment, increasing social inequality, horrific violent crime, racist and xenophobic dog-eat-dog conflicts, among many other things. This is very far from the almost utopian revolutionary euphoria with which most South Africans, unaware of what had been agreed upon in the devilish details of the negotiation process, had so proudly cast their votes on 27-28 April 1994.
I cannot resist the temptation to cite one of my favourite texts in order to illuminate the dilemma of the governing party. President Zuma and his team are reaping the bitter fruits of the negotiated settlement. They find themselves in the tragic situation described by Friedrich Engels in the memorable paragraph in the Peasant War in Germany:
‘The worst thing that can befall a leader of an extreme party is to be compelled to take over a government in an epoch when the movement is not yet ripe for the domination of the class which he represents, and for the realisation of the measures which that domination implies. [...]. Thus he necessarily finds himself in an unsolvable dilemma. What he can do contradicts all his previous actions, principles, and the immediate interests of his party, and what he ought to do cannot be done. In a word, he is compelled to represent not his party or his class, but the class for whose domination the movement is then ripe. In the interests of the movement he is compelled to advance the interests of an alien class, and to feed his own class with phrases and promises, and with the asseveration [solemn assertion NEA] that the interests of that alien class are its own interests. Whoever is put into this awkward position is irrevocably lost.’
Enter the National Democratic Revolution, i.e., the smoke and mirrors of the so-called Left in the Congress Alliance. Let me say it very clearly: The new South Africa has brought about fundamental changes in the form of rule and in the institutional furniture of the capitalist state. The realm of freedom has been expanded beyond anything that most people imagined in the 1960s, and millions of people have been lifted out of abject pauperism to some level of human dignity. The struggle has not been in vain in any sense of the term. But, the struggle continues. After 1994, and especially after 1996, it is no longer a struggle for national liberation. It is a class struggle ‘pure and simple’ or, in good South African English: Finish en klaar. The inverted commas are necessary because one cannot discard overnight the birthmarks that are imprinted on the new body politic by the old order. Social inequality continues to be reproduced objectively largely as racial inequality in spite of the continued growth of the ‘black’ middle class. Racial prejudice, inequalities justified on alleged cultural, linguistic, ethnic or nationality differences, all the things that defaced colonial-apartheid South Africa, persist even if in attenuated forms. They will require decades, perhaps centuries, to become completely irrelevant.
The attempt to frame the class struggles in which we are now engaged in terms of the so-called NDR is no more than tilting at windmills. To put it bluntly: For the leadership of this NDR to be an integral part of a bourgeois government while pretending to conduct a revolutionary struggle against the capitalist system is the merest political buffoonery. Workers and other poor people can be got to mouth and repeat all the heroic phrases that are supposed to give expression to the demands and aspirations of this ‘revolution’ but at some point, they will realise that they are being sold a dummy.
What is at issue here is not the value or the socio-historical impact of the day to day struggles being waged by the working class and other strata of the urban and the rural poor. That does not depend on the misleading discourses of the NDR that is supposed to guide their struggles.
The real danger is that the goal, the destination, of these struggles is being described and presented in terms that necessarily limit the horizons of the class struggle to the bourgeois universe. Strategically, this can only lead to the consolidation of the social democratisation of the workers’ movement in South Africa, a process that began with the tying of the main trade union federation to the goals and modalities of the Congress Alliance in the mid-1980s. In doing so, a vital part of the workers’ movement was agreeing to the leadership of the liberation movement by the nationalists, as opposed to the socialists. The SACP had gone even further by allowing, indeed compelling, its members to become card-carrying members of the ANC. Things can change, of course, but, as I see it, the SACP is currently not an independent political formation.
Theoretically, we are once again faced with a concept of the state that makes any movement beyond capitalism inconceivable. I have neither the time nor the inclination to enter into this particular debate in any detail in this address. Suffice it to say that the question can be formulated quite clearly in terms that Rosa Luxemburg first made famous in her essay on Reform or Revolution, published in 1900, i.e., 110 years ago. In her own words:
‘[...] (People) who pronounce themselves in favor of the method of legislative reform in place of and in contradistinction to the conquest of political power and social revolution, do not really choose a more tranquil, calmer and slower road to the same goal, but a different goal. Instead of taking a stand for the establishment of a new society they take a stand for surface modification of the old society. If we follow the political conceptions of revisionism, we arrive at the same conclusion that is reached when we follow the economic theories of revisionism. Our program becomes not the realization of socialism, but the reform of capitalism; not the suppression of the system of wage labor, but the diminution of exploitation, that is, the suppression of the abuses of capitalism instead of the suppression of capitalism itself.’ (Luxemburg, Rosa. Reform or Revolution, pp.49-50)
Another way of putting this is the proposition that, in Gramscian terms, the class struggle gets stuck, as it were, in a war of position in the belief that these manoeuvres in themselves constitute a transformation of the capitalist state and society into a socialist society and a workers’ state. (See Bensaid, Daniel. Revolutionary Strategy Today, p.30). This, as I see it, is the tendency of much that is put forward as the programme of the NDR, quite apart from the fundamental sleight of hand perpetrated by those who are busy stabilising the capitalist system in South Africa while they pontificate at the same time about the ‘fundamental transformation’ of our society. By way of example, I refer to the resolutions of the 1997 COSATU national conference, all of which remain on the agenda in 2010:
‘building a robust anti-capitalism, which means a relentless criticism of capitalism;
‘building working class hegemony in many areas such as sport, culture, values, the media and most importantly (sic), in politics; and tirelessly upholding a vision of full equality (and not just constitutional equality), including gender equality;
‘rolling back the market – water, education, shelter, healthcare are basic human rights, not commodities. Everyone should have a right to these things, regardless of whether they can afford them. We should not allow the market to dominate in meeting the basic needs of people;
‘transforming the state – a powerful public sector is a crucial component of socialism, but should not be big for its own sake. Our vision is that it should be developmental and facilitate participation and consultation; it should be more responsive and accountable, and the higher, bureaucratic echelons should be reduced;
‘advancing and experimenting with other, non-capitalist forms of ownership such as cooperatives and ‘social capital’ (eg. Workers’ pension and provident funds);
‘transforming how work is organized and managed – toward worker control and worker self-management. The actual conditions of the workplace should change, so as to empower working people;
‘strengthening worker organization – in addition to trade unions, there are other organizations in which workers are active, and these should be part of a socialist programme.’ (COSATU/SACP publication: Building Socialism Now: Preparing for the New Millennium, p.68)
While few left-wing people will disagree with any of this, except for the give-away phrase about ‘transforming the state’, it is clear that these objectives are put forward in the mode of Bernsteinian revisionism and that, as a consequence, they can at best lead to what I have already referred to as the consolidation of social democracy in the workers’ movement. The entire strategy depends on a notion of the state as being essentially neutral. The final disillusionment will come, of course, when the repressive apparatuses of the state, instead of supporting the exploited classes and other oppressed strata, turn their weapons on the masses to protect the interests of the capitalist class. The response of police personnel to many of the so-called service delivery protests prefigures what I am saying here.
On the other hand, this is not an inevitable outcome, as the history of every successful revolution attests and we are probably decades away from any such scenario at this moment. However, not to postulate consistently and as a matter of daily practical political education the need to end the rule of the local and international capitalist class, as eccentric as that may appear to be at present, is to disarm the working class and its allies ideologically before the decisive battles are fought.
So, what should we be doing, those of us who consider ourselves to be on the Left and as being committed to bringing about that other world which socialists across the globe and across the centuries have envisaged? I want to address this question briefly at a general, rather than at an operational level, since this is not a forum for the discussion of tactical issues.
In a sentence, I would say that we have to find the ideological and organisational means to build the counter-society that insulates the oppressed and exploited from the undermining and disempowering values and practices of bourgeois society. This goal must once again become an integral part of the class struggle against exploitation and oppression. Today, because of the massive pollution of the popular consciousness by means of (mostly) American consumerist culture, this is a much more difficult task than it was for those who fashioned – in struggle – the mass social democratic parties and workers’ movements of Europe towards the end of the 19th century, or of some of the mass parties of the newly industrialising countries, including, incipiently, the Black Consciousness Movement in South Africa during the 1970s and 1980s.
In order to get to the orientation I wish to suggest, I want to put forward a number of propositions that have to be borne in mind.
Firstly, for reasons that I assume need not be spelled out, the collapse of the USSR and of its satellite states in Eastern Europe catapulted the pro-socialism forces in the world into one of their most deep-going and enduring crises. In particular, I think, there can be no doubt that the credibility of the socialist project as the only viable alternative to capitalism as a world system has been called into question.
The very fact that the majority of human beings in the second half of the last century equated socialism with what had come into existence in the Soviet Union has once again raised the question of what we mean by the concept.
This is not new, of course. At the end of the 19th century, similar debates were conducted among, especially, socialists in Europe, notably in the German Social Democratic Party. However, we live in an entirely different world today and the question has, therefore, to be approached with the new technological and ideological environment in mind.
I realise, of course, that most of us have ready answers to this question but I believe it is essential that we find a different language in which to articulate these answers. Otherwise, our cliché-ridden formulae will continue to alienate the popular consciousness. We have to use traditional as well as modern media in order to disseminate these answers in diverse and innovative forms among all of humanity. Stories, utopias, novels, plays, songs, rapping, even soapies – we need to experiment with all of these forms, and more, in order to get our message across more effectively.
Secondly, the caving in of layer after layer of former so-called socialists to the pressures and enticements of neo-liberal bourgeois norms and aspirations, which has been one of the most melodramatic political developments of the late 20th century, has temporarily weakened the socialist forces numerically and intellectually but, in the longer term, has also laid the foundation for a much more solid political edifice built with the will and the knowledge of many dedicated men and women.
Clearly, the question that we have to consider here is something along these lines: How do we, among other things, maximise the acceptance of the need by the majority of people in our societies to base their lives and their aspirations on the principle of sufficiency (André Gorz)?
The question implies an understanding of the moral economy in an industrial environment, a countering of the capitalist myth of ‘economic rationality’ and a reintegration of the, if you wish, pre-industrial, pre-capitalist values based on the notion that ‘enough is as good as a feast’.
This approach has obviously been reinforced by the insights derived from the researches of ecological science and activism. It is from this ideological mindset, formulated in political programmes of principle and practical action plans, that the motivation and the passion will be generated to oppose, and, therefore, not to emulate, the acquisitive and status-seeking desiderata which are the stock-in-trade of the capitalist system.
We need as a corollary to this to spell out what we mean in practice when we proclaim that socialism is a process, not an event. For example, in the educational domain, should we not place the spotlight firmly on pre-school education and, consequently, universalise this phase of education as a defining component of any modern democracy? (It goes without saying that we have to work out all the curricular and training implications of this proposal).
Thirdly, there is very little doubt in the mind of any serious revolutionary socialist protagonist that the form of organisation, the party, for short, that will lead or guide the struggle for socialism in the world has once again become a point of debate. This is so because of the elitist pretensions, authoritarian ethos and undemocratic practices that have often come to be associated with so-called vanguard parties of the working class.
It ought not to be necessary to say that this is a fundamental question, one that requires from all of us total honesty and intellectual integrity, since the fact that socialist activists are – ideally – people who have specialised in the study of society and of history, necessarily equips them with a certain kind of knowledge that others either don’t have or do not consider to be essential to their ‘happiness’.
Because of the social power that this knowledge endows us with, which, incidentally, is not very different from the power that technocrats such as civil engineers or nuclear scientists have, we are called upon to display higher levels of social responsibility than most ‘ordinary’ people, something that recent history has taught us not to take for granted at all.
Fourthly, we find ourselves in a strategic impasse. Both theory and history tell us that socialism in one country is impossible. Yet, the domino effect of socialist revolutions seems always to be interrupted by imperialist machinations and direct intervention.
Hence, at the international level, where one always has to begin any analysis, the strategic question today is: What do we have to do in order to prevent the isolation of any socialist revolution such as that which is underway in Latin America?
This question is not about not fighting against your own bourgeoisie, as some wiseacre tried to tell me at a recent conference; it is about ensuring that your own efforts at the national level can be sustainable once they eventuate in successful overthrow of the existing system. It is also about the most effective practical manner of countering the paralysing sectarianism of the Left. It is only when all revolutionary socialists in the world act together (in international brigades, large-scale boycott and sanctions campaigns against aggressor nations, etc.) that some of the edges that make it impossible for left-wing people to act in concert will begin to be rubbed off.
Let me add a few points with respect to political economy issues at the beginning of the 21st century. The centrality and dominance of the USA. in the world economic landscape, though it continues to shape events and political economy processes, is beginning to become less taken for granted than even five years ago. This situation is most visibly manifest in the decline of the dollar and the zig-zag rise of the euro. Besides the ever more obvious inter-imperialist rivalry between North America and the European Union, we are witnessing the appearance on the world stage of the Asian capitalist giants of China, India and Indonesia, as well as of the more established capitalist regimes of Japan, South Korea, Malaysia-Singapore and an assertive Russia. The new dynamic that these relations have inserted into the world capitalist system has been exhaustively analysed by many Marxist and other progressive scholars. It will suffice, therefore, if I highlight a few issues that appear to me to be relevant to our present context.
Firstly, the dominance of finance capital is clearly a high-risk situation as far as the system as a whole is concerned. The latest series of crises triggered by the collapse of the so-called sub-prime market in the USA demonstrates this most clearly. Not only the banking system of the USA. but those of all countries have been put in jeopardy and are relying on their central banks (i.e., their taxpayers) to bail them out.
Secondly, and related to the first point, the bull markets of the past decade or more have been demand driven, i.e., based on consumption that is itself the result of the expansion (over-expansion) of credit. This situation is unsustainable and the continued creation of ever more sophisticated credit-creating instruments (especially the plethora of loyalty cards and smart cards for their not so smart ‘owners’) is a recipe for the deepest possible recession and, ultimately, depression.
This predictable fact has produced the usual oracular pronouncements about the collapse of capitalism from all manner of Marxist and other socialist analysts. It is my view that we should avoid this eschatological tendency, since it really does not enrich our understanding of how the system actually works. We cannot at one and the same time say that the system will not collapse of its own accord and, without any reference to whether or not the subjective factor, i.e, the leadership, the party and all that that implies, is adequately prepared to deliver the final blows, predict its ‘inevitable’ fall.
The so-called resilience of the capitalist system, as we know from especially the world and other wars of the last century is based on its ‘creative destruction’ of resources through, among other things, primarily investment in the military-industrial complex and the conduct of war on the most threadbare of ‘justifications’. If any person on earth still doubts the truth of this proposition after the exposure of the official lies about the so-called weapons of mass destruction in Saddam’s Iraq, nothing will convince them. Not even two years ago, George Bush was embarrassingly stopped from publicly pushing in the direction of preparing for a similar war scenario in Iran by his own ‘intelligence service’ releasing a report that shows clearly that Iran had given up any notion of producing nuclear arms as far back as 2003!
Of course, a realistic assessment of the prospects for successful anti-capitalist-imperialist actions by large masses of exploited and oppressed people in many different parts of the world does not mean that one is suggesting that socialist revolution is not on the immediate agenda. In Latin America, as I have pointed out, the conditions for such a leap across the ideological and political hurdles that have been placed so very deliberately and effectively in the path of the workers of the world has become decidedly possible, even probable.
Thirdly, from the point of view of the economic South of the globe, the entrance of China and India as major investors in infrastructure and consumers of raw materials and other commodities has the potential of re-establishing a ‘neutral’ space for the elites that is not dissimilar from that which made it possible during the Cold War for a Nehru, a Nasser, an Nkrumah and others to strut large on the world stage, whatever their nationalist and personal attributes might have contributed to their stature. Block formation such as that manifest in the EU, AU, ASEAN, ALBA and other similar entities, is, in Manuel Castell’s terms, initially a form of resistance to ‘globalisation’ by the elites. It implies the manifest rejection of the new international division of labour imposed by the international financial institutions on behalf of the USA hegemon on the rest of humanity. It can, however, only succeed in the long run if it manages to create what he calls ‘project identities’, i.e., if the generality of the population identifies with the newly created block. This is the reason for the discussion about a European identity and for the ongoing discussion in South Africa of the question: Who is an African? For the Left, it poses the question (in Africa, for example) whether we can and should give new meaning to the pan-African project, i.e., as a left project that is implacably opposed to the capitalist-imperialist basis and the elitist ethos of NEPAD (New Partnership for Africa's Development) and all its ancillary formations. I believe that this is a fundamental question for socialists in Africa, one the consideration of which we can no longer defer.
Fourthly, the increasingly coordinated strategies of the world capitalist class via entities such as the World Economic Forum (WEF) as well as the yawning gaps between the rich and the poor that are the direct consequence of the neo-liberal economic orthodoxy and its barbaric practical instantiations in most countries of the world, especially in the economic South, have given rise to a world-wide protest movement that has come to be associated in the main with the World Social Forum (WSF) and its geographical offshoots with the catchy motto/slogan to the effect that ‘Another world is possible’, reminiscent of Schiller’s ‘Ode to Joy’ eternalised in the Chorale of Beethoven’s 9th symphony. Now, whatever else the WSF might be, it is universally acknowledged that it is not, and should not try to be, a new International. It does, however, by implication raise many questions about the international coordination of revolutionary socialist and other working-class activities.
Any illusions individual socialists or groups of socialists may have had about the class nature of most co-opted regimes, especially in Africa, have been dispelled by the blatant and abject subordination of the South African liberation struggle to the dictates of international and domestic capital.
Africa’s position in the international division of labour has been very firmly defined as supplier of certain raw materials, especially oil, gas, precious metals and plantation goods such as sisal and cotton. Only South Africa itself has a sufficiently diversified economic structure to withstand to some extent the devastating consequences of essentially monocultural economies.
As has been pointed out by authors such as John Saul and Colin Leys in numerous publications, the situation of the urban and especially the rural poor in most of Africa is exacerbated by the fact that all previous populist notions of ‘African’ socialism have been discredited, most of them even before the implosion of the USSR.
In spite of this, of course, the sporadic and sometimes sustained protests and uprisings against the IMF and World Bank imposed austerity regimes, most prominently in Zimbabwe in recent years, but equally so in Zambia, in Uganda, Senegal and elsewhere, are a sign of the latent force of anti-neo-colonial and anti-capitalist resistance, of the potential of the second chimurenga. These actions have highlighted the need for:
‘[...] nation-wide movements and/or parties through which such local groups and initiatives can ultimately unite to confront the political and economic power of the transnationals and the states that back them.’
For this reason, as well as others, the direction that the class struggle takes in South Africa during the next few years will be crucial to the rest of the continent. Currently, because of all the smoke that is being projected by SACP sleight of hand as a raging fire of revolutionary ‘transformation’ of the ANC into a quasi-socialist party, there appears to be much confusion.
However, the position can be stated clearly and simply. The working and unemployed masses are voting with their feet. Whatever their lingering loyalties and ever more feeble hopes in the myth that ‘the ANC will deliver’, however big the gap between political consciousness and material practice, the thousands of township uprisings, countrywide strikes and serial metropolitan protest actions have one simple meaning: WE REJECT YOUR POLICIES AND YOUR PRACTICES AS ANTI-WORKER AND ANTI-POOR.
It is, in my view, a misnomer to refer to these stirrings of self-organisation of the working class as an expression of ‘collective insubordination’, even though their immediate impulse is usually reactive rather than proactive. They are saying very clearly and very loudly that the appeal to nationalist, blood and soil rhetoric has lost its power and that we are standing on the threshold of a politics that will be shaped by a heightened sense of class struggle. It is this understanding that should inform our analysis and our estimation of the prospects for a more principled socialist-orientated direction of the struggle in South Africa.
The Biko generation inculcated positive values of self-respect, self-esteem and self- consciousness into the young people at schools and at higher education institutions as well as older people in communities and in workplaces. They did so because they understood that the slave mentality is the proximate source of the sense of disempowerment, despair and political apathy that keeps the oppressed in thrall. Above all, they understood intuitively that power is not simply the control of armed force, legitimate or otherwise. Hence, they undertook community development programmes and mobilised people at the grassroots in order that they might survive in the menacing environments of apartheid South Africa. Under the banner of the slogan ‘You are your own liberators!’ the Black Community Programmes empowered whole communities across the entire country. Together with the evolving modern labour movement inside the country, it was this war of position that eventually put an end to the apparently linear curve on which the apartheid regime thought itself to be proceeding ever upwards. There is no doubt, of course, that the struggle against racial oppression in all its reprehensible forms compelled everyone to focus on the overriding objective of throwing off the yoke of racism. The mistake that many made, was to assume that the end of apartheid would bring about the end of class exploitation.
Let us try, however briefly, to sketch some of the consequences of applying the principle of sufficiency as the major moral force shaping post-apartheid South Africa, a principle that can create the kind of unifying vision, based on the paramountcy of working class interests.
To begin with, in the domain of education, where the state and other public institutions can legitimately intervene, the content, orientation and delivery of the curriculum at all levels of the system would be changed fundamentally. The psychological, pedagogical, ideological and emotional revolution implied by an approach that does not glorify individual or group domination while allowing for the full development and flowering of the potential inherent in each and every human being can be imagined and extrapolated very easily.
Individual brilliance expressed and deployed on behalf and for the benefit of democratically legitimated groups at different levels of society will continue to be one of the drivers of all social progress, including economic development.
In the domain of the media and especially advertising, we would be rid of the brutalities and socially disreputable messages, which subject us to the domination of capital. Adverts like one that is currently popular in South Africa which claims that everyone wants to be a ‘winner’ and in the ‘first team’, rather than a ‘deputy-chairperson’ or a ‘benchwarmer’ – or words to that effect – would become as absurd and counter-productive as they are from the point of view of a more humane social order. The glorification of the ostentatious consumption and high life of so-called celebrities in politics, culture, sport and even religion would cease to be the supposedly inspiring models of ‘the good life’ that they are marketed as being in television programmes such as ‘Top Billing’ and others. All domains of life would be affected in the most profound possible way.
What a drab and boring vision, I hear the privileged strata exclaiming. On the absolute contrary, I should like to respond to my imagined detractors. Artists, designers, architects, urban planners – in fact all creative individuals and agencies – will be faced with the challenge of finding the optimal ways of expressing and realising the entire range of possibilities in every domain of life.
This will be the terrain of competition, not for individual glory and unequal reward but precisely for the common good, the old-fashioned commonwealth!
Is this no more than John Lennon or Vladimir Lenin’s dream? How do we begin to initiate and incrementally realise this vision and this set of values? Besides the ongoing political and economic class struggles, in which we are willy-nilly involved and by means of which we attempt to create and to consolidate more democratic space in the short to medium term, we have to go back to the community development tasks that the BCM initiated so successfully, if not always sustainably, owing to the ravages of the apartheid system.
We have to rebuild our communities and our neighbourhoods by means of establishing, as far as possible on a voluntary basis, all manner of community projects which bring visible short-term benefit to the people and which initiate at the same time the trajectories of fundamental social transformation, which I have been referring to.
These could range from relatively simple programmes such as keeping the streets and the public toilets clean, preferably in liaison with the local authority, whether or not it is ‘delivering’ at this level, to more complex programmes such as bulk buying clubs, community reading clubs, enrichment programmes for students preparing for exams, teachers’ resource groups at local level, and, of course, sports activities on a more convivial basis, etc.
It is important that I stress that wherever possible, the relevant democratic authority should be asked to support the initiative. On the other hand, the community and its community-based organisations must remain in control of what they are doing. This is the difference between South Africa today and South Africa yesterday. As long as, and to the extent that, we have a democratic system, there is no reason why any of these programmes have to be initiated as anti-government initiatives. Any representative democratic government would welcome and vigorously support such initiatives, since they are pro-people and, in the current context, pro-poor initiatives.
There are already many of these initiatives and programmes in existence. They will, if they are conducted with integrity and not for party-political gain, inevitably gravitate towards one another, converge and network. In this way, the fabric of civil society non-government organisations that was the real matrix of the anti-apartheid movement will be refreshed and we will once again have that sense of a safety net of communities inspired by the spirit and the real practices of ubuntu, the ‘counter-society’ I referred to earlier, that saved so many of us from being destroyed by the racist system. Today, the struggle is much more obviously being conducted as a class struggle against exploitation and unconscionable as well as totally unnecessary and unjustifiable social inequality, manifest in the miserable lives of the vast majority and the vulgar parading of wealth and comfort of the few.
Viewed from a different angle, the question we are confronted with is whether the revolutionary Left cadres will be able to find the requisite solution to the organisational question so that the debilitating and paralysing fragmentation that has marginalised them can be overcome before this passionate resistance of the workers is transformed into the kind of passive resistance we associate with most other post-colonial African states or the nightmare scenario of race war and ethnic cleansing that we saw in Kenya not so long ago, finally overwhelms us.
The strategic and tactical implications of this proposition are numerous and radical; among other things, we shall have to find practical answers to old questions in a new context, questions such as: What kind of party or organisation should be created out of the confluence of all our political tendencies and traditions in order for the socialist alternative to be firmly rooted within this evolving social base? What are the core issues around which a programme of transitional demands and an action plan can be formulated in a democratic process?
How can such a programme be connected to and informed by the essential task of rebuilding our communities and our neighbourhoods on the basis of cooperativist and collectivist values of ubuntu, of sharing and caring? How do we align ourselves politically with COSATU and with the other union federations or with individual unions? How do we work with the rest of the African working class, especially in southern Africa? What position do we take with regards to the World Social Forum? How do we relate to other left-wing international formations without getting encoiled in the sectarian knots or getting sidetracked and lost in the maze of largely irrelevant apologetics that constitutes the stuff of the debates among these sects?
There are, as we speak, a few serious national initiatives underway, all of which are posing these and other relevant questions from slightly different perspectives. I think I have spoken, and speak, in the spirit of Strini Moodley and his comrades when I express the hope that we will find unity in action even as we try to find new ways of seeing the struggle for another world and another South Africa.
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* This address was given as the 4th Strini Moodley Annual Memorial Lecture at the University of KwaZulu-Natal on 13 May 2010.
* Neville Alexander is the director of the Project for the Study of Alternative Education in South Africa, University of Cape Town.
* Please send comments to email@example.com or comment online at Pambazuka News.
 The 4th Strini Moodley Annual Memorial Lecture, held at the University of KwaZulu-Natal on 13 May 2010.
 In the language of Marxist theory, revolutions become inevitable when the relations of production are outstripped by the development of the productive forces in a given social formation.
 My book, One Azania, One Nation. The National Question in South Africa, published pseudonymously in 1979, was one of the first attempts to deal with this period comprehensively.
 This is the real meaning of Mandela’s biographical reference to how he came to his crucial decision to steer the ANC towards accepting the need to negotiate. (See Long Walk to Freedom, p. 513-515)
 In the cut-and-thrust of politics this language is taken for granted but when one sets out to explain a historical phenomenon, a different discourse is essential.
 I cannot take up the question of the so-called developmental state here but my critique of that fashionable concept would proceed along similar lines.
 Occasional references to this scenario do appear in the literature and, I am sure, in the speeches, of COSATU and SACP activists. They are, however, negated by the anti-revolutionary practices of most of the leadership of those formations.
 We have to bear in mind, of course, that today abundance is no longer a utopian vision.
 It should be noted, of course, that all of the mentioned formations, except for ALBA, are based on a vision of reforming the international institutions that keep guard over the international division of labour.
 Colin Leys, cited in Saul, J. 2006. The Next Liberation Struggle. Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy in Southern Africa. Scottsville: University of KwaZulu-Natal Press, p. 284.
 Celestin Monga, cited ibid, p.49.
Somalia: Pirates or protectors?
The devastating Somali civil war since 1991 forced the Somali marine and fisheries sector to an abrupt collapse and almost all Somali fisheries activities shut down. The vessels of the Somali national fishing fleet were abducted and have never been returned. It is estimated that at least 200,000 people lost their jobs and the Somali fishing communities are still struggling to recover.
However, illegal fishing by foreign fleets and the more serious nuclear and toxic waste dumping from the industrialised world pose since then an environmental, socio-economic and ecological threat, which is unparalleled.
Very sophisticated factory-style fishing-vessels, which were designed for distant-water fishing and travel from faraway countries, whose harbours are thousands of miles away from Somalia and whose own fisheries resources are either under tight legal protection or already drastically overexploited, poured into the unprotected Somali waters.
They are in search of high-priced tuna, mackerel, swordfish, grouper, emperor, snapper, shark and of course the other valuable species in the Indian Ocean and the Gulf of Aden. With impunity they rob rock-lobster and shrimps for the tables of the wealthiest in this world, and dolphins, sea turtles and sea-cucumbers for the deranged tastes of the Far East. They have diminished the extraordinary population of dugong to near extinction.
Their task is solely oriented toward short-term gains, knowing the ecological limits, since Somalia does not only experience political but also resource displacement. Besides civil strife and outright war, the massive foreign fishing piracy, bringing criminal poaching and wanton destruction of the Somali marine resources for the last 19 years, may be one of the most damaging factors for the country, economically, environmentally and security-wise.
While biased UN resolutions, big power orders and news reports continue to condemn the hijackings of merchant ships by Somali pirates in the Indian Ocean and the Gulf of Aden, pirate fishing was and is ignored. Why are the UN resolutions, NATO orders and EU decrees to invade the Somali seas persistently failing to include the protection of the Somali marine resources from IUU violations in the same waters?
If a response to both piracy menaces would be balanced and fair, these condemnations would have been justified. But though the European Union (EU), Russia, Japan, India, Egypt and Yemen and others are all in on the anti-piracy campaign, they are only concentrating on the safety of merchant ships; at the same time, they cover up and protect their own illegal fishing activities.
Not only is this outrageous fishing piracy disregarded, but the illegal foreign marine poachers are being encouraged to continue their loot, as none of the current resolutions, orders and decrees refer to the blatant IUU fishing, which now continues unabated along the Somali coasts.
THE IUU MENACE AND FISH LAUNDERING PRACTICE
IUU (Illegal, unreported and unregulated) fishing is a serious global problem; it does not respect national boundaries or sovereignty, it puts unsustainable pressure on stocks, marine life and habitats; it undermines labour standards and distorts markets.
According to Mr Mohammed Waldo, a Somali specialist working with ECOTERRA International, IUU fishing is detrimental to the wider marine ecosystem because it flouts rules designed to protect the marine environment, which includes restrictions to harvest juveniles, closes spawning grounds and demands gear modification designed to minimise by-catch of non-target species. This negligence, he says, has impacted on the country in several ways – the given outright theft of an invaluable protein source from some of the world’s poorest people and the ruining of the livelihoods of almost all legitimate fishermen; incursions by trawlers into the inshore areas reserved for artisanal fishing; risk of collision with local fishing boats; destruction of fishing gear and deaths of fishermen.
It is estimated that the worldwide value of IUU catches stands at US$4 to $9 billion, with a large part of it from sub-Sahara Africa, particularly Somalia; IUU activities practice fish-catch laundering through mother-ship factories, uncontrolled transshipment and re-supply at sea. With these means allowing vessels to remain at sea for months, refuelling, re-supplying and rotating their crew, IUU fishing vessels never need to enter ports because they transfer their catches onto transport ships.
Illegally caught fish and other marine products are laundered by mixing the loot with legally caught fish on board of the transport vessels. Fish-catch laundering, which generates hundreds of millions dollars in the black market, is no less criminal than money laundering, but is not yet punished. Sea ports used for Somali fish laundering includes harbours in the Seychelles, Mauritius, Kenya (Kiunga, Mombasa) and the Maldives.
As the EU closed much of its fishing grounds for five to 15 years to allow for fish regeneration, as Asia overfished its seas, as the international demand for nutritious marine products increased and as the fears of a worldwide food shortage grew, the rich, uncontrolled and unprotected Somali seas became the target of the illegal fishing fleets of many nations.
Surveys by UN, Russian and Spanish assessors just before the collapse of the President Barre regime in 1991 estimated that at least 200,000 tons of fish per year could be harvested sustainably by both artisanal and industrial fisheries, but this has now become the looting target of the international fishing racket. Australian scientists put this figure to at least 300,000 tons.
THE ORIGIN OF SOMALI SEA PIRACY
Mr Waldo, who keeps a close watch of his country, traces the origin of sea piracy and pirate fishing in Somalia back to 1991 when the Siad Barre regime fell, resulting into the disintegration of the Somali navy and coastguard services.
‘Following severe draughts in 1973/74 and 1986, tens of thousands of nomads, whose livestock were wiped out by the draughts, were re-settled along the villages on the long, 3,300 km Somali coast,’ says the analyst. The resettled groups were developed into large fishing communities whose livelihoods depended mainly on inshore fishing, as well as the processing of the offshore catch.
From the early beginnings of the civil war in Somalia (as early as 1988) illegal fishing trawlers started to trespass and fish in Somali waters, including in the 12-nautical mile inshore artisanal fishing waters. The poaching vessels encroached on the local fishermen’s grounds, competing for the abundant rock-lobster and high value pelagic fish in the warm, up-swelling 60km deep shelf along the tip of the Horn of Africa.
ECOTERRA International and Waldo describe the deadly events that were to follow in the war torn country thus: ‘The piracy war between local fishermen and the IUU ventures started here. Local fishermen documented cases of trawlers pouring boiling water on the fishermen in canoes, their nets cut or destroyed, smaller boats crushed, killing all the occupants, and other abuses suffered as they tried to protect their national fishing turf.’ ECOTERRA International has many well documented cases that fishing nets provided by the emergency funds from the international community to ease the disaster of 1992/3 were wiped from the coast by foreign trawlers just days after they were provided to the impoverished fishing communities of Somalia.
Later, the fishermen armed themselves. In response, many of the foreign fishing vessels armed themselves too and with more sophisticated weapons and began to overpower the Somali fishermen again. It was only a matter of time before the local fishermen reviewed their tactics and modernised their hardware. This escalation and cycle of warfare has been going on from 1991 to the present. It is now developing into fully a fledged, two-pronged illegal fishing and sea piracy conflicts, which in addition soon will become politicised and radicalised if nothing stops the foreign impact.
According to the High Seas Task Force (HSTF), there were over 800 IUU fishing vessels in Somali waters at one time in 2005, taking advantage of Somalia’s inability to police and control its own waters and fishing grounds. The fish-poachers, which are estimated take out more than US$450 million in fish value from Somalia annually, neither compensate the local fishermen nor pay taxes and royalties and they do not respect any management, conservation and environmental regulations – norms associated with regulated fishing.
It is believed that the IUU fish-catch by vessels linked to the EU alone takes out of the country more than five times its aid to Somalia.
Illegal foreign fishing trawlers which have been fishing in Somalia since 1991 are mostly owned by EU and Asian fishing companies – Italy, France, Spain, Greece, Russia, Britain, Ukraine, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, India – as well as Yemen, Egypt and Kenya among others.
Illegal vessels captured at the Somali coast by Somali vigilant groups during the years from 1991 to 2009 included Taiwanese trawlers Yue Fa No. 3 and Chian Yuein No. 232, FV Shuen Kuo No. 11; FV Airone, FV De Giosa Giuseppe and FV Antonietta Madre – three Italian vessels registered in Italy; FV Bahari Hindi –Kenyan-registered but owned and managed by Marship Co. of Mombasa., Russian-owned Gorizont-1 and Gorizont-2, Chinese-owned Tianyu No. 8 and Korean-owned Dong Wong 168, Korean-owned FV Beira 3, FV Beira 7 and FV Maputo 9, Greek owned GRECO 1 and GRECO 2, Spanish fishing boats Alakrana and Playa de Bakio, Taiwanese fishing boat Win Far 161, Egyptian fishing boats Ahmed Samar and Momtaz-1 among many others.
A number of Italian-registered SHIFCO vessels, Korean and Ukrainian trawlers, Indian, Egyptian and Yemeni boats were also captured by the said vigilant groups and fines of different levels paid for their release by their criminal owners.
Many Spanish seiners, frequent violators of the Somali fishing grounds, managed to evade capture at various times. The Basque fishing fleet is specifically cunning and now well armed. At least 19 Kenya trawlers have been illegally fishing along the Somali territorial waters, contrary to the UNCLOS (United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea) and the FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization) instruments.
Waldo, the Somali analyst, says that following the collapse of Somali government in 1991, arrangements with Somali warlords and mafia-like companies were formed abroad for bogus fishing licensing purposes. He points out that jointly owned mafia-like Somali-European companies set up in Europe and Arabia worked closely with Somali warlords who issued fake fishing ‘licenses’ to virtually any foreign fishing pirate willing to plunder the Somali marine resources.
The UK and Italy-based African and Middle East Trading Co. (AFMET), PALMERA and UAE-based SAMICO companies are singled out as some of the most corrupt groups, issuing counterfeit licenses as well as fronting for the warlords who shared the loot.
Waldo avers that among technical advisors to the Mafia-like companies – AFMET, PALMIRA & SAMICO – were supposedly reputable firms like MacAllister Elliot & Partners of the UK, while warlords General Mohamed Farah Aidiid, General Mohamed Hersi Morgan, Osman Atto and ex-President Ali Mahdi Mohamed, who officially and in writing gave authority to AFMET to issue fishing ‘licenses’. Local fishermen and marine experts simply call this a ‘deal between thieves’. The analyst submits that AFMET alone ‘licensed’ 43 seiners (mostly Spanish) at US$30,000 per 4-month season. Spanish Pesca Nova was ‘licensed’ by AFMET while French Cobracaf group got theirs from SAMICO at a much discounted rate of US$15,000 per season per vessel.
In October 1999 the Puntland Administration gave carte blanche to yet another Mafia group known as PIDC, registered in Oman, to fish, issue licenses and to police the Puntland coast.
‘PIDC in turn contracted the UK based Hart Group International and together they pillaged the Somali fishing grounds with vengeance, making over US$20 million profit within two years,’ Waldo discloses.
The deal was to split the profits but PIDC failed to share the spoils with the people behind the Puntland administration, resulting in a revocation of their licenses.
Fisheries experts say that tuna catches in the South-Western Indian Ocean fell by as much as 30 per cent last year as pirates blocked access to some of the world's richest tuna waters off Somalia.
Reports indicate that, the Somali pirates threaten the tuna fishing industry, which is worth up to US$6 billion across the Indian Ocean region.
France and Spain, which both base fleets in the Seychelles, expected to haul nearly two-thirds of the year's catch off Somalia between August and November 2008. About 50 trawlers use Victoria port, through which up to 350,000 tonnes of tuna are handled each year. But catches have suffered for two consecutive years as stocks fall.
Seychellois fisheries experts say foreign currency earnings have fallen as a result of the dwindling tuna catch, hurting hopes for an economic recovery in the debt-laden archipelago. In the Seychelles, tuna and related industries – the re-export of fuel to vessels, port services, electricity and water for vessels – account for up to 40 per cent of the foreign exchange earned. The financial implications for the Seychelles are hard to assess, as the tuna fishing industry is shrouded in secrecy.
The Seychelles is paid per tonne of fish landed for port facilities – an important source of foreign exchange for the archipelago. Reduced catches mean fewer calls to port. From August to November, the waters of Somalia’s Exclusive Economic Zone (200 nautical miles (nm) EEZ) and beyond hold some of the planet's richest stocks of yellowfin tuna. 5 In 2006 there were hundreds of illegal fishing boats in Somali waters at any one time, mainly chasing tuna. Somali pirates turned to hijacking to stop the foreign fishing vessels destroying their marine resources as well as their small boats and equipment. In 2008 Somali pirates attacked tuna boats at least three times, leading to one ransom of over US$1 million.
The fines and ransoms earned then simply increased the appetite of criminal Somali groups for hunting other ships.
The notorious sea piracy of merchant ships is unlikely to be resolved without simultaneously attending to the fraudulent IUU fishing.
PIRACY INCIDENTS 2008/2009
As 2009 drew to close, it was clear that there is no end to Somali piracy and there is no end to the solutions being proposed. The total number of piracy attacks in the Gulf of Aden and the East coast of Somalia in 2009 overtook the figure for all of 2008, according to statistics from the IMB Piracy Reporting Centre. In 2008 there were 111 incidents, compared with 114 attempted attacks in 2009; of these attacks, there have been 42 successful hijackings in 2009 compared with the 142 vessels hijacked 2008.
However, 2009 saw a surge in activity off the east coast of Somalia, with 43 attacks by December 2009 compared to 19 in the whole of 2008.There was also an increase in the number of vessels fired at in these regions, from 39 instances in 2008, to 54 cases by December. In addition, the number of crew-members taken hostage is set to rise if the trend continues. In 2008 a total of 815 crew members were held captive, while the total number of hostages taken in these regions during 2009 already stands at 753.
A total of 32 vessels were hijacked by Somali pirates in the first nine months of 2009, with 533 crew members taken hostage. A further 86 vessels were fired upon and as of 1 December 2009, 14 vessels with over 275 crew held hostage, were still under negotiation. Nigeria remains another area of high concern. While only 20 attacks were officially reported to IMB in 2009, information received from other sources indicates that at least 50 per cent of attacks on vessels, mostly related to the oil industry, have gone unreported.
A list of recent piracy incidents and negotations appears at the foot of this article.
When acts of piracy occur, the public attention is mainly focused on the heinous manner of the attackers and on the question of how the hijack will be resolved. The ship owners on their part are mostly concerned with the means of rescuing the crew, the vessel and the cargo.
Therefore the concern and the anxiety of many abruptly ends the moment the vessel is successfully rescued or simply released. But we forget that the end of hijack ordeal is to crew members the start of traumatic nightmares that they may live with for the rest of their lives.
The question is: Are the world, the shipping industry and the welfare lobbies giving enough attention to the plight of seafarers who happen to fall into the hands of pirates? Sadly NO! The following are some of the challenges facing such crew:
(a) The after effects of attacks on the mariners
(b) The frequent abandonment of many of the hostages and the ships by the ship owners
(c) The neglecting of the affected seafarers by some ship operators and flag states in terms of wages and benefits.
All stakeholders should seriously reflect on these issues as well as the psychological needs of these unfortunate seafarers.
For instance there is no logic at all for denying the seafarers their entire pay and benefits for period they remained captive.
I would also expect that the seafarers’ families should be briefed and provided for whenever a pirate attack or hostage taking occurs. The seafarers and families members need constant assurance about ongoing efforts being made to have them released while in the meantime their families should be given financial support.
The seafarers should have a long-term medical care long after surviving a pirate attack; traumatic events like being held hostage affect different people in different ways. Some conditions resulting from a pirate attack may manifest significantly later, hence provisions should exist to address these situations.
It is worrying to see that there is very little data on what happens to seafarers after they have endured a pirate attack. Some of them definitely continue working; others might opt out of the profession following the ordeal, while others might take a break for some time to recover.
The fact that there is no data on survivors of pirate attacks is a clear pointer to a lack of concern for them; this scenario should change. There have been several studies that have looked into effects of traumatic events on police, fire-fighters, military persons, and others, yet little literature exists on the psychological effects of the hostage-taking of the seafarers and specifically on the aspects of piracy.
In the light of this, there is a great need for players in the industry and welfare groups with means to carry out a clinical study of the psychological impact of pirate attacks on seafarers. The study should take into account the unique nature of seafaring including its multicultural nature.
The results of such a study will help determine how best to care for seafarers who have survived a pirate attack.
Truly the International Maritime Organization and the industry’s guidelines exist for preventing and suppressing pirates. But the same lack guidelines for caring for seafarers who have survived a pirate attack, other than guidance for debriefing seafarers for military or prosecutorial purposes.
Some shipping companies have provided an extensive array of studies and care for their crews following a piracy incident, which is very encouraging. Lessons from such shipping companies on the care of the crew can greatly assist in the process of preparing harmonised international guidelines.
HAZARDOUS WASTE DUMPING
Another major problem closely connected with the IUU fishing is industrial, toxic and nuclear waste dumping in both offshore and onshore areas of Somalia. Somali fishermen in various regions of the country have for a very long time complained to the international community about waste dumping and other ecological disasters.
These crises of waste dumping, warlords/mafia deals and the loud complaints of the Somali fishing community and civil society have been known to UN agencies and international organisations all along since the late 1980s, when Mustafa Tolba, then UNEP director general, helped ecologists not to be targeted by the dumping mafia, by not revealing the sources of thorough investigations of cases, where murder was implicit.
The UN agencies and organisations, which have been fully aware of these crises, often expressed concern and lamentations, but – except for Mustafa Tolba – never took any positive action against these criminal activities.
Waldo feels that the UN agencies apparently failed to inform the UN Security Council of this tragedy before it passed its resolutions 1816,1815,1814,1846 and 1838 and 1851 on sea piracy in the years up to 2008. It must be noted that there is no mention of the illegal fishing piracy, hazardous waste dumping or the plight of the Somali fishermen in any of these UN Security Council resolutions.
The threat of toxic waste dumping, pirate fishing by foreign vessels and over-fishing of Somali stocks could adversely, and perhaps permanently, affect the ecosystem of the entire region. Due to non-policing of Somali waters, many foreign vessels indiscriminately pollute by dumping hazardous waste in the waters of the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean. European nations have been dumping toxic waste and radio-active medical waste into offshore Somali waters now for several years.
Those identified as perpetrators include an Italian firm (Progresso) and a Swiss firm (Achair Partners) but there are many others and numerous unidentified cases.
These cases were ‘justified’ by the United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP) recently, by saying that these firms had supposedly entered into contracts with Somali government officials to dump into the Somali waters, but it is obvious that no Somali can negotiate a hazardous waste disposal contract within the country’s sovereign borders in the midst of war and instability.
Achair Partners and Progresso were set up specifically as fictitious companies by larger industrial firms to dispose of hazardous waste. These are violations of international treaties in the export of hazardous waste to another country, in particular like Somalia.
Reports indicate that every month a number of local people die or suffer from the effects of such dumping within the coastal communities. For instance, at Eel-Dheer district of Galgadud region in central Somalia, dark blue long barrels were washed ashore in April 1992, which turned out to Be filled with an oily liquid.
When samples were taken from them and investigated, the analysis indicated that they contained deadly nuclear waste. Similar incidents happened at Adale district in 1996.
In 1998, a massive fish die-off was recorded, affecting all fish species, which were washed ashore in large quantities along the coastline from Mogadishu to Warsheekh – a coastal stretch of 45km. Fish and humans dying are all consequences of the hazardous waste dumping in Somali waters. All over the world, countries have policies to deal with such events, but in Somalia – the country with the longest coastline of any African nation – it is unfortunate that there is no basic strategy to deal with these matters. Somalia currently has no provision to deal with potential oil spills or other marine disasters and has no capability to monitor and control her coastal waters and, if necessary, provide sea search or rescue operations.
Somalia is recognised as one of the five richest fishing zones of the world and previously unexploited. It is now being ravaged and poisoned, unchecked by any authority, and if it continues to be fished at the level it is at present, fish stocks are in danger of being depleted. Secondly, the Somali people are being denied any income from this resource due to their inability to properly license and police the zone and the UN as well as the naval armada is turning a blind eye to the activities of illegal foreign fishing vessels whose operators are criminals from their home countries. In any other circumstance the persecution and punishment of the illegal dumpers and poachers would be enforced by the international courts of law – but Somalia is left to be a free for all and to die.
Justice and fairness have been overlooked in these twin problems of pirate fishing and sea piracy.
It is likewise disturbing to hear that President Issaia Afeworki of Eritrea and President Berlusconi of Italy secretly passed an agreement in 2005 so that Italy could dump 136 tonnes of nuclear waste in Eritrea in exchange for US$12 million. It is reported that the extremely dangerous material was dumped in Edage and Twalet in Massawa region. It is also disheartening to realise that even Iran has dumped 680 tonnes of wastes in Eritrea, in exchange for oil and money.
CONCLUSION AND RECOMMENDATIONS
The EU, NATO, Chinese, Russian and US Navies can, of course, annihilate and obliterate the fishermen-turned-pirates and their supporting coastal communities – but that would be an illegal, criminal act.
Though it may temporarily reduce the intensity of the sea piracy, it would not result in a long-term solution for the problem.
The risk of loss of life of foreign crews and the impact of a major oil spill would be a ecological catastrophe of gigantic proportions for the whole coastal regions of East Africa and the Gulf of Aden.
In their current operations, the Somali fishermen pirates genuinely believe that they are protecting their fishing grounds (both 200-mile territorial and EEZ waters). They also feel that they are exacting justice and compensation for the marine resources stolen and the destroyed ecosystem by the IUUs. And their thinking is shared and fully supported by the coastal communities, whose protectors and providers they became.
The matter needs careful review and better understanding of the local environment. The piracy is based on local problems and it requires a number of comprehensive joint local and external partner’s approaches.
Firstly, the practical and lasting solution lies in jointly addressing the twin problems of the sea piracy and the pirate fishing, the root cause of the crisis.
Secondly, the national institutional crisis should be reviewed along with the piracy issues.
Thirdly, local institutions should be involved and supported, particularly by helping them to form coastguards, the provision of training and coastguard facilities. These may sound like asking too much of the UN agencies. But we should ask what it means to those who paid tens of millions dollars of ransom and to their loved ones held hostage for months.
Fourthly, a joint Somali and UN oversight agency – like at present the ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organization) does it for the Somali airspace – should be considered for the Somali waters. The problem of piracy will not be completely eradicated unless there is a restoration of stability on the ground and there are effective institutions and structures in Somalia that can address the piracy issue in its totality.
– Immediate action by the international armada of navies against illegal dumping and illegal fishing in and around the Somali waters
– Revision of Somali fisheries and environmental protection legislation and institutions
– Strengthening decentralised governance and legal structures in Somalia
– Enlisting the support of influential Somali political, business and civic groups
– Rehabilitation and development of infrastructure in Somali coastal communities
– Development of coastal income generation possibilities and the fishing industry in Somalia
– Development of a national legislation on piracy for all Somalia
– Establishment of Somali Law Enforcement Authorities (navy, coastguard)
– Support of the pastoralists and proper range management in Somalia
– Eliminating the illegal arms trade and human trafficking from, to and through Somalia
– Establishment of a regional action plan against IUU fishing and dumping of toxic or nuclear waste
– Establishment of RCICPs (Regional coordination and information centre on piracy).
- Factsheet on Somali Piracy [PDF]
- 2010 All hijackings in Gulf of Aden and in the West Indian Ocean [PDF]
- 2010 hijackings by vessel type and state [PDF]
- For a list of recent hijackings and negotiations in 2009/10, please see the notes at the foot of this article.
BROUGHT TO YOU BY PAMBAZUKA NEWS
* Andrew Mwangura runs the East African Seafarers’ Assistance Programme.
* Please send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org or comment online at Pambazuka News.
RECENT CASES IN NEGOTIATION
FV WIN FAR 161: The Taiwanese fishing vessel was seized on 6 April 2009 near the Seychelles. She is said to have been observed earlier fishing illegally in Somali waters. After the sea-jacking, it had been involved in the attack on MV ALABAMA and is now still moored about 7nm from Garacad at the north-eastern Indian Ocean coast.
The crew of 30 (17 Filipinos, six Indonesians, five Chinese and two Taiwanese) is still together and on board, but in awful condition. The ship's skipper and first engineer are Taiwanese nationals and the 700-ton long-liner is owned by a Taiwanese company, which regularly sent their vessels into Somali waters from the Seychelles – a key transshipment point for poached tuna from the Indian Ocean to Japan. The Government of the Philippines seems to be pretty helpless to even find the manning agency, which lured the 17 Pinoy sailors into the fish-poaching operation. Naval fire damaged the vessel, but it is said to still be able to sail. It was moored on three heavy anchor obtained from another, former sea-jack hostage – the MV Hansa Stavanger – near Garacad. The vessel was freed on 11 February 2010.
MV ARIANA: Seized 2 May 2009. The Ariana was seized north of Madagascar, en route to the Middle East from Brazil laden with soy-beans. The 24-strong all-Ukrainian crew has run low in food and water. The ship, flying a Maltese flag, belongs to All Oceans Shipping in Greece, which fronts for a British conglomerate. So far the shipping company has not responded to calls for urgently required medical attention. Two female sailors are on board, one of them in serious condition. The vessel received some fuel from MV KOTA WAJAR and is at the moment held close to it north of Hobyo. The Ukrainian Human Rights ombudswoman had appealed to her European counterpart in order to achieve immediate relief to the suffering of the crew-members, who have run out of food and clean water. Promises by the Ukrainian government to facilitate the offered evacuation of two female sailors, one of whom was in a life-threatening medical condition and still would require to be flown out, were broken. The vessel and crew were held near Hobyo at the Central Somali Indian Ocean coast, and freed on 10 December 2009.
MV CHARELLE: Seized on 12 June 2009. The relatively small 2,800-tonne general cargo ship carrying mostly empty containers was captured 60 miles south of Oman. The Antigua and Barbuda flagged vessel is owned by shipping firm Tarmstedt International and operated from New Zealand. Seven of the 10-member crew are Sri Lankans, three are Filipinos. The New Zealand shipping company, who owns the vessel, confirmed that negotiations for the release of MV CHARELLE had broken down, because the sea-shifta did not honour the reached agreement and negotiations had to start all over again. The new negotiations reached final agreement on 3 December and the ill-fated ship was released and sailed out to safe waters at 17:00hrs on the material day.
MV KOTA WAJAR: Seized on 15 October 2009. The 24,637-tonne container ship, seized 300nm north of Seychelles, was heading for the Kenyan port of Mombasa from Singapore. It has a multinational 21-man crew on board, of which two are Singaporean, five Sri Lankan and four Indian. It was used to lift a sea-jacked British couple, John and Rachel Chandler from their 38-ft yacht S/Y LYNN RIVAL, seized 22 October 2009 en route to Tanzania and later recovered by a UK naval ship. The ship was released on 28 December 2009.
MV DE XIN HAI: Seized on 19 October 2009. The 76,000 tonne Chinese bulk carrier with 25 Chinese sailors was en route from South Africa; it was carrying about 76,000 tonnes of coal and there were 25 Chinese crew aboard when it was hijacked in the Indian Ocean 550nm northeast of the Seychelles and 700nm off the east coast of Somalia. The bulker is owned by the state-owned Qingdao Ocean Shipping Co. Negotiations for the release seem not to have started in earnest, though the Chinese Shipowners' Association secretary general Zhang Zuyue confirmed that the Chinese side was willing to pay a ransom. The vessel was freed on 28 December 2009.
MV AL KHALIQ: Seized on 22 October 2009. The Panamanian-flagged 22,000 dwt bulker was abducted around180 miles west of the Seychelles . The crew consists of 24 Indian sailors and two Burmese nationals. EU NAVFOR patrol aircraft confirmed the hijacking, with six pirates seen on board and two skiffs in tow. A third, the 'mother ship' had apparently already been winched onto the ship's deck. The vessel with over 35,000 metric tonnes of wheat grain is now moored near Harardheere and the crew is on board.
FV THAI UNION 3: Seized on 29 October 2009. Pirates on two skiffs boarded the tuna fishing boat with a crew of 23 Russians, two Filipinos and two nationals from Ghana about 200 nautical miles north of the Seychelles and 650 miles off the Somali coast. During the attack the Russian captain was shot in the left elbow. The Russian and US navies tried to provide medical aid to the captain, while the captors themselves took him to hospital, had him treated and returned him to the vessel. The fishing vessel and its crew are held just around 1.5nm to where the Spanish fishing vessel FV ALAKRANA was held, near Harardheere at the central Somali coast.
SHAXAR: A Somali militia seized overnight on 30 October 2009 a Yemeni fishing Vessel – crew members are composed of four Yemenis and 6 Indians – in the Indian Ocean after a gun battle, in which at least one Somali was killed and another one wounded. The government of Yemen has confirmed the abduction.
MV DELVINA: Seized on 5 November 2009. The 53,629 dwt bulk carrier had a 21-man crew, consisting of seven Ukrainian officers and 14 Filipino sailors. The vessel was seized 250nm northwest of Madagascar and was laden with wheat. It arrived near Harardheere at the central Somali coast, The ship was released on 17 December.
AL HILAL: Seized before 9 November 2009 near Ras Hafun while having engine troubles. The white-coloured fishing vessel was said to be of Libyan origin, but it was neither found in the regular ship register nor in the list of the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission. A Yemeni connection was also reported.
The vessel was then stranded on 9 November 2009 at a place called Diin Kudhac, from where the crew was brought on land and to Eyl. It was reported that the vessel was completely looted, including the engine and would most likely never sail again. The crew – consisting of sailors from India and Bangladesh – was split up by around 14 captors. Negotiations for their safe release started, while some of the Indian sailors went on hunger strike. The crew members of this vessel were released on 18 November 2009 but were held in Punt land awaiting repatriation back home.
MV FILITSA: Seized on 10 November 2009. The 1996-built, 23,709 dwt cargo-ship had a crew of 22, including three Greek officers and 19 Filipinos. The Marshall Islands-flagged ship had been heading from Kuwait to Durban in South Africa when it was attacked 513nm north east of the Seychelles as it was sailing from Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to the port of Durban in South Africa loaded with fertiliser. The ship, which belongs to the Order Shipping Co. Ltd, was released on 2 February 2010.
MV THERESA VIII: MV Theresa VIII, with a North Korean crew of 28, was seized on 16 November 2009 while en route to Mombasa from Indonesia laden with palm oil. The captain, who fired flares during the attack, was injured so badly by gunfire that he died one day later. story circulated by some media that he was taken ashore to receive medical attention is wrong, since the vessel by that time had not yet arrived at the coast. The tanker was released on 16 March 2010.
VLCC MARAN CENTAURUS: The Greek flagged super tanker was taken on 29 November 2009 afternoon some 585nm north east of Seychelles while under way to New Orleans from Jeddah. Crew members on board were composed of nine Greeks, 16 Filipinos, two Ukrainians and a Romanian. The tanker, owned and managed by a Greek shipping company, was freed on 18 January 2010.
East Africa's looming famine – Gibe III
East Africa's looming 'eco-genocide', set to impact one million people, is about to become a reality in Ethiopia and extending to Sudan and Kenya if Gilgel Gibe III mega-dam – the second largest in Africa – continues along its destructive path.
From the very start Ethiopia's Gibe III mega-dam (height of 240m, a 151km reservoir, and a storage capacity of 11.75 billion m3) was marked by the sort of clumsy corruption and irregularities that could only be realised in the worst B-Grade movies – think rotten actors and terrible scripts, catering to unbelievable plots.
Let’s start with the terrible script: In 2004, several weeks after the Ethiopian Electric Power Corporation (EEPCo) granted a no-bid contract to Italian firm Salini Costruttori for the construction of Gibe II, Italy cancelled €367 million in bilateral debt, followed by a loan from the Italian Development Corporation (IDC). Italy's Ministry of Finance was still under investigation for €220 million in loans provided by the IDC for Gibe II when construction of Gibe III began in July 2006.
This was before the Environmental Protection Authority received the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) – a report that would only be completed in 2009. Thus far, three monster-babies in the Gibe posse were granted no-bid contracts to Salini, and as of late 2009, the Italian government was still considering financing Gibe III to the tune of €250 million.
The Gibe III contract, currenty pegged at ¨US$2.1 billion – an increase of 11 per cent from original estimates, violated Ethiopia's procurement policies for public works as well as that of the World Bank and African Development Bank. In 2008, when Gibe was granted the 'license to kill', the criminal case against the IDC was closed with no conclusive results.
Gibe III is estimated to generate 1,870MW, with about 50 per cent (900MW) proposed for export to Djibouti, Sudan and Kenya. The project is a key component of Ethiopia's 25-year national energy master plan, with Gibe III pegged to generate €300 million annually in profits from exported energy. Investment in cost-intensive transmission lines required to 'export' energy to Kenya, Sudan and Djibouti has yet to be secured. The cost for Kenya alone is US$800 million, as per the terms of the 2006 memorandum of agreement signed between Kenya and Ethiopia for the purchase of 500MW. But given the instance of drought in Ethiopia, plaguing the country for six months at a stretch from 2003 and costing the country some US$200 million at a stretch, the project is characterised by energy insecurity. Meanwhile, within Ethiopia, less than 11 per cent of Ethiopians have access to electricity.
The plan excludes from its investment requirements those costs related to ‘distribution, rural electrification and network reinforcement resulting from demand growth,’ said a 2008 report by NGO International Rivers (IR).
In 2008, eight hydropower dams accounted for 85-89 per cent of Ethiopia's electricity. Five more dams, including Gibe III, are currently under construction and estimated to generate a combined capacity of 3,125MW. EEPCo currently generates about 1,000MW from six dam projects, with hydropower contributing 89 per cent of Ethiopia's electricity production.
China, via the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC), has stepped in to provide a US$500 million loan to finance the requirements of Dongfang Electric Machinery Corp, machinery supplier for the project. Goldman Sachs, American Express and Germany's Commerzbank have cumulatively invested US$3.7 billion in ICBC; Goldman Sachs holds the largest share at 5.75 per cent (US$2.6 billion), injected just prior to ICBC going public on the Shanghai and Hong Kong Stock Exchange.
In recent years, China's Sinohydro has captured 50 per cent of the world's hydropower market chiefly through the barter system – or resources-for-infrastructure, receiving just four per cent of investment in Africa prior to Beijing's entrance. In this way, China's funds are returned to the sender through tenders allocated to 'home' countries, all while exploiting the resources of host countries.
And as the infrastructure is almost selectively geared to facilitate easier exploitation of resources, as a substitute for resource revenues remitted to host governments, China essentially liquidates African resources at a huge bargain. It is worth noting also that around 3,000 dams constructed by Chinese companies inside China have collapsed due to substandard materials, hasty construction and grossly unsuitable geographic locations amongst other fatal flaws – leaving aside socio-ecological impact on ecosystems, displaced/resettled peoples, host communities and downstream populations.
China itself does not subscribe to international frameworks; China subscribes only to the environmental framework of host countries. Ethiopia, experiencing gross deforestation under the rule of lifetime dictator Meles Zenawi, is unlikely to concern itself with the dam's impacts as long as it brings in the cash that Ethiopia's rent-seeking state – 90 per cent dependent on strategic (foreign) aid – seeks to attract.
But though China remains the primary driver behind the construction of mega-dams in Africa – a move since backed by the World Bank under Robert Zoellick's leadership – there are other, more 'respectable' actors involved.
According to Salini, criticisms leveled against the project ‘have already been assessed and denied authoritative international organizations,’ such as the European Investment Bank (EIB) and the African Development Bank (ADB).
The EIB, having partially financed Gibe I and II, as well as the ADB, are currently considering investment – the former at €250 million, and the latter for an undisclosed amount.
But thanks to the efforts of civil society movements, particularly the excellent IR network (I say this after months of correspondence with Lori Pottinger of IR, a writer who is generally wary of the 'poverty and pity' discourse milked by NGO/donors/CSR etc) as well as Friends of Lake Turkana (FoLT) and others, the EU-Africa Infrastructure Trust Fund has earmarked €1.2 million for two extensive studies investigating the dam's impact on Lake Turkana as well as Ethiopia's Omo River.
WHY DOES THIS MATTER?
Gibe's immediate wake will affect three regions (including the flammable Ilemi Triangle, located at the juncture where Ethiopia, Kenya and Sudan cross borders) characterised by conflict that is rooted in food and water insecurity; Southwestern Ethiopia, Southeastern Sudan and Northwestern Kenya and cause a 60 per cent reduction in river flow. Impacted populations include not only the displaced – the EIA deliberately underestimated the number of people to be displaced in order to fast-track the project – but also those located downstream who are usually marginalised to the periphery of 'cost benefit analysis'.
The impacted peoples include 100,000 peoples located in Ethiopia's Lower Omo Valley engaged in flood-recession agriculture; 100,000 peoples dependent on grazing livestock or trade with farmers also dependent on flood-recession agriculture; 500,000 rural peoples inhabiting Ethiopia's South Omo zone; 300,000 peoples sustained by Kenya's Lake Turkana fisheries. Additionally, increased salinity would impact the quality of potable water for humans and livestock.
Over 200,000 agropastoralists and pastoralists directly dependent on flood-recession agriculture in the lower Omo basin will immediately face severe impoverishment, leading to conflict, famine, disease and the artificial creation of almost one quarter of a million 'environmental' refugees. This compounds the already strained heavily-armed status of marginalised and disenfranchised ethnic groups in regions like Southern Sudan, set to be devastated by the dam.
Dam(n)ing the Omo River will drastically reduce inflow to Turkana, as the supplier of 90 per cent of the lake’s input, with an estimated 10-12m drop. Scientists state that even a 5m drop would result in the elimination of flooding in the Omo Delta, located mostly within Kenya. Filling Gibe III's massive reservoir will further reduce 50 percent of the flow to Turkana, while fractures due to cracks in underlying rock formations, revealed IR, would siphon 50-75 per cent of dammed reservoir water.
The Omo River, flowing 500km south from the dam's proposed site, feeds the Omo National Park, an area of critical biodiversity and populated by 15 different ethnic groups, all sustained by the river.
According to the Africa Resources Working Group (ARWG) comprised of US, European, African and other scholars specialising in large hydro-dam and river basin development initiatives, ‘the quantitative [and qualitative] data included in virtually all major sections of the report were clearly selected for their consistence with the predetermined objective of validating the completion of the Gibe 3 hydro-dam.’
The proposed rain-fed cultivation as well as planned flood simulation established in the EIA deliberately misrepresent the reality of the region's (former) climate as well as the history of mega-dams in Africa, noted for ineffective and corrupt management and maintenance (the pattern already evidenced in the Gibe posse). As professor Thayer Scudder, one of 12 commissioners at the World Dam Commission and one of the World Bank's former principal resettlement officers, informed me, ‘planned flooding is rarely, if ever, successfully implemented in Africa.' This summary excludes the impact of seismic activity due to the immense weight of the reservoir catalysing the risk of seismic activity – a reality deliberately discounted from the EIA.
One of semi-arid Africa's largest rivers, Omo (and Lake Turkana) sustains a massive population precisely because – and despite Gibe I and II – it remains a resource held in common that is managed by farmers, herders and traders, utilising centuries of region-specific knowledge and practices.
On discussing the issue of utilisation of the 'commons', often packaged as critically exploited by the 'self-evident truth' of the 'tragedy of the commons' (justifying top-down development, whether via a socialist or capitalist state, as well as the usual economic prescriptions of privatisation against poly-centric regulation), I was informed by Nobel laureate Professor Elinor Ostrom that ‘the tragedy of the commons myth has been challenged by our extensive research…
The myth that I have tackled is that the users of a common-pool resources would always be helplessly trapped in overuse,’ said Ostrom.
The means of stable organisation of common-pool resources, as outlined by Ostrom's extensive research over decades-long field work in Europe and Africa, is primarily composed of eight design principles: Clearly defined boundaries; collective-choice arrangements; congruence between appropriation and provision rules and local conditions; monitoring; graduated sanctions; conflict resolution mechanisms; minimal recognition of rights to organise; and finally, where common-pool resources 'are part of larger socio-ecological systems', nested enterprises.
The socio-ecological systems (SES) articulated by Ostrom are composed of multiple, complex subsystems including: Resource users (U) such as fishermen and farmers; resource units (RU) such as salmon; resource systems (RS) such as fisheries or fertile land; and governance systems (GS), authorising rules governing resources. These subsystems interact at micro and macro levels to produce cooperative self-organized processes of governance, upending, in many cases, the need for centralised development, privatisation or further co-option into the system of individualised ownership undermining the lifestyles of pastoralists and agropastoralists.
‘One of the most major problems we face in understanding the many efforts by people all over the world to sustain resources of importance to them is the division by discipline, resource, and region. While there are extensive articles on in-shore fisheries in Africa, many people who study pastoral people in Africa do not know about any research on fisheries.
‘Markets and states are hardly the full set of relevant institutions for people in contemporary society. GDP is an important indicator, but it is not the only measure of economic activity that we should be thinking about. GDP gives us no understanding of the successful efforts to sustain resources. We need to be thinking about how small cities can organise, how local communities can organise, and how regions such as the areas along the Nile crossing country lines need to find ways of organising,’ said Ostrom.
But the Gordion Knot informing the Gibe initiative has little to do with community organisation given that the community itself presents the greatest threat to the project, designed to export-orient Ethiopia's ecosystems in order to cash in ‘resource revenue'.
In this sense, the dam – against the backdrop of Ethiopia's national energy 'master plan' – has been packaged as just another lucrative commodity negotiated via a 'secretive development agreement'. This is evidenced in the fabrication and obfuscation informing the 'public consultation process' as well as the new law designed to restrict and limit the activities of civil society.
The financial threat inherent in the 'master plan' jeopardises Ethiopia's political economy further as Heavily Indebted Poor Countries’ (HIPC) debt cancellation stipuates that loans must be directly linked to poverty reduction. Way back in 2007, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) reported that Ethiopia was once again at risk of unsustainable debt. An estimated 90 per cent of the US$7 billion in electricity investment will be derived from loans, with a considerable portion earmarked for export.
Ironically, in a 2006 report, EEPCo itself outlined wind as a sustainable, consistent source of energy for nine months of the year as opposed to water tables, peaking after June. EEPCo revealed that hydro-dependency presented a tremendous obstacle to energy-generation consistency in light of drought (as experienced in 2008, from May to September during peak water tables), resulting in decreasing reservoir levels, and thus recommended diversification.
By marginalising the cheap, job-intensive and sustainable source of wind energy, Ethiopia's rentier government has collateralised the country's future, setting in motion an 'eco-genocide' that will initiate not only a brutal famine but one of Africa's worst water wars yet.
In this the Ethiopian, Kenyan and Sudanese governments might take a lesson from the principles informing Alaska's owner-state concept, developed by former Governor Walter Hickel, who passed away earlier this month.
In November 2009 a team composed of Hickel's son, Jack, and his close aid, Malcolm Roberts, specialising in the owner-state concept visited Durban, South Africa as guests of the Centre for Civil Society (CCS).
‘We, the people of the world, own most of this planet in common. 84 per cent of the earth’s surface, including the oceans, is either owned in common or owned by no one. That’s what we call ‘the commons,’ and it includes the air we breathe and the water we drink. It is the source of life on earth.
‘The future of the human race depends on learning how to use and care for the commons for the good of the total, not just the few. Article VIII of the Alaska Constitution mandates that our commonly owned resources must be developed for the maximum benefit of the people, not for the benefit of a few insiders or multinational corporations. In the past 50 years, we have built our state on that principle. It’s the only place like it in the world,’ wrote Hickel.
This is the goal of the Global Campaign for the Commons, launched at the conference. The campaign seeks to re-design the architecture of the owner-state concept, taking into account the systemic causes of structural injustice, from inequality to ecological degradation, while keeping the essence intact – that resources must be used for the maximum benefit of the people, on the basis of the sustained yield principle.
This means no more externalising the real costs of 'development' – the Trojan horse of corporate mercenaries, corrupt regimes and exploitative foreign policies alike.
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* This article first appeared in The Huffington Post.
* Khadija Sharife is a journalist and visiting scholar at the Centre for Civil Society.
* Please send comments to email@example.com or comment online at Pambazuka News.
Birtukan Midekssa: 'Ethiopia is the country of the future'
An interview with Birtukan Midekssa
Alemayehu G. Mariam
Except for elements inserted in the nature of narrative licence, syntax and independently established facts, this interview is based on English or Amharic translations of public statements, hearing testimony, speeches and other declarations of Birtukan Midekssa, the first woman political party leader in Ethiopian history and that country's most famous political prisoner. Her re-imprisonment in December 2008 on allegations of denying a pardon was a tactical move by dictator Meles Zenawi to incapacitate and eliminate his only serious and formidable challenger in the May 2010 elections. In March 2010, the US State Department declared Birtukan a political prisoner. In January 2010, the United Nations Human Rights Council listed her as a victim of arbitrary detention. Amnesty International named Birtukan a prisoner of conscience in 2009. This interview is done partly for the benefit of Western governments and their diplomatic representatives in Ethiopia in light of the May 2010 elections. It seems that Western governments in general have taken a solemn vow to say nothing, see nothing and hear nothing about Birtukan. As they hide behind a diplomatic shield of shame and give lip service to democratic ideals while coddling a dictator, I hope with this interview they will at least begin to appreciate this extraordinarily brilliant, thoughtful, enlightened, perceptive, humorous, cultured, humble and compassionate Ethiopian woman political leader.
I had the great honour and privilege to meet Birtukan in the fall of 2007 when she led a delegation of Coalition for Unity and Democracy (Kinijit) party leaders visiting the US. On numerous occasions, I have publicly expressed my highest respect, greatest admiration, deepest gratitude and boundless appreciation for Birtukan's sacrifices in the cause of democracy, freedom, human rights and the rule of law in Ethiopia.
ALEMAYEHU G. MARIAM: Let's start by talking about your situation in Akaki federal prison over the past year and half. We are told that your 'health is in perfect condition', you have picked up a 'few kilos' and could use some physical exercise. How is life in prison?
BIRTUKAN MIDEKSSA: Correction! You mean life at the Akaki Hilton Spa and Resort? Well, the food here is excellent and so are the accommodations. I have my own special room. I like to call it my boudoir. They call it 'solitary confinement'. It is true that I have 'gained a few kilos', but that is because I spend all of my time in my room. 'C'est la vie' at the Akaki Hilton, as they say in French.
ALEMAYEHU G. MARIAM: The reason you were returned to prison to serve out a life term is that you allegedly denied receiving a pardon when you were released in July 2007. Did you deny receiving a pardon?
BIRTUKAN MIDEKSSA: I have never denied signing the pardon document as an individual prisoner. I, along with the other opposition political prisoners, asked for pardon through the elders according to the document that was written on June 18 2007. This is a fact I cannot change even if I wanted to. In my opinion the reason why all these illegal intimidations and warnings were aimed at me have nothing to do with playing with words, inaccurate statements I made or any violations of law. The message is clear and this message is not only for me but for all who are active in the peaceful struggle. A peaceful and law-abiding political struggle can be conducted only within the limits the ruling party has set and not according to what the country's constitution allows. And for me it is extremely difficult to accept this.
ALEMAYEHU G. MARIAM: As you know, elections are scheduled for May 23 2010. Do you have any thoughts on that?
BIRTUKAN MIDEKSSA: It is hard for me to say much locked up at the Akaki Hilton. I get no newspapers, magazines or books. I have no radio or television. But I can tell you how it was in 2005 and you can judge for yourself what the situation is like today.
In 2005, public interest and participation in the electoral process was massive. The European Union observer team estimated voter registration at no less than 85 per cent of all eligible voters, based on lists containing 25,605,851 names of registered persons. The total number of candidates for the House of Peoples' Representatives was 1,847. A total of 3,762 candidates ran for regional councils. The total number of women candidates to the House of Peoples' Representatives was 253, and 700 in the regional councils. To its credit the government in 2005 allowed limited media access, established the Joint Political Party Forum at national and constituency levels, conducted regular consultations with electoral authorities to resolve problems in campaign and election administration, facilitated special elections-related training programs for the police and the judiciary, encouraged pledges of nonviolence between the ruling and opposition parties for election day and invited international election observers and so on. As election day approached, the government started to use its power to influence the outcome of the election. There was widespread interference by local authorities in the conduct of public gatherings and opposition party rallies, and threats and intimidations by some local public officials. In some instances, force was used to disrupt public gatherings and detain opposition supporters throughout the country. In the days preceding the elections, there was a spike in negative campaigns on radio and television using images and messages designed to intimidate by associating the genocide in Rwanda with opposition politics. Even though the election board was required to announce the official results on 8 June, that requirement was superseded when Prime Minister Meles Zenawi declared a state of emergency, outlawed any public gathering, assumed direct command of the security forces and replaced the capital city police with federal police and special military units. The elections board simultaneously ordered the vote-tallying process to stop, and on 27 May the board released its determination that the ruling party, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF), had won 209 seats, and affiliated parties 12 more. The report indicated opposition parties had won 142 seats. Our party filed complaints in 139 constituencies, the United Ethiopian Democratic Forces (UEDF) lodged 89 complaints, while the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) raised concerns over irregularities in more than 50 seats.
That's how it was back in 2005.
ALEMAYEHU G. MARIAM: The ruling regime continues to make public accusations that the opposition in the current 'election' is inciting violence as it did in 2005. Recent public statements from the highest levels of the ruling regime indicate that any attempts by opposition parties to boycott the election, complaints of harassment and intimidations and agitations of youth to engage in violence, will be dealt with harshly after the elections. How do you assess the situation?
BIRTUKAN MIDEKSSA: As the 2005 elections have shown, if there is any violence to occur in the current election it is not going to come from the opposition. The Inquiry Commission established by the government in 2005 to look into the killings and excessive use of force against demonstrators decided that there was not a single protester who was armed with a gun or a hand grenade as alleged by the government. The shots fired by government forces were not intended to disperse the crowd of protesters but to kill them by targeting their heads and chests. The historical facts speak for themselves. If there is election-related violence today, one need look no further than the usual suspects.
ALEMAYEHU G. MARIAM: The ruling regime likes to trumpet to the world that Ethiopia is governed democratically, human rights are fully protected and the rule of law observed. Do you agree with these claims?
BIRTUKAN MIDEKSSA: Dictatorship and democracy are not the same thing. There is no democracy in Ethiopia today, despite empty claims of 'recent bold democratic initiatives taken by our government, the immense progress in creating a competitive, pluralistic system of government and a more open civil society'. The fact of the matter is that there is neither pluralism nor commitment to democratic principles and practices in Ethiopia. The government's claim of political pluralism has not gone beyond the stage of political sloganeering. If pluralism involves widespread participation and a greater feeling of commitment from citizens, it does not exist today in Ethiopia. If pluralism means increased and diverse participation in the political decision-making process and giving everyone a stake in the political process, it does not exist in Ethiopia. If pluralism means a process where every voice is heard, conflict is resolved by dialogue and compromise and an atmosphere of tolerance, understanding and respect is nurtured, that does not exist either. But democracy in Ethiopia today must not only reflect the values of pluralism, it must also be genuinely participatory, transparent, accountable, equitable and based on the rule of law. We are all aware that democracy in Ethiopia will not be accomplished overnight. But we must start the process now in earnest by installing its critical pillars of support.
ALEMAYEHU G. MARIAM: What are the pillars you believe are important in establishing democracy in Ethiopia?
BIRTUKAN MIDEKSSA: There are many. Let me start by mentioning the need for an independent judiciary. I know a thing or two about that having served as a judge and also being a victim of a judicial system that has me imprisoned for life. In 2005, I and the various opposition leaders were prosecuted for various state crimes including genocide, treason, incitement to violence, leading armed rebellion and other charges. Our prosecution occurred in a court system that has little institutional independence, and one subject to political influence and manipulation from the ruling regime. It is a judiciary that is used as a tool of political harassment, intimidation and persecution. Judges are selected not for professionalism or legal knowledge but for their loyalty to the government. It is universally accepted that an independent and professional judiciary is a key element in the institutionalisation of the rule of law, the promotion and protection of human rights and even in implementing social and economic reform in society. The UN Charter, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other documents recognise the central importance of an independent judiciary as the guarantors of due process and justice. Judicial independence is guaranteed by article 78 of the Ethiopian constitution, but it does not exist in reality. Although judges are supposed to be free of party politics, many are under the direct control of the party in power, if not outright members. With the judiciary under effective political control, there is little confidence in its institutional powers or the legitimacy of its rulings. If we cannot have serious judicial reforms, not only will we be unable to protect the rights of citizens, we will always live under the rule of the gun instead of the rule of law.
ALEMAYEHU G. MARIAM: What other pillars of democracy do you believe are missing in Ethiopia?
BIRTUKAN MIDEKSSA: Press freedom is another essential requirement necessary for building democracy in Ethiopia. Without a free press, there can be no meaningful democracy. People in Ethiopia, particularly in the rural areas, do not have access to important political information because of exclusive government control of the media. Political parties need to have equal access to media controlled by the government so that they can effectively communicate with the people. Various international human rights organisations have ranked Ethiopia at the top of the list of countries where there is little freedom of press. The US and other Western governments can help by promoting private electronic media and supporting the emergence of private newspapers, weeklies and magazines to help develop a well-informed public.
ALEMAYEHU G. MARIAM: What are your views on the electoral process, and what improvements to that process do you believe are needed?
BIRTUKAN MIDEKSSA: First, all elections must be free and fair in order for citizens to meaningfully participate in shaping the political makeup and future policy direction of government. People must be free to register to vote or run for public office. Candidates and parties must be free to engage the voters without intimidation or harassment. There must be an independent free press to provide information to the voters. The freedom to assemble for political rallies and campaigns must be guaranteed. There must also be an impartial system of conducting elections and verifying election results. It was the lack of independence, impartiality and transparency of the Ethiopian National Electoral Board that was one of the factors that complicated the resolution of the dispute in the 2005 elections. We need an elections board that is representative of all the political parties and enjoys the public trust. People need to have confidence that their votes are counted properly and there is no elections fraud.
ALEMAYEHU G. MARIAM: How do you assess the human rights situation in Ethiopia?
BIRTUKAN MIDEKSSA: Human rights are the basic rights and freedoms to which all humans are entitled. Many of these rights are secured under international law and the Ethiopian constitution. The ruling regime has sought to put up a façade of commitment to human and democratic rights. But its practices contravene all of its obligations under the Ethiopian constitution and the human rights conventions that bind Ethiopia.
The Ethiopian constitution under article 14 enumerates all of the 'human rights' enjoyed by Ethiopian citizens. Articles 14-28 enumerate these rights and include basic protections against arbitrary government actions and guarantees of due process. Article 13, section 2 states: 'The fundamental rights and freedoms enumerated in this Chapter shall be interpreted in a manner consistent with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, international human rights covenants and conventions ratified by Ethiopia.' The fact is that the ruling regime observes neither its own constitution nor the requirements of well-established international human rights conventions. The regime's own Inquiry Commission in 2005 has documented widespread excessive use of force by government security forces. The human rights violations committed by the ruling regime are so numerous and egregious that it would be too difficult to list them all here. But I wish to cite a few examples documented in the US State Department Human Rights Report for 2006. That report stated that 'Although the [Ethiopian] constitution and law prohibit the use of torture and mistreatment, there were numerous credible reports that security officials often beat or mistreated detainees.' Massive arrests and detentions are common, and the report concluded, 'Although the [Ethiopian] constitution and law prohibit arbitrary arrest and detention, the government frequently did not observe these provisions in practice … Authorities regularly detained persons without warrants and denied access to counsel and family members, particularly in outlying regions … The independent commission of inquiry … found that security officials held over 30,000 civilians incommunicado for up to three months in detention centers located in remote areas … Other estimates placed the number of such detainees at over 50,000.'
ALEMAYEHU G. MARIAM: Do you think Western governments, particularly the US, can play a role in improving the overall situation in Ethiopia?
BIRTUKAN MIDEKSSA: As the largest donor country, the US is in the best position to promote democracy, human rights and the rule of law in Ethiopia. In general, Western governments must insist on the release of all political prisoners and the immediate restoration of democratic rights. They must insist on accountability and transparency since they provide substantial aid to keep the government afloat. They must promote human rights by supporting civic society organisations and implementing other mechanisms that can facilitate adequate monitoring and reporting of human rights violations. The West must insist on the functioning of a free press without censorship and restrictive press laws, and help strengthen private media in Ethiopia. The West can also play a central role in the electoral process by ensuring fraud-free elections, helping political parties build more effective organisations and campaigns, strengthening civil society groups to function as facilitators in the democratic process and professionalisation of the National Electoral Board to help it become fair and balanced. On the other hand, we want to make sure that US security assistance to Ethiopia be used for peacekeeping and counter-terrorism operations, and never against the civilian population.
ALEMAYEHU G. MARIAM: What are your views on the future of Ethiopia?
BIRTUKAN MIDEKSSA: I believe Ethiopia is the country of the future. Ethiopia has many problems, including a legacy of repression, ethnic division, corruption, mismanagement, lack of accountability and transparency. It will not be easy for us to confront the past and move on with lessons learned. The most important task now is to build the future country of Ethiopia by fully embracing democracy, human rights and the rule of law. Only through dialogue, negotiation and compromise can justice, stability and peace be guaranteed in Ethiopia.
ALEMAYEHU G. MARIAM: Thank you Birtukan for this interview. Stay strong!
BROUGHT TO YOU BY PAMBAZUKA NEWS
* This article was originally published by The Huffington Post.
* Alemayehu G. Mariam is professor of political science at California State University (CSU) San Bernardino.
* Please send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org or comment online at Pambazuka News.
 See e.g. http://foreignaffairs.house.gov/110/mid100207.htm ?http://www.andinetna.com/free-birtukan/my-word-my-testimony-written-by-birtukan-mideksa/
Democratisation through vandalism
A new answer to demands for restitution of cultural artefacts?
‘You must understand what the Parthenon Marbles mean to us. They are our pride. They are our sacrifices. They are the supreme symbol of nobility. They are a tribute to democratic philosophy. They are our aspiration and our name. They are the essence of Greekness.’– Melina Mercouri 
After a long period of studying the question of restitution of cultural artefacts, I thought I had heard all the arguments that could be advanced for or against restitution. However, I received a jolt of surprise when I saw an article by Michael Kimmelman entitled ‘Who Draws the Borders of Culture?’ in which, among other contestable statements, he wrote the following concerning the dismemberment of the Parthenon and its scattering outside of Greece:
‘Over the centuries, meanwhile, bits and pieces of the Parthenon have ended up in six different countries, in the way that countless altars and other works of art have been split up and dispersed among private collectors and museums here and there. To the Greeks the Parthenon marbles may be a singular cause, but they’re like plenty of other works that have been broken up and disseminated. The effect of this vandalism on the education and enlightenment of people in all the various places where the dismembered works have landed has been in many ways democratizing.’
I must confess that I have never thought of the possibility that the act of vandalism by Lord Elgin, resulting in decades of dispute between Greece and the United Kingdom, could be justified in this way. My first reaction was to dismiss the article as one of the many strange articles we read on restitution, but then I noticed that it was discussed by Paul Harford who correctly summed it up as ‘pure imperialism.’ Derek Fincham, however, thought Kimmelman ‘manages to make some thoughtful observations.’
Kimmelman, I learned, is chief critic of the New York Times, a respected American newspaper, and so may be considered to be representing some parts of the American elite. The views he expressed must therefore be seen as a serious matter since the USA is home of many of the world’s important cultural objects.
DEMOCRATISATION THROUGH VANDALISM?
If one follows the underlying logic of the argument, it implies that any act of vandalism which spreads parts of the vandalised objects around the world can be seen as initiating a process of democratisation, in so far as it enables more people to view objects which might otherwise be intact in their original location and accessible only to those who visit the original location. If we were to accept this argument, there would be few cases of looting, vandalism or illegitimate appropriation – as far as cultural objects are concerned, that could not be defended as having a democratising effect, if by democratising one means making subjects accessible to more persons.
This way of reasoning would justify what most of us consider absolute evils: Slavery and Nazism. Following Kimmelman’s logic, one could argue that the Atlantic slavery that caused the scattering of Africans in many countries of America was a democratising process since it enabled other countries and peoples to participate in the African heritage which is also a heritage of mankind. Surely an American author would shrink from retrospectively justifying the evils of slavery. Could Kimmelman also see how his argumentation would shock the Greeks and others who view Lord Elgin’s vandalism as a destructive act that cannot be accepted?
More worrying is the effect such arguments could have on others, especially the impressionable youth from both the Western and non-Western world. Convinced of striking a blow for democratisation, some may feel they are doing humankind a service by dismantling monuments or tearing down parts of objects like the Statue of Liberty so its pieces could be seen by the rest of the world and not only by US Americans. Is Kimmelman still with us? Would he approve of people taking parts of the statue of Lincoln and other US national treasures in the name of a democratisation process? What would he think if some young Africans went about taking pieces of looted African sculptures that are available only in Western museums? They might think they are bringing authentic African culture to people in Africa who do not have the opportunity to visit museums in Amsterdam, Paris, London, Berlin, New York and Chicago.
Many arguments or statements presented by Kimmelman appear to distort the issues rather than bring enlightenment. Take for instance this statement: ‘The Greek proposal that Britain fork over Elgin’s treasures has never involved actually putting the sculptures back onto the Parthenon, which started crumbling long before he showed up. The marbles would go from one museum into another, albeit one much closer. The Greeks argue for proximity, not authenticity. Their case has always been more abstract, not strictly about restoration but about historical reparations, pride and justice. It is more nationalistic and symbolic.’
So the Greeks are motivated by nationalism in seeking to recover their Parthenon Marbles. What about the British? Are they nationalists by wanting to retain the objects in the British Museum in London? What motivates them in their stubborn refusal to return the Parthenon Marbles to Greece despite Unesco, United Nations and international conference resolutions? For Kimmelman, as apparently for many US Americans and the British, nationalists exist everywhere except within the US and Great Britain. Kimmelman makes the British custodians of world heritage and not nationalists:
‘The British Museum is Europe’s Western front in the global war over cultural patrimony, on account of the marbles. The pamphlets give the museum’s version for why they should stay in Britain, as they have for two centuries — ever since Lord Elgin, the British ambassador to the Sublime Porte at Constantinople, and with the consent of the ruling Ottomans (not to mention a blithe disregard for whatever may have been the wishes of the Greek populace), spirited them from the Acropolis in Athens. The pamphlet stresses that the British Museum is free and attracts millions of visitors every year from around the world, making the sculptures available to, and putting them in the context of, a wide swath of human civilization.’
Not surprisingly, Egypt and Zahi Hawass come under attack:
‘It isn’t to belittle a deep-seated connection to such works to point out that claimants to far-flung patrimony may have various motives. When Zahi Hawass, Egypt’s chief archaeologist, who made the recent fuss about the Rosetta Stone, also demanded that Germany hand over Nefertiti, the 3,500-year-old bust of Akhenaten’s wife, he chose the moment when the Neues Museum in Berlin opened with the bust as its main attraction.
‘This was just after Farouk Hosny, Egypt’s candidate to run Unesco, the United Nations cultural agency, was defeated in a vote that Egyptian leaders considered a diplomatic slap. Mr. Hawass used Egypt’s only real weapon on the international stage, its cultural patrimony, to lash out by proxy at the perceived enemies of Mr. Hosny’s candidacy and pander to the wounded egos of Egypt’s ruling elite.
‘It was a public relations gambit. Practically speaking, Egypt had to know there was no immediate shot at getting Nefertiti back. The sculpture served in a passing form of political theater common these days, with Egypt playing plucky David to the West’s Goliath.’
Kimmelman seems to aim at creating a bad image of Zahi Hawass and Egypt. The requests for the return of the Rosetta Stone from the British Museum and the bust of Nefertiti from the Neues Museum are described as making fuss. I do not know what meaning the writer attributes to ‘fuss.’ The Concise Oxford Dictionary offers the following explanations: ‘excessive commotion, ostentatious or nervous activity, treatment of trifles as important, abundance of petty detail, busy oneself restlessly with trifles.’
Whether one can describe a demand for the restitution of two cultural objects considered by many as important icons in Western museums as making fuss is a matter we leave to the judgement of readers.
Egypt’s demand for restitution is presented as motivated by revenge against those responsible for the failure of an Egyptian to secure the post of the director-general at Unesco. Kimmelmann presents Egypt’s motivation as seeking ‘to lash out by proxy at the perceived enemies of Mr. Hosny’s candidacy’ but when we look at the references the author gives, we do not find Germany and Great Britain presented as enemies of the Egyptian candidacy. For which countries then do Germany and Great Britain serve as proxies? True, the author refers at the beginning of the article to ‘the Rosetta Stone which Egyptian authorities just lately have again demanded that Britain return to Egypt,’ but the reader is not told that the first demand was made a long time ago. Egypt’s demands for restitution of the Rosetta Stone and the bust of Nefertiti are not from yesterday. When Ludwig Borchardt brought the bust to Germany in August 1913, it was kept secret for some ten years and not exhibited to avoid the Egyptians knowing about it. Finally after a decade, in 1923, the bust of Nefertiti was shown in a book by Borchardt, ‘Porträts der Königin Nofretete’. After this publication, the Egyptians started demanding that the bust be sent back. But the Germans have refused to return the bust.
Kimmelman is a man of the media. What did he expect the Egyptians to do when everybody was talking about Nefertiti in view of the opening of Berlin’s Neues Museum? Did he expect the Egyptians to remain silent as if discussions about Nefertiti did not concern them? One could imagine that if the Egyptians had not said anything at the re-opening of the museum but did so only long after the event, the same critics would be saying: ‘It is surprising that the Egyptians did not make their claim at the opening of the museum. It seemed at that time they had accepted the futility of such demands. But why are they now putting in a demand?’
At whatever time the Egyptians repeat their demands, they will be suspected by some as motivated by factors other than the fact that they seek the return of Egyptian objects taken away during the heyday of imperialism. It almost seems as if some could not imagine that the Egyptians are genuinely interested in Egyptian cultural objects.
Instead of wondering about Egyptian motivations, Kimmelman and others could perhaps concern themselves with the motivations of the British and the Germans who wish to hold on to objects nobody disputes are Egyptian. They could also examine the arguments that have been advanced by the retentionists.
Kimmelman refers to the unforgettable Melina Mercouri, participant in a modern repatriation campaign that was part of a nationalist programme. He could have told his readers a little bit about the visit of the great Greek actress to London and the disgraceful behaviour of David Wilson, the then-director of the British Museum. When the charismatic actress went to London to discuss the issue of restitution, David Wilson described all who advocated the return of the Marbles to Athens as cultural fascists. It is very difficult for a non-Westerner to understand the motivation behind insulting a person or people whose cultural artefacts you are holding.
Nevertheless, the politics of insults seem to continue. We have had the present director of the British Museum say that in removing the rest of the Parthenon Marbles to the New Acropolis Museum, the Greeks were following in the steps of Lord Elgin. His partiality for the British – or rather the dislike of the Greek – position goes so far that Kimmelman even attacks the New Acropolis Museum as ‘forbidden and frankly ugly,’ not without first taking a swipe at the Greek economy:
‘For their part the Greeks, before their economy collapsed, finally opened the long-delayed New Acropolis Museum last year to much fanfare: it’s an up-to-date facility, forbidding and frankly ugly outside, but airy and light-filled inside, a home-in-waiting for the marbles, whose absence is clearly advertised by bone-white plaster casts of what Elgin took, alongside yellowed originals that he left behind.’
It is true that the availability of adequate museums may be relevant to a discussion on restitution, but is the beauty or elegance of the building itself relevant? If the new museum which Kimmelman himself describes as an ‘up-to-date facility’ is ugly, what does he say about the British Museum’s architectural design? Nothing.
The article puts the Greeks and the Egyptians under scrutiny for daring to demand restitution from the British; their motivations must be examined. The assumption of the whole article is that the Greeks and Egyptians must establish their worthiness in reclaiming their cultural objects. The British, who are holding onto the contested objects, need not establish any grounds for their conduct in refusing restitution. In other words, the burden of proof is put on those seeking repatriation.
Kimmelman’s comment on the new museum at Athens recalls that of Neil MacGregor who after the opening of the New Acropolis Museum declared that the location of the Parthenon Marbles was never an issue:
‘The real question is about how the Greek and British governments can work together so that the sculptures can be seen in China and Africa.’
Kimmelman’s statement that the Greeks do not propose putting the Marbles in the Parthenon is an echo of the insulting remark by MacGregor that the Greeks were following the steps of Elgin. As quoted above, Kimmelman declares that:
‘The Greek proposal that Britain fork over Elgin’s treasures has never involved actually putting the sculptures back onto the Parthenon, which started crumbling long before he showed up. The marbles would go from one museum into another, albeit one much closer. The Greeks argue for proximity, not authenticity. Their case has always been more abstract, not strictly about restoration but about historical reparations, pride and justice. It is more nationalistic and symbolic.’
Neil MacGregor put this more directly:
‘The Greek government has simply continued Elgin's practice and removed the rest [of the Parthenon Marbles] now from the building, because you can't see them on the building. When those sculptures came to London, for the first time they were at a height where people could see them and they were in a place where tens, hundreds of thousands of people could see these were great objects.’
Kimmelman, like most retentionists, is anxious to present any argument that could remove the question of ownership from restitution discussions and does not shrink from statements unable to stand close examination:
‘Art is something made in a particular place by particular people, and may serve a particular function at one time but obtain different meanings at other times. It summons distinct feelings to those for whom it’s local, but ultimately belongs to everyone and to no one.
‘We’re all custodians of global culture for posterity.
‘Neither today’s Greeks nor Britons own the Parthenon marbles, really.’
Are we to take seriously a declaration that art ‘ultimately belongs to everyone and to no one’? Can we affirm that a work of Picasso ‘belongs to everyone and to no one’? How did it happen that some persons are selling and buying for millions, works of Picasso that belong to everyone and to no one? The absurdity of Kimmelman’s statement is obvious. Without rights of ownership and control we could hardly have any dealings with art.
Kimmelman is obviously under the spell of James Cuno whose ideas he conveys throughout the article without acknowledgement. In order to deny the Egyptians their right to Egyptian cultural objects like the bust of Nefertiti and the Rosetta Stone, Cuno goes so far as to deny that there is any connection between present Egyptians and ancient Egyptians:
‘What is the relationship between, say, modern Egypt and the antiquities that were part of the land's Pharaonic past? The people of modern-day Cairo do not speak the language of the ancient Egyptians, do not practice their religion, do not make their art, wear their dress, eat their food, or play their music, and do not adhere to the same kind of laws or form of government the ancient Egyptians did.’
Once we apply the criteria enumerated here to France, Germany, Great Britain and other states we realise immediately that hardly any modern peoples eat the same food as their ancestors, follow the same religion as their forbearers or dance to the same music – and on this basis could be denied any right to cultural objects found on their lands.
Kimmelman writes as if the United Nations, Unesco and several international conferences had not requested the return of cultural artefacts to their countries of origin. Unesco is mentioned only to be blamed for the destruction of the Bamiyan Buddhas because the organisation allegedly refused to authorise the export of artefacts. The writer does not seem to understand the role of Unesco in cultural matters nor does he appear to be aware of the fact that it is for governments to authorise or deny the export of cultural objects from their territory.
Kimmelman, who appreciates the spread of democracy through vandalism, totally ignores that the majority of the British people have always spoken in favour of returning the Parthenon/Elgin Marbles to Greece. Recent polls by the Guardian newspaper have confirmed 94.8 5 per cent were in favour of returning the Marbles to Athens and only 5.2 per cent were against.
Do people like Kimmelman really care about the opinion of the British people or indeed of any people? They talk about democracy but are the first to trample on the democratic rights of others and to support those responsible for such violations. It is obvious that depriving any people of their cultural artefacts is a violation of their human right to cultural development and to enjoyment of their cultural objects.
Kimmelman does not mention the Benin Bronzes, the Ethiopian Treasures and Asante Gold Treasures. Perhaps he realised it would be rather difficult to sell the idea that despite the violence in the invasion and looting of Benin, Nigeria in 1897, Maqdala, Ethiopia in 1868 and Kumasi, Ghana in 1874 by the British Army, the spread of the national treasures can be considered a democratisation process. He surely would not want to say to the Nigerians, Ethiopians and Ghanaians: ‘It is true that your cultural objects have been taken with violence in unjustified wars prompted by the greed of the British imperialists. But you should appreciate that your cultures are now well-known in the world and the spread of those objects has made them accessible to a large number of people rather than to a small ruling elite. A truly democratic enjoyment of culture.’
If the Parthenon Marbles, the Rosetta Stone, the bust of Nefertiti and the Benin Bronzes were returned to their countries of origin, the museums would still have more than enough objects to display. Indeed most of them have space problems and cannot display the many objects kept in depots. British, French, German and other Western cultures can survive the departure of the looted, stolen or disputed artefacts. So who is holding back all these artefacts against the will of the owners and against the will of their own people? There is small cultural elite, including some experts and museum directors who have built their careers and lives around such artefacts and cannot contemplate, even for a second, the departure of such objects. It is the kind of elite who have developed their own values, far removed from those of average citizens. It is the elite whose values would justify paying US$106 million for a painting in a world where many have to live on less than US$1 a day.
THE MOTIVATION FACTOR
Since Kimmelman is interested in motivation research, one may wonder what his motivation was for writing his article at the time he did. Was he perhaps motivated by the Greek economic problems? He also failed to mention or refer to the Cairo Conference on restitution which took place a few weeks before he wrote his article. What was the motivation here? After all, that conference dealt directly with the topic he was writing about and there has not recently been any meeting as significant as the meeting called by Zahi Hawass of Egypt. Was this reflective of the arrogant position that those who met at Cairo were insignificant and deserve no attention?
It is very sad that writers like Kimmelman do not use their positions to contribute to finding solutions to questions of restitution, but instead take the side of those who are alleged to have deprived others of their rights – and in the process make absurd statements, disingenuous arguments and unsupported assertions. One could point at the thousands of Egyptian artefacts that are in Western museums and the absence of any French, British or German cultural artefacts in Egyptian museums. One could urge parties contesting cultural objects to submit to arbitration or judicial settlement.
It is not for those of us who oppose the retentionism of the major museums to advise how to present arguments in favour of an outmoded ideology of previous centuries. But we are surely entitled to hope and pray that certain standards are observed. The article ‘Who Draws the Borders of Culture?’ does no good service to the cause of the retentionists.
Kimmelman’s article demonstrates that when it comes to restitution of cultural objects, many find it difficult to remain fair and to refrain from absurdities, insults and contempt for supporters of restitution whose only offence is to dare ask for the return of their stolen, looted or otherwise illegitimately acquired cultural objects.
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* This article first appeared in Museum Security Network.
* Kwame Opoku is an academic and restitution commentator
* Please send comments to email@example.com or comment online at Pambazuka News.
 Michael Kimmelman, Who Draws the Borders of Culture? The New York Times, May 4, 2010, http://www.nytimes.com/2010/05 All citations of Kimmelman are from this article. Readers may be interested in 2009 coverage of the museum by the New York Tines http://www.nytimes.com...
 Paul Barford, http://paul-barford.blogspot.com
See excellent comments at http://archaeologymatters
 Derek Fincham, http://illicit-cultural-property.blogspot.com
 K. Opoku, “Is Nationalism such a Dangerous Phenomenon for Culture and Stolen/Looted Cultural Property?” http://www.modernghana.com
 Gert v. Pacezensky and Herbert Ganslmayr, Nofretete will nach Hause; Europa - Schatzhaus der “Dritten Welt”, C.Bertelsmann, München, 1984; see also, Culture and Development, www.nofretete-geht-auf-reisen.de/echronol.htm K.Opoku, “Nefertiti, Idia and other African Icons in European Museums: The Thin Edge of European Morality”,http://www.modernghana.com.
 Christopher Hitchens, The Parthenon Marbles, Verso, London, New York, 2008, pp. 97-99.
 K.Opoku, “The Amazing Director of the British Museum: Gratuitous Insults as Currency of Cultural Diplomacy?”http://www.modernghana.com.
 Culturegrrl MacGregor Whopper: Greek Government "Simply Continued Elgin’s Practice."
 James Cuno, Who owns antiquity? Museums and the battle over our ancient heritage,p.9, Princeton University Press, Princeton, 2008. See also, K. Opoku, “Do Present-Day Egyptians Eat the same Food as Tuthankhamun? Review of James Cuno’s Who Owns Antiquity? http://www.modernghana.com
 Aida Edemariam “How G2's Parthenon marbles poll went global”, http://www.elginism.com See http://www.parthenonuk.com for more information on the Elgin Marbles.
 See comments on the sale by Tom Flynn, ‘Annus mirabilis for bankers, annus horribilis for those who bailed them out’ http://tom-flynn.blogspot.com/search/label/Picasso
 K. Opoku – “Reflections on the Cairo Conference on Restitution: Encouraging Beginning”, http://www.museum-security.org
Give me my freedom
An interesting story from The Haitian Blogger. A former business associate of Uday Hussain (Saddam Hussain’s son) Arthur Morrison is trying to get US$25 million of frozen funds released so he can donate them to Haiti. Morrison is also the former manager of Muhammed Ali. President Obama’s nemesis, Jeriemiah Wright has been asked to help get the funds released.
China in Africa comments on the recent US$28.5 billion deal between China and Nigeria to build three oil refineries and a petrochemical plant asking ‘how real is the deal?’ The question is pertinent because so many other China/Nigeria deals have never actually materialised. One example is the Mambila Hydropower Project in Nigeria:
‘How many times have you read that "China" is building the Mambila Hydropower Project in Nigeria? Folks, as of right now, this project is moribund.
‘Yes, two Chinese companies, China Gezhouba Group Corporation (CGGC) and China Geo-Engineering Corporation (CGC), signed a contract to construct the dam. But the expected China Eximbank financing was never finalized. The Mambila dam fell victim to the review of President Obasanjo's murky "oil-for-infrastructure" deals ordered by his successor, the late President Yar'Adua, in October 2007. This was nicely detailed in an August 2009 Chatham House report, Thirst for Oil. The Chinese companies have a contract, but without secure financing, the project will not go forward.”
‘So is the latest “deal” any more secure that the Hydropower project? Yes and No - from the sound of it anything could happen. It seems strange to me and probably to most readers but the comment that “signing a contract is more attractive than actually building one” implies there is something to be gained at the initial stages such as monies exchanging hands…
‘Because of financial and political spoils, signing a contract for a big infrastructure project is more attractive than actually building and operating it. This is one reason why so many deals are announced but then never materialize. (See more on this in his blog post: Money for Nothing (Or How Corruption Fuels Dam Building in Nigeria).’
Bunmi Oloruntoba of A Bombastic Element takes a journey back to 1972 when Idi Amin expelled thousands of Indians from Uganda. The post is based on a CNN Inside Africa report that Asians were slowly returning after years of exile, most of whom are newcomers – sons and daughters of those expelled. In addition to the many films on Idi Amin, he discovers a French comic book ‘Les Mercenaires’ with a special edition on Idi Amin.
Malawian gay couple, Tiwonge Chimbalanga and Steven Monjeza, were found guilty on Tuesday of “unnatural acts and gross indecency”. House of Rainbow asks that we show our solidarity with the couple by writing to them at the following address: Tiwonge Chimbalanga and Steven Monjeza, Prisoners, Chichiri Prison, PO Box 30117, Blantyre 3, Malawi.
Canary Bird comments on the threat to Nigeria’s traditional media by bloggers and the appalling environment under which Nigerian journalists have to work, often going long periods without pay:
‘In Nigeria, the greatest threat to traditional media seems to come from online bloggers who are more often than not, based outside the country. It is interesting to note that a greater percentage of news about Nigeria is being broken by online citizen media and citizens themselves through text and blackberry messaging, social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Bebo and other interactive means. It should therefore not come as a surprise that the Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan recently stated he was planning to join the social networking site Facebook to enable him pass his message across to the most vibrant segment of the Nigerian society - the youths.’
Sahel Blog reports on the continuing impasse between Egypt and Sudan and the rest of the Nile Basin countries over the new Nile sharing agreement. In 1929 when the British gave Egypt sole rights over the Nile and the right to veto any construction on the river. This has meant the majority of the waters from the Nile going to Egypt at the expense of the other countries.
‘There is a lot at stake for all the players in the region and perhaps for Arab-African relations as a whole, already strained by years of neglect and outright conflict in Sudan.’ She lays out some of the different interests at stake: ‘It would be hard for both Egypt and Sudan to fundamentally change their development models based on a reduced share of water’ BUT ‘The remainder of the Nile Basin countries are getting tired of waiting around for Egypt and Sudan to sign the [Common Framework Agreement].’
Zanele Manhenga on Kubatana asks ‘If your vagina could talk, what would it say?’
‘The Vagina Warriors have an agenda; to show women and men alike that there is an issue here and as long as it is not discussed they are going to come right out and ask if the vagina had a mouth what would you hear it say? To be a bit precise these are called The Vagina Monologues.
‘If you did not attend a function by the Young Women’s Leadership Initiative (YOWLI) that was themed reclaiming our bodies, demystifying sex and sexuality, let me then tell you it was about dissecting issues relating to young women’s sexual and reproductive health and rights.
‘Yes, you read right; this is not from foreign lands but stories of young Zimbabwean women in our communities subjected to a whole lot of different experiences. I was shocked at what other people think and feel about sex. From the monologues that were there, issues ranged from having sex without using condoms to shoving some liquids down your privates so that you are relatively tight for him.’
Black Looks remembers Malcolm X on his birthday which is also her son’s birthday:
Give me my freedom lest I die for pride runs through my veins not blood and principles support me so that I with lifted head see Liberty . . . . not sky! For I am he who dares to say I shall be Free, or dead - today. . .
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* Sokari Ekine blogs at Black Looks.
* Please send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org or comment online at Pambazuka News.
New colonialism: Pentagon carves Africa into military zones
Last year the commander of US African Command (AFRICOM), General William Ward, said the Pentagon had military partnerships with 35 of the continent's 53 nations, 'representing US relationships that span the continent'.
That number has increased in the interim.
As the first overseas regional military command set up by Washington in this century, the first since the end of the Cold War and the first in 25 years, the activation of AFRICOM, initially under the wing of US European Command on 1 October 2007 and then as an independent entity a year later, emphasises the geostrategic importance of Africa in US international military, political and economic planning.
AFRICOM's area of responsibility includes more nations - 53, all African states except Egypt, which remains in US Central Command, and the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (Western Sahara), a member of the African Union but which the US and its NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organisation) allies recognise as part of Morocco, which conquered it in 1975 - than any of the Pentagon's other Unified Combatant Commands: European Command, Central Command, Pacific Command, Southern Command and Northern Command (founded in 2002).
The US is alone in maintaining regional multi-service military commands in all parts of the world, a process initiated after the Second World War as America pursued its self-appointed 20th century 'manifest destiny' as history's first worldwide military superpower.
Until 1 October 2008 Africa was overwhelmingly in the European Command's area of responsibility, with all African nations assigned to it except for Egypt, Seychelles and the Horn of Africa states (Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia and Sudan) overseen by Central Command, and three island nations and a French possession off the continent's eastern coast (Comoros, Madagascar, Mauritius and Reunion) placed under Pacific Command.
The month before AFRICOM began its one-year incubation under US European Command in 2007, Principal Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Ryan Henry said: 'Rather than three different commanders who have Africa as a third or fourth priority, there will be one commander that has it as a top priority.'
The Pentagon official also revealed that AFRICOM 'would involve one small headquarters plus five "regional integration teams" scattered around the continent' and that 'AFRICOM would work closely with the European Union and NATO', particularly France (a member of both), which was 'interested in developing the Africa standby force'.
The US Defense Department official identified all the key components of African Command's role and adumbrated what has transpired in the almost three-year interim: By subsuming nations formerly in the areas of responsibility of three Pentagon commands under a unified one, the US will divide the world's second-most populous continent into five military districts, each with a multinational African Standby Force (ASF) trained by military forces from the United States, NATO and the European Union.
Later the same month, the Pentagon confirmed its earlier disclosure that AFRICOM would deploy regional integration teams 'to the northern, eastern, southern, central and western portions of the continent, mirroring the African Union's five regional economic communities…'
The Defense News website detailed the geographic division described in Defense Department briefing documents issued in that month:
'One team will have responsibility for a northern strip from Mauritania to Libya; another will operate in a block of east African nations - Sudan, Ethiopia, Somalia, Uganda, Kenya, Madagascar and Tanzania; and a third will carry out activities in a large southern block that includes South Africa, Zimbabwe and Angola … A fourth team would concentrate on a group of central African countries such as the Democratic Republic of Congo, Chad and Congo [Brazzaville]; the fifth regional team would focus on a western block that would cover Nigeria, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Niger and Western Sahara, according to the briefing documents.'
The five areas correspond to Africa's main Regional Economic Communities, starting in the north of the continent:
- The Arab Maghreb Union: Algeria, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco and Tunisia
- The East African Community (EAC): Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda
- The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS): Benin, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Cote d'Ivoire, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone and Togo
- The Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS): Angola, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Republic of Congo (Brazzaville), Democratic Republic of Congo (Kinshasa), Equatorial Guinea, Rwanda and Sao Tome & Principe
- The Southern Africa Development Community: Angola, Botswana, Democratic Republic of Congo, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Seychelles, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
Africa's far northeast, in and near the Horn of Africa, is in a category of its own, having long been subordinated to the US's Combined Joint Task Force - Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA) based in Djibouti and where the Pentagon has approximately 2,000 personnel from all four branches of the armed services. The Combined Joint Task Force - Horn of Africa area of operations takes in the African nations of Djibouti, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Kenya, Seychelles, Somalia, Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda as well as Yemen on the Arabian peninsula. In addition to Seychelles, the CJTF-HOA is expanding its purview to include Comoros, Mauritius and Madagascar in the Indian Ocean.
Three years ago it was reported that the Pentagon had already 'agreed on access to air bases and ports in Africa and "bare-bones" facilities maintained by local security forces in Gabon, Kenya, Mali, Morocco, Namibia, Sao Tome and Principe, Senegal, Tunisia, Uganda and Zambia'. That is, in northern, eastern, western, central and southern Africa.
The US has maintained its military base in Djibouti, Camp Lemonnier, since 2003, established a naval surveillance facility in Seychelles last autumn, and has access to base camps and forward sites in Kenya, Ethiopia, Morocco, Mali, Rwanda and other nations throughout the continent.
AFRICOM, as noted above, plans a central headquarters on the continent - its current headquarters remains in Stuttgart, Germany, although Djibouti's Camp Lemonnier functions as a de facto one in Africa - with five regional satellite outposts in northern, southern, eastern, western and central Africa.
The African Standby Force is nominally under the control of the African Union, but its troops are being trained and directed by the US, NATO and the military wing of the European Union.
The website of the African Standby Force contains links to the following sites:
- ASF Headquarters (Addis Ababa)
The African Union's secretariat, the African Union Commission, is based in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Ethiopia is also one of the nations - Liberia and Morocco are others - that has been discussed as a potential site for AFRICOM's main headquarters on the continent.
Each of the five geographical units listed above is to supply a contingent of up to brigade size (4,000-5,000 troops by NATO standards) for the African Standby Force that is projected to be launched this year.
Two days before AFRICOM was established on 1 October 2007, the American armed forces newspaper Stars and Stripes reported that 'The command, scheduled to become operational this week, will focus much of its activity on helping to build the fledgling African Standby Force.
'It is hoped the force, being organized by the Ethiopia-based African Union, or AU, will be ready by 2010. It would consist of five multinational brigades based in the giant continent. Each brigade would perform missions in its given region, such as peacekeeping when the need arose.
'Gen William E. Ward, nominated to become the first AFRICOM commander, last week told the US Senate in writing that US troops would help the brigades come to life.'
Ward, earlier head of NATO's Stabilisation Force (SFOR) in Bosnia in 1996, said in his own words: 'AFRICOM will assume sponsorship of ongoing command and control infrastructure development and liaison officer support. It would continue to resource military mentors for peacekeeping training, and develop new approaches to supporting the AU and African Standby Forces.'
This February a NATO website detailed the North Atlantic military bloc's role in complementing AFRICOM efforts to build the African Standby Force:
'NATO began providing support to the AU Mission in May 2005 based on specific requests from the AU. NATO nations supported [the] AU Mission in Sudan (AMIS) by providing airlift for 32,300 personnel … NATO continues to support the AU mission in Somalia (AMISOM) through the provision of strategic sea and air-lift for AMISOM Troop Contributing Nations on request. The last airlift support occurred in June 2008 when NATO transported a battalion of Burundian peacekeepers to Mogadishu.
'Joint Command Lisbon is the operational lead for NATO/AU engagement, and has a Senior Military Liaison Officer at AU HQ in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. NATO also supports staff capacity building through the provision of places on NATO training courses to AU staff supporting AMISOM, and support to the operationalisation of the African Standby Force - the African Union's vision for a continental, on-call security apparatus similar to the NATO Response Force.'
The NATO Response Force (NRF) completed what was described at the time as its final validation in the two-week, 7,000-troop Steadfast Jaguar military exercises in the African island nation of Cape Verde in 2006.
Africa was the testing ground for the NRF and the NRF is the model for the African Standby Force:
'Since June 2007, NATO has assisted the AU Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) by providing airlift support for AU peacekeepers. This support was authorized until February 2009 and the Alliance is ready to consider any new requests from the AU. NATO also continues to work with the AU in identifying further areas where NATO could support the African Standby Force.
'NATO is also providing, at the AU's request, training opportunities and capacity building support to the AU's long term peacekeeping capabilities, in particular the African Standby Force.'
Since the Berlin Plus agreements between NATO and the European Union in 2002, the military components of both organisations not only overlap and complement each other, but are being integrated at a qualitatively higher level for overseas missions like those in and off the coasts of Africa.
Three years ago French General Henri Bentegeat, then chairman of the European Union Military Committee, met with EU defence ministers in Germany and an account of his comments included: 'The European Union's drive for a stronger global military role includes an upgrading of ties with the United Nations, NATO and the African Union.' In addition to last year's military mission in Congo and logistical help for African Union forces in Darfur, Bentegeat said the EU wanted to help an ambitious AU programme to create a standby force for peacekeeping missions.
Even before AFRICOM was activated as a separate military command in the autumn of 2008, US European Command was conducting large-scale multinational military manoeuvres in various regions of Africa to train units for the five regional brigades that will form a unified, continental African Standby Force.
Starting in 2006 US European Command (and subsequently Africa Command) has conducted annual Africa Endeavor multinational communications interoperability exercises - frequently in nations on the strategic Gulf of Guinea - with the participation of the armed forces of African, NATO and European Union nations. Africa Endeavor 2007 was held in Ghana and the contributing countries were the US, Algeria, Angola, Belgium, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Chad, Gambia, Lesotho, Mali, Morocco, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, Sweden, Uganda and Zambia. It was jointly run by US European Command, US Central Command and the nascent US Africa Command.
'AE [Africa Endeavor] fosters better collaboration in the Global War on Terrorism and supports the deployment of peacekeepers in Sudan and Somalia.
'Furthermore, AE assists in establishing critical communication links to enhance the African Standby Force's developments in command, control, communications and information systems (C3IS) and strengthens national, regional, continental and partner relationships…'
Africa Endeavor 2008 was held in Nigeria and included military personnel from 22 African and European nations as well as the US.
'During the course of the exercise, participating nations and organisations also continued their efforts to develop standard practices and procedures for the African Union and its African Standby Force.'
In 2005 the US launched the first of regular Flintlock multinational military exercises to initiate and expand the Pentagon's Trans-Sahara Counter-Terrorism Initiative (TSCTI), formed in the same year, to train the military forces of Algeria, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Senegal, Morocco, Nigeria and Tunisia. Washington's NATO allies Britain, France, Germany, the Netherlands and Spain are also involved in the Trans-Sahara Counter-Terrorism Initiative.
The exercises are run by US Special Operations Command Europe. In 2007 NATO announced that its Special Operations Coordination Center would be headquartered at the same Kelley barracks on the US base in Stuttgart where AFRICOM headquarters are located.
An account of the initial 2005 operation divulged that 'The US Government reportedly plans to spend $500 million over five years to make the Sahara Desert a vast new front in its war on terrorism … During the first phase of the program, dubbed Operation Flintlock, 700 US Special Forces troops and 2,100 soldiers from nine North and West African nations [participated].'
This year's 22-day Flintlock 2010, launched on 2 May, includes 600 US special forces and 150 counterparts from Britain, Belgium, France, the Netherlands and Spain.
'The objective of Flintlock 10 is to develop military interoperability … Centred in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, but with tactical training conducted in Senegal, Mali, Mauritania and Nigeria, Flintlock 10 will begin 2 May and end 23 May, 2010 … Flintlock 10 looks to build upon the successes and lessons learned during previous Flintlock exercises, which were conducted to establish and develop regional relationships and synchronisation of efforts among the militaries of the Trans-Saharan region.
'This exercise will take place in the context of the Trans-Sahara Counter Terrorism Partnership (TSCTP). Supported by the US Africa Command (USAFRICOM) and the Special Operations Command (SOCAFRICA), the exercise will provide military training opportunities…'
AFRICOM recently announced that the Special Operations Command Africa 'will gain control over Joint Special Operations Task Force-Trans-Sahara (JSOTF-TS) and Special Operations Command and Control Element - Horn of Africa (SOCCE-HOA)', to centralise special forces activities in Africa.
Efforts to create the proposed African Standby Force brigade in the north of Africa have floundered for several reasons. Egypt is not a member of the Maghreb Union nor is it in AFRICOM's area of responsibility. Libya is one of the most vocal opponents of AFRICOM. There is residual tension between Algeria and Morocco over Western Sahara, which Algeria recognises as an independent nation. But Algeria, Egypt, Mauritania, Morocco and Tunisia are all members of NATO's Mediterranean Dialogue partnership program.
AFRICOM's plans for regional military intervention contingents are proceeding more favourably in the east, west and south. In June of 2008 the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) conducted a military exercise, Jigui 2008, in Mali with its 15 member states, and 'for the first time, the regional force exercise involved the African Union, the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC), the multinational Standby High Readiness Brigade based in Denmark (SHIRBRIG) and the Ethiopia-based Eastern African Standby Force (EASTBRIG).
'All the exercises were supported by the host governments as well as France, Denmark, Canada, Germany, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, the United States of America and the European Union.
'Jigui 2008 is consistent with previous training programmes of ECOWAS and is within the framework of the African Union (AU) Standby Force, which seeks to have ready by 2010 one force by each of the Regional Economic Communities (RECs) in Africa.
'The ECOWAS target is to create a 2,770-man Task Force of the 6,500 troops of the regional force which will be available under the control of the AU.'
A year before Senegal hosted military manoeuvres with several other West African nations - Burkina Faso, Gambia, Guinea-Bissau, the Republic of Guinea (Conakry) and Mali - to 'test the [troops'] deployment ability' with military aircraft, vehicles and ships provided by France 'ahead of the planned creation of an ECOWAS standby force'.
The participating states were trained to 'form the western battalion of the 6,500-men intervention force which ECOWAS wants to set up by 2010.
'Army chiefs of ECOWAS member countries agreed in June 2004 to create the permanent 6,500-man force, including the 1,500-strong rapid reaction unit for troubleshooting missions.'
Jigui 2009 was held in Burkina Faso with the participation of US Army Africa and the Vicenza, Italy-based army component of AFRICOM.
Last month ECOWAS held a field training exercise in Benin, Exercise Cohesion Benin 2010, which 'aimed to evaluate the operational and logistics readiness of the Eastern Battalion of the ESF, which is part of the overall preparation for the operationalisation of the African Standby Force by December 2010'.
In October of last year the Kenyan press reported on Western involvement in building the African Standby Force brigade at the eastern end of Africa:
'Danish, Swedish, Norwegian and Finnish officers will assist the region in the ongoing establishment of a united military force to deal with conflicts on the continent.
'Once functional, the East African Standby Brigade (EASBRIG) will be deployed to trouble spots within 14 days after chaos erupts, to restore order … The brigade will have troops from 14 countries.
'The experts from the European countries … are based at the EASBRIG headquarters, at the Defence Staff College in Karen, Nairobi.
'Vice-Chief of General Staff Julius Karangi said the foreign experts would help fast-track the process of setting up the standby brigade.'
EASBRIG consists of troops from Burundi, Comoros, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Madagascar, Mauritius, Rwanda, Seychelles, Somalia, Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda, and through the Eastern African Standby Brigade Coordination Mechanism is moving toward the consolidation of the eastern wing of the African Standby Force.
The East African Standby Brigade is to be headquartered in Kenya, and last November a field training exercise was held for it in Djibouti where the US has its main military base in Africa and France has its largest anywhere abroad. A Rwandan news source wrote of it months afterward: 'The historical exercise brought together approximately 1,500 troops, police and civilian staff from 10 countries working side-by-side for the first time.'
The most immediate site for the use of the East African Standby Brigade is Somalia, where member states Ethiopia, Rwanda, Burundi, Uganda and Kenya are already involved. EASBRIG will also be available for operations in Sudan, Congo and the Central African Republic, as well as against Eritrea. In March of last year AFRICOM chief General William Ward 'cited three areas of current conflict on the continent, including border disputes between Eritrea and Djibouti on the Horn of Africa and in North Africa [with] the Western Sahara, and clashing in the Democratic Republic of Congo'.
Speaking of the command he heads, Ward added, 'the United States was able to lend assistance to Uganda, Rwanda, Congo and to a lesser degree … the Central African Republic.'
The European Union, already involved in the first naval operation in its history, European Union Naval Force Somalia - Operation Atalanta, in the Horn of Africa, has deployed a military mission to Uganda to train 2,000 Somali troops to defend the Western-backed Transitional Federal Government in Mogadishu.
AFRICA PARTNERSHIP STATION: US WARSHIPS PATROL AFRICAN COASTS
In recent years US Naval Forces Europe-Africa has developed the Africa Partnership Station (APS) as a naval component of AFRICOM. Its first deployment took the APS to Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Ghana, Senegal, Sao Tome & Principe, and Togo - all on the Gulf of Guinea except for Senegal, which lies to the north of it.
In the same year, 2007, NATO's Standing Maritime Group 1, with one warship each from Canada, Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, Portugal and the US, started a circumnavigation of Africa with stops in the Gulf of Guinea and ending with 'exercises in the Indian Ocean, off the coast of Somalia…'
At the time Admiral Henry Ulrich, commander of US Naval Forces Europe, said: 'The Global Fleet Station concept is "closely aligned" with the task to be provided by the still-developing US Africa Command', and later announced the departure of the USS Fort McHenry and the High Speed Vessel Swift for a seven-month deployment to the Gulf of Guinea in November of 2007 as part of the Navy's Global Fleet Station programme. The Africa Partnership Station is one of several Global Fleet Stations recently set up by the US, others being assigned to the Caribbean Sea and Oceania. 'As a dock landing ship, the Fort McHenry is designed to help get US personnel onto "hostile shores", according to the Navy.'
Phil Greene, director of Strategy and Policy, Resources and Transformation for US Naval Forces Europe, added that the USS Fort McHenry would have a multinational staff, 'partnering with nations such as France, the United Kingdom, Spain, Portugal and others who have an interest in developing maritime security in that region'.
In fact the USS Fort McHenry first arrived in Spain 'to take on passengers from several European partners - Spain, the United Kingdom, Portugal and Germany, among them - before heading to the Gulf of Guinea', where it was joined by the High Speed Vessel Swift to 'transport students as well as trainers during visits to Senegal, Liberia, Ghana, Cameroon, Gabon, and Sao Tome and Principe'.
In 2007 US warships visited Mozambique for the first time in 33 years and Tanzania for the first time in 40.
As part of Africa Partnership Station port visits last year, the guided-missile destroyer Arleigh Burke travelled to Djibouti, Kenya, Mauritius, Tanzania and South Africa, in the last case holding a week of joint exercises with one of the nation's warships.
In February of 2009 'for the first time the US Navy [had] warships on each side of the African continent as part of Africa Partnership Station's ongoing teaching mission with African nations.' To wit, a frigate in Mozambique, Kenya and Tanzania and an amphibious transport dock in Senegal.
The month before a US frigate became the first navy warship to anchor off Equatorial Guinea's mainland city of Bata 'as part of the Navy's Africa Partnership Station initiative', after visits to Cape Verde, Senegal, Benin and Sierra Leone on its way to Tanzania and Kenya.
The US chargé d'affaires in Equatorial Guinea was quoted as offering one reason for the visit: 'It's the third largest oil and gas-producer in sub-Saharan Africa, with a significant foreign investment footprint…'
'The October 2007 initial deployment of the Africa Partnership Station (APS) to the Gulf of Guinea and the coincident rollout of A Cooperative Strategy for 21st Century Seapower signalled a strong American commitment to leveraging US sea power … The APS is a Global Fleet Station (GFS) sea base designed to assist the Gulf of Guinea maritime community in developing better maritime governance … The Global Fleet Station, born out of a need for military shaping and stability operations … is a proven concept for this mission in such areas as the Gulf of Guinea and the Caribbean basin.'
Currently AFRICOM is leading the Phoenix Express 2010 maritime counter-insurgency exercise in the Mediterranean Sea with Morocco and Senegal among other African nations.
Paralleling NATO's almost nine-year Operation Active Endeavor in the Mediterranean, which patrols the northern coast of Africa from the Suez Canal to the Strait of Gibraltar, the US Navy now regularly roams the African coastline from where the Mediterranean meets the Atlantic Ocean down to the strategic oil-rich Gulf of Guinea and all the way south to Cape Town, then north again along the entire Indian Ocean coast to the Red Sea. Africa is encircled by US and NATO warships.
PENTAGON BUILDS SURROGATE ARMIES TO CONTROL AFRICA REGION BY REGION
On the mainland, the Pentagon has transformed the armed forces of Liberia, Rwanda, Uganda and Ethiopia into military surrogates on both ends of the continent. Since 2006 'a US State Department-led initiative … has completely rebuilt the military in Liberia', according to AFRICOM.
Last October the commander of US Army Africa, Major General William B. Garrett III, visited Rwanda (whose military is a US and British proxy) and 'stressed that the US army is interested in strengthening its cooperation with the Rwandan Defence Force (RDF)'. Garrett confirmed that the US was ready to send more advisers and trainers for the Rwandan army and added, 'Likewise, we hope that the Rwandan Defence Forces can also participate in our exercises. So we are hoping to increase the level of cooperation between the US and the Rwandan defence forces.'
Earlier in the year AFRICOM's General Ward also visited Rwanda, where he 'met with Rwandan defence leaders and watched displays of Rwandan Defense Force (RDF) capabilities during a two-day visit April 20-21, 2009'.
Late last year Ward visited Morocco, a US military partner for several decades, where he had paid two visits the preceding year, and 'discussed bilateral military cooperation and opportunities to strengthen partnership between the Royal Armed Forces and the US Army'.
Recently US marines trained Moroccan troops in Spain ahead of 12-nation naval manoeuvres in the Mediterranean Sea.
On 28 April this year Ward paid his third visit to Botswana, 'where he discussed ongoing regional security efforts and potential future military-to-military activities with the BDF [Botswana Defence Force] … The BDF and US military conducted 40 cooperation events together in 2010.'
The following day the AFRICOM chief paid his first visit to Namibia where 'he met with Namibia's National Defence Force officials to discuss potential future cooperation activities'.
On 27 April Brigadier General Silver Kayemba, chief of training and operations for the Ugandan People's Defence Force (UPDF), visited Washington to meet with Major General William B. Garrett III, commander of US Army Africa.
The Ugandan general was quoted saying on the occasion: 'This visit strengthens our relationship with the US Armed Forces, particularly with US Army Africa. We are looking forward to even closer cooperation in the future.'
Under an Africa Partnership Station programme, a 130-troop Security Cooperation Marine Air Ground Task Force has been training military forces in Ghana, Liberia and Senegal. The marine commander in charge, Lieutenant Colonel John Golden, said: 'This is the cutting edge of phase zero counterinsurgency', an aspect of 'military-to-military training in a very austere environment in areas where there hasn't been a lot of US military presence in the last 235 years.'
A report by the Stars and Stripes on 2 May disclosed that 'At a remote military base in the jungle city of Kisangani, an elite team of US troops is attempting to retrain a battalion of Congolese infantrymen.'
The feature laid emphasis on the humanitarian facet of the operation, as reports on AFRICOM activities generally do, but also contained these excerpts:
'There are economic and strategic incentives to bringing more security to the Congo, which is rich in natural resources such as cobalt, a key component in the manufacturing of cell phones and other electronics. The country contains 80 percent of the world's cobalt reserves … An April 2009 report to Congress by the National Defense Stockpile Center made clear that ensuring access to mineral markets around the world is of vital interest to national security.'
The US is not dragging almost every nation in Africa into its military network because of altruism or concerns for the security of the continent's people. AFRICOM's function is that of every predatory military power: The threat and use of armed violence to gain economic and geopolitical advantages.
BROUGHT TO YOU BY PAMBAZUKA NEWS
* This article was originally published by Uruknet.info.
* Rick Rozoff is the list manager of the Stop Nato international email news list.
* Please send comments to email@example.com or comment online at Pambazuka News.
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 Agence France-Presse, September 12, 2007
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Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe
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Whose slave plantation is it anyway?
A critical reading of Wole Soyinka’s Distinguished Nyerere Annual Lecture on ‘New imperialisms’
'My observation – which I fully expect will be strongly contested – is that there has ever been one major direction in the motion of human history: empire building.' Wole Soyinka
Professor Wole Soyinka’s inaugural Nyerere Annual Lecture demands a critical review, belated as it may be. Now that his contentious observations have, at last, been made available in a printed format, one can engage – without the risk of misquoting – this great man of letters. These lectures on 'New imperialisms' were delivered during the first Julius Nyerere Intellectual Festival Week at the University of Dar es Salaam on the 13 and 14 of April 2009 respectively. They were accordingly subtitled 'Whose empire is it anyway?' and 'Anything to do with slavery?' This review critiques Soyinka’s observations on the 'empire building impulse' that emerged in his lectures.
At the risk of incurring the wrath of the champions of a ‘Yoruba–Igbo divide’, Soyinka opens his lecture with a contentious general claim in the epigraph above and goes on to offer a disclaimer:
'Human history, in short, appears to be – if I may apply a somewhat old-fashioned usage – a narrative of the rise and fall of empires. It leads to a quite plausible conclusion that one constant consciousness has driven, and still drives social man even in the fundamental mission of ensuring his own survival of his kind – expansion and domination. A close examination of some societies in their pre-colonial phase, such as the Igbo, or some newly encountered but ancient societies in, for instance, Papua New Guinea, or the Amazon, makes a strong case for some exceptions' (Soyinka 2010: 1).
The Nobel laureate for literature further elaborates on this claim and disclaimer in a way that the famous essayist of Igbo aversion to cultural imperialism, Chinua Achebe, would agree less:
'Unlike societies right next to the Igbo for instance – more famously the Benin, or further west, the Yoruba or, all the way southwards of the continent, the Kwazulu of the legendary Shaka – the Igbo, with their strong social formation rooted in republicanism, would appear to belie my general claim. The Igbo have no history of expansionism, being content with a strong organization around autonomous clan entities that made contact – friendly or unfriendly – with one another as the need arose' (Soyinka 2010: 1).
Then the first distinguished Nyerere lecturer throws in a universalising definition of history, bordering on historicism: 'History, however, is not made of exceptions' (Soyinka 2010: 1). In other words, he is asserting that, generally, the history of humankind is linear, one that is always moving uniformly toward one goal: imperialism. He seems to be asserting, by default, that if it were not for the tragic colonial and imperial encounter between the ‘West’ and the ‘rest’, the pre-colonial societies would have, ultimately, expanded and dominated others. After all, that is what ‘Emperor’ Shaka and his Zulu warriors were already doing – let alone the Benin and Yoruba! Lest one be accused of putting words in the lecturer’s mouth, let’s hear from the horse’s mouth:
'The broad sweep of the human narrative that constitutes history argues persuasively for the view that, what has driven mankind in the progression of its societies has been a motion towards unified control, even of the most disparate cultures, social systems and beliefs – an impulse that is governed by the very concept of society as one which implicates, ab initio, the validation of its existence only in its capacity for expansion, and enrolment of others into its own territorial identity, even if only of the loosest kind' (Soyinka 2010: 2).
What is so problematic in Soyinka’s observation is that it renders 'modern empire building', and ‘imperialism' for that matter, a simple matter of a human – or societal – impulse. It stems from Soyinka’s rejection of a worldview that is so dear to his lecture’s host, the Mwalimu Nyerere Professorial Chair in Pan-African Studies, Issa Shivji – the view that the locomotive of history is class struggle. By deliberately locating the history of imperialism outside of class – and other related – analyses, Soyinka, probably advertently, divorces capitalism from what Vladimir Lenin regarded as its highest stage, that is, imperialism. In fact Soyinka lumps capitalism – alongside colonialism and neo-colonialism – as a troika which he regards as those 'familiar and justly target enemies' that 'had served their purpose' as we are no longer confronted by 'the ghosts of past wrongs', in the rubric of 'fading imperialisms', which we routinely and rhetorically castigate by way of camouflaging 'internal imperialisms'. For sure, to his credit, he talks about the crisis 'that first emanated from the commercial nerve-centre known as Wall Street', but he starts and ends there. His rationale for his stance in anticipation of his critics’ offensive is thus presented:
'Now, I fully expect that anyone who has read or heard me dispute the Marxist theory of history as a product of the class struggle, its motoring force, offering in its place the axial contest between Power and Freedom, will complain that I have contradicted myself. However, examined no matter how loosely, we soon recognize that there is no contradiction whatsoever. The history of empires is merely a palpable manifestation of that most fundamental and propulsive opposition between power and freedom, between domination and resistance. Empires merely constitute the geographical expression of that impulse, one that may also be expressed as an internal, not outwardly directed exigence' (Soyinka 2010: 2).
But, loosely speaking, the struggle between power and freedom does not occur in a class vacuum. Nor does the contest between domination and resistance. Those dominating and resisting are positioned in antagonistic class relations, whether global or local. It is not an accident, then, in this regard, that those who seized power in their quest for more freedom during the French Revolution (1798–99) and proclaimed ‘Liberty, equality and fraternity’ did nothing to free Sarah Baartman (1789–1815) from the surgeon’s knife that imprisoned her in the ‘Museum of Man’ in Paris, France. She did not belong to what they considered to be their class, gender and race or, more precisely, their human family. It is not surprising then that the land that provided the world with the ‘Universal Declaration of the Rights of Man and of Citizen’ went on to colonise people in Africa and elsewhere. It is capitalism and its quest for ever greater profits, rather than a mere imperial impulse to assimilate these societies into the French Empire that drove them. In this case, as in many others, there was no such thing as an 'imperial imperative' as Soyinka would want us to believe as he claims, without providing sufficient qualification, that it 'is sufficient to recognize for now that the earlier named "imperial imperative" goes beyond mere instinct and constitute[s] historic motions'. The 'motion of the political man' in that age of merchant capitalism was not 'towards the ideal of a unified social existence'. Even the thesis of the Berlin Conference (1884–85) had nothing to do with creating such a global unity, rather, it was about fragmenting zones of capitalist influence. Thus the premises that Soyinka employs to build his tantalising argument on what he calls ‘new imperialisms’ is historically faulty.
After a convoluted critique of various empires – theocratic, pantheistic, secularist etc – Soyinka winds up his first part of the lecture by acknowledging that the continent of Africa is 'buffeted from all sides' by these 'contending empires'. In a rather agile move from his earlier assertion of ‘Igbo exceptionalism’, when it comes to ‘imperial expansionism’ he then asserts that the continent 'is remarkably situated to make and actualize' an 'anti-imperial' claim – to provide the world that alternative 'humanist charter' which is 'non-doctrinaire, non-exclusionist, non-discriminatory and non-subservient'. Why is the whole of Africa now the exception, we may ask Soyinka. Surely, he will simply answer, because 'the African continent, from its historic trials and their lessons, is most qualified to offer a political model of human co-habitation that is truly without empires.' Probably unaware, Soyinka is echoing the following claim made by his lecture’s celebrant, Julius K. Nyerere – and reverberated in pan-Africanist circles – when asked to talk about Africa’s place in the world in the dawn of the year of African independence:
'I suggest that the world today needs a champion for democracy and personal freedom, a champion who must be free from ties of history, or ties of alliance, which might embarrass her stand. Today it seems that Africa is in the best position to take that role – to speak to the world from moral strength, in fact, to continue in the world the moral struggle in which she has already engaged herself on the African continent. To my thinking, no other continent, as a continent, has either the common sentiment or the unblemished moral standing, which is Africa’s' (The Mwalimu Nyerere Foundation 2000: 8).
That today was February 1960. Today Soyinka’s celebrated mentee, Henry Louis Gates Jr, is continuing his mission, once publicly defended in the West Africa Review by the famed mentor, of blemishing Africa’s moral standing in regard to slavery. In many ironic ways Soyinka’s second part of the lecture resonates with Gates Jr’s recent op-ed on 'Ending the slavery blame game'. The only main difference is that Soyinka is talking about the 21st century ‘leaders’.
'The hypocrites are the more dangerous, those rulers who, strutting nowadays on the platform of democracy, turn their nations into slave plantations but imagine that they bestride empires that are tailored to their own self regarding. The paradigm of new imperial holdings on the African continent is, let us face it, the slave plantation, the pathetic contraction of the much envied imperial sway supposedly gone out of fashion. The slave of yester-year was given the choice to liberate the former slave stockade and let its captive out but no. He substitutes himself for the banished imperator' (Soyinka 2010: 38).
But, as the Kongi himself is very much aware, that imperator was not really banished. And the substitute was a mere comprador – in a neocolonial set-up. Yet this is the point Soyinka evades, may I dare say, deliberately. Why? Well, simply because he doesn’t want to shift the blame from Africa(ns). Of course, there is a moment his old self betrays him when he thus categorically chastises Euro-America’s obsessive query about the 'Chinese incursion into Africa': 'That such question should arise in the first place is a clear pointer to the western perception of what I have earlier referred to as a presumption of permanently established, eternal "zones of influence". They operate in the minds of the West as protected fields of interest and operations, based on a strict bilateralism – the West and Africa – into which even tentative probes of a third party amounted to hostile aggression' (Soyinka 2010: 8). Nevertheless, the main point that Soyinka wanted to drive home in his lecture is that ‘we’, in Africa, must take responsibility. How? Yes, by moving beyond the rhetorical language of ‘we’ versus ‘they’ that has been used by the likes of 'Emperor Mugabe' and 'dictator Omar al-Bashir' to defend the 'slave plantation' that Africa is.
One can sense Soyinka’s anger and frustration at the way Africa has been handling these 'murdering imperator[s] of African misfortunes' in his critique of Mugabe’s following claim: 'They cannot come here and tell us what to do. They are trying to re-colonise us and we say No!' To that, Soyinka retorts: 'Re-colonize? Just who are "we"? And who are "they"? Who is truly doing the re-colonization? Who are the new enslavers, the new imperators of the continent?' (Soyinka 2010: 53). To him the answer is clear: internal imperators within Africa.
This brings us to a profound understanding of Soyinka’s intention in this lecture. Here the intellectual activist is not simply trying to provide a sound theoretical and methodological – or even a factual – account of the history of imperialism in Africa. Rather, he is attempting to use his intellectual power and moral authority by any scholarly means necessary – even by propaganda – to ensure ‘we’ take action if we think ‘they’ are re-colonising us when they act:
'Those who choose to deny this actuality have a choice: set up your own tribunal within this continent on neutral grounds. Summon Omar Bashir, with his fellow accused, to testify before his peers. Openly! Bring in witnesses under protection to confront him with their accusations. Attestations are not lacking – even without the indictment of the International Court – internal organizations of this continent are more than subsumed under material for Bashir’s arraignment. Lacking such interest, lacking the will to summon one of your own to judgement at the bar of humanity, YOU – and I address directly both the African Union and the Arab League – YOU have abandoned all moral grounds for protestations at "they", in relation to "we". We know who we are, and what we are, rejects all notion of solidarity with you' (Soyinka 2010: 58).
One cannot help but empathise with this indefatigable ‘leader of thought’ who admits elsewhere in the lecture of having found himself 'inhibited by a sense of a Sisyphean curse' when dealing with Africa’s recurring problems that are 'so obvious, the solutions sometimes equally so'. Incidentally, a few months before Soyinka’s lecture, Mahmood Mamdani delivered a special lecture on 'Darfur: The problem and way forward' in the same venue. He warned against imbibing a narrative of history that erroneously reduces a big problem to a single cause or source, in this case, Omar al-Bashir. As a person who attended both lectures claimed, and I then agreed, their proposed solutions to the Darfur crisis were so in contrast. But, in hindsight, I think they unwittingly share a profound view of our main problem in Africa, a problem that is thus summed up:
'Yes, we [in audience Africa] recognized [dictatorship] as one of the problems. No one said it was the only problem, or the most profound. What I must stress here, and continue to stress anywhere, is that it is a problem, one which millions of sentient beings find singularly obstructive to their grasp of the human collective, or their ability to function as a productive part of the overall entity. No one ever claimed that the end of dictatorship would be the trampoline that would catapult the African continent into the twenty-first century. No, we merely remain adamant that this is one of the malignant imperial retentions of incontinent and alienated leadership, and one that must be eliminated from human history' (Soyinka 2010: 49).
It is the force that sustains malignant imperial retentions that we need to undo. Emperors will always rise again as long as the old empire remains. New imperialisms may just be its disguise.
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* Chambi Chachage is co-editor of 'Africa's Liberation: the Legacy of Nyerere', forthcoming from Pambazuka Press.
* © Chambi Chachage 2010.
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African continental integration: In defence of Kwame Nkrumah’s position
The struggle for African continental integration continues to be characterised on its ideological front by well-organised attempts to discredit and distort Kwame Nkrumah’s position on the fundamental and structural need to achieve African continental solidarity and unity so as to resolve Africa’s problems in its national, continental and international socio-political and economic relations. Adekeye Adebajo’s work on increasing African continental suspicions of Muammar Gaddafi’s political ambitions if it is not part of these attempts either justifies their legitimacy and credibility or can be used in justifying them.[i] Adebajo maintains that Gaddafi 'has shown a tendency to turn history and its precedents to his own ends for most of his political career'. This factor is the characteristic feature of some other African leaders. Some African leaders are willing spokespersons and spies of Gaddafi.
It is important to provide analysis of Nkrumah’s position on African continental integration and his contribution to the African continental politics of transformation as a means to protect them against direct and indirect attempts to discredit and distort them. Adebajo struggles in his work to justify the comparison he draws between the programme of action embarked upon by Nkrumah and that embarked upon by Gaddafi. In his words:
'The reality is that, between 1979 and 1987, Libya had become isolated at the OAU [Organisation of African Unity] after Gaddafi’s 1980 military intervention in Chad, underlined by an abortive summit in Tripoli in 1982. He also lost support among his peers – as had Nkrumah – for supporting dissident groups against "neocolonial" regimes in Africa. Gaddafi sent troops to bolster the regime of brutal Ugandan and fellow Muslim Idi Amin, between 1972 and 1979.'
Does this mean that the fact that Idi Amin was Gaddafi’s 'fellow Muslim' was one of the key reasons behind Libya’s support to the Amin administration? What is to be made of the fact that Amin’s religious affiliation is cited, given the fact that Gaddafi has called for the division of Nigeria into Muslim and Christian countries? This call should be criticised in theory and in practice, particularly by those who have the power and authority to ensure that Nigeria is not divided into two countries. These are Nigerian political leaders who have failed in the past and present to manage ethnic and religious conflicts in the country. Whether Nigeria is to become two countries or not will primarily depend on the failure or success of its leaders to manage and resolve its ethnic and religious conflicts. Since the achievement of political independence, how many Nigerians who are neither Christian or Muslim have served as its president? This is the valid question, not the theoretical interference in Nigeria’s internal affairs, or the questioning of who between Muslims and Christians should serve equitably as Nigeria’s presidents, or how the occupation between the state house should be shared between Muslims and those are not Muslims.
Adebajo maintains that Gaddafi’s 'ideas, like Nkrumah’s, were widely rejected by African leaders' and that after his 'defeat' at the African Union summit in 2007, 'Gaddafi was almost as isolated in Accra as Nkrumah had been at the birth of the OAU in 1963.' The issue is the content of Nkrumah’s ideas and the fundamental reasons why they 'were rejected' by African leaders and why Nkrumah was isolated at the formation of the OAU. This applies to those of Gaddafi and why he was isolated at the African Union summit in Accra in 2007.
To what extent was the rejection of their ideas and isolation linked to the strategic and tactical issues of advancing the process of socio-political and economic transformation nationally, regionally and continentally in Africa? This is the strategic question which should be answered by those who are using any means necessary, including 'ideas' of leaders' appropriated positions of progressive African leaders of the past for their own interests and those of their allies in either discrediting or distorting Nkrumah’s position on the African transformation agenda.
This is the case, among others, given the fact that central to the transformation of African countries and the continent has been the form and content of the socio-political, economic and ideological relationship between the state and the masses of the people and the ability of the state to satisfy the needs and demands of the people given its national obligation to them. The exercise of state political power has been central either in the realisation or the failure to realise the objectives of the transformation of Africa. The point is that, as the state is the material condensation of power relations within a society, underlying the process of achieving Africa’s transformation have been key questions concerning the exercise of state political power. These questions include: Which social class or class alliance exercised state political power in the African countries led by African leaders who 'widely rejected Nkrumah’s ideas' and who 'isolated' him 'at the birth of the OAU' in 1963, by what tactical means and to what strategic end? How was the exercise of the state political power, its means and end, supported and contested by other social forces in these countries? How was it supported and challenged by external socio-political and economic forces, by what means and for what strategic and tactical end or why? What was the programme of action of the state against that of external forces opposed to the national and continental transformation? These questions underline the centrality of the satisfaction of the needs and demands of the masses of the African people by these leaders through their exercise of the state political power. Underlined was also the credibility and legitimacy of the political governance or administration of these countries.
APPROACHES TO AFRICAN CONTINENTAL INTEGRATION
Since the achievement of political independence, African policy-makers and scholars have emphasised the importance of continental integration as a means to strengthen Africa’s political independence and to ensure that the continent’s enormous natural resources serve the development and progress of its people. In their call for continental integration, they viewed the process of solidarity and unity as an essential prerequisite to change the dominated role of Africa within the global social order, to end its entrenched dominated external dependence and to end the exploitation of its human and natural resources by the developed countries.
The issue of solidarity and unity has been viewed as essential, not only as far as the continental integration agenda is concerned, but also given the fact that for them, not a single African country can change the socio-political and economic relations with the global system and countries controlling it. Central to this view of solidarity and unity among African countries to achieve continental integration are several key issues. First is the issue of the effective right of African countries to national self-determination and the free, independent exercise of their sovereignty and foreign policy. Second is the structural and fundamental need to defeat neocolonialism and imperialism.
In other words, this achievement was viewed as the process to enable African countries to collectively and effectively meet challenges faced in their national, continental and international relations. This achievement was the constitution of the highest stage of continental solidarity and unity, the United States of Africa. This position was articulated in well-focused way by Kwame Nkrumah in his writings in his passionate call for African solidarity and unity to meet the needs, demands and exigencies of the African people in the post-colonial period. In his call upon Africa to unite, he maintained that:
'If we are to remain free, if we are to enjoy the full benefits of Africa’s rich resources, we must unite to plan for our total defence and the full exploitation of our material and human means in the full interests of all our peoples. To go it alone will limit our horizons, curtail our expectations, and threaten our liberty.'[ii]
Nkrumah was not alone in articulating this position. He was also not alone in calling for the United States of Africa. This is important to emphasise and over-emphasise. The point is that some African scholars create the impression that he was alone in this important call for the continental solidarity and unity. At issue is not only to isolate him from his comrades, but also to discredit and distort his position on the continental integration agenda.
Rededicating the commitment of Ghana to contribute to the continental socio-political and economic transformation through the support to the liberation struggles of other African countries in his independent speech, Nkrumah viewed the achievement of Ghana's political independence as directly interlinked with the total liberation of the African continent. He viewed the achievement of continental integration as of strategic importance in the African politics of revolutionary change. This achievement would enable African countries to collectively and effectively meet challenges faced in their national, continental and international relations. In his words:
'No independent African state today has a chance to follow an independent course of economic development, and many of us who have tried to do this have been almost ruined or have had to return to the fold of the former colonial rulers. This position will not change unless we have a unified policy … We need a unified economic planning for Africa. Until the economic power of Africa is in our hands, the masses can have no real concern and no real interest for safeguarding our security, for ensuring the stability of our regimes and for bending their strength to the fulfillment of our ends. With our united resources, energies and talents, we have the means as soon as we show the will, to transform the economic structures of our individual states from poverty to that of wealth, from inequality to the satisfaction of popular needs. Only on a continental basis shall we be able to plan the popular utilisation of all our resources for the full development of our continent.'[iii]
Nkrumah and other African policy-makers and scholars such as Modibo Keïta, Sékou Touré and Cheikh Anta Diop called for immediate African continental integration. Their approach to African integration was primarily political. They subscribed to the thesis of the primacy of the political factor over economic and trade factors in the effort to achieve continental socio-economic development and transformation, or what Diop referred to as 'the economic unification of Africa'.[iv] This thesis is articulated by Nkrumah and Diop in their works. The formulation and implementation of strategy and tactics to achieve socio-economic development and progress are primarily political. Development policies should be formulated and implemented collectively to achieve continental socio-economic objectives. Nkrumah articulated the danger of seeking to create and achieve economic union in isolation from a political union. He maintains that 'African unity is above all a political kingdom, which can only be gained by political means. The socio-economic development and progress of Africa will come only within the political kingdom not the other way round.'[v] Pointing out that to 'overcome the tremendous obstacles in the way of the economic unification of Africa, decisive political actions are required in the first place' and that 'political unification is a prerequisite' to 'economic unification', Diop also articulated the same position when he maintains that:
'The elaboration of a rational formula of economic organisation must come after the creation of a federated political entity. It is only within the framework of such a geopolitical entity that a rational economic development and cooperation can be inserted. The inverse leads to the type of results we have witnessed over the years.'[vi]
Central to Nkrumah’s view of solidarity and unity among African countries to achieve continental integration are several key issues. First is the issue of the effective right of African countries to their national self-determination and the free, independent exercise of their sovereignty and foreign policy. Second is the structural and fundamental need to defeat neocolonialism and imperialism. The issues characterising relations between African countries and developed countries are domination, control and the exploitation of African countries by developed countries. For Nkrumah, they should be resolved for African countries to satisfy the needs, demands and exigencies of their national socio-political and economic relations. Their resolution is necessary to defeat neocolonialism. Neocolonialism is structurally against the existence of solidarity and unity among African countries essential to achieve continental integration. It ensures that African countries continue having less horizontal relations among themselves and that their external relations remain vertical, more with developed countries rather than among themselves.[vii]
The relationship of domination, control and exploitation between African countries and developed countries is against the achievement of economic independence. It is against the achievement by African countries of control over their national economy and their formulation and implementation of free, independent development strategy and tactics. Economic independence essentially means 'control over economic decision-making and the national economy, the establishment of a firm industrial structure, leading to a self-generating and self-sustaining growth, and a diversification of external economic contacts consistent with the nation’s economic interests'.[viii]
Nkrumah maintains that neocolonialism is the last stage of imperialism.[ix] For him, imperialism, not only neocolonialism, must be defeated in Africa. African countries can defeat imperialism only when they are united on a continental basis. Imperialism is the structural mechanism used by the financial oligarchy of advanced capitalist countries[x] to manage antagonistic contradictions or contradictions between social forces whose strategic interests are antagonistic, such as those of labour and capital, and to reconcile secondary contradictions or contradictions within social forces whose interests are common, such as either labour or capital, and to prolong the life of capitalism on the global scale, particularly internally within developed countries. The forces of imperialism struggle to control the ratio of constant capital to variable capital. Their primary means is to obtain cheap mineral raw materials in the periphery of capitalism where the raw materials are primarily produced. These strategic raw materials occupy the central position within the operations of the manufacturing industies of developed countries. This socio-historical process has created and maintains in the developing countries antagonistic contradiction in the development of their national economies. It is antagonistic contradiction in that the domination, control and exploitation of their national economy by the financial oligarchy of developed countries, firstly, rules out antagonistically the possibility of the emergence of the independent phase of capitalism in the developing countries. This contradiction makes it impossible for these countries to become advanced capitalist or imperialist countries. As long as they are capitalist social formations, they will remain economically dominated and controlled by the financial oligarchy of developed countries. Briefly, they will not achieve economic independence on the basis of capitalism.
Central to Nkrumah’s view of solidarity and unity among African countries on the basis of the realisation of the continental integration agenda is also the issue of Africa's solving the problems it faces in international power relations. A united, powerful Africa will contribute towards the resolution of problems the rest of the world is facing in international relations. It will contribute towards the new global order, advancing the commonality of interests of all humankind. In his words:
'Divided we are weak; united, Africa could become one of the greatest forces for good in the world. I believe strongly and sincerely that with the deep-rooted wisdom and dignity, the innate respect for human lives, the intense humanity that is our heritage, the African race united under one federal, will emerge not as just another world bloc to flaunt its wealth and strength, but as a great power whose greatness is indestructible because it is built not on fear, envy and suspicion, nor won at the expense of others, but founded on hope, trust, friendship and directed to the good of all mankind.'
Nkrumah did not embrace illusions that it would be easy to achieve what he called for. He was fully aware that:
'For the weak to challenge the strong has never been easy. Neither will it be easy to challenge powerful vested interests on the current and entrenched orthodoxies about the modern world economy.'[xi]
He was confident that the progressive and revolutionary forces agree that:
'In as much as the slave cannot ask the slave-master to provide the strategy and tactics for a successful uprising of the slaves, so must we, who are hungry and treated as minors in a world of adults, also take upon ourselves the task of defining the new world order of prosperity and development for all and equality among the nations of the world.'[xii]
The position of the group consisting of Nkrumah, Keita, Touré and Diop that political integration is a prerequisite to other forms of integration was opposed by the second group of African policy-makers and scholars who called for the gradual continental integration. Consisting of leaders such as Félix Houphouët-Boigny, Jomo Kenyatta and Léopold Senghor, this group regarded regional economic communities as the organisational means to achieve continental integration. Its approach to continental integration was primarily economic, preferring a loose cooperation of regional institutions in the technical, administrative, economic and trade areas. Although he was not moderate or conservative, Julius Kambarage Nyerere was the leading credible and respected spokesperson of this conservative, moderate group. As its respected representative of this group, he spent time, energy and resources criticising Nkrumah’s articulation of the radical approach to continental integration.
The position of the first group was defeated and replaced with that of the second group. The consequence of this crucial development in the continental integration agenda has been that the position of the second group is the dominant and official approach of the African Union and of the decisive majority of African countries to the continental integration agenda. Despite its defeat and its replacement with the gradual approach to the continental integration agenda, which is basically the official African Union position on the integration project, the position of the group led by Nkrumah is appropriate in its view of the national, regional, continental and international challenges the continent is facing in realising the strategic objectives of its integration project. This is affirmed, among others, by the continued existence of domination, control and exploitation in the relations between Africa and developed countries from the colonial period to the present post-colonial period. Central to the relations of African countries with developed countries is the subordination of their national, regional, continental and international relations to the national needs, demands and exigencies of developed countries. These relations are characterised, among others, by:
'(a) the dominance in the national economy of foreign ownership of the means of production, distribution and exchange; (b) the consequent foreign exploitation of indigenous resources; (c) various forms of socio-cultural and political dependence which sustain these ownership and exploitative relations; (d) the external orientation of the national economy; (e) the confinement of national participation in the international division of labor to primary production for export and the importation of manufactured goods; (f) confidence in the salutary nature of external conditions; (g) high hope of benefits from foreign relations; and (h) appeals to the humanitarian sentiments of the advanced [capitalist] countries, as the major means of international influence [and national development].'[xiii]
These characteristic features of relations between Africa and developed countries were and continue to be the problems the group led by Nkrumah aimed to confront and end. They were and continue to be its strategic targets. These are issues which the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) does not aim to end in its neoliberal approach to the resolution of Africa’s problems. They are key factors characterising the partnership between Africa and developed countries as proposed by NEPAD. It is through this partnership or alliance between the decisive majority of African leaders and leaders of developed countries that domination, control and exploitation of Africa within the global capitalist system is defended.
Shifts in Africa’s position in international power relations and their consequences support Nkrumah’s position on the structural need for the realisation of African continental integration. Africa’s position in international power relations substantially and negatively changed since the end of the Cold War in the 1990s. The decline in the bargaining power of African countries and the resultant increased decrease in their relative domestic and foreign policy autonomy, the unprecedented consolidation of the dominance within the global capitalist order by the United States and its national security interests in shaping the intensified globalisation process were some of the key factors characterising international power relations since the 1990s.[xiv] The decline in the bargaining power of African countries and the resultant greater decrease in their relative domestic and foreign policy autonomy has been that they have been formulating and implementing their economic policies increasingly in line with the requirements of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank and the World Trade Organisation (WTO).
Contrary to the position that the state in Africa decreased its role in the economy, it actually increased its role by managing and directing the economy in the interests of the few. Its economic policies helped to increase the number of African capitalists. The continued active role in increasing the camp of the African bourgeoisie is articulated by the state in the name of expanding the camp of African bourgeoisie in the case of countries which achieved political independence in the 1960s and 1970s and in the name of creating African bourgeoisie in the case of social formations such as Zimbabwe and South Africa, which achieved political independence in the 1980s and 1990s. This socio-historical development has been necessary for the consolidation of the alliance of capitalists of developed countries and developing countries and the internationalisation role of the state in fulfilling not only the requirements of this alliance, but also those of the defence of capitalism on the global scale. The task of creating and increasing the camp of the African bourgeoisie has proved to be in line with the task of advancing the strategic interests of imperialism. Thanks to this development, the majority of African leaders and theoreticians of the state they control and the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank are allies formulating and implementing common or similar policies against the development and progress of African countries and the masses of their people.
The International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and transnational corporations, benefiting from this socio-historical development in the consolidation of the alliance between the African ruling class and the ruling class of the developed countries, step by step increased their leverage over African countries. They also increased their dominant position within their national economic relations. NEPAD is areflection of this increased defeat of Africa in international power relations. According to Samir Amin, even in the 1980s, Africa was already 'the weakest and most vulnerable part of the Third World' and 'the underbelly of the world system'.[xv] This problem has been increasing particularly since the 1990s. Since the 1990s, the number of Africans with power and authority opposed to the task of promoting and achieving socio-economic rights of the masses of the people – of reducing and eliminating illiteracy, hunger, poverty, homelessness, unemployment and their causes – has increased. The revolutionary and progressive forces of the continent must have the political kingdom to restructure the continental socio-political and economic relations and those between Africa and the rest of the world.
TOWARDS THE CONCLUSION
The task to advance development and the progress of Africa is the responsibility of the African people. It is not the responsibility of leaders of developed countries and institutions and organisations controlled by developed countries. African leaders should and must demonstrate commitment to Africa’s development and progress. The continent’s resources should be used to achieve its development and progress. Unfortunately, the brutal reality is that they are being used by a decisive majority of African leaders and their national allies against the advancement of the continental development and progress. This brutal reality is camouflaged by African leaders and their direct and indirect allies and friends who spend time, energy and resources demanding that leaders of developed countries and institutions and organisations controlled by developed countries should demonstrate their commitment to the development and progress of Africa.
Nkrumah was against any means to further and rapidly integrate Africa. His was an 'any means necessary' method to liberate the continent from the system. Not challenging leaders of advanced capitalist countries, but asking them for support in the efforts for Africa’s development and progress and transformation is what he was opposed to. He opposed measures committing the continent to achieve the development path leaders of developed countries approve. The point is that, as Smangaliso Mkhatshwa pointed out in his keynote address at the Gilbert Murray Memorial Lecture in Oxford in October 1985: 'What poor countries and poor groups need is the type of development that is not modelled on that of the richer countries and regions. Indeed, a major element in the real development of the poor is that the rich should be stopped from imposing misdevelopment on the world. The notion of liberation through development needs then to be complemented by that of development through liberation.'[xvi]
Nkrumah warned African leaders of programmes for the further domination, control and exploitation of the continent by developed countries through the global capitalist system they control. He called upon progressive and revolutionary Africans to oppose in theory and in practice any attempt to increase the vulnerability of Africa. For him, at issue was not only to increase the continent’s vulnerability, but also to make it easy for it to submit to the rule of the continental and international forces of domination, control and exploitation against the development and progress of Africa and its people.
In paying homage to Kwame Nkrumah, Amílcar Cabral calls upon we the enemies of neocolonialism and imperialism to implement our understanding that despite the fact that it is true that ‘imperialism is cruel and unscrupulous', we 'must not lay all the blame on its broad back' and that 'so long as imperialism is in existence, an independent African state must be a liberation movement in power, or it will not be independent'.[xvii]
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* Dr Sehlare Makgetlaneng is the chief research specialist and the head of the Africa Institute of South Africa's (AISA) Governance and Democracy Research Programme.
* Please send comments to email@example.com or comment online at Pambazuka News.
[i] Adekeye Adebajo, 'Africa grows suspicious of Gaddafi’s bizarre ambitions,' Business Day (Johannesburg), 1 April 2010, p. 11.
[ii] Kwame Nkrumah, Africa Must Unite (New York: International Publishers, 1970), p. xvii.
[iii] Kwame Nkrumah, I Speak of Freedom: A Statement of African Ideology (London: William Heinemann, 1961).
[iv] Cheikh Anta Diop interviewed by Shawna Moore, in Ivan Van Sertima (editor), Great African Thinkers, Vol. 1: Cheik Anta Diop (New Jersey, New Brunswick: Transaction Books, 1987), pp. 250-51.
[v] Kwame Nkrumah, quoted in Rodney Worrell, 'Whither Global Africa? A Case for Pan-Africanism,' Africa Quarterly, Vol. 41, Nos. 1-2, 2001, p. 52.
[vi] Diop interviewed by Moore, in Ivan Van Sertima (editor), Great African Thinkers, Vol. 1: Cheik Anta Diop, pp. 250-51.
[vii] On the meaning of neo-colonialism, see, among others, Johan Galtung, The European Community: A Superpower in the Making, (London: Allen & Unwin, 1973), p. 42.
[viii] Julian F. Rweyemamu, Underdevelopment and Industrialization in Tanzania: A Study of Perverse Capitalist Industrial Development (Nairobi: Oxford University Press, 1933), p. 38.
[ix] Kwame Nkrumah, Neo-Colonialism: The Last Stage of Imperialism (London: Thomas Nelson & Sons, 1965, and New York: International Publishers, 1966).
[x] Organic crisis of capitalism is the crisis which may lead either to the end or the revival of capitalism in a given society.
[xi] Speech of the Deputy President of the Republic of South Africa, Thabo Mbeki, at the Opening of the Ministerial Meeting of the X11 Summit Meeting of heads of State and Government of the Non-Aligned Movement, Durban, South Africa, 31 August 1998, X11 Summit Conference of Heads of State and Government of the Non-Aligned Movement: Basic Documents, 29 August to 3 September 1998, Durban, South Africa, Pretoria: Department of Foreign Affairs, 1998, p. 230
[xiii] Okwudiba Nnoli, Self Reliance and Foreign Policy in Tanzania: The Dynamics of the Diplomacy of a New State, 1961 to 1971 (Lagos: NOK Publishers, 1978), p. 7.
[xiv] Adebayo Olukoshi, 'Hope for a New Millennium,' CODESRIA Bulletin, Special issues, Nos. 3 and 4, 2002, pp. 1-2.
[xv] Samir Amin, 'Afro-Arab Cooperation: The Record and the Prospects,' Africa Development, Vol. X1, Nos. 2 and 3, 1986, p. 15.
[xvi] Smangaliso Mkhatshwa, quoted in Susanna Smith, Front Line Africa: The Right to a Future: An Oxfam Report on Conflict and Poverty in Southern Africa, Oxford: Oxfam, 1990, p. 159.
[xvii] Amilcar Cabral, Unity and Struggle: Speeches and Writings of Amilcar Cabral, New York and London: Monthly Review Press, 1979, p. 116.
Earthquake in the Catholic Church: Truth, Christianity and forgiveness
‘What is hidden from the wise and prudent will be revealed to babes and sucklings’.
These words sum up the challenge of getting the truth out, especially as this moment of crisis reveals the multiple levels of lies, hypocrisy and child abuse that have been festering in the Catholic Church.
Over the past four decades, the Christian faith has been overtaken by fundamentalist elements, which have stoked the fires of intolerance, war and hate. These right-wing forces were supported by a cult-like axis consisting of bankers, fascists and the CIA (Central Intelligence Agency), which came into full force to reverse the trend of Liberation Theology that had been blossoming all over the world.
Right-wing Christian fundamentalism emerged out of opposition to the poor and the Vatican was the anchor of this right-wing Christianity. Between the conservative Catholics and the Evangelicals who were called fundamentalists, good Christians were squeezed and persecuted.
Protestant fundamentalism has taken such deep roots in the United States that many outside the United States wonder if US society is on the verge of becoming fascist. These fundamentalists have one thing in common – they are against the rights of women.
As the financial crisis exposes the opacity of the international financial system, all capitalist institutions are in crisis. This crisis is nowhere more evident than in the Vatican, where for generations an alliance between the CIA, a group known as P2 (Propaganda Due) and bankers was nurtured to the point where these elements covered up vast crimes against citizens.
During the Cold War, the Catholic Church, especially the front line conservative formations such as the Knights of Malta and Opus Dei were partners with western intelligence agencies in the so-called war against communism. Pope John Paul II was recruited as an activist to roll back the rise of theories of liberation in the Church and to support the most conservative dictators around the world. Now his successor is rocked by the legacies of forty years of cover-ups and abuse. The revelations of cases of child abuse by priests follows a wave of sex abuse scandals that have shaken the Catholic Church around the world. Stories of abuse, cover-ups, lies and deception are coming from nearly every corner of the world, with abused persons coming forward in Ireland, Austria, Brazil, Switzerland, Italy, the Netherlands, Germany and the United States.
It is the German cases that reach right up to the top of the hierarchy of the Catholic Church. Pope Benedict XVI, who hailed from Germany, grew up in the conservative stronghold of Bavaria, and as a youth had served in the youth wing of the Nazi organisation, the Hitler Youth. Reports in the media recount the fact that as Archbishop of Munich, Joseph Alois Ratzinger turned a blind eye to the widespread abuses in his archdiocese. The German publication, Der Spiegel in reporting the earthquake in the church noted that:
‘…the church systematically protected the perpetrators and ignored the victims, and that it repressed and covered up sexual abuse in its own ranks for decades – and in doing so enabled paedophile priests to leave behind a trail of emotional devastation throughout Germany.’
Archbishop Ratzinger was elevated to becoming a cardinal when the conservative factions of the Catholic Church won out in the battles over the future of the Catholic Church. In the seventies, the growth of priests who supported a new gospel of sharing and liberation shocked the conservative forces.
Of the numerous orders of the Catholic Church, ranging from Augustinians, Capuchins, Carmelites, Dominicans, Jesuits, Franciscans, Marists, Maryknoll, White Fathers etc, there were many sections that were sympathetic to a new theology that administered to the needs of the poor.
It was in opposition to liberation theology that the forces of conservatism moved decisively. Their move was so barefaced that the Vatican was silent when Maryknoll sisters were killed in the Contra wars in Central America. Archbishop Romero of El Salvador was gunned down in this climate of hostility to the gospel of peace. Anti-communism, support for capitalism and racist ideas of white supremacy were the teachings that were favoured by the Church when Pope John Paul II emerged as the leader.
Ratzinger was one of the driving forces behind the crackdown on Liberation Theology and he was one of the chief architects of the Roman Church's alliance with the dictators of Latin America and the racists in Africa. Cardinal Ratzinger was one of the key insiders of this anti-communist crusade and Africans remember well the role of sections of the church in supporting apartheid and Portuguese colonialism. In every continent there were righteous religious leaders who opposed colonialism and oppression, but political power in the Vatican was vested in the ranks of those who adhered to the most right-wing ideas. Those who opposed the Conservatives running the Vatican were called dissenters. As one prominent journalist of the New York Times said of Ratzinger:
‘As the long-time Vatican enforcer, the archconservative Ratzinger – now Pope Benedict XVI – moved avidly to persecute dissenters. But with molesters, he was plodding and even merciful.’
In order to be an effective enforcer, the Vatican had to have available an equally organised force. Of these conservative Catholics, the one that is more and more coming to light is that of Opus Dei.
OPUS DEI AND FASCISM
If there was a society associated with the most brutal crimes of the Catholic Church, it is the Catholic Church of Spain. After the restoration of the power of the Catholic Church after the expulsion of the Moors during the reign of Isabella and Ferdinand (Los Reyes Catholicos), the Inquisition was a period of torture and terrorism inside Europe. Outside of Europe, the torture inspired the genocide of millions of citizens in the Americas. This mass genocide was possible because intellectual leaders in Spain such as Sepúlveda deemed that Africans and First Nation peoples were not full human beings. From the genocide and the inquisition, the Catholic Church became militant partners in the Transatlantic slave trade. The vigour of many priests in this mass slaughter is still to be documented from the rich archives in Seville and Rome.
In the 20th century after some Europeans started to retreat from this sordid history, a new order was stared in Spain to ‘save’ the Church. This was the order known as Opus Dei, started in 1928 but coming into prominence under General Franco’s fascist dictatorship. It was to this order that conservatives turned during the Cold War to save the church from those priests and nuns who supported Liberation Theology. Every major Catholic institution, especially universities and charities, was torn by the aggressive posture of the fascists and the intellectual milieu fostered by the Axis of bankers, intelligence agencies and conservative religious forces. Pope John Paul II surrounded himself with these conservatives and these forces worked very closely with William Casey who was the head of the Central Intelligence Agency under Ronald Reagan. After the death of John Paul II in 2005, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation noted that:
‘Through the 1980s, Pope John Paul II met regularly with the head of the United States Central Intelligence Agency, William Casey, and participated in what former US National Security Advisor Richard Allen calls “the greatest secret alliance in history” between the Vatican and the Reagan Administration.’
It was this same Pope who in 2002 canonised Saint Josemaría Escrivá, the founder of Opus Dei. This Pope had come to power after the sordid affair of the linkages between the Vatican bank and international gangsters that were involved in the Banco Ambrosiano. This story of lies, deceit, murder and linkages to international gangsters through the Mafia had been covered up. The true cause of death of the Italian financier Roberto Calvi on 18 June 1982 and the linkages to ultra right-wing forces in all parts of the world had been covered up by the same western media that is now discovering the sex abuse scandal. This sex abuse scandal will bring to light other far more serious linkages of secret societies that existed within the engine of a vast conspiratorial operation in Italy and beyond known as Loggia Propaganda Due (P2), composed of thousands of (some claim far more) politicians, ministers, industrialists, journalists, judges, high-ranking military officers and secret service agents from various countries, whose common aim (the ‘Plan for Democratic Rebirth’). The international strategy of the CIA under Casey mobilised these P2 forces and Catholic charities, universities and humanitarian agencies in all parts of the world were tainted as this gangster formation of bankers had the cover of the Vatican Bank.
EARTHQUAKE IN THE CHURCH
If the greatest secret alliance between the conservatives and the Catholic Church took place under Reagan, we will not have to await the verdict of history to hear of the Opus Dei and the support for George Bush by the Christian right, especially the Vatican bankers. It is known that George W. Bush supported the ideas of celibacy and abstinence in his so-called Global AIDS Initiative. The mobilisation of the Catholic hierarchy and the institutions of higher learning in the war against women are still unfolding as the Catholic Church continues to place the lives of millions of women in danger. The question of the reproductive health of women is one issue that energises patriarchs from most religions and despite differences within the Christian Church and between the Christians and Islamic Fundamentalists, the one feature that unites them is the quest to control the reproductive health of women. The tactical alliance against women was on full display during and after the United Nations International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD), which was held from 5–13 September 1994 in Cairo, Egypt.
The struggle to control the bodies of women is strewn with patriarchical ideas and hypocrisy about family values. The church has given itself the right to decide for women how to control their bodies. It was at the Cairo summit where for the first time, the reproductive and sexual health and rights of women became a central element in an international struggle for peoples’ rights. The question of the rights of women in general, and the rights of women in the Catholic Church in particular is creating an earthquake in that organisation. The sex abuse scandal is only the tip of an iceberg that is slowly breaking in the church. If Opus Dei represented the neo-fascist wing of the worldwide organisation with over one billion adherents, there were millions of women inside the organisation struggling for change. These women start from the premise that priests and nuns are humans, and as humans they have desires and emotions.
These emotions and desires have aroused anew the debates on celibacy, on whether priests should be able to marry or whether women can be ordained as priests in the Catholic Church. The debate on emancipation inside the church is calling for a new era of liberation and emancipation. This era is calling for the full exposure of those who have been criminally involved in the abuse of children and criminally involved with money launderers and the mafia. As the legal claims will increase there will be pressures inside the church because all of those abused cannot be silenced. It is only a new era of truth, healing and spiritual renewal that can save the present Catholic Church, but while the process of renewal is being searched for, many other scandals will be uncovered.
Probably the biggest scandal of all is the belief of the Catholic Church that Africans are by nature devil worshippers. In the main, western Christianity was brought to Africa through force and the military power of the colonial state. As an institution gripped by militarism and masculinity, the official church tolerated and supported all forms of brutality against Africans on the grounds that they were heathens. When some of the chiefs and their children converted and became allies of colonialism and apartheid, the church carried out hypocrisy on a grand scale. The leaders of the church were aware that many worshipped in the Catholic buildings on Sundays but from Monday to Friday were involved in community religious practices and beliefs that were considered ‘worshiping the devil.’ Outside of Africa this struggle was sharp and exploded in the society called Haiti. In African societies and Latin America, the present struggles over the child abuse opens the door for other struggles that have laid dormant for decades, if not centuries.
There are hundreds of decent and righteous Christians inside the church who are seeking to expose the long history of secretiveness, deception and cover-up.
In 2000 Pope Paul II apologised for the crimes of the Catholic Church over the centuries since the inquisition and the genocide against the First Nation peoples. Even in the moment of apology and asking for forgiveness, the pope downplayed the seriousness of the sins and crimes committed. This apology was hollow because the church never followed up with the kind of repair to ensure that there was no repetition of the past crimes. The second inquisition and persecution of the followers of liberation theology was going on even while he was making the reparative claim. This sex abuse scandal is taking place at a moment when all other major institutions of capitalism are in crisis. During revolutionary moments all institutions come under scrutiny and in these moments big and powerful institutions are challenged. We are witnessing one such moment in the Catholic Church as the Vatican and the conservative leadership of the church is being challenged to come clean on the cover-up of child abuse, paedophilia, prostitution rings and the alliance with fascists and dictators.
Instead of going away, the scandals will continue until there is institutional self-examination, liberating public honesty and truth-telling. The teachings of Jesus reflected the teachings of a spiritual leader who supported the most oppressed. This religious leader whipped the moneychangers and cast them out of the temple. We will see that revolution when the Catholic Church is no longer a haven for Opus Dei and the hedge fund leaders of the Knights of Malta. Then the church can go back to its revolutionary roots before it became a religion of state power. When that moment arrives, we will know that the bankers are indeed doing the work of the devil.
A framework for forgiveness cannot arise in a context of lies, deceit and hypocrisy. We are waiting for the moment when it is not only the socialists who will write the truth about ‘how governments, bankers, secret services, Masonic lodges, the Vatican and the Mafia impacted international politics in the 1970s and 1980s.’
BROUGHT TO YOU BY PAMBAZUKA NEWS
* Horace Campbell is a peace activist who is working to realise the dream of the late Tajudeen Abdul-Raheem of building African unity by 2015.
* Please send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org or comment online at Pambazuka News.
We must protect victims, Ocampo's witnesses too
L. Muthoni Wanyeki
Luis Moreno-Ocampo, prosecutor for the International Criminal Court (ICC), has come and gone. His visit did not, however, clarify what Kenyans are impatient to know.
We know he is pursuing cases involving politicians from both sides of the Grand Coalition Government, in which businesspeople, civil servants and state security agents may also be involved, but which cases specifically remains unclear.
We could guess, of course - the most illustrative cases, on both sides, being the attacks on the Kiambaa church as well as the attacks in Naivasha. But a guess is still only a guess.
Thus, the only reassurance we have so far is that he is pursuing both the organised violence in the North Rift as well as the equally organised counter-attacks moving out from Central Province and Nairobi into the South Rift Valley region.
This is obviously a good thing in terms of mitigating the perception that politicians from one ethnicity/political persuasion only were involved - and thus too the potential for further violence in reaction to any possible indictments that could appear one-sided.
Not so reassuring, however, is his apparent reluctance to pursue cases specifically involving state security agents.
It is clear that if the ICC is to play a deterrent role with respect to the potential for future violence, accountability must also be sought from the highest possible levels of state security agencies to remind them all of their responsibility to act impartially and in the public interest at all times.
Meanwhile, it is obvious that levels of risk and threat have increased since the decision of the ICC's pre-trial chamber to permit Ocampo to conduct the investigation.
On the ground, communities of the ethnic/political persuasion who believe 'their' men are being unfairly targeted are not making the distinction that we must all make between victims and potential witnesses.
So let us reiterate that distinction here. Victims are Kenyans who suffered the effects of the violence - those who lost family members, who were injured, who had their homes and property destroyed, who were forcibly displaced.
They are numerous. Many of them have already had the courage to share their experiences with numerous interlocutors: national and international human rights organisations, humanitarian and relief organisations, the Commission of Inquiry into the Post Elections Violence and the media.
They have done so in the belief that their stories will not just be heard but responded to, in terms of providing them not just with criminal justice but also with restorative justice.
Providing them with temporary refuge, an unsatisfactory resettlement exercise, only nominal medical and psychological care and even more nominal help to reconstruct their livelihoods is simply not good enough.
But the point here is that they are victims. And the ICC provides all victims, whether witnesses for the prosecutors' cases or not, the right to both independently participate in the court's proceedings as well as to receive, in the event of successful convictions, reparations. The fact that victims are being subjected to coercion and intimidation is unacceptable.
Given what we already know about the forms and patterns of violence at the time, it seems naive to call upon the state to ensure the protection of victims by ensuring intensified security in all areas affected by the violence, but call on it we must.
The responsibility to protect lies with the state. And it is the state that will be held accountable should anything happen, not only to victims but also to intermediaries and potential 'insider' witnesses. That state failed us all in 2007-08. It must not do so again.
BROUGHT TO YOU BY PAMBAZUKA NEWS
* This article was originally published by The East African.
* L. Muthoni Wanyeki is executive director of the Kenya Human Rights Commission.
* Please send comments to email@example.com or comment online at Pambazuka News.
Palm oil stations worsen food security and climate change
Support the gray-haired witnesses hunger strike 6/21 at DOJ!
When Ida B. Wells stood up, she set in motion a resistance movement where many Americans broke their silence against lynching and said NO. She stood for a race of people bereft of political power or resources. More than 100 years later Gray-Haired Witnesses, Black women with a new Freedom Movement calling on this nation, stand in the spirit of those proud men and women who won hard-fought for victories in struggle and blood. We speak to the totality of the struggle of the Black woman who is debased regularly as uneducated, immoral, subhuman, whore, bad mother, and welfare queen. We also recognize the systemic racism that leads the police to even arrest the Black woman in the first place, the racism during sentencing, during incarceration, in dealing with social services, education, health discrimination, and beyond.
Over the last 20 years, the women’s population in US prisons has more than tripled. Most women are in prison as a result of drug selling, addiction, domestic violence and criminal acts mostly related to men. Too many are victimized by biased and negligent lawyers and judges. The evidence of oppression against Black and poor women significantly increased and continues to mount. Our Sisters are victimized, and subsequently our families, by enormous health care disparities, and emotional degradation through corporate media demonization of our image and place in our community. We now see a coalition of corporate, cultural and political wars fully embracing a White supremacist culture of domination and terrorism.
Our primary focus is the case of the Mississippi Scott Sisters, Jamie and Gladys, whose almost 16 yrs of unjust incarceration is a shocking revelation of the pure nothingness with which our lives are deemed in the eyes of this society and world, where such egregious travesties of justice are heaped upon our women with hate-filled arrogance and in plain view! In 1994, the State of Mississippi sentenced Jamie and Gladys Scott to consecutive double-life terms each for two counts of armed robbery they did not commit. They did not have prior criminal records, vigorously maintained their innocence, approximately $11 was said to have been netted, no one was harmed or injured and no weapon was ever recovered.
In January, 2010, Jamie Scott suffered failure of both kidneys. The combination of absymal health care under deplorable conditions has culminated in her steep decline to stage 5 (end stage) kidney disease.
Jamie Scott has now effectively been sentenced to death. We must address this specific issue with urgency and demand that an Inspection and Observation Team be allowed into the Pearl, MS prison where Jamie Scott is being held for independent evaluation, as well as call on this government to free Jamie and Gladys Scott, wrongfully convicted and with no business being incarcerated in the first place! The case of the Scott Sisters is a horrific representation of the cases of countless other Black and poor women who have been denied the benefits of true justice and been incarcerated wrongly and in the process punishing, injuring and destroying Black families and children across the nation.
The Gray-Haired Witness are calling on all people of good will to fast and strike and resist with us across the nation on this day. The greatest asset we have is our body, mind and spirit and our willingness to step out of the daily flow of life and stand tall for what is right and just. In the tradition of race women throughout history and our survival, we declare our presence and we will not be silent and we are not afraid. Our lives have prepared us to come to this place, at this time.
STAND WITH US IN WASHINGTON, DC AND HELP TO BUILD THIS EVENT.
WE ASK THAT YOU STAND IN SOLIDARITY WITH US:
1. Organize attendees to come to the event on June 21.
2. Sign your organization/club/church/mosque/temple, etc. on in solidarity with the event.
3. Put a statement in support on your website and link to our blogspot. Send a mailing to your email list and memberships.
4. Assist in distributing literature for this event to build it to the maximum level.
5. Assist in garnering press now and at the event.
6. Organize a local fast where you are and send a press release to local news outlets about the hunger strike and your local support efforts.
7. Dress and wear buttons in solidarity with us on that day.
8. Assist with donations towards expenses earmarked "Gray-Haired Witnesses" at http://www.spirithouseproject.org/donation.cfm
We call on our Sisters, our Brothers to join with us to demand what is right. We must speak loudly and clearly to the devaluation of Black women's bodies and lives. We want people of all colors to wage a struggle and stand with us on these issues because none of us are free until we are all free.
SHAKEERAH ABDUL AL-SABUUR, Paralegal
FATIRAH AZIZ, ICFFMAJ, African American Freedom & Reconstruction League, Quba Institute
MAE JACKSON, Art without Walls
MARPESSA KUPENDUA, M'Backe House of Hope, Inc.
DEBRA D. NAPIER, PhD.
BJ JANICE PEAK-GRAHAM, OUR COMMON GROUND Communications, Inc., Progressive Alternative Talk Radio
RUBY NELL SALES, Founder and Co-Director of SpiritHouse project - Public theologian, educator and long time runner for justice
JAMIA SHEPHERD, Founder/President of S.O.P.E. - Support Our People's Efforts
The SpiritHouse Project
100 6th Street
Columbus, GA 31901
Moeletsi Mbeki addresses AFRICOM
An excellent critique of Mbeki's presentation. Just want to add that Moeletsi's statement: ‘As in all human affairs, the use of force in the right social context does produce solutions. There is no better illustration of this fact than the history of the United States’ (referring to events in American history, ‘the war of independence, the civil war, and the civil rights revolution’) could not be more irrelevant to explaining Africom's role! The 'war of independence' was against an external force to resist external domination, and the other two were internal conflicts - Americans against Americans - in search of social justice.
Africom is an external force invading Africa. The examples from US history that ARE relevant to Africom stretch from the arrival of the 'pilgrim fathers' and settlers on the continent and their gradual decimation of the local people, through Vietnam, and numerous other invasions under pretence of 'helping', as in Nicaragua, to the most recent examples of Afghanistan and Iraq. In these examples we can see the sort of 'solutions' Africom has in mind for the peoples of Africa.
America's record is clear - it simply wants control of land (food), water, minerals and energy resources for its own benefit, plus cheap labour. Africom is there to 'command' and prop up servile local elites who will allow American multinationals to take whatever they want. Sadly many of our leaders already eagerly follow the US example of plunder for personal profit and will be happy to get a small personal share of the spoils while their people are impoverished.
And, of course, should there be some conflict, perhaps a little resistance to looting of local resources or a desire for social justice, well so much the better for Africom - a convenient justification for its presence, and besides, its much easier to control the hungry, homeless, wounded and disenfranchised.
Africom is 'an important initiative’ only for America. If we do not resist it, Africans will eventually have to fight another 'war of independence'!
Multinational oil, the US and Nigeria: A crude contrast
Thanks for this analysis linking this recent oil spill in the gulf of Mexico to the regular spills in the Niger Delta that have destroyed lives, livelihoods and ecosystems and continue to do so while no one is held responsible as BP is being held responsible for the gulf of Mexico oil spill.
I think we will continue to suffer such injustices as we suffer in the Niger Delta as long as we (Africans, Nigerians) place more value on money than we place on life. The US, Multinational oil companies, our governments will keep doing what they do - exploit and destroy the poor and voiceless as long as we don't give a hoot what happens to our brothers and sisters or to our natural environment so long as we are comfortable.
While I am not an expert in Yoruba proverbs, there is one that means "The way you treat yourself is the way you will be treated by others". The US government will treat us and our environment differently than they treat their citizens. How can we expect outsiders to place value on life when we don't?
Sadly, oil exploration will continue and there will be more focus on the African continent as you mentioned and exploitation will continue until we have more voices speaking for the voiceless and increased and stronger resistance to exploitation. Hopefully, with voices like yours and platforms like Pambazuka the negative tide will be stemmed.
TOLULOPE ILESANMI, RESURGEAFRIQUE
Sir Bob, the BBC and Zenawi
Andrew's white head is still attached to his shoulders. This despite statements from Sir Bob Geldof that "not a penny went missing" or got diverted to buy arms in the 1980s aid money to Ethiopia. If, however, "there is any money missing I will sue the Ethiopian government."
In the meantime, roared down Sir Bob, "Martin Plaut, Andrew Whitehead and Peter Horrocks should be fired" for perpetrating such rumors. It appears Sir Bob is one guy with a chip on his shoulders and a chink in his armor.
Old Plaut simply did the hard work of connecting the dots. After all, he was on site with his nurse wife to have witnessed first hand the terrible famine. In a way, the whole exercise was bound to be an uphill battle: ex-members of the guerilla group now ruling Ethiopia are talking. And talking some more. Nothing new really. [We only wish some of you reporters could read Amharic.]
Ethiopians have known all along this was taking place and all the more happy for it because of their intense hate for dictator Mengistu. Detractors contended the talkers are at odds with their comrade and current Prime Minister Meles Zenawi and that this is election year. We don't believe such explanations affect the credibility of the statements.
At any rate, it is perplexing that the cross-firing died down so suddenly. How was it that a truce was reached so quickly? You opened up our old wound with your sharp tongue and sharpened pencils and retreated when it became apparent you could not face the embarrassment of wishing to believe a lie.
Here then is our judgement:
1. Sir Bob should go ahead and sue the ruling minority in Ethiopia. His one error of judgement is to cozy up with dictator Meles Zenawi; Tony Blair did similarly, although he later tried to distance himself.
2. Sir Bob should apologize and take back his statements.
3. The Cameron government should take the lead to investigate the matter in view of its new policy.
Pushing the African agenda at the Shanghai Expo
China’s soft power is being show cased once again with the current Shanghai Expo that was officially launched on April 30th. The Expo follows closely on the heels of Beijing’s spectacular hosting of the 2008 Olympics. Both these events signal that China’s geo-political footprint and influence is extending further than what some mainstream commentators have come to identify the Middle Kingdom as being the ‘workshop of the world’.
Like with previous Expos, which marked a coming of age of emerging Western powers to demonstrate their global outreach in productivity and economic innovation, the Shanghai extravaganza is tipped to catapult Beijing into a global trendsetter and strengthen the world’s fastest growing economy through design, tourism and cultural diplomacy by thrusting the Asian giant further up the global value chain. In some ways, the Expo provides a platform for China to announce its global arrival but in a much more muted way that aligns with what has been the overarching philosophy of successive Chinese leadership, namely: peaceful rise and harmonious development. And this message is clear: "China is doing better and better. There is no limit to what China can do," says Shen Dingli, director of the Center for American Studies at Shanghai's Fudan University. "It is a form of power, the power of persuasion rather than of gunpowder."More
Of course, hosting the Shanghai Expo also means that Beijing has come full circle to where it was in the past when Beijing had to sit on the sidelines and watch because of its own structural weaknesses or because of external domination. Perhaps what makes the Shanghai Expo so sweet for the Chinese state is the fact that it has finally fought its way into the global club where it can compete on the same stage with economies from the West. But not everyone is convinced that the Expo will have the desired results in projecting China’s soft power.
According to Li Xiguang, head of the International Center for Communications Studies at Tsinghua University in Beijing : “The United States has built its soft power by making its value and political system … universal values,” he says. “China will not beat the US in soft power until we have a better and newer form of democracy, freedom, and human rights”.
While this conveys that Beijing’s soft power identity is still in its infancy, the one place where it can be explicitly seen is in the developing world and more especially in Africa. The success of China’s infrastructure investments, social development projects and humanitarian assistance in many African countries has found resonance with African governments seeking to gain traction in their political leadership and engagement with China.
As one Nairobi based analyst noted: “China’s rapid economic development is an inspiration to many Africans. The Chinese are selling themselves as having experienced catch-up and offering to help African governments do the same”. More
So is the Shanghai Expo going to be that platform that enables Africa to improve its economic development and propel the continent’s integration into the global economy by catching up? Or is it going to be an extension of deals and investment projects that only focuses on one aspect of Africa’s development conundrum?
It is clear like with the history of Expos and world fairs that the main attraction is of course the wheeling and dealing. It becomes a veritable stage where the host country not only strives to increase its own inward foreign direct investment (FDI) but also boost its outward FDI. And in the Chinese case the ‘going global’ strategy is going to enhanced through the deals, joint ventures, contracts, mergers and acquisitions, and greenfield and brownfield investments the Chinese corporates are going to negotiate with global inc with the Chinese leadership hosting meetings on the sidelines with strategic actors.
And for Africa this will be no exception.
Already we have seen the Sh1.2 billion grant that President Kibaki of Kenya had secured after returning from the opening ceremony of the Expo and following a meeting with President Hu Jintao. Tagged as a development grant from China, the main thrust of this grant is to prioritise the construction of the Lamu port and assist Kenya in its Vision 2030, which is the development blue print for the country’s long-term plan.
Similarly, the President of Seychelles returned to the island state ‘completely satisfied’ following the four-day visit to Shanghai where he also attended the opening of the Expo.
But perhaps it was the meeting conducted on the sidelines of the Expo with President Hu that was the catalyst for President Michel’s satisfaction since it produced a bag of goodies worth approximately US$6 million for development projects that will be agreed upon by both sides. More
And these are just some of the deals listed to date with probably more to be signed with other African countries that are present at the Expo. In some respects the Expo could be seen as being an extension of the FOCAC Summit hosted last year in Sharm el Sheik. But more than that maybe we should be asking whether these ‘new’ development grants are part of the FOCAC commitments or is it new grants independent of the FOCAC measures. This is definitely something that must be monitored so that we can understand how much investment is being channeled into Africa and through what mechanisms.
Yet understanding the dynamics of where these grants are coming from is not enough. What is more critical is what Africa brings to the Expo. Is the African presence about more trade and investment deals or is there something more tangible that will benefit Africa and its people? How is the Expo going to change Africa’s development trajectory? What impact will it have on ordinary Africans and to what extent does the theme Better City; Better Life find synergies within African societies towards this goal? In short who is benefiting from the Expo: African elites or the economically indigent and impoverished?
These are hard questions to answer since some commentators and African leaders would like to argue that China is offering Africa an opportunity to improve its structural conditions through the development grants and investment projects and trade its way of out poverty. And it cannot be denied that creating an enabling environment that allows communities to engage in market transactions can assist in improving livelihoods and material circumstances. Perhaps we should be asking whether the nature of the trade deals, investment projects and the grants will create a Better City, Better Life in African towns and cities? What does a Better City, Better Life mean for ordinary Africans? How do we reconcile the environmental costs that these projects create on our cities or the medical issues it unleashes on people’s healthcare where a better life is no longer a human right?
It is a fact that the highest levels of slums is to be found in urban areas across the developing world. And it is these slum-dwellers surviving on the margins of the urban centre for whom a Better City, Better Life is significant. But it is not clear whether they will benefit from this since we have new urban development projects driven by political and economic elites that push these people further from the urban centre by demolishing their homes to make way for these mega modern day structures and high rise buildings. So where is the better city and better life for all?
So what do the Africans get out of this? This was captured by the South African delegation during the opening of the SA pavilion. With the theme ‘Its time’, the SA delegation is hoping that given its geo-strategic advantage as a gateway into Africa, participation at the Expo would be further strengthen bilateral ties with China and other countries wanting to position themselves in South Africa to take advantage of investment and trade opportunities North of the Limpopo River.
Perhaps it is about the business of business is business and less to do with a Better City, Better Life. Or if it is then it is about whose city and whose life.
BROUGHT TO YOU BY PAMBAZUKA NEWS
* Sanusha Naidu is research director of the Emerging Powers in Africa programme based with Fahamu in South Africa.
* Please send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org or comment online at Pambazuka News.
Pambazuka News 146: Les fausses valeurs de l'aide européenne au Sud
New furore as Mugabe names judges
The uneasy partners in Zimbabwe's national unity government have one more issue to divide them: President Robert Mugabe's appointment this week of a new Supreme Court judge and four High Court judges without consultation with Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, to which his Movement for Democratic Change immediately objected.
ZCTU calls for fresh presidential poll
Zimbabwe’s labour body on Thursday called for fresh elections to choose the country’s next leader, citing “lack of progress” in the 15-month old coalition government between President Robert Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai. The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) that sired Tsvangirai’s MDC party said the government of national unity (GNU) has since inception in February last year been embroiled in disputes which are stalling progress.
DRC: Haunted by the rape dilemma
''The rebel leader asked me two things: 'Do you want us to be your husbands? Or do you want us to rape you?'. "Congolese mother-of-eight Clementine speaks in a quiet and hesitant voice: "I chose to be raped." She explains: "I told myself, if I tell them that I want to be their wife, they will kill my husband. I didn't want my children growing up saying the one that made our father die is our mother."
Africa: Impunity persists, says human rights defender
Deputy Manager, Regional and National Programme of the International Service for Human Rights, Mr. Clemen Nyalatsossi Voule, has said impunity is persistent in Africa in spite of the drafting and adoption of human right resolutions by rights' defenders on the continent.
Burundi: Government cancels work permit of Human Rights Watch researcher
Human Rights Watch has expressed disappointment at the Burundian government's decision to withdraw the work authorization of Neela Ghoshal, Human Rights Watch's researcher in Burundi. The government made its decision following Human Rights Watch's publication of a report last week on pre-election violence in the country.
DR Congo: New round of LRA killing campaign
The Ugandan rebel Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) slaughtered 96 civilians and abducted dozens more between January and early April 2010 in a brutal killing campaign in northeastern Democratic Republic of Congo, Human Rights Watch has said. There has been no letup of LRA atrocities since Human Rights Watch reported on a deadly LRA rampage that took place in December 2009.
DRC: Rebels get death sentences for Mbandaka attack
Eleven militia members have been sentenced to death in the Democratic Republic of Congo for their part in an attack that left two UN staff dead. During the attack, in April in the town of Mbandaka, local militia overwhelmed UN and government troops and briefly seized the airport.
Global: Kids in the city: new film series
IRIN is pleased to announce the launch of its new series of short films illustrating the challenges that children face living in the cities of the developing world. The first two chapters of our "Kids in the City" series look at South Africa's rape crisis - where as many as 40 percent of rape victims are under 18 - and the hundreds of Sierra Leonean children who work breaking rocks for the construction industry to pay for their school fees
Guinea: ICC delegation travels sets off to follow up on probe into killings
The International Criminal Court (ICC) begins a three-day visit to Guinea today to consult with judicial authorities and seek an update on local investigations into last year’s bloody suppression by the military of opposition protests in which 156 civilians were killed. The mission follows a trip to Guinea in February by the ICC’s deputy prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, four months after the prosecutor’s office made public its preliminary examination in Guinea, as the international community demanded accountability either through ICC or Guinean judicial proceedings following the September 2009 massacre and brutal assault against civilians.
Kenya: Group warns of grave dangers to civil society activists
The Johannesburg-based World Alliance for Citizen Participation (CIVICUS) has warned that the operating environment for civil society in Kenya remains fraught with danger. It said that as the spotlight is focused on impunity in Kenya by the international community, including the International Criminal Court (ICC) and special representatives of the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), civil society activists are facing grave risks.
Nigeria: Police commit extrajudicial killings - report
A report launched by the Open Society Justice Initiative and the Network on Police Reform in Nigeria (NOPRIN) said Police in the country commit extrajudicial killings, torture, rape, and extortion with relative impunity. According to the findings of the report, which was release simultaneously in the Nigerian capital, Abuja, and New York, many members of the Nigeria Police Force are more likely to commit crimes than to prevent them.
Nigeria: Senate to investigate member's marriage to minor
Nigeria's upper legislative chamber, the Senate, will begin its investigations into the alleged marriage to a 13-year-old Egyptian girl by Senator Ahmed Yerimah, next Wednesday. The official News Agency of Nigeria Thursday quoted the Chairman, Senate Committee on Ethics and Privileges, Sen. Omar Hambagda, as saying the committee had received petitions from three serving female senators over the issue.
North Africa: Morocco expelled Christians 'to prevent conflict'
Morocco has expelled foreign Christians who tried to convert Muslims because, as a moderate Islamic state, it wants to foster "order and calm" and avoid a clash between faiths, its Islamic affairs minister said. The government has expelled around 100 foreign Christians since March, many of them aid workers, in what Western diplomats have called an unprecedented crackdown on undercover preaching.
Zambia: Intolerance threatens health, rights
Recent homophobic statements by religious leaders and government authorities risk undermining Zambia's fight against HIV/AIDS, Human Rights Watch said in a letter to Zambian leaders on May 17, 2010. Human Rights Watch called on government authorities to condemn statements that could discourage men who have sex with men from seeking health care and erode their fundamental human rights, and to reaffirm the importance of HIV testing and treatment for these men.
Africa: The UN must continue to protect civilians in Chad
On 12 May, the United Nations Security Council extended the presence of the United Nations mission in Central African Republic and Chad (MINURCAT) for two weeks until 26 May 2010 to allow for more time to examine a possible revision of the mandate.
Global: Internal displacement at record high – report
In 2009 the world witnessed more people displaced within their country by conflict and violence than at any point since the mid-1990s. An alarming total of 27.1 million were internally displaced at the end of the year, says a report launched in London by John Holmes, the UN’s Emergency Relief Coordinator and Elisabeth Rasmusson, Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) Secretary General. According to the report Internal Displacement: Global Overview of Trends and Developments in 2009, the number of IDPs continued to rise last year, predominantly due to long-running internal conflicts
South Africa: Forced migration studies at Wits
The FMSP is an independent, interdisciplinary and internationally engaged Africa-based centre of excellence for research and teaching that shapes global discourse on human mobility, development and social transformation.
South Sudan: Present condition of refugee returnees
In 1986, over 100,000 Southern Sudanese in Magwi County fled to Uganda to take up refuge. They were settled in camps in northern Uganda, notably in Achol-pii, Adjumani, Kiryandongo and later in other camps. Following the signing of a Comprehensive Peace Agreement between the SPLA/M and the Government in Khartoum in 2005, thousands of these refugees were repatriated with the help of the UNHCR to their original homes in Southern Sudan. In Magwi County, these homes are: Agoro, Omeo, Magwi, Obbo, Palwar, Lobone, Pajok and Panyikwara. According to the recent Sudanese census, there are 170,000 persons in Magwi County.
* By Dr Leo Onek
During the months of February and March 2010, Dr Leo Onek of the Equatoria Civic Fund (ECF), made an extensive tour of Magwi County. In his interactions with the population, the following picture emerged.
In 1986, over 100,000 Southern Sudanese in Magwi County fled to Uganda to take up refuge. They were settled in camps in northern Uganda, notably in Achol-pii, Adjumani, Kiryandongo and later in other camps. Following the signing of a Comprehensive Peace Agreement between the SPLA/M and the Government in Khartoum in 2005, thousands of these refugees were repatriated with the help of the UNHCR to their original homes in Southern Sudan. In Magwi County, these homes are: Agoro, Omeo, Magwi, Obbo, Palwar, Lobone, Pajok and Panyikwara. According to the recent Sudanese census, there are 170,000 persons in Magwi County.
On their return, these former refugees were given basic household non-food items such as tents, plates, pans, blankets and plastic sheeting. They were also given food rations that lasted for three months. Thereafter, the returnees were expected to fend for themselves. The majority came back in 2007/2008 and consequently, they are no longer on food aid. The able-bodied have managed to cultivate and grown crops which include sorghum, sesame, cassava, sweet potato and beans.
A number of NGOs have been contracted to provide some basic infrastructure for the population. There has been a program to set up boreholes in several locations to provide safe water. In some places, old dilapidated schools have been repaired and few new ones have been built. However, there is not sufficient teachers for these schools. Very few primary health care centers have been constructed. Moreover, neither healthcare workers nor drugs have been systematically supplied to these centers. For example, the County Headquarters at Magwi does not have a hospital. The nearest hospital is at Nimule some 200 km away, but no ambulance to ferry emergency cases to it. As a result, there is a very high rate of women dying during child birth. Equally, a lot people are dying from curable diseases such as malaria and diarrhea because of lack of drugs and qualified personnel
The youth of the area are idle; there is almost 100% unemployment. Even those with qualifications to teach, are unable to get jobs with the State government. To keep themselves busy, they nevertheless continue to give tuition in the schools on a voluntary basis. A similar situation obtains in the health sector: some youth are enthusiastic to work in the health facilities but the government does not provide training for them. Those without qualifications are ready to undergo training in skills such as carpentry and masonry. But at the moment, there are no Vocational Training Centers similar to the one run by ECF in Kiryandongo. As a result, there is rising rate of delinquency among the youth as they resort to drinking a cheap and dangerous local brand of alcohol.
Recommendations: There is need to introduce training programmes in teaching, healthcare, agriculture and basic skills for the youth. The provision of recreation and sport facilities in the county will go a long way to staunch the growing cases of delinquency.
There are many households which are headed by women as their husbands have died in the war or due to other causes and they are responsible for supporting them. They try very hard to do business in an area where there are virtually no salaried people. Usually, they sell vegetables and part of their harvest in the local market. The little money they get is used to buy uniforms for their school-going children; part of it is also used to buy the rare and expensive medications.
Recommendations: A microfinance loan scheme should be introduced in the area to assist the market women. With the loan, they will be able to ferry some of their produce to centers such as Torit (State Headquarters) and Juba where they can fetch better prices for their commodities. Better health facilities should be established in the area to look after the health of mothers and children.
THE GENERAL PUBLIC
The roads leading to the area remain in terrible conditions that existed during the war. Consequently, those businessmen who would want to ferry their agricultural produce to market centers are unable to do so. The existing health facilities are inadequate to cater for everybody. Thus, the adult population remains vulnerable to diseases such as malaria, HIV/AIDS, and tuberculosis. The available boreholes are insufficient to serve the population. There is therefore, the tendency among the people to drink unsafe water from the streams during rainy seasons. This increases the prevalence of water-borne diseases such as cholera and typhoid. The people in Isore (Lobone) are suffering an epidemic infection of jiggers; a consequence of unhygienic living conditions.
Recommendation: Feeder roads in the area should be graded to allow transportation to market centers for business people. The existing health facilities should be supplied with medicines for the common diseases and infections and trained staff should be employed. More safe water points need to be established.
The people of Magwi are hard-working lot who need a helping hand to support their own efforts to establish a livelihood. The introduction of sustainable programs in health, education, business and rehabilitation of the basics infrastructure will go along way in assisting them to attain self-reliance.
Africa: Africa Day 25 May 2010
Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum
The Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum (the Forum) joins the rest of the African continent in commemorating the 47th anniversary of the founding of the Organization of Africa Unity (OAU). The OAU was established on May 25, 1963. In 2002, the OAU became the African Union (AU). This is the day when the continent should be celebrating unity and the long held objectives of self-determination, rule of law and democracy. Regrettably, these principles remain remote and “alien” to the realities of African people as they are violated with impunity in the majority of our countries.
AFRICA DAY - 25th, MAY 2010
NEGOTIATED SETTLEMENTS THE GREATEST THREAT TO PEACE AND SECURITY IN AFRICA
The Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum (the Forum) joins the rest of the African continent in commemorating the 47th anniversary of the founding of the Organization of Africa Unity (OAU). The OAU was established on May 25, 1963. In 2002, the OAU became the African Union (AU). This is the day when the continent should be celebrating unity and the long held objectives of self-determination, rule of law and democracy. Regrettably, these principles remain remote and “alien” to the realities of African people as they are violated with impunity in the majority of our countries.
This year’s theme is peace and security in Africa - a strongly held aspiration on the continent as evidenced by the establishment of the Peace and Security Council of the AU and articulated in the founding Protocol. The Council’s primary objective is to promote peace, security and stability in Africa, in order to guarantee the protection and preservation of life and property, the well being of the African people and their environment, as well as the creation of conditions conducive to sustainable development. However, the prevailing situation in Africa runs contrary to the objectives set out in the Protocol. The continent is failing to come up with concrete solutions that can effectively end conflict on the continent. The failure to address problems in Eritrea, Sudan, Somalia and now Zimbabwe, typify the dereliction of responsibility by the continent’s leadership. The continent’s peoples remain exposed to violence and instability, and consequently, poverty and suffering.
The single greatest threat to peace and security across the continent is the unfortunate acceptance by the AU of mediated democracies or settlements as opposed to elected democracies. Zimbabwe, Kenya and Madagascar are examples of such processes, which have led to the formation of coalition or so-called inclusive governments. For as long as Africans are denied their right to fully and freely participate in the government of their countries, there will always be contested leadership, which inevitably has the potential of degenerating into conflict.
The formation of the OAU (now the AU) was a fundamental political step in as far as it gave new political impetus to the people of Africa. The founding principles of the OAU, as consolidated in the AU Constitutive Act of 2002, require popular participation through free and fair elections. It was not envisaged that governments would come into being through negotiated or brokered agreements. This growing phenomenon on the African continent is a negation of the aspirations of our founding fathers.
Accordingly the Forum implores the continent, in particular Zimbabweans, to guard against negotiated processes or any other manifestation that circumvents electoral processes thereby usurping the power of the electorate. The call for free and fair elections can never be overempahsised. The Forum further calls upon all progressive elements in Zimbabwe’s inclusive government to work towards the development of strong democratic institutions and culture, observance of human rights and the rule of law, as well as the implementation of post-conflict recovery programmes and sustainable development policies. These remain essential for the promotion of collective security, durable peace and stability, as well as for the prevention of conflicts.
Global: Civil society writes letter opposing general capital increase
More than 100 civil society organizations from around the globe signed on to a letter demanding an end to all fossil fuel projects at the World Bank with aims other than energy access for the poor. Until the Bank halts the financing of such projects, bringing them into line with the G20 and APEC pledges to phase out fossil fuel subsidies, these CSOs will oppose the Bank's recapitalization ask.
Global: Farmers mobilize against EU trade agenda
Representatives of La Via Campesina from Europe and Latin America joined the demonstrations in Madrid demanding that the more than 60 heads of state from Europe and Latin America abandon the negotiations to sign free-trade agreements between their countries and regions and the EU.
Haiti: Farmers commit to burning Monsanto hybrid seeds
"A new earthquake" is what peasant farmer leader Chavannes Jean-Baptiste of the Peasant Movement of Papay (MPP) called the news that Monsanto will be donating 60,000 seed sacks (475 tons) of hybrid corn seeds and vegetable seeds, some of them treated with highly toxic pesticides. The MPP has committed to burning Monsanto's seeds, and has called for a march to protest the corporation's presence in Haiti on June 4, for World Environment Day.
South Africa: Transport strike halts passenger trains
About two million South African train commuters were left stranded as two major transport unions widened a strike which began last week. The unions have called on their members working for the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) to stop working in a dispute over pay.
Emerging Powers in Africa News Round-up : 21 May 2010
India, Brazil and South Africa lead effort against Child Labor
In less than two weeks, the labor ministers of almost 200 countries will participate in a global conference on child labor in The Hague, Netherlands. They will be working on a new "road map" to wipe out the worst forms of child labor by the year 2016. A major focus of the conference will be on three countries -- India, Brazil and South Africa. They have assumed the status of role models because of their own recent efforts to combat child labor. All three are being cited for exceptional political commitment Read more
The World Bank in the hot seat
The World Bank is marching ahead with plans to facilitate global land grabs and refusing to release a report that confirms the negative impacts of such deals for local communities. At its recent annual land conference, where the report was to be launched, the Bank tried to redirect the land grab discussion towards "win-win" solutions. Given the Bank‚s staunch corporate bias and the growing public rejection of its "principles" for socially responsible land grabbing its strategy failed. Read more
Africa has less say after changes in World Bank voting
Recent World Bank increases in the voting power of emerging economies mean that a third of the 54 countries in Africa have lost even more of their influence in the decision-making processes of the Bank Read more
Export Zones to Boost Africa's Manufacturing Industry
Export processing zones (EPZs) have mushroomed across Africa. Their logic is to attract export-oriented manufacturing investment to boost economies. EPZs, although they create controversy in certain circles, have been highl successful in Asia, central and Latin American countries. Is the attempt by Africa to follow suit bearing fruits?
Controversial Sudanese dam sparks human rights complaint
A human rights advocacy organization has filed a criminal complaint against a German engineering firm over its involvement in the Merowe Dam project in northern Sudan. The company has denied all allegations. Read more
Will Ethiopia's friendship with the West last?
When Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi came to power in 1991, leaders in the West clamoured to meet the 34-year-old former rebel who had spent 17 years fighting to overthrow a communist regime. Ethiopia has remained close to the West ever since. But, as the country holds national elections on May 23, the opposition wants a re-examination of that friendship and some of Ethiopia’s Western allies are feeling the pressure. Read more
Africa's economic growth is expected to rebound to 4.8 per cent in 2010 after dipping by over 2 per cent in 2009
Most economies are expected to recover as the global crisis slowly recedes and demand for African commodities swells. Commodity prices, an important determinant of growth in many African economies, are expected to stabilize in 2010 and rise moderately in 2011, according to the report. However, the report cautioned that challenges lay ahead."Africa's long-term growth prospects and ability to sustain high rates of employment generation and broader social development depend on success in economic diversification," the report said. Read more
Africa's middle class: striving to develop a continent
Fifty years after the phenomenon of African independence brought an end to colonial rule, the African middle class has taken advantage of educational and professional opportunities to improve their status and to seek better futures for their families.
The continent's middle class does not often make international headlines nor is it much studied by academics, but the group is key to the continent’s progress, according to economists and political scientists. Read more
CHINA in AFRICA
FirstRand completes African deals with China Construction Bank
FirstRand Ltd., South Africa’s second-biggest lender, has completed its first transactions in Africa with China Construction Bank Corp. after the two agreed to cooperate last July. FirstRand and China Construction Bank, the world’s third- largest lender by market value, have focused on financing for mining, infrastructure, manufacturing and engineering projects. Read more
China in $23bn Nigeria oil deal
China has agreed to spend up to $23bn (€19bn, £16bn) to build oil refineries and other petroleum infrastructure in Nigeria, potentially strengthening its hand in the country as it seeks to secure 6bn barrels of crude reserves. The refineries would have a combined capacity of 750,000 barrels a day, well in excess of what Mr Egbogah forecast would be domestic demand of some 450,000 b/d by the time they are finished in a scheduled five years. Read more
Cement plant deal between China and South Africa sealed
Chinese and South African firms confirmed a huge deal was struck Tuesday for a cement plant in South Africa, as a high-level Chinese ministry of commerce official defended Beijing's investment policies in Africa. "China's presence in Africa is becoming more and more market-driven, the actors operating there are diverse, there are many models, and the areas they are in are broad," Vice Commerce Minister Fu Ziying told the Wall Street Journal Read more
China Development Bank gives Kenya's Equity Bank $51 mln loan
Kenya's Equity Bank (EQTY.NR) said on Monday it had signed a 4 billion shilling ($50.82 million) financing agreement with China Development Bank for lending to small and medium businesses. Equity said it was the first beneficiary of a $5 billion Chinese fund for development of small and medium sized businesses in Africa. [url=http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSLDE64G1BQ20100517
Chinese investors to build cement factory in Mozambique
The China Development Bank is to fund construction of a cement factory in Beluluane, in Mozambique’s Maputo province costing US$100 million, the director of the Centre for Investment Promotion said Monday in Maputo Read more
Tunisian President and Chinese FM talk over co-operation
"Tunisia praised its friendship with China and allocates a great importance to develop a longlasting, deep and mutually-benefiting friendly relationship between the two countries," said Ben Ali, expressing his wish to strengthen further cooperation and exchanges in economy, trade, infrastructure, culture, and education and among young people. Ben Ali also expressed his appreciation for the Chinese development and for its constructive role in resolving international and regional affairs in the Middle East and Africa Read more
Guangdong enterprises targeting the African market
Although the impact of the international financial crisis, but some enterprises in Guangdong have to seize the business opportunities in Africa preferential trade, efforts to find a breakthrough, achieved in 2009 opener. According to Gongbei Customs statistics, in January of this year from various ports in Guangdong imported goods benefit from the value of Africa's preferential 1.4116 million U.S. dollars, the amount of 838,900 yuan tariff preferences, respectively, compared with the substantial increase over the same period last year, 133% and 222%. Read more
AEI Initiates Construction of Wind Farm in China
AEI announced today that its wholly-owned subsidiary, AEI China Power Limited, acquired 67 percent of NBT (Baicheng) New Energy Development Company, Ltd., a company formed in China that recently began construction on the 49.5MW first phase of a 200MW wind farm in Baicheng, Jilin Province, China. AEI acquired the equity from a subsidiary of NBT AS, a Norwegian wind farm developer focused on promoting renewable energy in China. [url= Read]http://www.marketwatch.com/story/aei-initiates-construction-of-wind-farm-in-china-2010-05-20?reflink=MW_news_stmp]Read more[/url]
Chinese Ambassador to Rwanda Gives Speech on Rwanda Investment Forum
In his speech, Mr. Sun focused on the current situation of China-Rwanda cooperation and pointed out that China's investment and assistance to Rwanda were all in the key areas as listed in New Partnership for Africa's Development and Rwanda Vision 2020 and in accordance with Rwanda people's aspiration, interests and needs. At present, 4000 items exported from Rwanda to China enjoy zero-tariff treatment. China's investments in Rwanda such as the Star Media, New Century Hotel and A-link have also achieved great results and won wide attention from Rwanda and other countries. Some new projects including the Kigali International Conference Center and water plant are under negotiation [url= Read]http://www.focac.org/eng/zxxx/t695552.htm]Read more[/url]
INDIA in AFRICA
India’s Future Export Opportunities are in New Emerging Markets
Addressing the CII National Conference and Annual Session 2010, Union Minister of Commerce and Industry Mr Anand Sharma said that India’s future export and investment opportunities will be found in new geographies in ASEAN, Latin America, and Africa where a new middle-class similar to India’s own is rising. The Minister stressed the several economic diplomacy initiatives that the government was spearheading to reach out to these new markets. Mr. Sharma pointed to IBSA, BRICS, and India’s engagement with ASEAN through multiple channels such as the India-ASEAN FTA, India-Singapore CECA, the BIMSTEC and the Ganga-Mekong initiative as evidence of the seriousness that the government attached to its relationship with these new geographies. Read more
Soccer time! World Cup pulls Indians to South Africa
With the FIFA World Cup in South Africa just a month away, football fever seems to have started gripping fans in cricket-crazy India, with travel companies reporting a steady rise in inquiries for packages to the Rainbow nation. Read more
Speaker assures India’s support for Swaziland’s development
Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar has called upon Swaziland Prime Minister Barnabas Sibusiso Dlamini and assured the African country of India’s support for its development. Read more
Plugging the technology gap with help from India
Investment in information technology can help Africa to improve governance, overcome poverty and deal with critical infrastructure gaps, taking India as an example, the co-chair of the World Economic Forum on Africa 2010 (WEF) said.
"There is no need to reinvent the wheel," Ajai Chowdhry, also chairman and chief executive officer of HCL Infosystems in India, told IRIN on the sidelines of a recent WEF conference in Tanzania. "India and Africa have similar problems so we can apply similar solutions. It's all been tried and tested in India, and the software is readily available to transfer knowledge and experience."
India pitches for South-South cooperation ahead of G15 summit
As leaders of 17 nations from Asia, Africa and Latin America gather in Iranian capital for the G-15 Summit, India is hoping the South-South cooperation will help address concerns and issues of relevance to the developing countries.
External Affairs Minister S M Krishna is representing India at the Summit on Monday where Presidents of Algeria, Brazil, Senegal, Zimbabwe, Venezuela, Sri Lanka and Iran are participating. "We value the strengthening of South-South cooperation and the important role of the G-15 process in addressing issues which are of direct concern and relevance to the developing countries," Krishna said here. Read more
Indian SMEs Carving a Niche in Namibia
Over the years, this African country has implemented some important policies to promote bilateral trade and investment with India. Indian SMEs eyeing expansion abroad have thus found an attractive market for growth and expansion in Namibia. The strategic location of the country makes it an ideal gateway to the thriving South African market. Read more
South Africa's coal exports to India falling
South Africa's coal exports to India from Richards Bay Coal Terminal (RBCT) fell to 1.7 million tonnes in April from 2.5 million in March, exporters said. But India's share of Richards Bay coal shipments remained stable at 44 percent of the total, they said. India became South Africa's largest single market for thermal coal this year and has absorbed all the tonnage unwanted by the weak European market. This trend is likely to continue for at least the next decade as as India struggles to fuel its growing number of coal-fired power plants. Read more
Indians to teach students in Africa via tele-education
Just like a typical classroom scene, a professor will deliver a lecture and students will raise their hands to ask questions. Only here, the teacher will be at the Delhi University (DU) campus while the students will be in Africa. As part of the Pan-African e-network project between India and Africa that was launched last year, DU will start conducting these unique tele-education classes for students of the African Union from July this year. Read more
Surat gem companies head for rough-rich Africa
With diamond roughs likely to become scarce in the coming years, a growing number of Indian diamond companies are setting up gem cutting & polishing units in nations producing roughs, particularly in Africa. In fact, there is a rush among Surat-based companies to set up diamond cutting & polishing units in Africa in order to secure assured supply of rough diamonds. Russia is another rough producing country where Indian companies have set up units Read more
Jay Shree Tea scouts for more acquisitions in Africa
Having set foot in the African tea industry, Jay Shree Tea & Industries (JTIL), the BK Birla group company, has firmed up plans to launch Rwandan tea in the UK, Germany, Pakistan and Kazakhstan under its own brand name [url=http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/articleshow/5938367.cms]Read more[\url]
In Other Emerging News
South Africa gets ready for world's biggest sporting event
One of the world’s biggest spectacles is about to don the rainbow shade, and South Africa is on a roll. "We all need to grab this opportunity to show our visitors what South Africa is all about. We need to work together with creative insight and energy after the World Cup to maintain arrivals to South Africa. This World Cup offers our industry and nation a rich legacy," Thandiwe January McLean, CEO of South African Tourism told ET.
The axis of Brazil
The recent visit by Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, Brazil's president, to Iran is part of a broad multilateral foreign policy that he believes is commensurate with his nation's ever-growing importance in a changing world axis. Like India, Brazil is advocating for a permanent seat at the UN Security Council and wants reform of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to better represent developing nations. Read more
Kenya seeks trade opportunities in Asia and Latin America
Kenya is shifting focus to emerging economies in Asia and Latin America to help bolster trade and investment in the country. The East African nation hopes the new trade strategy will help it achieve faster economic growth, which has remained elusive since the post-election violence that rocked the country after the disputed 2007 General Election. Read more
A Door to Africa: Standard Bank reaps the benefits of old thinking
To understand where Standard Bank is today, says its boss, Jacko Maree, you have to go back to South Africa in early 1987, when Standard Chartered, its original parent, sold out completely. Most South African firms were not welcome in the rest of Africa, he says, and “it wasn’t entirely obvious” that Standard Bank’s priority should be there or indeed in emerging markets at all. Read more
Construction of Mpanda Nkuwa dam in Mozambique depends on South Africa
The project to build the Mpanda Nkuwa hydroelectric dam (HMN), in Mozambique, depends on the guarantee that the electricity will be acquired by South African electricity company Eskom Read more
Egyptian energy firm to invest in Mozambique
Mozambique's independent daily Opais reported that Elswedy planned to spend 100 million dollars on rural electrification projects and another 100 million dollars on building small hydroelectric and coal- fired power stations. Elsewedy Electric Africa's Director, Hatem Abd, told reporters in Mozambique's capital Maputo that the company had already granted state electricity utility Electricidade de Mocambique (EDM) 11 million dollars in funding last year. Read more
Namibia and Angola have partnered to build a $1.1 billion hydropower plant
The move is going to help end power disruptions that have plagued both countries for decades. Paulinus Shilamba the head of NamPower, Namibia's state-utility firm, said in a Reuters report: "After a series of delays of the project, which includes a hydropower station and a storage dam in the Kunene river, is expected to be ready by 2017 Read more
South Africa says Africa needs green development
President Jacob Zuma said in a speech Tuesday that Africa's industrial revolution could be fueled by new technologies and renewable energy, but it will need substantial investment. Read more
Opinion & Events
Three-day Africa Festival opens in Indian capital
The ‘Africa Festival’, hosted by the Indian Council For Cultural Relations (ICCR), features national ballet troupes from five countries – South Africa, Rwanda, Tunisia, Malawi and Nigeria Read more
Soft Power: The Art Of Persuasion
The US was once the undisputed global powerhouse. Now it is under threat from contenders who use the influence of culture and lifestyle to fight for global economic and political dominance. This political manipulation is referred to as soft power – achieving what you want by attracting and persuading others to adopt your customs - thriving on control, not force. In this series, Philip Dodd investigates how this cultural rivalry is being formed and what weapons of persuasion are being deployed, from global sporting fixtures to cultural events and educational projects. In the first part, he takes a look at how China's global charm offensive is taking shape - why they want to be loved and take the world's attention Read more
From bleeding Africa to grabbing the land
In the last two or so weeks two, highly disturbing trends, have been reported concerning Africa's trials and tribulations. One is a long-term trend traced over the last forty years. The other is emerging but will most likely converge with the first one to seal the fate of the continent. Unfortunately both trends have not received the attention, urgency and publicity they deserve particularly in Africa. I am sure these trends will not receive such attention at the on-going World Economic Forum: "Rethinking Africa's Growth Strategy". Read more
A special report on banking in emerging markets: They might be giants
Emerging-market banks have raced ahead despite the financial crisis as their Western colleagues have languished. Patrick Foulis (interviewed here) asks how they will use their new-found strength. Read more
Blue Helmets for Africa: India’s Peacekeeping in Africa
A chronological account of India’s peacekeeping actions in Africa illustrates that country’s commitment to securing peace, the depth of involvement, the fatalities bravely borne and the hardships endured. Even more important, the record shows that India continues to use the experience that has been gained to refine its approach to peacekeeping. Read more
Indian companies are routing tens of billions of dollars through Mauritius each year in a giant tax avoidance scheme
India is changing its tax laws in a bid to introduce greater transparency into its financial transactions with Mauritius. The aim is to stem 'round-tripping' of funds by politicians, businessmen and criminal syndicates, and assuage concerns about the unregulated and 'hot' money, which transits through the Mauritian economy and into India. The licit and illicit financial flows from Mauritius account for as much as 90%, or tens of billions of dollars, of foreign direct investment in India each year. [url= Read]http://www.africa-asia-confidential.com/article/id/393/Round-trips-and-hot-money]Read more[/url]
The Real Story: China's $28.5 Billion Deal in Nigeria: How Real Is It?
The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) announced on Thursday last week that it had signed an MOU with China State Construction Engineering Corporation Ltd. to construct three oil refineries (about 250,000 bbl/day capacity each) and a petrochemical plant. The total cost would reportedly be $28.5 billion.
China's Africa policy changing and maturing
China's push into Africa in recent years has not been easy. In its pursuit of energy deals, supplies of commodities and large construction projects, China has gone where many developed nations fear to go. In doing so, and in following the Chinese foreign policy of noninterference in nations' domestic affairs, these projects have been met with their share of international criticism. China's Africa strategy seems to have matured, and deals are receiving much more scrutiny with respect to risk and return. Moreover, changes may be in the cards with respect to China's noninterference policy and its willingness to work with the World Bank and IMF [url= Read]http://blogs.forbes.com/china/2010/04/28/china-shifts-its-africa-investment-strategy/]Read more[url/]
BROUGHT TO YOU BY PAMBAZUKA NEWS
* Compiled by Anna Lena Wachter, intern based with the Emerging Powers in Africa programme.
Africa: Nations celebrate 50th anniversary
The heads of seven African states are in Yaoundé at the invitation of Cameroon’s President Paul Biya to celebrate the 50th anniversary of their countries’ independence. The seven leaders, who come mostly from central Africa, also took part in the closing ceremony of the international conference “Africa 21”
Angola: Constitution Commission dissolved
The Constitution Commission that reviewed Angola's constitution, which had been in force since February 2005, was dissolved on Wednesday by the National Assembly during its 12th plenary ordinary session.
Ethiopia: Opposition warns of post-election violence
Ethiopia’s opposition says the style of deploying the police and the army might cause post-election violence if the forces intervene during celebrations of victory or expression of disgust at the vote outcome. Ethiopia’s opposition leader Beyena Petros, the chairman of a coalition of eight opposition parties, Medrek, said he was personally scared that the security forces' misreading of the public mood could cause post-election violence.
Guinea: Army chief promises smooth running of elections
Guinea's army chief has promised the military will ensure that the 27 June elections proceed smoothly. Colonel Nouhou Thiam, who heads a military task force set up to oversee the polls, said the army would "defend the territory of Guinea." He also promised the army would remain neutral during the elections.
Somalia: President reinstates prime minister, cabinet
Somalia’s president reinstated Prime Minister Omar Abdirashid Sharmarke and his cabinet on Thursday after days of uncertainty following a parliamentary vote of no confidence in them. President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed asked Mr Sharmarke and his ministers to step down after the vote on Sunday. A total 280 MPs had chosen to sack them, according to former speaker Sheikh Aden Madobe, who has since resigned.
South Sudan: Salva Kiir sworn in
Salva Kiir, the leader of south Sudan's former rebel group the SPLM, has been sworn in as the first elected president of the semi-autonomous southern region. It follows his landslide victory in April's elections, part of the peace deal that ended a 21-year civil war between north and south.
Uganda: Parties in poll warning
Uganda’s opposition will boycott national elections next year unless the government reconstitutes the Electoral Commission (EC) to make it impartial, senior opposition officials told Reuters on Thursday. They say the electoral body favoured the incumbent President Yoweri Museveni at the last elections in 2006. The head of state appoints the commission’s seven members.
West Africa: Guinea to uphold 27 June election date
Guinea's Interim Head of State, Brig.-Gen. Sekouba Konate, has re-stated his commitment to holding presidential elections 27 June 2010, a ccording to a communique issued by the International Contact Group on Guinea (ICG-G), which met in the nation's capital, Conakry, last weekend.
West Africa: Equatorial Guinea "trying to bribe UNESCO"
Media organisations are furious over a US$ 3 million personal donation by Equatoguinean dictator Teodoro Obiang Nguema to the UN culture agency UNESCO. The donation is to co-finance a press freedom award. Equatorial Guinea is among the worst countries in the world regarding human rights and press freedom. No independent media exist and all media outlets are controlled by the state or family members of President Obiang.
Africa: $780m power line by 2015
A $780 million power line commence by close of 2011 linking Zambia, Tanzania and Kenya. According to a senior Zambian government official Israel Phiri the project would be operational 2015. About 1,447 kilometres long, the high voltage transmission line will start at Serenje in the south of Zambia, snake along to Mbeya and Arusha in Tanzania before landing in Kenya's capital Nairobi, Reuters reported.
Africa: AfDB commits USD 40 million in the African agriculture fund
The private sector window of the African Development Bank (AfDB) Group received, on 19 May 2010, board approval for a USD 40 million equity investment in the African Agriculture Fund (AAF), a private-equity fund designed to respond to the food crisis that severely impacted the continent in 2008 in the wake of escalating food prices and staple export bans.
Africa: New UN report calls for ‘green revolution' by Africa's small farmers
A “green revolution” led by Africa’s small farmers, and harnessing the latest technologies and innovations, is vital if the continent is to reduce extreme poverty and hunger by 2015, just two of the eight globally agreed Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), according to a new United Nations report. The 2010 Technology and Innovation Report, issued by the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), warns that “ineffective farming techniques and wasteful post-harvest practices” have left sub-Saharan Africa as the region most likely to miss the MDGs on poverty and hunger.
Africa: Renowned musicians collaborate on ‘8 Goals for Africa’
Eight of Africa’s best known musicians are calling for commitment to achieve the Millennium Development Goals in a song, video and advocacy campaign that was launched today. It will be featured before, during and after the World Cup 2010, the first one to be hosted in Africa, the continent least likely to achieve the MDGs. 8 Goals for Africa features Yvonne Chaka Chaka from South Africa, UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Angelique Kidjo from Benin, Oliver Mtukudzi from Zimbabwe, Eric Wainaina from Kenya, Baaba Maal from Senegal, and the Soweto Gospel Choir from South Africa.
Africa: UN think tank urges fresh look at ailing informal industries
The United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) has recommended a fresh look at the continent's informal industries, saying new policies to address the quality of jobs and financing were required for their survival. UNECA's chief economics analyst, Adam Elhiraika, said Tuesday that although the informal sector in Africa plays in important role in creating jobs and driving economic growth, the sector faced a series of setbacks, including lack of loans and policy support.
Africa: Weaker Euro threatens tourism
The weak euro and pound make travels to Africa more expensive for Europeans. But the few African countries able to offer all-inclusive packages, like Egypt, tend to become the winners of the 2010 season. Europe is the main market for almost every African tourist destination. Trends on the northern continent thus strongly influence the annual development of this increasingly important industry in Africa.
East Africa: Kenya signs Nile Basin pact amid heightened tension
Kenya's Water Minister Charity Ngilu said the country had signed the controversial Nile Basin Agreement, allowing it to effectively put the Nile Waters into use for irrigation and other national development priorities. Kenya, with a small share of Lake Victoria, the source of the world's longest river, running some 6,695 kilometres across nine countries with a combined population of 400 million, said it signed the Nile Basin agreement because an earlier one signed in 1929 was obsolete.
Global: Africa has less say after changes in World Bank voting
The World Bank has described its recent increase of 3.13 percent in the voting power of emerging economies as a reform "to enhance voice and participation of developing and transition countries". But the shift has actually decreased a third of African countries’ share of votes.
Global: Plugging Africa's leak
Foreign aid programs continue to pour funds into what seems like Africa’s bottomless bucket. Illicit financial flows out of Africa are twice the amount of foreign aid into the region. Between 1970 and 2008, according to a study by Global Financial Integrity (GFI), illicit flows from Africa totaled at least $854 billion, and could reach as high as $1.8 trillion when taking into account missing data from certain countries and other conduits of illicit flows not captured in the study.
Global: Poor countries should have a seat at G20 table
The global economic crisis highlighted the necessity of transforming global economic governance. But least developed countries (LDCs) have little voice in this process. It is time they are allowed a seat at the meetings of the Group of 20 industrialised and emerging economies. "LDCs face a double challenge: they have to absorb the impact of the economic and financial crisis, but in the resolution of the crisis itself they have a very marginal role to play," stated Debapriya Bhattacharya, special advisor on LDCs at the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).
Africa: AIDS Activists Speak Out
AfricaFocus Bulletin May 21, 2010 (100521)
"In 2001 in Abuja, African heads of state promised us 15% of budget spending on health - where is this money? ... Only two countries in the continent have met the Abuja target, which African finance ministers recently dismissed as a colossal mistake. the true colossal mistakes are the wasteful spending habits of many governments who prioritise wars, luxury for politicians and sports over social spending, which cost thousands of lives every day".- James Kamau, Kenyan Treatment Access Movement
Africa: World backtracks on HIV treatment
AfricaFocus Bulletin May 21, 2010 (100521)
"Around the world thousands of doctors, nurses, legislators, and activists helped make treatment scale-up possible. Now a few power brokers and politicians who claim AIDS receives too much money seem intent on bringing to an end this remarkable effort, in effect saying to millions of people: drop dead. Without treatment, this is certainly their fate." - Gregg Gonsalves, International Treatment Preparedness Coalition
Global: Smallpox demise linked to spread of HIV infection
The worldwide eradication of smallpox may, inadvertently, have helped spread HIV infection, scientists believe. Experts say the vaccine used to wipe out smallpox offered some protection against the Aids virus and, now it is no longer used, HIV has flourished. The US investigators said trials indicated the smallpox jab interferes with how well HIV multiplies.
Kenya: Counsellors face burnout as national testing drive presses on
The Kenyan government has won praise for a national door-to-door HIV testing drive that aims to test 80 percent of the population for HIV/AIDS by the end of 2010, but once-enthusiastic counsellors are beginning to show signs of burnout.
Kenya: Growing self-esteem at farm schools
Rural Kenyans affected by the post-election violence in 2008 are among thousands of beneficiaries of a programme that aims to improve food security and incomes and reduce women's vulnerability to gender-based violence by teaching better farming techniques. "Food insecurity and malnutrition are key issues in the spread of HIV and it is also common knowledge that when people are food-insecure, and mostly women and children, they become susceptible to sexual, gender-based violence," according to Godrick Khisa, the national coordinator of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) project
Malawi: Gay sentence will set back Aids response, says Global Fund
The conviction and sentencing of two men in Malawi based on their sexual orientation presents a serious threat to the country’s AIDS response. Steven Monjeza and Tiwonge Chimbalanga were this week sentenced to 14 years in prison with hard labour for "indecent practices between males" and "unnatural offenses."
“The criminalization of individuals based on their sexual orientation is not just a human rights issue - it also undermines investment in HIV and AIDS as it drives sexual behavior underground and creates an environment where HIV can more easily spread”, says Prof. Michel Kazatchkine, Executive Director of the Global Fund.
GENEVA - The conviction and sentencing of two men in Malawi based on their sexual orientation presents a serious threat to the country’s AIDS response. Steven Monjeza and Tiwonge Chimbalanga were this week sentenced to 14 years in prison with hard labour for "indecent practices between males" and "unnatural offenses."
“The criminalization of individuals based on their sexual orientation is not just a human rights issue - it also undermines investment in HIV and AIDS as it drives sexual behavior underground and creates an environment where HIV can more easily spread”, says Prof. Michel Kazatchkine, Executive Director of the Global Fund. “This ultimately affects the broader population, in addition to the devastating impact it has on communities of men who have sex with men”. In southern Africa more than 50% of men who have sex with men also have sex with women. A recent study shows high levels of bisexual behavior in Malawi.
To date the Global Fund has approved around USD 11 billion in the fight against AIDS in 140 countries. In addition to providing HIV treatment, care and prevention services, Global Fund investment can also be used to create strong communities of men who have sex with men and other risk groups so that they can be active in their own HIV prevention campaigns. Investment can also be used to repeal punitive laws and to protect groups at risk from violence and discrimination.
Successful AIDS responses rely on strong communities, comprehensive HIV treatment, prevention and care services and protective legal environments. For optimal impact from HIV investment countries need to prioritize the review of laws that criminalize groups most at risk.
The Global Fund is a unique global public-private partnership dedicated to attracting and disbursing additional resources to prevent and treat HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria. This partnership between governments, civil society, the private sector and affected communities represents a new approach to international health financing. The Global Fund works in close collaboration with other bilateral and multilateral organizations to supplement existing efforts dealing with the three diseases.
Since its creation in 2002, the Global Fund has become the dominant financier of programs to fight AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria, with approved funding of US$ 19.3 billion in 144 countries. To date, programs supported by the Global Fund have saved 4.9 million lives through providing AIDS treatment for 2.5 million people, antituberculosis treatment for 6 million people and the distribution of 104 million insecticide-treated bed nets for the prevention of malaria.
For more information, please contact:
Andrew Hurst – Communications
Office: + 41 58 791 16 72
Mobile: + 41 79 561 68 07
Marcela Rojo – Communications
Office: + 41 58 791 16 79
Mobile: + 41 79 540 26 67
Nigeria: Lassa fever claims 17 lives in Kebbi State
Health authorities are on alert as Lassa fever has now claimed 17 lives and infected dozens of people in northwestern Nigeria's Kebbi State, according to state health officials. The last outbreak of the deadly disease took place in February 2010, killing seven people, including four doctors at the National Hospital in Abuja. In March 2009 over 300 people were infected in 14 states across the country.
Nigeria: When water becomes a curse
A 15-year river blindness immunization programme in the fertile bread-basket of otherwise-arid Borno State in northeastern Nigeria, now in its 11th year, hangs in the balance for lack of funds. The disease, also known as onchocerciasis, reduced agricultural activities in the past two decades as farmers fled riverine areas, but this flight abated when aid agencies started the immunization programme. Now, two-thirds of the way through, it could flounder.
Southern Africa: HIV testing and treatment to prevent TB
Diagnosing HIV early and starting antiretroviral (ARV) treatment could be the most important weapons in the battle against HIV-associated tuberculosis, but this would need a huge injection of resources in southern Africa, where the dual epidemics of TB and HIV claim the most lives. The authors of a paper, part of a series on TB in the British medical journal, The Lancet, note that the disease accounted for more than a quarter of the two million deaths attributed to AIDS-related diseases in 2008, and is the number one cause of illness and death in people living with HIV in Africa, yet efforts to contain TB-HIV co-infection have been "timid, slow and uncoordinated".
Southern Africa: Many MSM in concurrent bisexual relationships - study
The majority of men who have sex with men in southern Africa are bisexual, and a significant proportion have concurrent sexual relationships with both men and women, investigators report in the online edition of Sexually Transmitted Infections. The investigators suggest that this finding should occasion a rethinking of the factors driving the HIV epidemic in the region. However, they were encouraged that men in concurrent relationships with men and women (which the investigators term bisexual concurrency) reported high levels of condom use.
Africa: Ending the silence on violence in schools
Bullying, sexual violence and corporal punishment are still rife in West and Central African schools, according to an 18 May report which calls on governments to harmonize laws on child protection and education, and impose stricter standards on schools to reduce violence. Violence against children hardly features in justice or governance debates, and governments focus more on women’s rights than children’s rights, say child protection agencies.
Burkina Faso: Education, not handouts
“Bee-ba-ta a un bébé!” Seated on plastic mats, their sandals and book bags on the ground nearby, children follow text with chalk-dusted fingers as they practice reading. Months ago these children spent most of their time begging in the streets of the Burkina Faso capital Ouagadougou. With help from local university student volunteers and support from the NGO Terre des hommes (Tdh), the children - part of Burkina’s Malian Tuareg community - now spend their days in the classroom.
CAR: Education for nomadic families
Fatima Yadik, a mother of 12 and grandmother of 18, recently settled in the Central African Republic town of Yaloké after 60 years with her nomadic community. Her camp of Peuhl nomads was attacked by bandits who killed all the men and stole their cattle. Peuhl people are often targeted by bandits because of the relative wealth of their livestock. Fleeing to safety, Ms. Yadik and her family joined the growing number of nomadic peoples across Africa’s interior who are escaping poverty and insecurity in the countryside in favour of life in towns and cities.
Morocco: Teachers protest rural postings
Thirty Moroccan teachers are continuing a two-month hunger strike to highlight the issue of family reunification and the right of women to work near home. Many people with public-sector jobs, including those in education and health care, say that living apart from family members while posted to remote locations is a hardship.
Malawi: Conviction of gay couple condemned
Pan Africa ILGA join all our global human rights organizations and especially the Malawian organization the Center for the Development of People (CEDEP) in condemning the conviction and harsh sentencing of 14 years imprisonment with hard labour by a Magistrate Court in Blantyre, Malawi of Tiwonge ("Tionge") Chimbalanga and Steven Monjeza for "unnatural offences" and "indecent practices between males" under Sections 153 and 156 of the Malawi Penal Code
Malawi: Uproar over gays' conviction
The conviction of a gay couple of "gross indecency" and "unnatural acts" has caused an international uproar. Malawi's donors are disappointed and South African trade unionists prepare for protests.Not surprisingly, a court in Blantyre, Malawi's second city, yesterday convicted Steven Monjeza and Tiwonge Chimbalanga for committing so-called "unnatural offences" and "indecent practices between males". Mr Monjeza and Mr Chimbalanga were arrested in December 2009 after celebrating their engagement and have been in jail ever since.
Global: International Day for Biological Diversity
The United Nations has proclaimed 2010 to be the International year of Biodiversity. The theme of the International Day for Biological Diversity 2010, on 22 May, is Biodiversity, Development and Poverty Alleviation. Biodiversity is the sum of all existing species, their interactions and the ecosystems they form. According to the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), human beings share the planet with as many as 13 million living species, including plants, animals and bacteria – of which only 1.75 million have been named and recorded.
Global: Will climate finance mean a new path for the World Bank?
In Copenhagen, donor countries pledged to raise US$30 billion in “fast start funds” and an additional US$100 billion a year by 2020 to invest in reducing emissions and adapting to the impacts of climate change. Though the commitments are clear, the delivery is uncertain. By the June UNFCCC meetings in Bonn, countries will need to start drafting a set of decisions on the financial architecture to manage and distribute these climate funds.
Namibia: Will farm project mean the river runs dry?
Thihako Mukena paddles his mokoro slowly across a soccer field, pointing with a smile towards the goalposts that barely clear the water’s surface. Heavy rains in Angola months earlier have meandered down the Okavango to his doorstep: the river is at its highest point in nearly fifty years. His house is now cut off from the mainland, and 18-year-old Mukena navigates his way to school in the dugout canoe.
Liberia: Land-rights tensions not abating
Since the civil war ended in 2003, the combination of returning refugees, population growth, and ongoing land tenure tensions dating back 25 years has led to at least 250 land dispute deaths in Liberia, according to NGOs. Leading reformists are worried the right mechanisms to address land rights are still not in place. The latest significant clashes over land took place in 2008 on the border between Grand Bassa and Margibi counties in which 15 people were killed. Since then people have continued to be killed in smaller-scale disputes.
South Africa: The poor must claim the right to be housed within well located land
During the 2010 Fifa World Cup here in South Africa, all the poor must stand up and show the world that we are not excited about the World Cup because it is not for the poor but for the rich, says Mzonke Poni. "The time to wait for government to identify land for the poor is over. We gave them enough time to do that and they failed but to identify land to build expensive stadiums which will only be used for 1 month and spend lot of billions it was easy for them to do that, and they even evicted many people forcefully just to ensure that they meet Fifa requirements and standards."
West Africa: Cameroonians protest land sales to foreigners
Rural people in several parts of Cameroon are protesting a government policy that allows the government to sell or lease vast parcels of arable land to foreign investors. Supporters say the deals could bring much-needed investment to agriculture. But critics warn that the policy could lead to more subsistence farmers losing their lands — their only source of food and income.
Zimbabwe: Farmer arrested as state intimidation continues
A farmer from Inyathi was released from police custody on Thursday, after spending two nights behind bars in what is being described as a deliberate drive to force his farming partner to give up his land. Ernest Nyoni was arrested on Tuesday night and charged with ‘contravening’ the Gazetted Lands (Consequential Provisions) Act by not leaving the farm he co-owns with farmer Glen James. He was only released after his lawyer argued that the farm, Robert Block 14, is not wholly owned by Nyoni, who was being charged in his personal capacity.
Lesotho: Food facility brings increase in food production
The European Union (EU) and the Food and Agriculture Or ganization (FAO), in collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security (MAFS) are offering assistance to about 36,000 farmers in Lesotho, more than half of its vulnerable farmers. Soaring food prices and the recent global economic downturn struck Lesotho hard, especially the majority of its 1.9 million people that rely on agriculture.
West Africa: Niger raises severe hunger forecast, seeks more aid
Niger's government needs another 45 billion CFA francs ($85.24 million) in food aid after a new survey found 500,000 more people than previously thought will face severe food shortages this year, the government said. The new survey, carried out in April and published on Thursday, showed that 3.3 million people, or 22.2 percent of Niger's population, are facing severe food insecurity. Previous estimates put the figure at 2.7 million.
Africa: 2009 Africa Press Freedom Report
Press freedom is still in danger in Africa despite 20 years of democratisation. Independent journalism continues to be a perilous profession on the continent, both in the peaceful arena as well as in conflict zones. This according to the 2009 Africa Press Freedom Report.
Africa: African journalists call for respect of press freedom
Journalists' leaders and civil society organisations from across Africa called attention to the dire situation of free expression in many countries last week at the Forum for Non-governmental Organisations (NGO Forum) held on the occasion of 47th Session of African Commission of Human and People's Rights in Banjul, Gambia. Representatives from the Federation of African Journalists (FAJ), Eastern Africa Journalists Association (EAJA), National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ) and the Syndicat National des Journalistes du Cameroun (SNJC) took part in the forum and worked with other organisations to outline the deteriorating situation of journalists and the state of freedom of expression in many African countries.
Cameroon: Journalists holding strong - report
The Federation of African Journalists (FAJ), the regional organization of the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) in Africa, have launched the report of its solidarity mission to the Cameroon on the attacks on journalists and the press freedom situation, which took place from 3rd to 6th May. The report entitled “JOURNALISTS UNDER FIRE: Report of Solidarity Mission to Cameroon” describes the climate of antagonism and suspicion between media and the government, resulting in increasing attacks on journalists, including harassment, intimidation and trials as well the poor working condition in which Cameroonian journalists work and live.
Madagascar: Media rights group wants radio station raid probed
The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has called on the government of Madagascar to investigate a Saturday raid on the opposition radio station Fréquence Plus that resulted in the arrest of an opposition leader while he was on a live radio programme.
Somalia: "We'll work till last reporter dies"
The media in Somalia is going through its most difficult period as journalists face worst times ever, stated Information Minister Dahir Mohamud Gelle. He accused Islamist rebels of infringing on freedom of expression and the independence of the media.
Sudan: Four journalists arrested
The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) today expressed its concerns over the increase in press freedom violations in Sudan since the recent elections after the arrest of four journalists and the closure of Rai-Alshab daily newspaper. Taban Bonifacio, online journalist for the Sudanvote.com website was arrested in South Sudan on 23 April while three more journalists of Rai-Alshab newspaper were detained on Sunday 16 May 20
Zimbabwe: MDC condemns appointment of "media hangman" to council
The Movement for Democratic Change has condemned the engagement and involvement of prominent "media hangman" Tafataona Mahoso in the reform of the media industry currently being spearheaded by the Zimbabwe Media Commission. This follows reports that Mahoso, former chairman of controversial Media and Information Commission, has been appointed chief executive officer of the ZMC.
DRC: Nyiragongo volcano landslide: 54 'dead'
Families left homeless by a landslide on the slopes of a volcano which left 54 people missing in the Democratic Republic of Congo will be relocated, the UN says. A UN spokesperson told the BBC that some 250 homes had been destroyed. An overflowing river caused a landslide at the weekend on the slopes of Nyiragongo volcano, near the eastern town of Goma.
East Africa: Kenya braces for possible outbreak of Rift Valley fever
The Kenya government Thursday placed its veterinary department on high alert over a possible outbreak of a Rift Valley fever epidemic in the North Eastern, Upper Eastern and Rift Valley provinces. Livestock Minister Mohamed Kuti, while issuing the alert, announced that a massive vaccination campaign was due to begin in the affected regions to prevent an outbreak of the disease.
Madagascar: Gun battle in capital
Calm has been restored after clashes in the Madagascar capital Antananarivo between rival security forces. Madagascar's army and police exchanged gunfire with a rebel police faction. The faction has retreated to its barracks and is trying to negotiate a way out, a military officer says. Madagascar has been in political turmoil since opposition leader Andry Rajoelina assumed power in January 2009, with military backing.
Senegal: Tackling trauma in Casamance
Hundreds of children and adults in volatile Casamance are not even aware of the mental trauma they suffer, let alone how to get help to banish sleepless nights, empty days and learning disabilities. Tne young student who used to be top of her class in high school is now completely withdrawn, her academic performance in free-fall, said Demba Ba, former director of the regional social centre in Casamance’s main city Ziguinchor.
Sudan: Security Council warned of ‘significant challenges to Darfur peace process
Despite some progress in Sudan’s war-torn Darfur region, violent clashes between Government and rebel forces persist, civilians are still dying or being displaced and humanitarian workers are still coming under attack, the top United Nations official in the region has said. “Results have been mixed despite our best efforts,” the head of the joint African Union-UN Mission in Darfur (UNAMID), Ibrahim Gambari, told the Security Council, presenting Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s latest report on the region, where seven years of conflict have killed an estimated 300,000 people and driven 2.7 million others from their homes.
Africa: Mxit is imported into Kenya
Mxit is a massive mobile social network that was started in South Africa a couple years ago. Today, Safaricom announced a partnership with them, using their marketing muscle (7 pages of ads in today’s newspaper) to import Mxit into Kenya.
Global: Mobile phones and citizen media
Mobile phones have already played a significant role in advancing citizen media around the world. They were instrumental in helping capture photos and videos on the streets of Tehran during 2009 protests that followed the elections there. A video captured during that time even won a prestigious journalism award. Mobile phone technology has been used in Namibia to enable more people from around the country to express their views in one of the country’s largest newspapers. In the US, day laborers have been using MMS messages to blog about their daily lives. In South Africa, citizen journalists use SMS, MMS, and other phone-based technologies to submit content and commentary to a local newspaper. The list of examples are plentiful.
Global: Mobiles for maternal health
As mobile and web technologies become increasingly accessible to those living in remote poverty around the world, the potential to expand access to health care to underserved populations becomes ever more real. It’s exciting to see the many ways that innovative people and organizations are able to take advantage of the spread of technology to make positive social change. Ushahidi, an open-source platform that can be used by anyone to collect and visualize user-generated information, is an excellent example. They’re using mobile and web technology – including social media platforms like Twitter – to capture critical up-to-date reports from individuals in crisis areas through crowd-sourcing and filtering
Global: Scaling mobile services for development
Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) for social and economic development in emerging economies have long been a focus of governments, the private sector, and most certainly donors and international development agencies. Yes, despite all the attention garnered on this field, we are seeing a checkered history of ICTs as a tool for development, with both successes and significant failures littering the landscape.
Global: EFC Foundation Week
Alliance magazine blogging team
The European Foundation Centre is holding its first ever Foundation Week in Brussels from Monday 31 May to Friday 4 June and we are going to be there to bring you the latest developments as they happen with our brand new blog. With an international team of contributors, we will be blogging throughout the week, posting regular updates and responses to sessions, as well as video interviews and end-of-day summaries. Whether you’re attending the event or not, let us keep you up to speed as well as providing a platform for your comments.
Communications Officer - YES-Ghana
YES-Ghana is seeking a highly motivated and capable Communications Officer to manage its corporate communications agenda. The position is based in Accra and the holder shall report to the Executive Director.
(This position is open to both Ghanaians and non-Ghanaians alike.)
The Youth Empowerment Synergy (YES-Ghana) is a youth development organisation with a mission to support and promote policies and initiatives that help youth succeed in becoming life-long learners, productive members of society, materially sufficient, and self-respecting citizens. With a small but efficient team of confident young professionals, a wide range of sector-wide partners, and a track record of implementing results-based interventions, YES-Ghana is undoubtedly at the forefront of youth development programming in Ghana.
Now in its eighth year, YES-Ghana is reinventing itself with the view to enhancing effectiveness, improving visibility, and consolidating the organisation as a frontline player in youth development policy and practice.
In this pursuit, YES-Ghana is seeking a highly motivated and capable Communications Officer to manage its corporate communications agenda. The position is based in Accra and the holder shall report to the Executive Director.
· Relevant tertiary level education
· Experience in development communications
· Experience in media and public relations management
· Expertise in advanced website design and content management (with verifiable portfolio)
· Expertise in graphic design and production of development publications such as toolkits, manuals, handbooks, etc (with verifiable portfolio)
· Expertise in producing audiovisual materials
· Good writing and reporting skills
· Demonstrated creativity and innovation
· Experience working in an NGO or community-based organisation would be an added advantage
· Youth-friendly personality, with excellent communications and inter-personal skills
· Ability to work independently with little supervision
· Ability to work under pressure and target-driven conditions
· Professional demeanour with ability to present a professional image of the organisation at all times
· Must be aged 35 years or below in pursuit of achieving the organisation’s policy of building a team of young but competent professionals
· Qualified women are especially encouraged to apply
· Oversee the development and implementation of a communications strategy for the organisation
· Oversee the development and management of an interactive, youth-friendly and resourceful web portal for the organisation
· Oversee the development of newsletters, annual reports and other publications of the organisation
· Oversee the development of project-specific audiovisual materials
· Oversee the management of media and public relations of the organisation
· Perform other official duties assigned by the Executive Director
Terms and Conditions of Service
This position is open to both Ghanaians and non-Ghanaians alike. The successful candidate will be appointed on a full-time fixed term contract, subject to satisfactory completion of six months’ probation. Remuneration is negotiable, based on qualifications, experience, and other consideration.
How to Apply
If you believe you possess the required skills and experience for this job, please apply by submitting a one page cover letter and a copy of your recent CV bearing your contact numbers and two references to email@example.com
Application deadline: Monday, 31st May, 2010.
Please note that only short-listed candidates will be contacted.
Consultant - Human Rights First
Request for proposal
Human Rights First is a nonprofit, nonpartisan international human rights organization based in New York and Washington D.C. We build respect for human rights and the rule of law to help ensure the dignity to which everyone is entitled and to stem intolerance, tyranny, and violence. Human Rights First is seeking a consultant to conduct research and prepare materials to support advocacy efforts aimed at improving responses to racist, xenophobic and other forms of bias-motivated violence impacting refugees, asylum seekers and migrants.
Human Rights First is a nonprofit, nonpartisan international human rights organization based in New York and Washington D.C. We build respect for human rights and the rule of law to help ensure the dignity to which everyone is entitled and to stem intolerance, tyranny, and violence.
Human Rights First is seeking a consultant to conduct research and prepare materials to support advocacy efforts aimed at improving responses to racist, xenophobic and other forms of bias-motivated violence impacting refugees, asylum seekers and migrants. This research and reporting would be conducted in two phases:
During the first phase of the project, lasting about one month, the consultant will conduct research on the problem of bias-motivated violence against refugees and asylum seekers, including through interviews with and reports from governments, U.N. agencies, inter-governmental organizations (IGOs), NGOs, and the media.
Based upon the Phase 1 research, the consultant will produce a memo for internal use outlining 5-8 countries where additional attention and advocacy will likely help advance change. The memo and supporting research will assist HRF in identifying target countries and in determining the next steps for our advocacy efforts.
Phase Two (tentative)
During the possible second phase of the project, lasting for two to three months, the consultant will conduct more in-depth research on a select number of the profile countries. This research would likely involve travel to several countries to meet with government officials, UNHCR staff and representatives of other IGOs, foreign embassy representatives, representatives of civil society groups – as well as migrants and refugees themselves. HRF staff may accompany the consultant for some or all of the in-country research.
Based upon the Phase 2 research, the consultant will work with HRF staff to produce a report for public release. This report will:
• Describe in general terms the problem as it exists in a wide range of countries as well as the challenges to addressing it;
• Describe the nature and scale of the problem in more detail in
5-8 profile countries using information gathered during Phase One as well as during the additional research and travel in Phase Two;
• Outline efforts undertaken in the targeted countries by the government, U.N. agencies, IGOs, NGOs and other actors to address the problem;
• Describe the shortcomings in efforts to address the problem;
• Develop recommendations, working closely with HRF staff, that could be addressed to the government, the U.S. government, the UNHCR, and other UN and intergovernmental bodies. There could be general recommendations (for a wide range of countries) as well as more targeted recommendations (for the 5-8 profile countries).
• Familiarity with HRF’s approach to advocacy in general and to refugee protection and fighting discrimination specifically.
• Knowledge of international human rights and refugee protection standards, and human rights enforcement mechanisms; expertise on issues of discrimination, intolerance, and xenophobia.
• Strong research skills and an ability to work comfortably in a variety of settings.
• Excellent communications skills and an ability to translate highly technical material for a variety of audiences.
• Willingness to travel for several weeks at a time as necessary.
• Fluency in a language other than English is highly desirable.
How to Submit a Proposal
If interested, please submit the following materials to Innokenty Grekov at firstname.lastname@example.org Proposals will be considered on a rolling basis.
• Cover letter describing interest, qualifications and availability for this project;
• Names and contact details for three (3) references
• Writing Sample(s)
An estimate of consultant fees to be charged for both phase one and phase two of the project.
Please send replies to Jesse Bernstein: BernsteinJ@humanrightsfirst.org
Executive Director - Centre for Citizens’ Participation on the African Union (CCP-AU)
The Centre for Citizens’ Participation on the African Union (CCP-AU) seeks an Executive Director to provide strategic direction as well as operational and administrative oversight to the organisation. Based in Kenya (with potential relocation of the position to Addis Ababa) the Executive Director will work closely with and report to the CCP-AU Board of Directors.
Centre for Citizens’ Participation on the African Union (CCP-AU)
Search Closes: MAY 31, 2010
The Centre for Citizens’ Participation on the African Union (CCP-AU) seeks an Executive Director to provide strategic direction as well as operational and administrative oversight to the organisation. Based in Kenya (with potential relocation of the position to Addis Ababa) the Executive Director will work closely with and report to the CCP-AU Board of Directors.
CCP-AU aims to support citizens, state and non-state actors to popularise and integrate key African Union (AU) policy standards and legal instruments in national laws, policies and programmes that promote good governance, gender equality, and the realisation of basic economic, political, social and cultural rights, as well as the rights of marginalised groups. It also aims at coordinating, facilitating and encouraging the participation of African civil society organisations in the African Union organs and institutions activities.
· Facilitate the development of a CCP-AU long-range strategy to achieve its mission and strategic vision, and provide guidance and leadership on matters relating to CCP-AU programmes, management, governance, and finances;
· Provide leadership in developing and implementing annual programs, organisational policies and financial plans with the Members, Board of Directors and staff;
· Oversee fundraising, planning and implementation, including identifying resource requirements, researching funding sources, establishing strategies to approach funders, submitting proposals and maintaining fundraising records and documentation to ensure sustainability of CCP-AU;
· Foster cross-regional networking, shared learning and solidarity spaces among African CSOs that are useful and relevant and identify and recruit African CSOs to become members of the CCP-AU;
· Provide substantive guidance, feedback and support to African CSOs interested in engaging with the African Union (including the judicial and legislative organs, the NEPAD authority and APRM as well as the regional economic communities), by enhancing their awareness and knowledge of the AU objectives and working procedures, providing them up-to-date information for their activities and overseeing the provision of practical and logistical support to them. Including technical assistance to members in the development of policy proposals and advocacy strategies towards the AU and all its organs;
· Organise, conduct, coordinate Continental CSO conferences, multi-stakeholder policy dialogues on pertinent issues, meetings of members and conduct advocacy with the African Union States at continental and regional levels, to adopt agreements, treaties and other similar legal instruments that promote political, economical, social and cultural progress of African countries;
· Generate knowledge for African CSOs advocacy and ensure the effective planning, support and promotion of outreach and communication;
· Lead the process of developing electronic and other forms of media/publications of the CCP-AU;
· Represent the programmes and point of view of the organisation to the African Union, development partners, the media, and the general public among others.
Management and Administration
· Oversee the daily operations of the organisation;
· Be responsible for the recruitment and employment of all personnel, both paid staff and volunteers;
· Maintain an environment that attracts, keeps, and motivates a team of diverse high quality staff;
· Oversee planning for and preparation of CCP-AU Board meetings and general assemblies;
· Develop and oversee mechanisms for regular staff communication;
· Put into place oversight mechanisms to ensure compliance with internal policy and legal requirements;
· Serve as the primary contact for financial oversight.
ESSENTIAL QUALIFICATIONS, EXPERIENCE AND APTITUDES
· Advanced degree in social science and at least ten years work experience at the regional level with a focus on Pan Africa inter-governmental and non-governmental organisations;
· Substantive knowledge of the African Union, its organs, operations and methods of working;
· Extensive knowledge of the African Union Conventions, Protocols, Declarations and plans of actions in the areas of human rights, democracy and socio-economic development;
· Ability to lead and sustain new teams, promote and create new leadership;
· Experience in working with civil society, state representatives and/or African intergovernmental organisations;
· At least five years experience in management of not for profit institutions with an understanding of the principles and practices involved in the effective management of complex institutions;
· Proven commitment to the protection of human rights on the African continent;
· Proven aptitude for strategic thinking and planning;
· Established credibility in the management of public/not for profit institutions;
· Proven ability to diversify funding sources;
· Excellent communication skills with a diverse array of people including the media;
· Ability to manage simultaneous projects in a fast-paced environment;
· Aptitude to nurture organisations and people;
· Cross cultural competency;
· Strong political analysis and knowledge of the African context;
· Strong interpersonal and diplomatic skills including a proven ability to liaise and mediate between a diverse group of stakeholders (civil society and government officials in particular);
· Fluency in spoken and written English. Knowledge of written and spoken French is essential. Knowledge of other official AU languages would be an asset;
· Excellent organisational skills including the ability to work with minimal supervision, to set priorities and to deliver tasks on time;
· Willingness to travel as required and to relocate to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia if necessary.
For more information: www.ccpau.org
Competitive salary and benefits package
Send application by e-mail ONLY to email@example.com by 14:00 hrs GMT on May 31, 2010. Applications should include: An up-to-date CV and a summary of experience related to the required competencies and skills above and a cover letter indicating interest and fees.
Only successful candidates will be contacted.
Short-term consultancy, Economic Governance Project - FEMNET
Research on Promoting African Women’s Economic Empowerment through gender – responsive Trade Arrangements: May-September 2010
Under the Capacity Building Programme FEMNET is planning to undertake a study to assess the extent to which trade arrangements between African countries and the European Union facilitate African women’s economic empowerment and realization of their economic rights. FEMNET seeks the services of five Consultants, four of whom will undertake the study ies and one will be the lead Consultant to will provide technical support, monitor progress, facilitate the planning meeting and finally compile the Regional Comparative Report.
Terms of Reference for a short term Consultancy with FEMNET
ECONOMIC GOVERNANCE PROJECT
Research on Promoting African Women’s Economic Empowerment through gender – responsive Trade Arrangements: May-September 2010
The African Women’s Development and Communication Network (FEMNET) is a regional African organization working to promote women’s rights and development in Africa. FEMNET works in three different programmes areas namely Communication, Advocacy and Capacity building. Under the Capacity Building Programme FEMNET is planning to undertake a study to assess the extent to which trade arrangements between African countries and the European Union facilitate African women’s economic empowerment and realization of their economic rights. Since the second half of the 1990s many African countries adopted poverty eradication strategy plans and policies (PRSPs). These were the overarching national development plans. The PRSPs aimed to significantly contribute to poverty reduction and stimulation of steady economic growth that would be in tandem with the population growth rates in Africa. In 2007 FEMNET worked with other actors in Kenya to advocate for the mainstreaming of gender in macro- economic policies and the PRSP. There was mobilization at the national level to create Gender Aware Action Groups at the National, district and community levels.
Despite the women’s organizations’ involvement in the process in Kenya it was noted that the PRSP in Kenya did not sufficiently integrate gender both in the analysis and in the action areas agreed upon. This meant that it would be difficult to have gender – responsive programmes implemented consistently.
The FEMNET team then decided to undertake studies in six other countries in Africa to assess the extent to which gender had been successfully integrated in the macro- economic policies and the PRSPs and what were the experiences in those countries that Kenya would learn from. The Research was undertaken in 2007 in five countries namely Egypt, Mali, Rwanda, Uganda and Zambia.
The findings clearly indicated that the understanding of the nature of gender disparities and differences and taking the necessary actions to address them or appropriately recognize and respond to them appropriately not only promote economic growth but would make substantial contribution to the reduction of poverty. It was also found that the countries had varying experiences and levels of success in mainstreaming gender in PRSPs and macroeconomic policies. Rwanda for example had clear mechanisms through which regular monitoring is done to assess the impact of the macroeconomic policy decisions and programmes on different categories of men and women in various parts of the country. It was also clear from the study findings that all countries had macro-economic management systems. However the systems may not necessarily benefit men and women equitably. For example if a country has a competitive exchange rate it will be good as long as the products, goods and services that are marketed within the region and at the international level include those produced or provided by both men and women.
The research also indicated that women’s organizations were not taking a lead role in mobilizing and ensuring that they are involved in the processes of macroeconomic policies development and the formulation of the PRSPs. The major constraint was lack of knowledge, exposure, and capacity to undertake critical analysis of their macroeconomic policies and systems. Without the knowledge and skills it was difficult for them to monitor the impact of the policies. Women in their diversity must be at the decision making tables. To ensure that they have influence and participate effectively they must be aware of their power and potential, have the knowledge, skills and formidable networks and linkages to support their voices so that the proposals they make are taken seriously.
It is on this premise that FEMNET with a range of partners developed a Training manual and advocacy toolkit to facilitate the process of knowledge and skills building within organizations on how to engage meaningfully in the process of mainstreaming gender in macroeconomic policies, PRSPs and the budgeting processes. The last component was included as it was noted that some countries had very good plans which were not fully implemented due to lack of sufficient resources (human, financial and material resources). In some cases it was lack of skills within government bodies on how to translate the plans into concrete actions that can address the gender disparities in men and women’s participation in the economy and other sectors that are prioritized in the PRSPs.
The training manual and toolkit have formed the main resource material for the sub- regional trainings that have taken place in West Africa, North Africa and Eastern Africa since September 2008 – 2010.
It was noted in the 2007 Country studies and the training workshops that brought together participants from 18 countries that all countries focus on women’s economic empowerment as one of the indicators of growth, development and success of the implementation of the PRSPs. As part of the process of implementation of the PRSPs and in particular the pillar on economic development, countries have entered into a number of trade arrangements and agreements with a whole range of partners. In particular most African countries consider Europe to be its nearest and best trading partner. The question therefore is to what extent are the trade arrangements at the continental level and the bilateral agreements contributing to the realization of African women’s economic rights and empowerment? This is the key question that we shall interrogate in the multi – country study that FEMNET is launching in May 2010. FEMNET will support analytical work to assess the potential the trade arrangements between Africa and Europe have to support women’s economic empowerment and identify gaps that need to be addressed for example, through proposing social clauses to be incorporated in revised trade agreement.
Poor economic conditions in Africa are a major challenge and increasingly a cause of large numbers of women with tertiary education migrating to other parts of the world. This should be a major concern for African governments that are investing heavily in their human resources by increasing and improving access to quality education for girls and women. It should also be a major concern for gender activists as the female brain drain affects the gains made over the years in closing the gender gaps in leadership generally and in economic governance institutions specifically (though in the latter area there are still minimal gains in the context of Africa). One key lesson highlighted in the Research Report on Gender Dimensions of PRSPs and in the relationship to the National Budgets, 2007 is that development activities function much more effectively if all people, women and men, boys and girls are empowered to be fully involved in the processes. Therefore, the political, social, economic and cultural barriers that hinder women’s economic empowerment must be addressed as one of the ways to reverse the current female brain drain trends and reduce the feminization of poverty in Africa.
FEMNET is therefore proposing to embark on new study to review and assess the impact of trade arrangements at the regional level between the European Union and Africa on women’s economic rights and empowerment efforts. Countries to be involved in the study include Rwanda, Egypt, Uganda and Zambia which were involved in the earlier study. If we have successfully trained gender advocates and they are active in the PRSP processes it is pertinent to assess how their efforts are transforming the lives of women directly or indirectly. In this case the study will focus on economic empowerment of women.
In executing this task, FEMNET seeks the services of five Consultants, four of whom will undertake the study in the above listed countries and one will be the lead Consultant to will provide technical support, monitor progress, facilitate the planning meeting and finally compile the Regional Comparative Report. The task of the Consultant in each country will be to:
- Identify the different trade agreements that the country has with the European Union and with various European countries.
- The focus of the trade arrangements.
- Identify the main organs responsible for the formulation, implementation and monitoring of the trade agreement.
- The extent to which the processes of developing the trade agreements involve civil society actors; how and in what form.
- Assess the level of integration of gender and the human rights approach in the trade agreements (TAs).
- Identify labour standards that support women’s economic rights and empowerment that are included in bilateral and regional trade agreements
- Analyze how the TAs are used to promote the realization of women’s economic rights and the empowerment agenda.
- Identify new ways in which trade agreements can be used to promote the realization of the goals of the Beijing Platform for Action (BPfA) specifically those focusing on women’s economic empowerment.
- Assess how the implementation of the trade agreements between Africa and Europe and specific European countries are contributing to the achievement of the targets under the Millennium Development Goals 1 and 3.
- Identify the existing national gender lobbies that FEMNET can work with to effectively engage in trade negotiations, their implementation and monitoring arrangements.
- Identify the knowledge and skills gaps that may exist in the national gender lobby groups and the mechanisms through which the gaps are being addressed, if at all.
- Make recommendations on how trade agreements and their implementation can be further strengthened to be gender responsive in their formulation, implementation and benefits that accrue to the partners involved.
- More specifically make recommendations on how national gender lobbies can use trade agreements to advocate for the realization of women’s economic rights and the empowerment agenda and ensure that women and men benefit equally from the economic opportunities presented by the trade arrangements between Africa and Europe.
- Compile the national report and represent the findings at a national validation meeting.
Key Reference documents (relevant to each country):
• The Africa – European Union Strategic Partnership, June 2008
• The COMESA Trade Agreements with Europe or any of the European Countries
• African Free Trade Zone (AFTZ)
• East African Community (EAC) Trade agreements with Europe
• Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) Trade Agreement
• Southern African Development Community (SADC) Trade Agreement
• Southern African Customs Union (SACU)
• Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD)
• Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA)
• Bilateral agreements with European countries
• The Country PRSP and Assessment Reports
• Reports of the Investment Authorities
• Annual Reports of Ministry of Finance / Economic Sector Reports
• National Budget Analysis Reports (2005 – 2010)
• Bilateral Partners Reports (2005 – 2010)
• Any other relevant documents
The Consultant will be facilitated to organize a one day validation workshop at the Country level which will bring together the key actors to review the draft report (between 15 – 20 persons). The meeting will have representatives of donor partners, the European Union, the government and relevant civil society actors.
Each Consultant will receive a total of US $ 4,000 for undertaking this study. The money will be paid in two installments of US $ 2000, the first one being paid upon the signing of the Contract and submitting of the work plan to FEMNET. The second and final installment will be paid in the amount of US $2,000 upon satisfactory completion of the study by presenting the final well written report. The lead consultant shall be paid US $ 5,000 and it will also be paid in two installments.
• The Consultant may be a man or a woman with demonstrated experience in undertaking similar or related studies.
• Preferably the Consultant shall be based in the country where the study is to be undertaken.
• Must be well versed with trade and economic development issues
• Must have a strong understanding of gender and development issues and has experience in undertaking gender analysis work in the economic sector.
• Must be available to attend a two days planning meeting which will take place in Nairobi, Kenya where all the Researchers will meet to present their plans and agree on the process of undertaking the Study.
The following will be the outputs:
o Approved national work plans to guide the implementation of the Study
o The draft national and final reports
o The Regional Comparative Analysis Report
o Report of the Planning Workshop
Your contact person at FEMNET is the Executive Director Ms. Norah Matovu-Winyi. Please submit an expression of interest, and your curriculum vitae in English or French to firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com For further inquiries do not hesitate to contact the office on TEL: +254 20 2712971/2 by 25th May 2010.
West Africa Programme Director - Conciliation Resources
Conciliation Resources is seeking an experienced manager to coordinate and develop our programme of work in West Africa, specifically in the Mano River sub-region. Reporting to the Director of Programmes, you will lead a small team based in Sierra Leone and work with partner organizations in pursuing programme goals to strengthen civil society capacities to participate in peacebuildling, conflict transformation, governance processes and community security and to develop the programme across the region.
Fahamu - Networks For Social Justice
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