Pambazuka News 544: Stealing the commons and looting the streets
The authoritative electronic weekly newsletter and platform for social justice in Africa
Pambazuka News (English edition): ISSN 1753-6839
CONTENTS: 1. Features, 2. Announcements, 3. Comment & analysis, 4. Advocacy & campaigns, 5. Books & arts, 6. Highlights French edition, 7. Cartoons, 8. Zimbabwe update, 9. Women & gender, 10. Human rights, 11. Refugees & forced migration, 12. Africa labour news, 13. Emerging powers news, 14. Elections & governance, 15. Corruption, 16. Development, 17. Health & HIV/AIDS, 18. Education, 19. LGBTI, 20. Environment, 21. Land & land rights, 22. Food Justice, 23. Media & freedom of expression, 24. Social welfare, 25. Conflict & emergencies, 26. Internet & technology, 27. Fundraising & useful resources, 28. Publications, 29. Jobs
Highlights from this issue
ANNOUNCEMENTS: Bargain book price sale now on at Pambazuka Press
ZIMBABWE UPDATE: Zanu-PF denies diamond field torture claims
WOMEN AND GENDER: Haitian women winning their rights
HUMAN RIGHTS: Find out about the blood in your mobile phone
REFUGEES AND FORCED MIGRATION: South African government denies blocking access to Horn of Africa migrants
EMERGING POWERS NEWS: Latest edition of the Emerging Powers newsletter
ELECTIONS AND GOVERNANCE: The rap rage revolt in Tunisia
DEVELOPMENT: Is a second financial crash on the way? + Why the US debt crisis matters to you
HEALTH AND HIV/AIDS: Pfizer pays Nigeria drug trial victims…but do they?
EDUCATION: Cash-strapped Swazi university fails to open for new term
LGBTI: Call for police to investigate raid on LGBT groups
ENVIRONMENT: UN to monitor Ogoni oil spill clean up
FOOD JUSTICE: Food rights mortgaged to multinationals in Kenya
MEDIA AND FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION: Journalists rally to protect free speech in Togo
CONFLICT AND EMERGENCIES: News from DRC, Libya, Somalia
PLUS: eNewsletters & mailing lists; Fundraising & useful resources; Jobs
Stealing the commons and looting the streets
This week the international news has been dominated by two distinct, yet not unrelated events. First was the international financial crisis precipitated, or more accurately exacerbated, by the decision of S&P to downgrade the US credit rating, something that led to $3 trillion (that’s 3 with 12 zeros) to be ‘lost’, a topic addressed at length in the article by Horace Campbell this week. The second was the eruption of young people onto the streets of Britain (see Alex Free’s article). Two features of these events are worth pointing out.
First, the reaction to the events reflect the growing crisis of the ruling classes in being able to imagine a solution beyond trying to solve the problem with the same kind of thinking that created the problem: in the first case, neoliberal economics that serve the interest of financialised capital has itself created a crisis in a world economic system that depends on fictional capital (what Yash Tandon refers to as ‘Kleptocratic capitalism’); the solution to that crisis? Yes, you’ve guessed it, more privatisation, greater cuts in social expenditure, fleecing those who labour, and increasing the scale of the dispossessed. The same neoliberal policies have created a growing class of the dispossessed, not only in the global South, but in the belly of the Empire itself. Accumulated frustration about a lack of a future, deprivation, impoverishment, harassment by the police and imprisonment have finally erupted into anger and rage on the streets of London, Liverpool, Manchester and other cities. And the solution to that offered by the ruling class? Yes, once again, the same treatment that has created the crisis is offered as the solution: harass the young more, cut social expenditure, harass them more and lock them up (one newspaper even proposed shooting them!).
But the second feature of these events is perhaps best captured in the following poem by an anonymous author from the 1821 (quoted by Arundhati Roy in her recent book “Broken Republic: Three essays” Penguin Books, London 2011):
‘The law locks up the hapless felon
Who steals the goose from off the common,
But lets the greater felon loose
Who steals the common from the goose.’
BROUGHT TO YOU BY PAMBAZUKA NEWS
* Firoze Manji is editor in chief of Pambazuka News and Pambazuka Press.
* Please send comments to editor[at]pambazuka[dot]org or comment online at Pambazuka News.
The chickens are coming home to roost
US credit downgrade
On Friday 5 August 2011, one of the world’s leading credit rating agencies, Standard & Poor’s (S&P), downgraded the United States’ top-notch AAA rating for the first time ever in the United States’ history. S&P cut the long-term US rating down to AA+ with a negative outlook, citing concerns about budget deficits and political gridlock. In their statement justifying the downgrade S&P stated that:
‘The downgrade reflects our opinion that the fiscal consolidation plan that Congress and the administration recently agreed to falls short of what, in our view, would be necessary to stabilize the government's medium-term debt dynamics.
‘More broadly, the downgrade reflects our view that the effectiveness, stability, and predictability of American policymaking and political institutions have weakened at a time of ongoing fiscal and economic challenges.’
Additionally, Standard &Poor’s indicated that it might further lower the US long-term credit rating to AA within the next two years if the United States’ deficit reduction measures were deemed inadequate. These are strong statements from a private agency bent on disciplining the government of the United States with the threat of a further downgrade. What gives this agency such power? In answering this question, we would seek to understand what is a credit rating agency; the source of a credit rating agency’s power; what is S&P’s track record and what implications do its decisions have for the international political system, especially for humanity.
In all major capitalist countries, the power of the dominant faction is hidden behind ideology (free market), law (protection of private property), propaganda (corporate-controlled media), the coercive organs of the state (military, police and prison) and the power of finance capital (banks, insurance and financial instruments). Credit rating agencies represent the power of financial capitalists and are usually held in the background to discipline corporations and governments. In moments of crisis these agencies show their hand.
These agencies along with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the US military have been the weapons against the true self-determination of humanity. United States citizens are now beginning to pay attention to the power that the IMF, credit rating agencies and the military wielded over most countries in the world. US Treasuries (or T-bills) are traditionally considered to be a risk-free investment precisely because in the country’s 200+ year history, its rating has never been downgraded and the securities are backed by the government.
The downgrade of the credit rating of the United States by Standard & Poor’s is much more than a psychological blow to the prestige of the imperial overlords in the United States. This is a sign of a power shift and another blow to the position of the US as the sole superpower. The most oppressed must organise to break the power of capital and the imperial overlords or humanity will pay a high price.
WHAT IS A CREDIT RATING AGENCY?
Credit rating agencies provide information on issuers of securities whether the issuers are corporations or countries. A credit rating agency informs investors whether issuers of securities (such as debt obligations, fixed income securities) can meet their obligations to those securities. The top three credit rating agencies with international influence are Standard & Poor’s, Fitch Ratings, and Moody’s Investor Services. The job of these agencies is to provide an analysis of the risk posed to investors by bonds, companies and countries. The risk analysis provided to investors by the credit rating agencies is supposed to be objective. However, the credit rating agencies are private entities owned by profit-making companies performing what is essentially a regulatory role. Thus, the credit rating agencies cannot truly serve the investing public because they have a fiduciary obligation to their shareholders to maximise profit.
The rating agencies achieved their influence over time since the capitalist depression of the 1930s but have become more important to the US economy in the era of financialisation, commencing on 15 August 1971. It was from this date that the US gave unlimited rights to the currency speculators after it reneged on the Articles of Agreement of the IMF that had placed the convertibility of the dollar on par with US$35 for one ounce of gold. This departure from the gold standard, called the ‘Nixon Shock’ after the president who authorised it now backed the US dollar with the military might of the United States. During the Cold War, international capitalists were willing to shelter under the US military umbrella and one price for this shelter was to accept the political power of US credit rating agencies.
These private corporations were issued permits to be credit rating agencies by the United States Securities and Exchange Commission through the Nationally Recognized Statistical Rating Organization (NRSRO) therefore turning rating agencies from solely private entities into regulating bodies.
In the past 20 years, the business of credit rating followed the path of centralisation and concentration of capital so that the rating business fell in the lap of the three big firms, affording these organisations the power to make life and death decisions about corporations and countries.
The subjective nature of their ratings will be brought out later but in the aftermath of the clear theft and fraud of the capitalist organization called Enron, the rating agencies in public hearings held by the SEC in 2002 insisted that credit ratings were only opinions and should have a limited role which is to assess the creditworthiness of issuers on an ongoing basis, and the ‘likelihood’ that debt will be repaid in a timely manner. The fact that ratings are ‘opinions’ is important in the US legal context in that these big three capitalist corporations seek to be protected by the First Amendment and from civil and criminal liability.
FROM WHERE DO CREDIT RATING AGENCIES GET THEIR POWER?
These credit rating agencies earn their power from the fact that they are owned by the top financial institutions on Wall Street. For example, S&P is owned by McGraw Hill Companies, one of the United States’ big media and publishing conglomerates. The board of directors is comprised of the top individuals of finance capital with a few academics thrown in. The shareholders of McGraw Hill are from the top financial houses. McGraw Hill owns ‘Aviation Week’, which is one of the prime advocates for a section of the US military. Though S&P is a wholly owned subsidiary of McGraw Hill, Moody's, on the other hand, is a publicly-traded corporation. Its largest single shareholder, with 12 per cent of the company's shares, is Berkshire Hathaway, Warren Buffett's company. Fitch is more transnational with roots in French finance capital.
Thus, we know that the shareholders of McGraw Hill can ensure that their ratings are sanctified by governmental authorities and most importantly, by the IMF. The power of these credit rating agencies has accumulated over time and has been consolidated within the context of the power of finance capital over the international capitalist economy. By seizing a regulatory role while eschewing clear liability, these agencies gained the political power to be whatever they wanted to be.
Since the Depression of the 1930s, statutes and rules required that mutual fund and money managers of almost every stripe buy only those bonds that have been given high grades by a Nationally Recognized Statistical Rating Organization. The effect was to make the three certified rating agencies an oligopoly. It was this power that these agencies used against Asia by providing cover for US companies to buy up assets cheaply in the aftermath of the Asian financial crisis (1997-98). This power also played a role in the recent intimidation of European countries, including Greece, Portugal, Ireland, and Iceland, to launch austerity measures against workers by downgrading the ratings of these countries.
POWER STRUGGLES WITHIN THE INTERNATIONAL CAPITALIST SYSTEM
There are numerous commentaries on the downgrade of the US but the one commentary that caught my attention was that of Paul Craig Roberts, former assistant secretary of the Treasury in the Reagan administration and associate editor and columnist at the Wall Street Journal. This is a civil libertarian who was arguing that there is a struggle between the military and Wall Street for power in the USA. In an article published on counterpunch.com, after quoting from the statements of Dwight Eisenhower on the rise of the military industrial complex, Roberts opined that from the time of Dwight Eisenhower till today, the United States has been dominated by the military security complex. According to this analysis of the downgrade, the only challenge to the military was Wall Street and Wall Street was using this downgrade as its leverage to fortify its challenge:
‘The main power rival was Wall Street, which controls finance and money and is skilled at advancing its interests through economic policy arguments. With the financial deregulation that began during the Clinton presidency, Wall Street became all powerful. Wall Street controls the Treasury and the Federal Reserve, and the levers of money are more powerful than the levers of armaments. Moreover, Wall Street is better at intrigue than the CIA. The behind the scenes fight for power is between these two powerful interest groups. America’s hegemony over the world is financial, not military. The military/security complex’s attempt to catch up is endangering the dollar and US financial hegemony.’
Roberts explained that the security establishment has been trying to catch up with the power of the lords of finance by launching wars to enrich themselves and to gain more power in the society:
‘The country has been at war for a decade, running up enormous bills that have enriched the military/security complex. Wall Street’s profits ran even higher. However, by achieving what economist Michael Hudson calls the ‘Financialization of the economy,’ the financial sector over-reached. The enormous sums represented by financial instruments are many times larger than the real economy on which they are based. When financial claims dwarf the size of the underlying real economy, massive instability is present.
‘Aware of its predicament, Wall Street has sent a shot across the bow with the S&P’s downgrade of the US credit rating. Spending must be reined in, and the only obvious chunk of spending that can be cut without throwing millions of Americans into the streets is the wars.’
While notable, what this analysis by Paul Craig Roberts fails to recognise is the rapid integration between finance capital and the military, as manifest by the fact that companies that profit greatly from militarisation, such as Boeing has an established financial arm called Boeing Capital Corporation. Most of the big investment and derivatives firms have established links with the private military industry. All the top private military companies and the military hardware manufacturers that are woven into the military-industrial complex are traded on Wall Street. Many of the top private military companies are subsidiaries of Fortune 500 companies that are also traded on Wall Street. In fact, the intricate web of alliance between finance capital, the military and the corporate media/information mind control is now so dominant that we can talk of the finance-military-information complex, instead of the military-industrial complex. McGraw Hill is a poster child of the relationship between the military, finance and information/media. McGraw Hill is the owner of Standard and Poor’s, and it is directly owned by some of the biggest bankers of Wall Street. McGraw Hill is also in the TV and media business, with stations across the country. It owns ‘Aviation Week’ and ‘Space Technology’. The latter has been the publication that has been the mouthpiece for the US Air Force, and has been an advocate for high military spending and the acquisition of expensive military aircrafts.
As promoters of the ideology of free market and deregulation (even in the military), the McGraw Hill Companies is also a cheerleader for private military corporations. These private military corporations are involved in protecting international capital in all parts of the world The New York Times reported as far back as 2002 that one such private contracting firm ‘boasts of having “more generals per square foot than in the Pentagon.”’ As a militarist state where all is subordinated to the needs of the financial/military interests, there is no contradiction between the two as Roberts claims.
As international capitalists with no cut-in-stone loyalty to the US state, the financial-military complex is now ready to do to the US what it had been doing to the rest of the world since 1945, intervening to discipline governments to do the bidding of big capital. Temporarily, these financial and military oligarchs need to work through the US government because it is the government that carries the authority to print dollars as long as the dollar remains the reserve currency of the world. This downgrade of the US credit rating is part of the forward planning by the top capitalists to guarantee the political and military hegemony of the richest one per cent of the US population. As the dollar loses its status there will be consequences for the global position of American capitalism. The moguls of Wall Street want to ensure that the political leadership in the United States is sufficiently intimidated so that as the position of the dollar deteriorates and there are deepening crisis for capitalism inside the US, the government will take measures to continue to ensure that wealth is transferred from the working peoples to the capitalist class. Hence this downgrade is part of a long term plan to discipline the working class and the politicians within the United States, just as how the IMF has been used in the past against the rest of the world.
THE TRACK RECORD AND CREDIBILITY OF THE RATING AGENCIES
It is now known that Enron was one of the most corrupt capitalist corporations in the US. Yet, Enron had a triple AAA rating by these credit rating agencies until four days before the company went bankrupt. When the full extent of the fraudulent activities of Enron were revealed, President George W. Bush claimed that this was one ‘bad apple’, implying that Enron was an aberration. But soon thereafter the duplicitous dealings and accounting practices of WorldCom and Global Crossing were revealed – WorldCom fudged accounts to show inflated profits. Up to the day that Enron sought bankruptcy protection, none of the three rating agencies caught the fraud and corruption of Enron.
Throughout the period of the power of the financial houses, the blatant conflict of interest was too hard to ignore so in the aftermath of Enron and WorldCom, there has been some regulatory response. Congress passed the Credit Rating Agency Reform Act of 2006, ending a century of industry self-regulation. The purpose of this law was to promote competition in the rating industry by establishing a transparent and rational registration system for rating agencies seeking NRSRO status. It was also designed to enhance industry transparency, address conflicts of interest, and prohibit abusive practices.
But the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) was itself impotent as the world saw from the financial crisis of the collapse of the investment banks in 2008. Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers had enjoyed top ratings from these agencies and the sub-prime products called Credit Default Obligations (CDOs) were given triple AAA ratings, even when these products turned out to be garbage. Of course, this garbage was held by the same bankers who own the rating agencies.
In the aftermath of the fall of Lehman Brothers and the fact that the sub-prime mortgage crisis exposed the securities fraud by the financial houses, for a short time Wall Street was on the defensive. There were dozens of lawsuits filed against the credit rating agencies. Citizens were calling for the fraudsters to be incarcerated but the rating agencies went back to their old line that their ratings are merely opinions and are protected by the First Amendment.
It was then left to Congress to Act and after the public outrage, the financial regulatory reform law adopted in 2010, known as Dodd-Frank Law, directed the SEC and other agencies to undo that link between the ‘opinions’ of the credit rating agencies and the claim that they could regulate themselves.
The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act enhanced the SEC’s enforcement mechanisms, and added a number of requirements on NRSROs that are immediately effective (i.e. do not depend on SEC rulemaking). The Dodd-Frank Act also required the commission to adopt a number of new rules concerning conflict of interests.
According to the US government and their news sheet, ‘the Dodd-Frank Act requires every federal agency to review existing regulations that require the use of an assessment of the credit-worthiness of the security or money market instrument and any references to credit ratings in such regulations; to modify such regulations identified in the review to remove any reference to, or requirement of reliance on credit ratings; and substitute with a standard of credit worthiness as the agency shall determine as appropriate for such regulations.’
What this meant was that from June 2010, the SEC unanimously approved a plan to erase references to credit ratings from certain rulebooks. The agency also adopted a substitute to the ratings, the first of several such changes the commission had to enact. Dodd-Frank created a laundry list of new regulations for the industry, including proposals to make it easier for investors to sue the agencies. The SEC must also create its own Office of Credit Ratings to police the raters, though the agency has yet to open its doors as it struggles to scrape together the needed money.
Since the passing of the Dodd-Frank Act, Wall Street has been pushing back, spending millions of dollars to reverse Dodd-Frank and to ensure that the law is whittled away until it is meaningless. However, while the bankers were seeking to protect themselves, the fact that they were holding on to garbage since the financial crisis was becoming clearer. This is because the depth of the financial crisis was so much that the bail-out could barely touch the surface of the problem. In the past year, the vulnerability of the banks has been heightened by the capitalist crisis in Europe. As a means of pressuring the states of Greece, Portugal, Ireland, Iceland and others to implement austerity measures against workers, these rating agencies downgraded these countries’ ratings. These downgrades exacerbated the class struggles in Europe where the bankers and the bond-holders wanted to be paid. For the US capitalists, the crisis in Europe threatened the future of the Euro and the collapse of the Euro in the short term would serve the interests of the capitalists on Wall Street. This would ensure that there was no clear challenge to the dollar and the US could continue the military occupation of many countries in Europe, especially Germany.
However, some of these US capitalists were also exposed by the crisis in Europe and US banks wanted to ensure that the European Central Bank imposed austerity measures so that the full exposure of US banks would not be known. However, this crisis is not a simple one; it is structural and systemic and needs fundamental changes in how society is organised. This crisis has intensified in the past three months with the knowledge that states and societies such as Italy and Spain will also need the iron hand of international capital to impose harder burdens on the workers to transfer wealth from the majority to a minority. French banks are loaded up with the debts of Italy and Greece, and American banks are holding positions in these same French banks. Hence, US banks are not immune to the crisis in the Euro zone.
There are some who have stated that the downgrade is cosmetic because the other two rating agencies, Moody’s and Fitch, have retained the AAA rating of the USA. This may seem to be the case but those who have been following the troubles of the banks and the fake stress tests know better. The timing of the announcement of the downgrade has some significance in the sense that it followed the false debate and conclusion of the debt deal.
By coming out after hours on Friday night when they knew the state of the markets, the downgrade also provided a false ‘public’ cover for the well-publicised subsequent fall and rise in global stock markets. Political spinners were able to point to the downgrade as the ‘spark’ for the drop in stock prices (particularly for the banks). In reality, the true causes are the growing risk and troubles in Europe, the continued lack of growth in the US, and the fact that in spite of all the trillions in bailouts of the banks, accounting rule changes, and the fake stress test exams to show that the banks are doing well, the market participants who understand the true status of the banks revealed that the banks are still in danger of collapsing.
Millions of persons around the world are paying attention and there are already signs that these foreign forces are losing confidence in the safety of US securities by the rise in the price of gold. The other point is that the political alliance that paved the way for this conjuncture is being strengthened by the power brokers in the Treasury/Wall Street/IMF relationship. It is this alliance that will work for the transfer of wealth to the top one per cent and will not countenance increased revenues from this small class.
As we have argued before, ultimately the question is not simply one of revenues and taxing the rich, but a fundamental restructuring of the system. However, in the short run, the call for more taxation and regulation of off shore accounts serve to expose the ways in which the capitalist class is above the law. Yet, these capitalist have to live somewhere and they do not want to live in the offshore sites of money laundering and lawlessness. Hence, they need laws to suppress workers, take away collective bargaining and the safety nets of social democracy.
The downgrade will raise the cost of borrowing; this in turn could trickle down to higher interest rates for local governments and individuals. The iterations of decline and deficits will increase the government debt and the deficit, and S&P has issued the clear threat that another downgrade will be coming after 18 months, if Congress does not follow its advice to impose austerity measures.
THE CHICKENS COMING HOME TO ROOST
US government officials are calling the methodology of the rating agencies flawed and some are calling for nationalisation of the agencies and/or the establishment of an international rating agency under the United Nations. There was no such call when the same agencies were working with the IMF to impose hardships on the rest of the world. Now, we are told that the rating agencies cannot do maths. But the destructive structural adjustment maths that the IMF-rating agencies alliance have used to destroy economies and livelihoods in the global South over the past 30 years were never questioned by those now calling out the S&P for its US$2 trillion error in its computation used to justify the US downgrade. The complaint was that a treasury official had spotted a US$2 trillion mistake in the agency's analysis. Whether it was a mistake or not, a psychological barrier has been breached. The US is no longer beyond the sanction of agencies that it unleashed against other societies.
Since the fall of Lehman Brothers in September 2008, politicians have sought to cushion the blows to capital by making band-aid remedies. For some, the issue was one of regulation and more control over the financial institutions. There were hearings in the US Congress and the Dodd-Frank law came into being. Through the media, the financiers went on the offensive about a recovery, but there has been no recovery because there was no fundamental alteration in the way capitalist ensured that wealth was transferred from the poor to the rich.
More, importantly the limits of US military power has been put on full display in Iraq and Afghanistan. The center of the world economy shifted to Asia while the USA and Europe were fighting in the Middle East. The ten biggest economies in Asia ring-fenced themselves against the USA and the instability of the dollar. This downgrade will reinforce this need for protection against the dollar. From China there was the warning that:
‘International supervision over the issue of US dollars should be introduced and a new, stable and secured global reserve currency may also be an option to avert a catastrophe caused by any single country.’
This call for international supervision did not include any statement on the conditions of working peoples who are suffering at present. Inside the USA, the political choices have been sharpened. It is either the articulation of democratic control by the people or oligarchic control by the banks and financial houses. The downgrade was not a challenge to the government but to the working peoples of the USA and the world.
Youths in the streets of Greece, London and Cairo are giving one response. The challenge is to coordinate these responses for a prolonged and sustained struggle to break the power of the financial-military-information complex. Those who have been following the gyrations of the capitalist debacle since 2007 will note that the events associated with the 2011 downgrade are simply precursors to what will continue to happen as the last 20 years of debt-driven growth in advanced capitalist nations unwinds. In the midst of this protracted crisis the rich will seek to transfer wealth from the poor as the only means of sustaining their accumulation of wealth as year 4 unfolds of what is likely to be a 7-10 year recession/depression. The financial-military-information complex will continue to ensure that austerity to manage government debt falls on the backs of working people. Corporations will continue to claim that the only way they will invest some of their trillions in cash to create jobs and lower unemployment is to reduce regulations, lower corporate tax rates and perhaps even lower minimum wages. The American people must realise that the chickens have just come home to roost. The people must organise more and more to link up with working people’s struggles around the world to break up the banks, IMF-rating agencies alliance and their military enterprise. Financial institutions should be made to serve the people, not vice-versa.
BROUGHT TO YOU BY PAMBAZUKA NEWS
* Horace Campbell is professor of African-American studies and political science at Syracuse University. He is the author of ‘Barack Obama and 21st Century Politics: A Revolutionary Moment in the USA’. See www.horacecampbell.net.
* Please send comments to editor[at]pambazuka[dot]org or comment online at Pambazuka News.
Stopping the UK’s looters
The outbreak of rioting witnessed over the past few days in an increasing number of UK cities has produced astounding scenes of arson and theft, with groups of predominantly young people destroying local shops, cars and houses while grabbing whatever products they can find. Protests originally centred around Tottenham residents’ peaceful demands for answers in response to the dubious death of Mark Duggan following a fatal exchange with the police, but the resulting frustration served to catalyse an extreme response, ultimately providing the ignition for sustained riots. As the authorities attempt to get the situation under control, the mainstream media, alternative blogs and social networking sites are abuzz with debate, exchanges and reactionary – and, at times, frankly alarming – suggestions in response to the unprecedented scenes.
The mainstream media in the UK has come in for criticism owing to its inability or unwillingness to engage with and discuss the broader context behind the riots – a limitation which you might say is largely consistent with so much of the bit-part, lop-sided coverage around every topic from chronic food insecurity in East Africa to the presumption of an Islamic element in Norway’s recent terrorist atrocity. There is in essence a ‘crisis of perspectives’, with minimal progressive discussion of root causes and practically zero space for local voices (save in caricatured form). One clip doing the rounds features long-time broadcaster and columnist Darcus Howe in an interview with a BBC presenter, with Howe attempting to explain local people’s experiences only to be himself disrespectfully accused of previous rioting (though managing to allude to the social dislocation seen elsewhere in the world in countries as diverse as Tunisia, Egypt, Gabon, Burkina Faso, Trinidad & Tobago, Bahrain, Spain, the US, Yemen and Syria). Indeed, this media reticence has been mirrored by the reluctance of Prime Minister David Cameron and London Mayor Boris Johnson to attach any socio-economic context to the scenes, but naturally you might expect them to shy away from such questions.
In any case, the terms gaining immediate currency within the media at large are instructive – ‘looting’, ‘feral’, ‘mindless’, ‘violence’, ‘destruction’, ‘theft’ – and might lead us to wonder why they are not employed in relation to the actions of those of far greater political clout and economic power. Just as we might juxtapose the biased emphasis on ‘freedom fighters’ and ‘rebels’ with that of ‘terrorists’ and ‘dissidents’, can we not also point to the difference in vernacular around other types of ‘looters’?
What of the politicians content to help themselves to the public purse, bailed-out bankers with enormous, seemingly unrestrained bonuses and corporate tax evaders (who are also frequently complicit in entrenched resource- and land-grabbing within Africa and the global South)? Why employ a different vocabulary to describe these figures to that used for out-of-control youths raiding a local shop? Where one group of looters is seen to be a deplorable, mindless, violent underclass (apparently only paid attention to when rioting rather than peacefully protesting), others prove able to behave with virtual impunity on an infinitely greater scale, albeit without the tangible mess (with the violence involved administered more subtly). This is not to deny or underplay the major significance of what the UK’s cities are currently experiencing, but rather to ask why we see such a sharp distinction between the response to these scenes and what we might term as ‘legalised looting’.
LOOTING WRIT LARGE
What could these examples of ‘legalised looting’ be? If we try to re-appropriate the definition of looting, we could for example point to multinational tax avoidance (by companies such as Vodafone and Barclays), governments’ willingness to deregulate and subsequently bail out the global banking system (yielding enormous profits for those originally responsible and precipitating widespread austerity measures and public-spending cuts) and British MPs’ enthusiasm for claiming wildly excessive expenses. Harnessing the opportunities presented by the rise of tax havens and the offshore economy, Vodafone for example escaped paying an estimated UK£6 billion in tax, while Barclays is allegedly able to dodge around UK£1 billion a year. Tax evasion is a practice that occurs on a far grander scale within African countries as part of the broader problem of licit and illicit capital flight through tax dodging, under-reported profits and corruption – in essence, an element of the global South’s subsidising of the North. For example, Léonce Ndikumana and James Boyce have estimated the capital flight from 40 sub-Saharan African countries over the period 1970–2004 to be some US$420 billion (in 2004 dollars). As a broader backdrop to the story of looting writ large, we could also underline the hegemony of neoliberal policy worldwide over the past 30 years or so, a policy that has underpinned increasingly more acute social and economic disparities and further facilitated the concentration of wealth and power within an ever smaller number of hands.
Further historical and contemporary examples of under-acknowledged looting are provided by the practice of resource-grabbing and the story of much of the Western world’s activities in Africa and the global South at large (whether it be oil, arable land or even people) – activities that go back at least as far as the advent of the transatlantic slave trade. If those rioting in the UK are to be condemned, the same standards should be applied to those happy to ‘outsource’ their violence and environmental degradation – from Shell’s murderous collusion with Nigeria’s authorities in the Niger Delta and the controversy around labour conditions within the Firestone company in Liberia to the activities of the US AFRICOM (Africa Command) programme and the intervention in Libya.
Indeed, if we look at the UK’s current contribution to NATO’s (North Atlantic Treaty Organisation) invasion of a sovereign African country (whose leader has fallen out of their favour), how is it that there is money for self-interested war-mongering and an illegal occupation aimed at resource extrapolation yet none to develop the kind of community-regeneration initiatives that would have gone a long way towards preventing the events seen in the UK’s cities over the past week? Is this violence an unfortunate spin-off of dominant free market economic policy? Why is there not far greater emphasis on NATO’s killing of innocent civilians in Libya (and elsewhere in Iraq and Afghanistan)? And might Gaddafi look to recognise the UK’s own brand of rebels as the country’s new legitimate and official government?
Which looting is greater, more systematised, more problematic, senseless, violent and destructive? Could we say that one looting is ultimately a symptom of another? And what are we to make of the hypocrisy behind David Cameron’s own past form as a thug and gang member who would smash up private property with the infamous Oxford Bullingdon Club?
STOPPING THE LOOTERS
As a means of addressing socio-economic deprivation (and even cultural marginalisation), a holistic anti-looting policy would entail going after the practice in its most ‘high-brow’ form. Taking inspiration from certain existing ideas – albeit suggested in relation to street looters – and in a bid to move away from big business greed and towards social need, maybe we could turn things on their head and employ some of the proposed measures to contain those doing the most damage:
- a curfew: countries’ leaders, multinational CEOs, bankers, corporate tax lawyers and dubious MPs alike would be restricted in their movements
- phone data and personal details taken: with ordinary citizens fearing being monitored prior to actually committing a crime, figures of power should be the first to be under surveillance to ensure they do nothing underhand or larcenous
- the army: increased defence spending and militarisation are part of the problem, so in fact it’s probably best to leave the army out of it
- water cannon: to be used when all else fails.
Less flippantly, when it comes to those looting on the streets of the UK, the country needs to focus on the actual social conditions behind why we are seeing rioting. Likewise, we need to dare to imagine alternatives and work towards clamping down on more high-brow forms of looting and the system which fosters it. In a context in which the riots are themselves a product of increased unemployment, dispossession, imprisonment and police harassment, calls for more of the same policy and reaction will simply produce more of the same conditions.
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* Alex Free is assistant editor of Pambazuka News.
* Please send comments to editor[at]pambazuka[dot]org or comment online at Pambazuka News.
 A man in Tottenham commented: ‘Two months ago we marched to Scotland Yard, more than 2,000 of us, all blacks, and it was peaceful and calm and you know what? Not a word in the press. Last night, a bit of rioting and looting and look around you.’: http://pennyred.blogspot.com/2011/08/panic-on-streets-of-london.html
 Tax Justice Network-Africa, 'Tax Us If You Can: Why Africa Should Stand Up for Tax Justice', Pambazuka Press, 2011
 The UK’s contribution to the Libya intervention reportedly amounts to some UK£3 million a day: http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/politics/2011/03/22/the-true-cost-of-david-cameron-s-war-in-libya-115875-23006828/
The British Urban Uprising of 2011
Paul Tiyambe Zeleza
For the past four days and nights British cities from London to Manchester, Birmingham and many other smaller towns have been engulfed by fires of rage. The urban riots have incinerated neighbourhoods and businesses, turned streets into war zones, resulted in hundreds of arrests, and left this declining post-imperial country deeply shaken and searching for answers, for redress, for culprits. Politicians trot the predictable banalities of disconnected leaders, calling the riots, in the words of Prime Minister David Cameron, "criminality, pure and simple". Opinionated pundits compete for explanation and epithets against the protesters and rioters as the bewildered public desperately seek the restoration of order.
As is common in moments of national convulsion, long-standing ideological positions and narratives are often reignited and reinforced. Predictably, rightwing pundits angrily amplify the government's line by condemning the protesters. The Telegraph even refuses to call them "protesters", preferring to label them instead as "looters and vandals and thieves." Beyond the "thugs" and "gangs" themselves, they blame their parents for abdicating family values, discipline and responsibility. They relish in mentioning how young the rioters are. In the words of one of the paper's commentators, "absent father have a lot to answer for." Another believes the police lost control because they "have become so sensitive to the issue of race that it is impairing their ability to do the job"; they care "more about community relations than upholding the law." Multiculturalism is blamed for creating a permissive climate for gang culture to thrive in the black community, a culture "that rejects every tenet of liberal society. It's violent, it's sexist, it's homophobic and it's racist." Talk of the pot calling the kettle black!
For their part, the liberals equivocate as they condemn the violence on the one hand and commiserate with the protesters by pointing out the conditions that created their rage. This prevarication can be seen in The Guardian. In an editorial[/url, the paper was unequivocal: "Britain's 2011 riots have become a defining contest between disorder and order. In that contest, important caveats notwithstanding, there is only one right side to be on. The attacks, the destruction, the criminality and the reign of fear must be stopped.... There can be arguments about wider issues later. Today, in this moment of threat, the necessary position is to stand behind the police." In the meantime, the paper's columnists attribute the riots, variously, to the [url=http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/aug/08/context-london-riots]growth of inequality and implementation of savage austerity measures; the brutality of poverty and explosive psychology of unfulfilled consumer desires among the poor; the culture of entitlement and irresponsibility gone amok among the youth; and the perverse result of communities encouraged to fill in the gaps left by the state.
Also tempting in moments of national insurrections is the search for analogies. The Independent argues Britain has experienced its Katrina moment. As in New Orleans, the levees of social order have burst and the Coalition government looks clueless as did President Bush's Republican Administration beyond threatening more draconian police response. As with Katrina, this has been an agonizing moment for Britain, bringing into sharp view the underclass that is often invisible both to the indifferent state and elite society. "Far too little has been done by successive generations of politicians and public servants to integrate these individuals into normal society. The fuse for this explosion has been burning down for years, perhaps even decades. If any good can emerge from the horrors of recent days it will be that we finally face up to the shame of our excluded underclass."
Some make comparisons closer to home. The case of the 2005 French riots is particularly appealing. Both explosions of urban fury were triggered by police killings of black males in relatively impoverished communities with large minority populations and a long history of police violence, political and economic discrimination and disenfranchisement. The London riots are even scarier, contends one observer, because of their expansive social geography and impact. While the French riots were confined to the banlieues, the outlying suburbs of the beautiful Paris of the elites and tourists, the British riots are "surging right up to the doors of comfortable, middle and upper-middle class homes." This is facilitated by the sprawling nature of London and the mixed socio-economic-ethnic demographics of the city's low-income neighbourhoods.
Another intriguing European comparison is Greece, where the shooting of a teenager in December 2008 sparked widespread protests that rocked Athens for a week and presaged the anti-austerity riots of recent months. An author who has lived through the two sets of riots notes "both happened on the watch of conservative governments that refused to even acknowledge, let alone address, underlying discontents." Needless to say, "urban violence of such intensity cannot be merely pinned down to opportunistic motives.... If England is to learn from urban violence in other European cities, it ought to address the motivations and grievances of those participating in it. If it doesn't, trouble will return with a vengeance and it will hurt more, as it has in Athens."
All these external comparisons shine an important light on the 2011 British insurrection. Even more pertinent is to place the recent widespread riots in the context of British history. Eighteenth and 19th century Britain is littered with riots ignited by political, economic, and social grievances. In the 20th century, race increasingly added its incendiary dynamics to the periodic eruptions of public disaffection and disturbances. The postwar migration of large numbers of people from the Caribbean, Africa, and Asia, who were collectively called "black," ruptured the bonds of Englishness and whiteness, Britishness and Europeaness, and recast the ties and tensions between race and class.
Race and class have always been intertwined in and for imperial Britain, the leading slave trading nation of the 18th century and the leading colonial power of the 19th and 20th centuries. This is merely to point out the continuous circulation of the ideologies of race and class between Britain and its empire, which coloured social relations both in the colonial peripheries and in the metropolitan heartland during the heyday of empire and in its aftermath. In short, Britain has an enduring problem of racial and class inequality and exclusion, out of which riots occasionally explode. In the post-war period, race riots have broken out with predictable frequency: the Notting Hill riots of 1958, the Brixton riots of 1981, the Handsworth and the Broadwater Farm riots of 1985, and the Brixton and Bradford riots of 1995.
The specific contexts for each of these riots of course vary, but the basic text, the structural conditions remain deeply rooted in the class and racial hierarchies and marginalizations of British society sustained by Britain's increasingly feckless political class. In the 2011 riots two contexts particularly matter: First, the decline of economic opportunities, and second, the decay of democracy. Like much of Euroamerica, Britain was devastated by the Great Recession and the economy has been limping since the recession was declared officially over. In its latest estimate, the Bank of England "lowered its UK growth estimate for 2011 to 1.5%, from a previous forecast of about 1.8%, and cut its 2012 forecast to around 2% from 2.5%."
The adoption of a severe austerity program by the Coalition government involving massive cuts to social sectors and services including education threatens turning the lingering recession for the working classes and lower middle classes into a permanent depression. This has resulted in rising levels of unemployment for these classes among who racial minority youths are overrepresented. In large measure, then, the riots represent the marginalized lashing out while their political leaders enjoy foreign holidays from which they ignominiously returned to a country on fire. Clearly, the British riots are more multiracial than were the riots of 1981 or 1985 let alone the 2005 French riots. This makes them potentially more threatening and more difficult for the state to contain with cheap shots against "black hooligans" or the empty promises of multiculturalism.
At heart, this is a broken country led by a bankrupt political class, notwithstanding Prime Minister Cameron's cheap rhetoric of "Big Society" or the quaint theatrics of royal weddings. The state and its police functionaries are widely discredited. The ability of the political class to manage the economy to the benefit of the many rather than the few was severely damaged by the Great Recession and evaporated with the brutal austerity regime. In the meantime, politicians, police, and the press have been brought into disrepute by the hacking scandal involving the Murdoch media empire. The emperors of the British political class have never appeared more naked.
Many ordinary people are not impressed, least of all the marginalized minorities and the underpaid and underemployed workers. Some openly wonder why their looting is worse than that of the elites. To quote one writer, “While bankers have publicly looted the country's wealth and got away with it, it's not hard to see why those who are locked out of the gravy train might think they were entitled to help themselves to a mobile phone. Some of the rioters make the connection explicitly. "The politicians say that we loot and rob, they are the original gangsters," one told a reporter.”
In the poignant words of one commentator, "London's rioters are the products of a crumbling nation, and an indifferent political class that has turned its back on them." The scale of the social disaster is staggering. "In the bubble of the 1920s, the top 5 per cent of earners creamed off one-third of personal income. Today, Britain is less equal, in wages, wealth and life chances, than at any time since then. Last year alone, the combined fortunes of the 1,000 richest people in Britain rose by 30 per cent to £333.5 billion." The author laments "successive British governments have colluded in incubating the poverty, the inequality and the inhumanity now exacerbated by financial turmoil" and warns, "Watch the juvenile wrecking crews on the city streets and weep for all our futures. The ‘lost generation' is mustering for war."
The second context is the decay of British democracy, the destabilization or demobilization of popular participation at the local level and the centralization of power as manifested by the growth of electronic surveillance for the population as a whole and police surveillance against marginalized groups. As a veteran journalist puts it, "Outsiders witnessing the urban riots this week could be forgiven for assuming that Britain's cities were now run by the police and the home secretary. There may be municipal councils and in London an elected mayor, but they are nowhere to be seen to be in control. They have no real power and therefore little or no public status as civic leaders. At the front line are the police, and behind them only the central power of the state.... There is no substitute for proper, open, responsive democracy at any tier of government."
The growth of electronic surveillance was bolstered by the terrorist attacks of July 7, 2005. During a visit to Oxford and London three weeks ago, I was astonished at how pervasive electronic surveillance has become in the country. In 2009, the conservative tabloid, The Daily Mail, expressed shock, "Big Brother Britain has more CCTV cameras than China." It reported, "There are 4.2million closed circuit TV cameras here, one per every 14 people. But in police state China, which has a population of 1.3billion, there are just 2.75million cameras, the equivalent of one for every 472,000 of its citizens."
As has happened in the United States, the anti-terrorism measures adopted by the British government threatened to erode domestic freedoms. The main culprits of the surveillance state were the poor and racial minorities. Dealings between the police and these communities particularly the youth became more intrusive and repressive. So glaring is racial profiling that “Black people are 26 times more likely than white people to be stopped and searched by police in England and Wales” (compare to only 50 black professors out of 14,000 in British universities). Thus, the lessons of the riots of the 1980s and 1990s were lost in the madness of anti-terror surveillance and the centralization of state power.
The combination of economic austerity and police brutality has proven a combustible mix that has stoked the fires of rage in British cities and shaken the country. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to predict that the riots will periodically recur if this fundamentally unequal and racist society is not transformed. In the aftermath of this uprising, Britain's austerity model has lost its glow and may now serve as a warning to the limits of popular patience against the savage ravages of neo-liberalism that brought the Great Recession and has been desperately trying to arise from its ashes.
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* This article first appeared on The Zeleza Post.
* Please send comments to editor[at]pambazuka[dot]org or comment online at Pambazuka News.
The struggle to convert nationalism to Pan-Africanism
Taking stock of 50 years of African independence
The post-Vasco da Gama epoch of some five centuries, as Pannikar calls it, is a story of the 'West and the Rest'. The West constructed its own story and the story of the Rest. It is a story of plunder, privation, invasion and destruction; it is a story of permanent wars and passing peace. It is a story of the annihilation of pre-European civilisations from the Incas of the Americas, so called after the European explorer Amerigo Vespucci, to the Swahili civilisation of the Eastern coast of Africa. The title of a book describing the Spanish conquest of Mexico, the near-extermination of the Tasmanian Aborigines by the British, the white American dispossession of the Apache, and the German subjugation of the Herero and Nama of Namibia sums it all: ‘Rivers of Blood, Rivers of Gold’ (Cocker 1999).
The tale of treasures at one end and tragedies at the other cannot be understood, I suggest, without locating it in the trajectory of worldwide capitalist accumulation. No doubt it is a complex story of construction and destruction of cultures and customs; a story of the exercise of brutal power and subtle politics; a story of spinning of epic mythologies and grand ideologies. No doubt it cannot be reduced mechanically to the capitalist mode of production nor explained in a vulgar way by theories of conspiracy or processes of economics. I am suggesting none of these. Yet in this complexity and variability, in these major shifts and changing continuities – all of which we as scholars must study and have been studying – there is a pattern. There is a red thread running through it. That red thread is the process of capitalist accumulation seen in a longue durée. While we must, by all means, resist linear trajectories essentialising the march of progress of the so-called Western civilisation, including the stagiest periodisation of vulgar Marxists, we cannot surrender to agnosticism or eclecticism – that the world is not knowable and explainable, however approximately.
A HISTORY OF ACCUMULATION
It is in the context of the trajectory of capitalist accumulation that I want to locate the genesis of the grand narrative of nationalism and Pan-Africanism. To facilitate my presentation, I would resort to some periodisation of the process of accumulation. As we all know, all periodisation has its hazards – processes overlap and intermingle; the new is born in the garbs of the old and takes time before it is recognised as such, while the old persists beyond its usefulness. Keeping that in mind, I would categorise the first four centuries (roughly from the last quarter of the 15th century to the first quarter of the 19th century) of the African encounter with Europe as the period of primitive accumulation, or, to use the more recent and generic term, accumulation by appropriation. (It should become clear later why this term is preferable). Within this period we have two sub-periods – the period of looting of treasures, sometimes directly, sometimes indirectly, under the name of trade, based on unequal, rather than mutual exchange. This is the period of European powers pursuing their singular mission of destroying the pre-European long distance trade – the trans-Sahara trade on the West Coast and the Indian Ocean trade on the East Coast of Africa – in order to establish their mercantile and maritime hegemony. The pre-European trade systems, both on the West and the East Coasts, were governed by Islamic precepts. The gold trade passed through Timbuktu on the West and through Kilwa on the East, both of which became centers of great Islamic civilisation and learning. Timbuktu and Kilwa were brutally destroyed by Portuguese privateers. The expeditions had specific instructions to Christianise the ‘natives’ and eliminate Muslim traders.
As the Portuguese privateers were devastating the African coast in the last quarter of the 15th century, so Spanish conquerors were discovering the ‘New World’. Vasco da Gama laid the foundation of the European invasion of Africa. Christopher Columbus inaugurated the extermination of the indigenous populations of the Americas and the Caribbean – the first genocide and holocaust in the history of humankind. One led to the white hegemony, the other to white settlement. From then on, the fate of the three continents was inextricably linked and found its immediate expression in the triangular slave trade.
The second sub-period of some three centuries (from 16th to 19th centuries) witnesses the gruesome Atlantic slave trade, the so-called triangular trade. Half of the slaves were transported to the ‘new world’ in the 18th century. Millions – 50 million one estimate says (Zinn 2001:29) – of men, women and children torn from their continent worked the sugar plantations of the Caribbean and cotton plantations of the southern states of America to provide the raw material for Lancashire mills, the pioneer of the industrial revolution. The African continent was looted of its treasures in the first sub-period, which also ruined its established mercantile routes; in the second sub-period the continent was looted of its people, devastating its social fabric and robbing it of its most important resource. This was accumulation by appropriation par excellence – accumulating by appropriating wealth in the first instance and accumulating by appropriating people in the second.
Meanwhile, on the European stage, capitalism is bursting its containers (to use Prem Shaker Jha's term, Jha 2006:17)) and re-constructing them. Jha argues that in its 700 years of development, capitalism has gone through three cycles of accumulation. At the beginning of each cycle it has expanded the size of its container – from the maritime city-states of Venice, Genoa, Florence, Milan, and Amsterdam, to nation states of England, Holland, and France. The quintessential of the second cycle was from the nation state to the colonising state as European powers colonised much of the rest of the world. The third was from the Island territory of the small nation state, Britain, to the continental nation state of North America. Now, in the era of globalisation, on the eve of the fourth cycle, it is poised to burst the very system of hierarchically organised nation states. Whatever the merit of this thesis, for our purposes two points can be made – one, that the capitalist container was never self-contained. Arteries penetrating deep into the wealth and treasures of other continents fed the process of capital accumulation in the heart of Europe. Africa was the theatre of the most devastating kinds of appropriation.
Second, the ideologies, religions, cultures and customs constructed to rationalise, legitimise and explain the processes of accumulation were centrally premised on the construction of race, in which 'the Self' was White and 'the Other' Black, the two also being the referents for the in-betweens. Geography itself was constructed as such – Europe being the land of the White and Africa being the land of the Black. The racist construct found its typical expression in the Other, Slave – a soulless, depersonalised and dehumanised object. For planters and slavers, 'The Negroes are unjust, cruel barbarous, half-human, treacherous, deceitful, thieves, drunkards, proud, lazy, unclean, shameless, jealous to fury, and cowards.' (James 1938, 1989:) The Supreme Court of the civilised United States decided in 1857 that 'Dred Scott could not sue for his freedom because he was not a person, but property' (Zinn op.cit. 187). Fathers, bishops, learned priests and men of conscience found no fault in trading in and owning of slaves. ' ... we ... buy these slaves for our service without a scruple ...' , declared men of religion with conscience (ibid. 29-30). The bottom line was the enormous profits made from the slave trade and colossal surplus extracted from slave labour. James Madison, one of the 'fathers' of the American constitution, could boast to a British visitor that he could make 2,000 per cent profit from a single slave in a year (ibid. 33). Thus were constructed the universal ideologies, the grand narratives and the totalising outlooks of the Western civilisation, which we are living to this day.
Towards the end of the 18th and the first half of the 19th centuries, capitalism entered the throes of the industrial revolution (1780-1840 by Hobsbawm's reckoning, Hobsbawm 1968). It was also the period of primitive accumulation within the container. Indeed the original meaning of primitive accumulation was confined to the process of appropriation of serfs and peasants from land to work in factories. Marx called it the 'pre-historic stage of capital' (1887: 668). He theorised the capitalist system as if it was self-contained. 'Accumulate, accumulate! That is the Moses and the prophets!' (ibid. 558), he argued, was the driving force of capitalism. By dissecting the appearances of the commodity society, Marx showed how surplus is appropriated from the working class and accumulated to make more surplus even when on the face of it, the exchange appears to be mutual and equivalent in which no one is cheated or short changed. (And if cheating does happen in practice it is only a deviation from the norm.) Accumulation based on equal exchange is what we call accumulation by capitalisation. The notion of equivalent exchange forms the bedrock of bourgeois legal ideology and philosophical outlook. The edifice of the Western legal system is constructed on atomised individuals bearing equal rights (Pashukanis 1924, 1978). Atomist individuals of bourgeois society as carriers of commodity relations are all equal. This is also the basis of citizenship where to be a citizen means to have equal claims and entitlements, as against each other and in relation to the state.
Later day Marxists beginning with Rosa Luxembourg questioned the theorisation of capitalist accumulation based on the assumption of a self-contained system. They argued that the so-called primitive accumulation was not simply the pre-history of capital but an inherent part of its history. The capitalist centre always requires a non-capitalist periphery to appropriate from, which translates into invasions of non-capitalist spaces. Capital not only comes into the world 'dripping from head to foot, from every pore, with blood and dirt' (Marx op.cit. 712) but also throughout its life continues to drain the blood of the 'Other' interspersed by auguries of bloodshed called wars. Capitalism by nature is predatory and militarist. Lenin from a different point of departure argued that in the last quarter of the 19th century, capitalism had become imperialist as monopoly finance capital sought new spaces of profitable investment (Lenin 1917). With the Berlin conference of 1885, rapacious capitalist powers carved up the African continent and appropriated them as their exclusive possessions thus heralding another 75 or so years of colonialism. The racist ideology of the White Self (master) and the Black Other (slave) came in handy in the creation of colonies. It was reinforced in religion and anthropology and literature as droves of missionaries preceded and anthropologists followed armed soldiers, to pacify the soulless, indolent 'native'. The Self was now the White colonist and the Other was the 'native'. The 'colour line' thus constructed had its own internal logic and drive – it determined the very life-conditions of the colonist/settler and the 'native'. The settler's town, as Fanon said, is a 'strongly-built', 'brightly-lit' 'well-fed' town. It is a town of 'White people, the foreigners'. The native town is 'a place of ill fame, peopled by men of evil repute.'
They are born there, it matters little where or how; they die there, it matters not where, nor how. It is a world without spaciousness; men live there on top of each other, and their huts are built one on top of the other. The native town is a hungry town, starved of bread, of meat, of shoes, of coal, of light. ... It is a town of niggers, and dirty arabs.' (Fanon 1963, 1967: 30)
The racist construct of the slave period, assisted by colonial intellectuals, was extended and reconstructed. Differences of custom and cultures among the 'natives' became immutable divisions called 'tribes' (Magubane). Tribes were conveniently divided and separated in their ghettoes, lest, as the colonial paternalism averred, they kill each other given their violent propensity. The separation was thus in the interest of the natives to maintain law and order, meaning to rule. ('Divide et impera' - divide and rule.) Institutions of indirect political rule and colonially constructed regimes of customary law were created. Colonial identities of race and tribe were formed, and to the extent that they were internalised, self-identification and perception followed suit.
The dual tendency of accumulation continued to operate – accumulation by capitalisation being dominant in the metropole and accumulation by appropriation being dominant and pervasive in the colony. To be sure, it manifested in new forms, through new political, economic, cultural and social institutions. Politics and cultures were reconstructed, so were customs and ideologies. A lot changed. Capitalism of 1942 was not the same as the capitalism of 1492 nor is that of 2000s the same as that of 1900s. Yet in these sea changes the heart of the system lay where it had always lain – in accumulation. New forms of primitive accumulation were devised. Minerals were mined with migrant labour; plantations cultivated by bachelor labour. Women were turned into peasant cultivators. Children’s hands were deployed to weed and harvest. None was paid the equivalent of his or her subsistence as the laws of commodity exchange prescribe. Bachelor wages were paid in cash and kind. The cash was just enough to pay the poll tax, buy cigarettes and the local brew. The other component was food ration. The colonial capitalist rationed every ounce of mealie meal and every grain of bean just to keep the body of the migrant labourer alive, but not his family. (That was the woman's responsibility.) Rations were meticulously calculated on the basis of expert opinion on the needs of the native's morphology. Prison and forced labour, with no wages, constructed the arteries of colonial infrastructure to transport raw materials and food – cotton, coffee, rubber, tea – to the coast and thence to the metropole to satisfy the voracious appetite of the master's industries and the luxurious tastes of its aristocracy and the middle classes. More often than not prisoners were those who had failed to pay poll tax or wife tax. Flat rate tax was levied on every adult native above the apparent age of 18. He had to pay tax on each of his "apparent" wives.  In addition to flushing out the self-sufficient producer from land to work on plantations and mines to get cash for tax, taxation raised the revenue to run the colonial machinery of administration and repression.
Political economists of the West, who are wont to theorise for the Rest, argued interminably on theories of unequal exchange and uncaptured peasantry to explain colonially created poverty and underdevelopment. Few would see that cutting into the necessary consumption of the 'native' crippled the conditions of human existence and its reproduction, resulting in chronic undernourishment, high infant mortality, deprivation and disease. It was nothing short of primitive accumulation of the most primitive kind, which even Marx did not foresee. Instead he thought that the march of capitalism would bring the backward and tradition bound natives into the fold of civilisation by integrating them into capitalism. Thence, they would benefit from the proletarian revolution, which would usher humanity to the next stage of civilisation, socialism. His twentieth century followers even postulated imperialism as the pioneer of capitalism and therefore progress (Warren 1980).
To be sure, colonial capital by the very nature of capital did introduce commodity relations thus planting the seeds of accumulation by capitalisation. The post-independence development theorists, again of course of the West, considered these pockets of capitalist relations the driver of modernisation. It required a few and minority scholars of the Rest to theorise on the development of underdevelopment, the relationship between two tendencies of capitalist accumulation and its contradictions. The modern was neither modern, they said, nor the traditional backward; rather both were part of the capitalist whole in a symbiotic relation which ensured the drainage of wealth and surplus from the continent to be capitalised in the West. In short then, accumulation by appropriation dominated colonial capitalism under the hegemony of imperialism. If it produced indigenous capitalists, they were compradorial or semi-feudal in alliance with, and under the shadow of imperial bourgeoisies.
We don't have to be told that wherever there is oppression there is bound to be resistance (Mao). As CLR James says, 'one does not need education or encouragement to cherish a dream of freedom.' (James op. cit. 18). As happens so often in history, ideologies of resistance are constructed from the elements borrowed from the ideologies of domination.
THE ROOTS OF PAN-AFRICANISM
Pan-Africanism was such an ideology of resistance born in the throes of imperialism. Just as the dominant racist construct went back centuries to the slave trade, so did the resistance. For two hundred years the slaves in Haiti, originally named Hispaniola by Columbus, sang their freedom song (James op. cit. 18):
‘Eh! Eh! Heu! Heu!
Canga, bafio té!
Canga, mouné de lé!
Canga, do ki la!
‘We swear to destroy the whites,
and all that they possess;
let us die
rather than fail to keep our vow’.
This was the pre-history of one strand of Pan-Africanism, racial nationalism. The pre-history of the other strand, territorial nationalism, found expression in the Haitian revolution of 1791. None of it at the time, of course, was called by that name. If I may jump the gun, the Haitian revolution was in advance of its times. It was the forerunner of both the logical conclusion of territorial nationalism and citizenship, and their crisis under imperialism, all of which we see in post-independence African states.
The racial construct in the Haitian freedom song is palpable. It could not be otherwise. On the launching of his 1903 book ‘The Souls of the Black Folk’, W.E.B. Du Bois said that the 'problem of the Twentieth Century is the problem of the color line'. Pan-Africanism was born at the turn of the century as a racial, anti-racist ideology. Its founders came from the West Indies, the confluence of the slave trade, from where slaves were transported to the Americas. It is in the so-called 'New World' of North America that the White supremacist ideology found expression in its most brutal and dehumanising forms. It is also here that the roots of Pan-Africanism are to be traced. Two names stand out, Du Bois and Marcus Garvey. Du Bois' father and grandfather came from the West Indies. Garvey came from Jamaica. The two men stood in contrast, in their conception and methods. They represented – between them and within them – the two poles of nationalism within Pan-Africanism; one defined by race and culture, the other by geography. Garvey opposed accommodation within the White structures and spearheaded 'back-to-Africa movement'. He thus stood for a territorial home. Du Bois demanded equal racial treatment within the US. He thus stood for equal treatment or citizenship. Needless to say, both positions were a political construct, even if they did not present themselves as such. Paradoxically, but understandably, the boundaries of both were set by the dominant political and social constructs – White supremacy in one case, colonially carved borders in the other.
In his 93 years, Du Bois lived through and embodied the 60 odd years of the evolution of Pan-Africanist ideology and movement. Between the wars, Du Bois' Pan-Africanist congresses were essentially small gatherings of African-Americans and African-Caribbean with a sprinkling of Africans from French colonies. Demands centered on racial equality, equal treatment and accommodation in existing structures. To the extent that colonialism and imperialist oppression itself was ideologised in terms of White supremacy, the anti-racist, racial constructs and demands of pan-Africanists were anti-imperialist. It is important to keep this dimension of Pan-Africanism in mind – that in its genesis and evolution the ideology and movement was primarily political and essentially anti-imperialist. No doubt, it drew upon the victim's cultural resources as the Negritude construct originally developed by the West Indian Aimé Césaire clearly demonstrates.
The turning point was the 1945 Fifth Congress at Manchester. The moving spirits behind that Congress were George Padmore and Kwame Nkrumah. The demand was unambiguous – Africa for Africans, liberation from colonialism. It ushered in the national liberation movement. Pan-Africanism thus gave birth to nationalism. The main question was: Would this be territorial nationalism premised on separate colonially created borders or Pan-Africanist nationalism; which in turn gave rise to two sets of sub-questions. If territorial, what would be the boundaries of inclusion/exclusion, race or citizenship? And if Pan-Africanist: would it be global including the African Diaspora or continental excluding the Diaspora? Even if continental, would it be racial/cultural including only Black Africans while excluding Arabs? These became hot issues of debates and contentions a few years before and a few years after the independence of African countries. In one sense, the bifurcation between racial and territorial nationalism symbolised by Du Bois and Marcus Garvey between the wars seemed to re-appear. But the context had changed. There were two new factors, independence on the African continent and the Caribbean, and the civil rights movement in the US. One introduced state sovereignty in the territorial equation, the other citizenship in the global equation, both setting apparently ‘new’ boundaries of exclusion/inclusion, identity and belonging. In a nutshell, the triangular contestation between citizenship, racialism and territorial nationalism defined the parameters of the pan-Africanist discourse. But at this stage we must return to the trajectory of capitalist accumulation and explore it in the post-independence period in Africa, for that matter even globally.
CAPITALIST ACCUMULATION AND POST-INDEPENDENCE AFRICA
Independence of Ghana in 1957 was an earthshaking event. CLR James described Ghana's independence as a revolution. For a people who had been humiliated for five centuries, independence was indeed a revolution. For Nkrumah, though, independence of Ghana was incomplete without the liberation of the whole continent and the liberation was incomplete without the unity of the continent. These two became his passion. With the advice and help of George Padmore, Nkrumah set in motion two sets of conferences – the conference of African independent states – eight in all at the time, and All Africa People's Conferences, a meeting of national liberation movements, trade unions and other leaders. The resolutions of these two conferences are a forerunner of the ‘new’ bifurcation of the Pan-Africanist ideology – the statist Pan-Africanism and its concomitant state-based nationalism and people's Pan-Africanism based on solidarity and African identity. Statist Pan-Africanism culminated in the formation of the Organisation of African Unity (O.A.U.) underpinned by the discourse on the unity of African States while 'All-Africa-People's' Pan-Africanism was increasingly eclipsed by territorial nationalism. Each one of these, in its own way, reproduced the triangular tension between racialism, nationalism and citizenship. The tension between the two was well described by a leading Pan-Africanist, Julius Nyerere, as the dilemma of the Pan-Africanist (Nyerere 1966, 1968). When Nyerere was writing in 1966, there were 36 independent African states. Each of these was involved in the consolidation and development of its nation state. 'Can the vision of Pan-Africanism survive these realities? Can African unity be built on this foundation of existing and growing nationalism?' Nyerere agonised. His answer was unambiguous:
‘I do not believe the answer is easy. Indeed I believe that a real dilemma faces the Pan-Africanist. On the one hand is the fact that Pan-Africanism demands an African consciousness and an African loyalty; on the other hand is the fact that each Pan-Africanist must also concern himself with the freedom and development of one of the nations of Africa. These things can conflict. Let us be honest and admit that they have already conflicted.’ (ibid. 208)
They more than conflicted. The vision of Pan-Africanism was buried in the statist discourse of African unity and regional integration/disintegration. More astute nationalists like Nyerere defined the two-fold task of the independent government as nation-building and development. In absence of a local bourgeois class worth the name, the agency to build the nation and bring about development would be the state. Meanwhile, imperialism continued to cast its long shadow and at times more than a shadow. Assassinations and coups engineered by one or other imperialist power became the order of the day. Patrice Lumumba was brutally murdered and Kwame Nkrumah was overthrown by the machinations of the CIA. Survival became Nyerere's pre-occupation.
NATIONALISM AND NEOLIBERALISM
Half a century of independent Africa neatly divides into two halves, the first twenty-five years of nationalism and the second of neoliberalism. Underlying the ideologies of development and nation building, of identities and politics, from Nyerere's Socialism and Self-reliance to Senghor's Negritude, lay the contention between accumulation by capitalization and accumulation by appropriation. Programmes and policies undertaken in the nationalist period, whether under the ideology of modernisation or socialism (essentially a variant of state capitalism), were meant to bolster the tendency for accumulation by capitalisation. But under the hegemony of imperialism, accumulation by appropriation continued to assert and reassert itself. Using local state or private merchant capital as the intermediary, and trade, aid and debt as the means, natural resources were rapaciously exploited and working people cajoled or coerced into yielding surpluses that inevitably found their way into the capital circuits of imperialist centers. Just as looting, plundering, and the triangular slave trade of the previous centuries, called primitive accumulation, had primed the wheels of the industrial revolution, so the appropriation of resources and surpluses of the working people of Africa fuelled the Golden Age of Capitalism (1945-1971). Nationalist attempts to construct a self-reliant economy and inaugurate what Samir Amin calls ‘autocentric development’ were sternly opposed or accommodated and absorbed in the imperialist system.
Nonetheless, imperialism during the nationalist period was morally and ideologically on the defensive. Educated in the theories of the master and borrowing from the cultures and history of the coloniser, African nationalists attempted to reconstruct their identities and polities in the idiom of nationalism, sovereignty, self-determination and citizenship, the philosophical underpinning of which, as we have seen, is the notion of the atomist individual with equal rights. It was a valiant struggle but it was ultimately defeated, as the onslaught of neo-liberalism amply proved. The nationalist, labelled 'ethnic' by the West, either failed or lacked the means and the historical time and opportunity to master the driving force of the construction of the 'Self' of the West – accumulation. Accumulation by capitalisation required a relatively autonomous economic space to operate and political self-determination to master.
In other words, paraphrasing Cabral, national liberation meant people reclaiming their right to make their own history whose objective was 'to reclaim the right, usurped by imperialist domination' of liberating 'the process of development of national productive forces'. This called for nothing less than a structural reconstruction of the economy and reorganisation of the state. None could be successfully done under the Western capitalist domination of the economy and the political hegemony of imperialist ideologies and policies transmitted by local proto-bourgeoisies, so well caricatured by Fanon. The few who attempted were assassinated, overthrown or forcibly removed. The rest had to accommodate and compromise to survive.
The problem was that the ideology of resistance and anti-hegemony - and their institutions of operationalisation - was constructed drawing on the intellectual and cultural resources of the dominant and dominating West. African nationalists failed to construct alternative ideologies and institutions. In the course of the struggle, again, a few tried but they were nipped in the bud in the nick of time. Amilcar Cabral postulated that 'there are only two possible paths for an independent nation: to return to imperialist domination (neo-colonialism, capitalism, state capitalism), or to take the way of socialism.' (Cabral 1966, 1969: 87). He did not live to see either the independence of his country or practice his position. Agents of Portuguese colonialism assassinated him as his country was approaching independence.
Chris Hani who envisaged a new democratic and socialist South Africa was killed on the eve of the transfer of power. Steve Biko who redefined Black as a positive identity of the oppressed beyond the colour line, was tortured to death by the henchmen of apartheid. John Garang who postulated a united New Sudan beyond colour, cultural and linguistic lines infuriated racial and secessionist elements both in the North and the South and their imperialist backers. We are told he was killed in a helicopter crash. The truth lies buried somewhere in the debris.
The nationalist project was thus defeated and its building blocks shattered. The neoliberal attack was foremost an ideological attack on radical nationalism. Imperialism went on the offensive – economically, culturally, politically and intellectually. Within a period of two decades, Africa has undergone three generations of structural adjustment programmes in an orgy of liberalisation, marketisation, privatisation, commodification and financialisation. Pockets of capitalist development based on accumulation by capitalisation have been destroyed as country after country in Africa has been deindustrialised.
The few achievements of social services in education, health, water, old age pensions and other public services are commodified under such policies as cost sharing and outsourcing. Fiscal instruments and institutions of policy making, like central banks, have been made autonomous and commercial banks privatised away from the public scrutiny of elected bodies. They make policies on the basis of prescriptions handed down by International Financial Institutions and donors. Policies are thrust down the throats of politicians and parliamentarians using the carrot of loans, aid and budget support whose withdrawal acts as the veritable stick.
Meanwhile, voracious imperialist capitals backed by their states and the so-called ‘donor-community’ is grabbing land, minerals, water, flora and fauna. I need not go into details because a few African scholars have amply documented these facts – I say few, because many have succumbed to consultancies in the service of ‘development partners’.
Let me sum up by saying that the tension of the nationalist period between accumulation by capitalisation and accumulation by appropriation has been resolved in favour of the neoliberal primitive accumulation. To be sure, there are new forms in which the process of expropriation is constituted and manifested but the essence remains. The projected identity of the 'Self' in the West is that of a benefactor, humanitarian, investor, advisor, entrepreneur and donor while the 'Other' is the poor and helpless victim of the corrupt, unaccountable ethnic ruler. No doubt, capitalism at the centre is not the same either.
Prem Shankar Jha argues that capitalism is on the verge of bursting its nation-state container and is going global in the process wreaking havoc and destruction on a global scale. One does not have to accept Jha's thesis to agree with him that the destruction is real and palpable, whose implications are felt not only in Africa but also in the West. Yet Africa suffers the most. There have been more wars after the end of the so-called Cold War than during its existence. Most of these have been fought on the African continent. Within a period of two decades, four countries have been destroyed and the fifth about to be devastated. Two of these are on the African continent. The continent is being militarised as American imperialism spreads its tentacles through the AFRICOM and seeks more and more naval bases on the Indian Ocean rim.
THE FAILURE OF THE NATIONAL PROJECT
The continent is in crisis as is the capitalist-imperialist system constructed by the West over the last five centuries. Some have argued that the fall of Lehman Brothers and the financial crisis following it, marks the beginning of the end of capitalism as we know it. Others are taking the position that the centre of gravity and hegemony is shifting from the West to the East; that capitalism is poised to reconstitute itself in new centers. The debate rages on. Most, at least most African scholars, agree that the national project in Africa has failed and national liberation has been aborted. Some locate the failure of the national project in the crisis of citizenship; others in the failure to liberate the continent from the clutches of imperialism. In my view, the two are connected. Underlying the crisis of citizenship is the failure to master the process of accumulation by capitalisation, which in turn is due to imperialist domination in alliance with local comprador classes.
Whatever be the case, African scholars, intellectuals and activists have been compelled to re-visit the Pan-Africanist project. Some of the old debates on racial and territorial nationalisms are re-appearing. Who is an African for the purposes of Pan-Africanism? And, therefore, who constitutes the nation for purposes of national liberation? For Kwesi Prah, Bankie Bankie, Chiweizu and others, 'African' is defined by colour, culture and custom. For Archie Mafeje, Steve Biko Walter Rodney, Tajudeen Abdel Rahman and others, African or Black is not a function of colour, race, biology or morphology but a social and political construct, which ought to be historicized.
Mafeje affirms, '...Africanity could not possibly mean the same thing to succeeding generations of African intellectuals'. And the fact that the first and second generation of Pan-Africanists may have borrowed from racial and cultural categories to deal with the problematique of white racism in a colonial setting 'does not commit later generations of Pan-Africanists to the same conflation between race/colour and culture.' In the view of many African scholars, intellectuals and activists, we need to revisit and re-construct the Pan-African project to address the unfinished task of national liberation from imperialism and take us beyond to the emancipation of the working people of Africa from the hegemony of capitalism. In doing so, we would of course borrow from the intellectual and cultural resources of humankind as well as the experiences of the struggles of the people of the continent. In constructing a ‘new Pan-Africanism’ which would go beyond colour and national lines, we need fundamental paradigmatic shifts. The African intellectual community is deeply involved in these debates and I need not go into details. Suffice it to say that the insurrection of Pan-Africanist ideas has begun, hesitatingly but definitely.
I have given the story of Pan-Africanism as a grand narrative of nationalism and national liberation. I have shown its internal contradictions and movements. I have tried to locate my narrative in the trajectory of capitalist accumulation and imperialist domination, without, hopefully, making it mechanist and deductive. And I have called for a reconstruction of a new Pan-Africanist grand narrative to face the unfinished tasks of national liberation and move forward to the tasks of social emancipation. Throughout the history of humankind, masses have been moved by the grand narrative of liberty, freedom, justice and emancipation to bring about change – sometimes revolutionary changes, at other times not so revolutionary. Humanity stands at a cross-roads. It is crying out for fundamental change. We need an alternative utopia to live by and fight for if we are not to be consumed by the death and destruction wrought by the barbaric system of the last five centuries. The worst of that barbarism has been felt and continues to be endured in Africa. In a reconstructed Pan-Africanism, Africa is calling all 'at the rendezvous of victory ...' . With Aimé Césaire we can all sing:
‘(and) no race possesses the monopoly of beauty,
of intelligence, of force, and there
is a place for all at the rendezvous
of victory ....’
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* Issa Shivji is Mwalimu Nyerere University Professor of Pan-African Studies at the University of Dar es Salaam, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.
* This article formed Shivji’s keynote address to the 4th European Conference on African Studies, Uppsala June 15 to 18, 2011.
* Please send comments to editor[at]pambazuka[dot]org or comment online at Pambazuka News.
 The sub-title of Niall Ferguson's book, Civilization (2011). The book itself is an excellent example of how a right-wing Western historian tells the story of the "west and the rest'.
 Here I am slightly modifying Jha's thesis.
 ‘Apparent’ because in different circumstances (for example, when applying the rule that a spouse is not a compellable witness against a fellow spouse) ‘native’ wives wedded under ‘native’ law were not recognised by colonial courts as wives while for the purposes of tax any one who appeared to be a 'wife' was so recognised.
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Cape Verde’s elections: Most competitive ever
Cape Verde is currently undergoing its sixth presidential campaign since 1991, the year when multi-partyism and the possibility of competitive elections were first established. In the five previous elections, only two candidates – backed by the two largest political parties in the PAICV (Partido Africano da Independência de Cabo Verde) and the MPD (Movimento para a Democracia) – presented themselves. In a similar vein, up to now each elected president has completed two terms, as fixed by the country’s constitution.
Four candidates are competing with one another in the 2011 presidential elections, with two candidates backed by the two main parties, one with the backing of a third political force with parliamentary representation in the UCID (União Cabo-Verdiana Independente e Democrática), and another ‘dissident’ from the PAICV with no party support.
The PAICV candidate is Manuel Inocêncio Sousa, a former minister of foreign businesses, infrastructure and transport in the two previous governments led by Prime Minister José Maria Neves. Jorge Carlos Fonseca, a former minister of foreign business from the first government led by Carlos Veiga in the 1990s, has the backing of the MPD. Aristides Raimundo Lima, the former president of the country’s parliament in the previous two governments, can be considered a ‘rebel’ PAICV candidate supported by the UCID. Lastly there is Joaquim Jaime Monteiro, a former militant of the PAIGC (Partido Africano da Independência da Guiné e Cabo Verde), the only candidate without backing from the main political parties.
If the surveys sponsored by the various candidates are to be believed, there is a significant possibility that for the first time there will be a run-off between the two candidates with the highest number of votes in the 7 August election. What is certain is that on 21 August Cape Verdeans will be choosing the next lodger of the Plateau presidential palace.
If the choice of Jorge Carlos Fonseca proved relatively calm within the MPD (despite the calls from Amílcar Spencer Lopes for the party’s support and others behind him, including the jurisdictional council), there have nevertheless been question marks around the legality of the process behind the support for the PAICV’s official candidates, giving rise to wounds that will be hard to heal.
INTERNAL POLITICAL IMPACTS WITHIN THE PAICV
Indeed, choosing an official PAICV candidate proved particularly tense. For a party that had recently won the parliamentary election (securing its third mandate), this campaign showed that the consequences of the presidential election will be significant – no matter what the outcome.
In truth, within the ideological spectre of the PAICV – social democracy – two candidates are in the running – Manuel Inocêncio Sousa, supported both formally and officially by the PAICV, and Aristides Raimundo Lima, officially backed by the UCID and certain important figures within the PAICV, along with almost all the previous ‘combatentes’ and by those close to the outgoing president, Pedro Pires.
Over the course of the campaign there have been an increasing number of speeches and heated debates, with insinuations about the party’s political life pointing to the beginning of an internal split within the PAICV. The current prime minister and president of the PAICV José Maria Neves has confirmed that following the elections he will be convening an extraordinary congress for the purpose of clarifying the question of the party’s leadership. At an internal level within the PAICV, this situation is one of ‘apparent’ anticipation of a leadership contest once the current president declares, in the wake of February’s parliamentary elections in the coming year, that he will step down as leader after 2015. Accordingly, one possible reading is to emphasise the existing traditional ‘political leanings’ of the internal group towards opposing the current leader (with its most visible face in the shape of the former president of the Praia municipal chamber and current minister of social development and families, Felisberto Vieira). Equally, there is also the idea that the current president and those close to him want to create a sort of chess match that would prove favourable to him halfway through 2014. With such a chessboard at play, ensuring that the president of the country is somebody close to the group will constitute a fundamental strategy for challenging the power of Prime Minister José Maria Neves, who was himself able to place somebody close to him as president of parliament in the first round, the MP Basílio Ramos.
Elsewhere on this chessboard, a focus on the candidacy of Aristides Lima would be the most appropriate, once the former president of parliament belongs to the same ‘political leanings’ of the other opposition figures within the current leadership, with years of building his image as a presidential candidate. Furthermore, some observers are saying that the parliament’s management strategy is one of keeping itself at an equal distance from the government, having at times taken decisions which go against the government and the parliamentary group which supports it.
Yet it happens that in the second round the group lost again, sparking infighting within the PAICV around which candidate to offer formal backing to. The national management of the PAICV opted, on the strength of the bulk of its members, to support the candidacy of the former minister of state and infrastructure, Manuel Inocêncio Sousa, also considered close to the current prime minister.
It is in this context that Aristides Lima built his candidacy in defiance of the PAICV’s organs and by counting on the support of past and present party leaders, as well as on that of prominent figures within civil society. This has therefore led to an important political schism that, for the first time, could push the verdict in the presidential elections to a second round between the two candidates with the most votes.
With a second round, the biggest question now is which two candidates will be battling each other in the final contest. For Aristides Lima – who for the first time in the past few days was asking voters their choice in the first round (something a bit dubious) – his victory and capacity to make it to the second round is near certain, regardless of the way things go. In effect, if he comes to face Jorge Carlos Fonseca, he will count on the support of Manuel Inocêncio Sousa’s voters. If his opponent is Manuel Inocêncio, he will have the support of Jorge Carlos Fonseca’s voters. For Jorge Carlos Fonseca a possible second round wouldn’t matter, regardless of his opponent. Finally, Manuel Inocêncio would only be interested in facing Jorge Carlos Fonseca, with the certainty of counting on Aristides Lima’s votes. Joaquim Monteiro, for his part, seems to have no chance in this electoral contest.
In the last presidential election, Cape Verdeans abroad were crucial to Pedro Pires’s victory. Electoral data showed that Carlos Veiga – then a presidential candidate – won the elections in the country itself only to be being defeated overall by the diaspora’s votes, with Pedro Pires being elected when all votes were ultimately counted.
Taking into account the number of candidates, in the current presidential election the diaspora will also play an important role in the final result. As a result of this the three leading electoral candidates launched their own ‘pre-campaigns’, visiting a number of countries with Cape Verdean communities. Along with the United States, European countries like Portugal, France, the Netherlands and Italy have been important in this election, with African countries such as Senegal, São Tomé & Príncipe and Angola also important.
IMPLICATIONS FOR GOVERNANCE
Whatever the result of the election, the current government will be in crisis. In effect, with respect to the PAICV – the party behind policy and parliament and the current government – the presidential elections have come to form a much-anticipated campaign for its own leadership contest. The fact that the prime minister and president of the PAICV have said that the current mandate will be the last seems to have triggered considerable interest, namely from Felisberto Vieira, president of the politically most important region of the PAICV, Santiago Sul. Vieira mobilised all of his supporters around the candidacy of Aristide Lima, giving strong speeches in his favour at electoral rallies. As a member of the government, Vieira will find it difficult to cohabit with the prime minister. Indeed, certain stories doing the rounds at the moment point to strong divisions between the prime minister and his minister of social development and families, with heated discussions in the Council of Ministers. This then is the first crisis.
The second crisis is in the country’s parliament. The PAICV has an absolute majority, with four mandates more than the MPD. And yet among the MPs of the PAICV, a not insignificant number has been growing of those loyal to Felisberto Vieira and in support of Aristides Lima. Júlio Correia, the vice-president of parliament, Sidónio Monteiro and Arnaldo Andrade are part of this group, with others being added. In this scenario, the PAICV runs the risk of no longer having a parliamentary majority, becoming in danger of political and governmental instability alike.
As an extreme, the government being toppled is a possibility and consequently so are early elections. This is a possible scenario, but one ultimately unlikely as it does not seem that the prime minister’s internal opposition is interested in the fall of the government or the holding of early elections, which would put the PAICV out of favour and could return the MPD to power. A survival instinct and the desire to safeguard personal and group interests could prove stronger.
The elections of 7 August or, ultimately, 21 August will determine the next resident of the Plateau palace, along with the direction of the third mandate of José Maria Neves as head of government.
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* Cláudio Furtado is an associate professor at the University of Cape Verde.
* Translated from Portuguese by Alex Free.
* Please send comments to editor[at]pambazuka[dot]org or comment online at Pambazuka News.
Libya, Africa and the new world order: An open letter
To the peoples of Africa and the world from concerned Africans
We, the undersigned, are ordinary citizens of Africa who are immensely pained and angered that fellow Africans are and have been subjected to the fury of war by foreign powers which have clearly repudiated the noble and very relevant vision enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations.
Our action to issue this letter is inspired by our desire, not to take sides, but to protect the sovereignty of Libya and the right of the Libyan people to choose their leaders and determine their own destiny.
Libya is an African country.
On March 10, the African Union Peace and Security Council adopted an important Resolution (3) which spelt out the roadmap to address the Libyan conflict, consistent with the obligations of the AU under Chapter VIII of the UN Charter.
When the UN Security Council adopted its Resolution 1973, it was aware of the AU decision which had been announced seven days earlier.
By deciding to ignore this fact, the Security Council further and consciously contributed to the subversion of international law as well as undermining the legitimacy of the UN in the eyes of the African people.
In other ways since then, it has helped to promote and entrench the immensely pernicious process of the international marginalisation of Africa even with regard to the resolution of the problems of the Continent.
Contrary to the provisions of the UN Charter, the UN Security Council declared its own war on Libya on March 17, 2011.
The Security Council allowed itself to be informed by what the International Crisis Group (ICG) in its June 6, 2011 Report on Libya characterises as the “more sensational reports that the regime was using its air force to slaughter demonstrators”.
On this basis it adopted Resolution 1973 which mandated the imposition of a “no-fly zone” over Libya, and resolved “to take all necessary measures…to protect civilians and civilian populated areas under threat of attack in the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya…”
Thus, first of all, the Security Council used the still unresolved issue in international law of “the right to protect”, the so-called R2P, to justify the Chapter VII military intervention in Libya.
In this context the UN Security Council has committed a litany of offences which have underlined , the further transformation of the Council into a willing instrument of the most powerful among its Member States.
Thus the Security Council produced no evidence to prove that its authorisation of the use of force under Chapter VII of the UN Charter was a proportionate and appropriate response to what had, in reality, in Libya, developed into a civil war.
It then proceeded to ‘outsource’ or ‘sub-contract’ the implementation of its resolutions to NATO, mandating this military alliance to act as a ‘coalition of the willing’.
It did not put in place any mechanism and process to supervise the ‘sub-contractor’, to ensure that it faithfully honours the provisions of its Resolutions.
It has made no effort otherwise to monitor and analyse the actions of NATO in this regard.
It has allowed the establishment of a legally unauthorised ‘Contact Group’, yet another ‘coalition of the willing’, which has displaced it as the authority which has the effective responsibility to help determine the future of Libya.
To confirm this unacceptable reality, the July 15, 2011 meeting of the ‘Contact Group’ in Istanbul “reaffirmed that the Contact Group remains the appropriate platform for the international community to be a focal point of contact with the Libyan people, to coordinate international policy and to be a forum for discussion of humanitarian and post-conflict support.”
Duly permitted by the Security Council, the two ‘coalitions of the willing’, NATO and the ‘Contact Group’, have effectively and practically rewritten Resolution 1973.
Thus they have empowered themselves openly to pursue the objective of ‘regime change’ and therefore the use of force and all other means to overthrow the government of Libya, which objectives are completely at variance with the decisions of the UN Security Council.
Because of this, with no regard to UNSC Resolutions 1970 and 1973, they have made bold to declare the government of Libya illegitimate and to proclaim the Benghazi-based ‘Transitional National Council’ as “the legitimate governing authority in Libya.”
The Security Council has failed to answer the question how the decisions taken by NATO and the ‘Contact Group’ address the vital issue of “facilitating dialogue to lead to the political reforms necessary to find a peaceful and sustainable solution…”
The actions of its ‘sub-contractors’, NATO and the ‘Contact Group’, have positioned the UN as a partisan belligerent in the Libyan conflict, rather than a committed but neutral peacemaker standing equidistant from the Libyan armed factions.
The Security Council has further wilfully decided to repudiate the rule of international law by consciously ignoring the provisions of Chapter VIII of the UN Charter relating to the role of legitimate regional institutions.
The George W. Bush war against Iraq began on March 20, 2003.
The following day, March 21, the UK newspaper, The Guardian, published an abbreviated article by the prominent US neo-conservative, Richard Perle, entitled “Thank God for the death of the UN”.
But the post-Second World War global architecture for the maintenance of international peace and security centred on respect for the UN Charter.
The UN Security Council must therefore know that at least with regard to Libya, it has acted in a manner which will result in and has led to the loss of its moral authority effectively to preside over the critical processes of achieving global peace and the realisation of the objective of peaceful coexistence among the diverse peoples of the world.
Contrary to the provisions of the UN Charter, the UN Security Council authorised and has permitted the destruction and anarchy which has descended on the Libyan people.
At the end of it all:
- many Libyans will have died and have been maimed
- much infrastructure will have been destroyed, further impoverishing the Libyan people
- the bitterness and mutual animosity among the Libyan people will have been further entrenched
- the possibility to arrive at a negotiated, inclusive and stable settlement will have become that much more difficult
- instability will have been reinforced among the countries neighbouring Libya, especially the countries of the African Sahel, such as Sudan, Chad, Niger, Mali and Mauretania
- Africa will inherit a much more difficult challenge successfully to address issue of peace and stability, and therefore the task of sustained development
- those who have intervened to perpetuate violence and war in Libya will have the possibility to set the parameters within which the Libyans will have the possibility to determine their destiny, and thus further constrain the space for the Africans to exercise their right to self-determination.
As Africans we have predicated our future as relevant players in an equitable system of international relations on the expectation that the United Nations would indeed serve “as the foundation of a new world order.”
The ICG Report to which we have referred says:
“The prospect for Libya, but also North Africa as a whole, is increasingly ominous, unless some way can be found to induce the two sides in the armed conflict to negotiate a compromise allowing for an orderly transition to a post-Qaddafi, post-Jamahiriya state that has legitimacy in the eyes of the Libyan people. A political breakthrough is by far the best way out of the costly situation created by the military impasse…
When Richard Perle wrote in 2003 about the “abject failure of the United Nations”, he was bemoaning the refusal of the UN to submit to dictation by the world’s sole superpower, the US.
The UN took this position because it was conscious of, and was inspired by its obligation to act as a true representative of all peoples of the world, consistent with the opening words of the UN Charter – “We the peoples on the United Nations…”
However, and tragically, eight years later, in 2011, the UN Security Council abandoned its commitment to this perspective.
Chastened by the humiliating experience of 2003, when the US demonstrated that might is right, it decided that it was more expedient to submit to the demands of the powerful rather than honour its obligation to respect the imperative to uphold the will of the peoples, including the African nations.
Thus it has communicated the message that it has become no more than an instrument in the hands and service of the most powerful within the system of international relations and therefore the vital process of the peaceful ordering of human affairs.
As Africans we have no choice but to stand up and reassert our right and duty to determine our destiny in Libya and everywhere else on our Continent.
We demand that all governments, everywhere in the world, including Africa, which expect genuine respect by the governed, such as us, should act immediately to assert “that law by which all nations may live in dignity.”
We demand that:
- the NATO war of aggression in Libya should end immediately
- the AU should be supported to implement its Plan to help the Libyan people to achieve peace, democracy, shared prosperity and national reconciliation in a united Libya
- the UN Security Council must act immediately to discharge its responsibilities as defined in the UN Charter.
Those who have brought a deadly rain of bombs to Libya today should not delude themselves to believe that the apparent silence of the millions of Africans means that Africa approves of the campaign of death, destruction and domination which that rain represents.
We are confident that tomorrow we will emerge victorious, regardless of the death-seeking power of the most powerful armies in the world.
The answer we must provide practically, and as Africans, is – when, and in what ways, will we act resolutely and meaningfully to defend the right of the Africans of Libya to decide their future, and therefore the right and duty of all Africans to determine their destiny!
The AU Road Map remains the only way to peace for the people of Libya.
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* Please send comments to editor[at]pambazuka[dot]org or comment online at Pambazuka News.
Reflections on the Norwegian tragedy
The tragic events of 22 July in Utoya Island and in Oslo in Norway came as a shock to all life-celebrating humanity. That these events should happen in a civilised and highly cultured society like Norway comes as a double shock. We share the pain and grief of our Norwegian brothers and sisters. No amount of sorrow will comfort the parents and loved ones of those who died on 22 July.
The immediate reaction of international (mostly western) media was that the attacks must have been the work of Islamic terrorists. This knee-jerk reaction is based palpably on fear and prejudice, but its expression in public media without proper inquiry is reprehensible for two reasons. First, instead of quietening anxiety and fear it feeds these neuroses. Second, it exposes the irresponsibility of the media.
Leaving media irresponsibility aside for now, it is important for us all to take this moment for deeper reflection - a moment not just for the Norwegians and the Europeans but for all those who cherish human life, who value peace, who look for ideals and principles that unite us as humans rather than divide us. Out of tragedy sometimes comes an awakening - but only if we draw proper lessons from it. We must reflect together so that those innocent lives in Utoya Island are not lost in vain. Without darkness you cannot see light just like during the day it is not possible to see the stars. In the dark hours of Norway, some stars cast their divine light on the good that is in all humanity.
Children in the camp that miraculously survived the ordeal put their lives in danger in order to rescue those shot but still alive, or they jumped into the water to save those who tried to swim out of reach of the gunman. People from all walks of life felt a sense of collective pain like one family. In the aftermath of the event, Islamic preachers and believers attended Christian ceremonies and held their own prayers in mosques. The early speculation that the terror attacks must have been acts by the Islamists evaporated like mist. Beyond Norway, expressions of horror and sympathy flowed towards Norway. In Slovakia, people thronged a concert on Bratislava's Main Square to express their solidarity with Norway.
But the tragedy of humans is that we are better at instinctive action than reflective thought. Once the memory of the tragedy fades away, people return to their past prejudices. Once the instinct has played its role, thinking takes a reverse turn and goes back to the old ways. Instinct is an instantaneous reaction; it comes from the guts, from the inner spirit. Reflection is premeditated thought. It brings to surface, once again, selfishness, greed, avarice, revenge. We are back to square one. We are back to ground zero - or worse.
This is what happened after 9/11. The instinctive reaction of all (almost all) humanity was one of shock, a shared grief, a tender feeling for those who lost their innocent lives. But after the instinctive phase was over, thinking took over. The problem was not the thinking per se. The problem was that the thinking was left to the governments, and in particular, in this case, to the US government.
People regularly surrender their right to think to their governments. The top-down approach that many of us decry starts from the bottom majority passing on the responsibility to think to those in state power. So, not surprisingly, the 9/11 tragedy triggered not deeper reflection on the causes that led to the tragedy in the first place, but to vengeance - a state-directed vengeance. Extremist expressions by those who take lives of innocent people, like the killings by Anders Breivik, do not spring from nowhere; they too are part of our societies. They are our own creations. They live in the shadowy fringes of our societies until they come out in the open and detonate life and home.
But the vengeance that followed 9/11 in the form of a bombing raid on Afghanistan was not the act of people who lived in ‘the shadowy fringes of our societies’; they were in state power. They still are. The logic and the evidence of the revenge bombing on Afghanistan are obvious for all who care to see. After over a decade of bombing, and the killing of tens of thousands of innocent lives (from both sides), we are now back to square one; we are back to ‘ground zero’. The people of America will create a monument in the memory of those who died in 9/11 at ‘ground zero’, but who will throw flowers at those who innocently lost their lives in Afghanistan in their thousands in pits below ground zero? The US government brought to ‘justice’ those suspected of direct or indirect involvement in the events that led to 9/11, but who will bring to justice those who kill in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, and now in Libya and much of the Arab world? Sanitising these murders (because this is what they are) as ‘collateral damage’ does not wash away the guilt of the perpetrators of these heinous crimes.
Whilst we share our emotion with friends in Norway, we ask them to share our sentiments on the violence perpetrated by the forces of the North Atlantic Treaty Alliance (NATO) - which include those from Norway - in many theatres of violence, especially in the southern hemisphere of our shared common earth. In this part of the globosphere live fragile societies. Their fragility is a product of several factors - internal as well as external. Not to be discounted, especially in Africa, is the mess left behind by the Empire during its colonial past.
In fact, the Empire never left Africa. It simply put in power its surrogate rulers who continued to govern these ‘newly independent countries’ and their neo-colonial economies on behalf of the Empire. This is true even of such nationalist and Pan-African leaders like Muammar Qaddafi, who tried to break away from the Empire only to succumb to their pressure during the last ten years. But Qaddafi had, in the meantime, lost his credibility, his goodwill, with the Empire. The Empire prefers to rule through more supplicant and reliable agencies than Qaddafi. And so it took advantage of the ‘Arab Spring’ to intervene militarily in Libya. It took advantage of the confusion in the countries in the South to get a resolution passed in the Security Council on the ‘no fly zone’ that opened the door to western intervention. Soon the Africans and some of the Arab countries realised that they had made a mistake. The African Union has tried since then to push for a ceasefire and a negotiated peace agreement, but NATO has preferred to turn a deaf ear to the African Union and a blind eye to the tragedy in Libya. Any pretence that the continued bombing and strafing of Libya is in conformity with Security Council resolution must be meant for those that have taken leave of their refined senses of judgement and empathy.
Anders Breivik’s senseless killings and NATO’s senseless bombing of Libya are both acts of political violence. What is it that makes Breivik’s action unacceptable and NATO’s acceptable? There are those, of course, who will find the differences between the two, especially lawyers and economists in the West whose whole life is dedicated to find ‘reasons’ and ‘justifications’ for defending the interests and actions of the ruling elites and corporations in the West. Reason succeeds where the instinct has stopped. Vulgar minds take over where the spirits have died.
Realpolitik rationale and neoliberal economic theories are offered by the vulgar ‘intellectuals’ to provide the rationale for the drone attacks in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and austerity measures for the ordinary people in Greece and Ireland to protect the interests of banks ‘too big to fail’. Anders Breivik’s killings and NATO’s bombing of Libya are both senseless. But out of the first might, hopefully, come some national reflection on the virtues of multiculturalism. Out of the second will come…what? More tragedy, more killings?
Fear leads to paranoia. When fear of the immigrants and the Islamists seized the impressionable (probably also psychologically unstable) Breivik, he resorted to the gun. Fear is also at the root of American paranoia, and the reason behind resorting to the gun, scaled up a thousand times. In a previous column for Pambazuka News, I wrote on ‘Imperial Neurosis and the Dangers of "humanitarian" Interventionism’. In that article I wrote that the nightmare scenario for the Empire in the Arab region involves three basic ingredients. One is the rise of Iran and what the Empire ‘perceives’ as the Islamic ‘fundamentalist’ threat. The second is a change in the balance of power in the region that in the long run is most certainly going against the security and wellbeing of Israel, unless the Empire and Israel make fundamental changes in their dealings with the Palestinians. And the third is the deepening economic crisis within the capitalist system. The Empire’s understanding and responses to the above triple challenges is neurotic. Neurosis is a condition of mind that is based on an irrational phobia and what is recognised in the medical world as an obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). This applies to nations as well as to individuals.
The US and much of Europe are seized by an OCD reaction to ‘unpleasant’ events in the southern hemisphere of the globe (such as in the Sudan or Somalia) that they do not have the knowledge or the skills to comprehend. Comprehension is a deeper word than just ‘knowing’. The so-called ‘development aid’ and its polar extreme - militaristic interventions - are parts of the Western response to the ‘problems’ they see in the global South. These are parts of the ‘knowledge kit’ of the West. But they come from a shallow understanding - not deep comprehension - of the South. Throwing money at the poverty in Africa and throwing bombs at the Islamists have the same primeval root - fear and paranoia.
‘Development aid’ and ‘drone attacks’ are perceived by the Empire as ‘solutions’ to ‘problems’ in the South that they do not comprehend, or take the time to comprehend. The young members of the Labour Party in Norway were meeting in Utoya Island, I understand, to reflect on the challenges the youth face in the times they live.
Now, as many thinking persons in the North as well as in the South have been warning, the chickens have come home to roost. This essay is not an effort to opportunistically use the Utoya tragedy to politicise issues of concern to those of us who come from the South. Or even to say ‘I told you so’. That would be foolish. Nobody in his or her right mind would want to use the Norwegian tragedy for self-vindication. Utoya gives us much more than that. It gives us a moment to pause and let the instinct, the human spirit, guide the thinking. It gives us a moment to comprehend the deeper meaning of human existence.
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* Yash Tandon is a writer on development theory and practice, chairman of SEATINI and senior adviser to the South Centre.
* Please send comments to editor[at]pambazuka[dot]org or comment online at Pambazuka News.
WikiLeaks Haiti: The Aristide files
Kim Ives and Ansel Herz
US officials led a far-reaching international campaign aimed at keeping former Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide exiled in South Africa, rendering him a virtual prisoner there for the last seven years, according to secret US State Department cables.
The cables show that high-level US and UN officials even discussed a politically motivated prosecution of Aristide to prevent him from “gaining more traction with the Haitian population and returning to Haiti.”
The secret cables, made available to the Haitian weekly newspaper Haïti Liberté by WikiLeaks, show how the political defeat of Aristide and his Lavalas movement has been the central pillar of US policy toward the Caribbean nation over the last two US administrations, even though—or perhaps because—US officials understood that he was the most popular political figure in Haiti.
They also reveal how US officials and their diplomatic counterparts from France, Canada, the UN and the Vatican tried to vilify and ostracize the Haitian political leader.
For the Vatican, Aristide was an “active proponent of voodoo.” For Washington, he was “dangerous to Haiti’s democratic consolidation,” according to the secret US cables.
Aristide was overthrown in a bloody February 2004 coup supported by Washington and fomented by right-wing paramilitary forces and the Haitian elite. In the aftermath of the coup, more than 3,000 people were killed and thousands of supporters of Aristide and his Fanmi Lavalas political party were jailed.
The United States maintained publicly that Aristide resigned in the face of a ragtag force of former Haitian army soldiers rampaging in Haiti’s north. But Aristide called his escort by a US Navy SEAL team on his flight into exile “a modern-day kidnapping.”
Two months later, the UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) was established, a 9,000-strong UN occupation force that still oversees Latin America’s first independent nation.
Aristide has spoken forcefully against the UN occupation, particularly in his 2010 year-end letter to the Haitian people. “We cannot forget the $5 billion which has already been spent for MINUSTAH over these past six years,” he wrote. “Anybody can see how many houses, hospitals, and schools that wasted money could have built for the victims” of the January 12, 2010, earthquake that destroyed much of Port-au-Prince and surrounding regions.
Such positions are major reasons Washington fought to get and keep Aristide out of Haiti, the cables make clear. “A premature departure of MINUSTAH would leave the [Haitian] government...vulnerable to...resurgent populist and anti-market economy political forces—reversing gains of the last two years,” wrote US Ambassador Janet Sanderson in an October 1, 2008, cable. MINUSTAH “is an indispensable tool in realizing core USG [US government] policy interests in Haiti.”
At a high-level meeting five years ago, top US and UN officials discussed how the “Aristide Movement Must Be Stopped,” according to an August 2, 2006, cable. It described how former Guatemalan diplomat Edmond Mulet, then chief of MINUSTAH, “urged US legal action against Aristide to prevent the former president from gaining more traction with the Haitian population and returning to Haiti.”
At Mulet’s request, UN Secretary General Kofi Annan urged South Africa’s President Thabo Mbeki “to ensure that Aristide remained in South Africa.”
President Obama and Kofi Annan’s successor, Ban Ki-moon, also intervened to urge Pretoria to keep Aristide in South Africa. The secret cables report that Aristide’s return to Haiti would be a “disaster,” according to the Vatican, and “catastrophic,” according to the French.
But the regional and Haitian view was quite different. US Ambassador James Foley admitted in a confidential March 22, 2005, cable that an August 2004 poll “showed that Aristide was still the only figure in Haiti with a favorability rating above 50%.”
The Bahamian Foreign Minister Fred Mitchell, apparently referring to Haiti’s revolutionary leader Toussaint Louverture’s kidnapping and imprisonment in the Jura mountains in 1802, warned “that a perceived ‘Banishing Policy’ has racial and historical overtones in the Caribbean that reminds inhabitants of the region of slavery and past abuse.”
KEEPING THE PRESSURE ON
After Aristide left Jamaica for exile in South Africa on May 30, 2004, the US government worked overtime to keep him out of Haiti and even the hemisphere, even though the Haitian constitution and international law stipulate that every Haitian citizen has the right to be in his homeland.
When Dominican President Leonel Fernández suggested at a hemispheric conference eight months after the coup that Aristide should return and play a role in Haiti’s political future, the United States reacted angrily, saying in a cable that Fernández had been “wrong in advocating the inclusion in the process of former president Jean Bertrand Aristide.”
The US Ambassador to the Dominican Republic “admonished” Fernández “during a pull-aside at a social event.”
“Aristide had led a violent gang involved in narcotics trafficking and had squandered any credibility he formerly may have had,” US Ambassador Hertell told him, according to a November 16, 2004, cable.
“Nobody has given me any information about that,” Fernández replied.
The embassy followed up with a series of aggressive meetings insisting that the Dominican government renounce its support for Aristide. The meetings included a sit-down with the Dominican president specifically on the subject of Haiti with the British, Canadian, French, Spanish and US ambassadors.
No charges were ever filed against Aristide for drug trafficking, although the United States “spent, literally, tens of millions of taxpayer dollars…trying to pin something, anything on President Aristide,” Ira Kurzban, Aristide’s lawyer, told Pacifica Radio’s Flashpoints in July. “They’ve had an ATF investigation, a tax investigation, a drug investigation, and now apparently some kind of corruption investigation.... The reality is they’ve come up with nothing because there is nothing.”
According to a report in Haïti Liberté, other sources say that a US legal team is still angling to prosecute Aristide.
In 2005, the Fanmi Lavalas political party planned large demonstrations to mark Aristide’s July 15 birthday and call for his return. The US Ambassador to France, Craig Stapleton, met with the French diplomatic official Gilles Bienvenu in Paris to discuss the issue.
“Bienvenu stated that the GOF [Government of France] shared our analysis of the implications of an Aristide return to Haiti, terming the likely repercussions ‘catastrophic,’ ” Stapleton wrote in a July 1, 2005, cable. “Initially expressing caution when asked about France demarching the SARG [conveying the message to the South African government], Bienvenu noted that Aristide was not a prisoner in South Africa and that such an action could ‘create difficulties.’ ”
Stapleton swiftly overcame Bienvenu’s reluctance. Bienvenu agreed to relay US and French “shared concerns” to the South African government, saying that “as a country desiring to secure a seat on the UN Security Council, South Africa could not afford to be involved in any way with the destabilization of another country.”
The Ambassador went even further: “Bienvenu speculated on exactly how Aristide might return, seeing a possible opportunity to hinder him in the logistics of reaching Haiti,” Stapleton wrote. “If Aristide traveled commercially, Bienvenu reasoned, he would likely need to transit certain countries in order to reach Haiti. Bienvenu suggested a demarche to Caricom [Caribbean Community] countries by the US and EU to warn them against facilitating any travel or other plans Aristide might have. He specifically recommended speaking to the Dominican Republic, which could be directly implicated in a return attempt.”
Five days later in Ottawa, two Canadian diplomatic officials met with the US Embassy personnel. “‘We are on the same sheet’ with regards to Aristide,” one Canadian affirmed, according to a July 6, 2005, cable. “Even before these recent rumors, she said, Canada had a clear position in opposition to the return of Aristide.”
Canada shared the message with “all parties...especially the Caricom countries,” as well with South Africa.
VATICAN BLOCKS POST-QUAKE RETURN OF ARISTIDE
The earthquake that killed tens of thousands and destroyed many parts of the city also threatened to upend the established political order, worrying diplomats.
US Embassy’s Deputy Chief of Mission (DCM) met with a Vatican official in the days after the earthquake to discuss Church losses and responses.
A January 20, 2010, cable reports, “In discussions with DCM over the past few days, senior Vatican officials said they were dismayed about media reports that deposed Haitian leader—and former priest—Jean Bertrand Aristide wished to return to Haiti.... The Vatican's Assesor (deputy chief of staff equivalent), Msgr. Peter Wells, said Aristide's presence would distract from the relief efforts and could become destabilizing.”
Then the Vatican’s Undersecretary for Relations with States, Msgr. Ettore Balestrero, conferred with Archbishop Bernardito Auza in Haiti, who “agreed emphatically that Aristide's return would be a disaster.” Balestrero “then conveyed Auza's views to Archbishop Greene in South Africa, and asked him also to look for ways to get this message convincingly to Aristide. DCM suggested that Greene also convey this message to the SAG [South African government].”
The Vatican’s position on Aristide’s return was augured in earlier cables. In November 2003, three months before the bloody February 2004 coup against Aristide, a US political officer met with the Vatican’s MFA Caribbean Affairs Office Director Giorgio Lingua. He said that “effecting change in Haiti should be easier than in Cuba,” reported US Chargé d'Affaires Brent Hardt in a November 14, 2003, cable. “Unlike Castro, Lingua observed, Aristide is not ideologically motivated. ‘This is one person—not a system,’ he added.”
Shortly after the coup, on March 5, 2004, US Ambassador to the Vatican James Nicholson wrote a cable reporting that the Holy See’s Deputy Foreign Minister had “no regret at Aristide's departure, noting that the former priest had been an active proponent of voodoo.”
A HERO’S WELCOME
Aristide ultimately returned to Haiti on March 18, 2011, despite personal calls by President Obama and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma to stop him. They argued he would disrupt Haiti’s imminent elections.
“The problem is exclusion, and the solution is inclusion,” Aristide said during a brief return speech at the airport after landing. Then he made his only reference, however oblique, to that week’s elections from which his party was barred: “The exclusion of Fanmi Lavalas is the exclusion of the majority.”
Two days later, the second round of Haiti’s elections went off relatively smoothly, but with historically low voter participation. Some polling stations in Port-au-Prince were empty, with stacks of ballot sheets piled high, hours before they closed. Less than 24 percent of registered voters went to their polls, according to official statistics. Other observers say the turnout was much less.
On the morning of Aristide’s return in Port-au-Prince, thousands massed outside the airport in an exuberant, spontaneous demonstration. They jogged alongside his motorcade waving Haitian flags and placards bearing Aristide’s visage, then scaled the fence surrounding Aristide’s home and poured into its yard until there was no room left to move. The crowd even climbed the walls and covered the roof.
Sitting in an SUV just twenty feet from the door to his hastily repaired but mostly empty house, Aristide and his family waited until a crew of Haitian policeman managed to clear what resembled a pathway through the crowd. First his wife and two daughters emerged from the car and dashed inside the home.
Finally Aristide, diminutive in a sharp blue suit, stood up in the car doorway and waved. The crowd roared in excitement and surged around him. The path to the door vanished. His security grabbed him and shouldered their way through the sea of humanity until they got him to the house’s door, through which he popped like a cork, clutching his glasses in his hands.
After a coup, kidnapping, exile, diplomatic intrigue and his rapturous welcome, Aristide was finally home.
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* This article first appeared in The Nation.
* Please send comments to editor[at]pambazuka[dot]org or comment online at Pambazuka News.
Defining Zimbabwe's national heroes
Letter to the people of Zimbabwe
We are all heroes of our country and our own time.
In the 31 years since our national independence, Zimbabwe has annually remembered citizens who heroically sacrificed not only life and limb but also time, material resources and families in pursuit of freedom from colonial bondage, disenfranchisement and socio-economic injustice. In the commemorations that are occurring in 2011, we remain conscious of the truth that national heroism in the political entity that we call Zimbabwe spans across political affiliation and above all, across time.
Since the first struggles against colonial domination in the late 19th century as realised via the First Chimurenga, through to the 1960s-1980 Second Chimurenga and to the late 20th century, Zimbabweans have demonstrated a unique resoluteness in pursuit of freedom for all, regardless of the epoch or peculiar circumstances. We, as citizens of this great country, have taken to arms, taken to the vote, taken to the streets, taken to Africa and the world with a firm belief that our ideals for a democratic and just society are possible to achieve.
It is this same purpose and belief that speaks to us today, in the year 2011. It is the same conviction of those that have gone before us, and as sure as the sun rises, the conviction of those that will come after us, that guides this letter to the people of the Republic of Zimbabwe.
This letter takes cognisance of the fact that the national debate around heroism, around those that claim hero status for themselves and others, has been imbued with a particular political partisanship that is reflective more of political interests that are neither national nor committed to the attainment of freedom from the bondages of dictatorship, poverty and socio-economic injustice. This is particularly so in relation to the definitions and processes outlined by the three main political parties that comprise the inclusive government on what it is to be a national hero.
Contestations by components of the inclusive government as to who is a hero are not only more partisan than they are nationalist, but betray an unfortunate pre-occupation by our leaders with self over and above country.
Indeed, no one can self-righteously claim to be the most heroic Zimbabwean of all. It is the people of the country that decide so, by way of popular consent and recognition of heroism, be it in politics, the national economy, arts and culture, sport, academia and invention. As such, our annual Heroes Day commemorations should not be about individuals alone, but about the country’s passage from bondage to freedom not only in relation to past or present day politics, but in relation to all aspects of what has come to progressively define us as Zimbabwean. In this light the selfless and significant contribution made by the masses should never be downplayed. There are those who provided food, information and even shelter to the comrades; their role should never be forgotten.
THE NECESSITY OF A NEW HEROISM
Fellow citizens, the purpose of this letter is not intended to be about the partisan blame games on the definition of heroes, or heroism as viewed by any of the country’s political parties in the inclusive government or any other political party that has since laid claim to fame. This letter is intended to set a new path for all Zimbabweans to begin to view themselves outside of the narrow parameters that are increasingly being set by the political leaders of today.
There is therefore the necessity of re-thinking and challenging contemporary party narratives of heroes/heroines and heroism, by taking the present circumstances of the country into account. This is because the country, at this moment in our time, stands on the precipice of either remaining true to the intentions of our illustrious history in its pursuit of people centered democracy, social and economic justice as well as a better life for all. Or, alternatively, departing from these values and embarking on a path that makes it a country that is devoid of a historical understanding of the reasons why it exists.
We are aware that there are those that have besieged the state in the name of history and heroism. They have arrogated themselves an historical permanence that conveniently ignores the truth that they have been historical actors in bringing the country to its knees, whether passively or actively. These include components of war veterans, who in pursuing what they have deemed their ‘due’ for fighting for the liberation of the country, have exhibited unpatriotic amnesia by forgetting that the country does not belong to their generation alone, but also to those that came before them, and those that have arrived after them.
CHALLENGING THE MYTH OF HEROISM AS EMBEDDED IN MILITARISM
Of late, members of war veterans associations and some members of our armed forces have been declaring that they will defend the sovereignty and independence of our country. This would be a fair point if the country were facing a direct physical threat to its existence from anyone outside or inside of its borders or at its embassies worldwide.
As it is, what has emerged in Zimbabwe is increasingly a battle of ideas and not guns, public legitimacy and not legitimacy by coercion. And this should be instructive to those that are laying claim to the gun as the final arbiter of our sovereignty when our country is nowhere near being at war. Where war veterans threaten to go back to the bush, they must be duly informed of the very experience of the liberation struggle and its mantra of the ‘gun must always follow the politics’ and not vice versa.
In contemporary Zimbabwe, members of the war veterans associations and members of our national defence forces must be reminded, again and again, that it is the ideas and the politics that determine the purpose of the ‘gun’ and not vice versa. Heroism is worthless if it is not tied to democratic ideals; war is useless if it does not intend to establish a democratic and free society.
We will all be Zimbabwean heroes/heroines of our time. It is the revolutionary Franz Fanon who coined the phrase, ‘Each generation must discover its mission, fulfill it or betray it, in relative opacity.’ We claim no better disposition to become national heroes, neither do we dismiss the heroism in various spheres of Zimbabweans who may have passed on or remain alive. We are however conscious of the passage of time and the necessity of not repeating history as though time stood still.
Those that lead us today have continually defined and redefined heroism within specifically narrow precepts and primarily out of contestations for power between each other. We are intent on moving away from this practice and tradition.
It is therefore imperative that all Zimbabweans begin to look for heroic placement within the context of our time, a time that respects and values the role of our liberation war heroes and leaders, but at the same time being a time that is not beholden to a past (recent or older) that is without relevance to democratic principles, values and practice.
In urging all Zimbabweans to be heroes of their time we will pursue the democratic path envisioned in the liberation struggle, the social and economic justice agenda that is still outstanding in relation to the livelihoods of the people of Zimbabwe. We will bring the inclusive government, political parties and political actors to account for their actions in relation to the liberation struggles values, the post independence aspirations and the democratic ideals of our society in the aftermath of the end of the Cold War.
This, the 31st year of our national independence and with it the annual Heroes Day commemorations on 8 August, is a year for all Zimbabweans to begin to challenge those that lead the country and those that insist on imprisoning our national consciousness in their versions of heroism and history. It is time for those that care for our country and its future to depart from the personalised politics that have come to represent the inclusive government and our major political players and start espousing the necessary ideas to make our society a better and democratic one, as has been articulated in the Zimbabwe Peoples Charter, a Charter agreed to by over 3,500 representative delegates to the 9 February 2008 Peoples Convention, committing all present to the continued pursuit of a democratic, people-centered and social democratic state.
Signed: The Committee of the Peoples Charter (CPC).
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* Please send comments to editor[at]pambazuka[dot]org or comment online at Pambazuka News.
Pambazuka Press books at bargain prices
The crisis of Sudan
Explo N. Nani-Kofi
Post-colonial Sudan has faced one of the longest wars on the African continent, a war which was fought as a war between the south and the north. For those who saw the problem in Sudan as one between north and south, the independence of South Sudan on 9 July will appear to be the end of the crisis. However, as I said on a Press TV programme in January this year, the crisis will not end with the independence of South Sudan as other flash points which have not attracted attention in the past will emerge. The recent conflict in South Kordofan, with reports of a genocidal attack by the government of Sudan, proves me right.
To put the situation in context, we have to look at the history of Sudan. Sudan has been identified today as an Arab country. Arab influence through Islam came to Sudan only in the 7th Century AD after the Islamic take over of Egypt in 640AD and later intrusion into Egypt. Before then, there had been a Christian presence in Nubia in the 6th Century AD. Islamic intrusion isolated the Christians in Nubia from Christians elsewhere. Before the advent of Christianity and Islam in Sudan, the people in Sudan were African groups with languages and culture similar to the rest of pre-colonial Africa.
One of the strange features of Sudan is how difficult it is to distinguish between supposedly declared Arabs and non-Arabs. Arabs in Sudan had become Arabs through Islamisation and the loss of their original languages and culture. In trying to increase their number there has been the attempt to spread Islam to the whole population. Effective islamisation meant people losing their culture.
The colonial state everywhere exploits differences to carry out the exploitation and oppression of people under capitalism. The Sudanese government, which is the leading force in directing the economy as in most post-colonial countries, is dominated by an Arab-Islamic ruling class that use it as a tool for the exploitation of the people. Over the years, the ruling class has used Islam as a tool and have treated various groups as marginalised groups whilst embarking on aggressive Islamisation and Arabisation. So you have the Arab-Isamic state and its organs of oppression in the centre, with peripheries of marginalised groups. It is therefore natural to see resistance from these peripheries of marginalisation. That is how the situation has led to the long post-colonial war between various Arab-Islamic regimes on one side, as against the south led by the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army, the Darfur crisis and the recent genocidal situation in South Kordofan.
Before I left West Africa and travelled to Europe I didn’t know anything about the Arab-led slave trade and Ottoman Empire slave raids in Africa. I thought the only slave trade was the transatlantic slave trade. When a student from Rwanda talked about Arab-led slave invasions in Eastern Africa, I thought it was a fairy tale and I have returned to West Africa to see that the situation hasn’t changed with many people here, including people who consider themselves conscious political analysts, being totally ignorant of anything like an Arab-led slave trade. The worse feature of this issue is that the Arab-led slave trade is not a thing of the past, but still ongoing in the Sahel zone of Africa and Sudan.
These arrangements facilitate the divide and rule disorganisation of post-colonial states, which prevents them from developing a capacity as independent nations to end their dependent relationship on former colonial authorities or new powerful forces competing with the former colonial authorities for economic and political control. This also results in a proxy relationship where forces in conflict within the newly declared countries seek external support to sort out the internal conflict. When a situation like this arises then various analysts with particular leanings resort to a distraction away from the facts of the situation, muddying the waters further.
Specifically in the situation that South Sudan found itself in, having a cruel colonial relationship with the Arab-Islamic regime in Khartoum meant seeking help in the fight against Khartoum. Had there been an independent and united African force, this could have been the force to step in, but in the absence of such a force what is South Sudan left with?
Some will point out that in the field of realpolitik, your enemy’s enemy will be your friend, so it shouldn’t be surprising seeing South Sudan work with the USA and Israel in having their eye on the goal of the decency and dignity of their people. Some will immediately conclude that South Sudan has become an agent of western imperialism and Zionism so there is no reason to sympathise and support its cause from an anti-imperialist standpoint. But from the position of South Sudan, why should they be prepared to suffer slavery and dehumanisation at the hands of the Arab-Islamic regime just to pass the test of being anti-imperialist?
This is what has complicated the building of solidarity for causes in Sudan - like that of Darfur and the Nuba people of South Kordofan. Injustice in the form of the marginalisation of people perceived to be non-Arab in Darfur or of the Nuba people in South Kordofan is wrong. The lives being lost because of the fact that people are rising against inhuman treatment has to be stopped. Our starting point should be how to end the injustice. Some of the arguments about external manipulation are even very racist and give the impression that the non-Arab or African people in Darfur and South Kordofan cannot even know that they are being enslaved or marginalised until external forces come to manipulate them. This hypocrisy, hiding behind the dishonest façade of anti-imperialism, has to stop. True anti-imperialists have to mobilise on the side of all marginalised and oppressed forces, who are being marginalised for capitalist exploitation and the use of profits from resources for the interest of the small ruling class. The oil from South Kordofan and Abyei is not being used in developing the areas close to the oil but being used to advance the opulence of the Arab-Islamic regime in Khartoum. In every conflict, various interests will get involved in trying to advance their interests.
After the Arab-Islamic intrusion into Sudan came the European colonial presence, with rivalry between the two. The two competing ruling class interests then became the pillars for capitalist exploitation in Sudan. Consequently, there is nothing surprising that in the present situation, western imperialist interests will also be involved in opportunistically presenting themselves as the voices against the genocidal situation in South Kordofan. It is, however, important there should also be voices for empowering popular forces for justice and resistance to the genocidal situation.
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* Explo Nani-Kofi is the Co-ordinator of Kilombo Community Education Project, London, UK, and Kilombo Centre for Civil Society and African Self-Determination, Peki, Ghana, which jointly publishes the Kilombo Pan-African Community Journal. He is also the Producer and Coordinator of the 'Another World is Possible' radio programme currently on GFM Radio, London. He is also a regular guest on African Analyst on Press TV and has made appearances on Al Jazeera. He contributes articles to the Counterfire website and Pambazuka News. For further information contact him through email@example.com or +233-241498912. www.kilombo.org.uk
* Please send comments to editor[at]pambazuka[dot]org or comment online at Pambazuka News.
Rwandan paper calls president a 'sociopath', apologises
Sometimes when a paper produces a defamatory piece, an apology will be published on page two in the next edition along with the day's news. In Rwanda, it would appear, a paper will use an entire edition to apologise – if the insults were directed at the president. The latest issue of Ishema is perhaps a sign of the times for Rwanda's press.
The vernacular bimonthly had recently published an opinion piece written under the byline ‘Kamikaze’ that claimed President Kagame was a sociopath. Many within the media community protested, as did Adrien Servumba, who, branding himself ‘a concerned citizen’, called on the state-run media ombudsman to reprimand the managing director, Fidele Gakire, the state news agency reported. On 25 July, the agency reported that men in plainclothes seized copies of the paper from vendors. The same day, members of the Forum of Private Newspapers, an organisation of newspaper owners, suspended Gakire from the group for six months.
But the reaction of the management of Ishema was perhaps even more surprising than the reaction from the media community. The paper fell over backward in its attempts to apologise. First, Chief Editor Didace Niyifasha resigned from the paper since he said he was ‘unaware’ of the issue being published in the first place. Then Gakire came out with issue number 25, headlined ‘Imbabazi!’ (‘Sorry’) with a genuflecting Gakire on the cover. According to local journalists who have seen the edition, the entire issue is composed of all the positive stories the paper has written concerning the president, along with a letter of apology addressed to the head of state.
Some have seen this as a positive step. As James Munyaneza writes in the pro-government New Times, for once it was not the security or police forces cracking down on the media but the public and members of the press that reprimanded the paper, a sign, Munyaneza argues, that the Rwandan media may be ready to regulate themselves as proposed by the government four months ago. Gakire confirmed that he faced no threats from security forces, according to local reports. This is indeed a fresh break from previous cases the CPJ (Committee to Protect Journalists) has monitored in which independent journalists, after harassment and sometimes physical attacks, felt compelled to flee into exile.
But a paper where the senior management does not seem to know what they are publishing is worrying. Local journalists have also told me, both inside and outside the country, that most professional, critical private papers have left the country because of persecution – leaving only less professional publications behind.
‘But this is exactly what the Rwandan government wants,’ exiled journalist Charles Kabonero told me over a year ago. ‘With the more professional press gone, it is easier to clamp down on the less professional publications by citing legitimate errors.’
The government proposed a self-regulating media ombudsman to replace the current pro-government Media High Council in March this year. With few independent media voices left, a self-regulated media may prove little different from a government-controlled body. With a largely pro-government press and a fledgling private media with little editorial clout, the self-regulated ombudsman may prove keener to rebuke writers in a bid to win favour with the executive.
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* Tom Rhodes is the CPJ’s (Committee to Protect Journalists) East Africa consultant, based in Nairobi. He is a founder of southern Sudan’s first independent newspaper. Follow him on Twitter:@africamedia_CPJ.
* This article was first published on the Committee to Protect Journalists blog.
* Please send comments to editor[at]pambazuka[dot]org or comment online at Pambazuka News.
Parasites of the poor?
International NGOs and aid agencies in Zimbabwe
This blog is called ‘Rethinking Zimbabwe’. It seems that a lot of people in Zimbabwe want some rethinking about the operations of international NGOs and aid agencies here. This is, of course, not a new conversation: international NGOs and donor organisations are perennially under scrutiny and criticism. But right now, it seems like an urgent conversation.
For the first time in years, I find that middle-class people I talk with in Zimbabwe don’t want to discuss politics or even economics. They want to express dismay at the stifling grip that international NGOs and aid agencies have on their lives and work. I am reminded of Joe Hanlon’s analysis of Mozambique as it emerged from the war with Renamo. No-one is claiming here, as Hanlon did there, that donor communities are manipulating food aid to win political concessions. But the donor organisations have disproportionate influence as employers and investors, particularly in the arenas of agriculture and the arts. During the worst periods of the past decade, they provided a lifeline for many people among the educated middle classes who found themselves with no other employment choices. But, when the shore is in sight, do you want to remain tethered to the lifebelt?
Aid agencies are mistrusted not least because they are perceived as part of the political strategies of donor governments – whether directly through organisations such as USAID, DfID or NORAD, or indirectly through the various arms of the UN. Regardless of their rhetoric, these organisations are primarily answerable to their tax payers and thereby to their electorates. When dealing with Zimbabwe, western aid agencies have political imperatives to distance themselves from the Zimbabwean government. And so we find DfID’s summary of its work for 2011-15 commenting that, “real transformation and sustained development progress is only likely following political change.” This may make a lot of sense in London; but it is not very helpful for people working damned hard in rural villages in Zimbabwe, in order to effect ‘real transformation and sustained development progress’, to be told that they are wasting their time because (subtext) Zanu-PF is not yet in opposition. And this is regardless of any actual benefits that they know their work is achieving.
Aid agencies also need to distance themselves from any suspicion of complicity with corrupt or inept local institutions, whether governmental or from civil society. Consequently a very large amount of their paperwork, strategy development, definition of successful outcomes and self-evaluation is focused on auditing of their financial management: “More than ever, in the current financial climate, we have a duty to show that we are achieving value for money in everything we do,” states DfID. “Results, transparency and accountability will be our watchwords and we are determined to get value for money for every hard-earned taxpayer pound spent on development.” But what counts as ‘value’? Value is about British tax-payers’ money, not about the quality of life for Zimbabweans:
“In Zimbabwe, DFID will embed a strong focus on value for money, monitoring and evaluation, ensuring all feedback is effectively incorporated. We will dedicate specific staff resources to improving value for money within our programme e.g. through more rigorous procurement approaches. We will harness financial improvement strategies and tools to ensure we drive continued improvement in financial management and to maintain high standards.”
Of course, this makes perfect sense from the perspective of the donors. Like government aid agencies, international NGOs such as Oxfam understandably have to take their cue from similar concerns about accountability for every penny spent. But the concerns are inward-looking and reflect the vested interests of the donors. The beneficiaries become the ‘product’, not the clients; and certainly not people who might perhaps themselves have a different view on what would constitute ‘value for money’.
Moreover, there is a strong belief that these agencies are so big that they can hardly see the wood, never mind the trees – and certainly not the bugs that live on the trees, in whose name the work is being done. Their focus is the national or, at best, the district level. The ‘political change’ that DfID identifies as necessary for Zimbabwe obscures local transformations that have occurred despite, and in some cases even because of, the current government’s strategies. The supporters’ newsletter for the small but very successful Quaker-funded Hlekweni training centre near Bulawayo, for example, reported that:
“Jabulani studied at Hlekweni in 2009, and at the age of just 21 now has a thriving agriculture and horticulture business on 50 hectares of land acquired under a government scheme. While much of the land redistribution in Zimbabwe has been a disastrous failure – partly due to the lack of skills among beneficiaries – Jabulani has used his Hlekweni training to produce large yields of maize, beans and butternut, and to raise a herd of 136 cattle, creating a good income for his family and jobs for local people.”
Elsewhere here on ‘African Arguments’, Clare Short argued against such small-scale projects in favour of strategic national-level intervention:
“The question was how to stop aid being lots of little charitable projects and to use it intelligently to empower countries to lift themselves up, get their own people educated, run their own ministries, grow their own economies. The point about DFID was that it ceased to be just an aid distribution department and took on analytical capacity (to work on) trade and international environmental agreements and conflict resolution and so on.”
This is no doubt very exciting for those involved in grand strategy-making in London. But national-level policy-making means that consultation about what is needed often happens at the wrong level. I recently pointed out to a friend that an international NGO was taking on 22 project workers to develop beehives, boreholes and agricultural training in eastern Zimbabwe. She pointed out that, in her experience, boreholes weren’t necessarily a priority in the targeted areas. There is clearly a suspicion among people who work for aid agencies that national-level needs are divided by the number of districts, and then by the number of sub-districts, and people in those sub-districts are then provided with their defined ‘need’, regardless of whether it is actually what they want or not.
Moreover, everyone who discusses this issue with me complains that the agendas about what Zimbabwe needs are set externally. For example, Isla Grundy is a forester working to identify processed indigenous foods for the market. During the food shortages arising from drought and agricultural chaos in the early 2000s, rural people turned to indigenous foods to survive: knowledge of these foods is probably higher than it has been for many years. It is a perfect moment to find the Zimbabwean Rooibos tea. Because commercial investors will not touch Zimbabwe at present, her organisation is forced down the donor route. Nonetheless, she told me, her organisation (which has a good track record with donors) has struggled for months to get any aid agency to show interest in any crops other than the mainstream maize, groundnuts and legumes, which form the bedrock of regional strategies for development.
Very often, there is a belief that the aid agendas serve external commercial interests more than local human needs. Today, a farming consultant told me how he despaired at the news that food aid budgets for Zimbabwe from the UN had been revised upwards. ‘How will we grow our own food and re-establish our position as a food exporter when we are flooded with American grain?’, he asked. Similarly, Grundy told me of the attempts to produce a local groundnut-based famine-relief paste. Zimbabwe is one of many African states that have developed their own local substitutes to the French product, Plumpy’nut: indigenous action to solve African problems. But there is an international patent row, which actively prevents local producers from making and marketing a comparable product within Africa. The billions in aid for famine relief put money back into European and US pockets.
Local experts also express frustration at how the external agendas are introduced without proper research into local conditions and history. There has been a recent fad for ‘conservation agriculture’ (CA) – no-till planting. As Jens Andersson, a social scientist with many years experience of agriculture in Zimbabwe pointed out to me, there was no grassroots drive to adopt no-tillage systems. The practice was entirely driven by donor agendas, sending in NGO-funded ‘development workers’ to teach people this exciting new technique that would revolutionise their yields.
Except it wasn’t new; and it didn’t revolutionise yields. In Andersson’s study area of Buhera, no-tillage systems had been introduced by extension workers in the past and were already part of local knowledge. Moreover, said Andersson, any benefits recorded in yield increase from no-tillage planting in the current CA campaigns would be the result of the input of the fertiliser donated as part of the project, not a result of the no-tilling strategy per se. The fertiliser, of course, has been produced by a western multinational.
The lack of local knowledge, amongst the ex pats who design and run development projects here, is a source of constant irritation. These aid workers are typically academically brilliant, well-educated and extremely well meaning. But they are also very young (‘He looks about sixteen’); they are moved around from project to project and country to country (even from continent to continent) without having a chance to develop deep local knowledge; and as a general rule they have been trained in economics or development studies, not in anthropology or history. An agriculturalist here told me in horror about working with a project leader for an international child-based programme, who had explained that there was no point in asking the children to follow the normal programme practice of describing their family trees because ‘Shona children just call everyone auntie or uncle and don’t really know how they’re all related’!. These expats employ Zimbabweans to provide the local expertise; but by this stage it is too late in the process. The planning, strategy, budget allocation, agenda-setting – and the mind-setting – have already taken place.
‘No-one is listening to what we really want’ is a constant refrain. Listening takes time, and often people don’t actually know what they want; they need a space in which to find that out for themselves. One of the most effective projects I’ve encountered, Bright Tomorrows Zimbabwe, works with care-givers for AIDS orphans. It doesn’t provide them with material goods or have outcomes that can be ticked against a box; it just encourages them to meet regularly to discuss the life journeys of the children in their care, and the support that the children will need to fulfil their potential. One exhausted old woman, who had struggled to bring up her own children only to see them all die and now having to raise her grandchildren, reported after some time on the programme that she had stopped beating her wards. The issue of beating hadn’t been raised as part of the programme. Yet she said that the experience of being in a supportive group where people listened to their needs had made all the difference: she was now able to cope with her situation and to understand how the children were thinking. She was learning to enjoy her life with them. This didn’t take a lot of money – it took time and commitment. Jeannie Sinclair, the amazingly inspirational worker who told me this story, added that their programme was tiny because no large agency wanted to fund a project that didn’t deliver tangible and measurable outcomes.
The question of how far the aid agencies engage with communities and genuinely listen to their needs is hardly a new one. When I first started working in Zimbabwe in the 1980s, I was initially impressed at how all the NGO workers I met emphasized the need to listen to rural women. I was quickly disillusioned when I realised that ‘listening’ meant ‘finding out how to present what we want to deliver in ways that make them acceptable to rural women’. But ‘listening’ is becoming political. According to a recent report, a World Bank official asked the official of the Chinese Ministry of Commerce:
“Do you know why you Chinese are more successful in the aid issue?…It’s just because we know what aid we can provide in Africa while you don’t know. Since you are not clear, you ask the Africans about this and they told you what they exactly need. That is the reason you are more successful.”
Once again, the priorities of communities are subsumed in the needs of external aid agencies – ‘listening’ is a means to further other nations’ strategic interests.
The perception amongst workers who are trying to make a difference at the grassroots in Zimbabwe is that big aid agencies such as UNICEF and DfID don’t engage with communities to find out what they need; they deliver to them. Jeannie Sinclair described turning up for a session with her care-givers one day, to find the village filled with DfID Land Cruisers and people from the district whom she had not met before. Apparently this was the ‘delivery’ of DfID’s gender-based violence programme. The DfID team swooped in, gave everyone free Coca-Cola and a text to keep about GBV, and then swooped out again. The free drink and the hoohah attracted scores of participants, who could be recorded on the programme report. Job done?
A combination of tight auditing and external agenda-setting influences the evaluation of projects, and this in turn affects the project design. In order to be reportable, outcomes must be measurable. In order to be measurable, they must be tangible. There is a common complaint is that aid agencies only recognise ‘things’ as outcomes, not relationships. Again, this is not new. I remember in 1990 Sithembiso Nyoni of the ORAP project in Bulawayo telling me about her struggle to get funding from Oxfam USA. They required, for auditing purposes, a commitment that a certain number of wells would be built within a certain time period. She argued that development was about changing relationships within communities, not about building things. Once the relationships were working effectively, the wells would follow and would be effective. Eventually, and unusually, the donors agreed to let things take as long as they needed. But this was an unusual situation involving an exceptionally powerful local organisation.
Today, the auditing systems of aid agencies continue to disregard changes in relationships, as tangible outcomes of development work. At Hlekweni, Jabulani spoke about how the success of his business was only meaningful in the context of his community relationships:
My responsibility is to make sure that people in my area have enough maize and vegetables to eat. To me, business is about doing something that is good for you, and at the same time it is good for your community…At Hlekweni, I didn’t only get agriculture, but I also got my humanity from the trainers here.
But ‘humanity’ is not an outcome that can be measured as evidence of ‘results, transparency and accountability’. A project like Bright Tomorrows, which transforms people’s lives but has nothing concrete to show for it, is perceived as less likely to attract funding than a plan to build an orphanage. Orphanages disrupt kinship networks and indigenous support systems; they disempower children; they are very expensive. But they can be ticked off as evidence of ‘value for money’. Many people here told me that this is what makes building orphanages attractive to aid agencies, even if they’re not wanted and not needed.
Associated with the perception that aid agencies only want to be involved in projects with measurable outcomes is a perception that money-spending is their default mode of problem-solving. Of course, this is part of a larger conversation about the value of throwing money at a problem. Clare Short pointed out in her conversation with Richard Dowden that:
“The patronising dollops of money approach to aid irritates the people on whom it is dolloped and it irritates the British tax payer. It’s just not a good way of doing it.”
But, predictably, her proposed alternative – direct budget support – is still about management of money, not about transformation of lives at the grassroots. Eugene Ulman, a film-maker and music producer in Harare, pointed out to me that Cuban involvement in the arts in Zimbabwe had been much transformative than the work of British organisations such as the British Council ‘because they’re used to working with no money. They come up with solutions that depend on creativity, not resources.’
Indeed, many of the artists with whom I’ve been speaking have been utterly demoralised by their experiences of donor funding. Arthur Chikhuwa, of the now-defunct Capricorn Video Unit, made a good living producing high-quality training and documentary films on ‘social’ issues – until the funding was withdrawn in the wake of the political crises in Zimbabwe. The donors had always determined the agenda and had provided support only for the product. There was never any money to invest in new kit, or to give the Unit space to develop its own products or market. The ‘development’ programmes did not include ‘development’ of the film-making capacity – even where their programmes included capacity-building for the projects featured in the films.
Musicians, too, feel that they have been stifled by their interactions with donors. Whereas governments provide support for the arts in Europe and Australia and philanthropists support the arts in the US and Russia, in Africa the default assumption is that the arts must be part of a development agenda, supported by donor organisations. In a clearly-argued paper, Eugene Ulman and Marcus Gora have observed that
“In Africa, the non-commercial arts, including music, are generally the domain of NGOs, often with donors from outside Africa. These NGOs generally have a socio-economic, educational or developmental agenda, rather than a strictly artistic imperative. Thus, funded not-for-profit music projects usually have a broader developmental mission. “The mission might be good governance, an anti-corruption campaign, empowerment of women, HIV/AIDS awareness, global warming – all valuable projects in themselves, but the overall structure is not conducive to free artistic expression and unbridled innovation, and does not eliminate the need for other purely musical structures.”
They are concerned that, in such an environment, the arts are controlled by people who have limited knowledge of the local artistic scene and whose primary interests are not to nurture artistic talent, but to meet ‘development’ targets:
“Even when a project is run by a dedicated arts organization, that organization in turn has to raise its budget from other donors who are usually not arts organizations, and fund the projects not for their artistic value but for whatever added value a musical element can bring to their other, non-musical project.”
A similar concern about international donors with instrumentalist concerns stifling local creativity was observed in my previous blog, about the publishing industry in Zimbabwe. Across the creative arts, the international aid organisations are regarded as having a stranglehold on structures and institutions, undermining creativity and distorting the idea of what art is for.
Jeannie Sinclair described a session with her care-givers in which they discussed a picture of a broken bridge, which people were still trying to cross, and which plunged them into dangerous water. One woman commented, ‘People come in and build structures for us. But they don’t explain to us how to fix, develop or mend them. So we go on using them even if they don’t work any more.’ It was clear that she was talking about more than just physical structures like bridges. She was talking about the organisational structures within which everyone in Zimbabwe now has to work.
Rather than seeking out NGO support, many people I spoke with now seem to be trying ways to by-pass it. David Kaulemu, of the Jesuit Arrupe College in Harare, told me that increasingly people have been turning to the churches to support their projects, because the churches create more stable civil society structures than capricious donor organisations. Similarly, the Director of the Harare-based African Fathers Initiative told me that he was increasingly working with the churches. He admitted that churches also had their own agendas, but their agendas were more likely to be set internally within Zimbabwe – and were more likely to accept that ‘gender’ included funding programmes directed towards men.
I must emphasize that I am reporting perceptions here, not empirical data. But the sense that the aid agencies are employers not helpers, who probably do more harm than good, is widespread and deep-rooted. In the very popular memoir, The Last Resort, Douglas Rogers quotes a local aid worker who had previously run a tobacco farm where he had to deal with poor soil, frost, infrastructural maintenance and the livelihoods of four hundred workers and their families:
“Now? I drive around in a white Land Cruiser handing out shitty imported maize seed to poor buggers who don’t know how to farm it. Then I collect a salary in US dollars. It’s not very moral and it doesn’t make me feel very good, but it’s easier than farming.”
Or, in the words of another friend of mine (who depends upon aid agencies to fund her work in rural communities, and so doesn’t want to be named):
“They spend millions but they make no constructive difference. They just meet their funders’ benchmarks and get paid. They are parasites on the poor.”
* This article first appeared on African Arguments.
* Please send comments to editor[at]pambazuka[dot]org or comment online at Pambazuka News.
 Joseph Hanlon, Mozambique: Who Calls the Shots? London: James Currey, 1991
 UK Department for International Development ,‘Summary of DFID’s work in Zimbabwe, 2011-2015’, May 2011
 ‘Summary of DFID’s work in Zimbabwe, 2011-2015’, p2
 Friends of Hlekweni Newsletter, March 2011, p4
 Clare Short: “I Bet You Kagame Gives Up At The End Of His Term.” Interview by Richard Dowden. July 14, 2011.
 ‘Makoni tea: Zimbabwe’s Rooibos? Indigenous species has huge potential for export’, The Zimbabwean, 20thJune 2011
 Reuters: ‘Zimbabwe needs additional $73 mln aid: UN’ Tue Aug 2, 2011
 ‘Famine relief: The wonders of Plumpy’nut. Saving lives with peanut butter’, The Economist, Nov 3rd 2005
 ‘Legal fight over Plumpy’nut, the hunger wonder-product’, BBC News online, Thursday, 8 April 2010
 It was largely this realisation that led me to investigate uses of the vernacular by the state in my book, ‘Law, Language & Science, Heinemann 2007.
 Pambazuka – From ‘how could’ to ‘how should’: The possibility of trilateral cooperation West-China-Africa trilateral cooperation
 Friends of Hlekweni Newsletter, March 2011, p4
 Eugene Ulman and Marcus Gora, ‘Challenges to funding and supporting new innovative and non-commercial music in Africa,’ paper presented at the Moshito Music Conference, Johannesburg, 2010
 Douglas Rogers, The Last Resort: a Zimbabwean memoir, London: Short Books (2010): 324
Where have Libya's children gone?
The quality of life continues to degrade in certain areas of western Libya while public anxiety noticeably rises over missing Libyan children as the first week of an unusually stressful Ramadan passes.
The shortage of gasoline has become acute and despite government efforts to curtail price gouging, one taxi driver told this observer yesterday that while the usual price of 'benzene' was five liters (one gallon) for $.40 (forty US cents) he is now having to pay as much as " 4 dinars for one liter of petrol!" That is roughly the equivalent of 13 US dollars for a gallon of gasoline, a huge price surge in a country long accustomed to cheap, heavily subsidized fuel. "Informal economy" (black market) fuel arrives in car trunks from the Tunisian border and its increasingly common to see fellows with a make shift funnel trying to get more benzene into their vehicle tanks than they splash and spill on neighborhood streets.
Walking around the "medina" off Omar Muktar Street near my hotel yesterday afternoon, the angst over deteriorating conditions is apparent. Shops, like homes, are now subject to rolling blackouts and quickly become hot and stuffy, discouraging would be customers from entering. Some food stores have to discard milk and other perishable items given the up to 11 hour power cuts that send temperatures above 100F. One gentleman on Rashid Street in downtown Tripoli said his family had not had power for five days and the pump that supplies water to his apartment building stopped working so they lack two essential utilities.
NATO's arguable act of piracy earlier this week in commandeering the fuel tanker ship Cartagena off the coast of Malta that was bringing gasoline to Tripoli and sending it instead to rebel militia based close to Benghazi is yet again explained from NATO HQ as necessary for "protecting the civilian population of Libya."
According to Libya's Deputy Foreign Minister Khaled Kaim, "The age of piracy is coming back to the Mediterranean because of NATO."
Some frustrated shop keepers just shutter their shops and seek relief at the beach or take a nap waiting for sundown and their Ramadan Iftar (feast) to begin. But lack of electricity even affects its preparation. ( note: 15 minutes ago NATO bombed the public beach near my hotel as three other bombs landed nearby—targets unknown)
Every time a bomb blast is heard, a chorus of passersby and kids invariably point toward the bomb site and watch the rising white or black smoke (the color depending on the type of bomb or missile) and some shout, "F--- NATO! F---Obama!" Etc.
If a foreigner is confronted by angry citizens who may blame Americans for NATO's bombing, a sure fire way to quickly reduce crowd tension is for the foreigner to make the peace sign and make a fist with his other hand and chant a few times: "Allah! Mohammad! Muammar! Libye! Abass!" (God!, Mohammad!, Qadaffi!, Libya!, that's all we need!") The locals appreciate the sentiment and pre-teens often join the popular chant and dance. As of the morning of 8/7/11 NATO statistics show that since 3/31/11, NATO forces have launched 18,270 sorties, mainly against Western Libya, including 6,932 bomb/missile strike sorties. Last night (8/6/11) there were 115 sorties including 45 bombings of which 12 were in central Tripoli starting a 10 p.m.
To their great credit, some Congressional staffers on the US Senate Armed Services Committee who liaise with the Pentagon, have acted on constituent complaints and have criticized NATO's incomplete description of its bombing of Libyan civilians.
For example earlier this week NATO reported its bombing of the village on Zlitan, about 160 miles east of Tripoli in the Western Mountains as follows: "In the vicinity of Zlitan:1 Ammunition Storage Facility, 1 Military Facility, 2 Multiple Rocket Launchers."
However, still absent from this particular NATO report on its website is the fact that its bombing attack killed the wife and two children of Mustafa Naji, a local Zlitan physics teacher. Mustafa's wife Ibtisam, and their two children, Mohammad 5 and Muttasim, were pulverized. Once again, NATO said it could not confirm the "accidental killings" but would investigate.
WHERE ARE THE CHILDREN?
Also of growing public and government concern in Western Libya is the whereabouts of 53 female and 52 male children aged one to 12 years and another group ranging from 12 to 18 years, both part of a government-run home for orphans and abused children that until February was operating in Misrata, now under rebel control. According to several reports over the past three months and testimony presented last Thursday evening to the international media gathered at the Tripoli Rexis Hotel, by the General Union for Civil Society Organizations:
The 105 children, part of more than 1000 missing, were "kidnapped" by rebel forces as they entered Misrata and went on a killing spree, some of which has been documented by Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International among other groups. There is no question that the children are no longer in their sheltered facility. But from there what became of them remains a mystery.
The Libyan government claims the youngsters were kidnapped by rebels who went on a rampage in late February. Several reports from eyewitnesses claim that the children were last seen being put onto either a Turkish, Italian, or French boat. More than one witness claimed to have witnessed some of the children being sold in Tunisia. On his tweeter page, the local Russian Telesur reporter said that "several sources have affirmed that the 105 children were taken out of the country in a ship that could be Turkish, French or Italian."
Libyan Social Affairs Minister Ibrahim Sharif told reporters in Tripoli this week that, "We want the truth and we hold those countries responsible for the well-being of these children who are neither soldiers nor combatants." Sharif added that a rebel doctor captured by government troops testified that some of the orphans had been taken to France and Italy. Given Misrata's history as a main North African slave trading port, a fact that today partially explains tensions among the one third of Libya's population that is black and who are descendants of slaves and many of whom live in western Libya in villages now fighting the Misrata and Benghazi based rebels, concern is acute.
While Libya has had perhaps the most strictly enforced child protection laws in the Middle East and Africa, people here remember clearly that France was at the center of a scandal in 2007 when aid workers from the Zoe's Ark charity attempted to fly 103 children out of Chad, to the south of Libya, who they said were orphans from neighboring Sudan. International aid staff later found that the children were in fact Chadian and had at least one living parent. People here fear a similar fate for the Libyan youngsters.
Also on people's minds in Libya is what happened two years ago in Haiti when "orphans," according to local authorities, were kidnapped. Given the epidemic of human trafficking in this region, especially of children, fears are well founded.
NATO has not replied to inquiries demanding information about the disappeared children nor has UNICEF, Save the Children or Secretary of State Clinton's office. Ohio Congressman Dennis Kucinich has agreed to demand that the White House order an immediate investigation and of course any human rights advocate could raise this issue in the West and demand an urgent inquiry from her/his government.
The Libyan government as well as both the Roman Catholic Papal representative Bishop Giovanni Martinelli, and Father Daoud of the Anglican Church of Christ the King, in Tripoli have demanded that the UN investigate and find the children.
As for the National Transition Council, its spokesman denied charges that they have sold the children and claim that the Libyan government in Tripoli have all the children and that they are using them as human shields at the now five times bombed Bab al Azizya complex in central Tripoli. No known human rights organization or journalist who has investigated this claim has reported seeing any sign of the children at Bab al Azizya. The General Union, noted above, has photos and names and ages of all the missing children and have widely publicized them.
More than a dozen social welfare organizations, women's groups and Libya's Lawyer syndicates have launched an intensive media and public involvement campaign to find the children who have now been missing for nearly six months.
BROUGHT TO YOU BY PAMBAZUKA NEWS
* Franklin Lamb is in Libya and can be reached via email.
* This article first appeared in CounterPunch.
* Please send comments to editor[at]pambazuka[dot]org or comment online at Pambazuka News.
Symphony Way Pavement Dwellers to speak in Grahamstown
Symphony Way Anti-Eviction Campaign
Press Release – 9 August 2011
Students for Social Justice
Unemployed People's Movement
Symphony Way Anti-Eviction Campaign
Event 1: Pavement Dwellers to speak at Rhodes University
Venue: Sociology 1, Rhodes University
Date/Time: Thursday 11 August @ 19h00 – 21h00
Event 2: Symphony Way authors meet the Unemployed People's Movement
Venue: Duna Library in Joza Township
Date/Time: Friday 12 August @ 3pm
‘A beauty, extraordinary in every way.’
Naomi Klein, author of ‘The Shock Doctrine’ and ‘No Logo’
Students for Social Justice, the Sociology Department, and the Unemployed Peoples Movement in Grahamstown have organized two unique talks by four of the Symphony Way Pavement Dwellers, authors of No Land! No House! No Vote! Voices from Symphony Way. This extraordinary anthology of struggle it testimony and poetry written on the pavement of one of the longest running civil disobedience protests in South Africa's history.
The authors will be speaking on Thursday at Rhodes where they will discuss their struggle for land, housing and dignity with progressive academics and the Students for Social Justice. On Saturday, the authors will be meeting with the Unemployed People's Movement where they will be engaged in discussions about their respective struggles and ways of building solidarity between poor people throughout South Africa.
No Land! No House! No Vote! is a direct challenge to the publishing industry. We cannot humanise our world through a vanguard media. The right to a voice cannot be held only be elite academics, authors and politicians; it is a right that must be claimed by the poor as well.
Florrie Langenhoven - Here I’ve learned to share: I don’t work, but if I’ve got dry bread I first look around if my neighbours have got something to eat before I can eat. It feels like a BIG FAMILY.
Shakeera Samuels - I would never ever want to go back to peoples back yard again where my family will be treated like animals.
Cynthia Twigg - Symphony Way has its little [vegetable] garden which I look after. I water it and even sew my own seeds. Tomatoes, gen-squash, sweet-melon, and other eatable vegs grew in my little garden which keep me going.
Bonita Seconds - When they [my children] are going to grow up, they must be something. They are going to change something around in the world.
For more information on the book, please contact:
Bonita Seconds (Symphony Way author) @ 073-841-1111
Sarita Jacobs (Symphony Way secretary) @ 076-469-9843
For event info, directions and struggle info in Grahamstown contact:
Ayanda Kota (UPM) @ 078-625-6462
Ben Fogel (SSJ) @ 071-224-6524
Cape Argus - Street people book their place on library shelf
The New Age - Living in a world turned on its head
Amandla Magazine – Review by Professor Martin Legassick
"A beautiful and heart-rending book that speaks a story so often undocumented.” – Nigel Gibson, author of Fanonian Practices: From Biko to Abahlali baseMjondolo.
“The Symphony Way occupation was a real attempt at an insurgent and tenacious solidarity against an increasingly exclusionary and brutal society...All the tenacity, beauty, pain, desperation, and contradictions that breathe their life into any popular struggle haunt the pages of this searing book.” —Richard Pithouse, department of politics and international studies, Rhodes University, South Africa
“A magnificent and moving account of a long and hard-fought struggle . . . . a clarion call for basic human rights and for human dignity. A powerful insider’s view into the landscape of poverty in neoliberal South Africa.” — Michael Watts, Class of 63 Professor of Geography and Development Studies at the University of California at Berkeley, author of Curse of the Black Gold.
“An extraordinary collection of writings from the spirit of resilience and strength of the collective which lay bare the betrayal of the people in post-apartheid South Africa.” —Sokari Ekine, author and award-winning blogger
“This book carries not only the suffering of the Symphony Way communities but of the millions of poor people of the world. . . . It is through this courage that we can all hope for the real struggle that intends to put human beings at the center of our society.” —S’bu Zikode, president, Abahlali baseMjondolo Movement, South Africa
“As middle-class African journalists and activists, we thought we were telling the tale of the poorest, but here we are surpassed. Their truths, spoken in their sharp vernacular tongue, fly straight to the heart of the matter.” —Michael Schmidt, journalist and author
Stop the land grab in Madagascar
The expulsion of families from their land, often for several decades, is becoming more and more frequent and on a greater scale in Madagascar, occurring in every region of the country and in rural and urban zones alike. The majority of these families have no means of defending themselves.
Faced with such intolerable scenes, TANY (Collectif por la Défense des Terres Malgaches) has launched a petition entitled 'Stop the expulsion of Madagascan families and land-grabbing in Madagascar'.
We'd like to encourage readers to sign this petition, which calls on the Madagascan authorities to react immediately to put a stop to these expulsions and to protect the country's people: http://terresmalgaches.info/spip.php?article40
Further details and references are available in the petition's annex.
With sincere thanks for everybody's support,
eThekwini municipality shoots 16-year-old boy in Kennedy Road
Abahlali baseKennedy statement
6 August 2011
SIXTEEN OLD BOY, THE SON OF WITNESS X, SHOT BY THE STATE IN KENNEDY ROAD
This morning the eThekwini Municipality launched another armed raid on the Kennedy Road shack settlement to try and disconnect the people from electricity. As usual there was resistance, unarmed resistance, to this attack from the Municipality. The Municipality's security guards responded by firing live ammunition at the protesters.
A sixteen year old boy was shot and badly wounded at around 8:40 this morning. He was not part of the protest. He was shot while walking to the shop. He has been rushed to Addington Hospital and there is, as yet, no clarity on his condition. This is the reality of the war that the eThekwini Municipality and the government of South Africa is waging on the poor of this country day after day.
Every attack on the poor by the state is a matter of deep concern. Every time the police or the state's other armed forces attack protesters with live ammunition we are deeply concerned. But in this case there is another reason why we are deeply concerned.
The twelve year old boy who was shot and rushed, bleeding massively, to the hospital is the son of Witness X. Witness X was a state witness in the trial of the Kennedy 12 who became a court witness and told the truth about what happened and how she had been asked to lie. She was subject to death threats from the local ANC following her decision to tell the truth in the court and she was attacked and was only saved by the quick support of her neighbours. After the verdict she received more death threats. At this point we do not know if it was co-incidence that it was her son that was shot this morning or if he was deliberately targeted. We hope that the shooting this morning was not connected to the case of the Kennedy 12 but we cannot rule that possibility out until we have all the information about how it was that a 12 year old boy was shot in Kennedy Road this morning.
For more information and comment please contact:
Busisiwe Gogo 078 191 3021
Update: 5:03 p.m. A second boy of a similar age was also shot. He has also been admitted to hospital.
Tell Malawi president to respect human rights
8 August 2011
On 20-21 July, following protests in Malawi at the government's mismanagement of the economy, 19 people were killed.
The heavy-handed tactics of the security forces have been condemned around the globe. The international trade union movement has called on the president to investigate the killings and to address the legitimate grievances of civil society, including the mismanagement of the economy and corruption.
Please sign the Labour Start petition calling for the president of Malawi to respond to the events of 20-21 July.
Urgent action for Malawi
President Bingu wa Mutharika, who came to office in 2004, has been criticised for expelling rivals from the ruling party, expanding presidential power and signing laws that have restricted protests, media freedom and lawsuits against the government.
The moves have alienated foreign donors, causing the United States and Britain to cut their aid to the impoverished country at the same time it is facing massive fuel shortages that have forced drivers to queue overnight for petrol.
Mutharika has also presided over a foreign exchange crisis that has seen international currencies become virtually unavailable, leaving businesses in the import-dependent country unable to buy goods and materials abroad.
The Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) is due to meet on 17 August in Angola. It will discuss the findings of a SADC mission to investigate the violence when it meets. Coincidentally civil society have given President Mutharika until 16 August to respond to their grievances.
The future of African writing
Mildred K Barya
I find myself contemplating life, writing, and while in the past I’ve done so generally, nowadays bouts of clarity drop in, a mercy, and help concretise what is and has to be. I’ve thought about this particular article as personal reflections, as one woman’s case study in the importance of writing residences and more deeply as a thought on the future of African writing.
The personal is often a step away from universal application hence the reason I’ll ‘borrow’ from personal experiences while trying to understand the future of writing from African standpoint.
Besides ambition, desire and will, places and incidents that have been critical in shaping and improving my writing have come through writing fellowships and residences. In the absence of a mentoring component that’s sometimes part of writing residences and programs, and therefore necessary, there’s space and a nurturing/stimulating/inspiring/thought-provoking environment for the writer to work in. This can never be downplayed. New or old significant work/projects that might not be possible elsewhere become realised. The individual gains greater confidence and society progresses.
Often a writing residence, fellowship or programme forces one to think critically, to work alone consistently, and also to share ideas in a group that sometimes turns into life-long supportive partnerships. It’s not a good scene at the moment that the continent of Africa, full of creative and highly innovative individuals, lacks these supportive avenues for writers and researchers. For such a creative people you’d think this wouldn’t be a problem. What is missing? How come there are no structures to implement these very important systems?
There’s no one simple or single answer, and I’ll avoid getting into the mumbo-jumbo complexity of why and what. The plain truth is that we need them so we have to create them. Just like we need several other basic structures that some countries have achieved for themselves or are trying very hard to solve; education for all, clean water, good infrastructure, food production, a free and just civil society, and anything that contributes to human rights and sustainable development. Yes, those big words.
My appreciation therefore goes to Ayi Kwei Armah and the group who tried and put together the Per Sesh Writers Residence in the beautiful seaside Popenguine, Senegal. Whether it’s still running is another matter, but the initiative to put up a structure and implement it worked.
In October 2006, four of us were admitted to Per Sesh Writers Residence with Ayi Kwei Armah as our mentor. Aissatou Ka from Senegal, Sule Egya from Nigeria, Kofi Duodu from Ghana and yours truly from Uganda. It was an exciting time at many levels. Three of us were from English-speaking countries and the plunge into a French community was thrilling and challenging at the same time. Also, we were to be another’s keeper, to criticise each other’s writing and give constructive feedback (avoid fistfights), to learn and share writing goals, intellectual, cultural and Pan-African spirit, and also to respect the space that was nurturing our creative ambitions. It was an ideal time.
It was also a trying time. Any four people meant to share space for nine months can have very productive and some not-so productive discharges. Ugh, clinical. For writers I think the possibility of a war and peace at extreme ends was always inevitable. Or maybe it’s all of us. Armah was prepared for the challenge. Being the rational thinker that he is, he had in place a few rules to keep us out of trouble, and it was our responsibility to avoid anything toxic. Kofi did not complete the nine months because the setup didn’t work for him. Three of us persisted and survived. The guidance of a structure, availability of time and space to write, think, revise and work together were enough motivation.
I had the opportunity for the first time to dedicate long hours purely to writing and thinking. For once I didn’t have interruptions, I was far from home, I didn’t have distractions – friend’s weddings and all that jazz – the social activities that are wonderful for the fabric of the community but disastrous to an emerging writer. I use the term emerging here because in spite of having published two poetry books and a couple of short stories here and there, I was yet to tackle what would be my most ambitious form, the novel, and I was yet to appreciate the process of revision.
We wrote everyday and Armah took us through the technicalities of the writing craft. He had a whole book – ‘The Eloquence of Scribes’ – in which he’d designed our workshop format. Still we were surprised to hold our first novel drafts at the end of nine months in July 2007. Writing a novel, something I’d earnestly desired but had remained a tough challenge, was finally accomplished. Aissatou and Sule also had their first novels. My dream as a novel writer became a reality. I remember holding my draft and crying, feeling drained, drained but happy as if I’d come out of a great sickness. I’d never been able to write beyond 27 pages of a novel-in-progress. Now I had 600 pages. It was almost insane to believe, to accept. Earlier I’d spent five years thinking about writing a novel, starting one day and going limbo the next. Per Sesh helped me make that transition from being an occasional poet to a full-time writer. It set me on the prose path and anchored me in the prose world where I’m happy to dwell. I received invaluable attention and feedback from Armah and my colleagues, the kind of advice and encouragement that’s rare in a world where, depending on your lenses, you see a lot of selfishness and folly.
Of course our drafts were far from being finished products. We hoped to remove ‘weeds and cobwebs’ during the rewrite and revision process. But it comforted us that we had the drafts – a place to start. Somehow we knew we hadn’t ‘arrived’ yet. It was time for departure, a place to start. What was required now was patience to work on polishing what we had. I confess I was deluded it was going to be nip and tuck, rearranging pages here and there and deleting redundancies. Instead, it became another engaging struggle but the good news; the skeleton and flesh were there, while the spirit, brain and blood, the stylistics that would give it shape were lacking or existing in spurts. No mother gives birth to a baby and starts showing off the child still covered in blood, vernix, mucus and other fluids. With the help of a midwife, the baby is cleaned up, dressed and swathed in the best cloth before presenting the baby to the public. I’ve been doing the cleaning and the baby looks better and better. In some parts she shines, in others there’s still mucus to be removed. Also important is that ranging from months to years, you have to let the baby rest before you start fussing again. Only then do you notice the parts to clean. Good writing, yes, but good revision even better.
‘Knowing how way leads on to way’ (a wonderful line from Robert Frost) a writers experience in a residence often leads on to other important ventures; publications, or new stations in life. I think for me what began as nine months at Per Sesh Writers Residence gave me two years at TrustAfrica, where I wrote the organisation chronicle besides other writing and editing projects. It was during my residency at TrustAfrica that I published ‘Give Me Room to Move My Feet’, my third poetry collection. TrustAfrica gave me or led me on to the Syracuse University MFA program, among other factors. I know from Syracuse way leads on to way. Is it just personal? I wouldn’t be writing this if the non-personal wasn’t involved; other writers’ need to reach for the umbrella, their thirst for a network of writers who challenge our most private and public motivations, giving birth to innovative practices.
Not to overstate what is, I think a writing residence, workshop, and fellowship are the best things that could ever happen to a writer. Every great writer at some stage has taken advantage of these. Depending on the design, place and time, a writer writes more or/and better (skills are honed and the thinking is deep) and does less tamasha. It comes with territory. You may look in the mirror and recognise the person you’ve become, the critical writer not settling for less or second best. Flaws make you and become your strength, i.e. perfectionism, discipline, hard work… Quality becomes everything. Experience or nothing. You change.
You get obsessed with bestwriters as opposed to bestsellers. You stop imagining becoming a bestseller if you haven’t mastered skills of bestwriting. Bestwriting depends on subjective feeling while bestselling is clear to all. Millions, billions of copies sold. Simple. Bestwriting? You know it when you see it but you can’t always define it. It might contain universal appeal yet is highly personalised. It can be foggy trying to touch or reach it and that’s precisely why and what you must do – reach it. You cannot if you do not have three important cushions: Craft. Time. Place.
Per Sesh Writing Residence had a second batch but I’m not aware of a third. Ayesha Harruna Attah, who was in the second group, went on to publish ‘Harmattan Rain’, (Per Ankh Publishers) her first novel and was short-listed for the 2010 Commonwealth Writers’ Prize, Africa Region. She was brave enough to come out of the workshop and say; my book is ready for the world. Finances aside, I think Armah, good vision and all, may not have foreseen how exhausting it was going to be. He was doing most everything so certainly he couldn’t carry on year in year out without a break or his own life and writing would suffer. It’s humbling how he volunteered his time and gave us his best knowledge 100 per cent of the time. I can’t help but wish that other writers of his generation were doing the same, giving opportunity to writers in Africa to dedicate time to writing, nurturing their skills, thinking and sharing literary passion with a committed mentor.
Writers’ residences, fellowship facilities and workshops aren’t a one-person endeavour. They call for a certain kind of faith, hope, love and goodwill so that even when there’re no funds to run them, even when there’re no quick products (writing is not a quick fix. If you want quick goods make pancakes,) even when there’re products but one may not solely live off them, the support to engage in writing exists because you and someone care for it. It’s unfortunate many able people and groups want to support ‘clearly tangible projects with feasible outcomes and measurable results.’ The link that writing has to individual, national and global culture is not fully appreciated. The idea that a writer may not fully possess absolute proof what the project will be in the end but is ready to invest in the how is often dismissed. People forget that to support writing, like education, you have to invest in the process and hope that at the end you will have a quality product. It can’t be product first although it’s important to keep sight of goals.
That’s how we came to the creation of African Writers Trust (AWT). We being a group of African writers with like-minded goals and objectives. We try to nurture writers on the continent by conducting craft-focused workshops, connecting writers with others on the continent and Diaspora, and promoting their works. With Goretti Kyomuhendo at the forefront, we started in 2009 and have so far conducted two training workshops in Uganda for emerging writers. Our dream is the continent. Uganda is our starting place because it’s familiar and we know where to place our feet. We are slowly but steadily building steps in other countries, mobilising writers there, and promoting platforms that encourage creative writing. We are doing everything we can to raise and commit money, time and intellectual support for writers. We will do more. We believe each one of us has something to give. Our vision is to train all upcoming writers from Africa, to debunk borders and connect each one of us across our writing profession. We value African writing and the joy that comes from sharing with other writers news of the writing world, the challenges that writers face universally; handling rejections and writers blues, author-publisher relationships and so on. We do not lack stories to write but we must discover the best ways to write them.
With time we will build a writers residence and create fellowships for African writers to spend longer periods working on individual projects and benefiting from sustained immersion. This is not a competition. It would be a dream come true to have writers’ residences, arts councils and fellowships across Africa enabling writers with basic facilities – tools such as computers, internet access for quick research/searches, craft itself – to the more sophisticated. A lot of talent dies or is forced to produce half-baked products because time and funds, when available, are divided to cater for many other needs.
In my experience working with NGOs and foundations, I’ve learnt that bombarding folks and organisations for money isn’t perhaps a wise way to start. Some will gloat telling you we can’t fund such and such. Writers, hmm, we give tractors. Do you need tractors? Can you have a component that caters for gay rights? We’re interested in that. How about China’s influence… Before you know it, you’re lost. Your baby project has become someone else’s funding campaign, ideology or strategy.
Better to start with your own little pool however small. Be firm and with luck, people/groups/associations etc will actually come to you asking, how do we help, how do I support, what contribution can I make… It’s true when the student is ready the teacher appears.
It would be great for established writers to be concerned about future African writers and devote some time, money, whatever it takes to mentor emerging writers in Africa. With the exception of Ayi Kwei Armah, Ama Ata Aidoo, the late Ousmane Sembene, and just a few others, imagine what a boost it would be for budding writers if most of the other Africa’s great writers or even non-writers were to support writers’ outfits in Africa. We all don’t have to bear the same vision but imagine if Soyinka, Ngugi, Achebe, Ben Okri, and others had in Africa centres that facilitate the writing process. What we have currently is a disconnect; the older, successful writers seem to be in their own world while the young, poor upcoming writers have less means of sustenance and very little support to pursue writing. Everywhere else there’re hundreds if not thousands of writing residences, Arts Councils, fellowships and workshops built to support writers, except in Africa. I’m sure it took deliberate planning, time, care, love and effort to build them and it takes the same to maintain them. I haven’t even mentioned universities and other institutions of higher learning. What a vacuum, brothers and sisters. We can’t play games with this because this is the future.
BROUGHT TO YOU BY PAMBAZUKA NEWS
* Mildred K Barya is a writer & poet.
* Please send comments to editor[at]pambazuka[dot]org or comment online at Pambazuka News.
Freedom of speech is upside-down
'We live in a world turned on its head, a desolate, de-souled world that practices the superstitious worship of machines and the idolatry of arms, an upside-down world with its left on its right, its belly button on its backside, and its head where its feet should be... It’s a world where children work and don’t play, where ‘development’ makes people poorer, where cars are in streets where people should be, where a tiny minority of the world consumes a majority of its resources… If the world is upside-down the way it is now, wouldn’t we have to turn it over to get it to stand up straight?' - Eduardo Galeano
Celebrated Uruguayan writer Eduardo Galeano would surely also agree that there is something upside-down about the way freedom of speech is meted out in our society.
In South Africa, anyone can say anything she or he likes. We are ‘free’. We have the right to freedom of speech, or so says our constitution. Julius Malema can mouth off all he wants about nationalisation while standing to benefit from it, Helen Zille can falsely claim that there is no more raw sewage on Cape Town's streets, and Jacob Zuma, our ultimate patriarch, can profess that he abhors the abuse of women. We are free to listen to the views of the elites, non-stop. From Generations to Tutu to Zapiro. Sometimes what is said is also a damn accurate description of how fucked up our world is today.
Yet there is something wrong with even the most well-meaning voices that we listen to, read or watch in the media today. It’s not necessarily that they are wrong, but that these voices are upside-down. These voices are vetted, compartmentalised and sold for an industrial complex that has one bottom line: profit (and not just any profit but profit without risk).
There is an inequality of communications that rivals the inequality of wealth in this country. We hear politicians, academics and development professionals talk about a poverty that they have, with few exceptions, never even experienced. Yet where are the voices of those actually living in this poverty?
We listen to the likes of Malema (who has enough money to buy thousands of hectares of farm land) speak about land redistribution. Yet where are the voices of the landless?
When Helen Zille installs a prepaid water meter in her own home in front of dozens of cameras, she claims that if it’s good enough for her, then it’s good enough for Cape Town's poor. Yet for those who are the forced recipients of such meters and who end up begging their neighbour once their water is cut, where are the cameras?
The poor and landless have learned that they must burn tyres and destroy roads to bring the cameras!
Yes! Something is surely amiss. Something is definitively upside-down. I ask myself: why am I writing this piece when I'm not even the author of the book I am here writing about? What was my role, really? I created space for an anthology to be published when such space should have, in the first place, existed! My role should not exist.
This is why we must all work to turn things right-side up.
Self-written histories such as ‘No Land! No House! No Vote! Voices from Symphony Way’ cannot be the only one of its kind in post-1994 South Africa. The struggle for a true people's history cannot end with the co-option of UDF-affiliated (United Democratic Front) civil society thereby making it the government's history. Has there really be much change in the South African media since the ANC (African National Congress) came to power? Voice was and still is the property of the corporation.
Perhaps the only difference nowadays is that the voices of poor black shackdwellers, instead of being ignored outright, are sometimes interviewed, analysed and interpreted. But they're always interviewed from a certain viewpoint, always analysed with specific agendas, always interpreted via specialised misinterpretations.
So when Conway tells us to ‘put your shoes into my shoes and wear me like a human being’, we’d better do as we're told.
When Mina says ‘I am not stupid, you can rather kill me but I will never agree to something that I am not satisfied with,’ we should not underestimate her resolve.
And when Jacqui writes ‘turn your ear to the poor hear them cry,’ we must know that she has something important to say.
We cannot humanise our world through a vanguard media – as comradely as it may seemingly investigate society's lack of humanity. To me, this is the ultimate lesson given by the 45 pavement dwellers who wrote this anthology.
Through Galeano again, we find that:
When it is genuine, when it is borne of the need to speak, no one can stop the human voice. When denied a mouth, it speaks with the hands or the eyes, or the pores, or anything at all. Because every single one of us has something to say to the others, something that deserves to be celebrated or forgiven by others.
And this is true in our case too. Our world, and the media industry that speaks for it, has shrunk the pavement dwellers’ voice into a small, though beautiful, 160-page book. Yet we must not forget that they spoke in myriad other ways: through their occupations, their protests and, of course, their unique little commune called Symphony Way that they built as they spent 21 months on an asphalt pavement opposite their N2 Gateway dream homes.
A BOOK TOUR TO FIX OUR PUBLISHING INDUSTRY
We cannot humanise our world through a vanguard media. The right to a voice cannot be held only by elite academics, authors and politicians. To fix the publishing industry, we must turn freedom of speech on its head. This is why the first ever pavement dweller book tour of Europe and North America is so necessary. We must bring the Symphony Way Pavement Dwellers to tell us why and how they staged the longest civil disobedience protest in South Africa's history. Help us make this book tour happen! Please contribute here (and receive a free book signed by Raj Patel for donations of over US$250).
BROUGHT TO YOU BY PAMBAZUKA NEWS
* Support the campaign to fund members of the Symphony Way community’s tour by making a donation here. The campaign currently has US$639 and is aiming for US$6,830 in total.
* Versions of this article has appeared in the catalogue of the 2011 Jozi Book Fair and The New Age on 5 August 2011.
* Jared Sacks is the compiler and supporting editor of 'No Land! No House! No Vote! Voices from Symphony Way', as well as the executive director of Children of South Africa.
Jamaican Vibrations: Rocking Steady to Reggae
The diversity of diasporic lives
Paul Tiyambe Zeleza’s ‘In Search of African Diasporas: Testimonies and Encounters’
Carolina Academic Press
This is an ambitious and brilliant book by one of Africa’s leading diaspora intellectuals. A combination of a researcher’s field notes, a travelogue and personal memoir, it is unusual in African writing. It is the first book by an African scholar to take us on such an amazing analytical and narrative journey in search of African diasporas around the world from Latin America to the Caribbean, Europe and Asia. It is filled with analytical insights, captivating stories, and intriguing observations on the complex histories and experiences of African diasporas, their triumphs and tragedies, perils and possibilities, and their enduring struggles for belonging, for their humanity. Its inimitable passions are leavened by engaging humor, its scholarly analyses by a novelist’s eye for local context and color.
The author seeks to address the perplexing question of what it means to be a person of African descent living outside of the African continent. He offers the reader fascinating and richly textured portraits and surveys of the diversity of diasporic lives as well as the abiding connections of the diaspora condition. What makes this book particularly gripping are the multilayered narratives, the braided stories and explorations of African diasporic lives across many contexts and places as well as the author’s own life during the period of his travels from 2006 to 2009. Also skillfully interwoven are the author’s daily encounters and observations, information and reflections from interviewees from all walks of life, and the larger structural contexts of diaspora struggles for enfranchisement and empowerment.
For all the gruesome exclusions, vulnerabilities, and marginalities African diasporas have suffered in their various abodes, this is a remarkable tale of diasporic agency, a celebration of their lasting contributions to the construction of the modern world in all its manifestations.
This book is part of the African World Series, edited by Toyin Falola, Frances Higginbotham Nalle Centennial Professor in History, University of Texas at Austin.
“Paul Tiyambe Zeleza has been thinking about and living with pan-Africanism and Diaspora before its second wave of popularity and has done the experiential and intellectual work. In Search of African Diasporas: Testimonies and Encounters takes us with him as he documents the existence of our various journeys and arrivals, and the ways we re-create and redefine an African world wherever we are. As we read this book, we are able to travel with Zeleza from Venezuela to Oman, across the Caribbean and throughout Europe, getting the flavors and colors of the African Diaspora in myriad locations.” — Carole Boyce Davies, Professor of English and Africana Studies, Cornell University, General Editor, Encyclopedia of the African Diaspora
“For over a century, we have been flooded with Black American narratives of returning to Africa. Paul Tiyambe Zeleza, a distinguished African scholar, reverses the poles and seeks to discover the global diaspora—the descendants of slaves, migrant laborers, refugees, fortune seekers. Part memoir, part travelogue, part history, part critical interrogation, Zeleza has given us a brilliant compendium of richly detailed and astute insights into how contemporary black intellectuals and activists understand racism and blackness, and how the black world sees itself, its relationship to Africa, and the future. From Latin America to the Arab world, Europe to the sub-continent, Zeleza’s fascinating journey takes place against a backdrop of globalization, growing divisions between rich and poor, ever greater displacement, heightened nationalism, and a genuine debate over the effectiveness of global black unity. Yet, as with Richard Wrights traveling observations a half-century earlier, Zeleza never avoids the hard questions or the difficult truths. A stunning achievement.” — Robin D. G. Kelley, Professor of American Studies and Ethnicity, University of Southern California
“In Search of African Diasporas offers a landmark contribution to the growing scholarly inquest into the African Diaspora. Based on years of travel, discussion and reading, Paul Tiyambe Zeleza presents a veritable tour-de-force, generating an utterly unique account that fuses his travelogue of a modern Diasporic odyssey with a penetrating analysis that both interprets the Diaspora’s larger meaning, while also inhabiting its migratory flows. Highly readable, perceptively written, geographically broad, and refreshingly critical, Zeleza’s 21st century rendition of the timeless'travel diary' is sure to set the bar for those who are attempting to grapple with questions of identity, culture, and society in a fast-paced world of global change. Yet, anchored in history, this book is as much an artifact of the African Diaspora, as it is a current reflection on this persistently enduring modern phenomenon.” — Ben Vinson III, Herbert Baxter Adams Professor of Latin American History, Johns Hopkins University, Author of Flight: A Tuskegee Airman in Mexico, and African Slavery in Latin America and the Caribbean
“A groundbreaking and powerful look at the African Diaspora in the world. Paul Tiyambe Zeleza’s existentialist commentary on multiple African Diasporas reminds the reader of Richard Wright’s Black Power in reverse: sincere, intimate and controversial. The novelistic descriptions of people and places also recalls some of the best travel narratives of Ryszard Kapuściński.” — Manthia Diawara, Professor of Comparative Literature and Africana Studies, New York University, author of African Film: New Forms of Aesthetics and Politics
“Africa’s memory and relationship with its diaspora is a troubled one, a mixture of ignorance, stereotype, sentimentality, alienation, admiration and distortions. All this is compounded by the fact that Africans have themselves not sought direct knowledge of its Diasporas. Paul Tiyambe Zeleza’s book is an authoritative contribution to the initiation of Africa’s own exploration of whatever happened to its descendants outside the continent and how they are faring today. It is a tour de force that combines the aesthetic sensibilities and descriptive force of a novelist and essayist that Zeleza is and the scholarly authority of a renowned African historian. The result is a fascinating encounter with Africa’s Diaspora in the many places he visited. It is a gripping distillation of anecdote, personal reflections and analysis. Zeleza is an erudite traveler and thoroughly reliable guide whose account opens new vistas to the lives of Africa's dispersed descendants. The book is a must-read for anyone who seeks to understand the complex outcomes of the Presence Africaine in the world.” — Professor Thandika Mkandawire, former Director of the United Nations Research Institute for Social Development, Chair in African Development at the London School of Economics, University of London
BROUGHT TO YOU BY PAMBAZUKA NEWS
* Paul Tiyambe Zeleza’s ‘In Search of African Diasporas: Testimonies and Encounters’ is forthcoming in October 2011 (ISBN: 978-1-61163-056-5).
* Please send comments to editor[at]pambazuka[dot]org or comment online at Pambazuka News.
Pambazuka News 201: War in Libya, Al-Qaeda in the Maghreb and the French military presence in Chad
Al Shabaab and the bomb-dropping infidels...
Kagame welcomes Museveni
NATO and Gaddafi
Zimbabwe: Broad agreement on Zimbabwe 'impossible'
A summit of Southern African leaders this week was unlikely to affect the political crisis in Zimbabwe given the lack of regional consensus on the issue, analysts said. The fragile power-sharing government between Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe and rival Morgan Tsvangirai was expected to feature prominently when leaders from the Southern African Development Community meet on Wednesday and Thursday in Luanda, Angola.
Zimbabwe: ZANU PF denies torture in diamond field
ZANU PF has strongly denied the existence of torture camps near the controversial Chiadzwa diamond fields, after video evidence of the ongoing abuses by the military there was released. The UK’s BBC Panorama investigative series has revealed that the camps have been operational in the Marange region for the last three years, and the explosive report shows how civilians are subject to severe beatings and sexual attacks. But Mines Minister Obert Mpofu has denied the camps exist, calling it 'cheap propaganda from the BBC'.
Haiti: Haitian women winning their rights
www.towardfreedom.com has an article on Gerta Louisama, a member of the executive committee and the National Women’s Committee of Tèt Kole. She writes: 'Us Haitian women, we have a lot of challenges, but as peasant women we have even more. We truly carry the burden of society. We’re the ones who hustle to feed the household and send the sick to the hospital if need be. We women, we work the land, we raise cattle, we transport merchandise like plantains, yams, and black beans to the capital. If we don’t work, there won’t be any flow of goods.'
Africa: Women's empowerment in Africa
The latest edition of Africa Renewal focuses on women's empowerment in Africa. It includes an interview with the head of UN Women in Southern Africa and a feature on North African women on the barricades.
Zambia: Outlook dim for women candidates
Although there is a female presidential candidate contesting Zambia's 20 September general elections, her prospects are not strong. And in fact, fewer women overall are likely to be elected into public office this year, analysts say. Zambia is a signatory of the Southern Africa Development Community Protocol on Gender and Development, which commits member countries to have 50/50 representation of women in all decision-making positions, including the political arena, by 2015. But Zambia's political parties have not reflected this in their adoption of female candidates.
Somalia: Women bear the brunt of crisis situation
The situation for women and children in Somalia remains precarious, humanitarian workers warn. According to Janusz Czerniejewski, head of Intersos at the Kenya and Somalia Mission, conflict over scarce resources increases during drought, putting women and children at higher risk of experiencing sexual violence. 'As they flee Somalia to safety, women and children are passing through areas where armed groups and bandits roam, only to arrive in crowded and potentially dangerous camps. The protection aspects of this crisis are acute and life-threatening. Gender-based violence (GBV) like rape, domestic violence and female genital mutilation is a significant issue in all parts of Somalia,' he told IPS.
Tanzania: Study shows one in three girls sexually abused
Nearly one third of Tanzanian girls experience sexual violence before they turn 18, a Unicef survey has found. The figure among boys is 13.4 per cent, says the UN children's agency. The most common form of abuse is sexual touching, followed by attempted intercourse, it says. Unicef official Andy Brooks said the survey was the most comprehensive carried out on this issue in any country and showed the government was prepared to tackle the problem.
DRC: The blood that feeds the heart of DRC’s conflict
Blog Black Looks reports on 'Blood in the Mobile', a documentary which traces the mobile phone to it’s source in the eastern DRC. The mineral cassiterite is mined in deep holes by men and boys and is then transported by foot through dense wet forests for two days before reaching the nearest town.
DRC: The time for justice is now
Crimes under international law, including rape and murder, continue to be committed by the Congolese army and armed groups in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo following decades of similar crimes across the country, Amnesty International has said. A new Amnesty International report 'The time for justice is now; new strategy needed in the Democratic Republic of Congo' calls for the reform and strengthening of the country's national justice system to combat impunity that has been fostering a cycle of violence and human rights violations for decades.
Southern Africa: Regional leaders urged to confront human rights issues
Leaders in the regional grouping SADC have been called upon to urgently deal with the 'worrying' human rights situations in several member countries, and to strengthen the mandate of the regional tribunal in Namibia instead of weakening it. Writing to SADC’s executive secretary, Dr. Tomaz Salomao, of the global rights group Human Rights Watch said the leaders should address the situations in Malawi, Swaziland, Angola and Zimbabwe, when they meet at a summit in Luanda, Angola.
Equatorial Guinea: Reforms? What reforms?
In early 2010, the government of Equatorial Guinea accepted more than 100 recommendations made by United Nation (UN) member countries at the UN Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR). The accepted recommendations were aimed at improving several key areas related to the protection and promotion of human rights and civil liberties. It is unclear how or if the government of Equatorial Guinea is implementing the UPR recommendations; to date it has not provided the UN Human Rights Council with any updates to this effect, reports EG Justice.
Congo: Implement anti-discrimination law, urge indigenous peoples
Indigenous peoples in the Congo - minorities who are often marginalized and experience discrimination - are calling for the application of a law on the promotion and protection of the rights of autochthonous peoples passed in February. Potential beneficiaries say the authorities should implement the law as soon as possible to stop discrimination. 'As an aboriginal person, I stand to gain from this law; but we want it to be applied immediately,' Ngouélé Ibara, who heads the Association of Indigenous Peoples of the Congo, told IRIN.
Nigeria: How to get rid of foreign prisoners
The Institute for Race Relations in the United Kingdom reports on prisoner transfer agreements between the UK and other countries. 'For the past few years, under pressure from right-wing Tories, the government has made strenuous attempts to reach agreements with countries such as Nigeria to enable prisoners serving sentences here to be compulsorily repatriated to complete their sentences in their home countries, so as to save costs, reduce the foreign national prisoner (FNP) population and make space for British prisoners.'
Libya: Amnesty urges NATO to investigate civilian killings
In a statement issued 10 August, Amnesty International urged NATO to conduct a full investigation of a recent attack near Zlitan, which the Libyan government reported killed 85 civilians. NATO denied seeing any evidence of civilian casualties. But did it look? asks this article on www.news.antiwar.com 'Its not clear. Officials reported the attack and independent journalists confirmed seeing large numbers of dead civilian bodies in the morgue, including a number of civilians.'
South Africa: Human rights ‘still a focus of foreign policy’
A new white paper on international relations reaffirms that SA’s foreign policy should be based on human rights and development in Africa but also warns that SA’s regional leadership position could soon be challenged. In the past SA has been criticised for having lost its focus on human rights, particularly when it supported positions that failed to take strong action on the crisis in Zimbabwe. A decision to deny a visitor’s visa to the Dalai Lama for fear of alienating China was also strongly criticised.
Gambia: Missing ex-Gambian minister found in police custody
The former Gambian minister of Information who went missing in June has been found in one of the country’s jails after the police had denied knowledge of his whereabouts. A French news agency quoted Gambia’s police spokesperson Yerro Mballow of not being aware of the minister’s arrest and 'no idea where former he could be'. However, Justice Ministry officials confirmed that Mr Amadou Scattred Jannenh was being held in jail awaiting trial for treason and sedition.
Egypt: Legal initiative to aid victims in Mubarak trial
The Front to Defend Egyptian Protesters, which includes 34 human rights organisations and a number of volunteer lawyers, has welcomed the initiative taken by many activists and political powers to help in representing the civil plaintiffs in the case of the ousted president Hosny Mubarak, his sons, his interior minister, and some figures of the former police apparatus. The initiative comes to ease the burden carried by the Front since establishment in April 2008, especially with the growing pattern of cases it is competent with since the aftermath of January 25th revolution.
South Sudan: First civil society convention issues communique
South Sudanese civil society organisations met in Juba, from 26 to 29 of July 2011 to discuss social, political and economic issues in the new country. Resolutions to citizens included embracing unity in diversity and overtly rejecting ethnicity, nepotism and corruption. The new government should enhance and promote social justice and declare zero tolerance for sexual and gender based violence - and develop a national strategy to address gender concerns, says a communique from the meeting.
South Africa: Joburg airport goes into lockdown
BDS Working Group press statement
'Johannesburg’s international airport was put on red alert after its National Key Point status was activated this morning due to the expected arrival of a delegation from Israel. Plans of the delegation’s local host, the South African Union of Jewish Students, to welcome their Israeli 'Hasbara' delegation were thwarted, with the Israeli delegation arriving at OR Tambo International Airport amidst much controversy.'
South Africa: Joburg airport goes into lockdown
Israeli delegation’s arrival disrupted
Report by BDS Working Group (SA)
Johannesburg’s international airport was put on red alert after its National Key Point status was activated this morning due to the expected arrival of a delegation from Israel. Plans of the delegation’s local host, the South African Union of Jewish Students, to welcome their Israeli 'Hasbara' delegation were thwarted, with the Israeli delegation arriving at OR Tambo International Airport amidst much controversy.
Last week, the South African Students Congress (SASCO) issued a communiqué to its provincial branches urging 'all students in all institutions of higher learning across Gauteng to boycott any activity organised by these [Israeli] agents. Any student who chooses to cooperate with the apartheid [Israel] regime is an enemy of progress.'
Expecting that their arrival to Johannesburg would not be a welcome affair, the Israeli delegation was forced to change their travel arrangements:
- the expected welcoming committee had to be cancelled;
- the airport was placed on high security alert, with the National Key Points Act being activated;
members of the Israeli ’hasbara’ group had to be escorted through back entrances and under disguises. None were able to walk freely into the public area of the terminal sporting any Israeli paraphernalia.
SASCO and the Young Communist League, who had called for its members to be present at the airport, creatively bypassed all the obstacles put in place to limit any actions. SASCO had a 50 person strong team deployed from 06h00 at strategic points in the arrivals terminal of the airport. SASCO members were instructed to converge in pickets if the local hosts had made any attempts to welcome their Israeli counterparts.
On hearing that the Israeli delegation had to 'come in like spies', SASCO and YCL students rejoiced outside the international arrivals terminal. Joined by students from Wits University and the University of Johannesburg, the group simultaneously revealed red T-shirts (under their jackets) stencilled with various bold messages, including 'Israeli apartheid unwelcome!'; 'Israeli war criminals unwelcome!'; and 'Israel guilty of war crimes'. They carried hand-crafted posters with similar messages and chanted in celebration.
Themba Masondo, a student at Wits University addressed the crowd: 'Today we have made clear to these Israeli propagandists and indeed any supporters of Israeli apartheid that this agenda is not welcome in South Africa. We will protest. We will boycott. And we will call on our prosecuting authorities to arrest those involved in Israeli war crimes...[W]e are many, our cause is just and we will win.'
The visiting Israeli delegation advertises to be a group of students wanting to dialogue, however the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Working Group (a Johannesburg based organization) challenged this framing and revealed at a press conference last week Thursday that most of the Israeli delegates were not in fact students but part of an Israeli government trained PR group. For example, they showed that two of the Israeli student delegates claiming to be students worked at the Israeli parliament. One is a deputy spokesperson and another is an official policy advisor.
Further, the BDS Working Group pointed out that virtually the entire delegation have served or are serving in the Israeli Defence Force (IDF), several in elite combat units and one even in the Israeli assault on Gaza in 2009.
On Monday, a progressive Israeli organization together with a European Union Human Rights laureate delivered a letter to the South African prosecuting authorities also reiterating the visiting Israeli group’s involvement in the IDF and probable connection to war crimes and crimes against humanity.
Kate Joseph, Wits Palestine Solidarity Committee member present at the airport commented: 'If this [Hasbara] group came to do Israeli PR, they are doing a hopeless job. If anything, their arrival in South Africa has bolstered Palestine solidarity in general, and the growing call on our campuses for a broad-based boycott of Israel.'
Students at Wits, UJ, UCT and elsewhere have committed themselves to non-violent, direct actions in the coming days as the Israeli delegates are expected to attempt campus visits.
ISSUED BY BDS WORKING GROUP (www.bdssouthafrica.com)
Muhammed Desai: 084 211 9988
Nurina Ally: 071 862 0076
South Africa: Government denies agreement preventing Horn refugees from seeking asylum
There is no bi-lateral agreement between South Africa and Zimbabwe to prevent refugees from the famine-wracked Horn of Africa entering South Africa, said state officials last week. The statements from the South African department of Home Affairs and the Zimbabwean Ministry of Foreign Affairs this week are in direct contrast to statements appearing on the South African Home Affairs website, and Zimbabwean news reports on Zimbabwe’s decision to bar entry to Somali and Ethiopian refugees.
South Africa: Detention and deportation of Zimbabweans ineffective
Immigration detention in South Africa and internationally is extremely expensive, can harm the health and wellbeing of those detained and has been found to not be effective at deterring irregular migrants, including Zimbabweans, says this press release. Global research spanning two years conducted by La Trobe University and the International Detention Coalition (IDC) found cheaper alternatives that work effectively in the interests of government and the individual.
Libya: Dozens of migrants left dying at sea
An Italian coast guard patrol rescued almost 400 people aboard a boat that had left Libya six days before and was lost for more than 36 hours off the coast of Lampedusa. Arriving in Lampedusa, migrants declared tragic deaths had occured from hunger and fatigue during the voyage and dozens of bodies were thrown over board.
Nigeria: Nigerians lured to Italy to work in sex trade
Every year thousands of West Africans migrate to Europe in search of a better life. But for some, that search will end in tragedy as they fall victim to organised crime gangs. In one area of southern Italy, thousands of women from Nigeria are trapped in a nightmare world of prostitution. Many are trafficked illegally by Nigerian criminals, who deceive them with promises of regular jobs.
Eritrea: Report on Eritrean refugees in North Africa and the Middle East
The thrust of this brief report by the International Commission on Eritrean Refugees is to bring to the attention of the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights Council (UNOHCHR) the problem of Eritrean refugees all over the world, in particular those found in North Africa. 'Professor Tricia R. Redeker reports that, in 2008 refugees seeking asylum from Eritrea surpassed that of Iraq and the number is increasing. It is reported that an estimated 2,000 Eritreans per month leave clandestinely to Ethiopia and Sudan. There are also those who crossed the Red Sea to request asylum in Yemen, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Qatar.'
Kenya: The $60m Somali refugee camp that still stands empty
The Independent newspaper in the United Kingdom reports on how the United Nations and the Kenyan government have come in for a fresh round of criticism for the continued closure of a multimillion-pound refugee camp that has been left empty despite the deepening humanitarian crisis in the Horn of Africa. 'The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has been accused of misdirecting the media by renaming scrubland adjacent to empty facilities, rather than sealing a deal with Kenya to open up a camp that cost international donors $60m (£37m) to build and has been left locked since November last year.'
Kenya: Post-election violence victims still suffer
The Mawingu camp for internally displaced persons affected by Kenya’s 2007- 2008 post-election violence is a desolate place. Located in the Rift Valley, the camp is a collection of tattered, sagging and forlorn tents. Save for the 120 children crammed in a room shouting in unison during an English lesson, there is no other sign of life. Many of those who live here left early in the morning to look for menial jobs. If they are lucky they will earn Shs 100 (one dollar) for a day’s work.
Global: Refugee children at 'high risk' of mental health problems
An estimated 18 million children worldwide have been forcibly displaced from their homes because of conflict; a third of those are refugees whose families have fled across international borders, research shows. To explain the consequences on their mental health, the authors of a study published in the UK journal, The Lancet, undertook a review of all the work on this subject, to see what lessons can be learned for the best way to support refugee and displaced children and their families.
South Africa: Municipal workers walk off the job
At least 145,000 South African municipal workers will walk off the job on Monday in a strike aimed at shutting down services including rubbish collection, in the latest dispute to disrupt Africa's biggest economy. 'Our demand of an 18% increase across the board, or R2 000, whichever is greater, is very necessary to meet the economic hardships that municipal workers suffer,' the South African Municipal Workers' Union said in its strike pamphlet.
Latest edition: emerging powers news roundup
In this week's edition of the Emerging Powers News Round-Up, read a comprehensive list of news stories and opinion pieces related to China, India and other emerging powers...
1. China in Africa
FM visits South Sudan and pledges support
Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi arrived in the Republic of South Sudan on Tuesday to strengthen ties with the world's newest country one month after it declared independence. In an interview with South Sudan's Al-Masier newspaper, posted on the Chinese Foreign Ministry's website on Tuesday afternoon, Yang said his visit "gives testimony to the importance China attaches to cultivating friendship and cooperation with South Sudan".
China to boost oil cooperation with both Sudans
China vowed to support Sudan and South Sudan and help both countries develop their oil industries, its foreign minister said as Beijing is aggressively pursuing natural resources in Africa. Foreign minister Yang Jiechi visited the southern capital Juba on Tuesday, one of the first senior foreign visitors since South Sudan became independent last month.
China-aided Lusaka General Hospital handed over to Zambia
Lusaka General Hospital, aided by the Chinese government, was completed and on Monday handed over to Zambia. Commissioning the opening of the newly constructed hospital, Zambian president Rupiah Banda said his country has over the years enjoyed the all-weather bilateral friendship with China, which is based on mutual benefits of the two peoples, and the commission of the Lusaka General Hospital will largely improve health delivery system and bring access to cost effective health care to the country.
Chinese investors on S African gold mine hunt
Chinese investment firms appear to be aggressively targeting South Africa’s smaller gold mines, with another potential takeover transaction confirmed at the weekend. China African Precious Metals (CAPM) said it would offer R150 million ($20 million) to buy Pamodzi Gold Orkney from provisional liquidators, an announcement coinciding with a new high in the bullion price. This is the third Chinese-led foray into the sector here in three months, with Chinese investors showing considerable willingness to pursue opportunities outside the country’s major gold mining companies.
'Re-think Sino-Africa ties'
Africa should rethink its relationship with China and end current trade practices under which raw materials are being spirited out of the continent with little benefits to technological and industrial capacity. Namibia has booming trade and political relations with China, which has emerged as the world's second largest economy and could be the biggest as soon as 2018. Despite the cosy relations, Namibia has said Chinese investors should add value to raw materials domestically.
Africa-China unpaid bills ‘not our responsibility’
MINISTRY of Youth and Sport publicly distanced itself from any responsibility ascribed to it for the outstanding bills of the Africa-China Young Leaders Forum that took place in May. Despite the fact that the forum was hosted by the Swapo Party and the Communist Party of China, a spat ensued between Swapo Party Secretary General Pendukeni Iivula-Ithana and Youth Minister Kazenambo Kazenambo when the latter refused to pick up the tab when the Chinese delegation who purportedly promised to cover all costs, failed to do so. With many unpaid bills at the end of the conference and service providers clamouring for payment, Iivula-Ithana reportedly approached the Ministries of Youth and Trade to cover the costs. At a press briefing yesterday, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Youth Peingeondjabi Shipoh said earlier speculations in the local media that the Ministry has failed to honour its commitments towards the forum are devoid of any truth.
NFCA plans to invest USD 700 million to boost production at Zambian unit
China’s diversified miner and leading copper producer, Non Ferrous Mining Company of Africa may plough in about USD 700 million in its Zambian unit at Chambishi mine’s south east ore body copper project to improve copper production and meet international metal demand from the Southern African nation. According to the company, the plan to invest the amount in the South East Ore Body is because of the volume of the project which the company seeks to maximize on copper production and create more employment as well as contribute to the growth of the mining sector.
Mozambique and China due to sign ten cooperation agreements in Beijing
Mozambique and China are due Wednesday to sign more than ten cooperation agreements, memorandums and exchange of notes, in the financial, economic, technical and social areas as part of a state visit by Mozambican President Armando Guebuza that began Tuesday. According to Mozambican state newspaper Notícias, which cited diplomatic sources, the two sides plan to sign an agreement for technical and economic cooperation worth around US$7.6 million, a framework agreement in financial cooperation with the China Development Bank (CDB), as well as a framework agreement on cooperation in the area of Small and Medium-sized companies.
SA students to get agri skills in China
Fifteen postgraduate students have been awarded the opportunity of a two-year scholarship programme to further their studies in agriculture, forestry and fisheries in China. The postgraduate scholarship, which is a partnership between the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries and China, is part of an existing Cooperation Agreement between the two countries.
2. India in Africa
India aims for trade deals with Africa
India said on Tuesday it expects to reach a preferential trading deal with the Southern African Customs Union by the end of the year as it seeks to expand its economic footprint on the African continent. India's trade minister also said New Delhi will be pursuing trade deals with other African nations as the country seeks to catch up with China which has outpaced it in trade and investment in the continent over the past decade. "India is keen to partner with countries in Africa not only for buying minerals but also for providing technology for mining and exploration," trade minister Anand Sharma said in a speech in the Indian capital.
3. In Other Emerging Powers News
Russia to build a nuclear power plant in Nigeria
Africa may have its second nuclear power station within years. The first one was built in South African Republic in 1984, while the second station in planned in Nigeria. Russia is likely to run the project. The sides have already signed a draft agreement on the proposed nuclear power plant, Russia’s state-owned nuclear energy corporation, Rosatom, says.
SA and Lesotho to build 1 200 MW hydropower plant
South Africa and Lesotho on Thursday signed an implementation agreement for the second phase of the R15-billion Lesotho Highlands Water Project (LHWP) and committed to building a hydropower station with an installed capacity of between 1 000 MW and 1 200 MW. The hydropower plant would be operational in 2018, and would see some 200 MW supplied for Lesotho’s power needs, with the remaining power transmitted to South Africa.
Emerging powers urge restraint in Syria
Emerging powers India, Brazil and South Africa urged Syria's regime to show restraint and respect for human rights at a meeting in Damascus with President Bashar al-Assad, a joint statement said Thursday. The countries "called for an immediate end to all violence and urged all sides to act with utmost restraint and respect for human rights and international human rights law", the joint statement said.
4. Blogs, Opinions, Presentations and Publications
SA must be realistic about its resources – Gigaba
It is estimated that significant amounts of finance is needed to get infrastructure in Africa on track. An Africa Infrastructure Country Diagnostic estimates annual investment needs in infrastructure in Africa at $38 billion a year over the next 10 years, with two thirds of this required from the energy sector. Gigaba urged Africans not to contribute to the "China-phobia we hear all around us, we must not be romantic about the nature of Chinese involvement in Africa." "Africa has been identified by Beijing as a strategic source to meet this resource and new market requirements and consequently, Chinese engagement in Africa has increased dramatically over the last decade. "However, the Chinese engagement has been accompanied by an accelerated process of infrastructure investment, albeit with the challenges and dynamics of its own," said Gigaba.
Economy: Mbeki urges Africa to focus on new trading allies
Africa should tap the US$ 50 billion capital exported from the continent to fund economic development, while seeking fair trading rights with China, Japan, Turkey and South Korea, former South African President Thabo Mbeki said Wednesday. Mbeki told a leadership forum underway in Mombasa, Kenya, that Africa should refocus on trade and capital generated within for investment, saying that trade within the continent could be enhanced using the regional economic blocs.
Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi's Written Interview with South Sudan Press
On August 9, 2011, Al-Masier in South Sudan published a written interview with China's Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi. The text is as follows.
Zambia: Banda meets Sata in elections
A chase for votes has kicked off for the much-anticipated 20 September Zambia elections. At least 10 presidential hopefuls are in the race after seven of their colleagues pulled out. Over 500 candidates are vying for the 150 seats in the National Assembly. Aspirants and their campaigners are crisscrossing the breadth and length of the country, hoping to get their lion’s share of votes.
Tunisia: Rap rage revolt
www.jadaliyya.com has an interesting article about rap music in Tunisia. 'Two months ago the private radio station Mosaïque FM asked Rachid Ghannouchi whether he preferred rap music or mizwid (Tunisia’s most popular sha‘bi or folk music, whose name derives from the main instrument that accompanies the singing, i.e., the goatskin bagpipe). Ghannouchi, leader of Ennahda (Renaissance), the previously banned Islamic party and now one of the major players in Tunisia’s postrevolutionary political scene, did not hesitate to say "rap.” How come Ghannouchi opted for the seemingly more “liberal” and “progressive” choice, rap music, over the more “traditional” and “authentic” one, mizwid?'
Tunisia: The Arab Spring's pivotal democratic example
With nearly two months to go before constituent assembly elections, Tunisia confronts a long list of challenges to the creation of a democratic system, begins this policy brief from Freedom House. 'Expectations for swift and wide-ranging reforms are very high among a population hungry for change after decades of harsh authoritarian rule. Ordinary citizens are eager to enjoy the benefits of meaningful political freedom and economic prosperity, having endured unrelenting repression, mismanagement, and the plundering of resources by a small circle around the family of former president Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali.'
Malawi: President warns of loss of life if vigils continue
Malawian President Bingu wa Mutharika has urged rights groups to call off nationwide vigils planned for Wednesday 17 August in order to 'save lives and destruction of property'. Civil society groups announced the vigils, to be held across the country, after Mutharika’s government failed to immediately address their concerns over the economy. Last month 19 people were killed in the poor southern African country when police opened fire on those taking part in anti-government protests that lasted for two days.
Morocco: Possible elections in November
Morocco's government has proposed that a parliamentary election take place early in November instead of the scheduled date of September next year. During long overnight negotiations with the interior ministry, officials from some 20 political parties agreed in principle for the election to be held in mid-November.
Uganda: Besigye set free in walk-to-work case
Ugandan Opposition leader Kizza Besigye has walked to partial freedom after the Magistrates Court in Kasangati, Wakiso District, acquitted him of charges related to the April walk-to-work demonstrations which at one point almost paralysed the country. The charges which had been preferred against Dr Besigye included alleged rioting after proclamation, incitement to violence, and disobeying lawful orders of a traffic police officer.
Uganda: Opposition defy police and vow to resume protests
Undeterred by police warnings, the opposition have said they are resuming nationwide protests to express their dissatisfaction with the government’s handling of the high and rising cost of living in the country. Masaka Municipality MP and national coordinator of Activists for Change pressure group, which is leading the protests, Mr Mathias Mpuuga, said that protesters would only bow to police attempts to stop their plans if police quoted the specific law empowering it to prevent them from exercising their constitutional right to hold a peaceful demonstration.
Libya: WikiLeaks cables detail Qaddafi family’s exploits
As the Qaddafi clan conducts a bloody struggle to hold onto power in Libya, cables obtained by WikiLeaks offer a vivid account of the lavish spending, rampant nepotism and bitter rivalries that have defined what a 2006 cable called 'Qadhafi Incorporated', using the State Department’s preference from the multiple spellings for Libya’s troubled first family. Though the Qaddafi children are described as jockeying for position as their father ages - three sons fought to profit from a new Coca-Cola franchise - they have been well taken care of, cables say. 'All of the Qaddafi children and favorites are supposed to have income streams from the National Oil Company and oil service subsidiaries,' one cable from 2006 says.
Global: Why the US debt crisis matters to you
This video posted on Youtube provides a simple explanation of the US debt crisis and why it spells disaster for the global economy. What the world is facing, says the video, is complete global economic collapse, something that has never happened before. And it's not a matter of if it will happen, but when.
Global: Is a second financial crash on the way?
In assessing the chances of another financial crash, Richard Murphy, an adviser to the Tax Justice Network writes that there is a two-part economy in the world, the real one and the feral one, which exists beyond the limits of the real economy and is made up of the enormous financial balances that are only entries in computer ledgers. 'This feral economy represents the wealth quite deliberately extracted from the real economy by those who have exploited it over the last thirty years of neoliberal domination.'
Southern Africa: Region threatened by Eurozone collapse
Southern Africa, including Namibia, stands to loose a lot should the euro collapse, a local economist said. 'No one will be unscathed, not least Southern Africa,' said Rowland Brown, economist at Capricorn Investment Holdings (CIH). The region’s exports will be particularly hard hit, he said. Central in the unfolding financial drama is how much longer Germany will be willing to cover debt for others with little chance of being completely refunded, he said.
Global: How the UK is making developing countries pay twice for climate change
In 'Climate loan sharks', the World Development Movement and the Jubilee Debt Campaign reveal that the UK is pushing $1.1 billion of climate loans, via the World Bank, on some of the poorest countries in the world. For example Grenada’s debt is already 90 per cent of GDP, yet it is to be lent a further $22 million, over 3 per cent of the country’s GDP. Lending to such debt burdened country is at best irresponsible and at worst willfully dangerous.
Africa: The repatriate generation
Chad seems a nightmare location for business - unless, that is, you are Papa Madiaw Ndiaye, 45, or Patrice Backer, 44, of Advanced Finance & Investment Group, a private-equity fund-management company in Dakar, Senegal, that has so far invested about $72 million in African financial institutions, agriculture and mining. 'It's like low-hanging fruit,' says Ndiaye, describing the investment climate in Africa. 'There is no competition. If you know what you're doing, it is a bonanza.' Such bonanzas - opportunities in troubled places with huge needs - are increasingly being sought out by a fast-growing group: Africans who have returned home after years of living, working and studying in the West, reports Time business magazine.
Africa: A decade of Nepad
As the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) marks 10 years of its existence as a continental programme aimed at fast tracking the development agenda of the continent, opinions are divided about how far it has succeeded in achieving its objective. Since its inception, NEPAD has undergone some metamorphosis. In February 2010, the 14th Assembly of AU decided to establish the NEPAD Planning and Coordinating Agency (NEPAD Agency), as the technical organ of the AU, to replace the NEPAD Secretariat.
Global: UN says 370 million people face threat of exploitation
The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNHCR), Navi Pillay, said that 'an estimated 370 million indigenous people' globally have lost or face the threat of losing their ancestral lands and natural resources due to 'unjust exploitation for the sake of development', PANA reported. According to UNHCR, when indigenous communities are alienated from their lands because of development and natural resource extraction projects, they are often left to scrape an existence on the margins of society.
Malawi: Borrowing, rates set to rise
Malawi’s leading economic analysts say government’s domestic borrowing and interest rates are set to rise following the suspension and withholding of aid to Malawi by some of the country’s donors. The analysts, particularly those from Nico Asset Managers Limited and National Bank of Malawi (NBM), have also warned that the country’s economy - once a model of success less than two years ago - is on its way to a major slowdown as businesses pant under the weight of a hostile macroeconomic environment that denies them even the most basic of survival kits such as forex, fuel, water and electricity.
Namibia: BP joins oil hunt
Oil giant BP has entered the oil rush in Namibia by clinching 25 per cent of the equity in Chariot Oil & Gas’ exploration license in the orange Basin. The transaction is in the form of a farm-out agreement and was conducted through Enigma Oil & Gas Exploration, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Chariot. The new share structure of Block 2714A is Petrobras, as operator, with 50 per cent, with BP and Chariot sharing the remaining interest. The partners hope to strike an estimated nine billion barrels of oil.
Nigeria: Pfizer pays Nigeria drug-trial victims
US pharmaceutical giant Pfizer has begun long-awaited compensation payments to families over a 1996 drug trial blamed for the deaths of 11 children and disabilities in dozens of others. But the payments were initially distributed only to four families, while some 200 children participated in the trial of meningitis drug, Trovan. Parents of four of the children who died as a result of the trial received cheques of $175,000 each at a reception in the northern Nigerian city of Kano, where the trial took place.
South Africa: Maternal deaths quadruple
The New York-based rights organisation Human Rights Watch has described the suffering of scores of women in South African government hospitals and clinics. It charges the abuse puts women and their newborn babies 'at high risk of death or injury'. The report says poor governance and corruption contribute to thousands of unnecessary maternal deaths.
South Africa: Health plan will need billions
Reuters reports that South Africa's proposed National Health Insurance programme, aimed at giving greater access to healthcare for the country's poor, will require 125 billion rand in 2012 and 214 billion rand by 2020, according to a government source. The NHI, currently being discussed by the government and other parties in South Africa's healthcare system, will require 255 billion rand by 2025, the source said citing the document.
Malawi: HIV-positive civil servants angry at switch from cash to food parcels
HIV-positive civil servants in Malawi are unhappy with the government's announcement that it would stop providing a cash grant to help improve their diet. In June, the government said the scheme would be stopped and replaced with food packages. According to Mary Shawa, principal secretary in the office of the President and Cabinet responsible for HIV/AIDS and nutrition programmes, the cash grant programme 'was grossly abused, with hundreds of workers claiming to have HIV in order to cash in on the payment'.
Nigeria: Jail threat for polio vaccination refuseniks
Authorities in Kano, Nigeria, recently announced people would be jailed or fined for refusing to immunize their children against polio, as cases increase in the northern state, but it is unclear whether this approach is working. Nigeria, one of four countries that remain polio-endemic, has historically been 'a global epicentre of transmission', according to Oliver Rosenbauer, spokesman for the World Health Organisation’s polio eradication group. Twenty-four polio cases were reported in Nigeria between 1 January and 27 July 2011, compared to six during the same period last year.
Swaziland: HIV prevalence among factory workers '50 percent'
A new government study has found that more than half of workers in Swaziland’s garment industry are living with HIV, and officials are realising that the once-hailed promise of manufacturing employment has become a financial and medical nightmare for tens of thousands of Swazi women. 'HIV prevalence among factory workers is 50.3 per cent,' said Nhlanhla Nhlabatsi, an epidemiologist with the Ministry of Health. Nhlabatsi presented the data last week as preliminary findings for Swaziland’s first Behaviour Sentinel Surveillance Report to be released in its entirety later in the year.
Swaziland: Cash-strapped Swazi university closed
Swaziland’s cash-strapped university failed to re-open for the new academic year, officials said, adding it would remain closed indefinitely. 'The registration process is suspended, and the commencement of the first semester lectures is postponed...to a date yet to be determined,' University of Swaziland Registrar Sipho Vilakati said in a statement.
Tanzania: Teaching crisis exposed by report
An Uwezo report confirms that in Tanzania 23 per cent of teachers are not in school on any given day and when in school, teachers spend half of their time outside the classroom. As a consequence, children are only taught for two hours and four minutes a day, instead of the expected five hours.
Uganda: Call for police to investigate raids on LGBT groups
International NGO Human Rights First (HRF) has issued a call for pressure on the Ugandan authorities to properly investigate last week's break ins at the offices of LGBT groups Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG) and Freedom and Roam Uganda (FARUG). And FARUG are calling for financial and technical support to replace their losses. The SMUG raid was thwarted by employees presence but the raid on FARUG led to the theft of computers, equipment, and the electronic database containing members' names.
Ghana: Fightback begins against homophobic attacks
After initially trying 'quiet diplomacy', Ghanaian LGBT have formed an alliance with civil society supporters to oppose an increasingly vociferous anti-gay campaign in that country. A Coalition Against Homophobia in Ghana (CAHG) has been announced. It says: 'The Coalition has among its objectives to create a friendly rapport between the media and the LGBT community and also educate people to respect the rights of LGBT people’s privacy and human dignity, which is a vital part of fundamental human rights.'
Global: Married in New York
Blogger Scarlett Lion spent a weekend snapping photos of the same sex weddings that took place recently with the passing of New York’s Marriage Equality Act, an experience she describes as 'amazing'. You can view the pictures on her blog.
South Africa: A gay Congolese man in South Africa
In this article, a Congolese volunteer with People Against Suffering Oppression and Poverty (PASSOP) describes what it is like to live in South Africa. 'Life is tough here. Firstly, there is a lot of homophobia in the Congolese community in South Africa. When I first arrived, I lived with my cousin. When he found out from my family in Congo that I was gay, he kicked me out on the street. My mother ensured that no other family member in South Africa took me in after that. Since then I have moved around a lot, living with different Congolese people, but the story is always the same: once they detect that I am gay, they kick me out.'
Cameroon: Air France refuses to fly failed gay asylum seeker
Joseph Kaute, the 43-year-old gay Cameroonian who was due to be deported from the UK, is back at Harmondsworth detention centre, thanks to Air France, the airline that was due to fly him from Heathrow back to Yaoundé via Paris. It was the third attempt to deport him. 'Air France refused to allow me to board,' Mr. Kaute told UK Gay News.
Nigeria: UN to monitor Ogoni oil spill clean-up
The UN is said to be planning a close monitoring of the clean-up of the Ogoni oil spill in Nigeria as recommended by the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) in its report, the Guardian newspaper reported, quoting Martin Nesirky, the spokesperson to the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. The paper said that the UN chief is being briefed about the details of the UNEP report, which called for the biggest oil spill clean-up ever recommended.
Nigeria: Climate change adaption and conflict
Climate change, a growing number of voices in media and policy circles warn, is raising the risks of violent conflict in the twenty-first century. Dire futures are predicted for some of the world’s poorest, least prepared countries and their most vulnerable citizens. This report, sponsored by the Centers of Innovation at the U.S. Institute of Peace, evaluates these claims for conflict-prone Nigeria. Based on a comprehensive literature survey, interviews with senior government officials, academics, and private sector figures, and the author’s work as a conflict analyst in Nigeria, the report calls for a more nuanced approach to mapping the links between climate change and conflict.
South Africa: Keeping Shell out of the Karoo
About 80 demonstrators wearing gas masks and lab coats to emulate scientists from oil company Shell have protested in Cape Town against hydraulic fracturing (fracking) for shale gas in the Karoo. Shell SA is punting shale gas as an affordable alternative to coal, nuclear and renewable energy industries, and wants to explore 90,000km² of the Karoo. The march was initiated by photographer Kian Erikson in partnership with the Climate Justice Campaign and Earthlife Africa CT.
Ghana: Community exposed to environmental risk
www.africanews.com reports that residents of Ohwim-Amanfrom near Kumasi in the Ashanti Region of Ghana are protesting the siting and operations of a factory in the area. According to them, paper manufacturer, T &Y Company, is polluting their environment, which exposes them to health risks and also destroys aquatic life. The Chinese factory started operating in the community about two years ago. The company recycles plastic waste and produces toilet rolls and other plastic products.
Lesotho: SA and Lesotho to build 1 200 MW hydropower plant
South Africa and Lesotho have signed an implementation agreement for the second phase of the R15-billion Lesotho Highlands Water Project (LHWP) and committed to building a hydropower station with an installed capacity of between 1,000 MW and 1,200 MW. The hydropower plant would be operational in 2018, and would see some 200 MW supplied for Lesotho’s power needs, with the remaining power transmitted to South Africa.
South Africa: Cabinet notes document on national climate change position
Cabinet has noted the national position for the negotiations on climate change under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), spokesperson Jimmy Manyi said. Previously, South Africa said it would commit to lowering greenhouse-gas emission by 34 per cent below business as usual trajectories by 2020, and by 42 per cent by 2025, on condition of financial and technological assistance from developed nations. The Africa Group Negotiators (AGN) - a negotiating bloc under the UNFCCC - has started developing the ‘African Climate Platform for Durban’, which would articulate the African position at COP 17.
Uganda: activists dare Museveni to sell Mabira Forest
Conservationists in Uganda have vowed to tackle President Yoweri Museveni head-on over his renewed plan to push through a proposal to give away part of Mabira Forest for sugar cane growing. Addressing district leaders and agriculturalists at Entebbe State House on Saturday, President Museveni said failure to give away the forest in 2007, is partly to blame for the current sugar crisis in the country. However, in what might lead to a repeat of the 2007 protests against the proposed give-away in which three people were killed, activists and politicians have condemned the President’s latest move and vowed to fight to save the forest.
Global: Food Sovereignty now!
La Via Campesina have released a film on land rights. As the organisation notes: 'Watch this 20 minutes film and show it to your neighbours, friends, community, local organisation, in a cultural center, a film festival, a demonstration...You can organise a film screening followed by a discussion where you can invite local farmers, local authorities and anyone interested.'
Global: Peasants need a new instrument to protect their human rights
La Via Campesina press statements
'The 7th session of UN Human Rights Council Advisory Committee is commencing from 8 to 12 August 2011. Among the participants are delegations from La Via Campesina, who are fighting for an initiative towards an international convention of the rights of peasants.'
Peasants need a new instrument to protect their human rights
The 7th session of UN Human Rights Council Advisory Committee is commencing from 8 to 12 August 2011.
Among the participants are delegations from La Via Campesina, who are fighting for an initiative towards an international convention of the rights of peasants.
La Via Campesina, Foodfirst International Action Network (FIAN) and Centre Europe – Tiers Monde (CETIM) organised a side event to the 7th session on Tuesday (9/8). Participants from member of the advisory committee, States, experts and NGOs discuss the initiative and how to increase the legal protection of peasants and other people working in rural areas.
'There has been an exponential growth of violations of human rights,' Yolanda Areas Blas says. She is the member of La Via Campesina from Nicaragua. 'These violations hinder peasants and people in rural areas to produce food and to live with dignity.' Yolanda continues to underline the regional panorama of the violations in Central America, '25 peasants are murdered in the last year alone related to land conflicts in Honduras'.
Sofia Monsalve from FIAN highlights the importance of the right to land for peasants. 'The right to land is basic human rights for peasants.' She says also that, 'Right to land is there in human rights law. We should construct historical development and progress for the rights to land of peasants.'
'Peasants all over the world should mobilize in this important step of advancement of their human rights,' states Jose Bengoa, member of the Advisory Committee. 'We need to convince States that this is the time for peasants, it is a necessity, to a new instrument to protect the rights of peasants, and also to recognize the right to land in international human rights law,' he concludes.
La Via Campesina
Via Campesina is an international movement of peasants, small- and medium-sized producers, landless, rural women, indigenous people, rural youth and agricultural workers. We are an autonomous, pluralist and multicultural movement, independent of any political, economic, or other type of affiliation. Born in 1993, La Via Campesina now gathers about 150 organisations in 70 countries in Asia, Africa, Europe, and the Americas.
International Operational Secretariat:
Jln. Mampang Prapatan XIV no 5 Jakarta Selatan 12790, Indonesia
Africa: How would an investor export maize or rice from a famine-hit country?
The drought and famine in East Africa is already throwing up some uncomfortable questions for the model of large scale agro-investment in a poor country for export, says this article on www.farmlandgrab.org 'How would an agribusiness be able to export maize from a famine-stricken country that depends on the crop as its staple food? The furore over South Korean company Daewoo's plans to grow export maize in Madagascar was at least in a mainly rice-eating country. But imagine an investor had spent years and millions of dollars developing export-maize plantations in a mainly maize-eating east African country amidst the region's current famine.'
Kenya: Starving Kenyans stare at GMO dangers reality
Forced to survive on wild fruits in the face of drought and food insecurity, hungry Kenyans could soon face the dilemma of eating genetically modified food. The verdict among the scientific community is that the poor are paying the price for runaway graft that precipitated theft and illegal sale of strategic national food reserves to foreigners. Between 2008 and 2009, the Ministry of Agriculture, then under the watch of suspended minister William Ruto, came under criticism for irregular sale of three million bags of maize reserves and the sale of fertiliser to central African countries. After it announced it would allow millers to import GM maize, the Government faces accusations of mortgaging the lives of more than 10 million hungry Kenyans to multinational companies.
Gambia: Pleas to drop death sentences on two journalists ignored
The world is pleading for two Gambian journalists who could face capital punishment for distributing T-shirts that call for an end to dictatorship in their country. Last month the high court in Gambia charged Ms Ndey Tapha Sosseh and Mr Matthew K. Jallow with treason in a country where the death penalty is very much alive. The pair are presently in exile in two different West African countries. If the regime succeeds in roping the two journalists back home, they are most likely to be killed by a firing squad or by hanging, analysts say.
Ghana: Ruling party accused of seeking to bribe journalists
With elections on the horizon, Ghana’s politics have entered the season of allegations - and counter-allegations. First, it was the opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP) which claimed it had in its possession a tape of the deputy minister of information, Baba Jamal, promising bribes to a group of journalists if they backed the government with positive stories. Before this could blow over, the propaganda secretary of the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC), Richard Quarshigah, flung out a cracker: that the NPP was planning to unleash a group of young girls to bait NDC officials in sleaze stings.
Guinea: Despite democratic rise to power, president represses media freedom
Guinea's first democratically elected President survived an assassination attempt on 19 July after gunmen surrounded his home and pummeled it with heavy artillery. Three people were killed during two separate attacks. But President Alpha Condé immediately clamped down on any media coverage of the attack, a censorship that IFEX members report is emblematic of his contempt for the media, despite promises for positive change.
Malawi: Malawi slaps 16.5% VAT on newspapers
Newspapers in Malawi used to be exempt from sales tax. But the finance minister has announced they would start attracting the standard 16.5 per cent VAT. For a press that's already over-reliant on state advertising, the predicted drop in sales - and corresponding need to bring in even more government ad spend – is very bad news for free media, says this article on http://freeafricanmedia.com
South Africa: What to do with SA's secret files?
The National Archives and Records Service were ill-equipped to deal with the deluge of declassified information likely to ensue once the Protection of Information Bill becomes law, the Nelson Mandela Foundation warned. With over-classification believed to have been the norm since the Minimum Information Security Standards became policy in 1996, MPs have been grappling with the question of what to do with secret files from the recent past, as well as those from the apartheid era.
Togo: Journalists rally to protect free speech
On 6 August 2011, journalists in the West African country of Togo rallied in the streets of the capital Lomé [fr] to protest against the threats that their colleagues received recently, reports Global Voices. The rally was launched on 3 August by the association ‘SOS Journalistes en Danger' (SOS Journalists in Danger). The week prior to the event, several media professionals in the association warned against threats sent to a group of Togolese journalists that were believed to be 'critical of the power in place'.
Madagascar: Raw sewage kills
About a third of Madagascar’s 20 million people do not have access to water for washing and most of the rest share unsanitary toilet facilities, according to a July 2011 World Bank Water and Sanitation Programme (WSP) report. The threat of diarrhoea and other diseases is particularly acute in some of the poorer suburbs of the capital Antananarivo. A network of canals, storm water drains and channels criss-crossing the city are choked with rubbish, causing flooding in low-lying areas during the March to November rainy season. In April 2011, the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) reported a worrying rise in pneumonic plague.
Tanzania: Violence against children rampant, say officials
In a bid to break the silence around violence against children, Tanzanian authorities launched a five-year plan on 9 August to eliminate all forms of violence against children, including sexual, physical and emotional abuse. 'Levels of violence [against children] reported are high in all settings; forms of violence reported and described are equally disturbing, including being beaten, tortured, sexually assaulted and even murdered,' Sophia Simba, the Minister for community development, gender and children, said in Dar es Salaam during the launch of a survey on the subject.
DRC: Conflict minerals legislation and ending conflict
This blog article tackles the issue of how to end conflict in the DRC. 'Ending the world's deadliest conflict is no easy task, but a growing consensus of Congolese civil society, electronics and metals companies, investors, and governments are now taking action to do so. A chief driver of their work is the Dodd-Frank legislation on conflict minerals, which is why a coalition of 40 Congolese human rights groups called it "the leverage needed to instill and impose ethical business practices in the Great Lakes region."'
East Africa: UN shares responsibility for famine, experts say
The United Nations Human Rights Council should accept responsibility, on behalf of the world forum, for the famine spreading through eastern Africa, and should call for member countries' cooperation to overcome the desperate food crisis there, experts said. One of the 18 independent experts on the advisory committee to the Council, Chilean academic José Antonio Bengoa, set forth the idea of asking for an urgent special session, in an attempt to draw the attention of the international community to the gravity of the crisis in the Horn of Africa.
Libya: Gaddafi defiant as rebels claim gains in west
Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi has urged his supporters to fight for the country 'inch by inch' as opposition forces launched a two-pronged offensive in western Libya that threatens to isolate the capital of Tripoli. Facing the sternest challenge of his decades-long rule, Gaddafi on Monday called on Libyans to arm themselves to liberate the country from 'traitors and from NATO' in a broadcast on state television. The speech, which was broadcast in audio only with no images, was the first time Gaddafi had spoken in public since rebel fighters launched their biggest offensive in months.
Somalia: A country in peril
Somalia’s in flames again, but what’s new? asks this paper from the Enough Project. 'The answer is that much is new this time, and it would be a dangerous error of judgment to brush off Somalia’s current crisis as more of the same. It would be equally dangerous to call for the same tired formulas for UN peacekeeping, state-building, and counterterrorism operations that have achieved little since 1990. Seismic political, social, and security changes are occurring in the country, and none bode well for the people of Somalia or the international community.'
Somalia: al-Shabab offered amnesty
Somalia's government has offered an open amnesty to al-Shabab fighters after the rebels made a surprise withdrawal from the capital, Mogadishu, over the weekend. 'We offer an amnesty - put down your weapons and your guns, and come and join the people and your society,' Abdirahman Osman, a government spokesman, was quoted as saying by the AFP news agency on Tuesday. Al-Shabab, who still govern over much of southern Somalia, have waged a bloody war since 2007 to topple the Western-backed transitional government.
Somalia: US relies on contractors in Somalia conflict
The New York Times profiles the use of private US military contractors in the war in Somalia, introducing the story with Richard Rouget, whom they describe as 'a gun for hire over two decades of bloody African conflict'. The story goes on: 'Rouget, 51, commanded a group of foreign fighters during Ivory Coast’s civil war in 2003, was convicted by a South African court of selling his military services and did a stint in the presidential guard of the Comoros Islands, an archipelago plagued by political tumult and coup attempts. Now Mr. Rouget works for Bancroft Global Development, an American private security company that the State Department has indirectly financed to train African troops who have fought a pitched urban battle in the ruins of this city against the Shabab, the Somali militant group allied with Al Qaeda.'
West Africa: Civil society studies 'counter-terrorism plan'
Journalists and civil society members in West Africa analysed a 'counter-terrorism plan' drawn up by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) at a 4-5 August meeting in the Senegalese capital Dakar. Main issues that emerged were the need to strengthen regional cooperation and to address root causes of terrorism - poverty and lack of education, said Biram Diop, director of the African Institute for Security Sector Transformation, who facilitated discussions.
West Africa: Piracy threat rising
The West African coastline has seen increasing attacks on chemical and oil tankers. London-based Lloyd's Market Association, an umbrella group of insurers, recently listed Nigeria, Benin and surrounding waters in the same category as Somalia, where two decades of war and anarchy have allowed piracy to flourish.
South Africa: Broadband comparison service launched
South Africa now has a website offering where broadband customers can enter their phone numbers and find the cheapest broadband offering in their area.
Uganda: Monitoring the Thomas Kwoyelo trial
Thomas Kwoyelo, former middle-ranking Lord's Resistance Army commander and allegedly captured in March 2009, was charged with war crimes and became the first person to be committed to the International Crimes Division. As part of their International Crimes Division monitoring initiative, the Refugee Law Project will update you with detailed newsletters and video documentaries based on the proceedings related to Kwoyelo's trial.
Call for Papers: 500 Years Later: Reverberations of the Transatlantic Slave Trade
Volume 5, Number 2 (Winter 2012)
Guest editor David Anderson Hooker, Director of Research and Training for 'Coming to the Table: Taking America (USA) Beyond the Legacy of Enslavement', and the editorial staff of 'Race/Ethnicity: Multidisciplinary Global Contexts', invite submissions for the first issue of its fifth volume, entitled '500 Years Later: Reverberations of the Transatlantic Slave Trade.'
Race/Ethnicity: Multidisciplinary Global Contexts
Race/Ethnicity publishes key information and insights about the challenges and opportunities presented by race and ethnicity in the 21st century, with particular attention to dynamics shaping the experiences of racially marginalized people and communities. We welcome contributions from advocates, activists, and practitioners of all kinds, as well as from researchers inside and outside the academy.
Executive Director (Dakar – Senegal)
TERMS OF REFERENCE:
POSITION: Executive Director
In accordance with the statutes of Gorée Institute, the Executive Director shall assume responsibility for both the internal and the external functions of the Institute. As mandated by the Board of Directors, he / she administers the CSO by defining and implementing corporate and financial strategy, by overseeing policy programs or projects, and by reporting on the Institute’s activities to the Board of Directors.
In addition, he / she has an advocacy role with national and international institutions, including raising funds so that the requisite financial autonomy with which to establish and achieve the mission of the institution may be maintained.
These duties include:
• Presenting for adoption by the Board of Trustees : a five year strategic plan for fulfilling the Institute’s mission
• Implementing policies adopted by the Board of Trustees by assuring the coordination of program activities and the management of financial and administrative control
• Enacting a corporate vision for organizational and long-term development, by leading the formulation, implementation and evaluation of a programmatic strategy and of evolving network growth
• Submitting for approval by the Board of Trustees: the Institute’s projects and activities in terms of the annual budget plan, including provisions for contingencies and proposed cooperative activities
• Submitting an annual report on the activities and expenditures of the Institute to the Board
• Coordinating the preparation of any studies that the Board may request the Executive Committee to undertake in accordance with terms established by the Board of Trustees
• Representing the Institute to Local Authorities and to institutional partners
➢ Administrative :
- Responsible for compliance with rules and standards of the Institute
- Appointment of senior staff on proposal from the General Manager
- Overseeing the preparation of an annual budget
- Coordinating the affectations and duties of staff
- Assuring the carrying out of disbursement orders
• Raising funds from local and international donors;
• Representing the Institute in international fora (conferences, seminars, etc.).
• Assuring public relations by being the major spokesman of the Institute to the media, governments and the general public
The Executive Director shall participate in any mission deemed useful by the Board for carrying out the duties and obligations of the position.
Qualifications & Experience Required:
• Ability to articulate and implement a vision for running a programmatic and growth strategy;
• Have a proven capacity for fundraising / financing, both nationally and internationally;
• Financial competence and an ability to optimize capital for institutional functioning and programs;
• Demonstrated leadership capabilities with the aptitude to lead, stimulate snd inspire professionals;
• A knowledge of and a demonstrated commitment to issues of democracy and human rights;
• Aptitude for and experience in networking, building coalitions and institutional positioning;
• Able to delegate tasks effectively;
• Strong communication skills : oral and written French and English required;
• Be able to maintain leadership credibility and integrity
Applicants who are interested should forward a detailed CV including 3 referees and cover letter to firstname.lastname@example.org before September 20, 2011.
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Order Samir Amin's 'Ending the Crisis of Capitalism or Ending Capitalism?' from Pambazuka Press.
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