Pambazuka News 563: Busan to Durban: Failure of aid, failure of climate talks
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It is official: Busan heralds the dismantling of the aid industry
The Fourth High-Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness (HLF4) was held in Busan, Korea, 29 November – 1 December 2011. It is an end of a long journey that began with the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness (PDAE) in 2005. It was a misguided journey right from the beginning. Its authors were probably well-intentioned, but they legitimised and built on a monstrous global aid industry that is largely Eurocentric and self-serving, and that has nursed illusions for over half a century. HLF4 was launched with much fanfare; but it ended with the recognition – finally - by the architects of the PDAE that they were on a wrong course. The Outcome Document talks of not ‘aid effectiveness’ but of ‘development cooperation’, which is what it should have been from the start; and it sets out the schedule for the ‘phasing out’ of the aid structures by June 2012. This paper is part of a larger story of how the ‘aid industry’ has managed to fool the rest of us for so long. It gives the main highlights of Busan’s final burial of this self-reproducing aid industry. The ‘industry’ will no doubt try and find other reasons to survive. Nonetheless, those not taken in by the industry must now rethink of a world without ‘aid’.
AID DIPLOMACY AT BUSAN
READING BETWEEN THE LINES
Professional politicians and diplomats have a particular way of making public speeches. They send important and often critical messages encrypted in coded language. One has to be able to interpret the code, to read between the lines, in order to get to their hidden messages. At Busan, when the US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said ‘Beware of those who want to take your resources with quick fixes’, you can be reasonably sure that the warning was levelled at African countries and the pointer was at China. (I was once a politician and a diplomat; I have learnt to read between the lines).
Clinton said much more at Busan. Below I give an account of the main content of her speech, and of speeches of other dignitaries at the closing session of Busan. I supplement summary reportage by extrapolating from the diplomatic speeches reasonable elaborations in order to bring to the surface their more hidden messages and implications. (I was largely an observer; and I took copious notes of what I saw and heard. I depart from the ‘normal’ method of writing. Long diplomatic usage – especially of ‘experts’ in UN meetings – forces authors to write in a contrived, artificial, style that stifles thinking outside the ‘diplomatic norm’. What is needed is a bit of innovation, a bit of ‘out of the box’ thinking).
CLINTON CONFIRMED THAT DEVELOPMENT AID IS INEFFECTIVE
Clinton, in a short but ‘sufficiently’ passionate speech for the occasion, made three points.
One, the ODA (Overseas Development Aid) is no longer the main source of development financing. ‘It used to be 70% of total financial flows in the 1960s; now it is only 13% -- even as aid quantity has increased’. So, then, what is the purpose of aid? It should be, she said, ‘to facilitate private sector investment’.
ELABORATION: Aid, in other words, is an adjunct, an accessory, to something else. (I agree with Clinton on this – aid has no ‘independent’ life of its own. I return to this point later).
Two, ‘donor aid is driven by donor agenda…We should follow partner lead’. By ‘partner’ she meant the recipients of aid. There should be, she added, ‘genuine mutual accountability’. She gave the example of recipients’ insistence that donor aid should be ‘untied’ to donor procurement sources. She claimed that the US was trying its best to do so. But, in a frank admission, she went on to add that some US aid will remain tied in order for the Administration to secure political support of the Congress.
ELABORATION: The reference to the need for ‘genuine mutual accountability’ clearly implies that this is presently lacking, further reinforced by her point that ‘donor aid is driven by donor agenda’. (Clinton is on good ground evidentially; i.e. on the lack of mutual accountability). Also, and this is an important point, she acknowledged that aid is a means to promote certain politically-backed US exports. We know from other sources that the US Congress is a hothouse for business lobbyists, and that the USAID has been used by, for example, the farm lobby to promote US grain exports to Africa and other third world countries, and that these have had disastrous effect on local food production and domestic food security. (Besides Africa, Haiti is a good example of the disastrous effects of US food aid – limitation of space prevents further elaboration).
Three, and this is a telling statistic that put to question the whole issue of aid effectiveness. Clinton said that an independent study undertaken just before the Busan meeting revealed that out of 13 objectives set out by the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness, only one was met. Here is the full quotation from the independent study: ‘Although the Paris Principles continue to demonstrate their relevance over time, progress in implementing the agenda has undoubtedly fallen short. The preliminary results of the 2011 survey show that only one of the original 13 targets set for 2010 has been met’.
ELABORATION: There is (sadly, an almost too human) tendency to reject the verdict of empirical evidence (especially among professional politicians and diplomats, joined as I recount below, by international bureaucrats). Whilst acknowledging that only one out of 13 targets for 2010 were met by the ‘development aid’ (i.e. over 90 per cent of the aid failed to meet its objectives), the 50 ‘prominent thinkers in international development’ went on to say that the ‘Paris Principles continue to demonstrate their relevance over time’. On what basis these ‘thinkers’ came to that wishful thinking defies logic. It is like the well known fact that the gap between the poor and the rich countries has increased ‘over time’, and yet, in the diplomatic and political world, it is necessary to go on reiterating, ad infinitum, that the ‘principle’ of narrowing the gap is ‘relevant over time.’ Of course, it is ‘relevant’. (So are the Ten Commandments). But what has ‘relevance’ got to do with the achievability of these hallowed principles?
This is a serious question, and needs deeper thinking. The question is: Are there not some inherent dynamics within the global system of production and distribution that inexorably lead to the widening of the income gap not only between countries but also within countries, (not excluding the United States)? Is this not what the ‘Occupation Wall Street’ movement is all about? As with income disparities, so with ‘development aid’. Aid has failed; that is the simple, unadorned truth. The principles of the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness do not address the underlying dynamics of ‘aid’. The PDAE takes ‘aid’ for granted as a ‘virtue’, and gets on to the ‘technical’ task of making it ‘effective’. Deeper thinking (not a forte of ‘normal’ professional politicians and diplomats) would show that the PDAE principles obscure, obfuscate, reality of life; they encourage muddled thinking on aid.
For good measure, Clinton ended her speech by taking a passing shot at what she called the ‘ruling elite’ of aid receiving countries. They ‘have to make tough choices to remove their special privileges’. (I agree)
PAUL KAGAME TELLS IT LIKE IT IS FROM A RECIPIENT PERSPECTIVE
The President of Rwanda made a cool, dispassionate, speech covering the following issues.
One, ‘massive aid transfers have been ineffective’.
Two, there is a contradiction in the growth statistics of Africa. On the one hand, African economies have grown 7 to 8 per cent over the last several years; on the other hand, the per capita income has fallen.
Three, many African countries are unlikely to meet the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by 2015. This is the hard reality.
Four, there is a ‘huge aid industry’ that has now become ‘a permanent feature’ of north-south relations. This ‘industry’ is undermining the essential linkages between aid, trade and investment.
ELABORATION: Aid has occupied an undeserved place in the pantheon of financial flows, often to the detriment of trade and investment.
Five, the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness states ‘mutual accountability’ as one of its principles. ‘In reality there is no mutual accountability’. Kagame pointedly added: ‘When a country is not managing its resources how can it be held accountable?’ (Good question)
ELABORATION: Kagame went beyond Clinton: There is not only no ‘mutual accountability’; Africans do not even manage their resources. I agree with Kagame. African economies are still by and large in the control of foreign corporations – mining, manufacturing, trading, banking, services, etc. This is an all-pervasive phenomenon about Africa which distinguishes the continent from, for example, many large Asian countries such as China and India and now also several Latin American countries such as Brazil and Venezuela. Africa still does not ‘own’ its economy in spite of its ‘political independence’. How can its leaders be made accountable for, for example, ‘aid effectiveness’, when foreigners control its economies?
Six, Donors only talk about channelling aid through country systems; ‘in practice they refuse to use national systems’. There is a ‘need for greater mutual trust’.
ELABORATION: Mutual trust between the donors and the recipients is lacking; the donors do not want to put their money into a system they do not trust. Actually, it is not just a problem of trust; it is an existential or institutional problem. Donors argue, understandably, that they are dealing with public money and are accountable to their accounting procedures and legislatures. In other words, by its nature, and despite wishful thinking by President Kagame, the issue is inherently impossible to resolve. (Excuse us, Your Excellency, take it or leave it; we are accountable to our accounting procedures, not yours; but you take our money, so you are accountable to us for the money we give you).
Paul Kagame ended his speech with: ‘So fundamental rethinking is necessary’.
This fundamental rethinking came from an unexpected quarter.
QUEEN RANIA AL ABDULLAH OF JORDAN – THE MOST ENLIGHTENED AND FUTURIST SPEECH OF THE WHOLE BUSAN CONFERENCE
In a slow, compassionate (not diplomatic) and measured tone, the Queen delivered a few ‘truths to power’, challenging the prevailing orthodoxy about aid and development, and putting to shame the more compromising and subdued stance taken by the civil society organisations present at the Busan meeting.
Busan, she said, is different from Paris or Accra. ‘We live in a different world; it is a world of Tahrir Square, and Wall Street occupation’. The world, despite all talk about globalisation, is ‘growing apart, not coming close’. In some countries such as Argentina and Malaysia they have narrowed income gap. But global inequality is increasing. We need ‘a new development paradigm’. Development has to be based on equity; growth itself does not bring equity. We must give everyone an opportunity to develop his or her potential. ‘Sixty percent of our people are youth and a quarter of them are unemployed. They want jobs not aid’. Government should facilitate development of people not sit on top of them. The education curricula in our countries are ‘outdated’. (By the way, the Queen is a radical innovator of education policy in her country).
ELABORATION: It was a speech delivered from the heart. While most presentations, including those of other eminent speakers on the panel, and civil society organisations, made their points within the prevailing and dominant paradigm of development with its emphasis on growth, the Queen challenged its underlying assumptions. She was thinking ‘out of the box’. Economic growth is necessary, of course, but it does not bring equity. The evidence on the ground, both at the national and the global level, contradicts the naive assumption that growth brings equity. ‘The world is falling apart, not coming together’. Tahrir Square and the Occupy Wall Street are not only symbolic or heuristic reactions of the youth against the prevailing order; they are also a demand for a new international economic and political order. It is necessary to learn from the street. The path ahead is not clear (yet); but the path left behind is clearly not the path ahead. A new cognitive framework is needed to move forward. (These are my words)
ANGEL GURRIA, MYUNG-BAK LEE AND BAN KI MOON TREAD OLD, OBSOLETE, PATHS
Angel Gurria, the Secretary General of the OECD, President Lee Myung-bak of Korea, and Ban Ki-Moon, UN Secretary-General were treading old, worn out, paths in their presentations. Interestingly, they had the same message, as if they had sat together and planned what to say. Their arguments can be briefly summarised as follows:
One, Korea is a shining example of a country that has ‘moved from being a recipient of aid to a donor’. (This message was played up, insensitively, almost nauseatingly, in speeches and in large poster displays at the Bexco Convention Centre).
Two, aid will end poverty, improve gender equality, bring education to girl children, and so on and so forth.
Three, the world has fallen behind achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). ‘Therefore’ (sic!), rich countries need to ‘give more aid’.
Four, the 2008 financial crisis has shown that when countries work together they can prevent contagion. Etc, etc.
ELABORATION: Korea was presented as a ‘success story’; that may be the case. But the period when Korea was able to carry out land reform under American occupation; pursue state-aided and bank-rolled programs for encouraging Daihatsus; industrialise without having to pay massive intellectual property rents for technology; and export to the US almost duty-free at a time when the latter needed a dependable ally in Asia to contain communism – this period and its circumstances are not the same as today. Korea cannot be repeated by, for example, African countries. Korea is no ‘model’. Furthermore, the two Koreans (Lee Myung-bak and Ban Ki-Moon) conveniently ignored the fact that their country’s development owes itself largely to their hard-working working classes rather than ‘aid’. As for the argument that ‘because’ the world has fallen behind MDGs, ‘therefore’ the rich should give more aid to the poor is so seriously flawed of logic that it defies common sense.
THE BUSAN OUTCOME DOCUMENT
As I have recounted, the arguments of the principal proponents of aid at Busan (the Secretary Generals, respectively, of the OECD and the United Nations – and the host country) are seriously flawed on grounds of logic as well evidence on the ground. Some of these were acknowledged by the panel of eminent speakers, including the US Secretary of State. But these flawed claims are reproduced in the ‘Outcome Document’ with the usual ‘diplomatic’ cover-up (such as that the Paris Principles are ‘relevant’ or that they will work out ‘over time’). Once these weaknesses are exposed to the light of the sun (i.e. out-of-the-box thinking), it should be clear that HLF4 was not a success of the ‘Aid Effectiveness’ agenda, but its total negation.
Here is a brief analysis of the outcome document.
ONE: To start with its title, ‘Busan Partnership for Effective Development Co-operation’. ‘Effective aid’ is now replaced with ‘effective development’. This is a more telling indictment of ‘aid’ than is realised at first glance. After all, in 2005 the OECD countries had set out to redesign the architecture of ‘aid’, not development. After six years, and following vastly exaggerated claims of ‘success’ at Accra HLF3, the OECD aid architects seem to have abandoned the ‘aid’ project, and they have come down to embrace the larger, and even more complex, concept of ‘development’. The HLF4 Outcome Document confirms the point made by Hillary Clinton that ‘aid’ has no life of its own outside of ‘private investment’, or as Paul Kagame put it, aid has been ‘ineffective’ as a resource for development, a sentiment echoed by many African leaders.
It is only when we come to paragraph 28 of the Outcome Document that this ‘change of focus’ is explicitly acknowledged. It says: ‘Aid is only part of the solution to development. It is now time to broaden our focus and attention from aid effectiveness to the challenges of effective development.’ It then goes on to set out principles that are radically different from the principles set out by the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness.
TWO: HLF4 was largely an affair between the ‘poor’ countries of the so-called ‘third world’ and the so-called ‘traditional donors’ of the OECD countries. Conspicuously absent were the BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China). They were not present at the ‘high tables’ during the inauguration or the closing sessions; they made practically no contribution in the debates in the various fora and side events; they were represented by senior officials but these kept their counsel to themselves; and they were not actively engaged in the negotiation of the Outcome Document except to say that they were not part of this game called ‘aid effectiveness’. In other words, BRIC countries illegitimated HLF4 simply by their silence.
This was reflected in the telling opening of paragraph two of the ‘Outcome Document’ with the words ‘The nature, modalities and responsibilities that apply to South-South cooperation differ from those that apply to North-South cooperation.’ (This sentence needs to be re-read to grasp its significance). However, in order palpably to save face of the hosts and the UN and OECD Secretaries General, the paragraph ends with: ‘The principles, commitments and actions agreed in the outcome document in Busan shall be the reference for South-South partners on a voluntary basis.’
ELABORATION: There is no question that the bigger countries of the south (India, Brazil and China) as well as Russia have distanced themselves from the ‘aid effectiveness’ agenda of HLF4. Their agreement to refer to the principles of North-South relations on a ‘voluntary basis’ can only be interpreted as a political rejection of those principles. (Excuse us, Messrs Ban Ki-Moon and Angel Gurria, but we are not part of your game; count us out).
THREE: In paragraph 36(d), the Outcome Document invited the OECD and the UNDP ‘to support the effective functioning of the Global Partnership on their collaboration to date and their respective mandates and areas of comparative advantage.”
ELABORATION: The OECD has dumped the ‘aid baby’ on to the lap of the UNDP.
FOUR: The aid denouement is officially announced in the Outcome Document in paragraph 36(c). It calls on the Working Party on Aid Effectiveness (WP-EEF) to ‘convene representatives of all countries and stakeholders endorsing this document… in preparation for the phasing out of the WP-EFF and its associated structures in June 2012.’ By implication, the BRIC countries, possibly others, do not have to be part of this process; they are not part of the ‘associated structures’ in any case.
ELABORATION: The WP-EEF is a structure created under the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness – an insular, self-serving organ of the OECD that was created to monitor the whole scam of ‘aid effectiveness’. It is called to self-destruct in June 2012. It is therefore now official: The aid industry is … finally … dead.
CONCLUSION AND WAY FORWARD
Aid effectiveness of the OECD club of the rich is, for all practical purposes, dead, buried, pulverised, vaporised – in short, gone. Busan was its burial site.
However, the ‘aid industry’ has been in existence since the Second World War and is not likely to self-destruct that easily. Like the mythical English Cheshire cat, the whiskers will still be seen even as the body has disappeared.
The ‘aid industry’ or ‘complex’ (recall Eisenhower’s ‘military-industrial complex’) is at least a million-strong, largely inhabiting the North Pole (or a bit south of it) in countries like England, France, Germany, Canada, and the US, and its octopus-like NGO tentacles in the South Pole. It is a gargantuan network of self-styled pseudo-experts on development; well-intentioned do-gooders; hard-headed realpolitik operators in aid-dispensing Western countries; and a bunch of illiterate idealists.
What will happen to this ‘complex’? I can only make some indicative suggestions and tentative predictions. BetterAid – an NGO genie that was taken out of the bottle by the OECD in order to reach out to civil society, mostly in the Polar South, to peddle (and legitimise) the concept of ‘aid effectiveness’ will need to consider its future. Since BetterAid is aid-dependent, this is probably the only genie that could be pushed back into the bottle if the OECD so desires.
A bigger challenge confronts ‘charity’ organisations such as the Oxfam. ‘Aid’ (or charity) is their way of life, a sub-culture, with its priests, rituals… and yes, illusions. Oxfam alone has thousands on its payroll, and hundreds of shops where it sells tens of thousands of second-hand clothing, books, music, movies, etc donated by Oxfam supporters, generating literally millions of dollars in order to ‘fight poverty’ in the third world. What will Oxfam – and the likes of Oxfam – do? It is time for them to do some out-of-the-box thinking. Charity will remain as long as there are people like Geoffrey Sachs, Bob Geldof, rock musicians, do-good charity organisations, and the like, around. But they must realise that charity helps the givers: It uplifts their (Christian and other delicate) souls; but charity destroys the takers: It kills their spirit of self-reliance.
What, then, of the bigger and richer countries of the South (such as China, India and Brazil)? The first thing to acknowledge is that for a while they too were using the concept of ‘aid’ in describing some of their financial south-south transactions However, they now know better. HLF4 vindicates them for refusing to associate with this self-serving creation of the Europeans and the Americans. As the Busan document says, ‘The nature, modalities and responsibilities that apply to South-South cooperation differ from those that apply to North-South cooperation.’ They will now have to work out their own modalities of operation outside the framework of ‘aid’.
In the light of HLF4, what will the aid-dependent political-bureaucratic leaders of the countries of the South do (or should do)? Here I can only repeat Hillary Clinton’s advice: Strip your elite privileges. To this I add my own: Learn to be self-reliant on the strength of your people’s ingenuity and labour and intellectual resources, and your countries’ and region’s natural resources.
What, then, of the UN agencies on aid? As noted earlier, the OECD has dumped the ‘aid baby’ on the laps of the UNDP. Here is my suggestion: the UNDP must stay clear of the donors’ aid agenda. Also, the UN’s Development Cooperation Forum (DCF) must clear its decks and method of operation. Its present composition is OECD donor-dominated; it is funded largely out of donor funds, such as the various German development funds; and it is ‘legitimised’ by civil society organisations that are themselves aid-dependent. Other institutions such as the UNITAR might focus their training and research on designing methodologies to enable countries of the South to be more self-reliant nationally and regionally.
Finally, a word on those in the north who work with their ‘partners’ in the south on the basis of solidarity – based not on ‘aid’ or charity but on shared values of equity and justice. Solidarity is a complex concept – more so in practice than in theory. There are those who define it as action based on a ‘universal social protection system’, or as an essential component of the ‘common good of humanity’. However, they need to revisit these concepts, because they could easily lend themselves to manipulation by the Big Powers of the North (such as those in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization) to bomb innocent civilians in the name of ‘humanity’, ‘social protection’, ‘democracy’, ‘good governance’, ‘fighting corruption’ and the like.
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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.
 I am author of two recent publications on aid. One – ‘Ending Aid Dependence’ -- was published on the eve of HLF3 at Accra by the South Centre and Pambazuka Press in 2008; and the second – ‘Demystifying Aid’ – was published on the eve of HLF4 at Busan, by the Pambazuka Press in 2011.
 This is a reference to the roundtable event at the Brookings Institution in the US where 50 prominent thinkers in international development came together to discuss ‘a new role for global development co-operation’. Its report “The Road to Busan: Pursuing a New Consensus on Development Cooperation" came to this sobering conclusion about aid effectiveness. (http://bit.ly/s7zbjF)
 Aid and solidarity are two separate rivers, about which I shall write from my experience some time in the future. Suffice to say for now that I have over three decades of experience working on the issue of solidarity with friends in the North.
Angola: Diamonds are a girl’s best friend
Rafael Marques de Morais
On 5 November 2010 the president of the Republic of Angola, José Eduardo dos Santos, authorised the minister of Mining and Industry to extend the terms of a diamond mining concession in Luanda Norte province, primarily to the benefit of his daughter Welwitschea José dos Santos, usually known as ‘Tchizé’.
Presidential Decree 296/10 of 2 December 2010 ordered a two-year extension to Projecto Muanga’s Licence for Prospecting, Research and Identification for Kimberlite diamonds, in Lunda Norte province. President dos Santos initially authorised the project on 14 July 2005 as a partnership between the state diamond company Endiama (51 per cent), Sociedade de Desenvolvimento Mineiro – SDM (20 per cent), Odebrecht (19 per cent) and Di Oro (10 per cent). SDM is a joint venture between Endiama and Odebrecht, a Brazilian multinational.
Di Oro – Sociedade de Negócios, established in 2003, is owned entirely by Tchizé dos Santos (73.34 per cent), her husband Hugo André Nobre Pêgo (16.66 per cent), and the president’s son, José Eduardo Paulino dos Santos, who is a singer under his stage name ‘Coreon Dú’ (10 per cent).
However, at the time when Projecto Muanga’s partnership agreement was signed, Di Oro – Sociedade de Negócios e Alta Costura Ltd (which translates as ‘Business and Haute Couture Company’) were in another line of business. Article 2 of the agreement describes its business as ‘haute couture, fashion and clothing, business management and industrial enterprise, decoration, marketing cosmetics, wedding outfits, cocktail parties, birthdays and gifts’.
On 30 September 2005, two months after José Eduardo dos Santos had approved the granting of a large percentage of the kimberlite business to his children, the beneficiaries changed the statutes and name of the original company. Its name was changed to simply ‘Di Oro – Sociedade de Negócios Limitada’ and it redefined its purpose to include ‘geological study, prospecting and exploration of diamonds, participation in partnerships in the diamond business, hotel and clothing industry, general trade, import and export’ (article 2).
The presidential decree shows what President dos Santos has made of the policy of zero tolerance on corruption that he announced on 21 November 2011. He even declared at the time that the MPLA, as the ruling party, had ‘timidly applied the principle of keeping check on the government’s management practices, through the National Assembly and the Court of Accounts’.
In the same speech, the president of the Republic and of the MPLA suggested that his party’s lack of courage in fighting corruption had been ‘taken advantage of by irresponsible persons and by people of bad faith in order to squander resources and for illegal and even harmful or fraudulent management practices’. Dos Santos also said: ‘I think we must adopt a critical and self-critical attitude in relation to the party’s political conduct in this area’.
Yet the president’s administrative action of favouring his children in a business deal with the Angolan state itself amounts to a crime of corruption, according to the Law on Public Probity (article 25, 1, a).
The president of the Republic, by a broad interpretation, is subject to the Law on Public Probity, which is applicable to all public servants (article 15, 1). More specifically, he is also subject to the law as chief of the executive, of which he is a member (article 15, 2, a).
Odebrecht, for its part, has committed the crime of bribing the president of the Republic, through promising 10 per cent of the share capital of Projecto Muanga to the daughter of the president who personally signed the contract with António Mamieri, the representative of the Brazilian multinational. Projecto Muanga’s contract lays down (article 25) that Odebrecht and OMSI undertake to provide the investment ‘for all the expenses of Prospecting, Research and Identification, on its own account and at its own risk,’ as well as taking responsibility for any damage resulting from the failure of the project (article 27). In other words, Di-Oro’s contribution to the project was nothing more than the signature of the president, who is the father and father-in-law of its shareholders.
According to the Angolan Constitution (article 127, 1 on criminal responsibility), the president is responsible for acts of bribery in the course of exercising his duties (art 129, 1, b) and can be removed for crimes of bribery, embezzlement and corruption.
José Eduardo dos Santos has regularly made official decrees that have helped his children to get rich by illegal means. On 30 November 2005, the head of state authorised the contract for the prospecting, research and identification of the first diamond deposits in Projecto Cabuia, north-east of Saurimo in Luanda Sul province (Decree 106/05 of 9 December by the Council of Ministers). The consortium made up of Tchizé dos Santos’s firm N’Jula Investments, together with partner companies Miningest and Sambukila, was granted 5 per cent of the mining project’s shares, without having to make any financial, material or technical contribution to the working of the 3,000 square kilometre concession.
Projecto Cabuia’s contract states that Equatorial Diamonds, led by the businessman Hélder Bataglia, undertook the entire financing of the project, on his own account and at his own risk, and was entitled to 44 per cent of the shares. Endiama, as representative of the state, was promised 51 per cent of the shares. Again, one can say that Equatorial Diamonds is guilty of bribing the president of the Republic, in order to obtain his approval of the project.
Yet strangely, although the contract was meant to be for a period of five years, Executive Decree 7/06 of 30 January 2006 by the Ministry of Geology and Mines presents a different version of the same contract that was signed only two months earlier with respect to Projecto Cabuia. In the new version Tchizé dos Santos’s consortium acquired 30 per cent of the shares for the period of diamond exploration, Endiama 35.5 per cent, and the investor, Equatorial Diamonds, the remaining 34.5 per cent. This new arrangement involved the direct transfer of state capital, from Endiama, for the benefit of the president’s daughter and with his consent.
These blatant acts of corruption by the president of the Republic make a mockery of what the government says on the subject of good governance, transparency and public service.
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* Rafael Marques de Morais is an Angolan journalist and writer with a special interest in Angola's political economy and human rights. In 2000 he won the distinguished Percy Qoboza Award for Outstanding Courage from the National Association of Black Journalists (US). In 2006, he received the Civil Courage Prize, from the Train Foundation (US) for his human rights activities.
* Please send comments to editor[at]pambazuka[dot]org or comment online at Pambazuka News.
Barking up the wrong tree
Human Rights Watch and Chinese copper mining in Zambia
Barry Sautman and Yan Hairong
A November 2011 Human Rights Watch (HRW) report on labour abuses in four mining firms in Zambia parented by state-owned enterprise (SOE) China Non-ferrous Metal Mining Co. (CNMC) is predictably a media sensation.  Myriads of news outlets and blogs have reported its conclusions: that the Chinese firms are 'bad employers' compared to the five Western-based major foreign investors in Zambia’s copper mining industry; that they are the worst as to the safety of workers, their pay, hours and union rights. Despite HRW’s focus on one industry in one country, it sets out to provoke inferences that accord with the larger, highly-skewed Western discourse of 'China-in-Africa.'  Indeed, HRW asserts (p.1) that its report 'begin[s] to paint a picture of China’s broader role in Africa.'
HRW investigations are assumed to be empirically accurate, methodologically sophisticated and politically neutral. We challenge these assumptions in the HRW report on CNMC in Zambia, which draws empirically problematic conclusions and uses a dubious methodology
Readers of the HRW report may be overwhelmed by its basis in interviews with miners. We do not wholly dismiss concrete observations made by interviewees about rights deficiencies they experienced, such as having to work in unsafe conditions. CNMC firms employ some 6,000 workers and Zambia’s total mining work force is almost ten times as large.  Those interviewed by HRW included some 95 who had worked only at a CNMC firm and 48 who had also worked elsewhere. Those who worked only in a CNMC firm cannot, however, reliably infer from their own experiences that CNMC operations are less safe than elsewhere. Miners who formerly worked at other mines, may not necessarily make sound comparisons, as observations of safety practices experienced by a worker at KCM in 2008 and then at NFCA in 2011 do not tell us about safety practices at NFCA in 2008 or KCM in 2011.
More importantly, the HRW report does not tell readers whether those of its interviewees, who worked at a non-CNMC firm before moving to a CNMC one, were contract or permanent workers. This is significant, as we show below that contract workers generally have significantly worse experiences with safety. It is likely that many, if not all, of the 48 workers were permanent employees elsewhere before being laid off in 2008-2009. Thus, they had likely experienced the better safety conditions of permanent employees and could not represent non-CNMC workers as a whole. HRW relies on interviews as the method of investigation. Interviews could be very useful for investigating specific incidents of abuse, but could not be relied upon to draw a general conclusion about the extent of abuse with comparative implications. That research objective could only be achieved by producing and analysing random survey data from all mining companies. Thus, no general conclusions about the overall situation in CNMC firms or how conditions there compare with other mines can be drawn from such interviewees’ attestations.
Inferences of 'worst practices' drawn by interviewees about Chinese-owned firms are also highly suspect. A climate of intense anti-Chinese prejudice was whipped up from 2005-2011, especially in mining areas, by then-opposition leader and now Zambian president Michael Sata and his Patriotic Front, in order to advance their election campaigns.  Studies show that racialised discourse shapes attitudes and distorts evaluations on a wide range of issues. 
HRW’S SIMPLISTIC SAFETY COMPARISONS
Days after HRW issued its CNMC study, the president of the Mineworkers Union of Zambia (MUZ) Oswell Munyenyembe responded to it by saying that 'his union cannot entirely blame the Chinese companies because other mining houses are equally culprits.' He added: 'We cannot wholesomely condemn the Chinese-owned mining houses. Remember when we had the global crisis no worker was retrenched at any Chinese mine [unlike at other mines]. Yes, they have their own problems like mistreating workers and not following labour laws, but other mining houses are also culprits in this area. It is not only the Chinese mining companies.' 
The MUZ president thus disputed HRW’s central argument: that CNMC, among the foreign investors dominating Zambian mining, is almost uniquely culpable of abusing workers’ rights.
The way to know whether a mining company is deficient in safety compared to other firms is to determine (other things being equal) whether that firm accounts for a large disproportion of fatalities. Mining firms in Zambia cannot avoid reporting deaths. Injuries may go unreported, but serious ones correlate with fatalities, as most of both result from rock falls. 
Statistics provided by the Mineworkers Union of Zambia (MUZ) on fatalities in all foreign-owned copper mines and for CNMC-owned operations indicate that CNMC is unexceptional.
Mining fatalities in Zambia are not especially high by world standards; Zambia is not among the 60 most dangerous countries for miners listed by the International Federation of Chemical, Energy, Mine and General Workers’ Unions. CNMC-firm fatalities in Zambia - 11.5 percent of the country’s total from 2001 to late 2011 - are not a disproportionate number, which contradicts the claim that CNMC mines’ safety conditions are markedly worse than its industry peers.
HRW asserts that the supposedly worst conditions at CNMC firms 'stem largely from the attitude of Chinese owned and run companies in Zambia, which have tended to treat safety and health measures as trivial' and which 'appear to be exporting abuses along with investment.' The death toll in non-ferrous mining in China is much higher (about 83 miners per 100,000 miners in 2009)  than that in Zambia (about 30 per 100,000 for 2008-2011). As CNMC-owned firms do not have an especially high fatality rate by Zambian standards, the assertion that CNMC exports safety abuses does not mesh with its record in Zambia.
Explaining CNMC’s safety outcomes only in terms of attitudes is in any case simplistic. The relative number of fatalities is not determined solely by the level of safety consciousness of mining firms, but also by operational configurations of mines. Underground mines typically have more casualties than open cast (open pit) mines. The deeper underground mining goes, the greater the likelihood of rock falls and casualties.  CNMC firms have two mines in Zambia: CNMC’s Non-Ferrous Company Africa (NFCA) has Chambishi, which at over a thousand meters is a deep underground. CNMC Luanshya (CLM), at least 580 meters deep, is also underground. Open cast mining is not only safer, but also cheaper, so wages as well as safety are affected by mine configurations.
Other, larger Zambian copper mining firms do not have only underground mines; some have open cast mines and some are mixed underground/open cast operations. Konkola Copper Mine (KCM) is owned by Vedanta, the UK Indian major. KCM Nchanga open pit mine (55 percent of production), plus KCM Nchanga underground mine (45 percent) had 32 fatalities from 2001-2011, while KCM Konkola, an underground mine, had 31 fatalities. Mopani Copper Mine (MCM) is owned by the Switzerland-based mining and metals trading giant Glencore. MCM Nkana has underground and open cast mines and had 55 fatalities from 2001-2011, while MCM Mufilira, an underground mine, had 27 fatalities.  Many fatalities are also linked to the use of less-skilled, low-paid contract workers.
When copper prices increase, expansion occurs and fatality rises as new workers are brought in to expand production. For 22 months, from October 2006-August 2008, NFCA had zero-fatalities, a rarity in the industry. When asked about its fluctuating record, CEO Wang Chunlai explained that, “Before, we only had one ore body to work on; now we have two [and ] now we go down to more than 1,000 meters. The ceiling there gets unstable and that can create injury . . . As the scale of work enlarges, we’ve recruited more new workers, so our training may be lagging and we have to invest more in training.'  As to CLM, the director of Zambia’s Mine Safety Department (MSD) told us that it had the industry’s best dust abatement system  and from June 2009-December 2010, CLM had only one fatality. 
Unsafe conditions of service remain an industry-wide problem, as detailed in a study by John Lungu of Copperbelt University and Alastair Fraser of Oxford University.  There have also been firm-specific studies of Chibuluma mine under South Africa’s Metorex firm,  KCM,  and MCM  that have shown substantial safety problems. In a 2011 interview with us, the MSD Chief Inspector of Mines spoke negatively of NFCA, but only of its first five years in operation (2003-2008), when he said it 'was the worst mine in terms of safety. It didn’t want to do sufficient support work. And it didn’t have proper ventilation.' Now, however, 'NFCA is OK' in terms of safety, so 'NFCA no longer stands out.' 
No one, including CNMC, asserts there are no safety problems at its Zambia facilities and, at these and other mines, such problems require urgent attention. Taking into account fatality figures and differences in the configuration of mines however, there is no basis to claim that CNMC is the worst in terms of safety. To do so serves mainly to reinforce hoary racist stereotypes which have endured for more than a century in the West and have been spread to Africa, that Chinese are cruel and have a disregard for human life. 
WAGES AND HOURS: THE EXAGGERATED GAP?
CNMC still has to catch up on pay, but there is a narrowing trend. In a 2011 interview, John Lungu compared miners’ basic salaries at the two CNMC Zambia mines with the country’s largest foreign mining firms.
MCM and KCM are the best payers among the mine owners. But the Chinese have responded to criticisms. The lowest wage in Chambishi went up from 400,000 Kwacha to K1.5 million and there’ve been later increments . . . Chinese companies have not caught up completely with the Western companies in terms of incomes in the mines, but they’re not lagging behind too much. There’s been great improvement. 
KCM and MCM each have workforces around three times the CNMC mines’ total workforce and produced, in 2010, 5-13 times the amount of copper concentrate (138,000 tons for KCM and 98,000 tons for MCM versus 22,000 tons for NFCA and 10,000 tons for CLM).  But apart from the global tendency of large, more productive enterprises to pay better wages than smaller, less productive ones,  there are Zambia-specific reasons why there is still a wage gap between CNMC and larger Western-based mining firms. One is the costs of rehabilitating Chambishi, which was closed for 13 years and flooded before CNMC acquired it, and refurbishing the antiquated Luanshya mine, which had been neglected and then abandoned by previous owners.  There are also differences in the copper content of mining concessions that affect wage levels. A section engineer at Chambishi Mine told us in 2008 that, 'With 1.8 percent copper content, the former [owner] didn’t think it was worth their while to mine it. 1.8 percent in Zambia is considered a tail [leftovers] mine. They don’t think it was worth their effort if it’s lower than 3 percent. Other mines have 4 or 5 percent.' 
Deep underground operations and lower copper content make CNMC production more labour intensive, with lower productivity. NFCA and CLM together produced 4.7 percent of the Zambian foreign-owned copper industry’s concentrate in 2010, but had 10.5 percent of its workforce. NFCA and CLM’s productivity is thus much lower than industry averages in both Zambia and China.
We asked CEO Wang Chunlai about NFCA’s reputation for low-wages. He responded that, 'Wage levels have to do with the scale and age of the enterprise. In terms of scale, we’re ranked number five and in terms of cost of labour, number five or six [as] salary increases are a cumulative annual percentage . . . NFCA is labour intensive. This can be compared in terms of tons per workers.'
There are stark differences in productivity measured that way: Canadian-owned Kansanshi produced 232,000 tons of copper concentrate in 2010 with about 3,500 workers, while NFCA produced 22,000 tons with the same number.  Wang noted that CLM provides higher pay than NFCA because it is an older enterprise and was taken over; thus it has workers who have accumulated many years and have higher salaries, but starting pay at CLM is about the same as for NFCA. 
Other reasons also emerged in our interviews. The National Union Mineworkers and Allied Workers (NUMAW) chairman at Chambishi Mine told us in 2008 that, 'The government is responsible for the slow pay rise. It issues a benchmark every year and dictates the percentage of increase, for example 15 percent. It announced that the inflation rate in 2007 was 9.8 percent. The government is actually afraid that much of an increase in wages will destabilise the single-digit inflation. The management relies on the government benchmark to negotiate pay raises with workers'. 
HRW claims (p. 24) that 'Chinese copper mining companies often pay base salaries around one-fourth of their competitors’ base salary for the same work.' CNMC Company officials have said NFCA’s overall average basic pay is about half that at KCM; while at CLM is about 80% of KCM’s level, the industry’s highest.  CNMC’s statements, which cover mines where 80 percent of CNMC Zambia employees work may be accurate, however, because workforces at KCM, MCM and other mines include many low-paid contract workers, while NFCA and CLM aver that almost all their workers are permanent employees.  For example, half the 16,560 employees at MCM in November 2011 were contract workers.  Of the 19,000 workers at KCM in mid-2011, 12,000 were permanent and 7,000 were contract workers. 
Zambia’s Deputy Commissioner of Labour has stated that contract workers may get as little as one-fourth the pay of permanent employees  and indeed '[L]abor offices have recorded a number of reports especially in areas such as Mopani Copper Mines and Konkola Copper Mines where several sub-contracted companies have been paying below the government's minimum wage requirements,'  which is even less than a fourth of permanent employee salaries. For example, in late 2011 MCM miners reportedly were 'typically paid' three British pounds per day. That’s a surprisingly low figure, but only if one forgets that half of MCM’s workforce is contract workers.  If contract workers’ low salaries at non-CNMC mines are taken into account, there may still be a gap, but not a huge one, between CNMC wages and those elsewhere. MUZ informed us moreover that CNMC intends to reach the “industry standard” in salaries in 2012.
The HRW report author has written that 'Several Chinese-run copper mining companies require miners to work brutally long hours – 72-hour work weeks for some, 365 days without an off day for others . . . '  Western media have expectedly played up this 'cruel Chinese' theme. It is sweepingly inaccurate: the HRW report itself (p. 4) states only that 'Miners in certain departments at Sino Metals [one of the smaller CNMC firms] work 72-hour weeks without sufficient overtime, while those in other departments work 365 days a year . . .' The report (p. 78) is unclear on how many workers have long hours, which affect workers in only some Sino Metals departments, not 'several' in firms and certainly not most CNMC workers, 80 percent of whom work eight-hour shifts in the Luanshya and Chambishi mines.
The actual story of hours worked by Zambian miners does not at all correspond to the impression HRW creates of Chinese work-‘til-you-drop bosses in contrast to enlightened managers at Western-based firms. In 2007, KCM miners reported they worked more than eight hours, often up to 12 hours, without overtime pay.  In 2008, a Zambian seeking work at Chambishi said that 'his countrymen prefer to be employed by the NFCA rather than other foreign companies. They say they would rather work the eight hours demanded of them by the NFCA than the 12 hours which is commonplace in other companies.'  In 2009, KCM miners worked four 12-hour days, then two days off.  A 2011 UK newspaper account noted MCM miners 'toil six-and-a-half days a week in the rock underneath Mufulira,' that is, more hours per week than do NFCA or CLM underground miners and, in effect, up to 365 days a year. Presumably, thousands of miners at MCM work that schedule, while the number of workers at CNMC Sino Metals who HRW said work every day is apt to be very much smaller.
THE UNION QUESTION
HRW has charged that the two smaller of the four CNMC firms it investigated, Sino-Metals and Chambishi Copper Smelter (CCS), deny workers the right to join MUZ. Yet, at least one of the two unions (MUZ and NUMAW) is recognised at all four firms and 80 percent of CNMC workers can choose between them as their bargaining agent, although the two unions bargain together with management. NUMAW had 1,000-plus members and MUZ 400 at NFCA in August 2011; MUZ had 1,700 members and NUMAW 400 at CLM.  The ruling PF is popular among miners and both unions have PF supporters and critics among their leaders.
The reason why MUZ is recognised by NFCA and CLM, but are not by the two CNMC processing firms needs more investigation, but the facts thus far do not support the claim that CNMC firms are hostile to MUZ because it supports PF. What has most devastated union activism in Zambian mining was the drastic decline in membership due to retrenchment during the financial crisis. MUZ’s membership dropped from 26,000 before the crisis to 12,000 in August 2011.  When other firms retrenched or closed operations during the crisis, CNMC firms promised 'three nots' (san bu): not to reduce investment, not to cut down on production and not to lay off workers. Rather, CNMC bought Luanshya mine, which had been shattered by its Swiss owner at the peak of the crisis. It re-hired laid-off workers and hired hundreds more, which belies HRW’s claim that CNMC is a 'bad employer' compared to the five other major foreign investors in Zambian mining. The nickel mining firm Albidon Ltd., with the Chinese SOE Jinchuan owning 51 percent of its shares, indefinitely suspended operations in November, 2011, due to a sharp decline in nickel prices and technical problems, but continues to pay full salaries to its 2,000 employees.
Why does HRW focus on labour abuses at CNMC firms in Zambia? Labour abuse in Zambia’s copper industry, while deplorable, is not an outstanding issue in the context of the African continent, which like many other parts of the world, experiences massive human rights violations, including grave labour rights violations. CNMC’s practices, seen in the context of Zambia copper industry, are worse in some respects (pay), about the same in other respects (safety), and better in still other respects (job security). They are slowly improving. There should be improvements across the board for mine workers in Zambia, who still receive a subsistence wage and live in underserviced communities, a possibility made less, rather than more likely when Chinese firms are singled out and erroneously accused of being the worst.
Conditions for millions of miners on the continent are so egregious that the African Union Commission on Human Rights and People’s Rights stated in 2010 that, 'Mine workers in most parts of Africa work in deplorable conditions often prone to accidents.'  At the same time, there has been no shortage of critical studies of labour practices in the CNMC mines in Zambia, which employ one-tenth of one percent of the country’s workforce. HRW is thus barking up the wrong tree. Its exclusive focus on CNMC firms in Zambia as the worst labour abuser serves no useful purpose. Rather, it plays into the racial hierarchy in Zambia and beyond by calling its report 'a magnifying lens' for Chinese labour practices in Africa (p. 13). It also reinforces erroneous notions promoted by Western media and politicians, such as Hilary Clinton and David Cameron, that China is a 'neo-colonialist' power in Africa, while Western states and NGOs are the guarantors of human rights. Is it a coincidence that HRW studies of abuses in the mining industry in Africa have been confined to one about a Chinese SOE and two others that implicate the Zimbabwean government, a target of Western sanctions? The HRW report in fact tells us more about the political agenda of HRW than about Chinese activities in Africa.
BROUGHT TO YOU BY PAMBAZUKA NEWS.
* Please send comments to editor[at]pambazuka[dot]org or comment online at Pambazuka News.
 HRW, 'You’ll be Fired if you Refuse’: Labor Abuses in Zambia’s Chinese State-owned Copper Mines, Nov. 3, 2011.
 On bias in UK media coverage of Chinese activities in Africa, see Emma Mawdsley,”'Fu Manchu versus Dr Livingstone in the Dark Continent? Representing China, Africa and the West in British Broadsheet Newspapers,” Political Geography 27:5 (2008): 509-529. We have made similar findings in a forthcoming paper that surveys two hundred articles published from 2005-2011in five leading US newspapers.
 Ministerial Statement of Maxwell M.B. Mwale . . . on the Development of the Mining Sector in Zambia, March, 2011 .
 We detail the anti-Chinese campaigns of Sata and the racial hierarchy constructed by his deputy, the now Zambian Vice-President Guy Scott (Indians are worse than white and Chinese are worse than Indians) in our monograph in progress, Red Dragon, Red Metal: Chinese Investment in Zambia’s Copper Industry.
 For example, in the US as to how people evaluate welfare measures Paul Kellestedt, The Mass Media and the Dynamics of American Racial Attitudes (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003).
 “Chinese Firms not that Bad, says Miners’ Union,” DM, Nov. 4, 2011. See also “Minister, Union Defend Chinese Labor Conditions,” Zambia Watchdog, Nov. 5, 2011 (“Government [Deputy Minister of Labor Rayford Mbulu] says not only Chinese Mining companies have been flouting labor laws but all employers should try and ensure their workers are properly looked after”), zambianwatchdog.
 H.B. Miller, et al., “Identifying Antecedent Conditions Responsible for the High Rate of Mining Injuries in Zambia,” International Journal of Occupational Environmental Health 12:4 (2006): 329-339.
 MUZ, “Statistics of Mine Accidents by the Mine/Division for the Past 11 Years”; Mine Safety Dep’t, “Mining Industry Safety Record from the Year 2000 to August 19, 2011; “November 9 Power Failure Left One Miner Dead,” Zambia Watchdog, Nov. 20, 2011. There were also 46 dead in the 2005 BGRIMM dynamite plant explosion. NFCA owned a 40% interest in the plant, but did not manage it. MUZ does not count the BGRIMM fatalities as attributable to NFCA. We thus omit them from the totals for both all mining companies and NFCA..
 For fatalities in China’s non-ferrous mining, the State Administration of Work Safety (SAWS) website, www.chinasafety.gov.cn; and a telephone interview with SAWS, Beijing, Nov. 16, 2011. Fatalities figures for China involve only those reported, but in China many mining fatalities are unreported, so that the gap between Chinese and Zambian fatality rates are significantly larger than reported figures reveal.
 See S.K. Puri, “Safety Management in Indian Coal Mines,” in Pradeep Chaturvedi (ed.), Challenges of Occupational Safety and Health (New Delhi, Concept Publishing Co., 2006): 161-168 (166).
 MUZ, Statistics and Mine Safety Dep’t, Mining Industry.
 Interview, Wang Chunlai, Chambishi, Aug. 15, 2011.
 Interview, Mooya Lumamba, Kitwe, Aug. 19, 2011.
 Interview. Gao Xiang, Vice CEO, CLM, Luanshya, Aug. 17, 2011.
 “For Whom the Windfalls: Winners and Losers in the Privatization of Zambia’s Copper Mines”, Civil Society Trade Network of Zambia, 2008.
 Austin Muneku, “South African Multi-Nationals in Zambia: the Case of Chibuluma Mines, Plc,” in Devan Pillay (ed.), South African MNCs’ Labor and Social Performance (African Labor Research Network, 2005): 258-285.
 Action for Southern Africa, et al., “Undermining Development? Copper Mining in Zambia, Oct. 2007.
 Counter Balance, “The Mopani Copper Mine, Zambia: How European Development Money has Fed a Mining Scandal”, Dec. 2010: 16-17.
 Interview, Mr. Kalezi, Kitwe, Aug. 16, 2011.
 We extensively discuss past and present notions of Chinese cruelty and disregard for human life, including in Africa, in a paper in progress “Bashing the Chinese: Contextualizing Zambia’s Collum Coal Mine Shooting.”
 Interview with John Lungu, Kitwe, Aug. 15, 2011. In 2011 one US dollar has equaled 4,800-5,000 kwacha.
 “2010 Mineral Production (1st Half of Year)” and “2010 Mineral Production (2d Half of Year), photocopies provided by the authors by office of the Chief Mining Engineer, Lusaka, Aug. 19, 2011.
 See David Creedy, et al., “Transforming China’s Coal Mines: a Case History of the Shuangliu Mine,” Natural Resources Forum 30:1 (2006): 15-26.
 Interview, Mundia Sikufele, President of NUMAW, Kitwe, Aug. 27, 2008; Interview, Luo Tao, CEO of CNMC, Beijing, Oct. 18, 2011.
 Interview, Section Engineer Xu, Chambishi, Aug. 23, 2008.
 Shang Fushan, et al., “Sustainable Development of the Chinese Copper Market,” (Winnipeg: IISD, 2010): 16.; China Data Online (2011), “Copper Ores Mining & Dressing/Basic Condition”; “China Yearly Industrial Data,” All China Data Center, sourced from National Statistics Bureau, 2010 Mineral Production table; Wang Chunlai interview; Interview, Gao Xiang, Exec.Vice Gen. Manager, CNMC International Trade, Beijing, Oct. 21, 2011.
 2010 Mineral Production.
 Wang Chunlai interview. Wang’s comparison of NFCA and KCM in terms of per worker copper production derives from “Zhongse Zanbiya bagong shijian”(CNMC Zambia’s strike incidents), Xin shiji, Nov. 5, 2011.
 Interview, Mubanga Gillan, Chambishi, Aug. 27, 2008.
 NFCA CEO Wang Chunlai and unions interviewed in “Zhongse Zanbiya bagong shijian” (The Incident of Strike at NFCA in Zambia), Xin shi ji Nov. 7, 2011, magazine
 Interview, Gao Xiang, Beijing, Oct. 20, 2011.
 Wang Chunlai and Gao Xiang August 2011 interviews.
 Rob Davies, “The Other Face of Glencore Mining that Investors Never See,” Daily Mail (UK), Nov. 21, 2011.
 Interview, Charles Mukuka, Acting MUZ President, Kitwe, Aug. 15, 2011.
 Siti interview. Zambia’s minimum wage in 2011 was K419,000 (about US$85).
 “Labor Ministry ‘War-Front’ Opens over Minimum Wages,” Times of Zambia, Oct. 1, 2011.
 Davies, The Other Face.
 Mukuka interview.
 Matt Wells, “China in Zambia: Trouble Down in the Mines” Huff Post World, Nov. 21, 2011.
 Undermining Development?: 14-15.
 “China in Zambia: from Comrades to Capitalists?” World News Review, October, 2008.
 Jean-Christophe Servant, “Mined Out in Zambia,” Le Monde Diplomatique, May 9, 2009.
 Davies, The Other Face.
 Mukuka interview.
 Mukuka interview.
 “African Union to Tackle Human Rights Abuses of Mineworkers”, Coal Mountain, Oct. 25, 2010.
 See, e.g., Ching Kwan Lee, “Raw Encounters: Chinese Managers, African Workers and the Politics of Casualization in Africa’s Chinese Enclaves,” China Quarterly) 199 (2009): 647-699; Dan Haglund, “In it for the Long Term? Governance and Learning among Chinese Investors in Zambia’s Copper Sector,” CQ 199 (2009): 627-646.
 “Clinton Warns Africa of China’s Economic Embrace,” Reuters, June 11, 2011; “David Cameron Warns Africans about ‘Chinese Invasion’ as they Pour Billions into Continent,” Daily Mail (UK), July 20, 2011.
Climate change: The big corrupt business?
Goldtooth expresses his misgivings about agriculture being included as part of the United Nations Collaborative Programme on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation in Developing Countries (REDD). Arguing that "REDD is going to be the largest legal land grab the world has ever seen", the indigenous North American warns of colonialism and forced privatisation. And according to him "those with the most money and power can – by remote control, lock up the largest land areas in developing countries". "They are happiest to work with the most corrupt because it is easiest that way," he says.
THE AFRICA REPORT: How do indigenous peoples, such as yourself, perceive REDD?
TOM GOLDTOOTH: There are a number of reasons for profiling REDD as a false solution. For indigenous peoples, and as an indigenous organisation that specialises in environmental issues, and which has consulted with many indigenous peoples from the North of the world to the South, from the East to the West, one of the biggest issues is escalation of global warming. In Alaska, melting ice has forced entire villages to relocate, there is coastal land erosion. It is not an easy situation to pull up your entire life – as a community – and move, especially with the other issues involved like settlers with private land rights. So the biggest issue we feel, is putting a stop to climate change by shutting the valve of GHG. It is a matter of life and death.
So we are very concerned that the second round of the Kyoto Protocol is being held back by the powerful governments of the world, including my own government, the US. Any real mitigation is welcome with open arms because we are the people who are most vulnerable and desperate for a solution. But is REDD a real solution? Already, there has been manipulation of the data, displacement of peoples, narratives driven by industry-funded scientists. We are concerned that the same people who caused the problem are now shaping the solution to fit with their agendas – which is making a profit using the same principles that caused the problem. Look at how it is being implemented as well – corporations know that it is easy to exploit the peoples of the South given the state of their governments, the lack of land rights, the violation of human rights, through that piece of paper – the carbon certificate, that says one corporation somewhere in the world now controls and owns what in our culture cannot be owned – land, air, the trees. How can this belong to a one financier when it belongs – and has a right to belong, to the earth?
THE AFRICA REPORT: Give us your perspective on the US government's position in the climate talks?
TOM GOLDTOOTH: In our country, there has been the expansion of fossil fuel development, so even while they are talking a green policy view, they are expanding dirty industry right in our backyards, which is also the homeland of indigenous peoples. Look at the tar sands in Northern Alberta, Canada – this is within the traditional homelands of the Dine' people – I'm a Southern Dine'. Another group, the Namate, live downstream and with the immediate zone. They are about 22 corporations – many of them state-funded, including Statoil from Norway, and Total from France. The companies involved are not only polluting the atmosphere and the earth, but they're depleting water, and the same companies are involved with clearing away the boreal forest. It is a viable option now that the price of fuel is going up. Yet Canada, which has not come close to meeting their commitments and is a signatory of the Kyoto Protocol, has gone ahead with tar sands. These are the governments that are supposed to provide the solution?
THE AFRICA REPORT: Has there been any co-option of the indigenous leadership through corporatising policies such as Alaska's 'native corporations'?
TOM GOLDTOOTH: Yes – there are many shams, precisely like the native corporation. At the top, our allies in the UN tell us they are still wondering whether it can even scientifically work or not – offsetting biotic carbon in trees for the carbon mine from the earth and burnt through combustion. In the long term, we pay the price. The indigenous peoples in Alaska are very concerned about the destruction of their leadership through the native corporations that was a mechanism by the US government and politicians to gain title to buy them out with money through forming these corporations, which also locates negotiating tactics within these capitalist structures. We work with the Alaskan organisation Redoil – some have resisted becoming part of it and still call themselves traditional governments, they are not part of the regional corporation structures. Some have sold their shares. Others still participate to try and make a difference. These corporations are lobbied and collaborate with the business-as-usual fossil fuel leaders. It has taken us away from our traditional principles and values which is the opposite of commodifying, privatisation resources that are destructive and spell a death sentence. The native corporation heads – we see them in meetings, wearing designer suits, and talking designer talk. We don't talk because their agenda is the same lethal talk that has caused a global crisis.
THE AFRICA REPORT: If we look at the way in which the UN is structured, is there legitimacy to this UNFCCC event – should it be delegitimised or engaged with?
TOM GOLDTOOTH: It is a two-way street for us. Certainly, the UN is what you say. But look – we tried to use it as a way of lifting up issue of human rights, social and environment justice, and bring that to the framework. We know that the first Kyoto Protocol had many problems including that the emissions target that Annex 1 (developed) nations were signatories too, was the bare minimum. It was very hard for us to accept the compromise. Some of the bigger organisations said, 'Tom Goldtooth – this is the first step, we can strengthen it later.' But here, it is 'later' and the issue of relevant binding agreements holding industrialised countries accountable has to happen. But as indigenous peoples, we cannot wait for another international agreement to be negotiated – another wasted decade. You have petroleum companies now that are investing millions to offset their pollution by owning the environment. Our people end up as renters. But what happens when the carbon market falls apart or collapses? Who is liable? Who pays the price? We are told to safeguard and trust the process, but the advisors in the UN and World Bank, have even admitted that it is going to be very weak.
There is a lot of risk. We fear that at the end of the day, with agriculture now being included as part of REDD, REDD is going to be the largest legal land grab the world has ever seen. Back to colonialism, back to forced privatisation, especially for forest communities. Those with the most money and power can – by remote control, lock up the largest land areas in developing countries. And they are happiest to work with the most corrupt because it is easiest that way.
THE AFRICA REPORT: Do you have representation through large green political muscles – and if so, how, if not, why not?
TOM GOLDTOOTH: "When indigenous peoples started to call into question the false solutions, we were attacked by large environmental organisations, saying that we were not looking at the bigger picture, at the benefit of REDD. We saw a campaign mounted to disrupt us, and to marginalise what we're saying. But indigenous people no longer are able to stand back and let the 'good intentioned' voices speak on our behalf. In 1999, it used to be five or six people, at most, holding the line. Only when REDD became part of the picture, did indigenous peoples begin to stand up and actively resist. Corporations that fund some of the green organisations know how to play the game, and the organisations play back, to stay in business. The corporations know there is money to be made from investing in privatised trees, and that it looks good in paper. If you look at the NGOs, these are European 'white' NGOs, and there is tremendous racism and classism woven into that. When an ethnic person speaks up, they get offended they don't want a solution from the marginalised. They want to devise the solution they feel is best for the whole system – and we have to ask ourselves what the system they actually represent, entails.
THE AFRICA REPORT: Many have proposed 'eco-socialism' and other similar models as the solution. Renowned Marxist David Harvey says it may be necessary to separate indigenous-type peoples living in the commons, like the Amazon, from the 'natural' commons – what is he advocating and from what standpoint?
TOM GOLDTOOTH: "The white-is-right dogma – where they don't care to understand what the reality is and the culture and beliefs, of indigenous peoples, all over the world, especially the most marginalised, the forest peoples. We are the ones most anxious to protect, our cultures are principles on the belief that we cannot own and abuse the earth for our short-term benefit."
THE AFRICA REPORT: Youth from all over the world have flown in – yet many lack understanding of the political economy of pollution, both problem and solution. Why is this?
TOM GOLDTOOTH: "Look at the role of the WWF-type organisations. These are educators. Al Gore – pushing for the carbon market, he is an educator on the environment and climate. They are slumming it out in Durban, it is fashionable for a young white kid from the US or UK to be concerned about a global poverty issue, not the reality in their own backyards, but somewhere where they can be special, become heroes. We challenged the big organisations with environmental racism – the top ten movements, including Greenpeace, the Sierra Club, to bring our voices to the board, to the way in these campaigns are shaped. They resisted us. Even when they do appoint a person of colour, it is usually from within the mentality of surburbia, so that they are never questioned or taken out of the comfort zone where 'white is right.' And these organisations and their narratives are so popular – you have young kids coming, getting their hands dirty. They leave, feeling vindicated, slumming around – as if they have done their share. But this is our life, and that parachuting in and out of communities, the ruckus society, is destructive and presents the distorted reality. We have challenged, and become very unpopular, for raising the issue of classism which is source of the problem and requires an economic analysis if the environmental and climate narrative is to be truthful.... Look at 350.org – we had to challenge them to bring us to stand with them on the pipeline issue. Bill McKibben, the ivory tower white academic, didn't even want to take the time to bring people of colour to the organising. We managed a negotiation that allowed for both groups to unite.
THE AFRICA REPORT: Concerning celebrated activist voices like Naomi Klein – they appear to come from a specific formula - What are your thoughts?
TOM GOLDTOOTH: "Well, it is always the case with the media that 'white is right' or that global issues affecting people of color on the frontline should be represented by the type of voices that don't engage, in a threatening way, the realities of capitalism. There are also many fashionable voices that become part of the establishment in the sense that while they do espouse the truth, it is not pose a threat for change, for ending the system, because someone has adopted a cause that they were not born into. The communities that live in the cancer hotspots, in the immediate environment, their voices are too real, too threatening. Meanwhile, infiltration continues – how the corporations lend their money to the media - how the media shapes the tones and get the right voices to provide just the right amount of dissent. Meanwhile, Mayor Bloomberg donated millions to the Occupy Wall Street. We need a systems change, not an isolated trendy environmental change. The organisations that speak need to have a real constituency – they need to be accountable to the people they represent. There is no time for egos and games anymore.
As Navaho people, as Dakota people, we are struggling to understand how the problem that created the problem becomes the solution? In our language, we have no translation of ownership for the air – or carbon. One of my elders told me, if you ever have a hard time translating something into your language, beware that it may lack the truth.
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* This article first appeared in The Africa Report.
* Khadija Sharife is a journalist; visiting scholar at the Center for Civil Society (CCS) based in South Africa and contributor to the Tax Justice Network. She is the Southern Africa correspondent for The Africa Report magazine, assistant editor of the Harvard "World Poverty and Human Rights" journal and author of Tax Us If You Can (Africa).
* Please send comments to editor[at]pambazuka[dot]org or comment online at Pambazuka News.
The climate change revolution will not be funded
‘Tell no lies. Claim no easy victories!’ - Amilcar Cabral
Over the past few weeks, world leaders, technocrats, and NGOs descended upon Durban for the 17th Conference of Parties (dubbed the Conference of Polluters by its critics). After 17 years of meetings to address climate change, the lack of action from world leaders clearly shows that the biggest polluting nations not only lack the political will to address the issue, but also seem to be actively carrying out the anti-environmental agenda of the largest corporations on this planet.
The sizeable NGOs who have made their name fighting climate change are surely correct when they link the Obama and Harper governments, and indeed the entire COP process, to the likes of Royal Dutch Shell, Eskom and Koch Industries. Some great slogans have come out of this opposition to the conference. Earthlife Africa's catchphrase on their t-shirts tells us to ‘never trust a COP’ playing off of the duplicity and corruption of both the police and the COP process.
Yet the opposition front of civil society that came together to form C17 and organised a Global Day of Action at the event, tells only part of the story. The issue that is glossed over relates to the definitions of who is ‘civil society’ and therefore who was really speaking at the myriad events organised by C17 NGOs, such as the International Climate Jobs Conference, the People's Space at UKZN, Greenpeace’s Solar Tent, and even the 10,000 strong Global Day of Action.
ON THE CLIMATE BUS PART ONE
On 1 December, we embarked on a gruelling 27-hour trip from Cape Town to Durban. The C17 Climate Bus Caravan was populated mostly by poor activists and lower level NGO workers. The conditions in our two buses coming from Cape Town were less than ideal, especially the hourly pit-stops that resulted from the lack of a toilet on-board. The organising was also less than ideal; we got lost on the way and did not know where we were staying once we arrived in Durban.
But these were hardcore activists, many who live in shacks or council homes and some who have been shot at and jailed for their activism. Conditions were not the issue. The overriding complaint I heard over and over from fellow travellers was the unfairness of the situation: why were the actual NGO directors who paid for the trip not on the bus with us?
SLUMMING IT AT THE REFUGEE CAMP
Upon arrival in Durban, we eventually found our accommodation for the next three days: C17's Climate Change Refugee Camp. As activists, we were willing to make a political statement by living in huge communal tents with sub-par ablution facilities, dirty blankets and conditions mirroring a refugee camp.
As Mzonke Poni from Abahlali baseMjondolo told me: ‘The camp was a true reflection of a people’s space. The actual People’s Space at UKZN was more of an intellectual space…I enjoyed the experience at the camp.’ Indeed, communal spaces where the poor are dumped are often much more open and accessible spaces than the rigidly organised initiatives built to include the poor.
Once again, the underlying grievance behind the majority of participants was that the executives of the C17 social justice NGOs who organised the camp to make a political statement were sleeping comfortably in beach-front hotels.
LEADING SILENT SHEEP
What became clear throughout the trip was that we (the thousands of activists brought in from all over the country) were a crowd whose primary purpose was to provide legitimacy to the C17 NGO’s claims that their agendas had popular support. This was why free t-shirts were handed out advertising NGOs and their environmental justice campaigns.
Furthermore, activists' trips sponsored by C17 NGOs were told to wear Earthlife Africa or Million Climate Jobs shirts instead of those of their own organisations. Activists whose trip was sponsored by the Democratic Left Front (DLF) were encouraged to wear only DLF t-shirts. What this meant is, as Mzonke Poni put it, ‘the role of community-based organisations (CBOs) have been undermined...the crowd was rented to top up the numbers.’
Indeed, there was effectively no space for CBOs and movements to talk about what climate change actually means to their lived experience. Their anti-climate change agenda was defined on their behalf. Even at the massive march on 3 December, only a couple of high-powered speakers such as COSATU's Zwelinzima Vavi were given a space to speak.
As Charles Adams from Mitchell's Plain explained: ‘They [NGOs] should have involved the community people and given them a space to speak, not just the organisers.’
This was evident not only at the NGO controlled march, but also at all other C17 events. It seems that at times even the Occupy COP17 General Assembly was itself occupied by NGOs, and its agenda set from the top-down by these organisations’ directors.
In one instance, community activists eventually fought back. According to participants, the DLF leadership had placed members in accommodation ‘not fit for a human being’ and given ‘expired food’ while they themselves stayed in much better lodging. Members revolted against the DLF leadership by disrupting a public lecture and shamed them into ensuring that their conditions were improved. Still, members remained angry and unsatisfied at the reproduction of inequality by the DLF leadership.
The end result was not only that C17 NGO autocrats used the bodies of community activists while silencing their voices, they also undermined the entire anti-climate change agenda. A discussion with Melissa Jaxa from the artistic collective Soundz of the South was instructive: ‘I think we should be consulted as the masses. As we call ourselves socialists, we should make decisions together about who should speak at our events. They [C17] didn't take us seriously. We are against COP17 but we ended up working with them.’
In fact, anyone present at the Global Day of Action would have clearly seen the ANC supporters donning official eThekwini COP17 uniforms, shouting pro-Zuma slogans, and abusing and assaulting other protesters. How could the C17 organisers have allowed them to participate in the same space as a march meant to call Zuma and other world leaders to account? How did the municipality get away with using public funds to rent an ANC crowd of their own?
In other words, we activists felt that we were sold out by the very NGOs that claim to represent our interests. As INCITE's ‘The Revolution Will Not Be Funded’ shows, NGOs have no structural accountability to their so-called beneficiaries. They are externally funded organisations that, like the World Bank, are accountable to outside forces through the power of the purse.
We who feel that another (more just) world is necessary should then look toward the unfunded revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt or the Occupy Movement for reference. We need to support community self-organising and accept community driven agendas and philosophies. This does not need millions in funding. But it does need painstaking perseverance and commitment to radical democratic politics. In other words, a commitment to building authentic peoples spaces.
ON THE CLIMATE BUS PART TWO
On the road back to Cape Town, the one bus broke down twice while the other’s tire burst. In Colesburg the bus drivers purposely left dozens of activists stranded until those of us still onboard forced the buses to turn back to get them. After spending another 30 hours on the return bus, we finally arrived at the Alternative Information Development Centre (AIDC) in Cape Town at 23h30. However, half of us were stuck once again; someone forgot to organise taxis home.
Because we could not find the C17 representatives who were in charge of organising transport, we could not fix the situation.
Even something as simple as a bus trip becomes a struggle when we as participants have no say.
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* Jared Sacks is a Cape Town-based activist working with community-based social movements and the Occupy Cape Town movement.
* Please send comments to editor[at]pambazuka[dot]org or comment online at Pambazuka News.
Biochar: Unfulfilled promises in Cameroon
Biochar, which is fine-grained charcoal (mainly carbon) applied to soils, is being touted as a solution to climate change, soil degradation, low crop yields and much else. Advocates, represented globally by the International Biochar Initiative (IBI) are calling for carbon offsets, subsidies and other private and public finance in order to produce large quantities of biochar to be tilled into soils. They claim that by adding biochar to soils carbon can be sequestered for hundreds to thousands of years while making soils more fertile and crops grow better. And the same technology – called pyrolysis – can produce both biochar and bioenergy in liquid and gas form. Biochar advocates describe the process as 'carbon negative': They – falsely – consider all bioenergy to be approximately carbon neutral, even though experience with agrofuels and, increasingly, Europe's and North America's massive new demand for wood for power stations shows that the climate impact can be devastating. Ambitions are set high: According to an article published by members of the IBI in Nature Communications, 12 per cent of all greenhouse gas emissions could be 'offset' with biochar – requiring 556 million hectares worldwide to be converted to produce crops and trees to produce it .
The fact that the scientific field trials disprove the claims made about biochar has not deterred the IBI and their member companies and researchers. Only 11 peer-reviewed field trials have ever been published and those show that the short-term effects on crops are very mixed – sometimes positive, sometimes negative and sometimes there are no effects. Longer-term effects have not been researched. The same is true for biochar and soil carbon: In one trial, for example, just one year after large amounts of biochar were added to some plots, those plots contained less carbon overall than plots without any biochar . Outcomes vary greatly between different types of biochar, different soils and soil conditions, different combinations of biochar with fertilisers, etc. The variables are so many that it is impossible to make any predictions, at least based on current knowledge.
So far, biochar lobbyists' efforts have only had very modest success: No biochar carbon offsets are being traded or certified as yet, all projects so far have been small and experimental and only one multinational company currently supports their efforts – ConocoPhillips, who want to develop biochar carbon offsets for their destructive tar sands exploitation in Canada.
Africa has been the focus of many of those organisations and companies investing in biochar 'demonstration' and 'feasibility' projects. A joint briefing [PDF] by the African Biodiversity Network, Biofuelwatch and the Gaia Foundation, updated in late 2010, found more than 25 different biochar projects having been announced in African countries . A more recent presentation [PDF] by a representative of the IBI refers to 34 such projects in 11 African countries .
Together with Cameroonian researcher Benoit Ndameu, Biofuelwatch has now published a report which investigates one of those projects and its initiator, Biochar Fund. Biochar Fund, based in Belgium, has described itself as a 'social for profit organisation'. In early 2009, they commenced biochar trials involving 75 trial plots in Kumba city and 11 nearby villages in Cameroon's South-West Province. According to an interview given by Biochar Fund's funding director, Laurens Rademakers in August 2010 , the trials had been a great success: Crop yields, he claimed, had increased by 240 per cent on average, 1,500 farmers had been represented in this project which was still ongoing, and the success suggested that it was possible to ‘produce and apply biochar in a sustainable manner...and make a profit, merely because of the crop yield increase.’ He called possible future carbon offsets an 'added bonus'. Biochar Fund's claims about their 'preliminary results' (the only one they ever published, and only on their website), received widespread media attention.
What Benoit Ndameu found when he visited the area and spoke with farmers as well as representatives of Biochar Fund's local partner organisation, Key Farmers, was rather different. Only around 75 farmers had ever been involved in the trials, which had terminated after just one single harvest season in 2009. The drop-out rate during the trials had been high – full data was obtained from only 31 out of 75 plots. Trials involved adding different combinations and quantities of biochar and organic and/or artificial fertilisers to 16 different sub-plots within one larger plot and taking the maize from each of those sub-plots to be measured and weighed after harvesting.
The farmers interviewed in April 2011, who had participated in the trials spoke about their hopes and enthusiasm. According to Key Farmers, they had been told by Biochar Fund that biochar was a proven technique for improving soil fertility. Farmers had been assured, as confirmed by a brochure handed to them at the start of the project, that biochar ‘could help us win the fight against climate change’ and that funds for them to take part in scaled-up project from 2010 would be sought from the voluntary carbon markets. According to the brochure: ‘This expanded project would attract a considerable number of carbon credits’. Some were still hopeful that such funding was forthcoming, even though there had been no sign of Biochar Fund or any activities on their part for a long time. Many expressed doubts and weariness about the project. They had given up considerable amounts of time and labour for free and some even reported having rented plots for the trials, and they had received nothing in return. In the villages visited, no biochar had been made or used since the trials ended, except for one farmer who produced and applied a small amount to a plot of chili peppers. Farmers had not been shown how to make biochar, the technique that had been used involved a 'single barrel method', one of the most inefficient charcoal-making methods. For all of Biochar Fund's public references about biochar production being coupled with affordable and accessible renewable energy, the method they used in the Cameroon trials, like the one being used in another Biochar Fund project in DR Congo , cannot be adapted to capture any energy whatsoever.
For the purpose of science, the trials have yielded nothing: The results have not been published in any journal and have not been peer-reviewed. Only interim results were put on Biochar Fund's website, which has since closed down.
Did Biochar Fund really expect the imminent carbon offsets which farmers had been led to hope for? This seems hard to imagine. Biochar Fund has had close links to the IBI, who listed the Cameroon project as one of their '9 Country Projects', stating that they ‘worked with organisations and projects in nine developing countries to help them develop and evaluate cost effective approaches for the widespread introduction of biochar’ . The IBI has been working for years, so far without any success, to get biochar included into carbon trading schemes or certified for voluntary carbon offsets. Furthermore, an assessment by the Institute of Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP) of a (non-biochar) soil carbon project promoted for voluntary carbon offsets by the World Bank shows that, given the high transaction costs of such carbon offsets, farmers would at best receive US$1 a year each – hardly the funds envisaged by farmers in Western Kenya, or in South-West Cameroon .
Yet while farmers received no benefits, Biochar Fund's Laurens Rademakers appears to have benefited considerably. He successfully used his claims about the Cameroon trials to obtain a grant for another biochar project in DR Congo from the Congo Basin Forest Fund (CBFF) and also to obtain a second grant from the CBFF for another project not involving biochar. According to [url=http://laurens-rademakers.com/]his personal website[url] , he has managed to create 13 different NGOs, eight of them in Africa since 2006 and has obtained a total of US$1.325 million in funds for different projects since 2009, nearly all of it from 'public calls'.
Farmers' experience with the Cameroon experiment raises questions about other biochar projects and more widely, about a range of projects designed to demonstrate the 'feasibility' of different soil carbon and agricultural practices for the purpose of future carbon offsets or other finance mechanisms which the World Bank and UN Food and Agriculture Organisation propose for so-called ‘Climate-Smart Agriculture’.
These projects claim to be 'trials' but that there is generally no intention to publish findings in any scientific journals. Instead unverified claims, often accompanied by pictures of smiling farmers, are being used to promote biochar and other practices for various finance mechanisms.
Soil carbon markets – promoted by the World Bank, FAO and several governments, including Australia and New Zealand, would create yet another loophole for polluting companies in the North to continue emitting high and even increasing amounts of carbon. However, despite the growing hype and promotion of soil and agriculture carbon markets, there appears to be little prospect of them taking off in the foreseeable future: 97 per cent of all carbon trading worldwide takes place in the EU and the EU Emissions Trading Scheme rules out any land-based 'carbon sequestration' schemes until at least 2020. Some industry analysts are predicting the collapse of the EU's carbon trading scheme, with prices having fallen by 56 per cent already this year. The UN's Clean Development Mechanism has contracted by over 50 per cent since 2009 and its future is also in doubt. Several other countries are planning their own carbon trading schemes but it is not at all clear how those will develop. This leaves the voluntary carbon markets. These only account for around 0.1 per cent of the carbon markets and agriculture for just 2 per cent of credits traded within them.
While project developers such as Biochar Fund have created false hopes amongst farmers as far as carbon offsets are concerned, the IBI and other biochar advocates are looking to take advantage of other possible finance mechanisms promoted for 'Climate-Smart Agriculture’. According to FAO, those could include a redirection of existing funding for rural development and agriculture, including Overseas Development Aid, as well as public-private partnerships for practices claimed to sequester carbon and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Amongst the practices promoted as 'Climate-Smart' are no-till, which often means mechanised no-till GM crops, more industrial livestock, more money for agribusiness companies to run sugar or palm oil mills on bioenergy, more agrofuels such as sugar cane ethanol, and more industrial tree plantations on farmland. Biochar is so far very much at the margins – just one of many dubious climate-fixes which we will increasingly see promoted and possibly financed through ‘Climate-Smart Agriculture’.
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* Download ‘Biochar Fund Trials in Cameroon: Hype and Unfulfilled Promises.
* Almuth Ernsting is a campaigner with Biofuelwatch.
* Please send comments to editor[at]pambazuka[dot]org or comment online at Pambazuka News.
 For full details and references, see www.biofuelwatch.org.uk/2011/a-critical-review-of-biochar-science-and-policy/
 tinyurl.com/brcjuuv (kaltura.endirectv.com)
Buying and selling pollution: who gains?
In late 2010, REDD - the United Nations Collaborative Programme on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation in Developing Countries - was caught red-handed in Liberia.
The multi-billion pound deal was proposed as a carbon offset initiative between UK-based Carbon Harvesting Corporation (CHC) and Liberia's Forest Development Authority (FDA). The initiative was approved by the UNFCCC in Bonn and set to receive revenues of £2.4 billion from the UN's CDM carbon credit scheme.
According to the Committee's report investigating the fraud, corruption, misinformation and illicit nature of the deal several people were involved in bribery and corruption regarding the CHC contract, but most of them carefully concealed their activities making direct evidence hard to obtain. It was found by the investigating panel committee that not only did the FDA board deliberately fast-track the deal, provide misleading information, and skim over the proposal by CHC, but there existed 'criminal conspiracy' to violate various Liberian national laws for the purposes of profit.
This was but one example of many from Kenya to Indonesia where REDD has been called 'the most mind-twistingly complex endeavor in the carbon game'.
‘The fact is that REDD involves scientific uncertainties, technical challenges, heterogeneous non-contiguous asset classes, multi-decade performance guarantees, local land tenure issues, brutal potential for gaming and the fact that getting it wrong means that scam artists will get unimaginably rich while emissions don't change a bit.’
This statement does not belong to an environmental activist - many of whom misunderstand the fundamental pillars of REDD – but rather a member of the carbon market establishment, namely Marc Stuart, co-founder of Ecosecurities, the UK-based corporation that specialises in carbon offsetting and trading.
The 'science' behind the transformation of market-created pollution to market solution was initially devised by economist John Dales in his 1968 essay 'Pollution, Property and Prices', when he proposed that pollution could be traded if packaged as transferrable property rights that could be bought and sold. This was to be realised in a market where pollution had a financial value in the form of allowable quotas.
While Stuart identified the innate fault lines of the REDD system, this did not serve to prevent his company from investing in, and making millions from, carbon trading initiatives like REDD. And the danger is greater than the 'knowns' - displacement of indigenous peoples, corruption and others. The process of financialising ecosystem assets (ie: turning nature into tradeable capital) was formulated by the same actors involved in the derivatives markets. The founder of the Chicago Climate Exchange, Richard Sandor, also founded the derivatives and futures markets. ‘I guess in many ways it's akin to subprime. You keep layering on crap until you say, “We can't do this anymore,”’ said Stuart.
As this Barclays Bank page boasted (the page has now been removed): ‘Unrivalled primary origination team: One of our team is a member of the Methodology Panel to the UNFCCC CDM Executive Board.’ Wikileaks disclosed a cable authoured by the US embassy in Mumbai to the US Secretary of State, describing the UN's validation and registration process of CDMs as 'arbitrary', quoting K. Sethi, the chairman of the CDM board, admitting that the authorities ‘takes the project developer at his word for clearing the additionality barrier.’
Previously, The Africa Report's Typewriter blog reported on the documented criminality underpinning Europe's Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) – accounting for 97 per cent of global carbon market volume, and the cornerstone of the EU’s environmental policy (ie: 90 per cent of transactions were categorised as fraudulent.)
The Kyoto Protocol, intensively lobbied by the US as a 'climate change' text which contained flexibility mechanisms enabling the industrialised nations to elide emissions, further evidenced the main promoters as revolving door actors with vested interests: though the US did not ratify the Protocol, Al Gore - the main lobbyist - was a key element in Sandor's CCX. Gore founded, along with David Blood (former CEO of Goldman Sachs Asset Management) an entity called Generation Investment Management that would quickly acquire almost 10 per cent of the world's largest carbon credit portfolios using similar financial regulatory management models.
The current head of the UNFCCC - Christina Figueras - until her appointment in 2010, was a vice-chair of the Carbon Rating Agency (CRA) and senior advisor to C-Quest Capital, a leading carbon trading firm founded by Ken Newcombe. Newcombe is arguably one of the top ten architects of the carbon market.
According to his biography, Newcombe has ‘over 30 years of experience in developing financially viable sustainable energy and forestry projects around the world for entities including Goldman Sachs, Climate Change Capital and the Carbon Finance Unit of the World Bank Group.
At the World Bank, he started the first public-private partnership Carbon Fund, which went on to pioneer the global carbon market. He also managed the growth of the World Bank's carbon finance business to a total of eight carbon funds and a billion dollars under management…’
Meanwhile, the founder of CRA, Lord Stern, a former World Bank economist and climate change advisor to Tony Blair's government, who advocated that 'decarbonisation' should be a market activity, is head of Ideacarbon, a firm providing financial and other advice to 'buyers, sellers and hedgers'.
Yet, with no automatic information exchange, corporate country-by-country reporting (CbC), or mandatory sanctions against the normalised viral use of secrecy jurisdictions as the central base for entities (ranging from multiple subsidiary units by hedge funds, development finance institutions, accounting firms, to banks and other financial entities) regulating the notoriously opaque market is a dangerous illusion.
As with other CDM initiatives, REDD is touted as a 'market solution to market pollution' - a principle proposed by CCX at the very founding of the nascent UNFCCC - the Rio Earth Summit. It is also a principle that developing nations are forced to bank the future on.
In the process, just as natural resource exploitation enabled corrupt leaderships at the helm of rent-seeking African regimes to benefit from unearned revenue, so too does financialising pollution locate value in permits that now represent another form of rent.
The question must be asked then: why are the solutions proposed to halt and reverse climate change placed firmly in the hands of financiers and key state polluters, who consistently elide investigation of the macroeconomic system at the root cause of both the economic and environmental crisis?
The simple introduction of automatic information exchange – documenting source, pit-stop and recipient nations of capital flows, would ensure that even a representative democracy like South Africa – losing an estimated 23 per cent of GDP or R450-billion to capital flight in 2007 - would be better placed to address the root causes of climate change in Africa: continued and embedded dependence on capital-intensive extractive industries for development revenue.
But this closing out of real solutions should come as no surprise: Lex de Jonge, current head of the CDM executive board, described the CDM system, ‘at its best, is a zero sum game, because its credits are used to offset reduction obligations of Annex 1 countries.’
And in this zero sum game, there may be much activity at the COP17 – like those that have passed before. But COP seems bound to succeed mainly for the global banksters eager to maintain the status quo: profit from pollution, whatever the consequence.
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* This article first appeared at The Africa Report.
* Please send comments to editor[at]pambazuka[dot]org or comment online at Pambazuka News.
Mozambique: Changing fortunes for the ruling party
When Frelimo announced in mid-2011, though in a low voice, that three presidents of their respective municipal councils were considering resigning from the positions they occupied, everybody thought that it was a joke. When the rumors were intensified, many started to doubt the political wisdom of the leaders of the party in power. When the three politicians involved (Arnaldo Maloa de Cuamba, Sadique Yacub de Pemba and Pio Matos de Quelimane) finally officially handed in their resignation, we started to wonder why Frelimo had opted for such complicate road, less than a year before the end of their mandate.
So far, there is no precise answer about that event; there is no reasonable explanation to justify such a strategy. It is necessary to stress that, above all in an autarchic election, there are unwritten rules that operate all over the world: The president of the municipal council is a figure elected directly by the people. Therefore, he needs to account for his actions before the voters, first of all, and to the party (or the coalition of parties) that supported his candidacy. Consequently, the link that connects the elected one with the voters is extremely strong and can only be broken by the end of a mandate or by very serious reasons that lead the president to stop his work.
None of that happened in the three cases in point. It was termed ‘administrative’ incapacity, disobedience to the party. There was even mention of judicial issues by at least a few of the interested people. But obviously there was no proven conclusion. Hence, the image that came across was of a party, Frelimo, which, due to its internal issues, wanted to break the link between the elected ones and the voters and in that way ignoring one of the basic rules of politics (at least in its local form). Frelimo did not realise that, due to the probable discontentment of the communities, the three presidents were leaders of all municipal members, not only the ones subscribed under Frelimo. Therefore, the resignations generated even more incredulity and discontentment. They generated, what can be summarised in one word as mistrust.
The second important rule is that politics has its norms in terms of communication. And Frelimo should have vast experience of this. This time it was not that way: Frelimo was not able to justify the reason why it let three presidents abandon their seats. For example, in the case of Pio Matos, it was said that there were health issues which would have made it impossible for him to continue his mandate in Quelimane. However, Pio Matos himself was seen in the streets of Quelimane hopping around, singing and campaigning for his supposed successor, a candidate of Frelimo, and dismissing the official version of the reason for his resignation. Therefore, in terms of the general communication and in relation to what since the beginning was known as the most problematic municipality, Quelimane failed. There should be good reasons to justify the money spent as well as the ‘discomfort’ caused to all members of the municipality who had to go back to the voting booth before the planned time. And there should also be good reason to explain why the largest party in the country made a mistake in the selection of its candidates for the position of president of the municipality in 2009. That did not happen and Frelimo suffered the consequences.
Finally, the choice for these three municipalities was also unfortunate, at least partially: of course Pemba constitutes an electoral space that belonged to Frelimo, therefore everybody knew that there could not be problems. However, Cuamba and, above all, Quelimane, had never in the history of the country represented a safe haven for the party in power. Intelligently, the party of Simango, the MDM (Democratic Movement of Mozambique) concentrated its efforts precisely in these two cities. On the other hand, Renamo, which is the strongest opposition in the country, decided to boycott these interspersing elections by not presenting any candidate for any of the three municipalities.
Aside from the serious failures, Frelimo organised an electoral campaign in Quelimane that was simply disastrous. As it was emphasized by Salomão Moyana through a television broadcast days before the elections took place, it would have been advisable to emphasize the figure of the candidate himself, instead of sending upper-echelon national leaders in the capital of Zambézia to ‘dictate the line’. To a certain extent, we did not know if, once elected, Frelimo’s candidate in Quelimane would enjoy enough autonomy to govern the city or if, on the contrary, he would only execute the orders of their comrades in Maputo.
The newspaper ‘Channel of Mozambique’, in its editorial of 9 December pointed out another issue: the fact that Frelimo wanted to provide proof that the ‘high ranking ones’ of Quelimane were by its side. Luxurious cars, powerful businessman; in sum, the totality of the Zambezian upper echelon displayed in support of Frelimo. On the contrary, Manuel de Araújo, MDM candidate since his very first time showed up whining on television. It was realised that the ‘popular’ vote should be captured. And that was the case. His electoral campaign was basically made in Chuabo, the local language, in popular neighbourhoods in which the supporters rode bikes – in that way marking a clear ‘cultural’ distance from their competitor.
The ballot boxes yielded the following results: Vicente Lourenço (Frelimo), in Cuamba obtained 63.75 percent of the votes; Tagir Carimo, in Pemba (Frelimo) 88.8 percent; Manuel de Araújo, in Quelimane (MDM) 63.14 percent.
Overall, the mini-suicide of Frelimo may have different readings: above all, Quelimane is the second provincial capital conquered after Beira by the MDM. Therefore, the virtual political monopoly of Frelimo continues, but with some very serious ruptures in its electoral structure. The second aspect is that it needs to be emphasized that the leaders of Frelimo probably did not realise that ‘risk’ that they were forcing three presidents to resign. Hence that constitutes a very serious index about how the leaders of the party in power consider the political scenario in Mozambique: a type of desert in which the only actor is Frelimo, disregarding any other electoral opponent.
The other issue has to do with the vote in the city: above all, the percentage of absent voters has been astounding. It is true that in the autarchies this is a constant issue in the recent history of Mozambique. However, the fact that in Cuamba only 14.4 percnt of the voters turned up, in Pemba 19 percent and in Quelimane 27.8 percent signals a problem of general credibility of the local ruling class and the political-electoral mechanisms which are grounding the nascent Mozambican democracy. Frelimo is in increasing difficulty. It is not only related to having lost Beira and Quelimane (a very significant fact in itself): even in the last general elections, in central and residential neighbourhoods of Maputo, the result of the MDM was by far better than that of Frelimo. This probably bears witness that the young sectors of the population, as well as the strata with higher educational levels, ultimately tend to punish the party in power, due to its eternal promises of combating corruption or making the state non-partisan; promises that are never fulfilled.
Finally, in spite of everything, Frelimo provided the result that all the national and international observers had been waiting for: that is, to demonstrate that in Mozambique, the democratic mechanisms exist and are possible despite the great difficulties that are currently experienced. From this standpoint, these small elections were a live confirmation of that.
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* Luca Bussotti is a Guinea Bissauan researcher at the Africa Study Centre ISCTE in Lisbon, Portugal.
* Please send comments to editor[at]pambazuka[dot]org or comment online at Pambazuka News.
Polokwane's failed promise of economic change
The continuities of the ANC on the eve of its centenary
Dale T. McKinley
The ANC might be about to turn 100 years old but when it comes to its contemporary politics, the last four years seems like a lifetime of its own. It was four years ago, almost to the day, that the ANC gathered at the now infamous Polokwane Congress and when it was all over the general view both inside and outside the ANC was that it marked a fundamental ‘turn’ for the ANC and the country; not simply in respect of a new national and ANC leadership but more crucially in respect of the promise of a political economy of change as applied to the ANC itself and the majority of people in the country as a whole.
However, politics, like a majority of marriages, always has a way of reminding us of the often wide gulf between promise and lived reality, whatever the respective lifespan. In the case of Polokwane, rather than signifying a fundamental organisational and ideological ‘turn’ that marked a radical departure from what had come before, it was a great deal more representative of a transitionally constructed continuity of intra-ANC and Alliance elite power politics.
On the one hand there was a visible and indeed intense class character to the desire for change. A majority of the rank-and-file delegates in Polokwane came from the broad working class. Their lived experiences of the accumulated and combined impact of the ANC government’s neo-liberal policies, the centralisation and abuse of political power as well as intensified corruption and mismanagement created a situation in which this core of the ANC’s own constituency were ready and willing to embrace organisational, ideological and leadership changes. In this sense, an important part of what happened at Polokwane was nothing more and nothing less than the realities of class struggle being taken onto an organisational and political ‘stage’.
On the other hand though, there was a clearly organised agenda dominated by the desire to simply replace one set of incumbent leaders with another. Not surprisingly, this emanated largely from within various ANC and Alliance leadership strata. Here, the content and character of change being sought was neither framed nor organically informed by the desires and lived realities of the majority of delegates that this leadership represented. In this sense, the other side of the Polokwane coin was undeniably driven by self-interest, intra-elite competition and factional power mongering.
The combined weight of these two levels of ‘grievance’, however disconnected, succeeded in fomenting the desired change of leadership. The new Zuma-centred leadership was then given a mandate to implement various degrees of organisational and ideological change. Under the banner of ‘iANC ibuyile’ (the ANC has returned to its members) key resolutions were adopted on the transformation of the economy as well as state and governance, international relations and the battles of ideas amongst others.
On the most crucial of fronts though - transformation of the economy - the potential promise of change at Polokwane was stillborn. Rather than a clearly enunciated need and plan to move towards a radical change of macro-economic policy, the desire for which had been at the heart of long-running struggles involving the organised working class and various movements of the poor and community organisations, there was a droll continuity; an injunction for ‘macro-economic policies that support and sustain growth, job creation and poverty eradication on a sustainable basis’. Confirmation of this status quo approach came from none other than the person chosen at Polokwane to lead the evident process of change, President Jacob Zuma. Addressing a gathering of the American Chamber of Commerce less than a year after, Zuma confidently stated that, ‘we are proud of…the general manner in which the economy has been managed…that calls for continuity.’
This is all the more crucial given the Polokwane demand for ‘employment expansion’ and the ‘creation of decent work opportunities as the primary focus of economic policies’. As every working class person is all too aware from their own experiences, this is a practical impossibility if it is not tied to a macro-economic framework that prioritises people and puts the principles of redistribution of production, wealth and opportunity at its centre. As night follows day, so too has the post-Polokwane period dished up the opposite of its stated promise. Only a few months ago, Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan announced that since 2008, over 900,000 people had lost their jobs, the vast majority of whom were lower skilled black workers - the ANC’s main constituency.
Another key Polokwane promise was that a reconfigured and rejuvenated ‘developmental state’ would ‘intervene’ to ‘shape key economic sectors’. More specifically, such intervention would target the natural resource and transport sectors, as a means to ‘transform the economic structure’ as well as ‘maximise development and the sustainability of local communities’. And yet, what we have witnessed over the last several years is: a privileging of private sector capitalists alongside politically connected BEE elites who have accumulated more capital than ever before; a sidelining of poor mining communities when it comes to socio-economic benefits and environmental concerns; a rank failure to provide leadership on and commitment to, developing sustainable sources of cleaner and alternative energy generation/supply; and, the pursuit of privatised, elitist and hugely expensive transport infrastructure that largely benefit the richer residential areas and the needs of corporate capital while largely neglecting the same in the poorest residential areas where the majority of people live.
A recurring historical and more contemporary feature of the South African economy has been its high levels of monopolisation/concentration of ownership that have continued to feed gross inequality and imbalances of social and economic power. Importantly then for poorer consumers and workers, Polokwane enjoined the ANC to implement ‘anti-monopoly and anti-concentration’ policy as a means of broadening ownership and overcoming barriers to small business growth and market entry. However, despite a few small and effectively meaningless fines levied against some corporates for price-collusion and anti-competitive behaviour, the real test came in the form of the approach to the Massmart-Walmart merger. Instead of an unambiguous rejection of a clearly monopolistic merger that will impact negatively on sizeable sections of local manufacturing capacity, the retail and distributive opportunities for small and medium scale enterprises as well as on the possibilities for decent work and increased employment, it has been allowed to go ahead.
Correspondingly, Polokwane called for the ‘regional integration of the South African economy on a fair and equal basis’ and the adoption of a ‘developmental approach’ that would ‘diversify regional economies’. Regardless, when the newly elected ANC leadership was provided with the opportunity - in late 2008 - to begin such a process of change on the regional front, they instead wholeheartedly embraced the very thing - a neo-liberal regional free trade agreement (FTA) - that has only exacerbated already existing macro-economic deficiencies and disparities amongst Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) member states. The practical result has been a further crippling of weaker nations’ already limited domestic manufacturing base and increased reliance on the production of primary/raw commodities. What potential there might exist for the development of infant industries and thus sustained employment creation in such nations is simply overwhelmed by the sheer scale and reach of such ‘free trade’ inspired penetration with South Africa as the vanguard.
Last year, COSATU’s Central Executive Committee issued a statement that goes some way in capturing Polokwane’s failed promise of economic change. Namely, that within and amongst the ANC-Alliance’s ‘working-class constituency, there is a degree of despondency…there is the danger that the 2nd decade of freedom, like the 1st will belong to capital and not the workers and the poor…we face a serious crisis of legitimacy…not only COSATU but also the Alliance as a whole will be in serious trouble.’ That time has already come. Enjoy the centenary.
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* Dr. McKinley is an independent writer, researcher, lecturer and political activist based in Johannesburg.
* This article first appeared at the South African Civil Society Information Service.
* Please send comments to editor[at]pambazuka[dot]org or comment online at Pambazuka News.
The threat to democracy can also come from other quarters
Technocrats and the judiciary aren’t any more likely to make decisions b
cc F v Cased on the people’s wishes than elected politicians, cautions Leonard Gentle. Democracy ‘is a matter of constant contestation in which ordinary people either actively engage in and expand its terrain – or their power and choices become more and more constrained by powerful and vested elites’.
First they came for Papandreou - and I didn't speak out because I thought the Greeks are just lazy tax-dodgers.
Then they came for Berlusconi - and I didn't speak out because I thought he was just a racist and sexist old roué.
Then they came for Zuma - and I didn't speak out because he can’t apply his mind, and he’s still running the show.
Then they took away my vote - and there was no one left to speak out for me.
Some may feel that it may be a stretching it a bit to compare Pastor Martin Niemöller’s heartfelt reminder of the insidious way we can become complicit with fascism with the growing way we are invited to disdain democracy under the cover of exposing venal politicians, but recent events in the European Union (EU) tell us otherwise. And these threats also have resonance here in South Africa.
The court ruling that President Jacob Zuma “could not have applied his mind” in his appointment of Menzi Simelane as head of Public Prosecutions has strengthened perceptions that democracy is under threat. His appointment of Willem Heath to replace Willie Hofmeyer is further evidence of Zuma surrounding himself with toadies whilst his securocrats champion a new veil of secrecy under the banner of the Protection of Information Bill, otherwise known as the “Secrecy Bill”.
And so when Zuma and ANC Secretary General, Gwede Mantashe, raise the question of the courts becoming the new opposition to the ruling party, then the hysteria level amongst certain sections of the public goes up, as the picture of a growing threat to democracy becomes clearer.
Two things need to be said about this however: One is that democracy should not be viewed a la Fukuyama’s End of History or the World Bank’s approach as a set of prescriptions, which simply code what a democracy is, “finish and klaar”. Instead it is a matter of constant contestation in which ordinary people either actively engage in and expand its terrain - or their power and choices become more and more constrained by powerful and vested elites (whatever the institutions and constitutions, which apparently codify their rights).
But, secondly, whilst Zuma’s coterie of sycophants and the Secrecy Bill are threats to democracy, there are also threats coming from an entirely different quarter – one which we are all being uncritically invited to be part of. This is the notion that elected politicians are simply not fit to govern and that technical experts and bewigged judges are better.
Elsewhere in the world, we are seeing an attack on democracy of historic proportions and yet it goes on insidiously – like Niemöller’s reflections on Nazism - under the rubric of something apparently so rational: “doing what is necessary to satisfy the markets”.
There is a business media war on “politicians”, which echoes that of the ratings agencies and economists’ attacks on venal politicians. Suddenly politicians are the ones responsible for the crisis!
Of course everyone hates politicians, but what does this mean for democracy?
There are two possible trajectories here. One is to seek ways to expand public power and accountability over politicians, and the other is to dispense with politicians and any semblance of democracy at all, and merely hand over all decision-making to the bankers and let Goldman Sachs, technocrats and economists run the show.
This latter trajectory is the story today of the EU and the rise of the “technocrats” into power in Greece and Italy where unelected people, ex-bankers, carry out the wishes of banks and fund managers against whatever electorates may have voted for.
French President, Nicolas Sarkozy, and German Chancellor, Angela Merkel have just succeeded in getting 26 members of the EU to agree to revise the Lisbon treaty. Britain’s Prime Minister, Cameron, opted out because British politics is all about protecting its bankers and speculators who occupy the financial square mile in London known as The City.
In terms of their plans, the European Commission will be empowered to impose austerity measures on Eurozone members that are being bailed out, usurping the functions of government in countries such as Greece, Ireland and Portugal. Bailed out countries can also be stripped of their voting rights in the EU, under the proposals.
The European Central Bank (ECB) will now be able to act in Europe like the IMF used to act in Africa – effectively become the force of governance, whilst leaving local politicians with being little more than rentiers and ceremonial figureheads. The ECB is effectively an arm of German and French interests, which is why Cameron could not countenance subjecting The City to its regulation.
No one knows, or cares what the French, German, Italian, Greek or British people think about this.
When a new EU constitution was first mooted, countries like France, Ireland and Holland had the boldness to say that they would submit the draft to referenda in their countries, to actually ask the people what they wanted. When the vote was overwhelmingly a rejection, the whole enterprise was threatened.
So this time there is no talk of consulting the masses. It’s an exercise that, of course, would never “satisfy the markets”. This is what outgoing Greek Prime Minister, George Papandreou, discovered when he spoke about having a referendum to find out whether the Greek public actually agreed with the idea that they must privatise utilities, cut hospitals and schools so that the bankers can get a return on their gambling in the bond market. That was the end of his political career.
Today Greece is a vassal state of Germany and the ECB, acting on behalf of the speculators who bought Greek bonds, but who are now deemed to be “too big to fail".
Meanwhile Mario Monti, the new, unelected, Prime Minister of Italy and former ECB technocrat - in the same year that a referendum in Italy gave an overwhelming no vote when the disgraced Berlusconi conducted a referendum on these matters - has just announced a new raft of measures under which people will work longer, pay more VAT and public services are cut and privatised.
The thrust of the responses to the global crisis of capitalism so far is not only more of the same – the consolidation of the banks and the rating agencies and their tame right wing economists that got us into the mess in the first place - but also a war on whatever imperfect forms of democracy have existed up to now.
Instead of the crisis providing a basis for seeking alternatives to capitalism and expanding the terrain of democracy we are seeking the opposite, not because there is a lack of ideas globally to do anything different but because there is as yet no social force, which can compel the elites to do anything different.
Of course such a social force is being re-born. The Latin American social movement tide of the noughties has jumped continents and we now see the ongoing Arab Spring of Tunisia and Egypt and its power to challenge long-entrenched elites. Elsewhere the indignant of Spain and Greece and the Occupy Wall Street movements are part of the same tide of public engagement.
But this is a movement still far from directly challenging the citadels of power. This is a movement rising up out of the ashes of decades of defeat since the 1980s, a period of mass disaffection with politics and neo-liberal triumphalism masquerading as common sense.
Even in Egypt that movement is finding that the enemy is hydra-like, with the toppling of Mubarak yielding the equally violent military and the first elections throwing up religious zealots. And so while the movement is growing, its transformative possibilities are still the music of the future.
Meanwhile the global economic crisis is leading not so much to new forms of public power and popular accountability, but to rule by technocrats, with a compliant business media happy to serve as cheer leaders.
This has its South African echoes. Already we are one of the few countries in the world with a privatised independent Reserve Bank making decisions on public wellbeing. Already whilst there are ongoing public criticisms of Zuma’s democratic credentials, Pravin Gordhan’s decisions are unquestioned. While there was a justifiable outcry against the Information Bill not having a public interest clause there was no clamour for such a public interest provision when the Competition Commission gave its go-ahead for Wal-Mart to muscle into South Africa. The media were aghast that politicians should interfere in a business deal.
Back to Zuma who “could not have applied his mind” in the appointment of Simelane and the statements by Mantashe about the courts becoming the new opposition. This has resulted in much rallying behind the courts and the perception that Mantashe’s comments are entirely threatening to democracy.
In this scenario, the Constitution and courts are seen to be inviolate, experts in the field, the final moral arbiter. But this is factually incorrect. The courts only arbitrate against the law as the yardstick and the Constitutional Court only pronounces in respect of the Constitution, while the Constitution derives its authority from a particular balance of forces in the late 1980s and early 1990s.
Back then, lest we forget, we had a mass movement that had the moral legitimacy without the capacity to overthrow apartheid, whilst the apartheid regime had lost moral authority but continued to have the violent power of repression. Out of that configuration flowed the best of the Constitution and the pre-eminence of the Constitutional Court as the final arbiter. But out of the same configuration flowed the checks and balances on democracy and redistribution that the old order wanted – heightened provincial powers, the obligation to honour apartheid debt, corporations as juristic persons etc. Much of the acting out of that balance was to be the subject of actual judicial decisions – which meant that the staffing of the judiciary, particularly in the Constitutional Court was going to be critical. Which is why we had a mix of human rights and struggle-aligned lawyers - fortunately the one’s appointed into the Constitutional Court - within a pool of apartheid jurors and Bantustan prosecutors in other courts.
Now, we are witnessing the end of that phase of human rights lawyers. People like Edwin Cameron and Arthur Chaskalson have made way for the emergence of those who have no human rights backgrounds but who earned their spurs in the institutions of apartheid, such as Llewellyn Landers and Mogoeng Mogoeng. Will these be the new arbiters of morality in the land?
With all these caveats it is an important democratic victory that we have the forms of protection against state abuse of citizens that the courts can offer. But the democracy of a truly engaged people should be the highest form of protection, as well as the possibilities of popular power.
If the choice is between flawed and venal elected politicians and sophisticated technocrats satisfying the markets, I’m for the politicians any day.
In this sense, Mantashe is right. In the absence of an effective political opposition to the ANC - not an opposition which positions itself even more on the side of technocrats and satisfying the markets (which, given that these are also the ANC government’s pre-occupations) is no opposition at all - there is a growing middle class tide of celebrating the courts as the bastion of defence of democracy. This hides the real cause of the problem.
This vacuum is a challenge to all of us. Instead of seeking technocratic and judicial saviours, we need to accept responsibility for the current unchallenged status of the ANC and for the compliant nature of its alliance partners, and build a new movement of expanded democracy.
There was an old struggle slogan that used to be shouted at the funerals of activists killed by the apartheid forces: Don’t mourn…mobilise!
That has never been more apt now.
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* This article first appeared on The South African Civil Society Information Service.
* Leonard Gentle is Director of the International Labour and Research Information Group.
* Please send comments to editor[at]pambazuka[dot]org or comment online at Pambazuka News.
Will the Arab Spring finally unite the Maghreb?
It has long been a commonly accepted belief, prior to the Arab Spring, that the dream of North African unity would always have to be reported to better days of democracy and true representation of the peoples' will.
The idea of North African unity has always existed amongst the peoples of the region since they gained independence in the late 1950s and early 1960s. North Africans are naturally united by a shared history, culture and language. The mutual solidarity and aid which was provided across their borders in their struggle towards national liberation also helped cement the sentiment that the region's inhabitants were one and the same.
Founded in 1989, the Arab Maghreb Union (AMU) found its 'raison d'etre' in the Treaty of Marrakesh. Leaders agreed they would meet every six months to boost the new organisation. Their goals were ambitious to say the least: they hoped to mirror the European Union model and aimed for similar economic integration (common market, currency) as well as intense political cooperation.
For example, in 1994 members agreed to a regional free trade zone, a decision left unimplemented ever since. By 1995, political disagreements between member states considered to be irreconcilable pushed Morocco to demand that the organisation's activities be temporarily put to rest. Many years on, the AMU's laudable objectives have remained null and void as the organisation was consensually set aside.
The people of Mauritania, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia and Libya share common dreams, aspirations and perceptions of the world, yet their feuding states are unable to come together politically in a concerted effort to articulate the said dreams of unity. Such differences have always been accepted as being the end product of states not being democratic or inadequately reflecting the realities of their people's aspirations. The Arab Spring and its recent developments test such assertions by asking: will newly elected governments bring a promising new start or awakening of pan-Maghreb sentiment?
The new governments in Morocco, Tunisia and Libya certainly reflect a break from the past. The legitimacy and popularity of the new elected Islamist parties in Morocco and Tunisia, for example, will no doubt lead to discussions among like minded decision makers. Though the new government in Libya carries big question marks as to what ideology drives its efforts, one can also reasonably expect an Islamist victory there in coming elections. Despite Algeria and Mauritania's non-participation in the Arab Spring's sweeping political reform, they too might be inclined to join a new impulse for political change.
One can only speculate as to what importance or shape a regional policy might take for these newly elected governments. Nonetheless, many issues have yet to be adequately addressed by the fledgling organisation; and it will be difficult to deter governments – regardless of their ideology – from overriding national interests.
The obvious lack of trade between Maghreb countries prior to the union's creation meant that the organisation's future would largely depend on the political will of governments. Such will has been quasi-non-existent in light of the inability to overcome geopolitical obstacles. This is particularly the case in the Western Sahara, the issue of Berber nationalism/identity. Though the former might seem a greater roadblock to unity than the latter, both hold equal importance in the organisation's ability to progress.
The Arab Maghreb Union's name itself is open to legitimate attacks from the region's ethnic and linguistic minorities. The umbrella term 'Arab' is open to controversy as it fails to recognise the region's deeper Berber identity and roots. This situation at the regional level naturally reflects the outright discrimination faced by these groups within the respective nation states.
In Morocco, Berbers represent a whopping 40 percent of the population, and 25 percent or more in Algeria, yet they continue to face unequal treatment and are hostile to any efforts of forced assimilation into an Arabised national culture. A real respect and much needed inclusion of the said groups in the process of shaping a union is vital but was never truly undertaken.
The primary contentious issue blocking the union's efforts, however, is the intractable feud between Algeria and Morocco over the issue of Western Sahara. Untying this modern day Gordian knot will not be easy. The arid region of Western Sahara is a former Spanish colony annexed and occupied by Morocco in 1975. The occupation of the territory has resulted in war with the POLISARIO, an Independence movement supported by Algiers.
The war has resulted in the fleeing of over 200,000 people to refugee camps in Algeria's south-western town of Tindouf as well as the paralysis of international efforts to finally resolve the matter. For instance, MINURSO, the UN mission tasked with maintaining peace and overseeing the organisation of a free and fair referendum of self-determination has, to this day, never been allowed to carry out its mission.
The Moroccan monarchy naturally sees this issue as one of high politics and national sovereignty and has long swept aside the POLISARIO as hapless puppets of Algiers. It believes a solution can only be reached in bilateral talks with their Algerian counterparts who refuse to do so, invoking multilateral solutions (referendum) or a negotiated solution with POLISARIO. A dialogue of the deaf, to say the least.
The distrust between both parties grew even stronger in the 1990s. This period proved to be a very difficult decade for Algeria as it dangerously entered a vicious cycle of violence and political instability. At the heart of the Maghreb, Algerians expected help from their neighbours but failed to receive it. The Algerian government seemed to conclude Morocco was happy to see its neighbour plunge into all-out civil war.
For both Moroccans and Algerians, the Saharawi issue goes beyond changing governments. It has now become a subject of utmost national interest reserved to the countries' top military and political brass. No new government on either side, regardless of its ideology, would dare question the king's or state's stance on the matter.
Finally, the reality is that Maghreb states trade far more with their European partners than amongst themselves. Morocco’s and Tunisia's privileged positions in the eyes of the European Union, both as sought-after tourist locations and as allies in various international forums, have enabled them to disregard Maghreb unity thus far.
Similarly, Algeria’s and Libya's status as petro-dependent rentier states, also pushes them to believe their financial clout enables them to steer clear of a common Maghreb market. But are such positions viable in the long-run?
The concerned states would certainly be wrong to think so. Reinforcing regional bodies such as the Arab Maghreb Union has become a vital tool for developing states in protecting themselves from the foreseeable and indeed unforeseeable dangers of the current globalised international system.
Whether it be on the economy, development or dealing with transnational threats such as Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, cooperation and common policies will go a long way in bringing a much needed stability to the region.
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* This article was first published by Huffington Post.
* Imad Mesdoua is an Algerian journalist, writer and political strategist specialising in African, North African and Middle Eastern politics.
* Please send comments to editor[at]pambazuka[dot]org or comment online at Pambazuka News.
Democratic revolutions in North Africa
Many years have passed since Braudel studied societies around the Mediterranean Sea as a system. Centuries since Europeans reinvented their Greek cultural origins (science, philosophy) via the Arab world. Centuries since Muslim and Christian pirates created their ‘democratic’ utopias in the borders of the two worlds. I think it is now time to set democratic struggle in both sides of the ancient world in its international context and to recognise its routes, which by no means follow a single direction.
DEMOCRATIC STRUGGLE IN INTERNATIONAL PERSPECTIVE
After the collapse of the Communist Bloc and the subsequent lack of an economic and political antagonistic model, the western peoples’capacity to effectively challenge their native ruling elites deteriorated to a substantial degree. So did the capacity of the ruling elites in the Arab countries to exploit the competition between two Great Powers in the name of an independent policy. Since the communist threat disappeared, the ruling elites in both the Arab and the Western World searched for its new equivalent and they found it in the Islamic fundamentalist movement.
The expansion of neoliberal policies across the world was based on the capital’s ability to abandon western developed countries for the non-democratic developing ones, where workers weren’t able to protest that easily to demand better wages and labor rights. In the past, the extreme exploitation of workers in non-democratic countries could diminish the workers’ exploitation in western developed – and in part, exactly because of this reality – democratic countries. Today, in contrast, the capital’s capacity to exploit workers in countries in development has brought about a systemic blackmail upon their western counterparts, in order for the latter to accept their increasing exploitation.
Therefore, because democracy in the West and dictatorship in the Arab world and other areas are interrelated processes, if not a differentiated angle of the very same process, we have to consider the struggle against neoliberalism in the West and the struggle against authoritarianism in the Arab world as parts of a common struggle for democracy.
Charles Tilly, an emblematic figure in the movement research field, had included a prediction in a book published in 2004: Democracy is going to lose ground in the coming years in the western developed countries and emerge in countries under development. His hypothesis seems to maintain its credibility.
The Arab peoples rose up demanding a real democracy (one of the western type). Their successful struggle against authoritarian regimes, which, until then, seemed to be impervious, triggered a wave of democratic consciousness in Europe and equipped mobilising forces with an alternative to the ‘corrupted’ party politics and the ‘ineffective’ movement politics. Protesting against the authorities as a single unit, acting beyond classical political, religious and social boundaries constituted a repertoire of action appropriate for the political conditions, not only in the Arab countries, but in some western ones as well. The massive rally in the central square, as a phenomenon, which sets a direct political challenge for the authorities, became modular very quickly outside the boundaries of the Arab world. Puerta del Sol in Madrid and Syntagma Square in Athens were transformed to permanent sit-ins and rallying spots for all the protestors in the fashion of Tahrir Square. ‘OccupyWall Street’ or ‘Occupy London’ can also be viewed as a direct application of Tahrir Square’s lesson as well.
Tilly in his last great book about ‘Democracy’ concluded that the democratisation process derives from the longstanding struggle of the people, while the de-democratisation process is a result of the steep withdrawal of elites from the democratic game and rules. Indeed, what we can notice nowadays in many countries of the West is the sharp confinement of democratic rights in the name of financial stability. Greece is just an extreme example of what happens when policies are dictated to the local government from abroad with the national parliament being bypassed. On the other hand, it is obvious that the gains of the Arab revolutions are, until now, still at stake and the need for a sustainable massive struggle, in order for democratic rights and freedoms to be stabilised and broadened is more than clear.
Just as in Heraclitus logic ‘one can both descend and ascend the very same path’, the same applies in Tilly’s conclusion: That democratisation and de-democratisation are potential outcomes of the very same political process. In this sense, democracy and dictatorship are not separated by any great walls, since nowadays we notice de-democratisation processes occurring in typically democratic regimes and democratisation processes in typically dictatorial regimes. Therefore, democracy bears a big stake and can never be considered as a secured acquisition.
RADICALISATION IN COMPARATIVE PERSPECTIVE
The democratisation process is a complex one not only in the Arab countries, but almost everywhere. The analysis of this process is something that exceeds the ambitions of this article. However, since the latter would have never been written if Tunisian and Egyptian Revolutions had not occurred, I’m going to attempt to analyse the radicalisation process that took place on 14 January in Tunisia and 25 January in Egypt and turned two initially small demonstrations into key-revolutions for the democratic struggle all over the world. For this reason, I will set the issue in comparative perspective and I’ll attempt to recognise the causal mechanisms behind the radicalisation process following the theoretical and methodological framework that Charles Tilly, Sidney Tarrow and Doug Mc Adam introduced in the social movement research field. But firstly lets focus on the empirical data.
Dhekra Haouashi, an activist who participated in the events of 14 January in Tunis, described them in a public statement in the following way:
‘On January 14th a general strike had been arranged in Tunis. […] The city was empty. Police was absent. For the first time we weren’t surrounded by thousands of policemen. […] For the first time after December 17th there were TV cameras and we could give interviews to the journalists. […] 200 activists who had gathered from 7am started shouting slogans. ‘Work, Freedom, Dignity’, ‘Down with the DCR‘. […] People from the poor neighborhoods of Tunis started joining the movement. In a couple of hours 500-600 protesters had already gathered. We decided to march via Habib Bourguiba. We had nothing. Neither flags nor loudspeakers nor means to defend ourselves […]. In the first turn police blocked the street. We were wondering if the policemen would shoot at the crowd as they did in the past, but the presence of foreign media gave them little chance. We had no illusions, but it was difficult then to go back. […] We gathered once again in order to break the blockade. We achieve this hard but quickly. No one could stop us. Police attempted to disperse our demonstration. But in 10 minutes the number of protesters had been doubled and we were then about 1000 protestors in Habib Bourguiba. We were marching toward the Interior Ministry which was the symbol of the dictatorial regime and police oppression. […] Since we arrived […] we didn’t stop shouting our slogan ‘Ben Ali step down’. Hour after hour the crowd was increasing and we couldn’t believe it. Cops in civilian clothes were waiting in the side streets totally infuriated. At 1 pm we were 50.000 people from all the districts and closer cities demanding for the dictator to go. We had realised that it was over, so we were determined to stay until he leaves the country. The willingness for the sit-in was a given. At 2 pm the funeral of a martyr who was killed a day before was passing by that place. Then the police decided to attack without any warning. Protestors were so crammed that couldn’t breathe. The [violent] reaction of the people, who were afraid that the police was shooting upon us, led to the death of one or more. A lot of tear gas thrown on our back pushed the crowd further. Tunisians are not experienced in demonstrating, so they started fleeing. However, they regrouped quickly. The repression of this demonstration included extreme violence. […] But the dictator had already fled the country and we could continue our struggle with much more hope’.
Ahmed Eid, one of the organisers of the mobilisations that led to the Revolution of 25 January in Egypt, informed us about that day in his interview.
‘On January 25th we had organised just another protest. This took place on the occasion of the bombing act committed against a Christian church in Cairo. This event had a catalyst influence upon the people who participated in the protest events of 25th January […]. Police forces, which were afraid of a second islamist burst against Christians, had dispersed across all over the country to protect the big churches and were exhausted. So, in the first day of the revolution people filled the streets […]. Before we occupied the Square we had started demonstrating. Protesting on the streets was our goal. The occupation of the Square was a spontaneous act. This was incredible even for us. Many different groups had arranged protests in different places of the city, streets and squares. We couldn’t predict the kind of dynamics to emerge. We just let it free to develop. We were saying that, if 5.000 people gather in a square and depending on their willingness to push and crush the police lines, we will try to unify them. And that’s exactly what happened. The number of participants exceeded all expectations. Totally out of imagination. Thanks to the dynamics of this demonstration we crushed the police lines and marched towards Tahrir. […] Then we decided to encircle the Interior Ministry. […] Right there people started the back and forth with the police. During this battle both protestors and the police got exhausted. By the way, people sat down in the Square. There was no plan for occupation. It just happened. […] But everything contributed these days; the Tunisian revolution, the bombing act, the regime’s response, violence, everything. I repeat that the initial plan was about a small gathering and protest to the Interior Ministry. It was the massive and spontaneous participation of the people that led to the Revolution. Repression had the opposite effect than expected, so that the crowd pushing reached Tahrir Square. Then the police closed all the entrances of the Square. At the same time the flow of the people was continuing. […] Police was taken by surprise in front of such numbers of participants and it wasn’t reasonable on its part to use violence against this huge wave of people. […][The police] thought they could trap them in the Square. But they couldn’t guess what would happen. The real violence started in the afternoon when protesters attempted to reach the Parliament. […] the police started throwing canisters of tear gas and water upon protesters. From this moment started the reaction, when a few people threw the first stones in order to protect themselves by the police’.
‘Everything contributed these days’. It’s obvious that the radicalisation process was an issue of many interrelated factors. In both cases a small mobilisation had been organised in conditions of polarisation between challengers and regime forces. Nothing more. The people simply tried to realise the cost of a potential mobilisation and the possible opportunities available to them. In this sense, the assessment of the threats and opportunities that lied ahead, with their inevitable meeting with the police forces, seems to constitute a crucial factor. In both cases the absence of police forces was considered as an opportunity to go ahead. The repression that followed sought to set the mobilisation cost higher than the cost of inaction. But at the same time, the increasing polarisation was reinforcing mobilisation. In other words, repression in conditions of interconnected mobilisation and polarisation processes has the opposite from the expected results. It’s the so called ‘repression paradox’. The vicious circle created by the link between mobilisation, repression and polarisation puzzles police forces as well. The emerging dilemma is: ‘to break the vicious circle using more violence, but at the same time risking the legitimisation of the regime itself, or being more cautious, and leave free space to the protestors, risking, however, an escalation of the demonstrations?’ Non-escalation of violence may be considered as an opportunity by bystanders to join the mobilisation as well as to radicalise their demands and forms of action. Therefore, radicalisation constitutes the ambiguous outcome of an interlocked process which, in my opinion, functions as figure 1 suggests.
Radicalisation results from a similar process, even in democratic regimes, as I’ve already shown analysing the case of 2008 riots in Greece. It can also be a more long-lasting process.
STRUGGLING THANKS TO A GROWING MOVEMENT SECTOR
Since democratisation is an ambiguous process we can’t predict the future of the Tunisian, the Egyptian or other Arab country’s revolution. However, we have already noticed that these revolutions ‘are continuing’, thanks to a growing movement sector. New political actors such as the youth entered the scene in a dynamic way, old ones such as parties and trade unions increase and radicalise their activity, new organisations emerge, coordination between different organisations, unions and parties advance, networking via new technologies expands the mobilising structures and makes them function more rapidly. ‘Democracy’ had become a ‘master frame’ through which different social groups can formulate their claims, new aspirations emerge especially among the youth, and the activated boundary between the democratic forces and the supporters of the old regime seems to facilitate the movement forces’ rhetoric. Even if the favorable international political opportunity that exists now disappears in the future, Revolution will probably continue thanks to its first and most important issue: A growing movement sector.
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* Please send comments to editor[at]pambazuka[dot]org or comment online at Pambazuka News.
 Tilly Charles 2004: Social Movements 1768-2004. New York: Paradigm Publishers
 Tilly Charles 2007: Democracy. New York: Cambridge University Press
 Mc Adam, Doug, Tarrow, Sidney, Tilly Charles 2001: Dynamics of Contention. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
 Her statement took place on 10/5/2011 in Athens during a public discussion for the Tunisian Revolution
 The interview was taken in Tahrir Square on 28/11/2011 by B. Rongas, D. Papanikolopoulos, Th. Theodwrou and M. Papanikolopoulou
 Tarrow Sidney 1998: Power in movement. Cambridge University Press
 Papanikolopoulos Dimitris 2009: “The causal mechanisms behind the December 2008 insurgency in Greece”. Paper for the international conference “Rioting and violent protest in comparative perspective” held in Athens on 9-11 December 2009
Which way China-Africa relations?
A conference titled ‘African Independence and China: Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow’, on 10 December 2011 at Tsinghua University, put together by the International Students’ Association for Global Affairs (ISAGA) and the Department of International Relations, was a breath of academic fresh air. Until now so much focus has been given to the rise of China in relation to its relationship with the US and the EU, but regions of equally significant relational importance, like Africa, are often neglected in international relations and comparative studies. In China, despite the massive economic involvement in Africa, for some of the mainstream theoreticians, Africa and its peoples, taken as a whole, is not perceived as an important region that merits study, despite news that point to the reality that this is a fast-growing region of the world.
As one of the international students who worked to make the conference possible, I openly and regrettably admit that my knowledge of African history and current political struggles was limited to what I heard in the news and what I occasionally read online. This is not to say that I learned everything about Africa in one day during a five-hour conference; that is simply impossible. But I can say that I was more deeply immersed in knowledge about Africa in the five-hour period than I have been in all my past five years of studying international relations. This point will be made clear in my overview and critique of the conference and its guest speakers.
As I write this summary I keep in mind a few things: First, that each person who attended the conference, and the important speakers that presented, play a crucial role in the development of international politics for the 21st century. Second, that each person who attended the conference took away something different. And third, conferences like this, a seemingly difficult and unlikely event to take place in China, can be achieved with great effort, determination, and mobilisation, especially by youth participation. One key point for many of us was that we now understand better the significance of African leaders such as Patrice Lumumba and his inspiration for Africans. So now I will move on to talk about the speakers.
SESSION I: YESTERDAY: AFRICAN INDEPENDENCE
The conference was officially opened by Professor Shi Zhiqin, Dean of the Department of International Relations at Tsinghua University and official host of the event. He recounted for the audience the historical relations between Africa and China since the period of decolonisation. ‘For the people of China, the question of independence and self-determination is a key principle of our foreign policy. In the particular case of African independence, China has offered support by working both bilaterally and within multilateral institutions’, Prof Zhikin said.
Zhiqin went on to recount China’s opposition to the destabilisation of the Democratic Republic of the Congo at the moment of the assassination of Patrice Lumumba, saying that, ‘At the dawn of the independence era in 1960, the people of the DRC wanted to embark on a path of self-development, but this was thwarted by the assassination of the first prime minister, Patrice Lumumba, on January 17, 1961.’
Charles Madibo Wagidoso, the Ugandan ambassador, in his speech titled, ‘How China supports peace and security in Central Africa’, gave a brief historical overview of Africa. He spoke of how the evangelist brought the Bible and, thus, Western religion to Africa.
I want to stop here and critique these first two points: First off, I agree with Prof Campbell (chairperson of the session) that Wagidoso’s introduction, in which he claimed to be speaking not as an ambassador but in his personal capacity, was empty because in the end his speech could not be labelled anything other than a diplomatic speech. Second, when he talked about evangelists bringing the Bible to Africa, he spoke like a colonialist, because he did not mention that Africans already possessed a far greater spirituality before the arrival of the Europeans. I agree with many African storytellers and scholars that Africa had the most united spirituality until the idea of ‘religion’ was introduced, using the Bible as a weapon to create separation of spirituality into categories of religious hierarchies.
But let me return to the ambassador’s speech: The second part, I felt, was more genuine, as he spoke of the movement from colonialism to independence in Africa. He was also the first to say that, even with independence, Uganda (and Africa) remained violent as a result of external forces. This was a crucial point because it set the foundation that led to many important and related issues to be raised throughout the rest of the conference.
Ambassador Wagidoso ended his speech by talking about China’s relation with Africa. He argued that, ‘China has always supported Africa and that this position has not changed.’ He listed some of the challenges facing Africa today, including lifting people out of poverty, remaining truly independent and strengthening national unity. But today, and in the coming years, this relationship has become sensitive and reached a crucial deciding point. As an economically developing country, how will China procede with its relationship with Africa? As Wagidoso asked, ‘What are the real interests of the Chinese government and companies towards Africa?’ Are these interests humanitarian, military, economic, or ideological? Another point Wagidoso raised was, ‘With $150 billion in trade between China and Africa, China needs to be cautious.’ He ended his presentation by suggesting to the Chinese people that, as their country rises in power and influence, it should be a peacekeeper, work towards negotiation and training programs and fight against the use of external forces (imperialism), which are the root causes of conflict in Africa.
Li Anshan, a professor at the Department of International Relations at Peking University, in his presentation entitled, ‘Chinese Cooperation in African Independence,’ also began his speech with a historical context. He displayed pieces of African art that were stolen from Africa and transported to British museums. He then showed slides of the ruined Summer Palace in Beijing, destroyed by plunder and exploitation by western imperialism. His objective was to show a similarity between Chinese and African history. Then he focused his attention more towards the achievements of Africa in the past 50 years, pointing out that, despite problems of integration, human rights, border wars and nation-building, a great deal of progress has been made to lift parts of Africa out of poverty, yet much still is yet to be done. He is also one of the only speakers who acknowledge African women and their great achievements. Professor Li, like Ambassador Wagidoso, also warned against external influence as a disruption of nation building in Africa. Prof Li drew attention to the fact that there were groups in one region of China who are called terrorists but the Chinese government did not focus entirely on terrorism, but instead focused on economic development. Li called on Africans to make economic development the first priority.
He also said that it is important that Africans do not forget their history, or forget that they are united as Africans in a common history that can help them reunite in the 21st century. He then reconnected China and Africa relations, stating that China and Africa must work together to be more self-reliant and that social stability is very important for both societies. He ended by restating what he believes are some of the biggest challenges for Africa: Good leadership, curbing interference from outside, development and that Africa should not try to copy a Western or Chinese model of development; that Africa should develop in its own way, a new way, achieved and shared by all Africans.
SESSION II: CHINESE SUPPORT FOR AFRICAN INDEPENDENCE
‘The peace of Africa is the peace of Nigeria’, proclaimed Aminu Bashir Wali, the ambassador of Nigeria, in his speech titled, ‘Why Nigerian independence is central to African independence.’ Since its independence in October 1960, Nigeria has been involved in supporting the full liberation African countries, claimed the ambassador. During apartheid, Nigerians committed 10 percent of their income to the Africa National Congress, the main political party up against the National Party (the party which was responsible for racism and murders in South Africa). The ambassador called for economic emancipation to fight corruption from both internal and external forces, and added that Nigeria is at the forefront of peacekeeping in Africa.
He Wenping, Director of African Studies and a professor at the Institute of West-Asian and African Studies, Chinese Academy of Social Science, in her speech titled, ‘China’s support for the independence of Africa in the 21st century,’ began by saying that China’s presence in Africa has been met with open arms. China has chosen a new path divergent from the one taken by the Western world. What China seeks is political and economic cooperation, not domination. She had a very positive attitude as she spoke of friendship and partnership between China and Africa.
Antoine Lokongo of Peking University African Graduate Students Association spoke on ‘The importance of the Lumumba legacy for the independence of Africa.’ He spoke about Belgian colonialism, the malicious assassination of Patrice Lumumba, atrocities in the Congo, and when he declared that, ‘They killed the first democratically elected leader and then they came and preached democracy!’ he excited shouts of agreement by members of the large audience. ‘If the Congo succeeds then all of Africa will,’ says Lokonmgo, echoing the words of Nigerian ambassador Wali. To him, and most Africans, Patrice Lumumba was a hero of the Congolese and African people, who, on many occasions, showed signs that he would have been a just and righteous leader and a democratic one rather than a dictator.
On the issue of China’s relation with Africa, Antoine made a plea to the Chinese that, ‘China needs to stop looking at Africa through Western lenses and Western media.’ He echoed the words of those before him: ‘Africans must not forget their history.’ Yet while the Jewish people remember the Holocaust and the US society remembers Pearl Harbour, Africans are counselled to forget history. Drawing attention to the fact that three days earlier the US society had major ceremonies to remember Pearl Harbour, Lokongo called on African and Chinese students to remember Patrice Lumumba. He did not accept that Africans should forget Patrice Lumumba, and it showed in his deep passion and extensive knowledge of the history of the Congo and the intricacy of corruption and exploitation of the people by leaders both inside and outside of Africa. Today, the world system needs more passionate youths like Lokongo; voices that will not listen when told to be quite or to forget.
Despite being the youngest guest speaker, he made his voice heard, so much so that at the end of his allotted time, the room filled with shouts for him to continue. He is an inspiration and proof that youth are the most powerful tools of the 21st century. If armed with the right knowledge and given the opportunity, the youth of the world will show unimaginable capacity for mobilisation and change in the 21st century. We saw this in Egypt.
SESSION III: HOW CAN WE SAFEGUARD AFRICAN INDEPENDENCE TODAY?
Sekou Conde, a lecturer at Munzu University of China, delivering a speech on ‘Africa and China staying independent.’ He emphasized the need to ‘transcend previously established modes of organisation, mainly rooted in economics,’ and for African, ‘under the umbrella of the African Union, to move towards pan-Africanism.’ He called on Africans to accept and remember their history, yet move on from their colonial heritage. He spoke of a non-alignment movement, which seeks a strengthening of national independence, preservation of world peace, socioeconomic development through the transformation and democratisation of international political and economic relationships and the development of the principles of coexistence.
SESSION IV: AFRICAN UNITY IN AN INTERDEPENDENT WORLD
Julius Ole Sunkuli, the ambassador of Kenya, in his speech titled, ‘Kenya’s role in the struggles for economic independence,’ talked about how, ‘Kenya’s problems began after the Cold War ended, when African leaders that supported the Western countries became dictators.’ But his speech mainly focused on more current circumstances, talking about Chinese infrastructure projects in Kenya and East Africa. He praised the way that China has chosen to invest in Africa, building roads and improving infrastructure in return for the natural resources of Africa. ‘The Chinese people are very good at speed,’ he says. Later on he remarked that, ‘China has never positioned itself as an aid giving country.’ Aid to Africa has been a topic of great debate and was mentioned earlier by Prof Li who mentioned Dambisa Moyo’s book ‘Dead Aid,’ which I read during my undergraduate studies on the question of how Western aid to Africa has hindered rather than helped African development. She argues in her book that the people of Africa have become reliant on aid, and lack the knowledge and motivation to help themselves and mobilise to rise out of poverty and oppression. The questions that still remain are: How and with what to replace African dependence on aid?
Horace Campbell, Visiting Professor a the Department of International Relations at Tsinghua University, in his presentation titled, ‘African Union and China in the 21st century: Reparations and Reconstruction towards a multi-polar world,’ gave a speech that opened many more doors for debate and discussion. He began by asking important foundational questions like: ‘How do we repair the planet earth and human beings?’ ‘Are Africans human beings?’ and, ‘Is Africa just another space for natural resources?’ He challenged the audience and human beings of the 21st century to ‘think beyond linearity and modernisation.’ Prof Campbell expressed his displeasure at the way the international system has been structured to cater to the idea of superpowers and hegemony. He called for an end to the period of superpowers and a retransformation (quantum leap) of the international system so that human beings can coexist with each other and the planet earth. He said that talks about China being a developed country are wrong; that China is still very much a developing country and has many overlapping similarities with Africa, which is also proving to be a region of great change. The professor called for new and ‘necessary forms of political education’ with ‘audacity.’
Drawing extensively from Samir Amin’s article on ‘Audacity and more audacity,’ Campbell reiterated Amin’s call for boldness in formulating political alternatives to the existing system. He urged the next generation of youths to work for a ‘humanist consensus’ rather than a Washington, Beijing, or any other kind of consensus, which only seek to divide and classify the world rather than unite people together as human beings. The solution, he suggested, is a ‘deconstruction of the imperialist system itself,’ in which democratic social struggle gives people the freedoms they deserve: ‘The freedom to move, settle and to education.’ He argued that the things Africa needs today are ‘peace, life, good health and a clean environment’ and that none of these things can be achieved under the modern capitalistic mode of development. His claim is that ‘peaceful rise’ is not possible and has never been possible because of exploitation and class struggles. The answer to solving these big problems is in the way that we use new technology to repair the planet in the 21st century.
Prof Campbell noted that the current research in new clean technologies holds the promise for escaping the destruction of the planet. He supported the physicists who were working hard for a ‘solar revolution’ to replace the use of oil and coal. Such a revolution holds possibilities for true democratisation and breaking the power of the big energy companies. This process of democratising access to energy could support a redistribution of wealth in Africa, cooperation between China and Africa, and supporting the rights of workers.
The conference, to say the least, was successful, not because it got people to think in a certain way, or to leave with one common opinion, but simply because it got people to think, and gave them a rare opportunity to listen to a number of different voices on an important and sensitive topic. Another crucially important aspect of the conference was that it would not have been possible without youth mobilisation and hard work. Paralleling on a small scale the liberation movement in Egypt, it is easy to see how cooperation, use of modern technology and mobilisation of the youth can bring together much needed voices and open up important questions for discussion. I was not surprised, but impressed, by the turn-out and the number of people who stayed for the whole conference. I truly feel that it was up to his point the most interesting, engaging, and informational seminar we have had so far.
The only frustrating aspect of the conference for me was that it left many questions unsatisfactorily answered. Due to the limited time for each speaker, I also felt that many of them could not fully explain their opinions on the issue of African independence and union and Sino-African relations. I am still conflicted about whether remembering history should or should not be an important factor in bringing about change. In my opinion there is not a right or wrong answer and it can be circumstantial. Sometimes focusing on the tragedies of history perpetuates hatred and keeps people from being able to forgive and move on. But I also agree with the arguments that African, Chinese, and any group of peoples who have suffered oppression and hatred should not forget the tragedies that came with colonisation and imperialism. Sometimes forgetting can set the foundation for history to be repeated.
One of the biggest questions that have yet to be answered has to do with the idea of ‘Socialism with Chinese characteristics.’ The question of what these ‘Chinese characteristics’ are is still unclear and will play a major role in the way China develops and its relationship to the rest of the world. Contemporary questions of African independence, union, and development are just beginning to surface under the recent context of China’s rise, but I agree with Professor Campbell that Africans will not accept Chinese imperialism.
The conference held on 10 December 2011 was a small window of how Africans are engaging China with the ‘audacity’ needed to ask the big questions that are often ignored: How can Africa and China cooperate to reach mutual understanding and to develop peacefully in order to change the world system in the 21st century and to avoid competition and conflict?
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* Katherine Richter is a Vietnamese graduate student at Tsinghua University.
* Please send comments to editor[at]pambazuka[dot]org or comment online at Pambazuka News.
China: ‘Developing’ or ‘developed’ country?
The COP 17 climate conference in Durban ended as expected, with no real agreement and commitment to reverse the destruction of the planet earth. Before and during this meeting, China positioned itself as a developing country so that it could align with the least developed societies from Africa, Asia and Latin America in calling for the countries of Western Europe, North America and Japan to stick to the Kyoto Protocol. In previous climate change meetings, the Chinese delegations had been reluctant to discuss any replacement of the existing Kyoto Protocol. The Kyoto Protocol, which was negotiated over 15 years ago before China exploded with its economic growth, only binds developed countries to cut their emissions. The treaty, the main provisions of which expire at the end of 2012, has been ineffective and failed to curb global emissions. In the United States (US), the most conservative forces have denied the existence of global warming, while the government failed to ratify the treaty.
Throughout the COP17 meeting, representatives of the Global South presented the arguments of the consequences of global warming with the evidence of droughts, floods, hurricanes and the breakup of arctic ice. Island societies from Oceania and other parts of the world provided graphic evidence of the threats to their survival. One term that came out of this meeting was that of ‘climate apartheid’. This formulation came out of the Africa group; Nnimmo Bassey, chair of Friends of the Earth International said that:
‘Delaying real action until 2020 is a crime of global proportions. An increase in global temperatures of 4 degrees Celsius, permitted under this plan, is a death sentence for Africa, Small Island States, and the poor and vulnerable worldwide. This summit has amplified climate apartheid, whereby the richest 1% of the world have decided that it is acceptable to sacrifice the 99%.’
Massive mobilisations by progressive organisations ensured that the deliberations among governments were exposed. From the international reports on the COP 17 deliberations, even with the exposure of the catastrophic conditions of the international financial organs, the leading polluters continued to negotiate within the confines of the liberal concepts of voluntarily established clean development mechanisms. There continues to be stiff resistance to the truth that the planet has been brought to this stage because of the forms of industrialisation of the western capitalism over the past 200 years. Understandably, the US government was identified as the country that is the greatest obstacle to an agreement on reversing global warming. It was in the face of the clear isolation of the US in this meeting where Xie Zhenhua, head Chinese delegation, told journalists that China was willing to be part of a new, legally binding global agreement to mitigate greenhouse-gas emissions, which could come into force by 2020. China also sought to reassert its status as a ‘developing country.’
This is a negotiating stand by the Chinese delegation where in some settings, the Chinese want multilateral agreements where China is judged as a developing country, while in other settings China seeks bilateral understanding with the US. It is this tension in the foreign policy of the Chinese that I want to take note of. This tension is a reflection of real divisions within China. There are two broad camps in the foreign policy establishment: Some thinkers and policy makers want Chinese foreign policy to reflect ‘China’s rise as a superpower’, while other social forces within China continue to believe that the People’s Republic of China must act in solidarity with the oppressed peoples of the world and work with the peoples of the South to change the international order. In this article, I draw from the debates within China on the necessary measures to combat global warming in the context of the teaching and study of international relations in China.
It is important to note that since 2009, the top leadership of China has shown a clear commitment towards building a Green Economy. There is an understanding that the pace of urbanisation and the coal-driven industrialisation cannot continue much longer. To this end one can see the massive investments in research into renewable energy resources. This investment and the ambitious plans to achieve energy efficiency in China come at a moment when it was announced that China has been able to develop one of the fastest computers in the world. China now boasts more than 74 of the fastest super computers; the technology will enable China to move in the direction of putting on stream clean energy technologies. However, I argue that the question of cleaning up the environment cannot be resolved as a technical question, but must also be linked to political struggles.
It is here that progressive forces must take courage from the new alliances built between the least developed countries, the Africa group and the Latin American Societies that are grouped in the Bolivarian Alternative for Latin America. Teachers and students in China can read C. L. R James who wrote that revolutionary changes are not decided in meetings such as COP17 or in parliaments, they are only ratified there. The people of China will decide whether they are moving towards modernisation and catching up and surpassing the major capitalist powers or building an alternative economic system that can reclaim the earth and start the long road to human emancipation.
IS CHINA A DEVELOPING COUNTRY?
At the end of November 2011, in preparation for the COP 17 meeting in Durban, the government of China issued a White Paper, ‘China's Policies and Actions for Addressing Climate Change, Information Office of the State Council, The People's Republic of China.’ The White Paper advanced legally binding targets for the next five years. These included a 17 per cent cut in carbon emissions, a 16 per cent decrease in energy use per unit of GDP, and a goal of lifting non-fossil-fuel energy usage from its current level of 8.6 per cent, to 11.4 per cent of total energy consumption.
The document reflected the real contradictions within Chinese society with the neoliberal discourse on carbon trading and other ideas that centres World Bank discourse on meeting the challenges of global warming. Despite this discourse, this is an impressive document that spelt out the challenges facing the Chinese peoples:
‘China is the world's largest developing country, with a large population, insufficient energy resources, complex climate and fragile eco-environment. It has not yet completed the historical task of industrialization and urbanization and its development is unbalanced. China's per-capita GDP in 2010 was only a little more than RMB29,000. By the UN standard for poverty, China still has a poverty-stricken population of over 100 million, thus it faces an extremely arduous task in developing its economy, eliminating poverty and improving the people's livelihood. In the meantime, China is one of the country’s most vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change. Climate change generates many negative effects on China's economic and social development, posing a major challenge to the country's sustainable development.’
From this admission that millions of Chinese still live in poverty, the White Paper outlined strong commitments from China on fighting the obvious destruction that is so visible with the absence of clean drinking water and lakes that are being destroyed. Environmental degradation is now so severe that suffocating smog surrounds major highways and transportation arteries routinely. It is widely known that emissions of sulphur dioxide from coal and fuel oil, which can cause respiratory and cardiovascular diseases as well as acid rain, are increasing even faster than China’s economic growth.
Major publications of environmental groups can reel off the figures of environmental destruction in China: Over 500 million people without access to clean drinking water, rampant deforestation, 16 of the world’s most polluted lakes, acid rain over two thirds of the Chinese territory, 58 per cent of the land arid and semi-arid, massive use of coal in Chinese industry etc. This information on environmental degradation is now reinforced by the reality that China is the top greenhouse gas emitting country. China’s emission of greenhouse gases is not only a health problem for the Chinese people but also for its neighbours. Non-governmental organs and grassroots movements in China are in the forefront of challenging the mantra of economic growth that is at the base of this deepening destruction of earth.
In the context of international negotiations of global warming, China’s political leaders in positioned it as a developing country and sought alliances with societies from the global South to resist the pressures from Europe and the USA that because of its impressive economic growth, China should be classified as a developed country. In the same week that the government of China issued its White Paper on Climate Change, Martin Khor wrote an op-ed in the main English language newspaper, ‘China Daily’ under the heading, ‘Is China still a developing nation?’ Khor answered in the affirmative.
He argued that despite pressures from the United States, Japan and the European Union for China to give up its status as developing country, China must resist this pressure and that the other countries should support China to maintain its developing country status. Khor repeated figures about the numbers of persons in China in poverty reproduced the figures of the Human Development Report 2011 that showed China at No. 101 of 187 countries with a HDI of 0.687, putting it in a category of ‘medium human development’.
Martin Khor pointed out that China was the number one polluter in absolute numbers because of its large population, but in per capita terms:
‘China’s emissions level was 5.5 CO2-equivalent per person, ranked 84 in the world. By contrast, the US’ per capita emission was 23.4 CO2 equivalent, Australia’s 27.3, Russia’s 13.7, Germany’s 11.9, Japan’s 10.5, Singapore’s 11.4, Malaysia’s 9.2, South Africa’s 9.0, Brazil’s 5.4, Indonesia’s 2.7, India’s 1.7 and Rwanda’s 0.4. Thus, as No. 91 country in the world in GDP per capita, No. 101 in human development index and No. 84 in per capita emissions, China is looking like, and is, a middle-level or even lower-middle level developing country, with not only all the developed countries ahead of it, but also many developing countries, too. China also shares the same characteristics of many developing countries. More than 700 million of its 1.3 billion people live in the rural areas, and in 2008 there was a large imbalance, with the urban disposable household income 3.3 times bigger on average than in rural areas.’
WHAT IS AT STAKE?
These figures on the growing inequalities in China are also reflected in the political calculations and alliances inside China. While the pictures of the gleaming skyscrapers of Beijing, Shanghai and the mega cities present one image of booming China, outside of these cities are the homes of over 800 million rural folk. The rise of a vibrant capitalist class in China is consistent with a section of the society that is of the view that technical fixes can deal with the environmental degradation in the future, but for the present the most important task is for China to distinguish itself by speeding the processes of ‘modernization.’ It is from this stratum where the realist intellectuals find a firm base of support in the Chinese Communist Party and in the military. In the field of International Relations and in the Universities, the dominant intellectual paradigm is that of ‘realism’ which in practice means that China must rise as a great power, if not a superpower.
There is a section of Chinese capitalists inside mainland China with allies of Chinese in Hong Kong, Singapore and Taiwan who are working for the Chinese banking and investment forces to overtake Wall Street and to strengthen the economic capabilities of China to hasten the day when the Chinese economy will become dominant in the world. If, according to this group, the collateral considerations include the fact that China should now be treated just like the US or Europe in terms of international obligations, then so be it. From outside China there is no shortage of intellectuals – such as Henry Kissinger and Niall Ferguson – who are of the view that China’s rise will make the 21st century China’s century and that there is a necessary convergence between the interests of the ruling elements in China and the US to keep international order.
There are many books coming out on China and the United States and the ‘new Cold War’ that it is often difficult to keep up. Titles screaming, ‘The Beijing Consensus: How China's Authoritarian Model Will Dominate the Twenty-First Century’ or ‘When China Rules the World, The Rise of the Middle Kingdom and the End of the Western World’ herald the rise of China as the next hegemon. Though these books start out from differing intellectual positions, their thesis meets where there is agreement that not only is China the next economic superpower, but the world order that it will construct will look very different from today’s.
This thesis of China as the new hegemon sends chills down the spine of the neighbours of China and many are now rushing to enter into treaties with the United States. For good measure there are many western scholars and commentators who argue that China is already an imperialist state and that the activities of Chinese companies and state enterprises in Africa reflect a new colonialism in Africa. Those intellectuals and leaders within China who call for good relations with neighbours and cooperation to resolve disputes are not heard about in the Western media. Conservative strategic institutes poke the fires of militaristic competition with graphs and figures about the modernisation of the Chinese military.
CHINA’S NEGOTIATING POSTURE
Some of the political leaders in China and their intellectuals seek to have it both ways, they want China to be recognised as a developing country and be treated as such in international fora such as the United Nations, the IMF and the World Bank while in other settings, the Chinese want to be treated with deference as a super-power. It is from these conservative figures where one sees Chinese Students being bombarded with books by Henry Kissinger and Samuel Huntington about international order.
During the recent COP 17 meeting, the Chinese delegation caucused with the Third World countries in order to isolate the United States and rejected demands that China and India contribute equally with the advanced capitalist countries to fight climate change. While China was seeking to present a united front of countries from BRICS, the differing stance of South Africa, Brazil and India exposed the deep rifts between the BRICS countries on the question of Climate Change. Russia which had been classified as a developed country under Kyoto joined with Japan and Canada in refusing to join the second commitment period before COP17.
Early in the meeting, China had formed a negotiating block along with Brazil and India to demand that the Kyoto Protocol be extended. But the South Africans as the host of the meeting bowed to the intense pressures from the western capitalist states. India wanted to distinguish itself as a poor underdeveloped country and held out that India and other countries of the South should be exempt from binding carbon emission cuts because of their 'right to economic development'.
When the two-week meeting was about to end without a serious agreement, the European Union sought to salvage the meeting by putting forth a ‘roadmap.’
Under this roadmap, there was the declaration that there would be a timetable for all societies to make emissions cut commitments by 2015, and by 2020, a legally binding agreement will take effect. From inside China, there was a muted acceptance of this ill-defined roadmap because according to the calculations, China was not seen as an obstacle as in the previous climate change meetings.
However, the oppressed countries did not have the same muted response to this ‘roadmap.’ From Latin America, from the least developed countries and from Africa there was agreement that this dithering will cook many in the Third World. Appropriately before the meeting Nnimmo Bassey had launched the book, ‘To Cook a Continent: Destructive Extraction and the Climate Crisis in Africa.’
RADICAL ALTERNATIVES NEEDED
The Chinese people are faced with the massive resources needed to maintain the pace of economic transformation. For the past 30, years this transformation has strengthened a capitalist class inside China. This class is now the face of China in many parts of the world and intellectually this class has spokespersons that trumpet ideas about a peaceful rise. However, inside the society there are contending voices and within the Party there are those who want to see the pace of transformation strengthening the majority of the poor.
Inside China, the evidence of workers’ struggle against exploitation grows despite the lockdown on real news of popular struggles. International news reports of the current protests by workers in Wukan, a coastal village in Guangdong Province seep through major international outlets; some sections of the Chinese intelligentsia are silent on the root causes of these uprisings because these struggles for rights do not conform to the current buzz words about harmonious development and ‘peaceful rise.’ Struggles by the oppressed in China for better conditions have resulted in mass incidents: Strikes, sit-ins, rallies and violent clashes have been a necessary response to the exploitative sweat-shop conditions that reproduce the old forms of industrial capitalism.
Martin Khor is correct to argue that the rest of the Third World ought to support China to maintain its status as a developing country because, ‘if China is pressurized to take on the duties of a developed country and to forgo its status and benefits of a developing country, then many other developing countries that are ahead of China (at least in per capita terms) may soon be also asked to do the same. Thus China’s fight to retain its developing country status is of interest to other developing countries, for they will be next if China loses that fight.’
This author concurs with such a posture with the understanding that the solidarity must work both ways. Such a position would require that China deepen its political and economic relations with the Third World in a way which would distinguish Chinese companies and corporations from western capitalist corporations. This would deepen the internationalism and solidarity of the era before China embarked on ‘reforms.’ As a corollary of the reform period, the Chinese establishment has taken on the discourse of the World Bank; hence there is the reproduction of the language of Clean Development Mechanisms.
I followed the deliberations on the mitigation fund and noted that many of the same governments in Africa that were calling for this fund have billions stashed away in foreign banks.
The urgency of making a break with the old polluting industries now requires a new mode of economic organisation. Chinese society started this break in 1949 and political reorganisation is now needed so that the society can work with others in the oppressed world to reverse the destruction of the planet. There should be no need for a schizophrenic foreign policy. Foreign policy solidarity and eschewing big power ambitions will strengthen the task of making a break with old forms of capitalist relations.
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* Horace Campbell is professor of African American Studies and Political Science at Syracuse University. See horacecampbell.net.
* Please send comments to editor[at]pambazuka[dot]org or comment online at Pambazuka News.
* Please send comments to editor[at]pambazuka[dot]org or comment online at Pambazuka News.
On America’s support for LGBT
A madwoman sat next to me yesterday, on my flight from Paris to New York. She was in her twenties, and strung tight as piano wire, and professed to be half-German, half-Egyptian. She’d been subjected to a random search back at Charles de Gaulle. This put her in a state of steaming outrage, during which she emitted, to no one in particular, vocal threats: ‘I hope they bomb that airport. I hope everyone is killed. I feel like I am in Auschwitz. How dare they serve Coca-Cola on this plane?’ Finally she wrote, in big black letters on a piece of paper, and pinned to the TV screen in front of her:
CHARLES DE GAULLE
HITLER’S AIRPORT AND
HOME AWAY FROM HOME
I hope you are blown to bits and
I huddled in the aisle seat, thinking in no special order: a) Given all the security, it’s impossible she has a bomb. b) Then why does she keep talking about it? c) Can the stewardesses see that note? d) I need more wine. e) If the stewardesses see this, she will be taken to Guantanamo. f) If we make an emergency landing so she can be taken to Guantanamo, my flight will be six hours late. g) Should I protest if she’s taken to Guantanamo? h) Do I want to go to Guantanamo? i) I need more wine.
Air France handled things surprisingly well, as it happens. Nobody was wrestled to the floor or cuffed. Instead, a senior, marmoreally-coiffed French woman shunted me from my seat and lectured the passenger for almost an hour. I heard snatches of the one-way conversation: ‘You can of course think zat. But you cannot say it on an airplane. And you cannot expose it zat way for others to zee.’ There is nothing like a dressing-down from une française soignée to put even incipient psychosis in its place. The note vanished, the writer calmed down, the plane landed on time, and no one seemed to go Gitmo-ward. I hope someone was waiting past customs with Valium.
I’d meant to spend the flight thinking about the Obama administration’s new LGBT human rights initiative; and instead I worried about whether seat 27b had a ticket to a Caribbean prison. Yet this made sense somehow. How progressive are the Obamaites in talking about human rights! They meet with rights NGOs and flatter their fragile egos; they support the touchy issues, the women and the queers; they speechify. But Guantanamo is still there. The military tribunals still promise to happen in a slow parody of justice. Drones still descend from the sky, with a blue whine beyond appeal, to kill people we don’t like. It’s nice to be part of the class that merits concern, not cages; protection, not jet-fuelled murder. This administration does demonstrate more real action on human rights than its bloody predecessor. But the action is just selective enough to leave you wondering why you were singled out, when so many others still suffer the vast yet individuated violence. As Samuel Beckett wrote, musing on the two miscreants crucified on either side of Christ: ‘Do not despair: one of the thieves was saved. Do not presume: one of the thieves was damned.’
Reading some of the US responses to Clinton’s speech only reinforces this queasy feeling. Take gay activist-at-large, Wayne Besen, writes:
‘A historic address of this magnitude was desperately needed to counter the rising tide of backward and barbaric nations that had recently been persecuting LGBT people to distract from their glaring problems.’
The list of countries that recently declared war on sexual minorities include Russia, Nigeria, Cameroon, Uganda, Iran and Zimbabwe. For the contemptible despots who run these underachieving nations, fomenting homophobia makes political sense. [S]omething drastic needed to happen to turn back the tide of violence and discrimination that plagued these ‘loser nations.’
Or, as Besen intones elsewhere,
‘The LGBT community rarely thrives in backward places that promote ignorance over education and medieval views over modernity. As these intellectual swamps sink, sexual minorities make ideal targets… [P]laces that are leaders in passing anti-gay laws are losers in virtually every other category that defines successful, civilized societies.’
I can’t imagine how you could even communicate to Besen that the gays in ‘loser nations’ like Nigeria or Uganda don’t really like having their countries called ‘backward and barbaric.’ Besen wouldn’t get it: he’d counter, ‘But the gays are civilized! It’s the other Cameroonians who live in trees!’ In other words, he understands why the gays in loser lands deserve to be singled out: they’re better than their compatriots, more successful, more unbarbaric, more like us.
Why would that be so? Well, possibly the foreign gays have a cultural leg up, and have gotten book-learned and Westernized by reading … oh, for instance, Wayne Besen, who’s available on the Internet even in darkest Russia. Or possibly it goes deeper, it’s in the chromosomes, and even in Cameroon the gays are genetically predisposed to be like ‘us,’ park-cruising rather than tree-dwelling, forwards rather than backwards.
Except that isn’t so. As far as a) the chromosomes go, there are plenty of theories about the genetic roots of gayness, but none of them argue it’s linked to a gene for intelligence or Western-ness. And if you tried to contend that, there’d be Wayne Besen to disprove it: clearly not the brainiest fish in the primal soup, and a permanent dilution in the gay gene pool. Moreover, as far as b) culture is involved, I can testify that the lesbians and gays in foreign countries really don’t read Besen ever, at all. Maybe this is evidence for a) after all — maybe their intelligence genetically disinclines them to study him; but then you have to deal with Besen disproving the theory again, because after all he’s gay and he reads himself. Or you’d think so.
By a fearful symmetry, though, the forward Besen and the ‘backward’ lands he criticizes match each other. His rant exactly echoes how the offending parties he condemns rage against the initiative. There, too, people know why Clinton singles out the queers: they’re infiltrating agents of the West, objects of its special and invasive interest. The rhetoric is entirely predictable, because it’s been used so much before. ‘Africa new frontier for West’s gay rights crusade,’ one African news source headlines. In Nigeria, now finalising a draconian bill to ban public expression around homosexuality, legislators rushed to assert their independence:
‘Why would America want to dictate to a sovereign country which law to make and which one not to make? How can the depraved ways of a minority become the standard for law making in Nigeria?’
And so on.
Then there’s the question of just how the Obama administration will support LGBT rights elsewhere in the world. Clinton’s speech and the president’s memorandum are rather vague on the techniques. This leaves considerable white space to be filled in by the imagination. On the right, various voices already kvetch because Obama isn’t willing to send the army out to protect the gays. On the neoconservative Commentary site, Abe Greenwald complains:
‘At the end of this year, the United States will cease to be a military presence in Iraq. Here’s whose influence will grow in Iraq once the US leaves: Al-Qaeda, whose new leader once shot a male teenage rape victim in the head for the ‘crime’ of homosexuality. … Who else stays on in Iraq after the pro-LGBT president has pulled out American forces? Iran, world leader in the public hanging of gay teens.
And, in 2012, when Obama withdraws surge troops from Afghanistan against the advice of our military commanders, what exactly does he think Afghan homosexuals will face in the resurgent Taliban (the same Taliban Hillary Clinton is trying desperately to strike deals with)? The answer is known: they will face something called ‘death by falling walls.” …
Although George W Bush is vilified by many in the gay community for talking about the sanctity of marriage, the freedom agenda he instituted did more for global human rights — gay or otherwise — than any speech or memo that might warm your heart.’
Never mind that Bush’s own Texas has, statistically, almost certainly killed more teenage gay offenders in recent years than Iran. The point is: the best way to protect human rights is to invade and conquer countries. We’ve already got our hands on Texas. What about the others? By not listing an axis of homophobic evil — bauxite-rich Jamaica! oil-endowed Iran! — Obama failed to make the case for future action. He didn’t even use the homophobes to prolong the invasions we’ve already got going on.
If diplomacy for the neocons is merely a preamble to bombing, for many US and European gays it’s a synonym for money. And in this equation they’re aided by the brouhaha over David Cameron’s incredibly ill-handled statements on LGBT rights and foreign aid last month. This fiasco — threats that Cameron bandied about without even the pretense of a strategy, then tried to abandon after half of Africa reacted in fury — has imprinted itself on the imaginings of activists and reporters alike. If you have an agenda, why not enforce it with cash? Even the US and UK headlines on Clinton’s speech suggested an aid linkage. ‘US to Use Foreign Aid to Promote Gay Rights Abroad,’ the New York Times said. ‘Gay rights must be criterion for US aid allocations, instructs Obama,” the Guardian reported. And of course the chronically inaccurate sporadically truthful blogger Paul Canning spun that spin: ‘Obama admin to ‘leverage’ foreign aid for LGBT Rights.’
As always, pursuing exactly what Canning says gives an insight into a whole mindset, of which he is the sum, the symbol, and the White Whale. He embraces multitudes, the way a blank piece of paper contains all the dumb things that could be written on it. Canning is very attached to the idea of ‘leverage,’ so much so that when @iglhrc tweeted, “Significantly, neither the memo nor Clinton’s speech said LGBT rights would become a condition for foreign assistance,” his beak bit back:
‘It says ‘leverage foreign assistance to protect human rights and advance non-discrimination’. Sounds like conditionality to me!’
But it’s true; neither Clinton nor Obama said a syllable about conditionality. The word ‘leverage,’ which Cameron rolls lusciously on his tongue, comes not from the Clinton speech or the Obama memo, but from the fact sheet the White House press office put out to summarise things for reporters. It has no official weight. The president’s directive instead ordered:
‘Agencies involved with foreign aid, assistance, and development shall enhance their ongoing efforts to ensure regular Federal Government engagement with governments, citizens, civil society, and the private sector in order to build respect for the human rights of LGBT persons.’
‘Ongoing efforts’ doesn’t sound like a completely new policy — rather, like existing conversations more aggressively pursued. The US has a very spotty record on linking aid to any human rights issue; ask any Egyptian about America’s long support for the military, or any Palestinian about … well, anything. It would be a peculiar and skewed occurrence if the administration launched a first-ever policy of general aid conditionality in the specific and limited sphere of LGBT rights. And most likely, it won’t happen. The idea of ‘leverage,’ and of supporting LGBT rights at the domestic level, will most likely involve private and particular conversations. Any public aspect is adequately embodied by Clinton’s proposal to launch a fund for LGBT rights advocacy.
Canning, however, wants broad aid conditionality; it gives him a sense of agency; it makes him feel that his emails to the UK Foreign and Colonial Office bear immediate fruit in action, in treasuries trembling and programs withering on the vine. Much as the neocons see diplomacy as war pursued by ineffective means, Canning sees it as money given or withheld under a convenient cover. In either case, the Obama statement becomes a field of dreams, a place where imaginings about Northern power get printed or palimpsested on the global South. It’s fun, it’s fertile, but it’s not quite real.
Trying to look realistically at what Clinton and Obama actually said, I still see occasion for optimism. The contrast with Cameron’s recent blather is telling. Cameron came up with a quick-fix bit of rhetoric, not to benefit LGBT activists anywhere else in the world, but to silence the Peter Tatchells and Kaleidoscope Trusts, noisy Brits who wanted to see their country dominating the Commonwealth in the cause of justice and freedom. It meant nothing except short-term political gain, and when he got burned loudly enough by the stubborn ex-colonized, he flailed ineptly, trying to dog-paddle backwards and away. There is, by contrast, little domestic political gain Obama and Clinton can extract from their move; the LGBT vote is largely on the administration’s side already. On Clinton’s part, and I suspect on Obama’s also, there’s a sincere commitment. Her speech was intelligent; it reflected an engagement not just with the issue itself but with the reflexive opposition it inspires. They’re trying to develop a strategy, not just a posture. The reaction from the usual suspects — such as Ghana, Uganda, Tanzania — while vocal, has actually been subdued by comparison with the Cameron affair, and this also, I think, displays a feeling that there is something substantive here that can’t simply be shouted out of existence.
The devil partly lies in the absence of detail, and in the scope this opens for disaster. Obama’s memo offers the agencies few patterns or directions for action. They’re supposed to come up with their own plans, and no one knows what that will add up to. A dozen or so Southern LGBT activists were flown to Geneva to sit and applaud Clinton’s speech; the main measure of success will be whether they, and their innumerable colleagues elsewhere, continue to be consulted on what the US government should do in their countries. What if aid conditionality really does rear its head — what if an ill-conceived proposal for tying all funds to repeal of a sodomy law moves publicly out of the embassy in some unfortunate nation? What if a particular post decides on loud, press-release-based advocacy that backfires and stigmatizes local LGBT groups as servants of a foreign power?
In June 2011, the US Embassy in Islamabad took a pointer from Obama’s proclamation celebrating US Pride that May, where he’d perorated that ‘we rededicate ourselves to the pursuit of equal rights for all, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.’ The embassy hosted what it called ‘Islamabad’s first ever gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender (GLBT) Pride Celebration,’ to show
‘continued US Embassy support for human rights, including LGBT rights, in Pakistan at a time when those rights are increasingly under attack from extremist elements throughout Pakistani society. Over 75 people attended including Mission Officers, US military representatives, foreign diplomats, and leaders of Pakistani LGBT advocacy groups. … Addressing the Pakistani LGBT activists, the Chargé, while acknowledging that the struggle for GLBT rights in Pakistan is still beginning, said ‘I want to be clear: the US Embassy is here to support you and stand by your side every step of the way.’
That’s from the embassy’s press release. ‘Every step?’ Well, except for steps outside the embassy walls. It didn’t occur to them that announcing the country’s “first-ever” Pride from behind the turrets of a fortified compound, guarded against a public enraged by American assassinations and bombs, sent a not-very-indigenous message. A South Asian blogger remarked:
‘Within a few days, the streets of major urban cities of Pakistan … were hailed with the students and political workers of Jamaat-e-Islami, a religious political party, chanting slogans at their highest pitches against homosexuals and America. For them it was a golden opportunity to kill both ‘the evils with a single stone’. Banners were displayed in major cities, especially in the federal capital, within a few days demanding persecution of gays and accusing Americans of propagating and imposing this ‘westernized’ idea. The lash back didn’t remain limited to the Jamaat-e-Islami only but sooner most of the political parties joined this bandwagon to form a coalition against the government for their menial political interests. …
‘Unthankfully, all the sensational and flowery claptrap peddled around this event turned out to be a disaster for the budding underground Pakistani LGBT movement as the US Embassy conveniently over[looked] the repercussions this event would have brought in an already critical country which is fighting against terrorism and radicalization while sacrificing its peace, its liberty, its sovereignty and countless lives of its law enforcement agencies and civilians alike.
The idiocy of all this seems obvious; but it wasn’t obvious to the diplomats involved. With an only-broadly sketched plan, there’s ample leeway for an embassy or two to try this catastrophic kind of thing again.
But the devil lies also in the way that Clinton’s initiative necessarily entangles LGBT movements around the world — mostly progressive, mostly loud in their opposition to unjust and oppressive domination, many resolutely radical — with the US, its rights record, its power, and its imperialism. And the truth is, this may be terrible, but we are at a point where such imbrication could no longer be avoided. We’re stuck with being fully a part of the world we live in, and with trying to maintain our ideals and values despite, not through and with, our friends.
When I started lobbying the UN about fifteen years ago, queers had no power. Nobody offered them the slightest regard; nobody noticed their politics or positions; with the possible and partial exception of the Dutch, there wasn’t a single country willing to make even a rhetorical genuflection to the rights of LGBT people as a serious issue anywhere in its foreign policy. This absence of clout was wonderful, inspiring. The lightness of being it brought was not only bearable, it was beautiful, an afflatus of innocence that bore one ecstatically aloft in places the merely practical could never reach. Trying to advocate in this atmosphere of glorious irrelevance, one was never corrupted by the blandishments of power; no one wanted your support, so there was not the least temptation to sell it. In powerlessness lies moral purity; the former is the latter’s fount and succor. One can easily be absolute for truth and right when nobody pays attention.
Now, of course, there are states that pay attention to us. And for better or for worse, we have to deal with their histories and practices, their virtues and their sins, because these affect us. If we don’t watch out, they will all become our own. When South Africa sponsors us at the UN Human Rights Council, we have to recognize that it is seen as an imperial power on much of the continent it underpins. When the US speaks out on our behalf, our future words thrum with the undertone of its assertions, like a basso ostinato. The echoes of its peculiar idealism and its failures, its invasions and its abuses, from Martin Luther King to Rumsfeld, from Guatemala to Abu Ghraib, are disharmonies that will resound in what we say and do. We have to decide when to speak with them and when to speak against them, and reserve and exercise the right to the latter as well as the former.
We can’t, as movements, reject all those who want to aid us. Maturity means negotiating, not denying to, these obstacles. Politics means accepting the burden of having — however little — power. But we also have to be willing to stand up to our friends and risk their enmity in the name of what we see as truth, instead of clapping hands mechanically and taking handouts with uncritical gratitude. Indeed, nobody needs to be grateful for Hillary and Barack’s support. Never thank others for recognizing human rights, unless their case is such that they show real courage or risk some tangible cost in the act. Otherwise, they’re doing nothing more than their duty, to you and to the world. And a duty demands no recompense. Acknowledge it, but feel no obligation. You owe nothing in return.
Instead, each movement in each country needs to figure out whether it will accept America’s new assistance, and if so, how to do so on its own terms. Hillary and Barack’s one-two performance carries opportunities. More largely, though, and in the ethical sphere, it offers a renewed challenge: to maintain values in the face of power.
BROUGHT TO YOU BY PAMBAZUKA NEWS
*This article was first published in Scott Long’s blog.
* Please send comments to editor[at]pambazuka[dot]org or comment online at Pambazuka News.
Attawapiskat and colonialism: Seeing the forest and the trees
If you can cut through the racism, ignorance, and half-baked opinions of pundits, politicians and sound-bite media, most folks will realize that Attawapiskat and many other First Nations have been labouring under the repression of colonialism far too long.
The antidote for poverty is self-determination and no one can give you that. You have to stand up and take action yourself to make it happen. Colonialism does not give way on its own; it must be defeated through vigorous and enlightened opposition.
It is difficult in the face of human suffering to turn attention to the systemic and structural reasons that have led to this catastrophe, but this is the very time when thoughtful analysis is needed. The homes are small and cold. The tedium of poverty bears down day by day and those who have stolen your children's future call the daily bread on your table a "handout". It is difficult to feel anything but shame through the numbing that is required to get by every day.
But there are reasons behind this suffering. There is a history. There is a structure to oppression, denial and indifference that houses this suffering and there is a system that perpetuates it.
In the "South" we have witnessed as voyeurs the misery of Attawapiskat, a misery that is shared by many Indian Reserves in Canada. The pictures are disturbing and cause Canadians to be thankful for the affluence that is smugly enjoyed in the "South". When people tire of the pictures, they will accept that it is the Indian's fault. As the prime minister of Canada has said, they mismanaged the money we sent to them and they have failed to govern themselves as civilized people do. Canadians have drawn this conclusion many times in the last 140 years to help themselves and Aboriginal people all "understand".
It is in the national interest to believe this well-worn explanation; no one could bear the responsibility and guilt that somehow the wealth and thriving economy of Canada is purchased each and every day because Aboriginal people in their own homelands suffer. What Canadians cannot suffer is that while the misery is in the "North", the source of the problem is in the "South".
It is interesting to know that the Confederation Debates (1864-1866) never really considered the Indigenous people of Canada. Aboriginal nations were not consulted and there was no discussion of how they might share in the democratic development of Canada even though they represented the majority of the population at the time. Only at the insistence of the British Crown was section 91-24, making Indians and lands reserved for Indians a Federal responsibility, inserted into the Constitution Act of 1867.
The debates were a struggle for settler power involving partisanship, corruption, self-interest and even a fistfight. While the new Canadian Government was saddled with an undefined responsibility, Britain continued to negotiate Treaties in areas beyond Canada's geographic limits. Canada assumed the Treaty responsibilities as a condition of Confederation. Eventually, Canadian Indian policy and subsequent legislation came to rest on four pillars: residential schools, reserves, reductionist identification and unconscionable treaties. The sole purpose was ethnic cleansing. The same mentality that created an archipelago of residential schools was the same thinking that established the other three pillars of Indian policy.
The four pillars of Canadian Indian policy have all but stopped the natural development of Aboriginal nations. Over the last century and a half, once dynamic cultures that possessed the knowledge and language of the land of Canada have been forced into becoming cultures of dependency. Through wilful, ever present, strategies of assimilation, Canada and its provinces have undermined Indigenous economies, isolated productive people from their resources and robbed them of their right to profit from the bounty of their homelands.
To understand the present plight of communities like Attawapiskat it is essential to understand the "reserve system". Reserves were established as concentration camps where Indian people could be settled until such a time, through education or attrition, they assimilated into the growing underclass of Canada. In the early days some communities were seen as an experimental population in which liberal minds could tryout social modification. For the most part though, as long as Indians did not interfere or compete with commerce, agriculture, or extractive industries, they were left to fend for themselves. The Indian agent's job was primarily to round-up children for the growing Residential schools industry, keep adult Indians on reserve and report infractions of the law which controlled forbidden expressions of Indigenous culture.
Indian peoples do not own the reserves on which they live. The Reserve is Federally "owned"; it is land hived off from Provincial lands for Federal purposes much like military bases or Federal prisons. Aboriginal people have no more claim to the "reserve" than do prisoners have to the prisons in which they are incarcerated.
Over the years, over generations, the reserve has become home. For some it is a place where language and culture has been kept alive. It is a place of memory, of relations, of unity. The flimsy walls of houses are the fortress against assimilation. It is a place that you know and where you are known. It is a place of the people.
The reserve is also a halfway place. It is the way-stop between the homelands of our ancestors and nowhere. It is a dangerous place for both Indians and those who would see our people disappear altogether. For Aboriginal people it is the end of our indigeneity, the slow strangulation of our culture, our knowledge and our sustainable livelihoods. Reserves have come to symbolize for us the agonizing descent into dependency and superficiality. For the Canadians who would have our homelands for themselves it is the edge of the wilderness, it is a reminder of our power as a people to hold together, it is the place from which we will renew our claim to original jurisdiction and sovereignty. Because of these fears the Canadian government continues to manage the humanitarian disaster that has become so familiar in our lives.
There are some things that the federal government cannot explain about Attawapiskat. Indian reserves are an extension of the Ministry of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development (AAND), governed by the Indian Act and regulated by the AAND bureaucracy. So why did it come as a surprise that Attawapiskat is on the verge of bankruptcy. The truth is that it was no surprise. The tragedy at Attawapiskat was not only predictable it was planned. The current government has promoted an ideological solution to the "Indian problem" ever since the Conservative's incubation as the Reform Party. Their strategy needs a tipping point to convince the Canadian public that it is the only, and more importantly the final, solution. If it not Kashechewan or Attawapiskat, it will be some other community taken to the depth of despair. The plan is to dissolve Reserve communities through offering them up as private property to individual band members and turning Bands into municipalities. One more step away from the legal titles and rights protected under Section 35 of the Canadian Constitution and one more step toward complete economic and social chaos in Indian country.
The current government cannot take all of the credit; Liberal and Progressive Conservative governments for the last 30 years have been losing sleep because Aboriginal Nations continue to dream about repatriation of homeland titles with control of their own resources. After all, this has been the pattern of decolonization globally by indigenous peoples for the past 60 years. The shell games of land claims and limited self-government are becoming transparently futile for First Nations. Ottawa has given up mediating the voracious appetites of provincial governments and extractive industries. Canada no longer believes in defending the "honour of the Crown" in keeping with Confederation commitments. The only "honourable" thing that they can imagine is to close down reserves by privatizing them. The reserves may be financially bankrupt but Canada is proving to be morally bankrupt in maintaining the goals of Indian policy masterminded in the 19th century.
The examples of colonial domination are inexhaustible and the power differentials are staggering. The deck is stacked against vulnerable communities like Attawapiskat and also against Aboriginal communities and Reserves that have made some progress toward self-sufficiency. As Aboriginal people we understand what would change our destiny but only through a convergence of our own self-determination and a willingness of Canada to decolonize can real change take place. This is not a partisan or ideological issue. Canadians must be prepared to return original jurisdiction to the Indigenous nations whose homelands the state of Canada rests within. Canadians and Indigenous nations need to negotiate real partnerships of mutual respect and benefit or face a certain future of mutual misery and conflict.
Personally, I refuse to live in a welfare state. I also refuse to assimilate into a nation state that is dependent on the suffering of my people in support of its own unsustainable affluence. It is really time to see the forest and the trees, move forward and take for our children and their children what is rightfully theirs. What are you going to do?
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* This article first appeared on rabble.ca.
* Robert Lovelace is an adjunct lecturer at Queen's University in the Department of Global Development Studies. His academic interests include Indigenous Studies, Sustainable Development and Aboriginal education. Robert is also an activist in anti-colonial struggles.
* Please send comments to editor[at]pambazuka[dot]org or comment online at Pambazuka News.
Civil society groups demand global corporations reconsider investment in Coal of Africa
Today, civil society groups and community members from the Limpopo Province of South Africa sent a letter to over fifty shareholders and potential investors of Coal of Africa (CoAL) demanding that they reconsider their plans to support the company - and specifically the Makhado Project - in Venda, Limpopo because of the damaging impact that it will have on their ecosystem and livelihoods.
The letter, which is endorsed by 12 local groups, has been sent to shareholders and potential investors including M & G Investments (part of Prudential), JP Morgan, Deutsche Bank, HSBC and ArcelorMittal, in advance of Coal of Africa’s General Meeting of Shareholders, which takes place in central London this Wednesday, 14th December.
CoAL’s Makhado project, which is one of two in the Limpopo region, will deplete the underground water from the area in Venda by 2014, by the company’s own admission. In addition to this, the letter draws attention to a number of alarming issues relating to CoAL’s handling of the Makhado project and their neighbouring Vele mine. These include the 32 criminal charges brought against the company; a flawed public participation process; failure to provide adequate answers to questions raised by the community; no water licence; and an insufficient Cost Benefit Analysis (CBA).
Moses Mudau, spokesperson for Dzomo la Mupo, a community-based organisation who have signed the letter, states: “CoAL started prospecting in the nearby Vele mining operation without public participation, without complying with the National Environmental Management Act, clearing the area without permission and building an airstrip without permission, demonstrating a total disregard for South Africa's environmental legislation. Now, with the Makhado Project, they began prospecting without a water-use licence, when they started taking coal out of the sensitive, water-scarce area in the Limpopo Valley. They refuse - despite it being illegal to do so - to give the interested and affected parties copies of their prospecting permit and their Environmental Management Programme for Makhado”.
“By the company's own admission, the underground water of the area will be depleted by 2014, without taking into consideration the huge water demands of neighbouring mining projects. They do not even consider the needs of the ecosystem nor the communities who depend on it for their lives”.
The concerns of Dzomo La Mupo's mirrors that of countless communities across South Africa, particularly those in Limpopo , where mining projects are growing at an alarming rate and with little regard for the communities or ecosystems which they threaten to destroy.
The letters closing statement sets out the signatories position: “We pledge to stop the Makhado CoAL Project from going ahead. We alert you to the fact that what you might consider to be a profitable investment will cause the permanent destruction of our ancestral homes, ecosystems, livelihoods and the future options for our children. Without water there is no life. Without land we have no livelihoods”.
* The report 'Mine Not – Waste Not: A preliminary critique of aspects of the CoAL Makhado Colliery Project EIA and EMP' is available on the following websites: http://bit.ly/u6Mkm0 and http://www.londonminingnetwork.org.
* For further information please contact Rowan Phillimore at The Gaia Foundation on 0207 428 0054 or firstname.lastname@example.org
* The General Meeting of Shareholders of Coal of Africa Limited ABN 98 008 905 388 will be held at 11.00 am (London time) on 14 December 2011 at Tavistock Communications, 8th Floor, 131 Finsbury Pavement, London EC2A 1NT.
* Coal of Africa are involved in four projects in South Africa: two in Limpopo Province of which one is the Makhado Project and two in Mpumalanga. The two in Mpumalanga province are the Zonnebloem Mine and Mooiplaats, in the headwater's of the Vaalriver, which provides water to the whole of Gauteng province.
Free Mumia Abu Jamal now!
Nana Akyea Mensah
The Associated Press reported recently that ‘Abu-Jamal was convicted of fatally shooting Faulkner on 9 December 1981. He was sentenced to death after his trial the following year.’  That makes today, 9 December 2011, exactly 30 years since Mumia Abu Jamal was incarcerated; and for most of the three decades, with the exception of 48 hours, he spent them on death row.
We are not celebrating 30 years of death row! We are saying enough is enough! Let us also spend the day meditating over the liberation of the African continent and the right of all people to live in peace, in freedom, and in dignity. Intensify and sharpen the resolve to end what legal scholar Michelle Alexander calls ‘Jim Crow and legal racial segregation’.
Amy Goodman of Democracy Now! explains why this case of Mumia Abu Jamal, president of the Philadelphia Association of Black Journalists , makes some of us smell the rat of racism:
‘In 1982, the former Black Panther and journalist was convicted and sentenced to death for fatally shooting Philadelphia police officer Daniel Faulkner. During his trial, witnesses testified that Abu Jamal saw his brother scuffle with Faulkner during an early morning traffic stop in 1981 and ran toward the scene. Police said they found Abu Jamal wounded by a bullet from Faulkner’s gun. Faulkner was shot several times, and a gun registered to Abu Jamal was found at the scene with five spent shell casings.
For three decades, Abu Jamal argued that racism on the part of the trial judge and prosecutors led to his conviction. Two years ago, the Third US Circuit Court of Appeals agreed with a lower judge who set aside Abu Jamal’s death sentence after finding jurors were given confusing instructions that encouraged them to choose death rather than a life sentence. The US Supreme Court then ordered the court to re-examine the decision. In April, that ruling was upheld, and prosecutors had to determine whether Abu Jamal would get a new sentencing hearing in court before a new jury.
Well, on Wednesday Philadelphia prosecutors announced they will no longer pursue the death penalty against Mumia Abu Jamal.’
Now, is that not puzzling? What has caused this change of heart after 30 years of dedicated efforts to execute Mumia? I think that is a question that Renée Feltz answered to my satisfaction. She explained the dilemma the district attorney was facing on yesterday’s show on Democracy Now!:
‘The district attorney in Pennsylvania, which has been fighting for over three decades now to uphold Mumia Abu Jamal’s death sentence, has decided they will not pursue it any longer.
They had a choice: would they decide to go forward with a new sentencing hearing, which could present new evidence, questionably pointing out whether Mumia was convicted constitutionally, before a new jury, or would they decide to change his sentence to life? They decided to change it to life. One of the arguments that they put out was that in the court of public opinion, this new trial would have cost a lot of money. Was there support for that? That was negotiable. Now many of his supporters say that the state claims that the facts in the case would have upheld a capital charge, but others doubt that. So that’s a little bit about maybe why they didn’t go forward with a new sentencing hearing.
Now, what’s going to happen next is that Mumia Abu Jamal, according to lawyers familiar with the case, will be resentenced to life without parole in a Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas. And that hearing has not yet been scheduled.’ 
Amy Goodman again, and I have no further comments!
Amy Goodman: I wanted to go to one of those phone calls that Mumia Abu Jamal made. He made it before he learned of the death penalty being set aside and being given life without parole. He had this conversation on a Philadelphia talk radio station, WURD, in Philadelphia on Tuesday.
WURD: As someone who has been sitting in that prison for 30 years, could you tell us why the death penalty is a form of cruel and unusual punishment?
Mumia Abu Jamal: Well, there are many reasons. It is racist. But also, it is legally built on a fallacy. That is to say, if a prosecutor announces it is going — he or she is going for a death penalty, something happens in that case that happens in no other case in American law, or really global law. They’re able to select what is called a ‘prosecution-prone’ jury. That is a jury who, having heard not one word of legal fact, has decided, before they are sworn in as jurors, that they could return a death penalty. If someone has a question and says, ‘Well, maybe yes, maybe no,’ they’re removed. If someone says certainly, ‘I don’t believe in it,’ they are removed. And there have been several highly regarded legal studies and scholarly studies on this by sociologists and psychologists and whatnot, and they found that these jurors are far more prosecution-prone, far more willing to convict and far less willing to give the legal entitlements to which an accused or a defendant is supposed to have. What that means is the prosecutor is able to get far more first degree murder convictions, and therefore able to, after that, turn around and go for a death penalty than they could have if they had a juror who is really a cross-representation of the community.
Amy Goodman: That was former death row prisoner Mumia Abu Jamal. Again, prosecutors have decided not to pursue the death penalty in Mumia Abu Jamal’s case. He instead will be given life without parole. Before we turn to Bishop Tutu, Renée Feltz, the significance of not reopening the case in a sentencing hearing?
Renée Feltz: Well, Amy, there were a lot of questionable things about how he was convicted and the evidence that was presented. Many people say the evidence used to convict him was collected by police officers who were later convicted of corruption on other charges in other cases. None of that is going to go before a new jury now.
Now, there’s a court of — there’s the court, a legal court, a criminal court, and then there’s the court of public opinion. And we have to look at some of the politics around this case. Ed Rendell, the former Pennsylvania governor, until very recently, 2011, is now a major player in the Democratic Party. And people say that he doesn’t want to have some of the dirty laundry in this case dug up again as he tries to rise higher in the political party. Some people say he even has aspirations to become vice president with President Obama.
After 30 years of inhuman and unjust incarceration, which included death row until just two days ago, is it too much to ask for the freedom of Mumia Abu Jamal?
Amy Goodman: I want to turn now, as we wrap up this segment, to a video statement from former South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who’s joined Amnesty International and many others in calling for Mumia Abu Jamal’s release. Tutu recorded this before Abu Jamal’s death sentence was dropped, to mark the 30th year of his incarceration this week.
Desmond Tutu: ‘When the South African Constitutional Court was set up after the end of the apartheid regime, one of its first acts was to abolish the death penalty. Some of us have long argued that to take a life where a life has been lost does not serve justice and is often shallow revenge. It was therefore with some relief that we received the news of some small concession in the case of US journalist and former Black Panther Mumia Abu Jamal. On 11 October 2011, the Supreme Court of the United States upheld a lower court decision that Mumia, who has been on death row in Pennsylvania for 30 years should never have been sentenced to death.
‘For three decades, Mumia has been held in a windowless, bathroom-sized cell and denied any physical contact with his family or with members of his community. This is in violation of the US’s own constitution. Juan E Méndez, the United Nations special rapporteur on torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, recently presented a written report on solitary confinement to the United Nations General Assembly’s Human Rights Committee. He confirmed what many of us have long believed, that any regime where an inmate is held in isolation from others for anything beyond 15 days must be defined as having engaged in torture.
‘In addition, Amnesty International, in a 2001 report, noted that Mumia’s original trial did not meet the minimal standards of international law. Mumia’s guilty verdict must be considered more than flawed. It is unacceptable. He has been denied the right to a new trial based on racial bias in jury selection, has faced years of prosecutorial and police misconduct and judicial bias.
Now that it is clear that Mumia should never have been on death row, justice will not be served by relegating him to prison for the rest of his life — yet another form of death sentence. Based on even a minimal following of international human rights standards, Mumia should be released. I therefore join the call and ask others to follow, asking District Attorney Seth Williams to rise to the challenge of reconciliation, human rights and justice. Drop this case now and allow Mumia Abu-Jamal to be released immediately, with full time served. With thoughts of the biblical call of Isaiah to set free those who are bound, I wish you all peace. God bless you.’
What was billed as ‘the largest event for Mumia in a decade’ was staged on Friday 9 December 2011, in Philly, featuring Cornel West, Immortal Technique, Michelle Alexander, Vijay Prashad and many more! And this is only the beginning. Mumia must be freed!
Freedom for Mumia Abu Jamal!
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* Please send comments to editor[at]pambazuka[dot]org or comment online at Pambazuka News.
 D.A. Won’t Seek Death Penalty For Mumia Abu-Jamal, by The Associated Press, December 7, 2011.
 Mumia Abu-Jamal Spared Death Penalty After Prosecutors Drop 30-Year Bid for Execution, Democracy Now! December 08, 2011.
Investigation cautions against private land investments in South Sudan
Research released as investors gather in DC
Oakland, CA - As a USAID International Engagement Conference for South Sudan gets underway in Washington DC tomorrow and Thursday (Dec. 14 and 15), a new report cautions against foreign land investments that are being promoted as a solution for development in the new nation.
This conference to promote foreign investment is organized by the USAID in collaboration with United Kingdom, Norway, Turkey, the European Union, the African Union, the United Nations, the World Bank, the International Finance Corporation, the Corporate Council on Africa, and InterAction. The event's organizers will outline development priorities for South Sudan and set policy foundations for international-donor and private-sector engagement. The agenda will address specific investment opportunities in oil and renewable energy, information and communication technology, and agriculture.
"Competition over land and natural resources was among the root causes of the civil war in South Sudan. The war has now ended, but land issues continue to plague the new nation," said David Deng, author of the just released Oakland Institute's report, Understanding Land Investments in Africa: South Sudan. "As South Sudan opens for business, foreign companies are flocking to invest in the new country and buy up land. For a school, a health center, some vague promises of employment opportunities, or a couple thousand dollars in annual lease payments, companies are given long-term leasehold rights of up to 99-years, often without the knowledge of the local populations living on the land."
Deng said that investors find eager partners in government officials and community elites who view foreign investment as a solution to the country's problems of poverty, food insecurity, and underdevelopment.However, according to Deng, these local parties often don't recognize the power that they are give giving away in these deals with foreign partners.
The report describes how the government's approach is enabling a rush for land in South Sudan by conflating investment and development--and promoting the myth that if left to its own devices, the private sector can deliver win-win outcomes for everyone. It describes the end result as a 21st century land rush, the scale of which has not been seen since colonial times. "If this land rush is left unchecked," Deng notes, "it will almost certainly undermine efforts to secure a lasting peace in South Sudan."
"The government of South Sudan is being urged by donor countries and development agencies, including the World Bank, to promote large-scale private investments as a shortcut to improve food security and stimulate economic development," Anuradha Mittal, executive director of the Oakland Institute, said. "Our research and analysis of several land investments in South Sudan reveals that these projects are far more likely to undermine food security by moving people away from land and natural resources that that they need to live."
The OI report says that between 2007 and 2010, an estimated 5.15 million hectares has been sought or secured in the country by private interests in the agriculture, agrofuels, forestry, carbon credit, and ecotourism sectors. In addition it shows:
* Land deals ignore land rights of community landowners. Ownership and control over land and natural resources was at the heart of the struggle in South Sudan. The transfer of large areas of land to foreign private interests will undermine a system based on community land ownership and concentrate ownership in a small number of foreign companies.
* Large-scale land investments currently underway do not comply with domestic law. Companies rarely consult with residents in affected communities or conduct environmental and social impact assessments, greatly increasing the risks of adverse impacts for host populations while increasing the chances of local opposition when the companies come to the ground to begin project operations.
* International financial institutions and donor countries may compromise peace-building efforts by encouraging the government to make land available to foreign companies. The government of South Sudan has embarked on a campaign with a consortium of development partners to promote agricultural investment in South Sudan, despite the lack of a regulatory framework to manage the influx of investment. By prioritizing foreign private-sector interests over those of the rural poor, such initiatives may inadvertently undermine the new social contracts that are necessary for a sustainable peace.
* The government of South Sudan should place limits on land-based investment until it can put in place an appropriate regulatory framework that protects rights and livelihoods of communities. It must also follow through on its commitments to review land leases issued during the interim period and to ensure that they comply with relevant legal standards.
The Oakland Institute's country report and additional information on South Sudan are available athttp://www.oaklandinstitute.org/land-deals-africa/south-sudan.
The Oakland Institute is an independent policy think tank whose mission is to increase public participation and promote fair debate on critical social, economic and environmental issues (www.oaklandinstitute.org).
United for victims of SGBV in the Great Lakes Region
United to Prevent, End Impunity and Provide Support to the Victims of SGBV in the Great Lakes Region
Tuesday, 13 December 2011
We the undersigned members of the Civil Society Organizing Committee appreciate the hosting of a Special Session of the International Conference of the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) in Kampala, Uganda from 15th‐16th December 2011 on Sexual and Gender Based Violence (SGBV) under the theme “United to Prevent, End Impunity and Provide Support to the Victims of SGBV in the Great Lakes Region”.
We recognize that the Heads of State from the ICGLR member states adopted the Protocol on the Prevention and Suppression of Sexual Violence Against Women and Children (2006), The African Union Protocol on the Rights of Women (2003), and other African Union and United Nations Instruments associated with the prevention of SGBV, protection of vulnerable groups and punishment of perpetrators.
The significance of preventing SGBV is crucial as it is a clear violation of human rights which greatly impacts on stability and development of the region.
While sexual and gender based violence occurs during peace time, it has often escalated in times of conflict and hence our concern as the Civil Society Organizations on the reported cases of post‐election violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), which can be a catalyst for widespread sexual and gender based violence.
Considering that the theme for this Special session of the ICGLR summit on SGBV is “Prevention, End of Impunity and Support to Victims of Sexual Gender Based Violence” we therefore call on ICGLR member states to implement the 2006 Pact on Security, Stability and Development in the Great Lakes Region to avert not only post‐election violence in member states but any other form of violence, and we further recommend the following:
- Launch a Presidential Campaign on Zero Tolerance on SGBV Crimes and Impunity
- Allocate specific and adequate funding for SGBV prevention programs - Adopt a comprehensive SGBV Performance Index to gauge performance annually
- Establish national funds to provide assistance for survivors of SGBV in line with the ICGLR Protocol on the Prevention and Suppression of Sexual Violence against Women and Children (2006)
- Institutionalise early warning and response mechanisms for SGBV at community level including community policing.
On behalf of the Civil Society Organizing Committee,
Leah Chatta‐Chipepa, Executive Director, Akina Mama wa Afrika‐ Chairperson of the Regional Civil Society Organizing Committee.
For further information please contact:
Akina Mama wa Afrika‐ Leah Chatta –Chipepa Tel:+256 414 543681, Email: email@example.com African Women’s Development and Communication Network (FEMNET)‐ Naisola Likimani, Tel: +254 711305964, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Members of the Regional Civil Society Organizing Committee
Agency For Cooperation and Research in Development (ACORD), Action for Development (ACFODE), ActionAid International, African Women’s Development and Communication Network (FEMNET), Akina Mama wa Afrika (AMwA), CARE International, East African Sub‐Regional Support Initiative for the Advancement of Women (EASSI), Isis‐Women’s International Cross Cultural Exchange (Isis‐WICCE), Regional Associates for Community Initiatives (RACI)
When will Dlamini’s trial begin?
Will the trial of Swazi student leader, Maxwell Dlamini, and his co-accused, Musa Ngubeni, finally be heard in court? The trial has been delayed since Dlamini and Ngubeni were detained in April in connection with the biggest demonstrations for democracy and socio-economic justice in Swaziland in many years – the so-called ‘April 12 Uprising.’
They were accused of being in possession of explosives, a charge that people within Swaziland’s democratic movement call preposterous, and allegedly tortured and forced to sign a confession. According to Vincent Ncongwane, Secretary General of the Swaziland Federation of Labour, the arrests and charges are an attempt to ‘cover up for the heavy-handedness the police applied against innocent citizens’ during the April 12 uprising.
‘Maxwell Dlamini and Musa Ngubeni’s trial is at the Manzini magistrate court right now,’ the Swaziland National Union of Students (SNUS) reported on their Facebook site. ‘It began in the morning, but was adjourned for 1400hrs, Swazi time. It appears that no magistrate wants to entertain the case of Maxwell Dlamini and Musa Ngubeni. It has been reported that Magistrate Florence did not want to entertain it. Reasons for refusal to hear the case have not yet been reported. The case has been postponed to Monday 9am, Manzini Magistrate's court.’
‘The magistrate was supposed to fix Maxwell’s trial date but that did not happen,’ Sibusiso Magnificent Nhlabatsi from SNUS tells Africa Contact. ‘He will appear again on Monday December 12 at the same court for setting of the trial date. On 14 December his lawyer will be appealing his bail refusal at the high Court of Swaziland. We were shocked that he was due to court as we were told that such would be held in chambers. But in the next appearances students will be out in numbers.’
Given the long delay, the refusal to grant bail and the repeated irregularities, it is obvious that King Mswati’s regime is trying to postpone the case for as long as possible, as they did with a similarly political trial against PUDEMO President, Mario Masuku in 2009 – a terrorism trial that, when it finally began after nearly a year, was laughed out of court in less than a day.
‘The magistrate’s decision is tainted with irrationality in that it is so outrageous in its defiance of logic or of accepted moral standards that no sensible person who applied his mind to the question to be decided could have arrived at,’ Maxwell Dlamini and Musa Ngubeni’s laywer, Mandla Mkhwanazi, told the Swazi Observer after the pair were again refused bail and the case was again postponed.
Maxwell Dlamini is getting frustrated, says a source from within the democratic movement who wishes to remain anonymous for reasons of security. ‘The last time Maxwell was visited he requested that we call upon the setting of his trial dates. He is frustrated at the fact that he is languishing in jail and doesn't even know his trial dates. He also complained that the state doesn’t want him to read any books or newspapers with political stories. He requested that I buy him any books or magazines that are non-political.’
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* Peter Kenworthy writes for Africa Contact.
* Read more about Maxwell Dlamini here. Sign a petition for his release.
* Please send comments to editor[at]pambazuka[dot]org or comment online at Pambazuka News.
On December 1, we lost a true and courageous warrior in the fight against the death penalty and the criminal injustice system: Martina Correia. She died after a decade-long battle with breast cancer. She was 44.
Martina often joked that she had become known around the country and the world as "The Sister"--that is, the sister of Troy Davis, the Georgia death row prisoner who fought against his wrongful conviction and death sentence for more than 20 years.
Martina was Troy's staunchest advocate, and she worked tirelessly to bring attention to her brother's case. Her efforts to save her brother made Troy Davis a household name--not a small feat given the fact that the media was never allowed access to film or interview Troy in prison.
Over the years, she spoke to audiences large and small. She said she figured people might think, "Oh, well, that's his sister, of course she defends him." So she set out to make sure everyone saw the same things she did: that Troy was an African American man accused of shooting a white police officer; that police and prosecutors would do anything to get a suspect behind bars and then sent to death row; that the supposed "eyewitness" testimony against Troy was coerced, as seven of the nine original witnesses admitted; that the court system was committing a horrifying injustice by refusing to hear evidence of Troy's innocence because of restrictions on post-conviction appeals.
And through it all, Martina, like Troy, recognized that the struggle was bigger than his case alone. She understood that the death penalty was a failure on every level and needed to be abolished.
Martina fought her illness all the while she was fighting for Troy. She surprised doctors, who, when she was diagnosed with cancer at age 31, had given her only six months to live. On the night that Troy was executed, Martina was so weak that she needed a wheelchair. But she spoke out anyway, and even stood up to declare that Troy's death would not be in vain.
Martina gave everyone she came in contact with the resolve to keep fighting. She worked with many different organizations: Amnesty International, the NAACP, the Campaign to End the Death Penalty and many others. She helped bring all these forces together to get behind her brother and to use his situation to shed light on the injustices of the death penalty.
And shed light it did. While the movement was not able to stop Troy's execution, millions of people around the world came to believe in his innocence. Millions of people came to see how callously the death machine works. Millions of people were revolted to see Troy put to death.
A case that might otherwise have gotten attention only in local newspapers instead moved people around the globe and shook the foundations of the death penalty system in the U.S. That is the impact of the movement Martina spearheaded.
WHEN MARTINA was unable to attend a large rally in Atlanta to protest Troy's pending execution, a few of us from Chicago called her during our car trip back. She was thrilled to hear that her son DeJaun had spoken out for his uncle at the Ebenezer Baptist Church--and she was filled with excitement as we told her about the outpouring of support for Troy. As she told us:
“After all the years of going to speak at different events, getting on planes and in cars, and traveling all over to speak to so many different organizations, I just never would have imagined that this was going to be the result. It's like the movement for Troy has a life of its own. It's so wonderful. And now, if they try to go through with it, they are going to have such a hard time, because so many people are going to be outraged.”
Everyone who had the good fortune to meet Martina could feel her determination and courage. In one of our last conversations, she said to me that a person from France had emailed her to say they were sorry that despite all their efforts and protests for Troy, they had failed to stop the execution.
Martina said, "I want people to know that we didn't fail. As long as we keep hammering away at this thing, as long as we refuse to give up, we haven't failed. We'll be doing what Troy would have wanted us to do. Our efforts made an impact and will continue to make an impact."
That is how she was: Defiant. Never willing to succumb to defeat. Always giving people hope and inspiration to keep fighting, even after her brother's execution. Martina had every intention of being there to support a bill to abolish the death penalty in Troy Davis' name when it came up in January in the "yellow dome" Capitol building in Georgia. "I am not going to be quiet," she told me in a telephone conversation not long after Troy's execution. "Oh no--they're going to be hearing from me."
In the middle of November, Martina addressed the annual convention of the Campaign to End the Death Penalty via speakerphone. It was one of the last speeches she made, and she was as focused as ever on the fight ahead:
If you know people in Georgia, we need people because we're going out to the legislature in January to help abolish the death penalty. There's a bill we're going to be working on--national legislation in Troy's name, and state legislation to abolish the death penalty. We want to expose Georgia.
One lasting image I have of Martina is seeing her at Troy's funeral, wearing a bright white suit. She was determined that the funeral should not be about his death, but about his life and the continuation of the struggle that he was so much a part of. Though looking frail in her wheelchair, she nonetheless stood several times to clap and acknowledge the many voices who paid tribute to Troy and who called for action to win abolition.
Like so many, many people, I feel honored to have worked alongside Martina and Troy. While it seems unbelievable that we will have to carry on without the two of them in our midst, continue we must.
Martina was, of course, very fond of the slogan "I am Troy Davis," and we heard those words echoed around the country and the world in our struggle to save him from execution. Now, I think we need to get acquainted with another slogan, too: "I am Martina Correia."
BROUGHT TO YOU BY PAMBAZUKA NEWS
* This article first appeared on the Campaign to End the Death Penalty website.
* Please send comments to editor[at]pambazuka[dot]org or comment online at Pambazuka News.
‘Time to Reclaim Nigeria’
Kwesi Pratt Jnr
I picked up the call without hesitation and found out that my good friend and comrade, Chido Onumah, was at the other end. We had not spoken for a very long time and I figured he had arrived in Accra and as usual wanted to get in touch for old times’ sake.
‘Are you in Accra?’ I asked. ‘No I am in Abuja’, he answered. ‘Are you coming to Accra any time soon?’ I inquired further. His response was: ‘No, I am putting together my essays into a book. The book’s public presentation is scheduled for December 15, and I want you to write the introduction’.
It turned out that the book he wanted me to write an introduction for, ‘Time to Reclaim Nigeria,’ a collection of his essays from 2001 to 2011, was more than 300 pages. I had just returned from an appointment with my doctor who had recommended a long rest after diagnosing acute malaria.
The problem was that Chido wanted the introduction in 24 hours. If the request had come from anywhere else I would simply have said, ‘No sir, I can’t make it’. But how can anybody who has been close to Chido, a passionate pan-Africanist burning with anger at the works of the looting brigade on the continent, say no to him? He has always been extremely resentful of the plunderers of the wealth of Africa and their total irresponsibility in dissipating that wealth on useless ego trips which portray their unbridled stupidity.
‘Time To Reclaim Nigeria’ is an excellent collection of essays which reveal the Nigerian reality, but which also point to the fact that another reality of a society founded on the principles of social justice, meaningful democracy, and equality before the law is possible to construct.
I have been struck by an obvious contrast anytime I have visited Nigeria: The opulence of the ruling elite and the excruciating poverty of the vast majority who are the producers of wealth in this West African country. The numerous private jets which dot the Murtala Mohammad Airport in Lagos, all belonging to those who have had stints in government or have been closely related to decision makers in the corridors of power effectively tell the story of what Nigerian politics is all about.
The story is told better by the slums, which surround the airport where the private jets are parked; the pot holes on the streets just outside the airport, the mountains of rubbish in Lagos and the raw poverty of citizens everywhere you go. Over the last 30 years, more and more Nigerians have become poor, and according to Patrick Wilmot, a sociologist and one-time lecturer at Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Kaduna State, Nigeria, who Chido references in his opening essay, more than 70 percent of Nigerians have been absorbed into the category of the very poor in the world.
This is most certainly unacceptable in a country which produces more than two million barrels of oil a day and lies in the tropics with a huge potential for agriculture. Nigeria’s population of more than 150 million is also a major incentive for production. The truth, however, is that the social, political, and economic elite in Nigeria have never been up to any good. They are just satisfied with vulgar opulence. Driving the most expensive cars in the world, owning private jets, spraying ill-gotten cash on the mediaeval expositions of wealth and authority.
Nigeria, like most developing nations, has been and is a victim of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade, in which millions of our most able bodied citizens were captured as beasts of burden to work without pay for hundreds of years, to build the foundations of modern capitalist states. Nigeria also suffered classical colonialism, under which pirates captured territory around the world and plundered their resources, for the benefit of the elite in the metropolis.
Today, Nigeria is in the grips of a vicious elite, which continues to facilitate the plunder of her resources for the benefit of the same colonial metropolitan elite. The Nigerian elite is more than satisfied with the crumbs which drop from the table of the capitalist class in Europe and North America, and they are happy as long as a gulf of poverty separates them from the downtrodden.
‘Time to Reclaim Nigeria’ should set all of us thinking about the inadequacies of the present socio-political order, and prepare our minds for a major paradigm shift.
BROUGHT TO YOU BY PAMBAZUKA NEWS
* Kwesi Pratt Jnr. is managing editor, The Insight newspaper, Accra, Ghana.
* Please send comments to editor[at]pambazuka[dot]org or comment online at Pambazuka News.
'Until then, we continue to die'
Response to Stephen Lewis' ‘There is no doubt it is murder’
I read Stephen Lewis' remarks in Ethiopia on a morning when I am tired of the constant and continuous bullshit (to borrow Robert Carr's rallying battle cry). This morning doctors in Kenya take to the streets on the third day of their strike in the Blue revolution.
The Kenyan government, which has suckled adequately at it's mother's breast - the western world, has silently relocated funds for improvement of medical facilities and increments to medical personnel's remuneration to the war on terror in their invasion of Somalia while we have a media so focused on selling news that continues to focus the attention of a wider struggle to "salary increments" and silences the wider struggle.
I read a statement made by one of the striking doctor's on Facebook about his choice to remain in Kenya and work for the public health system despite the lucrative options for personal development in other nations both within Africa and outside the continent. We are saddled with stupid leaders who are extremely myopic in their vision.
And when you throw in the fact that we have an NGO sector that is constantly scrambling for the next sexy dollar with the shiny new language that attracts the attention of donors - we are a thoroughly fucked people and so many of us don't even know we are fucked and are joyously playing into the game of fucking ourselves up!
As a people, we have looked and continue to look to our western saviours to ride in on their magnificent white horse to our rescue. This ain't happening. Contrary to the singular narrative preached, Africa's eschatological hope and destiny does not lie in our re-creation of the western world in the soil of Africa. We alone can write and imagine our eschatology - but we're too busy playing at the white man's game to imagine and envision. And until then, we continue to die.
Africa Today interview on Puerto Rican political prisoner Oscar Lopez Rivera
In this episode, Africa Today speaks with Carlos Alberto Torres on Puerto Rico and the campaign to free Puerto Rican political prisoner Oscar Lopez Rivera, who has served more than 30 years in prison. Also Runoko Rashidi, historian, author, and world traveler discusses his upcoming visit to Richmond, California and his new book 'Black Star' which highlights the African presence in Early Europe.
Africa Today speaks with Friends of the Congo
In this episode, Africa Today interviews Kambale Musavuli from Friends of the Congo on the DRC elections and talks with Hank Jones of the San Francisco 8 on the campaign to free political prisoners Jalil Muntaqim and Herman Bell.
Documentary on Egypt's ongoing revolution
Although Hosni Mubarak was forced to step down in February 2011, the uprisings in Egypt continue. While the uniting rallying cry may have been against dictatorship, the struggle in Egypt that took headlines across the world in early 2011 reflected deeper social, political, and economic problems. The key demands of the revolution have still not been met. The continuation of military rule and the promise of more neoliberal economic policies lead many to believe it will be a long battle. Protestors in Egypt are hopeful, however, as people all over the world revolt against an economic system that benefits the few at the expense of the many. This short documentary looks at the economic factors that led to the revolution, the reality of living under military rule, and brings up questions over the legitimacy of the current elections.
Film on Kenya's Unga Revolution
Rising prices and inflation in Kenya prompted the creation of a movement led by a grassroots civil society group, Bunge la Mwananchi, or The People's Parliament. It staged demonstrations throughout the year to pressurise the Kenyan government to bring down the price of unga, or maize flour. IRIN's latest film, 'Kenya's Unga Revolution', follows one of Bunge la Mwananchi's activists, Emily Kwamboka, as she takes to the streets to demand change in the lives of ordinary Kenyans.
Kenyan music thrives on innovation and tradition
This multimedia presentation looks at the rich and deep history of music in Kenya. Although modern music faces some criticism from traditionalists, the art form is evolving, and new, talented artists are emerging and changing the face of music here.
Zimbabwe: Civil servants give government ultimatum
Unions representing civil servants in the country have given the coalition government up until the end of December to review their salaries, or face crippling industrial action in the new year. The unions are demanding a minimum salary in line with the Poverty Datum Line, which is pegged at US$540. Tendai Chikowore, the chairperson of the Apex Council that represents civil servants, said they had a meeting with government representatives on Friday: 'It was clear that they (government negotiating team) had not been given the mandate by Treasury giving them the parameters within which to negotiate,' she said.
Zimbabwe: Khama, Mugabe mend relations
Botswana President Ian Khama, an arch-critic of President Robert Mugabe, could be working on normalising relations with the octogenarian leader after he sent a delegation from his party to 'offer solidarity support' to Zanu PF at the just ended annual conference. Khama, who has openly clashed with Mugabe in the past, sent a delegation from his Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) to attend the Zanu PF conference. BDP secretary-general Thabo Fanu Masalila heaped praise on Mugabe urging Zanu PF members to back the ageing leader.
Zimbabwe: Uncovering Zimbabwe’s debt
For the last decade the Zimbabwean government has been in default on most of its debt owed to the rest of the world, currently estimated to be around US$7 billion. This debt dates primarily from loans made in the 1980s and 1990s by private lenders such as banks; foreign governments such as France, Germany and the UK; and multilateral institutions like the World Bank, African Development Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF). This report from the Zimbabwe Europe Network argues that in order to move towards a just and positive resolution to this crisis the origin of Zimbabwe’s debt must be investigated. The legitimacy of the debt needs to be established by examining whether these loans genuinely benefited the Zimbabwean people.
Zimbabwe: WOZA members acquitted while Williams and Mahlangu appear on trial
Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA)
12 December 2011
For legal documents: http://wozazimbabwe.org/?p=1023
Six women have been granted a discharge by a Bulawayo magistrate. They were arrested on Wednesday 18 May 2011 and spent six days in police cells before being charged with contravening Section 140 of Criminal Law (Codification and Reform Act) Chapter 9:23, malicious damage to property.
Magistrate Roselyn Dube on 9 December 2011 acquitted the six, who had faced a fine or imprisonment. The court victory was secured by the chief officer, Lizwe Jamela of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, who defended the six members. Public prosecutor Jeremiah Mutsindikwa failed to prove that the six women had painted messages on a Bulawayo road.
Some of the messages were: 'power to the poor people' and 'police stop abusing our rights', 'Yes to power, Pre-paid meters for all', and 'No to violence - Woza'. The matter had over 10 sittings of the trial since August. It began with the hearing of defence witnesses and a staff member of the City Council, engineer Douglas Lengama Ncube.
Key evidence leading to the discharge was the testimony of the engineer who told the court that he had signed his statement, written by the police, without scrutinising it in detail. Another key moment was reached when the investigating officer had to take the stand and explain how he arrested the women.
He testified that he had not arrested the women, but had just been assigned the case without his direct involvement. As a result of this statement, he refused to comment on the case merits.
On 12 December 2011, Jennifer Williams and Magodonga Mahlangu will face kidnap and theft charges in Tredgold Magistrates Court. The two were arrested on 21 September 2011, denied bail and sent to prison before the High Court granted them bail.
The state is set to nominate a special magistrate and prosecutor for the case. A Supreme Court ruling found that Williams and Mahlangu 's right to freedom of protest was obstructed by a 2008 arrest.
As a result, no conviction for protest related charges can be successfully made against the two. Many police officers have threatened the two to fix them with criminal charges and therefore this case is viewed as an attempt to fix the duo with criminal charges.
For more information, Jenni Williams on +263 772 898 110 or +263 712 213 885 or Magodonga Mahlangu +263 772 362 668.
You can email email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com. Visit our website at www.wozazimbabwe.org.
You can also follow us on Twitter at twitter.com/wozazimbabwe or find us on Facebook.
African Union role in the Libyan crisis
African issues have long suffered from either a lack of exposure in the mainstream media, marginalisation and misrepresentation or from outright silencing. The case of the African Union’s intervention in Libya is a classic example of how African efforts go unreported or are twisted to suit a hostile agenda.
The AU Commission has been baffled by erroneous reports that the AU’s actions in Libya were motivated by a desire to protect Colonel Muammar Qaddafi’s regime and that, following his downfall, the union was delaying recognition of the new Libyan authorities in order to force the inclusion of the former Libyan leader’s supporters into the new government.
There is nothing further from the truth than these assertions. They run contrary to the decisions taken by the relevant AU organs on the Libyan matter, as they do to the follow-up actions that have been taken by the commission. It is against this background that I have, on behalf of the commission, decided to address publicly the key issue of the AU’s intervention in Libya.
It is important to start by situating the AU’s efforts in the context of its reaction to what has now come to be known as the ‘Arab Spring’. The popular uprisings that occurred in Tunisia and in Egypt posed serious doctrinal problems because they do not correspond to any of the cases envisaged by the 2000 Lomé Declaration on Unconstitutional Changes of Government. While the AU, like other international players, did not anticipate these developments, it nonetheless reacted creatively. Indeed, the AU exhibited the necessary flexibility, basing its response not on a dogmatic interpretation of the existing texts, but rather on the need to contribute to the attainment of the overall AU objective of consolidating democracy in the continent. Notably, the African leaders welcomed the developments in Tunisia and Egypt, stressing that they provided an opportunity for member states to renew their commitment to the AU agenda for democracy and governance, to inject additional momentum to efforts being exerted in this regard and to implement socio-economic reforms adapted to each national situation.
For a number of reasons, the democratic revolution in Libya followed a different path from those of Tunisia and Egypt. From the very start, the AU made it clear that any solution to the crisis had to be based on the fulfilment of the legitimate aspirations of the Libyan people for democracy, respect for human rights and good governance. The AU strived to secure a Libyan consensus on the establishment of inclusive transitional institutions that would manage the country until such a time that elections are held. This clearly implied Colonel Qaddafi’s relinquishing power to those new institutions. Our ultimate objective was to avoid war. As a regional organisation, diplomacy is our main weapon and the use of force is always a last resort when all other options have been exhausted.
BUILDING A CONSENSUS ON THE ELEMENTS FOR A COMPREHENSIVE SOLUTION TO THE LIBYAN CRISIS
In Libya, as in other countries affected by the ‘Arab Spring’, the AU based its action on the need to contribute to the achievement of the overall objectives sought by the union, namely peace, stability, democratic governance, respect for human rights, justice, prosperity and unity.
As early as 23 February 2011, the Peace and Security Council (PSC) expressed its deep concern over developments in Libya, strongly condemning the indiscriminate and excessive use of force against peaceful demonstrators. It also underscored the legitimacy of the aspirations of the Libyan people. The first UN Security Council resolution on the matter, which referred the situation in Libya to the ICC and imposed sanctions on Libyan individuals and entities, was adopted three days later.
At its 265th meeting held on 10 March 2011 at the level of heads of state and government, the PSC agreed on a roadmap for resolving the Libyan crisis. It revolved around the following elements: (i) immediate cessation of all hostilities; (ii) cooperation of the concerned Libyan authorities to facilitate the timely delivery of humanitarian assistance to needy populations; (iii) protection of foreign nationals, including the African migrant workers living in Libya; and (iv) dialogue between the Libyan parties and establishment of a consensual and inclusive transitional government. The PSC established a high-level ad hoc committee to follow-up on the implementation of the roadmap. The main objective was to ensure that the legitimate aspiration of the Libyan people to democracy was achieved.
One week after the adoption of the AU Roadmap, the UN Security Council passed resolution 1973(2011), in which it imposed a no-fly zone over Libya to protect the civilian population, stressed the need to intensify efforts to find a solution to the crisis and, in this regard, formally acknowledged the role of the ad hoc committee. The resolution enjoyed the support of all the African members of the Security Council, who were genuinely driven by a commitment to protect civilians in Libya. Had just one of them abstained, there would have been no such resolution.
WORKING TOWARDS THE IMPLEMENTATION OF THE AU ROADMAP
The members of the ad hoc committee met in Nouakchott on 19 March 2011. They were planning to travel to Libya the following day, to interact with the parties. As required by resolution 1973(2011), the committee sought authorisation for the flights carrying its members to Libya. This request was denied. In actual fact, the military campaign to enforce resolution 1973 started the very day the ad hoc committee was meeting in Nouakchott.
On 25 March 2011, in Addis Ababa, the AU convened a consultative meeting that brought together all international stakeholders. The meeting welcomed the efforts of the high-level ad hoc committee and reached a consensus on the elements of the AU Roadmap.
On 10 and 11 April 2011, the ad hoc Committee undertook a visit to Libya. In Tripoli, the then Libyan authorities confirmed their acceptance of the AU Roadmap. In Benghazi, the discussions with the NTC leadership focused on the need for an urgent ceasefire. The objective was to ensure the effective protection of the civilian population and to create conducive conditions for the fulfillment of the legitimate demands of the Libyan people.
On 26 April 2011, the PSC, meeting at ministerial level, reviewed the situation in Libya. On the eve, the ad hoc committee interacted with the Libyan parties. A month later, and in view of the continued deterioration of the situation in Libya, the Assembly of the union convened an extraordinary session. It reiterated the need for a political solution and called for an immediate end to all attacks against civilians and a ceasefire that would lead to the establishment of a consensual transitional period, culminating in elections that would enable the Libyans to freely choose their leaders. The Assembly stressed the imperative for all concerned to comply with both the letter and spirit of resolution 1973.
On my part, I participated, as an invitee, in a number of meetings devoted to the Libyan crisis. I also travelled to foreign capitals, including Paris, London, Brussels, Washington and Rome to explain the AU Roadmap and seek the support of international partners for it.
INJECTING A NEW MOMENTUM TO THE PEACE EFFORTS
At its Malabo Summit in July 2011 and following the commitment of Colonel Qaddafi not to be part of the negotiation process, the Assembly reviewed and endorsed the Proposals for a Framework Agreement submitted by the ad hoc committee. These proposals clearly stipulated that there should be a transfer of power to an interim government, to be put in place immediately upon the conclusion of the envisaged national dialogue. In mid-July 2011 and early August, the AU met with the Libyan parties to exchange views on their reactions to the proposals.
On 21 August 2011, while AU’s efforts were underway, the NTC fighters entered Tripoli. They have since extended their control to the entire country. At its summit level meeting held in Addis Ababa on 26 August, the PSC took note of these new developments. It encouraged the Libyan stakeholders to accelerate the process leading to the formation of an all-inclusive transitional government that would occupy the seat of Libya at the AU.
On 5 September 2011, I received a letter from the NTC leadership, in which the latter stressed the strategic orientation of its African policy, as well as its commitment to give priority to national unity and to protect all foreign workers within Libya, including the African migrant workers. This was in response to the demand I made for such a commitment from the NTC.
On its part, the high-level ad hoc committee, at a meeting held in Pretoria, on 14 September 2011, reiterated the continued relevance of many provisions of the AU Roadmap. It committed itself to working with the NTC and all other Libyan stakeholders.
On 20 September 2011, in New York, the chairperson of the union indicated that the ‘AU recognises the NTC as the representatives of the Libyan people as they form an inclusive transitional government’. Subsequently, the PSC, recalling the assurances formally provided by the NTC and taking into account the uniqueness of the situation in Libya, authorised the current authorities to occupy the seat of Libya at the AU. It also decided to establish an AU liaison office in Tripoli, to assist in the efforts aimed at stabilizing the situation in the country, promoting national reconciliation and facilitating the transition process.
REBUILDING THE NATION AND ADDRESSING THE REGIONAL IMPLICATIONS OF THE CRISIS
All the initiatives enumerated above are a clear expression of Africa’s solidarity with the Libyan people. They were driven by a genuine commitment to do whatever was possible to facilitate dialogue among Libyans, ensure that they owned any solution to the crisis, avoid further suffering and create conditions conducive to a smooth and peaceful transition. The AU was also aware of the risks that continued fighting in Libya posed to regional stability and security.
In spite of the challenges faced and the lack of support from important members of the international community, the AU never relented in its efforts. It acted within the framework of its own decisions and the relevant UN Security Council resolutions. It deliberately chose to address the Libyan crisis in a manner that took into account both the immediate and the long-term challenges. It had no, and still has no, other agenda than the interests of the Libyan people.
The issues raised by the AU from the onset of the crisis remain as valid today as they were yesterday. How best to promote an inclusive transition to avert the instability and chaos that would come with exclusion of key stakeholders? How to address the issue of reconciliation, heal the wounds of the past and deliver justice? How to ensure that the legitimate demands of the Libyan people to democracy, human rights, good governance are indeed fulfilled?
The AU was steadfast in seeking a political solution. So it will be in supporting the transition process, accompanying the efforts of Libyan stakeholders and, to this end, working closely with the NTC.
The AU cannot do otherwise, as Libya is a full-fledged member of the African family. The fate of the Libyan people is inseparable from that of the rest of their African brothers and sisters, with whom they have historical ties. A stable and democratic Libya will be a tremendous asset for the continent. Conversely, an unstable Libya will first and foremost affect its African neighbourhood and beyond.
We also need to contend with the regional dimensions of the crisis in Libya. The AU has continuously drawn attention to the proliferation in the region of weapons emanating from the Libyan military depots. To some, these concerns seemed exaggerated when they were first expressed. Today, there is a growing realisation within the international community of the gravity of the threat posed by this situation and the need for a concerted international action to address it. This is all the more urgent as some of the countries in the Sahelo-Saharan belt are in a fragile situation, having to deal with both latent rebellions and terrorist groups.
The AU was also at the forefront in highlighting the plight of African migrant workers, calling for concrete steps to guarantee their safety and security, facilitate the evacuation of those wanting to leave Libya and support their socio-economic reintegration into their countries of origin. This issue should remain high on the African and international agenda. Needless to stress that the return of large numbers of migrant workers is putting an additional strain on the countries concerned, with the risk of social tensions that could degenerate into situations of crisis.
MOVING FORWARD: ASSERTING AFRICA’S LEADERSHIP, DEEPENING DEMOCRACY
As Libya moves ahead to open a new chapter in its troubled history, we need to reflect on the events that took place, to grasp the full implication of the situation and draw lessons for the future.
One of the aspects highlighted by the crisis in Libya relates to the reluctance of some members of the international community to fully acknowledge the AU’s role. Yet, lasting peace on the continent can only be achieved if efforts to that end are based on the full involvement of Africa and a recognition of its leadership role because, as stressed by the summit in August 2009, without such a role, there will be no ownership and sustainability; because we understand the problems far better; because we know which solutions will work and because, fundamentally, these problems are ours, and our peoples will live with their consequences.
Asserting Africa’s leadership will also require that, as highlighted by the PSC on the occasion of its solemn launching, on 25 May 2004, we do not shrink from decisive actions to overcome the challenges confronting the continent; that there is no conflict on the continent that will be considered to be out of bounds for the African Union; and that where grave abuses of human rights occur, the AU is the first to condemn, and to take swift action, consistent with the letter and spirit of the Constitutive Act of the Union and other relevant instruments that we subscribe to.
We also need, as one African scholar put it, to see how best we can expedite political transformation to keep external intervention at bay and avoid situations in which outsiders are arbitrating our internal differences. In this respect, I am pleased to note that, following the request made by the PSC, the AU Panel of the Wise is currently undertaking a comprehensive review of the existing mechanisms relating to democratisation and governance in Africa, and will make recommendations on how best to strengthen them. I wholeheartedly look forward to these recommendations.
The military conflict in Libya has now ended with the demise of Col. Gaddafi and Libya is turning a new page. Our task is to help Libya address the many challenges confronting it. The new authorities have to engage all relevant Libyan stakeholders in rebuilding the nation and embark upon the necessary process of reconciliation. The African Union is ready to work with the people of Libya, the United Nations and the international community at large, as the Libyans strive to build a new nation.
BROUGHT TO YOU BY PAMABZUKA NEWS
* Jean Ping is the Chairperson of the African Union Commission.
* Please send comments to editor[at]pambazuka[dot]org or comment online at Pambazuka News.
Egypt: Tech project maps sexual abuse online
www.harassmap.org implements a system in Egypt for reporting incidences of sexual harassment via SMS messaging. The tool aims to give women a way to anonymously report incidences of sexual harassment as soon as they happen, using a simple text message from their mobile phone. By mapping these reports online, the entire system is intended to act as an advocacy, prevention, and response tool.
Egypt: Women protest against army violence
Thousands of Egyptian women have held rallies in Cairo against their treatment by security forces. Demonstrators brandished photos of a woman who was beaten and dragged along the ground, exposing her underwear - an incident that has outraged Egyptians. The rally took place in Tahrir Square, which has seen five days of deadly clashes between protesters and troops.
Global: Pack on gender and climate change
Responses to climate change tend to focus on scientific and economic solutions rather than addressing the vitally significant human and gender dimensions, says this pack from Bridge. For climate change responses to be effective, thinking must move beyond these limited approaches to become people-focused, and focus on the challenges and opportunities that climate change presents in the struggle for gender equality, says the pack, which hopes to inspire thinking and action.
Malawi: Women’s education the path to the presidency
In recent years, Malawian women have made significant gains in their struggle for full gender equality. Women are increasingly represented in national politics, for example. Malawi’s May 2009 federal election saw the proportion of female Members of Parliament rise from 14 per cent to 22. And though a minority, it is not difficult to find women’s names among the ranks of corporate board members.
Yet women in Malawi remain disproportionately affected by poverty.
Nigeria: Social media fuels debate on sexual violence
'Kill me, kill me, you people should just kill me,' an unidentified woman begged as she was being gang raped by five men while her ordeal was filmed with one of their mobile phones. The crime is believed to have taken place at a private off-campus hostel near Abia State University, Nigeria, in August 2011. The video of the rape, on the Internet, caught the attention of blogger Linda Ikeji. Her subsequent blogpost of the crime sparked widespread anger and debate in Nigeria and beyond, especially among bloggers, Twitter users and organisations such as the youth group EnoughisEnough Nigeria.
Zimbabwe: Stigma persists for rape victims despite coordinated services
Clinics and specially trained police units work in conjunction in Zimbabwe to provide medical and legal assistance to rape victims, following a protocol that eventually leads to the justice system. But many victims say that although they make sure to seek medical attention at clinics, they refuse to report the incidences to the police for reasons ranging from fear their family members will find out to a lack of faith in the legal and justice systems.
Africa: Fighting for the rights of the disabled
In Africa, poor medical care for diseases like polio and diabetes, as well as the lingering effects of war in certain regions, have created a large population of disabled people who are often rejected by society, says Hughes Kule, a Congolese-American activist who helped found a shelter for disabled street youth in Bongolo, DRC. 'Most street people here [in the Congo] are disabled people, because they are rejected by family and society. The family considers a disability a curse rather than a malformation. They believe it is a curse, but we believe it is largely because of the war.'
Africa: The ICC and Africa: A new relationship?
Gambian lawyer Fatou Bensouda has been officially elected as the next chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) and will become the first African to hold the top post at a time when the ICC is almost exclusively focused on the continent. Bensouda, who has served as deputy to Luis Moreno-Ocampo, the outgoing ICC chief prosecutor, was the only candidate and unanimously chosen by the ICC's assembly of state parties at their annual meeting in New York. She had previously worked as a legal adviser at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda in Tanzania.
Africa: Whose memories count and at what cost?
The Refugee Law Project (RLP), School of Law, Makerere University, Kampala, Uganda, in collaboration with the African Transitional Justice Research Network (ATJRN) successfully held its 2nd Institute for African Transitional Justice (IATJ), an annual week-long residential programme with a focus on transitional justice issues in the context of Africa. The Institute, which took place from 20 - 27 November 2011, at the Kitgum Peace Documentation Centre (KPDC), Northern Uganda had as its theme: 'Whose Memories Count and at What Cost?' Click on the link provided to read about the debates that took place.
Egypt: PM says 20,000 detainees freed since revolt
Egyptian Prime Minister Kamal al-Ganzuri has said that 20,103 political prisoners had been released since February when a popular uprising toppled Hosni Mubarak, state media reported. He said that 68 political prisoners remained in detention, including 48 who have been sentenced, the official MENA news agency reported.
Global: How government and companies are crushing net freedoms
New report on internet and democracy
The 'Global Information Society Watch 2011' report investigates how governments and internet and mobile phone companies are trying to restrict freedom online - and how citizens are responding to this using the very same technologies. 'Written by internationally-renowned experts, the report brings its readers easy-to-read and yet comprehensive articles, many with policy proposals, on the most important challenges protecting human rights on the internet is facing today,' says lawyer Matthias C. Kettemann, co-chair of the Internet Rights and Principles Coalition.
Libya: 'Cleansed' Libyan town spills its terrible secrets
The 30,000 people living in a town in northern Libya have been driven out of their homes, in what appears to have been an act of revenge for their role in the three-month siege of the city of Misrata. So what really happened in the town of Tawergha, are the accusations of brutality against the town's residents fair and what does it say about hopes for national unity? In the middle of August, between the end of the siege and the killing of Gaddafi, Misratan forces drove out everyone living in Tawergha, a town of 30,000 people. Human rights groups have described this as an act of revenge and collective punishment possibly amounting to a crime against humanity.
Libya: Concerns over Gaddafi's death, says ICC prosecutor
The death of former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, who was captured and killed by fighters in October, may have been a war crime, the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court [ICC] has said. Luis Moreno-Ocampo said: 'I think the way in which Mr Gaddafi was killed creates suspicions of ... war crimes. I think that's a very important issue.' Moreno-Ocampo's comments came a day after the former Libyan leader’s daughter, Aisha Gaddafi, called on the ICC to investigate the death of her father and brother at the hands of Libyan fighters.
Malawi: Malawi falls out of favour with ICC over al-Bashir arrest
The world court has said it was referring Malawi to the UN Security Council over its refusal to arrest Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir who is wanted by the court for genocide. The International Criminal Court (ICC) has issued an arrest warrant for al-Bashir and as a signatory to the Rome statute that created The Hague-based world court, Malawi was obligated to detain the Sudanese leader on its soil. But on 15 October al-Bashir was among six heads of state attending a meeting of the 19-member Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa) in the tiny landlocked nation and returned home later in the weekend unhindered.
South Africa: Call for probe into police death squad claims
The Institute for Security Studies (ISS) has called for a commission of inquiry into allegations that members of the Durban organised crime unit operated as a 'death squad', while the Police Ministry said it had opted to leave the matter to the Independent Complaints Directorate (ICD). The comments followed a Sunday Times report that the unit was operating as a hit squad in KwaZulu-Natal. It said the unit was guilty of assassinations related to taxi wars and in retaliation for 'suspected cop killings'.
Swaziland: Billionaire Kirsh bats for Swazi monarchy
Billionaire businessman Natie Kirsh has endorsed the rule of King Mswati III of Swaziland and criticised efforts to democratise sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarchy. In reports published in the Times of Swaziland and the Swazi Observer, Kirsh denied that King Mswati 'is an absolute monarch', and ignored the unrest in the country that gave him his start in business in the 1960s. 'I even lacked enough tissue to wipe my wife’s tears as she saw how the country has developed,' he said. Even as Kirsh spoke, Swaziland’s Minister of Finance, Majozi Sithole, reported that the cash-strapped government might not have enough money to pay civil servants this month. Swaziland Solidarity Network member Mumsi Thwala said Kirsh’s remarks at the royal village left her 'stunned, speechless and depressed. Kirsh owes his fortune to a cozy relationship with a dictatorial regime'.
Africa: Migrants’ health care hit by deportations
While most nations are dependent to some extent on the world’s 214 million migrants for skills and labour, few ensure these migrants have access to their health systems, something that could have dire public health consequences, according to the International Organisation for Migration (IOM). Describing migrants’ lack of access to health services as 'one of the biggest challenges facing global health today', IOM marked International Migrants Day on 18 December by calling for more migrant-inclusive health policies.
South Africa: Alarm over decision to review asylum seekers’ right to work and study
Zimbabwe Exiles Forum (ZEF), Solidarity Peace Trust (SPT), PASSOP and Southern African Litigation Centre (SALC)
'As members of Civil Society, Zimbabwe Exiles Forum (ZEF), Solidarity Peace Trust (SPT), PASSOP and Southern African Litigation Centre (SALC) note with alarm and great apprehension the decision of the cabinet to review the right of asylum seekers to work and study. The organisations believe that revoking the above-mentioned rights without offering an alternative will have the effect of practically making it impossible for genuine asylum seekers to get protection, thus ultimately violating South Africa’s obligations under domestic and international law.'
South Africa: Counting the cost of policing migration
In 2009, the Forced Migration Studies Programme at the University of the Witwatersrand (now the African Centre for Migration & Society) undertook an analysis of the costs of policing immigration on the SAPS in the Gauteng Province. Their finding was that it cost the Gauteng SAPS Province some R362.5 million annually to detect, detain and transfer migrants to Lindela Holding Facility. The Forced Migration Studies Programme research demonstrated that the consequence of policing immigration undermines the ability of the police to tackle serious violent and organised crime.
South Africa: Court orders refugee office to remain open
Lawyers for Human Rights (LHR) and the Refugee Rights Centre at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, on behalf of the Somali Association of South Africa (SASA) and the Project for Conflict Resolution and Development (PCRD) was granted an order 13 December 2011 in the Eastern Cape High Court in Port Elizabeth regarding the closure of the Port Elizabeth Refugee Reception Office. In terms of the order, an interim office at the regional immigration office must continue to provide asylum services to all holders of asylum seeker and refugee permits issued under the Refugees Act. The order also stipulates that no one whose permit expired between the period of 30 November 2011 and 14 December 2011 when the refugee office was non-functional will be subjected to a fine or any criminal sanction for the expiry of that permit.
South Sudan: Displacement plagues world's newest nation
The Republic of South Sudan (RoSS) is going through a major displacement crisis. The country is playing host to tens of thousands of refugees who fled fighting in Sudan’s Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile States. In addition to this, hundreds of thousands of people are displaced due to violence within South Sudan itself. The country also has to contend with a large influx of southerners returning from northern cities. This crisis could soon become overwhelming for the world’s newest country – a country already struggling to deliver security and basic services to its citizens.
Southern Africa: Counter-trafficking measures trail commitments
At any given time, an estimated 130,000 people in sub-Saharan Africa are engaged in forced labour as a result of trafficking. It is a fraction of the global figure, which the International Labour Organisation (ILO) puts at 2.5 million, but this highly lucrative and concealed crime is on the rise in Africa and traffickers usually operate with impunity. Southern Africa has many of the conditions traffickers capitalise on: endemic poverty and unemployment that create a demand for better opportunities, and high rates of regular and irregular migration that mask the movements of traffickers and their victims.
Sudan: Refugees recall horror of Blue Nile fighting
Pointing to a scarred bald patch above his ear, Lise Dide shows where shrapnel grazed his head when his village in Sudan's Blue Nile state was hit in an air strike. 'The plane came when I was asleep. I was still in my bed, I did not hear the sound,' he said in South Sudan's Doro refugee camp, set up just three weeks ago some 40 km (25 miles) from the Sudanese border. Dide is one of more than 80,000 Sudanese that have sought refuge in South Sudan from clashes between government forces and insurgents on the northern side of the poorly-marked and tense border, according to the United Nations.
Zimbabwe: Activist set to be deported from UK
A Zimbabwean activist, Gladys Mabvira, is set to spend her first Christmas in Harare in nine years as she is set to be kicked out of the UK next week. She has been an active member of opposition group ZAPU UK. Her open and public participation with this group, particularly her online blogging, would put her at risk if she was returned to Zimbabwe, says this article from http://www.bulawayo24.com
South Africa: Poor people’s movements and the law
Speech by S'bu Zikode to a seminar on social movements and the law
'It is very dangerous for the poor to think that the law will provide all the answers to political questions. It is very dangerous for people to think that they can stop struggling because now they have a lawyer. It is very dangerous for people to allow lawyers to decide for them instead of with them. It can also be very dangerous for the legal system and lawyers to think that law on its own can advance all socio-economic rights of the poor without the organised struggle of the working class, the poor, women, people born in other countries, LGBTI people, people living with AIDS and all other oppressed groups. Victories in court are not always victories in reality. It takes sustained mass based organisation to turn a legal victory into a real victory.'
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...
China, India Vow Pollution Cuts in Biggest Climate Move in 14 Years
Developing nations led by China and India pledged they’d work toward an agreement that would limit their fossil fuel emissions for the first time, the biggest advance in the fight against global warming in 14 years. Envoys from more than 190 nations also extended the Kyoto Protocol, the only ratified treaty limiting greenhouse gases. They will develop a document with “legal force” by 2015 that would curb pollution for all nations, according to a text adopted today in Durban, South Africa.
China refines overseas oil grab strategy
Chinese oil companies are changing their approach to investing in oil and gas projects overseas, placing more emphasis on community development and less on Beijing's political goals. Over the past decade, China's state-controlled energy giants have been the most prolific buyers of oil and gas companies and fields internationally, spurred by a government policy to secure resources to fuel the country's economic boom.
2. China in Africa
Zambia, China ink two big deals
ZAMBIA and China have signed an economic and technical cooperation grant agreement amounting to K43.3 billion and also an interest-free loan agreement of K32 billion in which the funds will be used in the fight against poverty and projects to be agreed upon by the two governments. The projects to be agreed would be those of a priority nature within the context of the Sixth National Development Plan (SNDP) in which poverty reduction was the Government’s core programme. Finance and National Planning Minister Alexander Chikwanda signed the economic and technical cooperation grant and interest-free loan facilities on behalf of the Government while visiting Vice-Foreign Minister of China Zhai Jun signed for his country in Lusaka yesterday.
Ethiopia signs Djibouti railway deal with China
Ethiopia signed an agreement with a Chinese state-run firm to build the final section of a railway line that will link its capital Addis Ababa to the tiny Red Sea state of Djibouti, an official said. The deal signed late on Friday with the China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC) covers a 339-kilometre line that will join another project to connect the capital with Djibouti.
China considers Seychelles port offer, denies base plan: report
China will consider turning to the Seychelles as a resupply port for navy ships taking part in anti-piracy operations off Africa, official media said, rejecting suggestions that this would amount to a military base that could unsettle the region. Chinese ships have participated in a multi-nation campaign against pirates striking out from Somalia, and have used ports in Djibouti, Oman, and Yemen to take on supplies, according to the International Institute For Strategic Studies in London.
China to Develop Cotton Production in Africa
China, the world’s largest cotton importer and user, will promote and develop planting of the fiber in four African countries, the Ministry of Commerce said in a statement on its website today. China will provide seeds, machinery, fertilizer and other materials to help promote planting in Benin, Mali, Chad and Burkina Faso under the World Trade Organization framework, the ministry said. The Asian nation will also provide technical support and training on crop management to help the industry expand, it said.
African media spotlight China's war on graft
Twenty journalists from five African countries, invited by the International Department of the Communist Party of China (CPC), recently completed a 12-day tour of China in which they observed the country's efforts to fight graft and corruption. Starting with a visit to the headquarters of the CPC Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI) and the CPC Central Committee's Organization Department in Beijing, editors and correspondents from major media bodies in Kenya, Liberia, Tanzania, Zimbabwe and Southern Sudan got an in-depth look at the Party's key anti-graft agencies.
China promises more support for Ghana in 2012
The Chinese Ambassador to Ghana, Gong Jian Zhong, says China is ready to support Ghana grow its economy, and from next year 2012, there would be more collaboration for economic development between the two countries. His Excellency Gong Jian Zhong said this during a visit to the Bui Hydro-electric Power Project site on Thursday, December 1, this year.
3. India in Africa
Benin invites Indian firms for oil and gas exploration
The West African country of Benin Saturday invited Indian companies to help develop its oil and gas sector. "There is a lot of unexplored mineral reserves in Benin, especially in the oil and gas segment. We want India's expertise in exploration to find these resources and use them," said Chirstophe Kaki, director of cabinet, ministry of petroleum and mineral resources.
Indian firms look to Africa for business opportunities
"My ambition is to develop these 300,000 hectares and go past to a million hectares," says Sai Ramakrishna Karuturi pointing to a map of Africa in his office in Bangalore in southern India. Ambitious as its sounds, Karuturi Global is now one of the biggest private land owners in the world. They have invested over a quarter of a billion dollars in Ethiopia and Kenya alone.
India's Reliance sees Africa sales potential-exec
India's Reliance Industries is currently selling two to three million tonnes of petroleum products a year to Africa and sees potential for more, P. Raghavendran, the company's president of refinery business, said on Saturday. Reliance, which owns the world's biggest refining complex with total combined capacity of 1.24 million barrels per day (bpd) of oil, currently directly sells products into East Africa through its marketing firm Gapco.
4. In Other Emerging Powers News
The First Russia-Africa Business Forum launched
The first Russia-Africa Business Forum was held here in Addis Ababa, on Friday at the presence of H.E Prime Minister Meles Zenawi and H.E Mikhail Margelov, Special Representative of the President of the Russian Federation for Cooperation with African Countries. At the opening session, Prime Minister Meles said Ethiopia and Russia has had long-standing friendly relations, adding that the fact that Russian medics played a vital role at the battle of Adwa in support of Ethiopian soldiers in defeating colonial aggression was an indication that the relations between the two countries were indeed close and exceptional during the Tsarist era. He also remarked that this relation was continued and radically extended during the Soviet era with economic, educational and security cooperation reaching the highest level.
Russian Federation highlights Angola's role in Africa
The Russian Federation said that Angola, from the political point of view, "is a key force" in sub-Saharan Africa. The fact was acknowledged Monday in Luanda by the envoy of the Russian president, Dmitri Medvedev, at the end of an audience granted to him by Angolan head of State, José Eduardo dos Santos.
West African Oil boost for Russia's Lukoil
Russian oil major Lukoil is looking to West African oil fields by investing up to $900 million in projects in Ghana, Ivory Coast and Sierra Leone. Vice-CEO of Lukoil Leonid Fedun says the West African projects could yield up to six billion barrels of oil and gas. The company’s foreign gas and oil deposits make up around 10% of its assets and it plans to double this number in the next few years. Lukoil expects the West African oil fields to make a great contribution to it. Some experts believe the development could increase Lukoil’s production by up to 10%.
India to push for border talks before Hu's visit
India and China are looking at ways to bring boundary talks back on track before Chinese president Hu Jintao visits India on March 29 for the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India China, South Africa) summit. India is keen on making Hu's visit an "important bilateral event". But China insists that without a "substantial" agenda, there is no point in extending the president's stay. China's sourness stems from the derailment of the border talks in November. The dates of the talks - November 28, 29 -were clashing with a Buddhist conference in Delhi, in which the Dalai Lama was to give the valedictory address.
5. Blogs, Opinions, Presentations and Publications
Nigeria could 'very soon' be the next African BRIC
It is 10 years since the idea of the BRIC nations of Brazil, Russia, India and China came into being, and this year they added a new member - South Africa - to the group. With an African country now part of this economically significant group, BBC World Service's Business Daily programme brought together the finance ministers from two of the biggest players on the African continent. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala is Nigeria's finance minister and Pravin Gordhan, is South Africa's finance minister. Ed Butler first asked Pravin Gordhan how important he thought the development of the BRICS group was.
China Stretching To Indian Ocean – Analysis
While the international community was fixated on the developments in the South China Sea and the Asia Pacific Region (APR), something else was quietly happening in the western end of the Indian Ocean. A high powered 40-member delegation of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) arrived in Seychelles on December 01, headed by Defence Minister and State Councillor Gen. Liang Guanglie. During this 3-day visit, the Chinese delegation changed China’s military profile in the western Indian Ocean–African tip. An agreement was signed for China to set up a naval base in the Seychelles for counter-piracy operations.
DRC: Kabila sworn in as president
Joseph Kabila has been sworn in for another five-year term as the Democratic Republic of Congo's president even as his main rival, Etienne Tshisekedi, continued to lay claim to the same job following disputed polls in the central African nation. The 40-year-old incumbent was confirmed the winner of November polls, which the country's opposition parties and international observers say were rigged.
DRC: Opposition leader seeks army backing
Congo's top opposition figure has urged the armed forces to obey him after losing elections he says were fraudulent. Etienne Tshisekedi said he would offer a 'great prize' to anyone who captured President Joseph Kabila. A close aide to Kabila dismissed Tshisekedi's comments as showmanship and said the opposition leader had made similar calls against former President Mobutu Sese Seko that had been ignored by the people
DRC: South Africa's role in DRC elections under scrutiny
Protesters from the DRC have accused President Zuma of complicity in what they allege is electoral fraud in the recent election in the restive country. Supporters of opposition candidate Etienne Tshisekedi believe South Africa acted at the behest of western interests who seek to keep incumbent President Joseph Kabila in power to protect international investments in the mineral-rich country, reports the Daily Maverick.
Egypt: Islamists compete in round two run offs
The Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) and the Salafi Al-Nour Party will be facing off in the run offs over single winner seats in the second round of parliamentary elections slated for Wednesday and Thursday, having won almost 70 per cent of the party list votes in the nine governorates of round two. The elections, which were held in Giza, Beni Suef, Menufiya, Sharqia, Beheira, Sohag, Ismailia, Aswan and Suez, saw the FJP-led Democratic Alliance win 37 per cent of the party list votes, worth around 30 seats, and Al-Nour 33 percent worth around 20 seats.
Senegal: Rebels plan to join opposition politics
Senegal’s separatists pushing for the secession of the Casamance region plan to transform into a political party. The group's leader disclosed this when he urged its factions to support the plan. 'The move is in the interest of peace and the reconstruction of Senegal,' said Mr Jean-Marie François Biagui, the group's leader.
South Africa: Julius seizes Limpopo lifeline
The embattled ANC Youth League president Julius Malema has been given another lifeline in politics after Limpopo province nominated him to serve on the ANC's powerful provincial working committee. Malema and his cohorts were suspended two months ago by the ANC's national disciplinary committee (NDC). The Mail & Guardian has further learnt that the ANC provincial conference will resolve that the issue of Malema's suspension needed political solution as opposed to the NDC processes, which the ANC Youth League has claimed were driven by political agenda to deal with Malema and weaken the youth league.
Tanzania: Look how Tanzania played catch-up after Mwalimu
Firoze Manji, editor-in-chief of Pambazuka News and publisher of Pambazuka Press, celebrates half a century of Tanzanian Independence with a reflection on the life of Julius Kambarage Nyerere, the first president of Tanzania. 'Nyerere was not simply a player on the national terrain. He was a pan-Africanist and an internationalist - not only in thought and writing, but crucially in his praxis. The support and refuge that Tanzania provided to the liberation movements was unprecedented. His commitment to welcoming and integrating refugees into Tanazanian life was extraordinary. And his willingness to speak out loud against injustices across the world, including Palestine, marks him out from the many so-called leaders who have come to be known more for their betrayal than any commitment to political principles.'
Angola: Explain missing government funds
The government of Angola should promptly provide a full public accounting for US$32-billion in missing government funds thought to be linked to the state oil company, Human Rights Watch said. A December 2011 report by the International Monetary Fund revealed that the government funds were spent or transferred from 2007 through 2010 without being properly documented in the budget.
Sierra Leone: 'Timbergate' threatens president poll bid
A corruption scandal in Sierra Leone could damage President Ernest Bai Koroma's chances of re-election next year and undermine his attempts to rebrand the West African state. Last month a television documentary investigating illegal logging alleged bribery in the office of Sierra Leone's Vice President Samuel Sam Sumana, dubbed 'Timbergate' by the press.
Uganda: UK, US snub ad hoc oil probe committee
The United States Ambassador to Uganda, Mr Jerry Lanier, and the UK High Commissioner, Mr Martin Shearman, have snubbed calls to appear before the parliamentary ad hoc committee investigating the oil sector, the Daily Monitor has learnt. In October, MPs mentioned Mr Lanier’s reports in Wikileaks, an online whistle-blower, where he accused Premier Amama Mbabazi and Internal Affairs minister Hilary Onek as having received bribes from oil companies.
Africa: Measuring capital flight
'The magnitude of African capital flight is staggering both in absolute monetary values and relative to GDP. For the thirty-three sub-Saharan African countries for which we have data, we find that more than $700 billion fled the continent between 1970 and 2008. If this capital was invested abroad and earned interest at the going market rates, the accumulated capital loss for these countries over the thirty-nine-year period was $944 billion. By comparison, total GDP for all of sub-Saharan Africa in 2008 stood at $997 billion.' This means, L. Ndikumana and J. Boyce, in their new book 'Africa's Odious Debts', that the rest of the world owes more to these African countries than they owe to the rest of the world. This suggests that Africa could expunge its entire stock of foreign debt if it could recover only a fraction of the wealth held by Africans in foreign financial centres around the world. The latest edition of the Africa Focus Bulletin contains extracts from the book.
Global: WTO Doha talks still deadlocked
The World Trade Organisation wrapped up a ministerial meeting Saturday deadlocked on the Doha Round of negotiations for a global free trade pact, and some ministers calling for a new path. Launched a decade ago in the Qatari capital, the Doha Round of negotiations has faltered as developing and developed countries failed to bridge entrenched positions on cutting farm subsidies and lowering industrial tariffs.
Libya: Questions loom for Libya’s sovereign wealth investments
As Libya’s liberators come to terms with how to rebuild the country, three paths are emerging for the riches held in its sovereign wealth fund, according to a new report from international political consulting firm GeoEconomica GmbH. The question becomes what’s next for the nearly $56 billion that was invested under the Gadhafi regime. In the report GeoEconomica analysts Sven Behrendt and Deen Sharp predicts that the fund will either: evolve into a strategic investment vehicle, carry on with its traditional mandate as a savings fund for future generations, or (perhaps most likely) be liquidated as competing interest groups battle over Libya’s political and economic future.
Malawi: IMF squeezes Malawi to free Kwacha currency
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has minced no words but directed the Malawi government to institute a liberalised exchange rate regime as a way to manage the overvauled local currency, the Kwacha. This is contained in a report titled ‘Liberalization of the foreign exchange regime for current account transactions and exchange rate flexibility’ on Malawi by IMF’s Mission chiefs Etibar Jafarov, Nadia Rendak and Kelly Eckhold with Morten Jonassen Norges Bank.
Mozambique: Dependence on foreign aid declining
Mozambique's dependence on foreign aid is declining, Finance Minister Manuel Chang told the country's parliament, the Assembly of the Republic. Introducing the state budget for 2012, Chang said that only 39.6 per cent of public expenditure will be covered by foreign grants and loans, with 60.4 per cent of the budget met by domestic resources. In the 2011 budget, 44.6 per cent of expenditure was to be covered by foreign aid, and in the 2010 budget the figure was 51.4 per cent.
Angola: Availability, quality and utilisation of health services in Angola
This report discusses the availability and quality of health services in two provinces of Angola (Luanda and Uíge) and reports how households perceive the level of quality and utilise the existing services. In addition to quality indicators such as the availability of drugs, equipment and other supplies, the report explores the competence of health workers in diagnosing common illnesses.
CAR: A state of silent crisis
Five separate retrospective mortality surveys, carried out by Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) and other researchers in prefectures accounting for the majority of the population, show excess mortality above what is considered to be the 'emergency threshold', says Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) in a new report. 'And yet the commitment of the country’s government and of the international community is going in the wrong direction. The government has been decreasing its investments in health, as have international donors, while humanitarian assistance has failed to reduce the widespread medical crisis.'
Chad: Mass meningitis vaccine campaign launched
Chad has launched a mass campaign to vaccinate nearly 2 million people against meningitis A, the primary cause of epidemic meningitis in sub-Saharan Africa. This is part of a multi-year immunization campaign covering the 25 countries of the African meningitis belt.
Guinea: Evading the cholera epidemic
With just two cholera cases reported in 2011, Guinea escaped an epidemic in West and Central Africa that infected 85,000 people and killed 2,500 in the first 10 months of 2011. Luck, as well as targeted prevention efforts on the part of aid agencies and the government brought this about, specialists told IRIN, but a far deeper countrywide overhaul of the water and sanitation system is needed to diminish the likelihood of future outbreaks.
Kenya: State freezes pay hike in public sector
Cabinet responded to rejection of its latest offer to striking doctors by freezing wage increases across the public sector until Salary Remuneration Commission is constituted. It also ordered a raft of expenditure cut-backs in Government, targeting low-priority areas such as foreign travel, purchases of vehicles, office furniture, printing, and advertising.
South Africa: Helen Zille’s ‘AIDS Gestapo’
Blog Africa is a country summarises a debate over comments made by Democratic Alliance leader Helen Ziille, who has called for the criminalisation of HIV transmission, and saying the state should not have to pay for treatment for those who contracted HIV through irresponsible behavior. The post links to commentaries on her statements. 'What doesn’t seem to have been emphasized enough though,' says Africa is a Country, 'is that while Zille has been spending time on populist and damaging nonsense, we in fact do know how to effectively combat HIV. What we need is politicians with the sense and integrity to make it happen.'
Swaziland: Contesting the Global Fund audit
On the heels of a decision by the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis (TB) and Malaria to cancel its next round of funding, the Swazi government is calling on donors to come to the impoverished country's aid. However, there are fears that the result of a recent Global Fund audit may dissuade donors even as HIV organisations contest its findings. The country is also contesting a recently released Global Fund audit that alleges nearly US$6 million in aid was misused. With an HIV prevalence of about 26 per cent, Swaziland cannot afford to fund HIV treatment domestically - an estimated 90,000 Swazis are in need of antiretroviral (ARV) drugs, according to international medical humanitarian organisation Médecins Sans Frontières.
Swaziland: Failing healthcare system renews HIV activism
A new wave of HIV activism is rising in Swaziland as people living with HIV take to the streets in protest, many for the first time in their lives, over continued shortages of antiretroviral (ARV) treatment. Swaziland's deepening financial crisis is taking a toll on service delivery, and the country is experiencing an unprecedented number of protests over issues such as school closures and a lack of HIV treatment. While Africa's last absolute monarchy does not allow formal political opposition to operate, a new brand of HIV activism may be taking hold as anger mounts over a lack of ARVs.
Tanzania: Tanzania set to manufacture own drugs
Efforts to integrate and modernise traditional medicines in the country have taken an upward turn with the National Institute for Medical Research (NIMR) gearing for mass production of its newly-developed remedies. According to NIMR’s director for research coordination and promotion, Dr Julius Massaga, the agency is about to forward its own developed drugs for approval.
Zimbabwe: Is another cholera epidemic on the way?
Waterborne diseases, such as typhoid, dysentery and watery diarrhoea - all approaching epidemic levels - are creating concerns that conditions exist for a reprise of the 2008/09 cholera epidemic, which killed more than 4,000 people and infected nearly 100,000 others. The Consolidated Appeal Process (CAP) for Zimbabwe, launched on 9 December, is asking for US$268 million for humanitarian assistance in 2012. The CAP highlights a decade of 'neglect' of the country’s water sanitation and hygiene sector (WASH), which has left 8 million people, or about two-thirds of the population, 'with limited access to WASH and health services'.
Africa: Britain's half-hearted fight for gay rights
The United Kingdom has been surprisingly silent about Nigeria’s harsh new laws targeting homosexuals. This would be the perfect situation for the British government to launch its much-heralded policy of cutting aid money to countries that discriminate against homosexuals, but so far British money to Nigeria keeps flowing, and British officials remain silent, writes Simon Allison for the Daily Maverick.
Africa: New report on lives of women-loving-women
This report is the result of the work of an amazing group of women from Asia and Africa who came together to research the conditions of women in same-sex relations in their countries. With great determination and courage they set about revealing the many obstacles, humiliations and indignities these women face. They uncovered not only pain, invisibility and silence, but also the pleasures of bonding and the beauty of love.
Ghana: Education ministry 'optimistic' it can stop homosexuality
A spokesman for Ghana’s Education Ministry has told the Accra Mail he is confident a programme in which teachers warn students of the 'adverse consequences' of being gay will make it 'a thing of the past'. LGBT Asylum News points out that the deputy director general of the country’s education service said in an interview this year that homosexuality 'started with single-sex schools'.
South Africa: Groundbreaking precedent in hate crimes case
On Friday, 9 December, OUT, represented by Webber Wentzel Attorneys, was successfully admitted as amicus curiae in the sentencing phase of a hate crimes trial in the Germiston Magistrates Court. The success of OUT’s application is ground breaking on at least two fronts, firstly OUT is the first organisation to be successfully admitted as amicus curiae in a criminal trial in the magistrates courts; and secondly, this is the first time an Lesbian/Gay/Bisexual/Transgender (LGBT) rights organisation will be leading expert evidence to ensure that sentencing in homophobia-motivated crimes takes into account the hate element in the commissioning of these crimes.
Africa: Right-wing gunman kills two Africans in Italy
An Italian man has killed two African street sellers and wounded three others in an apparent racist shooting rampage in the city of Florence before committing suicide, police said. Gianluca Casseri, 50, who Italian officials described as a right-wing extremist, parked his car in the crowded Dalmazia square at lunch time on Tuesday 13 December, got out and started shooting with a large pistol, witnesses said.
Africa: Climate change blamed for dead trees in Africa
Trees are dying in the Sahel, a region in Africa south of the Sahara Desert, and human-caused climate change is to blame, according to a new study led by a scientist at the University of California, Berkeley. The study was based upon climate change records, aerial photos dating back to 1954, recent satellite images and old-fashioned footwork that included counting and measuring over 1,500 trees in the field. The researchers focused on six countries in the Sahel, from Senegal in West Africa to Chad in Central Africa, at sites where the average temperature warmed up by 0.8 degrees Celsius and rainfall fell as much as 48 per cent.
Global: Climate deal leaves questions on green fund and tech transfer
The UN Climate Change Conference (COP 17) in Durban, South Africa, ended 11 December with an agreement that all major polluting countries would work towards legally binding targets for reducing carbon emissions. But the bitter showdowns and high drama which preceded the last-minute agreement sidelined two key issues for developing countries - the workings of a Green Climate Fund, which is intended to channel money to help developing countries cope with climate change; and how to facilitate technology transfer, particularly in relation to the obstacles imposed by intellectual property rights (IPR).
Global: Holding polluters accountable
The faith community is among key stakeholders calling for the establishment of a permanent International People’s Tribunal on Ecological Debt. Such a tribunal would hold environmental violators accountable for the climate change they are causing in local communities, particularly in developing nations. This was the main message that came out of a parallel session held by the Economic Justice Network (EJN), the World Council of Churches, Jubilee South, Observatorio de la Deuda en la Globalisation, Accion Ecologica, Oilwatch and the Pan African Climate Justice Alliance on 7 December 2011 on the sidelines of COP17. EJN coordinates Councils of Churches from 12 Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) member states.
Global: Study finds link between air pollution and increase in DNA damage
A study in the Czech Republic has found a link between exposure to certain air pollutants and an increase in DNA damage for people exposed to high levels of the pollution. They found that breathing small quantities of a polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH), called benzo[a]pyrene (B[a]P), caused an increase in the number of certain 'biomarkers' in DNA associated with a higher risk of diseases, including cancer.
West Africa: Research shows Sahel hotspots
Average temperatures across the Sahel have risen by around one degree Celsius over the past 40 years, according to a study identifying potential climate 'hotspots' in the region. The report, published by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), analysed historical climate trends across the Sahel, and aimed to identify potential hotspots and the impact on livelihoods in the region. Half of the 17 West African nations mapped experienced a temperature increase of 0.5–1 degree Celsius between 1970 and 2006, while 15 per cent of the region - in far eastern Chad and northern Mali and Mauritania - saw a rise of more than one degree Celsius.
Africa: Land deals and the myth of job creation
The promise of job creation has been put forward by investors, governments, and international institutions to convince local communities of the benefits of foreign investment in agriculture. For instance, the Sierra Leonean president, claimed in March 2011, 'Huge investments in the [agricultural] sector will definitely translate into hundreds of thousands of employment opportunities for our youths.' Several countries studied by the Oakland Institute reveal that many locals thus welcome land investment with the hope that such projects will bring jobs and wages.
Africa: Poor paying the cost of large land deals
The global rush to acquire large amounts of land in developing countries has done more harm than good, especially to the poorest people who often lose access to land and resources essential to their livelihoods, a new study says. The problem is fuelled by ineffective governance, corruption, a lack of transparency in decision-making and weak rights for local landholders, according to the study by the International Land Coalition (ILC), which presents findings from the Global Commercial Pressures on Land Research Project.
Global: Land rights and the rush for land
This report, authored by leading land experts, is the culmination of a three-year research project that brought together forty members and partners of ILC to examine the characteristics, drivers and impacts and trends of rapidly increasing commercial pressures on land. The report strongly urges models of investment that do not involve large-scale land acquisitions, but rather work together with local land users, respecting their land rights and the ability of small-scale farmers themselves to play a key role in investing to meet the food and resource demands of the future.
Algeria: Divisive media law passed
Algeria's People's National Assembly passed a controversial new media law on 14 December, despite opposition from journalists and many politicians. Although the act does away with prison sentences for journalists, opens up the audio-visual sector to private companies and includes a provision for new authorities to govern the press, it also places numerous restrictions on the free exercise of reporters, particularly in terms of access to sources of information.
Egypt: Concern over attacks on journalists
Letter sent to Prime Minister Kamal El Ganzory
'The Committee to Protect Journalists is writing to bring to your attention the mounting press freedom violations in Egypt. Between November 19 and 24, we documented at least 35 cases of journalists who were attacked in Cairo and Alexandria when protesters clashed with the military and police. We are attaching the list here and ask specifically for you to note the deteriorating state of press freedom in your country.'
Egypt: Previously acquitted journalists now jailed in libel case
The Arabic Network of Human Rights Information has rejected the ongoing detention of Fatima Al-Zahra and Sally Hassan, journalists from the newspaper Al-Fajr. Agouza Misdemeanor Court sentenced Al-Zahra and Hassan to two months and one month of imprisonment, respectively, on charges of libel, slander, and violation of private life brought forward by Yusuf Al-Badri.
Egypt: Rights group concerned media death threats
The Egyptian Organisation for Human Rights (EOHR) issued a press release condemning the targeting of media personnel in Egypt, who have received death threats via text message for their work in exposing government corruption. EOHR reports that Adel Hamouda, the editor-in-chief of Al-Fagr newspaper, Madi al-Gallad, the editor-in-chief of Al-Masry Al-Youm newspaper, Amr Al Lithy, the presenter of the '90 Minutes' talk show, and Lamis Al Hadidi, the presenter of the 'Hona Al Asima' talk show, all received death threats via text message on 13 December.
Global: For journalists, coverage of political unrest proves deadly
At least 43 journalists were killed around the world in direct relation to their work in 2011, with the seven deaths in Pakistan marking the heaviest losses in a single nation. Libya and Iraq, each with five fatalities, and Mexico, with three deaths, also ranked high worldwide for journalism-related fatalities. The global tally is consistent with the toll recorded in 2010, when 44 journalists died in connection with their work
Kenya: Meeting to improve aid to exiled journalists
The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) in conjunction with the Rory Peck Trust recently hosted a conference in Nairobi to improve assistance to the region's journalists in exile. Around 50 participants, including representatives of international and regional human rights advocacy organisations, press freedom groups, and journalists in exile, gathered at the Fairview Hotel to consider better strategies for emergency assistance.
Malawi: Actor's arrest reminiscent of past dictatorship's censorship
Malawi police on 18 December stormed a stage on which a play was being performed, and led the play's main actor away into a waiting police van. According to posts on Facebook, the play is titled 'Semo' produced by Lions Theatre. The lead actor in the play is Thlupego Kaluli Mgawa Chisiza. According to Nyasa Times reporter, Semo is a Moses-like leader who saved a historic nation from oppression. The play is set in the increasingly undemocratic Republic of Kwacha which is plagued by learned advisors who praise an increasingly oppressive king to safeguard their positions.
South Africa: Criminal probe targets AP, Reuters cameras on Mandela
South African authorities have announced the launch of a criminal probe against international news agencies The Associated Press and Reuters for installing cameras outside the home of anti-Apartheid figure Nelson Mandela, according to news reports. 'We call on the authorities to drop investigations that criminalize legitimate newsgathering activities that neither invade privacy nor endanger the security of Nelson Mandela. The National Key Points Act, in its current form, is an affront to the democratic constitution modeled by Mandela,' CPJ Africa advocacy coordinator Mohamed Keita said.
South Africa: Secrecy bill concerns remain
Despite a range of progressive amendments made to the Protection of State Information Bill (widely known as the Secrecy Bill) over the past 18 months, the Right2Know campaign continues to be 'extremely concerned' about the broadness and harshness of criminal penalties contained in the Bill, and the lack of adequate protection for whistleblowers, journalists, and ordinary citizens. Their concerns are outlined in a letter sent to the Open Government Partnership at the beginning of December.
Zimbabwe: Media monitors released by High Court
Three staff members from the Media Monitoring Project of Zimbabwe (MMPZ) were finally set free on Friday by the High Court in Bulawayo. They had been arrested and detained two weeks ago. Fadzai December, Molly Chimhanda and Gilbert Mabusa were arrested in Gwanda over allegations that they held an ‘unsanctioned’ meeting at which they distributed DVD’s that contained ‘subversive material likely to cause public disorder.’
Africa: A new balance for social security
This report from the International Social Security Association identifies, synthesises and interprets the most important recent developments and trends in Africa in social security. A key observation is that extending effective coverage for essential cash benefits and health care remains the continent’s major social security priority and greatest social policy challenge – but rapid extension is possible.
Malawi: Urban poor hit by slew of price increases
Devaluation, fuel shortages and economic mismanagement have conspired to push staple food prices to 'alarming levels' in urban areas of Malawi, where even catching a bus to work has become an unaffordable luxury for many, according to residents and analysts. 'At the moment, we are only concentrating on finding enough money for food and water,' said father-of-four Francis Tambula, who walks 7km every day from his home in Blantyre’s Ndirande township to his shop in the Limbe trading centre because paying for public transport would consume half of his income.
Mali: A poisonous mix
This 108-page Human Rights Watch report reveals that children as young as six dig mining shafts, work underground, pull up heavy weights of ore, and carry, crush, and pan ore. Many children also work with mercury, a toxic substance, to separate the gold from the ore. Mercury attacks the central nervous system and is particularly harmful to children.
Morocco: Youth unemployment tops Morocco priorities
Unemployed young Moroccan graduates hope that once new Prime Minister Abdelilah Benkirane assembles his government within the next few days, their situation may finally begin to improve. In its electoral platform, the Justice and Development Party (PJD) vowed to reduce unemployment by 2 per cent and to give 100,000 grants to unemployed young people to support them through training courses. The PJD has proposed to introduce jobseekers' allowance and to raise the minimum wage to 3,000 dirhams.
South Africa: Food prices pummel the poor
Food prices, which increased by just 1 per cent last year, have increased by a whopping 10.6 per cent so far this year. Lower-income South Africans, who spend much more of their total earnings on food, are the biggest victims of this sharp increase in food-price inflation. According to the South African quarterly 'Food Price Monitor' report, produced by the National Agricultural Marketing Council, the cost of the standard Statistics South Africa food basket, expressed as a share of the average monthly income of the wealthiest 30 per cent of the population, is only 2.9 per cent. By contrast, this cost for the poorest 30 per cent of the population was a heavy 36.4 per cent in October.
Haiti: The 'dream house' nightmare
While over one million refugees suffered under tents following the 12 January 2010, earthquake, 128 newly constructed homes, finished in May 2010, sat empty for 15 months. Today, the majority of these 'social housing' units are occupied, but mostly by illegal squatters who broke in by smashing windows and doors. 'The houses have been finished for almost two years, but they have never been officially delivered,' Jean Robert Charles, one of Cité Soleil’s assistant mayors told Haiti Grassroots Watch (HGW).
United States: I was arrested at Occupy Bronx - for writing about it
Journalist Carla Murphy had planned to cover a small protest in the Bronx and then head to brunch - but she went to jail instead. 'As officers encircled me, I kept my shoulders down and tried to moderate my tone. That sixth sense had nothing to do with journalistic training and everything to do with my being city kid. I grew up here in southeast Queens; NYPD ain’t never been nothing to fuck wit. I protested that I was a working journalist and asked if they were serious.'
United States: Mumia speaks about his removal from death row
Mumia Abu-Jamal has been moved out of administrative custody and transferred to disciplinary custody at SCI Mahanoy after news that the prosecutor would no longer seek the death penalty. Meanwhile, hundreds of supporters gathered in Philadelphia to mark the 30th anniversary of his arrest for the killing of a white police officer. Abu-Jamal, a former Black Panther, called it to the event to make his first public remarks since the prosecutor’s decision was announced. Read his comments on the Prison Radio blog.
United States: Occupy protests close US ports
US 'occupy' protesters claimed victory Monday 12 December in blockading ports along the West Coast and shutting down a major trade cargo hub in a new front on the anti-capitalist campaign. At least one port was fully closed down, while freight traffic was disrupted at several others including in Oakland, where thousands of demonstrators rallied after a day of action from California to Alaska.
Cote d'Ivoire: Violence rocks western Cote d'Ivoire
Clashes pitting groups of armed youths against government forces in the west of Cote d'Ivoire killed at least six people at the weekend, a senior official said Sunday. The unrest in Vavoua started after a dispute between Republican Forces (FRCI) and youths Saturday night left dead a young man who succumbed to his injuries in hospital, the military said on state television. On Sunday morning, 'many young people armed with clubs and rifles' tried to storm the military camp in Vavoua, located in the northern half of the country which had been under rebel control since 2002, said the army.
Djibouti: US troop deployment on the up
This Washington Post article notes that there will soon be more US troops based in Djibouti than in Iraq. Since 2002, Djibouti – a former French colony – has played host to the only permanent US military base on the African continent. Camp Lemonnier has grown steadily from a small outpost to an operation with more than 3,500 military personnel.
Egypt: Arms suppliers urged to halt transfers to the Egyptian army
Global arms suppliers must halt the transfer of small arms, ammunition and other repressive equipment to the Egyptian military and security forces, Amnesty International said after the army again violently dispersed protests in Cairo. The organisation condemned the excessive use of force against protesters and called for a cessation of all transfers of small arms, light weapons and related munitions and equipment to Egypt, as well as a halt to all internal security equipment that could be used to violently suppress human rights, such as tear gas, rubber and plastic bullets and armoured vehicles.
Egypt: Cairo clashes drag on with continued violence
Egyptian clashes entered its fifth day in central Cairo as military leaders struggled to contain a new challenge to its rule, which continues to be dogged by images of savage attacks on protesters. Egyptian health ministry officials announced that 12 people had died and around 500 were injured in the latest round of clashes, which began on Friday when the military - previously seen as custodians of the January revolution - stormed into crowds of demonstrators, swinging clubs and sticks and firing live rounds.
Egypt: Groups show videos, testimonials to counter military propaganda
Twenty-nine youth and rights groups called on Egyptians Tuesday to revolt against the 'tyrannical' military that killed peaceful protesters and burning state-institutions. To counter statements made by the ruling military council a day earlier, representatives of groups presented numerous videos and accused the council of ordering the clearing of a three-week-long peaceful sit-in outside the Cabinet. The crackdown has left at least 12 dead. The press conference featured testimonials by protesters, doctors and lawyers, describing the attacks and killings.
Nigeria: Bomb blast kills 10
A powerful bomb blast targeting soldiers followed by gunfire rocked the troubled Nigerian city of Maiduguri on Tuesday 13 December, with at least 10 people killed, an official and a hospital source said. Residents claimed soldiers reacted to the bombing by shooting indiscriminately and burning homes, with troops having been accused of such abuses following previous attacks after alleging residents were complicit.
Seychelles: US drone crash lands
A Us drone has crashed in the island nation of Seychelles, an incident that comes just over a week after a US drone went down in Iran. The latest crash comes just hours after Defense Secretary Leon Panetta visited Camp Lemonnier in Djibouti, the base that houses troops assigned to a unit in the horn of Africa and is home to a fleet of drones assigned to fly over the horn of Africa and some areas in the Middle East.
Somalia: Shabab-held Somali village hit by air strikes
A warplane bombed a Somali village held by al-Shabab fighters near the border with Kenya on Tuesday, killing several civilians, a Somali military official said. It was not immediately possible to identify who carried out the attack in the village of Hosungow, which is near the area of Dhobley - itself under the control of Somali government and Kenyan troops, as well as a militia allied to Somalia's government.
Global: How to make clever tech choices
Given the limited resources available to transparency and accountability practitioners, making smart choices about which tech trends (Mobile, Mapping, Social Media, Video etc.) to follow and which to ignore is more important than ever, says this article on www.globalintegrity.org, which presents some common sense advice for making the right choices.
Nigeria: New search engine focuses on Nigeria
Search Nigeria is a new Search Engine designed to consolidate and improve the availability of information about Nigeria.
Somalia: Al Shabaab vs Kenya, the Twitter war
The ragtag though powerful Islamist terror group, Al Shabaab, is taking on the Kenyan army on the battlefields of...Twitter, writes Simon Allison in this Daily Maverick article. And they're winning.
South Centre Bulletin Issue 58
The latest issue of the South Bulletin has two major main issues: The Durban Climate Conference, and the WTO's 8th Ministerial Conference, both held in December 2011. The Durban conference has given rise to a new round of climate change negotiations, which will start in 2012 and is scheduled to end in 2015. At the WTO's Ministerial Conference in Geneva, there was (in contrast to Durban) a calm and relaxed atmosphere. But there were also many issues that divided the countries, mainly on North-South lines. The South Bulletin provides preliminary analyses of these two major events.
Africa: Africa-UK, bringing together the African diaspora
Africa-UK is a national programme bringing together members of the African diaspora in the UK to work towards the continent's development. It promotes diaspora activism to ignite, debate and drive positive change through events and training sessions. Topic under discussion include:
- The contribution of the African Diaspora to their countries of origin.
- Engagement with UK development policy.
- Social investment.
To find out more visit the website: www.africa-uk.org
Global: 'Violence Is Not Our Culture' launches new website
The Global Campaign 'Violence Is Not Our Culture' has launched a new website, with a variety of new features aimed at making it a hub of information and knowledge on gender based discrimination and violence. 'We want this site to be informative, attractive, and easy to use for readers around the world so that it can stand as a resource to advocates, reporters, and decision-makers, as well as to the general public.'
University of Oxford: Part-time Masters in International Human Rights Law
Admissions open for five scholarships for candidates from African Commonwealth countries
The Department for Continuing Education and the Faculty of Law at Oxford University are very pleased to announce that admissions are now open for five scholarships for candidates from African Commonwealth countries to study for the part-time Masters in International Human Rights Law at the
University of Oxford, starting September 2012. The course website can be found at http://bit.ly/s37dHr and details about the scholarships, including eligibility criteria and how to apply, can be found on the Fees and Funding pages at http://bit.ly/ugKcPf
Call for papers: Special issue on human rights in Africa
Vienna Journal of African Studies
The journal 'Stichproben. Wiener Zeitschrift für kritische Afrikastudien/Vienna Journal of African Studies' is preparing a special issue on human rights in Africa to appear in fall/winter 2012 (Stichproben No 23/2012) and invites anyone interested in contributing an article, a research note, or a book review to submit proposals by 31st of December, 2011 to the editors of the volume.
Journal of Conflictology
On the occasion of this years' elections in Nigeria, the issue opens with an interview delivered by the Nigerian political scientist Sadeeque Abubakar Abba. The second contribution by Ubong Essien Umoh and Idara Godwin Udoh employs linguistic theory to explain the use of the numerous adjectives used when we talk about 'peace'. Bryan Nykon takes a closer look at the influence of feature films on our beliefs in the legitimacy of violence. Transitional justice is the topic of Padraig McAuliffe's article. In critically assessing the use of transitional justice mechanisms, he stresses the value of paradigmatic transitions sensitive to local conditions. Paul van Tongeren presents a policy brief on infrastructures for peace.
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