Join Friends of Pambazuka

Subscribe for Free!



Donate to Pambazuka News!

Follow Us

delicious bookmarks facebook twitter

Pambazuka News Pambazuka News is produced by a pan-African community of some 2,600 citizens and organisations - academics, policy makers, social activists, women's organisations, civil society organisations, writers, artists, poets, bloggers, and commentators who together produce insightful, sharp and thoughtful analyses and make it one of the largest and most innovative and influential web forums for social justice in Africa.

Latest titles from Pambazuka Press

African Sexualities

Earth Grab A Reader
Sylvia Tamale
A groundbreaking book, accessible but scholarly, by African activists. It uses research, life stories and artistic expression to examine dominant and deviant sexualities, and investigate the intersections between sex, power, masculinities and femininities
Buy now

Global NATO and the Catastrophic Failure in Libya

From Citizen to Refugee Horace Campbell
In this elegantly written and incisive account, scholar Horace Campbell investigates the political and economic crises of the early twenty-first century through the prism of NATO's intervention in Libya.
Buy now

Queer African Reader

Demystifying Aid Edited by Sokari Ekine, Hakima Abbas
A diverse collection of writing from across the continent exploring African LGBTI liberation: identity, tactics for activism, international solidarity, homophobia and global politics, religion and culture, and intersections with social justice movements. A richness of voices, a multiplicity of discourses, a quiverful of arguments. African queers writing for each other, theorising ourselves, making our ...more
Buy now

China and Angola

African Awakening A Marriage of Convenience?
Edited by Marcus Power, Ana Alves
This book focuses on the increased co-operation between Angola and China and shows that although relations with China might have bolstered regime stability and boosted the international standing of the Angolan government, China is not regarded as a long term strategic partner.
Buy now

How Europe Underdeveloped Africa

To Cook a ContinentWalter Rodney
Rodney shows how the imperial countries of Europe, and subsequently the US, bear major responsibility for impoverishing Africa. They have been joined in this exploitation by agents or unwitting accomplices both in the North and in Africa.
Buy now

Pambazuka News Broadcasts

Pambazuka broadcasts feature audio and video content with cutting edge commentary and debate from social justice movements across the continent.

See the list of episodes.

AU MONITOR

This site has been established by Fahamu to provide regular feedback to African civil society organisations on what is happening with the African Union.

Perspectives on Emerging Powers in Africa: December 2011 newsletter

Deborah Brautigam provides an overview and description of China's development finance to Africa. "Looking at the nature of Chinese development aid - and non-aid - to Africa provides insights into China's strategic approach to outward investment and economic diplomacy, even if exact figures and strategies are not easily ascertained", she states as she describes China's provision of grants, zero-interest loans and concessional loans. Pambazuka Press recently released a publication titled India in Africa: Changing Geographies of Power, and Oliver Stuenkel provides his review of the book.
The December edition available here.

The 2010 issues: September, October, November, December, and the 2011 issues: January, February, March , April, May , June , July , August , September, October and November issues are all available for download.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported License.

Back Issues

Pambazuka News 607: The tragedy of Goma, Gaza and crony capitalism

The authoritative electronic weekly newsletter and platform for social justice in Africa

Pambazuka News is delivered free to you with the support of donations from Friends of Pambazuka.

KEEP PAMBAZUKA FREE AND INDEPENDENT! BECOME A FRIEND OF PAMBAZUKA NOW! http://www.pambazuka.org/en/friends.php

Follow Pambazuka @pambazuka

Pambazuka News (English edition): ISSN 1753-6839

CONTENTS: 1. Features, 2. Comment & analysis, 3. Advocacy & campaigns, 4. Books & arts, 5. Letters & Opinions, 6. African Writers’ Corner



Features

The tragedy of Goma

Shame on UN and Rwanda’s Western allies

Theogene Rudasingwa

2012-11-22

http://pambazuka.org/en/category/features/85523


cc P K
It is a big shame that UN peacekeepers could not protect the Congolese in Goma from the onslaught of Rwandan-backed rebels M23. Washington and London, Kagame's allies, have made him more intransigent.

For the last several months Rwandans, Congolese, Africans and the international community have watched as the predictable drama from Paul Kagame's regime plays out once again in the Kivu region of eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. With the birth of M23, the Kigali regime re-engineered the mutation of an old proxy force, the CNDP, into a new one with the same agenda: 1) weaken DRC, 2) loot its natural resources, 3) pretend that Rwanda can now solve the problem by paying lip-service to negotiations, 4) deceive the world that Rwanda is after Rwandan armed groups, especially FDLR and 5) use this presence in DRC to manipulate the international community against looking at the problems within Rwanda itself. In all this President Kagame's trademarks remain deception, total disregard for human life, and disrespect to the international community.

First, where is Africa in all this? It is African countries, notably through the African Union, that chose Rwanda to represent the continent at the UN Security Council. Like Rwanda, DRC has been bleeding for several years, and has lost 6 million of its citizens due to Kagame's wars of plunder and killings. Can't Africa save DRC and Rwanda from the most vicious and brutal dictator since Idi Amin?

Second, the United Nations has a peacekeeping operation in DRC: over 20,000 personnel and an annual budget of close to $1.5 billion. What is the United Nations doing in DRC if it cannot defend a small African city like Goma, women and children? The United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon has become too close to President Kagame that he has lost objectivity in dealing with the crisis in DRC. In 2010, when the Mapping Report was published, Ban Ki -Moon hurriedly packed his bags and went to Kigali to beg Kagame not to pull out Rwandan troops from Sudan. The Mapping Report has been shelved. Now as the Goma drama unfolded Ban Ki-Moon called Kagame, pleading that the latter ( Kagame) ‘use his influence’ to stop the advance of M23 on Goma. Incredible! It is the same United Nations that has rewarded Kagame with a seat on the Security Council, and is now failing to hold him and his officers accountable for the violations of international law.

What is the stand of the United States and British governments on the unfolding tragedy in Goma? Rwanda has invaded a neighbouring country and violated DRC's sovereignty and territorial integrity. President Kagame's regime is brutal and dictatorial at home, and belligerent in the Great Lakes region. Washington and London have been Kagame's allies since 1994, and friendship with powerful nations has made him more intransigent and willing to undertake costly risks. It is important for Washington and London to re-evaluate their relationship with Kagame to avoid the ‘French-Rwanda’ disease. In the early 1990s France was able and yet unwilling to read the signals showing the last days of a regime, committed sins of omission and commission, and has regretted since. France was capable of playing a good influence through a friendly regime of President Habyarimana. It chose not to. The consequences were catastrophic.

Washington and London have a narrow window of opportunity to stop and reverse their unquestioning policies towards Rwanda's Paul Kagame. Failure to do so in the short and medium term will contribute to even worse tragedies in Rwanda and the Great lakes region. The tide of change may not seem evident to the uncaring, distracted or biased eyes. President Kagame is now the butcher of Rwanda and DRC. He will certainly go. The question is: will he do so peacefully or with unprecedented bloodshed in Rwanda and the region? If Washington and London cannot help Rwandans and Congolese to end this bloodshed and human suffering, at least they should not make matters worse by keeping silent or supporting Kagame as he puts the whole region on fire. It is time for Washington and London to make a choice.

The Rwandan and Congolese people must, as a matter of urgency and survival, work together to save themselves and their motherlands. Rwandans and Congolese people must seek the solidarity of Africans in the struggle against a minority clique under Kagame's rule. Rwandans and Congolese must seek partners in the international community who regard respect for human rights, peace, freedom and shared human progress as cornerstones of international relations.

Goma is now in the hands of Rwanda's troops masquerading as M23. It is a teachable moment that DRC's forces could not defend an outpost like Goma against Rwandan invaders. It is shameful but understandable that UN peacekeepers could not defend Congolese people. There are such moments of betrayal in the UN's history in DRC and Rwanda. After all, Rwanda deployed its special forces, and almost a division of its armed forces, its equipment and other resources to take Goma. Rwanda is now poised to take Bukavu in South Kivu, and most likely will be lured into DRC's tempting but dangerous belly, as far as the capital, Kinshasa.

As Goma fell to Rwanda's troops President Museveni of Uganda and President Kagame of Rwanda, both condemnable co-authors of this latest outrage against the Congolese people, met President Kabila of DRC in Kampala in a sham diplomacy designed to serve him with a fait accompli and an ultimatum to accept M23 as a Congolese organization with legitimate demands. Even then, Kagame must know this: it will be a futile exercise since, like all his ventures in DRC, he will be forced to abandon it, leaving with bags of coltan, diamonds and gold, and behind him a trail of blood, tears and sweat of Rwandans and Congolese. DRC will, sooner than later, prove to be Paul Kagame's Achilles heel, as wars that he has perpetuated abroad finally reverberate on the hills of Rwanda. This worst case scenario is not inevitable, but the time to act to prevent continuing bloodshed is now.

We must organize, not agonize.

* BROUGHT TO YOU BY PAMBAZUKA NEWS

* Please do not take Pambazuka for granted! Become a Friend of Pambazuka and make a donation NOW to help keep Pambazuka FREE and INDEPENDENT!

* Please send comments to editor[at]pambazuka[dot]org or comment online at Pambazuka News.

* Dr. Theogene Rudasingwa is the coordinator of Rwanda National Congress (RNC), and a coordinator of Rwanda's largest political opposition platform with FDU-Inkingi. He has previously served as the Secretary General of Rwanda's ruling party, the Rwandan Patriotic Front ( RPF), Ambassador of Rwanda to the United States, and President Paul Kagame's Director of Cabinet ( Chief of Staff).He can be reached at ngombwa@gmail.com


The new Obama Doctrine: From Gaza to Goma

Vijay Prashad

2012-11-22

http://pambazuka.org/en/category/features/85521


cc U 2
Obama’s second term opens with the worst kind of display of US power – backing two clients, Rwanda and Israel, who are hell-bent on creating mayhem against their neighbours. UN will do nothing against these two.
The Israeli assault on Gaza continues. The death toll rises over 100, infrastructure is destroyed, and the UN relief agencies are at wit’s end. A desperate tone has entered the dispatches from the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), which has operated in occupied Palestine since 1950. On November 19, the agency noted:

‘Israeli Air Force (IAF) strikes were supported by the Israeli navy during the night. The ongoing airstrikes have again targeted leaders of militant groups, infrastructure, the security apparatus, but increasingly residential buildings as well. One hit destroyed a four-storey building belonging to the Al Dalou family in a highly-populated area in Gaza city. The families present in the house were buried under the rubble. At least 11 people died in the strike and over 20 were injured – all of them civilians, including women, an infant, and children. This is an extremely worrying development. There has been a significant increase in civilian casualties during the past 24 hours.’

Israeli air strikes not only hit the UNRWA compounds in Gaza, but they killed a Grade 4 female student from the UNRWA Beach Preparatory Girls’ School.

The UN mission in Goma, a major city in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), removed all non-essential staff from the area. The peacekeepers, with a threadbare Congolese army force, remain to defend the city. On its outskirts sit the M23 (March 23) Movement rebels, backed by the Rwandan armed forces. They moved rapidly to get to this crucial city, the capital of North Kivu. There are already 2.4 million internally displaced people in the DRC, with 4.5 million suffering from food insecurity, and a million children under five suffering from severe acute malnutrition. The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said on November 19,

‘This new escalation in fighting in and around Goma, and elsewhere in the Kivus, adds to what are already monumental humanitarian needs in the DRC.’

‘The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) warned, ‘The renewed conflict is putting children and their families at risk, leaving them exposed to physical harm and mental distress.’

Over the weekend, the UN Security Council met for an emergency session, listening to the UN Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Hervé Ladsous. The Council considered a French resolution on Goma, which condemned ‘the resumption of attacks by the M23 and demand their immediate cessation.’ There was a tepid finger raised toward Rwanda, whose armies have not only armed the M23, but they seem to be directing them. In 2010, the UN’s Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights published a comprehensive report, ‘DRC: Mapping Human Rights Violations, 1993-2003’, which showed the complicity of Rwanda’s government in war crimes, crimes against humanity and even genocide in the Congo. This damning report, solicited by UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay, was barely given any consideration. It should have been at the center of a UNSC discussion on eastern Congo. But it has not.

Neither Rwanda nor Israel will ever be hauled over the UN coals. The United States will prevent any serious discussion of the military adventures of its allies: Israel and Rwanda. For the former, Israel, there is a formal doctrine (Negroponte Doctrine) that enjoins US ambassadors to the UN to block any criticism of Israel. There is no such formal statement for Rwanda, but there might as well be. Criticism of the M23 movement is allowed, but there will be no allowance to criticise its sponsor, the Rwandan government of Paul Kagame.

During the Clinton administration, three heads of government were chosen as the new generation of African Renaissance leaders – Uganda’s Yoweri Museveni, Eritrea’s Isaias Afwerki and Rwanda’s Kagame. All three have atrocious records in their own countries, and as far as Kagame and Museveni go, in the Congo. The DRC’s Lambert Mende said that M23 is a ‘fictitious force,’ and that the ‘real aggressor’ is Kagame’s Rwanda. But there is silence on this, as both Israel and Rwanda are immunized from any serious criticism by the UN, and therefore the ‘international community.’

Dossiers filled with appalling behaviour and genocidal language flood the UN missions. Paul Kagame is on record as having called the Congolese, in his native Kinyarwanda, Ibicucu, nobodies or good for nothings (by Colette Braeckman in Les Nouveaux Predateurs, 2003). He speaks cavalierly about their ‘removal.’

Former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s son, Gilad, who is a member of the Kadima Party, wrote an op-ed in the Jerusalem Post (November 18), with genocide on his mind, ‘Flatten all of Gaza. The Americans didn’t stop with Hiroshima – the Japanese weren’t surrendering fast enough, so they hit Nagasaki, too.’ Such comments should raise the eyebrows of the UN Human Rights Council, whose silence on both Goma and Gaza is as stark as its loud noises during the lead-up to the NATO intervention in Libya. Navi Pillay, who called for the 2010 report on Rwanda’s behavior in the Congo and who tried her best (along with her legal advisor Mona Rishmawi) to implement the Goldstone Report, was allowed to fulminate about Libya and Syria but is subdued on Goma and Gaza. When atrocities are useful for US foreign policy, morality and outrage are muted.

By November 19, the UN Security Council had not acted on Gaza despite the Moroccan draft that has been before them since November 14. Russia’s Permanent Representative to the UN Vitaly Churkin made it clear to anyone within hearing range when he left the Council that he was frustrated with US obduracy. Palestine’s Permanent Observer Riyad Mansour indicated that absent US resistance there would be a UN resolution, and therefore an official indication to Tel Aviv of its isolation in its pummeling of Gaza. Meanwhile, the UNSC sanctioned the M23, but did not put any pressure on Kagame. That UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon called Kagame and DRC’s Joseph Kabila to come to some kind of accommodation, shows that there is open acknowledgment that the M23 acts with Rwandan backing. Yet, no sanctions on Rwanda.

Obama’s second term opens with the worst kind of display of US power – backing two clients who are hell-bent on creating mayhem against their neighbours. Coming to the defense of Israel in Bangkok, Obama made himself the laughing stock of the world. He said, ‘There is no country on earth that would tolerate missiles raining down on its citizens from outside its borders,’ forgetting, of course, that US drones rain hellfire on Droneland – from Yemen to Pakistan, in violation of the UN’s own position on such extra-judicial assassinations, and it was Israel that began this particular episode with its own extra-judicial killing of Ahmad Jabari. There is no ‘reset,’ no new liberalism. Drone strikes and other exaggerations of US aerial power, fanatical defense of its allies, and refusal to come to terms with the emergent multipolarity – this is the Obama Doctrine, now at work in Gaza and Goma.

* BROUGHT TO YOU BY PAMBAZUKA NEWS

* Please do not take Pambazuka for granted! Become a Friend of Pambazuka and make a donation NOW to help keep Pambazuka FREE and INDEPENDENT!

* Please send comments to editor[at]pambazuka[dot]org or comment online at Pambazuka News.

* Vijay Prashad is the author of Arab Spring, Libyan Winter (AK) and Uncle Swami (New Press).


Gaza: Israel’s big trophy for the holocaust

Abdulrazaq Magaji

2012-11-22

http://pambazuka.org/en/category/features/85522


cc A R
The ongoing Israeli onslaught on Palestinians should be a major source of frustration for peace-loving individuals and groups who envisage a peaceful resolution to the Middle East crisis.

As it happened four years ago, the Israelis are again in Gaza, cutting down anything and everyone in their way. As they are known to be, the Israelis do not discriminate when it comes to killing: the Old Testament of the Bible tells of several instances of thousands of women and children being put to the sword, killed, by rampaging Jewish troops! As in 2008, the casualty figure is steadily climbing and from the way it is going, it will surpass the 1,300 Palestinian men, women and children who were killed four years ago. At the root of the killings is criminal Israeli occupation of Palestinian land. Pure and simple.

But why go on? To Europe and the United States of America, Gaza and the whole of occupied Palestine is a befitting trophy they have handed over to Israel for their own complicity in the holocaust, a process of incineration of some six million Jews which the Palestinians knew nothing of or played any role in. It is natural for Europeans and the Americans to feel guilty about the incineration of the Jews. It is ironic that the Palestinians who never participated in killing of the Jews are being punished while the perpetrators of the act, the West, applaud. If we go by the Jewish law of an eye for an eye, the Jews should look beyond their neighbours in the Middle East if they now feel strong enough to avenge the incineration of their forebears. They should direct their aggression at their European and American friends who applauded by the side when Hitler incinerated them; not the Palestinians, a people who had no hand in their ordeal.

This Jewish misplaced aggression and its possible consequences are rooted in history. It should remind the West that it was its appeasement policy in the face of Adolf Hitler’s misplaced aggression that sparked the World War. As it was with Hitler, the West is once again at the appeasement game. Nearly 80 years ago, the West looked the other way when Hitler started behaving like a drunken sailor. Today, the West looks the other way, just as it did with Hitler, as Israel continues its aggression against Palestinians. Yet again, it is only the blind hawks in Israel that fail to see that occupation of a people never endures forever.

This is not about joining the appeal on Israel to end its occupation of Palestine. No. The Israelis should feel free to continue with the occupation. After all, their brothers down south, the Boers, whose apartheid system the Israelis have copied and perfected tried it in South Africa. After killing hundreds of thousands of men, women and children, the Boers soon realised that the cost of their misadventure, their occupation of South Africa, was too high to bear. They soon realised that without making peace, a future black-ruled South Africa would be too hot for them. Sadly, blind hawks do not learn from history. The exact opposite of what the Boers did is what the Israelis are now doing, believing things will work their way. What this means is that, sooner than later, the Israelis will realise they are on the wrong side of history. You cannot pin a man down forever and common sense teaches that you have to remain down there with a man you have succeeded in pinning down. It is like the hen that opts to perch on a rope; it soon discovers that it has not found an appropriate nesting place and eventually abandons its worthless effort. And this is true with all histories of occupations known to humanity.

The ongoing Israeli onslaught on Palestinians should be a major source of frustration, indeed a major challenge to peace-loving individuals and groups who envisage a peaceful resolution to the Middle East crisis. One year after the late Egyptian president Anwar Sadat defied the Arab world to sign the 1979 unilateral peace agreement with Israel, Professor Ibrahim Gambari, then of the Department of Political Science of the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, and now of the United Nations took one long look at the peace agreement and concluded it was incapable of bringing salaam- peace- to the Middle East. As a mark of how wrong President Sadat was, and how right Professor Gambari was, Sadat was killed by his own soldiers while reviewing a parade in Cairo in 1981.Nearly three and half decades after Sadat’s misadventure, the prospect of the salaam he boasted of, and for which he paid the supreme price, is fast receding.

In the years since the peace agreement was signed, Israel has forcefully grabbed more lands from the Palestinians, killed, maimed and impoverished more Palestinians and turned what remains of Palestinian land into a prison for all Palestinians. While thousands of Palestinians, many of them minors, continue to languish in Israeli jails without being charged, life for those outside the four walls of prison is not any better. It is a classic, even though vexing, case of a host being turned into a prisoner in his own house by his guest. While the criminal occupation goes on, successive occupants of the White House and their carbon copies in other Western capitals, desirous of arming and sustaining a strong ally in the strategic Middle East, turn the blind eye to the plight of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails. Few Western leaders care about the prisoners; they are happy to tie improvement in the conditions of these Palestinian prisoners to a half-hearted desire for a two-state solution to the question of Palestine.

It is important to put the Arab-Israeli conflict in its proper historical perspective. Officially, the state of Israel came into being in 1948 but truth is Israel was created by the letters of the Balfour Declaration of 1917. It is safe to speculate that had Ben Gurion and his ultra-right fellow travellers in World Jewry folded their arms and allowed a negotiated settlement, as the West (read United States) is today telling the Palestinians, there would not have been a state of Israel in 1948. Just like the radical elements in the Arab world today, the Jews took up arms, organised themselves into terrorist groups and spearheaded deadly raids ever known to humankind. The struggle for the creation of Israel was not a tea party; it did not come peacefully. The Jews had to bomb, kill and render Palestine ungovernable in their struggle for a homeland. In fact, for every Hamas and other militant Palestinian group the world knows about today, the Jews had their terrorist Irgun and Zvai among others. No amount of round table conferences could have given the Jews a foothold in Palestine. It was the bombing spree of Jewish terrorist organizations that forced the hands of the British, who then exercised a United Nations mandate over Palestine, to eventually accede to the creation of the state of Israel in 1948.

Ordinarily, Western leaders should by now have come to the grim realisation that the era of self-deceit has ended. But from the conflicting signals the world continues to get from Western capitals, it is unlikely this is the case. When Washington mooted the idea of a two-state solution, one for Israel and the other for Palestine, as the right path to tread in pursuit of peace in the Middle East, not many people gave it a chance of survival. But crazy and hare-brained as it was, even the most incurable pessimists thought the idea should be given a chance. After several false steps, outgoing US president, Barack Hussein Obama, is realising that his dream of a two-state solution will never come to fruition. Not even if he were to spend another decade at the White House. This is hardly surprising because the idea of a two-state solution was a ruse; a mere smokescreen to buy time and put more Palestinians away in Israeli jails so that they are not in a position to ‘make trouble’ for Israel. And the reason for this is not far fetched.

President Obama had the opportunity of a lifetime to make the difference but demurred at the last minute; at last year’s session of the United Nations General Assembly, President Obama created the impression that the battlefield, not the United Nations, was the right place to resolve the Arab Israeli crisis when he literally dismissed the world body as an arbiter. By insisting that the United Nations was not the right place to effect a two-state solution, Obama, in effect, confirmed fears that many things are fundamentally wrong with US decision making process. As a result, American allies, both in the Middle East and Western Europe, dazed by this criminal about-turn have been left in a lurch. And it is perhaps only Obama, whose forebears in Kenya and the United States endured very bloody decolonization wars, who is blind and deaf to the possibility, in the words of former French president, Nicholas Sarkozy, ‘of an upsurge in global terrorism’.

As to be expected, radical Palestinian groups such as Hamas and their sympathizers, long anathemic to the concept of a two-state solution should feel fulfilled and justified in their seemingly daunting task to delete Israel from the map of the world. After all, they have been told by another US president that might is right and being good students of history, the radical elements in the Arab world are aware that no amount of hours spent around tables would give them a home. They know too well that had Ben Gurion and his band of Zionist land grabbers fallen for the sweet talk of the British, they probably would still be wandering in Europe, homeless like the Gypsies, and not as lords of the manor in the Middle East. Hamas and others are aware that what is left of Palestine today will continue to shrink and could disappear within the next decade, going by the ongoing criminal land grabbing policy of the Jews, if they choose not to emulate the fighting Jews of the early twentieth century. Sadly, fighting remains about the only option they are left with to erase the perception that Palestinians are an invented people.

And where does all this leave Mahmoud Abbas, aka Abu Mazen, chairman of the Palestinian Authority? After the thunderous applause he received for his moving speech at last year’s session of the United Nations General Assembly, Abu Mazen returned home to another tumultuous welcome. If anything, his speech at the UNGA session helped to launder his flagging image at home and abroad. But nothing has changed; the only change is that the Jews have become even more daring in expropriating the lands of their Palestinian cousins. And talking about moving speeches, Abu Mazen does not come close to his predecessor, Yassir Arafat. One year after the Yom Kippur war, Arafat, in the same hall his successor made his moving speech last year told his audience that he came bearing an olive branch and a freedom fighter’s gun and appealed: ‘Do not let the olive branch fall from my hand.’

If you are in need of olive trees, the Middle East is the right destination to head to. In Jewish-occupied Palestine, olive trees sprout anywhere and everywhere. But the symbolism of olive branches is lost on illegal Israeli settlers on Palestinian lands. While Arafat and moderate Palestinian leaders, including Abu Mazen, continue to dangle branches of olive trees, their antagonistic cousins, the Jews, assisted by their government and complicit Western countries are spurning peace overtures by practically uprooting olive trees in their thousands. Aside denying Palestinians a source of income, the symbolism of uprooting olive trees is a clear message that, for Palestinians, the prospect of Salaam in the Middle East is still far off.

* BROUGHT TO YOU BY PAMBAZUKA NEWS

* Please do not take Pambazuka for granted! Become a Friend of Pambazuka and make a donation NOW to help keep Pambazuka FREE and INDEPENDENT!

* Please send comments to editor[at]pambazuka[dot]org or comment online at Pambazuka News.

*Abdulrazaq Magaji, a historian, lives in Abuja, Nigeria, and can be reached at magaji777@yahoo.com .


Hurricanes and Individualism: lessons from historic Sandy

Horace G. Campbell

2012-11-22

http://pambazuka.org/en/category/features/85528


cc T R
Hurricane Sandy, coming fast and furious after the numerous storms of this century, is one more wake-up call for humans to retreat from the wrong headedness of private accumulation of wealth.

Tropical storm Sandy swept through from the Caribbean up the Eastern Seaboard of North America in the last week of October 2012. The date is itself important because by the end of October, it had been expected that the Hurricane season was over. But this massive Hurricane called a ‘super storm’ swept through the Caribbean and struck an area of one thousand mile radius on the Eastern Seaboard of the United States. More than 69 persons were killed in the Caribbean but the western world did not pay attention until this storm hit the most densely populated areas of North America. When the winds died down more than 119 persons had lost their lives in the United States with many of the victims killed by falling trees. More than 8 million people were left without electric power in the New Jersey and New York area after punishing winds and destructive floods brought the great tri-state area of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut to a standstill.

When Hurricane Sandy landed in New Jersey and hit New York City, the world was exposed to the realities of rising sea temperatures. As the center of international banking, finance, media and the infamous New York Stock exchange (NYSE), what affected New York affected the world. For many stockbrokers, the major catastrophe lay in the fact that the trading on the stock market floor was suspended for two days. The business of conjuring wealth in the form of creating derivatives had to take a temporary backseat as nature asserted itself with another warning to humans that the present social system must be changed.

The superlatives that described this ‘historic storm’ did not lead the mainstream media commentators to ask deeper questions about the relationship between global warming and the basic ideation system that guides our everyday human activities. The hurricane pointed to the fallacy of the ideas of building houses everywhere without concern for the wrath of nature. The ideas of possessive individualism of western culture had run wild with neo-liberalism unfurling extreme ideas about the role of the individual. Cities have been built around commerce, financial institutions, industry and the communities to serve finance /industry and not the other way around. Those with money had the right to the city and those without property were either outsiders or lived in areas with very little protection against the elements.

For the majority of Africans at home and abroad, the ideas of private property are anathema because when capitalism and free enterprise began in the world, African peoples were considered as property. Individualism, the organization of life for the protection of property and individual accumulation of wealth over community, were considered hallmarks of ‘progress.’ Property took precedence over the well-being of society as a whole. Petroleum companies and those involved in the production of coal have been arguing against the realities of Global Warming and have used the power of international finance to block international agreements to combat global warming. With their millions of dollars these oil conglomerates silenced politicians who refuse to seriously discuss the need for alternative energy sources. Hurricane Sandy coming fast and furious after the numerous storms of this century is one more wake up call for humans to retreat from the wrong headedness of private accumulation of wealth.

It was more than 24 years ago, on June 23, 1988, when the noted scientist, James Hansen, testified before the US Congress that ‘the Earth had entered a long-term warming trend and that human-made greenhouse gases almost surely were responsible.’ James Hansen had noted that global warming ‘enhanced both extremes of the water cycle, meaning stronger droughts and forest fires, on the one hand, but also heavier rains and floods.’ Dr. James Hansen is one of the world's leading climate scientists. He had warned that the world had passed a tipping point in relation to Global Warming. The tipping point has been reached so that the more we cross the closer we get to the point of no return, ‘where amplifying feedbacks create runaway climate change. In this possible future, the chaotic mix of rising sea levels, extreme storms, floods and droughts, would lead to ecological collapse, ultimately making our planet uninhabitable.’ Bill McKibben had carried forward this work by drawing attention to the fact that we have crossed the red line and it will not be possible to avoid cataclysmic climate events such as Hurricane Sandy. In Africa where the poor have witnessed devastating droughts, floods, forest fires and daily signs of global warming, new organs such as the Pan African Climate Justice Alliance have joined with the global environmentalists to mobilize against the destructive patterns of the extractive industries in the global South.

We will argue this week that Hurricane Sandy is one more reminder that we are in the era of ecological collapse and only drastic transformations will repair the planet earth and our ability to escape catastrophic events such as Hurricane Sandy.

HURRICANES AND THE MESSAGES

The indigenous peoples of the Americas, especially the Tainos, were keenly aware of the powers of the storms and they were humble enough to recognize the powers of nature. The Taino word for storm, hurrican, has been handed down to us through the Spanish conquistadors who decimated these peoples in their expeditions to the Americas. These tropical storms that are called hurricanes emanate from an intense, rotating oceanic weather system that possesses maximum sustained winds exceeding 119 km/hr (74 mph). It forms and intensifies over tropical oceanic regions. In short, hurricanes are fueled by hot ocean surface temperatures. The scientific evidence has been clear for the past twenty years that temperature in the Atlantic Ocean has been rising. There is mounting information that the Atlantic Ocean is about five degrees Fahrenheit hotter than usual this fall (September through December 2012).

Over the centuries as humans began to develop the capabilities to measure the intensity of these storms, they have given categories to these storms according to the wind speed. Hence a Category 1 Hurricane is one with a wind speed of 74-95 miles per hour. The Saffir–Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale categories for hurricanes are:
1. 74-95 MPH
2. 96-110 MPH
3. 111-130 MPH
4. 131-155 MPH
5. 156-up MPH

In recent years the deadliest Category 5 Hurricane had been Hurricane Katrina where over 1,800 persons lost their lives in the United States.

MANY LESSONS FROM HURRICANE KATRINA

This storm of the 2005 Atlantic hurricane season had crossed from the Caribbean into Florida as a Category 1 Hurricane and strengthened to a Category 5 hurricane over the warm Gulf waters. This storm weakened before making its second landfall as a Category 3 hurricane on the morning of Monday, August 29, 2005 in southeast Louisiana. This major Hurricane caused severe destruction along the Gulf coast from Central Florida to Texas. Hurricane Katrina pointed out the fallacy of the neo-liberal policies of the George W. Bush government that had called on citizens to take ‘personal responsibility’ for their own evacuation. The Republican Party had even called for the abolition of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). In the 2012 election cycle, Mitt Romney, the candidate for the Republican Party, argued that FEMA should be handed to the private sector.

Under this policy of ‘personal responsibility’ in the Katrina manmade disaster, most of the 1,800 persons who lost their lives and livelihoods were the black and very poor of Louisiana, especially the city of New Orleans. On top of the unnecessary deaths of the poor, the failure of an engineering system that was not designed for Category 5 hurricanes exposed the technical limitations of the claims of the United States to be a super power. Nineteenth century ideas about engineering and flood protection ensured that the most significant number of deaths occurred in New Orleans, Louisiana, which flooded as the levee system catastrophically failed. Many older citizens had heard stories of the great Mississippi flood of 1927 that affected millions of people in the South. Racism had been so pronounced that law enforcement officials had used the poor blacks as levees so that white citizens could flee the flood. The book by John Barry, Rising Tide the Great Mississippi Flood of 1927 and How It Changed America had chronicled the devastation of that flood and its impact on the politics of the United States.

Seventy-eight years later in 2005, Hurricane Katrina registered itself as another historic occasion demanding a rethink of the conception of the organization of society. Hurricane Katrina had been a wakeup call about individualism and the free enterprise system. In 2012, seven years after Hurricane Katrina, one other feature of the aftermath of this storm has been the ways in which private developers had turned this catastrophe into a profitable enterprise to move an entirely new class of persons into the best properties in New Orleans. Thousands of poor and black citizens from this historic city can never return to their homes as the linkages between individual wealth and reconstruction were laid bare in the ongoing gentrification of New Orleans in the aftermath of this disaster.

LESSONS FROM CUBA ON DISASTER MANAGEMENT

Comparisons can now be made between the Caribbean islands and the United States in their response to hurricanes. Hurricane Sandy had swept through Jamaica, Haiti and Cuba before ravaging the Bahamas leaving over 69 deaths and destruction to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars. However, the peoples of the Caribbean had been able to minimize the large scale deaths that had been witnessed in New Orleans in 2005 because disaster management had been taken seriously in most of the islands. Cuba, in particular, has demonstrated in Hurricane Rita in the same period (2005) that the government had to develop robust measures for evacuation and preparation for massive public health measures. The Caribbean societies have known since the period of the indigenous peoples that disasters such as hurricanes must be met by state planning with emergency management and medical response systems. These societies understand that hurricanes cannot be handled at the level of the individual and that the management of disasters is a measure of the seriousness with which a government is prepared to look after its citizens. The Cuban model of disaster preparedness is now so well known that the Mayor of New Orleans travelled to Cuba in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina to learn from the Cuban leadership in the management of disasters. International non-governmental organizations have invaded Haiti and have crippled the ability of the Haitian people to respond seriously to disaster management. Hence, when Hurricane Sandy swept through the Caribbean last week, the bulk of those who lost their lives in the Caribbean were in Haiti.

Hurricane Sandy created death and destruction in all parts of the Caribbean but the world woke up when the storm hit the USA. The storm worked its way through the Caribbean when an Arctic jet stream wrapped itself around this tropical storm to create an unprecedented weather event.

HISTORIC STORM – WE HAVE PASSED THE TIPPING POINT

Usually, by the end of October, the Hurricane season dies down as the cooler temperature tone down the ferocity of the winds as the storm enters the Northern Atlantic. However, with the warmer seas and the changing climate, this Hurricane gathered intensity as the warm sea surface temperatures pushed the winds that converged with a winter storm. Scientists had warned that fiercer and more-destructive hurricanes will sweep the Atlantic Basin in the 21st century as climate change continues. According to meteorologists, Sandy was a rare event where two weather systems merged. From the insights of noted scientists we have learnt that: ‘rising temperatures will give hurricanes warmer oceans to feed from, and more moisture to dump on us, making them more destructive.’

This observation going back over the past seven years since Hurricane Karina have been reinforced by the prediction that ocean temperatures will keep rising and blocking patterns will become more frequent. Hurricane Sandy was one example of this blocking pattern. Scientists are now writing that Hurricane Sandy occurred when an Arctic jet stream wrapped itself around a tropical storm. Hence North Americans witnessed the bizarre event of a snow storm in West Virginia while next door there was a tropical storm unleashing massive floods up and down the Eastern seaboard of the United States. In the words of the scientists, ‘There are at least three factors which made Hurricane Sandy historic: 1) Warm sea surface temperatures, 2) a ‘blocking pattern’ shoving the storm back on shore, 3) a merger with a winter storm.

What made the storm especially destructive was its enormous size, at least 1,000 miles in diameter. The prolonged high winds and storm surges, coupled with the full moon on Monday October 29 night that increased high tides, all contributed to the massive, almost unprecedented flooding over such a wide area.

The destruction in the urban areas of New York and New Jersey has been plain for the world to see. All the major media houses in the United Sates operate from New York so the evidence of the devastation was graphically relayed all over the world.

GLOBAL WARMING AND INTERNATIONAL RESPONSIBILITIES

The scale of the destruction of the City of New York has forced the Governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo, to openly state that the issue of Global Warming has to be engaged by US policy makers. Both Michael Bloomberg , the Mayor of New York, and Governor Cuomo spoke boldly about the realities of climate change and that there will be more super storms; such as Hurricane Sandy. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said there should be more conversation about ‘a systemic solution long-term, because this is really a long-term issue. It’s a longer conversation, but I think part of learning from this is the recognition that climate change is a reality, extreme weather is a reality, it is a reality that we are vulnerable.’

‘Climate change is a controversial subject, right? People will debate whether there is climate change … that’s a whole political debate that I don’t want to get into. I want to talk about the frequency of extreme weather situations, which is not political … There’s only so long you can say, ‘this is once in a lifetime and it’s not going to happen again.’

‘The frequency is way up. It is not prudent to sit here, I believe, to sit here and say it’s not going to happen again,’ Cuomo continued. ‘Protecting this state from coastal flooding is a massive, massive undertaking. But it’s a conversation I think is overdue.’

African people and the peoples of the Caribbean can only say Amen to this statement. They can ask where Cuomo and Bloomberg were when the US government was blocking discussions on global warming in the debates at Copenhagen and Rio. Andrew Cuomo, as the Governor of the State of New York, was making a case for the Federal Government to come up with billions of dollars for reconstruction. This case could not be made as a technical one; it needed the clarity from environmental justice forces that a new ecological infrastructure can only come out if a new protracted struggle against the oil and gas companies who spend millions to deny the existence of global warming.

RECONSTRUCTION AND RENEWAL

Governor Cuomo has spoken of the billions of dollars that will be needed to repair New York and for the building of storm barriers for lower Manhattan. Engineers and construction magnates are salivating on the new business opportunities that will come from this disaster, but with this capitalistic mindset, these leaders are asking the wrong questions. Slowly, city planners in the United States are wrestling with the weighty issues of the building of surge barriers and tide gates as storm surge research groups look to the planning that is going on in places like London, Rotterdam, Hamburg and Tokyo, where sea walls, levees and wetlands, flood plains and floating city blocks have been conceived.

There have been many seminars and conferences by engineers on how to deal with storm surges and how to develop the scientific and engineering information base needed to evaluate storm surge barrier concepts. I will agree that in the short run these engineers need to meet, but the more fundamental question lies in a global response to Global Warming. The United States cannot combat global warming by reference to its engineers and its capital markets. If, indeed, we have passed the tipping point and there will be more cataclysmic events, then there will be a fundamental challenge to the free market ideas that convey power to developers to build everywhere and to bribe city planners so that building permits are granted for capitalists to build and endanger the lives of innocent citizens.

The entire international system of markets has been built on the model of the urban planning and the priorities of New York City. Hurricane Sandy struck New York and called on humans everywhere to reconsider their relationship with Mother Earth.

WILL HUMANS LISTEN?

Environmental justice activists will need to intensify their work and build networks in order to change this social system that places individual greed and private property over the interests of community. From the Global South the environmentalists have been mobilizing against the catastrophic climatic changes that have been threatened the livelihood of millions. From Africa, the basic information of global warming is being suppressed by the oil and gas companies who are extracting petroleum resources without basic regard for Africans as human beings. The activities of the Shell Oil Company in the Niger Delta of Nigeria have been chronicled as ‘criminal.’ While the battles against Shell Oil has taken a legal form, there are numerous formations in all continents who are going beyond legal challenges to be able to register new forms of politics to call for system change not climate change.

All over the world the realities of global warming have pointed to the pressure to transform the way we interact with nature and use energy. Global warming is real and the evidence as marshaled by scientists is incontrovertible. Concerned citizens will be called upon to mobilize to hasten the development of alternative energy sources while strategizing for the building of a new ecological infrastructure that suits the needs of humans. Already, activists have been working to educate others to stand up to the oil companies. This is a global struggle because Global warming does not discriminate. International cooperation must be the call to share experiences so that humans can transcend these old ideas about individualism and ‘personal responsibility.’

* BROUGHT TO YOU BY PAMBAZUKA NEWS

* Please do not take Pambazuka for granted! Become a Friend of Pambazuka and make a donation NOW to help keep Pambazuka FREE and INDEPENDENT!

* Please send comments to editor[at]pambazuka[dot]org or comment online at Pambazuka News.
* Horace Campbell is Professor of African American Studies and Political Science at Syracuse University. He is also a Special invited Professor at Tsinghua University, Beijing. He is the author of the forthcoming book, ‘Global NATO and the catastrophic failure in Libya’.


Liberal capitalism, crony capitalism and lumpen development

Samir Amin

2012-11-21

http://pambazuka.org/en/category/features/85513


cc S A
Liberalism creates nothing, in the peripheries of the Global South that agree to submit to it, other than a crony capitalism based on a Comprador State in opposition to the National State committed to sustainable economic and social development.

A. ‘LIBERAL’ CAPITALISM OR CRONY CAPITALISM?

Liberal (or neoliberal) capitalism, proposed and imposed without alternative solutions, is based on seven principles, which are considered to be valuable for all societies of the globalised world.
1. The economy must be managed by private companies as they alone conduct themselves naturally as agents operating under the demands of open competition. This is in fact beneficial to society and ensures economic growth based upon the rational allocation of resources and the fair remuneration of all elements of production - capital, labour and natural resources. Consequently, if as an unfortunate legacy of ‘socialism’ any assets such as productive enterprises, financial institutions, urban or agricultural land are owned by the state, they must be privatised.

2. The labour market must be liberalised, ‘authoritarian’ minimum wage setting (and sliding pay scales a fortiori) must be abolished. Employment law must be reduced to minimal regulations ensuring the morality of human relations between employer and employee, with trade union rights limited and controlled to this effect. Wage hierarchies resulting from private and free negotiations between employers and employees must be accepted, such as the sharing of net national income between earned and capital income resulting from it.

3. So-called public services - education, health, or even the supply of water and electricity, housing, transport and communications - where they have been provided by public agencies (state and local authorities) in the past - must also be privatised as much as possible. Their cost must be borne by individuals who are the beneficiaries and not covered through tax.


4. Fiscal function should be reduced to the minimum necessary to cover only state functions (public order and national defence in particular); tax rates must remain relatively moderate, so as not to discourage private initiatives and to ensure that reward is guaranteed.

5. Credit management must be assumed by private interests, allowing the unrestricted interaction of credit supply and demand to develop on a rational monetary and financial market.


6. Public budgets must be designed to be balanced and without deficit, bar those of a circumstantial and short-term nature. If a country suffers from a structural deficit due to past legacy and denial of that legacy is desired, its government must commit to reforms that reduce the extent of it as quickly as possible. Meanwhile, the deficit must be covered through borrowing on the domestic or foreign private capital market.

7. The six principles in question must be implemented not only at the level of all nations of the globalised world, but also in international relations, at a regional (for example the EU) or global level. Private foreign capital must move freely and be treated on an equal footing with local private capital

Together these principles constitute ‘liberal fundamentalism’. I will remind us at this point of the inconsistency of premature hypotheses and such a framework's lack of accordance with reality. Very briefly, it has never been proven through logical reasoning that the free play of general markets, even on the (unrealistic) extravagant assumption of the existence of so-called transparent competition, would produce a balance between supply and demand (which moreover, would be socially optimal). On the contrary, logical reasoning leads to the conclusion that the system shifts from one imbalance to another without ever seeking to obtain equilibrium. The successive imbalances in question are produced because this theory (which defines conventional pseudo-economics) excludes the conflict of national and social interests from its scope of investigation. Moreover, these assumptions describe an imaginary world which has no relation to the contemporary system that actually exists, which is a capitalist system of finance-driven, globalised monopolies. This system is not viable and its current collapse proves it. I refer here to my developments on this radical critique of the system in question and of economic theory.

When implemented worldwide, the principles of liberalism create nothing, in the peripheries of the ‘Global South’ that agree to submit, but a crony capitalism based on a Comprador State, in opposition to the National State committed to sustainable economic and social development. Crony capitalism (and no other form is possible) thus does not produce development, but rather a lumpen-development. The example of Egypt, to be examined in the following section, provides a fine example of this.

B. CRONY CAPITALISM, THE COMPRADOR STATE AND LUMPEN DEVELOPMENT: THE CASE OF EGYPT (1970-2012)

Successive Egyptian governments, from the inauguration of the Sadat presidency (1970) until the present day, have diligently implemented all principles proposed by liberal fundamentalism. What resulted from this has been the subject of reliable and accurate analyses, which have drawn the following indisputable conclusions:

1. The Nasserite plan to build a nationalist developmental state produced a model of state capitalism that Sadat pledged to dismantle, as he told his US representatives (‘To hell with Nasserism, socialism and all that nonsense. I need your support in overcoming it’ - support which needless to say was freely obtained). State-owned assets - industrial, financial and commercial enterprises, agricultural, urban and even desert land - have thus been ‘sold’.

Who to? To crony businessmen and those close to the government, that is, senior officers, high-ranking officials and rich merchants who returned from exile in the Gulf countries equipped with cool fortunes (in addition to political and financial support from the Muslim Brotherhood). But also to Gulf ‘Arabs’ and to foreign companies in the USA and Europe. At what price? At ridiculous prices, incomparable to the real value of the assets in question.

This is the manner in which the new Egyptian and foreign ‘owning’ class has been established and it fully deserves to be described as crony capitalist (rasmalia al mahassib, an Egyptian term to denote this which is understood by all). A few remarks:

a). Property granted to the ‘army’ has transformed the character of the responsibilities which it exercised in certain areas of the productive system (that is, ‘the army factories’) which it managed as a state institution. These powers of governance became the powers of private owners. Furthermore, in the course of privatisation, the most powerful officers also ‘acquired’ numerous other state assets such as property; commercial chains, urban and peri-urban land and housing estates in particular.

b). Egyptian opinion describes all these practices as ‘corruption’ (fasad) on the grounds of morality, thus assuming that a justice system worthy of the name could combat them successfully. Much of the left itself makes a distinction between this ‘corrupt’ condemnable capitalism and an acceptable and desirable productive capitalism. Only a small minority understand that when the principles of ‘liberalism’ are accepted as the basis for any so-called ‘realistic’ policy, there cannot be anything other than capitalism in the peripheries of the system. There is no such thing as a bourgeoisie establishing itself alone, on its own initiative as the World Bank would have us believe. There is a Comprador State which is active behind the creation of these colossal fortunes.

c). These Egyptian and foreign fortunes were amassed through the acquisition of existing assets, with no or only negligible additions to productive capacity. The ‘foreign capital investments’ (of Arab and other origins), which, as a matter of fact, are modest, are part of this framework. The deal was sealed with the establishment of private monopoly groups which would henceforth dominate the Egyptian economy. Inversely, we are far from the healthy and transparent competition of the praiseworthy liberal discourse. Moreover, the majority of these colossal fortunes consist of real estate assets; holiday villages (‘marinas’) on the coasts of the Mediterranean and the Red Sea, new neighbourhoods, Latin American-style gated and guarded compounds (previously unknown in Egypt), desert land usually destined for agricultural development. These plots are retained by their owners who speculate on their resale (value) after the State has covered the staggering costs of infrastructure that makes them attractive (and these costs were obviously not factored into the selling price of the land)…

2. The monopolistic positions of this new crony capitalism have been systematically reinforced by allowing these new billionaires to have almost exclusive access to bank credit (including for the ‘purchase’ of the assets in question) at the expense of granting loans to small and medium-sized producers.

3. Such monopolistic positions have also been reinforced by colossal state subsidies. For example, those granted for oil, natural gas and electricity consumption by the factories purchased from the State (cement works, iron and aluminium metallurgy, textiles and other industries). And yet the ‘free market’ has allowed these enterprises to raise their prices so as to adjust them to those of any competing imports. The logic of public subsidies which would compensate for inferior state sector prices is broken for the benefit of private monopoly superprofits.

4. Real wages for the vast majority of unskilled and semi-qualified workers have deteriorated as a result of the laws of the free labour market and the fierce repression of collective action and trade unions. They are now set at rates much lower than those of other countries of the Global South with a similar per capita GDP. Private monopoly superprofits and impoverishment go hand in hand and result in the continued aggravation of inequality in the distribution of wealth.

5. Inequality has been consistently reinforced by a tax system which denied the principle of progressive taxation. This low taxation for the rich and for corporations, praised by the World Bank for its so-called virtues of investment support, has simply resulted in the growth of superprofits.

6. These policies overall, implemented by the Comprador State at service of crony capitalism, produce only feeble economic growth (of less than 3 percent) and consequently, increasing levels of unemployment. When unemployment figures were somewhat better, it was wholly due to the expansion of the extractive industries (oil and gas), a better situation regarding their prices, and to growth from the Suez Canal charges, tourism and remittance from migrant workers abroad.

7. These policies have also made it impossible to reduce the public deficit and that of the external trade balance. They have led to continuous deterioration of the value of the Egyptian pound, and have imposed a soaring domestic debt. This gave the IMF the opportunity to impose ever-increasing respect for the principles of liberalism.

C. IMMEDIATE SOLUTIONS

These solutions are not the work of the author of this article, who was happy to simply collect them from the leaders of the movement's components - parties of the left and national democratic centres, trade unions, various youth and women's organisations, etc. A considerable, high-quality study was conducted for more than a year by these activists, who are responsible for formulating a common program responding to immediate requirements. Their formulation (repeated here) has already been the subject of various publications, including that of our colleague Ahmad El Naggar. The salient points that I have retained are as follows:

1. Transactions relating to the sale of public assets should be subjected to systematic questioning. Detailed studies - the equivalent of a good audit - are in fact available for many of these transactions and for prices corresponding to the value of the specified assets. Given that the ‘buyers’ of these assets have not paid these prices, ownership of the acquired assets must be legally transferred, following an audit ordered by the courts, to public limited companies, with the State as a shareholder equal to the difference between the actual value of the assets and that paid by buyers. The principle is applicable to all, whether these buyers are Egyptians, Arabs or foreigners.

2. The law must fix the minimum wage, at the level of 1200 LE per month (or 155 Euros at the current exchange rate, the equivalent purchasing power of 400 Euros). This rate is lower than in many countries with a GDP per capita similar to that of Egypt. The minimum wage must be associated with a sliding scale and the trade unions responsible for monitoring its implementation. It will be applied to all activities of public and private sectors.


Given that the beneficiaries of the free price-setting, that is the private sector, that dominate the Egyptian economy have already chosen to situate their prices closer to those of competing imports, the measure can be implemented and will only have the effect of reducing the margins of monopoly revenues. This readjustment does not threaten the balance of public accounts, bearing in mind the savings and the new tax legislation proposed further on. The proposals made by the movements concerned will be reinforced by adopting the maximum wage of 15 times the minimum wage.

3. Workers’ rights - the conditions of employment and loss of employment, working conditions, insurance plans for health/unemployment/pensions - should be subject to a major tripartite consultation between unions, employers and government. Independent trade unions built through the struggles of the past ten years must be legally recognised, including the right to strike (which is always ‘illegal’ in the current legislation). A ‘survival benefit’ must be established for the unemployed, in which the amount, the conditions of access and the funding should be subject to negotiations between the unions and the State.

4. The enormous subsidies granted to private monopolies by the budget must be abolished. Yet again, the detailed studies conducted in these areas show that abolishing these benefits does not undermine the profitability of the activities involved; however it reduces their monopoly profits.


5. New tax legislation should be brought in, based on the progressive taxation of individuals and a 25 per cent increase in the rate of taxation of profits for businesses which employ more than 20 workers. Tax exemptions granted with extreme generosity to Arab and foreign monopolies must be abolished. The taxing of small and medium-sized businesses, which are currently often heavier (!), must be revised downward. The proposed rate for the upper brackets of personal income – 35 percent - also remains small by international comparison.

6. A precise calculation was carried out which demonstrates that all the measures proposed in paragraphs 4 and 5 can not only eliminate the current deficit (2009-2010) but can also as generate a surplus. The surplus will be used to increase public spending on education, health and social housing subsidies. The reconstruction of a public social sector in these areas does not impose discriminatory measures against private activities of a similar nature.

7. Credit must be placed under the control of the Central Bank. Extravagant facilities granted to the monopolies should be withdrawn for the benefit of extending credit to small businesses in operation, or those that could be created in this perspective. Detailed studies have been conducted on the domains involved and all craft, industrial, transport and service activities. It has been shown that candidates willing to take the initiative in creating businesses and jobs exist (particularly among unemployed graduates).


8. The proposals made by the components of the movement remain less clear regarding the peasant question. The reason being that the small-scale farmers’ resistance movement against accelerated expropriations remains fragmented since the current ‘modernisation’ policies of the World Bank were adopted, and never goes beyond the village concerned - especially because of the fierce repression it is subjected to and its lack of legal recognition.

The demand of the current movement – which admittedly, is mainly urban - is simply for laws to be adopted making it more difficult to evict farmers who are unable to pay the rents demanded from them, and more difficult to confiscate from small-scale property owners in debt. In particular, it advocates a return to legislation fixing the maximum farm rents (this was deregulated by successive laws focusing on land reform).

But it should go further. Progressive agriculturalist organisations have produced concrete, well-argued plans ensuring the development of the small-scale farmers. These include improved irrigation methods (drip system etc), choices of rich and intensive cultivation (vegetables and fruits), upward liberation of input and credit suppliers from state control and downward creation of marketing cooperatives for products associated with consumer cooperatives. Yet strengthened communication between these agricultural organisations and the small-scale farmers involved remains to be established. The legalisation of actual farmers’ organisations and their federation at provincial and national levels should facilitate progress in this sense.

9. The plan of immediate actions recapped in the preceding paragraphs would certainly begin to stimulate healthy and sustainable economic growth. The argument put forward by liberal critics – that it would ruin any hope of new capital investment from external sources - does not hold. The experiences of Egypt and of other countries, particularly in Africa, who have agreed to fully comply with the stipulations of liberalism and have abandoned their own autonomous development plans are not ‘attracting’ foreign capital, in spite of their uncontrolled opening up (and precisely because of it). Foreign capitalists simply content themselves with raiding the resources of the countries concerned, supported by the Comprador State and crony capitalism. As a counterpoint, emerging countries that actively implement national development projects offer real opportunities for foreign investors that then agree to take part in these national projects, as they accept the constraints imposed on them by the National State and the adjustment of profits to reasonable rates.

10. The government in Cairo, composed exclusively of members of the Muslim Brotherhood chosen by President Morsi, immediately declared its unconditional adherence to all principles of liberalism, it has taken measures to accelerate implementation and has deployed all means of repression inherited from the former regime to this end. The Comprador State and crony capitalism continue! Public awareness of the absence of change is growing, as attested by the success of popular demonstrations on the 12th and 19th of October. The movement continues!

11. The proposal of immediate demands which I have largely retraced here concerns only economic and social elements of the challenge. Of course, the movement also discusses the political side: the draft constitution, democratic and social rights and the necessary assertion of the ‘citizens’ state’ (dawla al muwatana), in contrast with the proposed theocratic state (dawla al gamaa al islamiya) of the Muslim Brotherhood. These issues have not been addressed here.

* BROUGHT TO YOU BY PAMBAZUKA NEWS

* Please do not take Pambazuka for granted! Become a Friend of Pambazuka and make a donation NOW to help keep Pambazuka FREE and INDEPENDENT!

* Please send comments to editor[at]pambazuka[dot]org or comment online at Pambazuka News.

* Samir Amin is director of the Third World Forum.

* This article was translated from French for Pambazuka News by Natasha da Silva.


IGAD strategy for Jubbaland breaks up Somalia

Mohamud M Uluso

2012-11-21

http://pambazuka.org/en/category/features/85520


cc A W
Designated a ‘failed state’ Somalia’s problems lie partly in the geopolitical strategy of Somalia’s neighbours for managing the liberated areas from Al Shabab, which compartmentalizes the Somali territory, politics and devalues citizenship.

Besides terrorism threats, the federal government of Somalia faces other threats emanating from three different but self-reinforcing sources. These threats would derail the achievement of peace, stability and self governance in Somalia.

The first threat is what the former national security advisor of President Jimmy Carter Administration, Dr. Zbigniew Brzezinski called ‘the geopolitically most endangered states.’ He argues that the security and sovereignty of weaker states located geographically next to major regional powers is at risk if the US power declines because the international stability depends on the international status quo reinforced by America’s global preeminence. Somalia typifies the most endangered state of all. The source is the geopolitical strategy of Somalia’s neighbors for managing the liberated areas from Al Shabab, which compartmentalizes the Somali territory, politics and devalues citizenship.

Ethiopia plays dual roles; first is the overall coordination of IGAD strategy and secondly is the lead role for the local entities of Somaliland, Puntland, Khatumo, Galmudug, Himan and Heeb, Ahlu Sunna Wal Jama, and Bay and Bakol (South West). The entities of Middle Shabelle, Lower Shabelle and Benadir are left for Uganda and Rwanda. Kenya and Ethiopia share the lead role for Jubbaland area. Djibouti shares the lead role with Ethiopia in Dohada Shabelle (Hiiran) area. Clan militias are trained for each area by Ethiopia or the lead country or by foreign security company. The federal government forces and the AMISOM forces are trained and funded by US and European Union without transparent and sustainability considerations.

WHAT IS THE ROLE OF THE SOMALI FEDERAL GOVERNMENT?

A consortium led by the United Nations political office for Somalia (UNPOS) manages the Federal Government with the help of AMISOM forces (Uganda and Rwanda). Another consortium led by IGAD (Ethiopia, Kenya and Djibouti) manages the Federal Member States (FMS) - myriads of clan based entities, with the help of Ethiopian and Kenyan forces operating under their governments’ direction. The federal government has no effective role in the security, financial and political planning and decisions on Somalia made in Addis Ababa, Nairobi and New York. These parallel regional and international interventions are to exacerbate the fragmentation of Somalia.

The second threat is the sabotage of the international support for rebuilding Somalia. The source is the scholars who are promoting the ‘hybrid-government or mediated state model’ of governance for Somalia. This model frees donors from the moral and political responsibility as it provides the legal avoidance of supporting the state building agenda which requires the combination of nationally owned plan with massive foreign assistance. Those scholars prescribe a placebo to Somalia diagnosed with terminal cancer symptoms. Thus, Somalia is subjected to a discriminatory approach compared to the successful approaches (treatment) applied to many failed states in other parts of the world.

DISUNITY INSPIRES THE PC

The third threat is a continuous political paralyzes. The source is the divisive Provisional Constitution (PC) embedded in the Somali politics. The foreign driven federalism under the slogan to overcome clan injustices and conflicts is feeding clan divisions and political conflicts. Although the federal parliament started amending or suspending some of the PC provisions like 7 (3) (international boundary dispute), 67 (dissolution of parliament), 89 (election of president), and 135 (mandates and timelines for priority institutions and independent commissions), the PC inspires chaos, citizenship dispute and disunity.

The Somali people remember the flourishing of officially entombed tribalism which finally dismantled without trace the Somali state. They have seen the horror of civil war, the Green Line in Mogadishu and the one now existing in Galka’io, the secession of Somaliland, the Khatumo and Himan and Heb states’ drive to stand separate from Puntland and Galmudug States respectively.
The clan-caused injustices that have plagued Somalia cannot be overcome through clan federalism. If there is one truth recognized by the international community at the end of the constitution making process in Somalia is the admission that the proposed federalism is an issue that has not been settled among Somalis. Thus, the invocation of federalism for establishing the administration of Kismaio city and district is premature and without credible ground. What is more dangerous is the empowerment of clan militia for local democratic administration given the Somali experience.

The PC assigns the responsibilities related to establishing local administrations, foreign affairs, national security and defense, immigration and citizenship, and monetary and fiscal policies to the federal government. Indeed, local authorities are constitutionally prohibited from having any working relationship with foreign actors outside the federal government institutions. In exercising its responsibilities to lead, represent and defend the national unity and public interests, the federal government must respect the democratic process and norms which are antithetical to the concentration of power in the capital Mogadishu or in the hands of the central authority.

THE POWER OF FOREIGN PATRONS

However, the federal government faces the reality that the regional authorities, rebel movement leaders and forces are influenced by their foreign patrons like IGAD and not by the spirit and content of the PC and sense of patriotism. I’m glad I offered my views about the right path for the constitution making process in Somalia to secure genuine national reconciliation, public support, loyalty and common understanding about the political framework for rebuilding the national institutions. At the end, the United Political Office for Somalia (UNPOS) published officially the PC and the guide book to the PC .

The wrangling over the roadmap for establishing administrations at the city, district, regional, state and federal levels in Lower Jubba, Middle Jubba and Gedo regions mostly still under Al Shabab control proves my criticisms against the PC. The President and the Prime Minister are now under relentless attack by critics motivated by clan perceptions after the president claimed leadership role in the internal and external affairs of Somalia, including Jubbaland and reiterated the charcoal ban imposed by the UN Security Council. With regard to the charcoal, the expected action of the federal government was to send a delegation to Kismaio, take stock of the charcoal inventory, its value, the identity of the exporters and importers, the tax surcharge, modalities of payments and money transfer and discussion with the local population so that it can develop policy options. Armed with that information, the federal government was supposed to engage the UN Security Council for a satisfactory resolution of the matter within the legal framework in place. Unfortunately, the federal government has been deprived of that opportunity after the federal delegation was turned back from Kismaio airport by the Kenyan forces. The Somali public opinion on the incident has been summarized by Amin Amir’s cartoon.

The PC recognizes the eighteen (18) regions and their districts which existed on January 1991. It directs the federal government to make sure that the requirements of the constitutional provisions are complied with by all before the formation of federal member states. Thus, establishing the administrations of the 18 regions and their districts has priority over the discussion about FMS. Appointments of temporary respected leaders are more favorable than the rush to perpetuate crisis.

The end of the transition period and the ratification of the PC have been built on the understanding that the majority of Somalis have embraced and internalized the deliberations of the national reconciliation conferences and shared transitional governments during the last 12 years for a better future of all Somalis. As symbols of the end of transition, the federal government must be able to appoint a task force team working in each region alongside the local authorities and to assume the control of ports and airports of all Somalia. These measures would enhance the hope for the revival of shared national government.

Clan based federalism is a failure. Many independent researchers have extensively and conclusively illustrated the failure of the ethnic based federalism adopted by Ethiopia in 1995. It is a waste of time, opportunity and energy for the Somali people to undertake such a failed experiment considering the incompatibility between clan perspectives and the citizenship perspectives and the obligations enshrined in the PC. Common identity above clan identity must be the focus of the ‘national government’ at all levels. Change of the endemic opportunistic culture is key to a bright future for Somalia.

* BROUGHT TO YOU BY PAMBAZUKA NEWS
* Please do not take Pambazuka for granted! Become a Friend of Pambazuka and make a donation NOW to help keep Pambazuka FREE and INDEPENDENT!
* Please send comments to editor[at]pambazuka[dot]org or comment online at Pambazuka News.

Mr. Mohamud M Uluso can be contacted at mohamuduluso@gmail.com


ANC lacks internal democracy

William Gumede

2012-11-21

http://pambazuka.org/en/category/features/85518


cc K M
Democratic participation by the rank and file of the ANC in the December national leadership conference is a charade. A genuinely open system in which members are able to choose quality candidates must be introduced.

The way in which the ANC elects its president is deeply flawed, is skewed towards churning out poor quality leaders and turns members and supporters into frustrated and impotent bystanders.

Firstly, the 4500 voting delegates that will vote for the ANC president at the party’s upcoming December 2012 national conference are not representative of ordinary ANC members and supporters, let alone the country.

Currently every branch has one vote (this rise to two or three if it is a large city branch) at the ANC’s national conference. Each branch sends one voting delegate (or 2 or 3 if it is a large branch) to the ANC’s national conference, to vote on behalf of the branch.

The voting delegate usually sent by the branch is often one of the most senior branch leaders: either the secretary or the chairperson of the branch. Furthermore, the branch secretary or chairperson is usually either an elected representative such as a mayor or local councilor or a senior civil servant, or a prominent businessperson doing business with the government.

This means the voting delegates coming from the branches would normally be the ANC’s establishment. The voting delegates therefore are most certainly unlikely to be your ordinary ANC supporter: working class, unemployed, or those in economic distress. Neither are they the type that will be using the lethargic public hospitals, send their children to ineffective state schools, or one of the majority who daily risk their lives using minibus taxis to go from one point to the other.

PRIVILGED ANC ELITE VS RANK & FILE

In fact, there is a deepening social gap between the ANC’s leaders who in most cases live in luxury far remove from the daily grind of ordinary ANC supporters and members. This is for example, why the Marikana explosion could happen in Rustenburg, with the ANC’s local (Rustenburg) branch leaders there caught totally caught off guard (off course the ANC national and provincial leaders were also flatfooted).

Many of the voting delegates coming from the branches will be conflicted as they will instinctively vote for the current president or national leaders, on whom they depend on for retaining their and government jobs and government tenders. Many would naturally fear that voting for a new president may mean the end of their party and government jobs as councilors or their supply of government tenders.

Voting at branch level for who should be the branch’s candidate for the presidency is mostly by a show of hands, not secret ballot. It is not hard to imagine that an ordinary member at branch level who votes “against” the presidential candidate preference of the local leadership will be isolated: meaning unlikely to get a job, RDP house or government contract.

TRANSPARENCY LACKING

In the current ANC system branch membership records are kept by branch secretaries. This means branch secretaries can conveniently make the membership of members, who disagree with their choices of candidates or policies, disappear – and so make them illegible to vote - at branch annual general meetings. For another, since the branch secretaries keep membership records they could easily stack meetings with allies whose membership cannot be independently verified.

Audits of ANC branch membership are done by the office of the ANC general secretary – not by an independent outside institution. If the general secretary is running for re-election, he or she is obviously conflicted. The real danger then is that the sitting general secretary wanting re-election may penalize branches suspected of opposing his or her re-election, by finding reasons to make the dissident branches ineligible to vote. The sitting general secretary running for re-election could also prop up non-functioning branches that favour him or her for re-election.

THE POWER OF “PRE-SELECTION” & DEPLOYMENT COMMITTEES

In the ANC’s internal election process nominees for the ANC presidency is usually pre-selected by a small, shadowy, and elite group. The ANC’s national deployment committee often plays a key behind the scenes role in the pre-selection of ANC presidential candidates, nominees or selection deals.
These pre-selected presidential nominees are then “presented” to the ANC provinces and branches to “select” their preferred candidates from.
The idea of deployment committees which not only exist at national level, but also at provincial and municipal levels, undermines the ANC’s internal democracy.

Exactly who the elite group that pre-select ANC presidential nominees and how they come up with their decisions is covered in a veil of secrecy. Not only is the group that pre-selects who should stand as ANC presidential candidates too narrow, the choices of presidential candidate nominees “presented” to provinces and branches are obviously far too limited.

ANC deployment committees often pre-select favoured candidates not only for leadership within the ANC, but also for positions at all levels of government and sometimes even tenders.

These deployment committees are often dominated by the faction in national control of the ANC – since the 2007 ANC Polokwane national conference – Zuma. In the last local elections, deployment committees pre-selected candidates that would be ANC local councilor candidates and mayors.

VOICES OF ANC MEMBERS DO NOT COUNT

Zuma’s inner ANC coalition that brought him to power at the ANC’s 2007 Polokwane national conference has now disintegrated. There is now a fierce battle between the now divided Polokwane Zuma coalition for control of these deployment committees.

Presidential candidates who pre-selected nominees will not make any inroads. This was the case with Tokyo Sexwale ahead of the 2007 ANC Polokwane national conference, where he stood as presidential candidate, but was not “approved” as a nominee. Branches and voting delegates were encouraged not to endorse a Sexwale presidential nomination.

The fact that the branch delegates send to the ANC’s national conference are mostly senior local ANC leaders linked to government or government business means that the voice of ordinary members and supporters in reality do not count for much.

We see public protests at local level against poor public services, indifferent public representatives and official corruption almost daily now. Most of these protests are by ANC members.

One of the reasons for them venting their anger in the streets – often violently, is because they have, as ordinary ANC members, little power in their branches to hold their local ANC leaders, who in most cases are the local councilors, accountable through branch meetings.

Some members even vent their frustration in their inability to influence the policies and leadership elections of their local ANC branches by violently attacking local ANC councilors.

The reality is that for Kgalema Motlanthe and the “Anyone but Zuma (ABZ) campaign to change the branch delegates from voting for the incumbent president will need them to be individually reassured that they will be re-appointed as councilors or their new government contracts will be renewed, even if they are ineffective as public representatives, corrupt or do not deliver on government contracts.

NEED TO MODERNISE & DEMOCRATICISE PROCESSES

Clearly, the whole flawed internal ANC electoral process encourages corruption.
The decisions on who should be pre-selected to be nominated for the ANC presidency and who vote on them is a closed system, inaccessible to ordinary ANC members and supporters.

The ANC urgently needs to modernize, democratize and renew its internal workings or face becoming wholly ossified.

The elements of such a modernization program must include opening the ANC leadership elections, so that every individual member or supporter, affiliate organization or tripartite alliance partner can nominate a presidential candidate. Any ANC member should be able to avail him or herself for the presidency.

Nominated presidential candidates compete at a provincial level through competitive elections, in the same way US party candidates compete against each other. A system could be introduced whereby nominated candidates must be able to have a minimum number of verified nominations, let’s take an arbitrary figure of say, 1000 individual ANC members.

The winners of the provincial voting contests must then compete in a national contest. The presidential candidates must publicly debate their policy positions, and then all ANC members must vote in their individual capacity, not through branches. Such new system would be like the US primary system, or the method introduced by the French Socialist Party last year, which gave all members and supporters and chance to vote for the party’s presidential candidate.

In such a new system, every ANC member must be able to vote in their individual capacity, not through a branch, or through sending a proxy to a national conference.

President Jacob Zuma’s acumen has been that he knows how to use the current opaque internal electoral system of the ANC to his own advantage. Furthermore, being the sitting president, Zuma has the added advantage of being able to use state power, institutions and patronage to reinforce his own power in the ANC. Zuma can use his control of state patronage to sideline would-be critics, opponents and rivals, by either barring them from state jobs or contracts or rewarding them.

SYSTEM ENTRENCHES PATRONAGE

In the current internal electoral system of the ANC, even if ordinary ANC members and supporters want to replace Zuma as leader, they will find it an uphill battle.

In general elections, most ANC members vote for the ANC as a movement, not for the individual ANC leader. Therefore, even if an ANC president is unpopular among broader society, he or she only has to be able to manage or control the internal electoral college of the ANC – and that person will be elected the country president because ANC members mostly vote for the movement, the so-called “collective”, not the individual leader.

The very obvious short-coming of the ANC’s current electoral college is that it does not measure leaders on their ability to manage the country, government or ANC well; but on whether they will be able to reward the ANC electoral college, the party establishment and whether they will be able to ensure influential factions are provided with patronage or at least left alone to accumulate wealth.

This means that unless the ANC modernize, renew and democratize its internal election process, it will produce leaders that will keep the ANC’s establishment happy, but who will be ineffective in governing a complex country, with complex problems, operating in an increasing complex world.
Clearly, the ANC internal “democracy” when it comes to leadership election is dangerously flawed, and unless the ANC introduces genuine democracy into its internal election process, it will continue to produce flawed leaders.

The big question is at what point becomes the social distance between the ANC’s leaders, whether at branch, provincial or national level, and its members and supporters so deep, that the supporters don’t identify with the leaders anymore and as a consequence don’t identify with the party itself anymore, and won’t vote for the ANC anymore? For now, the disconnect between the ANC’s leaders and its ordinary members and supporters have not been translated into the ANC losing elections.

MARIKANA REFLECTS ESTRANGEMENT FROM THE MASSES

However, the Lonmin Marikana mine explosion may be the tipping point, which has showed that the social distance between the ANC leaders and ordinary supporters may be now so deep that it may translate into the ANC losing votes dramatically in the next general elections.

The Marikana crisis was a manifestation of the social gap between the leaders of the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) and ordinary becoming so great that the ordinary miners could not identify with their leaders and trade union anymore and therefore sought leaders and established a new organization, the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union.

Clearly, the social gap between the ANC leadership and ordinary members has now become such a gulf that many ANC members may not be able to identify themselves with both the leaders and party anymore. A case in point is Zuma’s building of a R200m compound with taxpayers at his Nkandla homestead, while villagers living in the area live in dire poverty. Yet, astonishingly, the president and ‘communist’ leaders such as higher education minister Blade Nzimande cannot see anything wrong with this.

Unless there is change in the ANC’s leaders, including replacing Zuma as president, the ANC may fragment, just as happened with the NUM at the Marikana mine: we may see more frustrated ANC members standing as independents at local level, breakaway ANC provincial parties forming at provincial level, and more Congress of the People (COPE)-like breakaways at national level.

* BROUGHT TO YOU BY PAMBAZUKA NEWS

* Please do not take Pambazuka for granted! Become a Friend of Pambazuka and make a donation NOW to help keep Pambazuka FREE and INDEPENDENT!

* Please send comments to editor[at]pambazuka[dot]org or comment online at Pambazuka News.

* Prof William Gumede is author of the recently released bestselling Restless Nation: Making Sense of Troubled Times, Tafelberg
A shorter version of this article appeared in the Sunday Independent, 18 November 2012, Johannesburg


Randela: Coining the icon

The new bank notes bring the legacy of Nelson Mandela full circle

Jared Sacks

2012-11-22

http://pambazuka.org/en/category/features/85525


cc G P
Many people who are critical about the legacy of Nelson Mandela have beeb outraged by the South African Reserve Bank's decision to place his iconic image on the South African paper currency. Some say Madiba is being appropriated by capitalists and government officials.

Not to understate the willingness of our government to shamelessly exploit 'the father of the nation', Madiba's image can now be found not on just one note, but on all five South African rand notes. We may have indeed forgotten that there are a few other struggle heroes worth acknowledging! What's more, hold your new bank note up to the light and you will see a hidden watermark of Nelson Mandela ensuring that you have a brand new authentic Randela. No fake back-scratching here; Governor Gill Marcus has elevated our very own Jesus/Ghandi/Luke Skywalker to an even higher level in modern society: the patron of capital’s 'invisible hand'.

Given that, by now, nearly the entire country has already seen the new South African bank notes featuring one Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, it is strange that the Reserve Bank actually finds it necessary to advertise the edition. One advertisment I came across proclaimed: 'New banknotes as unique as Nelson Mandela himself”. As if the complex persona of any human being can actually be reduced to something as shallow and commonplace as paper money. Not to be coy with shameless self-promotion, Marcus is reported to have said that Madiba "is delighted, very excited about it,” design and all!

And what if he did not approve? In public, Mandela has consistently criticised the way others have elevated his persona to that of a living saint. A reluctant messiah akin to Monty Python's Brian. And to be sure, the desire for a messiah runs deep. One of the real weaknesses of the United Democratic Front and 1980s trade union movement was precisely this reliance on Mandela and other struggle icons as our saviours.

Yet why then would Mandela permit himself to become South Africa’s Julius Caesar, the first Roman emperor to be immortalised on currency?

Many of us who are critical about the legacy of Nelson Mandela were irked and even outraged by the South African Reserve Bank's decision to place his iconic image on our paper currency. Some say that Madiba, as an icon of the anti-apartheid struggle, a fearless freedom fighter who spent years in prison in the name of achieving the yet-to-be-implemented Freedom Charter, is being further appropriated by capitalists and government officials to serve a wholly different agenda.

Adorning the new Kruger rands to boost AngloGold; being wheeled out for the World Cup final endorsing Sepp Blatter and his FIFA cartel’smoney spinning merry go round;;, and legitimising greed and materialism at Cape Town's Waterfront and Sandton Johannesburg's Nelson Mandela Square, Madiba's legacy has seemingly been twisted into something quite different than what he supposedly stood for during the struggle.

It is one thing for non-profits to use Mandela's legacy for good (the Nelson Mandela Children's Fund or the 46664 campaign) say some critics. Yet it is another to make a profit off our most loved struggle icon. Madiba has become a brand, misused for the pursuit of profit rather than the benefit of all South Africans.

Cynics like writer Benjamin Fogel immediately noted the irony arising from the use of Randelas in the form of drug consumption or a visit to one's local strip club. He remarked to me that we may soon be hearing poignant slang such as: “Yo! One hundred 'dibas for yo trick to suck me? Right?” and “Ek het twenty 'dibas vir jou tik!”

But who is Nelson Mandela, the man behind the image? Who is the real person, not the legend?

Those who lament the appropriation of Madiba's image do not realise that the Randela is the crowning fulfilment of Nelson Mandela's political philosophy.

Despite reports that Mandela was a secret member of the SACP early on in his career in the ANC, and contrary to the National Party's strategy of whipping up anti-communist hysteria, Mandela was leader of the then openly anti-communist ANC Youth League which later formed a strategic alliance with the SACP. As a 'Young Lion', he was found making pro-capitalist statements as far back as the 1950s. Throughout most of the struggle, he really just considered himself a nationalist. And despite his remarkable courage and principle as a leader against apartheid, by the time he entered into back-door negotiations with the apartheid government, Mandela was already advocating a 'third way' – economic liberalism underpinning a semi-welfarist agenda.

In other words, with the support of the likes of Cyril Ramaphosa, Thabo Mbeki and Joe Slovo, and in the name of 'compromise', Mandela's economic agenda became a solid embrace of capital. The economy was liberalised, government services were outsourced, and the interventionist Reconstruction and Development Program (RDP) morphed into the staunchly laissez faire macroeconomic strategy of Growth Employment and Redistribution commonly known as GEAR. In fact, knowing that rank and file ANC and trade union activists would resist the implementation of the Growth Employment and Redistribution Framework, Mandela made sure he presented it as “non-negotiable” thereby short-circuiting all debate within the tripartite alliance.

After 1994 ,Mandela worked tirelessly to ensure that South Africa was investor friendly . He followed the economic prescriptions of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank, and pandered to foreign money, some of which was directly complicit in apartheid profiteering. The implementation of Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) during his tenure as president was meant to build a loyal black national middle class with whom these culpable foreign firms could do 'guilt-less' business in the name of developing the nation.

Yet, there was also another core reason for the implementation of BEE as a supplement to the liberalisation of the economy. While liberalisation was meant to stabilise the rand and make the South African economy safe for capital, BEE was implemented to stave off discontent amongst the masses by co-opting the most upwardly mobile black South Africans, particularly leftist trade union and ANC leaders into the capitalist class.

Poor black South Africans were sidelined from the radical leadership that had been built up throughout the 1980s. People's politics was therefore demobilised by BEE and other programs that empowered key cadres from the ANC, South African Communist Party (SACP), the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) and South African National Civic Organisation (SANCO).

The combination of liberalisation and BEE oriented policies has been far from successful in building a happy, healthy, safe and caring society. With around 40 per cent unemployment, millions of South African families living in shacks and dispossessed of their land, and a failing healthcare and education system, we are nowhere near the benchmarks laid by the ANC's own Freedom Charter.

Under this spotlight, the post-1994 era was not a revolution; instead, it was a grand compromise between white capital (with Cecil John Rhodes as its icon) and prospective black capital (with Mandela as its icon) – hence Mandela Rhodes Place, an appropriate name for a hotel in downtown Cape Town. This era staved off the revolution and closed off spaces of liberation that were built up, and which flourished, during the liberation struggle.

It is therefore quite fitting that our currency has now married the rand (the core symbol of South African capitalism) with Mandela (the icon of South Africa's political transition to a liberal capitalist democracy). The Randela, makes perfect sense to anyone who is able to distinguish the rhetoric from the actual policies of Nelson Mandela and the ANC. The Randela is the culmination of the recklessly excessive post-apartheid free market policies presided over by Tata Madiba.

It is high time that we begin to dismantle the myth of Nelson Mandela. He is not our Madiba any longer even if there was value in his role against apartheid. He is now our Randela: an icon of money and freedom for those who can afford it. The Randela will be a symbol of massive inequality on a scale unknown throughout the world – except perhaps in neighbouring Namibia. and a representation of a country that is being legally raped by huge BEE-certified mining conglomerates – even via Mandela's very own grandson's involvement in Aurora Mine.

In fact, the irony here is telling: Mandela's very own Grandson, Zondwa, and President Zuma's nephew Khulubuse, have left mineworkers out to dry when their Aurora Empowerment Systems went into liquidation. For two years, the pair have refused to pay their own workers the 'dibas they deserved and are currently facing criminal charges, while at the same time letting their hired thugs such as the notorious Big Brother "Bad Brad" gun down workers demanding decent pay.

Say what? Only 70 Randelas per day is the wage of a Western Cape farmworker! Whom else than Randela can be labelled as the new face of South African inequality and oppression?

* BROUGHT TO YOU BY PAMBAZUKA NEWS

* Please do not take Pambazuka for granted! Become a Friend of Pambazuka and make a donation NOW to help keep Pambazuka FREE and INDEPENDENT!

* Please send comments to editor[at]pambazuka[dot]org or comment online at Pambazuka News.


* Jared Sacks is a Cape Town-based social justice activist. He is also a founder of the non-profit organisation, Children of South Africa.


A stream cannot rise above its source

Financing of Africa’s regional integration

Janah Ncube and Achieng Maureen Akena

2012-11-21

http://pambazuka.org/en/category/features/85519


cc E W
Who funds the African Union? Africans can not champion their own solutions when they can’t pay for them. Financing Africa’s unification by outside sources endangers genuine development and self-respect.

On Monday 15 October 2012, Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma began her tenure as the Chairperson of the African Union Commission (AUC). Her election at the African Union (AU) July 2012 Summit preceded a long drawn and somewhat not so fluent appointment. Her election ushered in the first female Chairperson of the African Union Commission (AUC) and its predecessor the Organisation of African Unity. The election’s controversy unfortunately, overshadowed other important issues that were discussed and decided upon by this Summit. Of great concern to us is the funding of the AU which is the key driver of Africa’s integration and developmental agenda.

The July 2012 Summit also approved the 2013 Budget of the African Union totalling USD277 million with contributions as follows:

• AU Member States: $122.8 million (44 per cent)

• Development Partners (Donors): $155.3 million (56 per cent)

• Total Budget: $277.1 million

Of the amount that the African governments are contributing, only $5.3 million goes towards programmes of the AU while 96% goes to operational costs. This amount is actually 1.9% of the total budget. The total operational cost is covered by the Member States. [1] For the programme’s budget, the table below illustrates that the cost of programming at the AU is borne by external donors. [2]

Programme costs for key AU institutions such as the Pan African Parliament (PAP), the Human Rights Commission (ACHPR), the African Court (AfCHPR), NEPAD, the Commission on International Law (AUCIL), the Anti-Corruption Board and the Committee on the Rights and Welfare of Children (ACRWC) are all being paid for by donors. In fact, there is no allocation at all from Member States towards costs for the ACRWC which has a mandate to promote and protect the rights of children in Africa. The newly constructed AU Offices and Conference Center facility were solely financed by the Chinese government at USD$200 million and the office building being constructed for the Peace and Security Council being financed by the Germany government at 26.5 million euro are also worth mentioning here.

HE WHO PAYS THE PIPER CALLS THE TUNE

While it is commendable that the operational costs are wholly covered by AU member states, it is quite disturbing that the integration and development agenda for this continent is being paid for by foreign resources. Who then, is really in charge at the African Union? Who decides what initiatives and developmental projects are to be embarked on? If our continental institutions and even our governments themselves obtain a majority of their funding from external donors, then, who really drives the African agenda? Who defends Africa’s interests in the global arena where these donors have great influence? During the AUC elections for the Chairperson, representatives of member states complained that there was some manipulation by some foreign governments – with such a picture, this would not be surprising. If someone is paying most of your bills why act surprised when they think its up to them to decide what goes on in your home?

The graph below illustrates how the AU cash inflows have transpired for 2011 and 2012. It had to operate with little over half of the required (budgeted) amounts. Due to the global economic downtown, donors only came up with 42% of what was expected from them. Is it wise to have the continent so beholden to donors?

The state of financing of the Union also calls into question the commitment to building a strong and viable institution when the AU functions each year with only 50-60% of its required finances. This inhibits its capacity to fulfil on its mandate and assist member states to meet the aspirations of African peoples. If it hurts to spend money on Africa we will continue undeveloped, poor, weak and beholden to those who toss their crumbs to us and strip us of our natural resources.

AFRICAN SOLUTIONS TO AFRICAN PROBLEMS?

The AU has to wait on external funding before it can respond with peacekeeping missions to countries in crisis. 2011 saw several such situations such as Côte d’Ivoire and Libya. In both situations, the AU was unable to respond adequately or provide peacekeeping forces, and received heavy criticism for it, particularly from within the Continent. Even though there is change of leadership at the AUC, the new Chairperson may not respond any differently to crises situations if there are no resources to deploy the African standby force. 2012 has the situations in Mali, Somalia, Eastern DRC and Guinea Bissau to deal with, the growing insecurity in the Sahel region as a whole, as well as the persistent scourge of the rebel LRA forces which are causing displacement across 3 countries in central Africa. We can not champions our African solutions when we can’t pay for them.

A TREE IS KNOWN BY ITS FRUIT

There is, currently, deep frustration among the citizenry of the continent who watches their leaders bi-annually fly huge delegations to AU Summits and bear costs for their government. government officials attend numerous AU meetings and conferences, and yet there does not seem to be any obvious results from the AU. The AU not being able to fulfil its mandate hampers continental integration. It really does seem like the Regional Economic Communities like ECOWAS, SADC and EAC are more visible, relevant efficient and independent. One wonders why they would be willing to be subsumed into a seemingly weaker continental institution. One wonders how African Citizens are expected to be known and be inspired by an AU whose results they don’t see.

WHO IS PAYING UP?

Only five (5) countries contribute two thirds of the portion from AU member states. These are the so called “big five” and only 2 were paid up by mid-2012. If 5 out of 54 countries contribute 66 per cent and the majority 48 countries contribute 34 per cent what happens when one of these five countries fails to pay as Libya did in 2011 and 2012? In fact, Gaddafi in 2011 withheld Libya’s contribution to the AU because he was not pleased with the lack of progress on trajectory to the United States of Africa. When one of these five countries doesn’t pay up, the AU feels that pinch.

Only 11 (20 per cent) of the 54 Member States had fully paid their contributions by mid-2012 with 19 countries owing for the current year and 24 (44 per cent) having arrears from previous years. So when our countries do not pay up, how exactly is the AU supposed to operate? At this same Summit while reviewing the report of the NEPAD Planning and Coordinating Agency, the African Heads of States ‘deplored the low level of annual contributions from Member States for funding the NEPAD Agency operations with the implied continued reliance on Development Partners which hampers the Agency’s delivery and infringes on African ownership of the NEPAD agenda’. Whom exactly were our Heads of States and Governments so strongly criticising except the countries they lead? Where is the sincerity in this? If it hurts to spend the money we will not see any development taking place! How can NEPAD deliver when its not resourced?

Donor funds are not all about hidden agendas (although many times its about their interest) they are also about international collaboration, faith in a strong AU (Africa), sense of responsibility towards Africa due to historic baggage. These are much appreciated but they cannot be our main source for funding our integration agenda. The current state of funding at the AU accentuates our concern, that Africa remains accountable to its donors and not its peoples and makes hollow the commitments to transform the AU into an institution that is people-centred.

HOW SERIOUS ARE WE ABOUT THE AU?

In a context where member states are failing to contribute to the program cost, the AU has managed to secure some funding to run these programs, indeed this is commendable. But does the availability of sources from donors discourage member states from taking responsibility of their own initiatives? Is it that we do not take the AU seriously? Could it explain why since 1963, only 25 treaties out of the 42 adopted at the AU have come into force. And even those in force, the implementation at the national level is minimal and unfelt. Our national governments fail to comply with the African Union’s decisions on integration, development and people’s rights. The lack of accountability systems monitoring the compliance of each African state has lead to the slow ratification and implementation of numerous African Union instruments. In the mean time, the gap between policies and reality keeps expanding. There are huge inequities between the urban and rural, rich and poor people; 2 out of every 5 men and women die of infectious diseases, 1 in 16 women dies at child-birth and 44 out of 54 countries currently import 25 per cent of their food needs and over 300 million people are denied the right to food.

IF YOU HAVE WEALTH, YOUR VOICE IS LISTENED TO

Out-going Chairperson Dr Ping at his last address to the Executive Council of Ministers in July 2012 pointed out that the AU has little legitimacy in claiming marginalisation in global politics when it is unable to be self- sustaining and depends on donors to support its programmes. How legitimate is the ownership of the AU by member states? As citizens it frustrates us when we see African solutions and proposals being despised and ignored by the West; we saw it in Libya for instance and yet it is Africa that pays the prize when the west intervenes with their solutions for their interests. We recognize that the crisis in Mali for instance is a consequence of Libya. Africa’s voice remains weak and a whisper in the global arena and the AU which was set up to consolidate our voice and enable us to project Africa based on our synergies depends on the same international community to do its work.

AFRICA, IT’S TIME TO PUT YOUR MONEY WHERE YOUR MOUTH IS!

Our continent faces increasing numbers of people living in deplorable conditions, unacceptable levels of underdevelopment after five decades of independence, high unemployment, high maternal mortality just to mention a few ills. We need to develop good infrastructure that not only connects our countries but connects farmers to markets so we can begin to feed ourselves and not import food when we have large tracts of agricultural land and most of our people as farmers.

If our governments and heads of states and governments are serious about tackling poverty, growing our economies and ensuring Africa catches up with the 21st century why is there no equivalent action in terms of funding for the AU? If all the time spent in these Summits, the talk, speeches, debates are not being backed up by money then surely our talk is cheap. Its time African governments put their money where their mouths are. Africa should take responsibility of the institutions Africa has created. Don’t just talk, talk and back that talk with money. A stream cannot rise above its source. If you expect results, effectiveness and efficiency at the AU, release the resources!

IT’S TIME TO LOOK INWARDS, AT WHAT AFRICA HAS

Africa has great wealth, oil, gold, diamonds, wood, coltan, water, agricultural land, gas, precious stones, young people and yet we are so poor every year we go to bow to the Chinese, the Europeans for more loans. Its time to clean up our act and re- organise how we utilize and manage our resources. Our natural wealth should not enrich a few but benefit all.

The first place to start is with dealing with corruption. Since 2000, Africa is loosing close to USD50 billion annually with a large portion of this from the extractive industries. The AU-Anti Corruption Board which was set up to look into such issues is incapacitated and needs member states to support it and not donor funding. Former President Thabo Mbeki is leading a High Level Panel looking at the illicit flow of finances from Africa. Recommendations from this panel need to be implemented.

In 2011 the AU established a High Level Panel on Alternative Financing which is led by former President Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria. The Panel has made recommendations for possible financing options for the AU, for example from levies on international travel and imports. This is highly commendable as the implementation of its recommendations will go a long way to providing sustainable ‘own’ resources for the AU. Although this does not absolve our countries from ensuring that we pay for our integration agenda, its benefits are desperately needed on this continent.

CONCLUSION

Paying for our institutions is about self respect. Africa paying for the AU will prove our seriousness about making African institutions work for Africa. The AU exists as a mechanism that helps us drive our collective development and a better life for African peoples. This better life for all will remain a dream if the river source is not opening up and pouring its waters to the streams that water our development. It’s time to take the AU seriously, its time for Africa to resource its institutions.

For more information on issues raised in this article please contact:
Centre for Citizens' Participation on the African Union (CCP-AU) Tel: +254-20-3877508 Fax:+254-20-3877663 Email: info@ccpau.org Web: www.ccpau.org Twitter: @Citizens4Africa

END NOTES


1. The total operational budget is US $117.4 million.
2. The overall budget for programmes is US $160.7 million.

* BROUGHT TO YOU BY PAMBAZUKA NEWS

* Please do not take Pambazuka for granted! Become a Friend of Pambazuka and make a donation NOW to help keep Pambazuka FREE and INDEPENDENT!
* Please send comments to editor[at]pambazuka[dot]org or comment online at Pambazuka News.

* Janah Ncube @JanahNcube is the Executive Director of the Centre for Citizens’ Participation on the African Union and Achieng Maureen Akena @achiengakena is a Policy Analyst with the Open Society Foundation’s AU Advocacy Programme. The views expressed in this paper are their own.


Namibia: Bridging the gap in healthcare provision

Moses Magadza

2012-11-22

http://pambazuka.org/en/category/features/85526


cc M L
The new health extension worker programme has been successfully implemented in several countries and its supporters are optimistic that it will help Namibia fill gaps in its over-stretched health system.

OPUWO – At 26 years of age Vemupomanda Tjivinda commands a lot of respect among his fellow Himbas, a community of pastoral nomads that roam Namibia’s hard-to-reach Kunene region with their goats and cattle in search of water and grazing.

Tjivinda is one of 34 young Himba men and women who have just graduated as Namibia’s first health and extension workers after undergoing comprehensive training in the provision of Community Based Health Care Services (CBHCS) under an initiative spearheaded by the Namibian Government with the financial and technical support of UNICEF, USAID and other development partners. Dr Richard Kamwi, Namibia’s Minister of Health and Social Services, launched the programme, which is being piloted in Opuwo for a year to reduce maternal mortality and the deaths of children under the age of five from preventable diseases among the Himba.

Tjivinda’s Omukuyu Village is a mountainous, sparsely populated area nearly 900 kilometres from the capital Windhoek.

After six months of training, Tjivinda is confident that he has acquired vital knowledge and skills to save the lives of women and children in his village which has neither a radio signal nor cell phone network coverage and has bad roads.

Since the health workers will interact with people at the grassroots level during the course of their work, they have been trained on how to enter households and respect traditional beliefs. They have been taught basic first aid; how to stop bleeding, and how to fix a broken bone, arm, or leg.

‘I know what to do in cases of poisoning andshock, and how to perform resuscitation. We were taught about maternal and natal reproductive health. I know the danger signs when a woman is pregnant,’ Tjivero says during an interview while on one of his rounds in his village.

Dr Stephanie van der Walt was one of the instructors for the health extension workers. She says that the graduates were trained to ask, observe and then act. When they work with women they look for signs of ill-health such as swelling of the hands, feet or face.

‘If there are any of the danger signs, they refer them to a health facility. If not, they give health education. We help communities start thinking about a birth plan, antenatal clinics and start planning ahead for the coming of the baby. During training we covered all the minor and preventable illnesses in child health,’ the doctor says.

When dealing with children, the health extension workers also look out for ear, nose and throat problems as well as other danger signs which include lice, dehydration, convulsions or fits. They check the child’s nutritional status, immunisation card and growth charts to determine whether the child is growing well and if the child is fully immunised. If not they refer and give health promotion for the caregiver to make sure that the child is going for proper immunisation.

Tjivinda explains that their programme included training on HIV/AIDS, TB and malaria as well as issues related to social welfare and disabilities. It touched on social grants for people aged 60 years and older, elderly abuse in the community, domestic violence, healthy parenting skills and how to take care of people living with disabilities.

The health extension worker programme has been successfully implemented in countries that include Zambia, Ethiopia, Malawi, Guatemala, and Eritrea and Kamwi is optimistic that it will help Namibia fill gaps in its over-stretched health system.

Kamwi says in spite of the improvements in the provision of primary health care services since independence in 1990, Namibia still faces major challenges especially in the efforts to ensure equitable access to health care services.

‘The disease burden of rural Namibia is basically communicable diseases, maternal health problems and malnutrition, especially in children under five suffering from preventable illnesses such as pneumonia, diarrhoea, malaria, malnutrition and others. These can be prevented through implementation or delivery of existing cost effective interventions at community or household level or through family oriented community based services.’

As the Health Extension Workers (HEW) programme gets underway in Opuwo, each of the HEWs is expected to attend to 250 people within a radius of 40 kilometres over the next year. Van der Walt says although the HEW will be deployed in their own villages, they will travel on foot because many of the places inhabited by the Himba are too difficult even for all-terrain vehicles. Bicycles would not work because most areas are sandy.

However, the programme enjoys the full backing of the government, local officials and traditional leaders. One of the new HEWs is the son of Himba Chief Tjambiru, who attended the graduation.

Hon. Josua Hoebeb, the Governor for Kunene region has also welcomed the programme, saying that his hope is that it will support the communities in his region of approximately 81,400 people and prevent them from falling sick. He is pleased to learn that the programme will focus on prevention and promotion of health, adding that it is not easy to provide health services to the Himba people because they often retreat into the mountains with their cattle. The HEWs have been trained to follow them wherever they go.

Van der Walt says the HEW programme has elevated the status of the HEWs within their communities. ‘They have gained skills and confidence to take care of other people’s health. They are the stars now and are respected in the community.’

Ms Micaela Marques De Soussa, the UNICEF Representative to Namibia says the HEW programme will bridge the gap between the haves and have nots in terms of bringing basic quality health services to the communities.

‘The skills gained by this cadre of committed men and women will ensure that those children and mothers, especially the poorest, the most vulnerable and those living in the most remote areas of this region are reached with essential information and quality services,’ De Soussa says.

De Soussa is conviced that with the political will of the Government of Namibia, the determination of Tjivero and other HEWs, as well as community support, the HEW programme will succeed.

* BROUGHT TO YOU BY PAMBAZUKA NEWS

* Please do not take Pambazuka for granted! Become a Friend of Pambazuka and make a donation NOW to help keep Pambazuka FREE and INDEPENDENT!

* Please send comments to editor[at]pambazuka[dot]org or comment online at Pambazuka News.




Comment & analysis

Africa? Obama was preoccupied with too many other things

Sam Schramski

2012-11-22

http://pambazuka.org/en/category/comment/85524

Though Africa did not feature much in Obama’s campaigns, it does not mean his administration has no interest in the continent of his father’s birth. But that interest has little to do with the wellbeing of Africans themselves.

‘His re-election in 2012 has generated little celebration,’ writes Harvard Professor Calestous Juma in Forbes Magazine http://tinyurl.com/csefuoz . ‘This is mainly because in the last four years Africa has learned to relate to President Obama as a leader of another sovereign state and not as a relative of whom much is expected.’

This has been the position taken by most Africa-watchers in the US, including the Kenyan academic. Strangely, Juma's language parallels that of Mitt Romney and the Republican echo chamber: the later pinned his loss less on demographic shifts in the country and debilitating freeloading that has, apparently, turned a once-proud nation of individualists into a zombie horde who are famished for tasty morsels of government handouts.

Defending Obama's foreign policy moves are no easy task for many Americans on the left - say nothing of the right, who view him as the greatest capitulator since Neville Chamberlain. There are fewer troops in Iraq than there would be under a McCain presidency and that the US will be less likely to go to war again in the Middle East (either in Syria or Iran) than it would have under a Romney presidency. A continent that has been so closely associated with the president (often for the wrong reasons, as in the rise of the Birther movement), should take solace in the fact that it isn't being treated with any less regard than most other world regions. Even the now-famous Pacific pivot that the Administration is purportedly taking is manifested most in normalized relations with Burma--not an inconsequential country, but nor is it a major cog in the geopolitical world order.

But is Africa really off the table? Billions of dollars worth of American-manufactured arms and munitions would appear to blow holes in such an argument, especially in Libya but also more generally dispersed throughout the continent. There, according to the Council on Foreign Relations, $1.1 billion was spent on an assortment of munitions, operations, supplies and humanitarian assistance (http://tinyurl.com/cfqbqt6). Many African states are awash in American-made weapons of varying destructive capabilities. Now true, relative to China Uncle Sam has neither invested in nor heavily exploited the natural and human resources of the continent for over the past two decades. In some African countries American presence is understood as a motley assortment of hormonally charged Peace Corps recruits (http://tinyurl.com/bsgjbgo), toxic electronic waste (http://tinyurl.com/yubs45), and Bible-thumping missionaries. But American foreign policy has never really abandoned Africa wholesale.

Let us think back only within the last few years, to political movements in places like Rwanda and the Ivory Coast, where the current presidencies were both supported financially and politically by the US. Or the very formation of South Sudan, which the Americans did not force into being but instead catalyzed in an aggressive stance toward its much larger northern neighbour. How about the coast of Somalia, a place where pirates roam alongside American warships? Were not the slithering tendrils of American Empire felt in these places? This is to say nothing of the non-state actors, whose numbers are hard to quantify, but whose ranks include do-gooders of varying beneficence, black market DVDs of the newest feature films, and even used t-shirts (http://tinyurl.com/ceppf7).

Even Yankee businessmen aren't in short supply if you look closely enough. As one portly fellow on a South African beach reflected on his time in Angola to me a few months back: ‘American trade is alive and well in oil and gas--just not in America.’ While fracking and to a lesser degree tar sands may render his argument moot for now, it's well-taken. In fact, most of the multinationals conducting business in the petroleum sector of sub-Saharan African are American, no matter their claims of whole ownership.

The reach of American empire is shortening if measured by investment dollars. Last year US investment on the continent was down by 18 per cent, two years after the official end of the recession, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis (http://tinyurl.com/3bdyzv4). Immigration numbers are more elusive, but it does appear that fewer immigrants of African origin have arrived on American shores since the recession. But even if President Obama had taken an interest in facilitating a different kind of African Renaissance (with apologies to Thabo Mbeki (http://tinyurl.com/3tnfvoe )), there's no guarantee he would have modified these more generalized trends.

Economic geography, a field that has been largely overshadowed by its less virtuous and decidedly non-geographic peer, informs us that Africa will continue to develop and democratize at widely different rates, and perhaps in some cases, will resist the teleological prophesies of neoliberal capitalism altogether. American foreign policy wonks don't consult geographers, but they understand this fact. The US can modify a number of its more hurtful policies, such as agricultural subsidies, and support for mining companies that offer little offsets for the impacts (environmental or social) of their work, but the appetite for that is nil in Washington. Obama won't likely react to these modifications unless a crisis demands it (say, the fiscal cliff forcing a rethink on the billions frittered away to non-productive farmers? Eh…).

If, as some policy experts argue, Obama turns to Africa for some effort to burnish his legacy, the continent of his forebears should not expect a huge sum in repayment. Even development money along the lines of the $15 billion originating from the Bush-era PEPFAR program (or the more modestly funded yet mildly ambitious AGOA) seems farfetched at this stage in the economic morass the US faces. It's not that the Administration has forgotten the continent, as President Obama's campaigning platform makes clear, it's just that it's far more cost-effective to bank off of brand image, which is generally favourable when you ask most Africans, even if his policies are not. For in the end both Birthers and vox pop Africans can agree about one thing: Obama is one of them. This kind of soft power is incalculable on a ledger, and it seems he is willing to bank on it for as long as he can.

* BROUGHT TO YOU BY PAMBAZUKA NEWS

* Please do not take Pambazuka for granted! Become a Friend of Pambazuka and make a donation NOW to help keep Pambazuka FREE and INDEPENDENT!

* Please send comments to editor[at]pambazuka[dot]org or comment online at Pambazuka News.

* Sam Schramski is a PhD candidate at the University of Florida conducting work in the Eastern Cape on climate change adaptation.


Resistance to Martelly regime continues to grow in Haiti

Ben Terrall

2012-11-21

http://pambazuka.org/en/category/comment/85515

Haitian President Michel Martelly has managed to inspire popular opposition to his regime almost since his election in May 2011.

Martelly, who came to office in a grossly unrepresentative process which excluded Lavalas, the country’s most popular party (see Counterpunch), has been closely linked with figures around former dictator Jean Claude ‘Baby Doc’ Duvalier. That in itself is enough to garner distrust among the majority of Haitians. Martely warmly welcomed the January 2011 Haitian return of Baby Doc, one of the most brutal dictators of the 20th century, after the despot’s decades of luxurious exile in France.

The demobilization of the widely feared Haitian military was probably the most popular act of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, who was twice ousted in U.S.-backed coups which Martelly supported. Martelly’s announcement in September 2011 that he intended to bring back the Haitian military was the first of many unpopular moves. Martelly also sang the praises of well-armed paramilitaries who emerged in militia camps in early 2012.

In October 2011, Martelly ordered the arrest of a sitting member of parliament, Arnel Belizaire. The president targeted Belizaire after a verbal altercation. Two of Martelly’s government ministers roughed up Port-au-Prince airport security employees after an unauthorized entry into a high-level security area during Belizaire’s arrest, in a manner reminscent of Duvalier’s Ton Ton Macoute death squad. The illegal arrest and violence resulted in popular opposition which forced Martelly to let Belizaire go free.

In early February 2012, just before carnival, Martelly marched with a band in the streets and then decided to crash an international conference at the State University’s Ethnology School. Denied entrance, Martelly’s thugs attacked students, arresting and wounding several. University property was also damaged.

In early 2012 popular sentiment grew against the announced reinstatement of the military, along with opposition to forced evictions of earthquake survivors in refugee camps. In the community of Jalouzi, impoverished people who had been living in the neighborhood for generations were given notice to leave in order to create a more pristine view for a new luxury hotel. Opposition to bulldozing of these residents led to a number of demonstrations between May and July of 2012.

Also in July 2012, veteran activists with MOLEGHAF (Movement for Liberty and Equality by Haitians for Fraternity), an organization spearheading Port-au-Prince demonstrations, were arrested on dubious charges. One of the activists was subsequently transferred to the extremely overcrowded and inhumane national penitentiary.

Martelly compounded these insults to free speech with his behavior toward reporters. In a September 2012 report, ‘The Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti’ documented ‘intimidation, threats, destruction of their media equipment and retaliation by President Martelly and his administration against progressive journalists for critical reporting, which has created an atmosphere of fear and a chilling effect on journalists’ freedom of expression.’

Corruption scandals have bedeviled Martelly. Award-winning Dominican journalist Nuria Piera broke the story in April 2012 (later reported in Time Magazine) that Martelly was alleged to have accepted $2.6 million in bribes during and after the 2010 election to ensure that a Dominican Republic construction company would receive contracts under his Presidency. When travelling, which he does often, Martelly’s entourage receives an outrageous per diem from the Haitian government. According to Senator Moise Jean-Charles, Martelly gets $20,000 a day, his wife $10,000 a day, his children $7,500, and others in his inner circle get $4,000 daily.

Questionable new taxes have also fed controversy. A $1.50 tax on money transfers and a 5 cent per minute tax on phone calls to Haiti are alleged to support education, but the poor majority continue to face unaffordable school fees, and critics say no money from this tax has gone to schools. Moreover, Haitian teachers have been marching to demand back pay. Martelly’s new taxes were not ratified by or presented to Haiti’s parliament, making them illegal. Critics also charge that these funds are being managed by a firm owned by Martelly and his close associate, Haitian Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe.

Combined with popular outrage at Martelly’s proposed changes to the Haitian constitution (see here) and the oppressive cost of living, strikes and other actions spread throughout Haiti in September and October of this year. On September 30, the anniversary of the 1991 coup d’etat against democratically elected President Aristide, large crowds took to the streets in protest against Martelly’s policies and his support of that coup.

On October 10, Haiti Liberte reported, ‘Large crowds are now calling on President Martelly to step down, accusing his government of embezzlement, waste, corruption, nepotism, drug trafficking, lying, bluffing, and failure to keep its promises.’ Cap Haitien, Gonaives, Nippes, Jeremie, Les Cayes, Petit Goave, Trou-du-Nord, Fort-Liberte, Belladere, and Port-au-Prince all experienced anti-Martelly demonstrations, some swelling to thousands of protesters, in early October. One such action occurred Oct. 4 in Petit Goave, when President Martelly inaugurated 1km of road funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). Martelly’s security guards clubbed protestors, burned motorcycles, and fired tear gas which killed an octogenarian Haitian.

More recently, in reaction to the government’s lackluster aid after widespread damage from Hurricane Sandy, activists in Grand Goave barricaded roads to show their outrage. The Movement for Liberty and Equality by Haitians for Fraternity has been holding weekly demonstrations for social justice in front of the Ministry of Social Affairs. On Thursday Nov.8, that group joined four other grassroots organizations (Platform de Employees des Enterprises Publique, Fanm Geto Leve, Rezistans Neg Geto, and Debats Jeunes) in staging a mass protest against the Martelly government. The demonstration brought thousands into the streets of Port-au-Prince. Protestors demanded an end to waste and corruption, rehiring of public employees sacked through privatization of state-run enterprises, and ‘aba gran gou woz’ or ‘down with pink hunger’ -- pink being the color of Martelly’s political party, hunger being the chronic state of Haiti’s masses. The protesters united in marching against the entire neoliberal agenda, which Haitians have been calling ‘the death plan’ since the late 1980s.

While anti-Martelly demonstrations have rocked Haiti, right wing pressure on human rights activists has escalated.

Along with pressure on journalists, among those targeted by rightists have been Mario Joseph, Newton Saint Juste, and Andre Michel, three Haitian attorneys who have been outspoken in their defense of human rights. The Haiti Action Committee recently released an alert in support of the three embattled lawyers. See [url=http://www.haitisolidarity.net/article.php?id=568]Haiti Solidarity].

An Amnesty International alert called Joseph ‘a prominent human rights lawyer who is involved in sensitive judicial cases such as proceedings against former dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier, complaints against the UN for their alleged involvement in spreading the cholera epidemic in Haiti, and cases of forced evictions of people made homeless after the earthquake.’ The Amnesty report continues, ‘As head of the International Lawyers Office (Bureau des Avocats Internationaux), he addressed the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights last July, requesting to visit Haiti to investigate human rights violations.’

When a Haitian judge dismissed political violence charges against Jean-Claude Duvalier on January 30, 2012, Attorney Joseph held a press conference denouncing the judge’s order as legally baseless and politically motivated. After the press conference, which was attended by many journalists and widely reported in Haitian media, Joseph received regular violent threats on his telephone.

The caller never gave identifying information, and always called from lines that could not be traced. The caller said ‘we are going to kill you,’ ‘we are going to put a bullet in you,’ ‘we are going to burn down the BAI office,’ or similar threats.

Joseph is now the leading lawyer for victims in the prosecution of Duvalier. The Duvalier regime killed or imprisoned tens of thousands of political opponents, while stealing hundreds of millions of dollars designated for development of Haiti’s infrastructure and economy. When Duvalier returned to Haiti in January 2011, Joseph began representing victims of Duvalier’s bloody regime and working with international human rights groups to develop international support for the prosecution.

Duvalier still has many supporters in Haiti, some of whom are armed and have a history of killing political opponents. Many Duvalier victims contacted by Joseph and his colleagues, even some living in the U.S., refuse to testify out of fear of retaliation. In September, a group of the former dictator’s supporters and lawyers closed down a press conference in Port-au-Prince, where Joseph’s clients and other Duvalier victims were scheduled to speak in support of an Amnesty International report calling for Duvalier’s prosecution.

Saint Juste and Michel are, with Joseph, among the most outspoken critics of the Martelly administration. They have also been targets of death threats at their homes and offices.

On October 17, Michel, representing 77 grassroots organizations, wrote to the U.N. peacekeeping head, Mariano Fernandez, denouncing the presence of the UN mission in Haiti. The letter read that the 1987 Constitution has been put on hold ‘because the presence of UN troops is a hindrance to its application.’

Michel and Saint Juste recently traveled to Washington to describe the situation in Haiti to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.

The two lawyers also met with human rights organizations, members of Congress and the State Department on the issue of corruption in the presidential family. Together with American lawyers, they plan to initiate prosecutions for money laundering against Martelly’s family.

Saint Juste and Michel have been key figures in attacking alleged schemes by which Martelly set up his wife and son as head of projects syphoning off large amounts of state monies, and which the Haitian senate has no jurisdiction over. St Juste has sued the Martelly family, saying they are wasting government money without any accountability.

Pierre Labossiere of the Haiti Action Committee told me, ‘Our sisters and brothers in Haiti need international solidarity as they stand up to continued attacks on popular democracy. The Martelly regime has shown what it is about, and, as the Occupy Movement would put it, the 99 per cent in Haiti have had enough of the 1 percent elites around Martelly.’

Labossiere urged concerned readers to stay in touch via www.haitisolidarity.net

* BROUGHT TO YOU BY PAMBAZUKA NEWS

* Please do not take Pambazuka for granted! Become a Friend of Pambazuka and make a donation NOW to help keep Pambazuka FREE and INDEPENDENT!

* Please send comments to editor[at]pambazuka[dot]org or comment online at Pambazuka News.

*Ben Terrall is an activist and a member of Haiti Action – www.haitiaction.org


Power of words

Developing a culture of reading will unlock Liberia’s consciousness

Robtel Neajai Pailey

2012-11-21

http://pambazuka.org/en/category/comment/85516

Reading unlocks the imagination, but it also unlocks the soul of a person. It has the potential to unlock the soul of a nation like Liberia struggling so desperately to find and define itself.

I remember my first love.

It was a dog-eared copy of ‘Breath, Eyes, Memory’, a coming-of-age story loosely based on the life of its Haitian author, Edwidge Danticat. I found it on the bookshelf of my local library, a red-brick building in the heart of Washington, D.C., with life-sized Egyptian pillars.

I was 12, and the protagonist, Sophie Caco — an immigrant from Port-au-Prince who moves to New York to reunite with her mother — gave voice to my very own story of migration. It appeared as if Danticat were speaking through me, to me, and about me, all at once. This book was the closest I could find to an authentic Liberian story while abroad, far removed from the grotesque images of war and carnage on international newsfeeds. After reading it close to 10 times, I eventually bought my own copy.

Since then, ‘Breath, Eyes, Memory’ has been replaced by a number of other loves, but none more gratifying than the love of reading. Whenever my world seems to be teetering on an edge, reading brings me back to centre. Reading gives me the vocabulary to express myself intellectually and emotionally. Reading makes me appreciate the power of words.

The old adage is true that reading unlocks the imagination, but it also unlocks the soul of a person. It has the potential to unlock the soul of a nation like Liberia struggling so desperately to find and define itself. I’m convinced that if Liberia had a culture of reading, we would develop a critical consciousness. After all, good readers make critical thinkers, and critical thinkers transform societies.

But first, we need access to books. And I don’t mean any old books. The influx of books donated by well-meaning philanthropists may be helpful for now, but what we really need are books with cultural relevance. There’s nothing more empowering than seeing one’s reflection on the pages of novels, on the covers of historical texts, or in the bylines of anthologies. And there are a number of promising initiatives that promote this kind of reading culture.

The Liberia Association of Writers (LAW), in collaboration with CODE Canada, recently started producing children’s books by Liberian artists. At the moment, LAW is collaborating with the Ministry of Education to introduce these books into the elementary school curriculum. And One Moore Book (OMB) (http://onemoorebook.com/), a publishing company established by Wayetu Moore, a young Liberian social entrepreneur based in New York, was founded in January 2011 to publish culturally sensitive children’s books for countries with low literacy rates, like Liberia. Moore and her four siblings, all artists in their own right, wrote, illustrated, and published the first series of books about Liberia.

At the end of this year, OMB will launch a Haiti series featuring Haitian writers and edited by Edwidge Danticat. And next January, OMB will publish a Liberia Signature Series, featuring veteran Liberian writers Stephanie Horton and Patricia Jabbeh Wesley. The Series will also include Gbagba — a book written by me and illustrated by Liberian artist and FrontPage Africa layout editor Chase Walker — which educates children about corruption. My goal will be to ensure that every 10-year-old child in Liberia has his/her very own copy.

I am hopeful that with initiatives like LAW’s and OMB’s, Liberian children will begin to appreciate who they are while also developing a critical consciousness about the world around them. A case in point, I recently bought children’s books written by Liberian authors for my three-year-old cousins, Mardie and T-Girl. They now carry the books to school, to bed, to the bathroom. Even though they cannot read, they make up stories from the pictures, silencing my deep alto adult voice with their loud, high-pitched children’s chatter. I can see a spark in their eyes whenever we read together.

To develop that spark of consciousness in all Liberians, we must build a library in every county capital. Monrovia already has one. Michael Weah and his team at the We Care Library, a spacious second floor suite on Carey and Gurley streets in Central Monrovia, have done a phenomenal job of cataloguing hundreds of books of all kinds. The library even has shelves sectioned off for Liberian authors, with the likes of well-known writers C. William Allen, D. Elwood Dunn, Bai T. Moore, K. Moses Nagbe, Angela Peabody, and Wilton Sankawulo, as well as emerging writers Watchen Johnson Babalola, James Dwalu, and Elma Shaw displayed. And before it went on hiatus, the Sea Breeze Journal of Contemporary Liberian Writings was regularly displayed on We Care computers.

But we need more around the country, especially on university campuses. I remember the challenge of teaching English composition and African literature at Stella Maris Polytechnic and the University of Liberia, respectively, without books readily available in-country. I would take my students’ assignments home to grade, and spend half the evening crying over pages bleeding with red-ink correction marks. There were so many errors in punctuation, spelling, and grammar, but I was always mindful that these students neither had the foundation in English instruction, nor the books available to emulate good writing.

The students constantly complained that they had to read novels in my class without fully appreciating that readers make better writers. Monrovia-based colleges/universities should lead the way in developing a culture of reading by establishing one large inter-university library, accessible by registered students and open to the public. Small, micro university libraries here and there are not the solution. We can demand that a portion of all social development funds be used for library construction and maintenance.

We also need bookstores, and I don’t mean reserving a few shelves on grocery store stands. I mean a mammoth bookstore that could be franchised throughout the country when the time is right. Right now, the space underneath the Ministry of Education on Broad Street seems to function as our national bookstore, but pirating books with little respect for copyright laws is not the answer. This is where public-private partnerships come in. Instead of opening a village of entertainment spots that sell ‘five for five,’ entrepreneurs should be thinking about selling books at an affordable rate. The demand will follow.

I know that developing a culture of reading requires capital, but it’s an investment worth making. Just as we recognize the importance of physical infrastructure in national reconstruction, we must think of books as the intellectual infrastructure needed to protect that development. We must develop a thirst for knowledge that only a love of reading can quench. I discovered that when I was 12.

It is not too late for Liberia.

* This article was first published in Frontpage Africa newspaper: http://tinyurl.com/c8odej3

* Born in Monrovia, Liberia, Robtel Neajai Pailey is an opinion fellow with New Narratives, a project supporting leading independent media in Africa. She is currently pursuing a doctorate in Development Studies at the University of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), as a Mo Ibrahim Foundation Ph.D. Scholar. She can be reached at robtel@newnarratives.org


Islamist radicals abusing Somaliland’s democracy

Abdirahman M. Dirye

2012-11-21

http://pambazuka.org/en/category/comment/85514

Having failed to forcibly impose a radical theocracy in Somaliland, militants have now turned to funding political parties to pursue their agenda.

For not less than 12 years, Somalilanders were chanting ‘Democracy’ without a deep understanding. Some said it was ‘the Sharia Law’ of the West; others thought of it as ‘imperial culture’ which simply replaced the colonialism of maintaining armies in foreign countries to retain sway over large territories of oil and minerals without bloodshed. Pro-western majority of the society was adamant that introduction of the multi-party system would be the panacea for social ills in Somaliland from recognition to reconstruction of infrastructure. But so far the socioeconomic and security situations are worryingly deteriorating. Democracy and the peace dividend have not materialized.

Besides, the increased participation of fanatics in the on-going democratization process coincided with Al-Shabab’s utter military defeat in Mogadishu. Therefore, legions of extremists scared by the deadly drone attacks are chasing Somaliland parties after their efforts to turn Somaliland into little Afghanistan were rebuffed. Far worse, Islamists are the official sponsors of the new political parties which the incumbent president, Mr Silanyo, recently allowed to distract attention from his government’s inaction in the country: shortage of water, and dilapidated roads in the capital. A party needs finance, and terrorists want legitimation.

The fact that our society and national parties are based on tribal identities is quite alarming. This loophole has given terrorists easy access to political parties. Furthermore, democracy in Somaliland has turned to political maneuvering and empty slogans totally irrelevant to real life, worse than ‘Sharia law’ that sparked the most disastrous famine in Somalia’s history. Municipal elections which are only weeks away will produce 24 corrupted councillors stealing the country’s meager resources — unless fundamental reform is made.

The extremists bankroll the parties when militancy failed, to take advantage of the seemingly ill-fated democracy and the abject poverty in the country. The fanatics linked with global Jihadist networks are campaigning for political parties throughout the day, an unprecedented phenomenon in Somaliland. The unregulated democracy is giving birth to a criminal theocracy and may lead to devastation as wealthy radicals overwhelm the budding democracy in ‘Africa’s most disputed region,’ to borrow David Shinn’s words.

There are chains of cafes, restaurants and Madrasas or alien schools in Somaliland run by the adherents of the Islamic Wahabi school of thought that generate millions of dollars a month. But the staff are underfed and underpaid. What the huge income is spent on is yet unclear and no institution has authority to audit.

Neither Somaliland’s intelligence nor the parliament heads off this systematic infiltration into parties. Is the International Republican Institute (IRI), which is supposed to advance democracy worldwide, serious about keeping power out of the hands of clerical thugs? Some widely known dangerous faces finance parties only with friendly attitude towards Jihad who condone and justify terrorism as the weapon of the poor against the strong. Their ill-gotten gains from ‘leaderless’ Jihad are funded in adverts and campaign commercials in return for decriminalization.

Multiparty politics developed into a destructive force! We are heading towards sham democracy unless National Election Commission is given an ultimatum to change the direction; our democracy won’t be on the right track. Radicals use Somaliland’s democracy for their own advantage.

* Abdirahman M. Dirye is Somaliland activist and volunteer. His email: mrdirye@gmail.com




Advocacy & campaigns

Ghanaian Socialists condemn Israel

Socialist Forum of Ghana

2012-11-21

http://pambazuka.org/en/category/advocacy/85508

Statement on Israeli aggression on Gaza read at a press conference in Accra on Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Ladies and gentlemen of the media

On behalf of the Socialist Forum of Ghana (SFG), we welcome you to this press conference designed to express our outrage against the aggression of the Zionist state of Israel against the people of Palestine in Gaza.

The continuing aggression is further evidence of the impunity of a colonial occupier, hell bent on defying world public opinion and international law in its brazen attempt to violate the political, economic and social rights of the Palestinian people. It tells us that Israel will stop at nothing to enforce its harsh colonial rule on a people who have been dispossessed of their lands.

At the last count, more than 800 Palestinians, mostly innocent women and children, had been murdered by Israel and at least 1,000 had been injured in the senseless show of brute force. Indeed in Israel’s war of aggression code-named ‘Operation Cast Lead’ in the 22-day-war in 2008-2009, 1, 400 Palestinians were killed and more than 5,000 were injured. All of these fit perfectly into a pattern of assassinations, imprisonment without charge or trial, sabotage of the Palestinian national economy and thievery of Palestinian resources by the decadent Israeli colonial administration.

Since 1948, Israel has continued to wage war on Palestine, killing and maiming, destroying economic and social infrastructure, and subverting the democratic will of the people. Israel’s intransigence has been helped by the substantial assistance it has continued to receive from the western countries especially the United States of America.

Over the years, Israel has achieved notoriety as the world’s prime threat to peace. It supported apartheid in South Africa; annexed Arab lands in Syria and Lebanon and has continued to subvert the national security of Sudan. A couple of weeks ago, Israel bombed Sudan in an unprovoked aggression. There are credible reports that Israel is also responsible for the assassination of Iranian scientists. Israel has also been deeply involved in the destabilization of Lebanon and is currently collaborating with Syrian rebels and terrorists in the futile attempt to topple the Assad regime.

We note that in spite of its war mongering and aggressive attitude some western countries have assisted Israel to stockpile nuclear weapons. As a fact Israel is the only country in the Middle East and the Persian Gulf which has a stock pile of nuclear weapons even as it refuses to sign international treaties guarding against the proliferation of such weapons.

The SFG is becoming increasingly alarmed at the growing aggression of Israel and its flagrant violation of the rights of the Palestinian people and calls on the international community to take the following measures to safeguard global peace and security:

1. Take steps to inspect and control Israel’s nuclear arsenal
2. Insist on Israel’s acceptance of resolutions of the United Nations on the rights of the Palestinian people including the right of refugees to return to their homeland.
3. Hold the Israeli authorities responsible for crimes against humanity including the assassinations it has committed in Iran, Lebanon Syria and elsewhere.

We also call on the Government of Ghana to bring pressure on Israel through such fora as the United Nations, the Non-Aligned Movement and the African Union to abide by the norms of decency in international relations and to refrain from acts of aggression against other states.

The Socialist Forum of Ghana also calls for an immediate end to the aggression against Gaza and the blockade of the coastal strip.

We salute the Palestinian people for steadfast resistance to colonial occupation.

Long live world peace and international solidarity.


Obafemi Awolowo University needs urgent reform

Demmocratic Socialist Movement

2012-11-21

http://pambazuka.org/en/category/advocacy/85512

Obafemi Awolowo University Ile-Ife is run in an undemocratic manner, with students and other members of the institution excluded from critical decision-making. The 50-year-old university should embark on reform by first restoring the banned students union.

* For immediate and unconditional restoration of the students’ union
* Stop the intimidation of student activists now

Some days ago, the university administration rolled out its drums to mark the 50th anniversary of the institution. Contrary to their plans, the event was far off from being all-encompassing with a very low turn-out at most of the events including the road walk held on Tuesday, 6 November. The only event largely attended was the music show where a vast majority of students only saw it as a social activity and a time to relax after strenuous academic activities and not as a ‘celebration’ of the 50th anniversary.

The disenchantment displayed cannot be detached from the undemocratic manner in which the university is being run which cuts off a vast majority of students and other members of the university from the decision-making process of the university. Students were not part of the planning of the event which revealed itself in the manner in which the anniversary ‘celebration’ was held. There was shortage of the anniversary jerseys which led to the few available being scrambled for as they were thrown around. In addition to this was the sudden painting of buildings and walkways to create a false image. This ridiculous situation is reminiscent of bourgeois politicking where politicians distribute items such as transformers, foodstuffs, clothing, e.t.c when elections are near to serve as cover for their inadequacies. Worse still, nobody has the slightest idea of the amount of resources gulped by the anniversary ‘celebration’. This underlines the need for the democratization of the decision-making organs of the university including the financial structures. The decision-making organs must include elected representatives of students, staff and other stakeholders in the university community. The poor participation is a result of the lacuna created by the absence of a collective platform of students which of course emphasizes the need for the immediate restoration of the students’ union.

The university administration having discovered this vacuum created by the absence of the students’ union ridiculously went as far as mobilizing ethnic associations through tips paid to their leaders, particularly for the Tuesday road walk. This was obviously aimed at faking a representation of students.

Ab initio, the question that comes to mind is the essence of the celebration. This is against the backdrop of debilitating living and studying conditions depicted by erratic water and power supply, poor sanitary system, overcrowded lecture theatres amongst others. In the past, asides the rich history of the union, OAU used to pride itself as Africa’s most beautiful campus owing to its glamorous architectural masterpieces. This has become history owing to poor funding of the university as well as mismanagement of funds by top paid officials of the university.

On the restoration of the students’ union, we reiterate our stance on the need for a transparent and democratic process in tandem with the democratic tenets and principles of independent unionism. We condemn the delay tactics employed by the administration and demand immediate elections to be conducted based on the provisions of the union constitution. From information gathered, the delay tactics employed by the university administration are aimed at providing a fertile ground for a planned fee hike in the coming session without opposition. We also reject the blackmail of the administration that the union has been destructive and irresponsible, hence the need for an elusive workshop. We rather hold that the continuous ban on the union has been caused by the high-handedness of the administration. Students have at no point in time vandalized school property while demonstrating. Infact, the union has always abhorred such acts and never hesitated to mete out appropriate penalties.

We also condemn in strong terms the iron-fisted method of the administration to clampdown on student activists who are joining other students in agitating for the immediate and unconditional restoration of the union. We condemn the recent attempt of the administration to intimidate some student activists with the invitation to a vindictive panel and alleging them of fomenting problems on campus.

Signed
Com Odunayo
Secretary




Books & arts

'Restless City' wins at Colours of the Nile International Film Festival

Kevin Kriedemann

2012-11-21

http://pambazuka.org/en/category/books/85517

While the films dealt with diverse subject matter, the jury was struck by a common thread – that of the displacement involved in migrant and immigrant lifestyles.

Andrew Dosunmu’s ‘Restless City’ was named Best Long Feature Film at the inaugural Colours of the Nile Film Festival, which ran in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia from 7-11 November 2012. The Nigerian film also won Best Cinematography.

The jury was made up of French/Tunisian filmmaker Karim Dridi; Ethiopian director Solomon BekeleWeya; South African producer Letebele Masemola-Jones; African Screens editor Don Dewale Omope; and Ioana-Frederique Westhoff from the ACP Films Programme.

Praising ‘Restless City’ for dealing with ‘a rarely-touched–upon subject’ in ‘the struggles of African migration to the USA,’ the jury said, ‘Told with care and attention to detail, the winning film shows a very high level of originality, high artistic merit, an innovative approach to storytelling and profound cinematographic flair.’

Speaking about the festival as a whole, the jury said, ‘The choice of films for the inaugural Colours of The Nile International Film Festival 2012, has been a compelling and visually inspiring cinematic feast from every corner of the African continent.’

Ambassador Xavier Marchal, the head of the European Union delegation to Ethiopia, spoke at the awards night, where he presented the Best African Short Film Award to ‘Hisab’ by Ethiopia’s Ezra Wube. In his speech, the ambassador said, ‘The Colours of the Nile International Film Festival is making a new landscape in African cinema.’

While the films dealt with diverse subject matter, the jury was struck by a common thread – that of the displacement involved in migrant and immigrant lifestyles.

‘This is perhaps not surprising, as it is very much a sign of the times throughout the world in which we live today,’ said the jury. ‘Migration from one country to the other is something we can all relate to. It happens for a variety of reasons that ultimately lead to people seeking a better life for themselves and their families. It is an issue that is top of the socio, economic and political agenda of most countries of the world.’

Other awards went to:

Best Short Film – ‘Hisab’ by Ezra Wube (Ethiopia)

The jury was struck by Hisab’s “highly original, innovative and creative way of depicting the hustle and bustle of life in a capital city.” Hisab “mixed live sound with artistic animation techniques and used animals that are a distinct part of life in the city to portray, in a humourous way, the behaviour of humans.”

Best Documentary Film: ‘Voyage of Hope’ by Michel K. Zongo (Burkina Faso)

The jury was “unanimously moved by the soberness and love with which the director goes on the journey from one country to another to trace the trail of his brother, who left the country for economical reasons 17 years ago and is rumoured to be dead.”

Best Screenplay: The Repentant by Merzak Allouachi (Algeria)

The jury was impressed with “how this story dealt with a very dramatic issue in contemporary Africa without the introduction of drama effects.” They said The Repentant “epitomizes what a good film is about: a great story well told.”

Best Sound: 1Ž2 Revolution by Karim El Hakim and Omar Shargawi (Egypt)

The jury says, “This award goes to an outstanding documentary, which worked with live sound recorded and adapted during a dramatic turn of events, while maintaining the original tension of the environment as the action occurred.”

Best Soundtrack: Otelo Burning by Sara Blecher (South Africa)

The jury felt Otelo Burning “deserved recognition for its superior and original soundtrack that adds to the visual appreciation of the film and firmly sets the story in the South African context.”

Best Actor: Kenneth Nkosi in Otelo Burning (South Africa)
Although Kenneth Nkosi seems to have a minor part in Otelo Burning, the jury felt he “conveys, with tremendous strength and humility, his emotional frustrations and sadness about the dramatic course the lives of his belovedones has taken.”

Best Actress: Elizabeth Melaku in Scent of a Lemon (Ethiopia)

The jury felt Elizabeth’s Melaku performance showed “highly remarkable and convincing screen acting” in her “transformation from a cheerful loving woman and caring wife to an introverted, bitter and struggling woman following unjustified societal pressure.”

Special mentions went to Abraham Gezahagne’s film Scent of a Lemon (Ethiopia); Theresa Traore-Dahlberg’s short film Taxi Sister (Senegal and Sweden); and Eric Miyeni’s documentary Mining For Change (South Africa).

CNIFF was made possible with the generous support of partners The Ministry of Culture and Tourism; Seagull Films; Encounters South African International Documentary Film Festival; and Institut Francais/ Cinémathèque Afrique, as well as sponsors European Union; French Embassy Addis Ababa; French Embassy Kenya Alliance Ethio-Francaise; Italian Cultural Institution EUNIC; Egypt Air; Fana Broadcasting Corporation; NyalaInsurances Share Company; BGI Ethiopia; Timret Le Hiowt Ethiopia/Wise Up; BRC Tour and Travel and Tizez Hotel Addis Ababa.

For more information, visit http://www.coloursofthenile.net/

Watch and embed the trailers from the winning films:

1Ž2 Revolution: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=phWQLSOmJ_Q

Hisab: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zrOuvpREG70

Mining for Change: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XJ_15m7nrLo

Otelo Burning: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gek4b3x0TTQ

Restless City: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z4VjY0h4YuI

Taxi Sister: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mGf6pVRRui0

Voyage Of Hope: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JQVuTIIkU1s

For more information, visit http://www.coloursofthenile.net/

Or call Joy Sapieka at joyls@mweb.co.za - 0027 73 2125492 /
Kevin Kriedemann at kevin@kevinlikes.com - 0027 83 5562346




Letters & Opinions

Gen. Ham continues to serve as Commander of U.S. Africa Command

Benjamin Benson

2012-11-21

http://pambazuka.org/en/category/letters/85509

Your article ‘Libya all in? Failed Nato mission exposes US generals’ of 15 Nov. by Horace G. Campbell (www.pambazuka.org/en/category/features/85450) contains a significant factual error. Gen. Ham has not been removed, and continues to serve as Commander of U.S. Africa Command. I urge you to correct this error following basic standards of journalism.

Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta’s announced intention to nominate Army Gen. David M. Rodriguez to succeed Army Gen. Carter F. Ham as the commander of U.S. Africa Command followed long planned leadership succession deliberations. The leadership transition at this important command has nothing to do with the attack on American personnel in Benghazi.

General Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, noted "The speculation that General Carter Ham is departing Africa Command (AFRICOM) due to events in Benghazi, Libya on 11 September 2012 is absolutely false. General Ham's departure is part of routine succession planning that has been ongoing since July. He continues to serve in AFRICOM with my complete confidence." See http://www.defense.gov/news/newsarticle.aspx?id=118400


Benjamin Benson, Media Engagement, Chief
U.S. Africa Command, Public Affairs (J035)
Kelley Barracks, Stuttgart-Möhringen, Germany


Gen. Ham: A response to AFRICOM

Horace G. Campbell

2012-11-21

http://pambazuka.org/en/category/letters/85510

The response of the Public Affairs Officer of AFRICOM shows that AFRICOM takes its media management seriously. The fact is that the retirement of General Carter Ham was announced on October 18 in the context of a review by the Pentagon of the events of September 11/12, 2012 in Benghazi, Libya.

The fact that the Department of Defense issued a press release on October 31 on the status of Carter Ham does not change the fact that the General will be replaced if and when David Rodriquez is confirmed. http://www.defense.gov/news/newsarticle.aspx?id=118400

The progressive scholarly community and the peace movement takes no comfort that Carter Ham is to be replaced by Army Gen. David M. Rodriguez. The historic close relationship between David M. Rodriquez and retired General Petraeus (as revealed in the biography of Petraeus, ‘All in: the Education of David Petraeus’) should elicit close scrutiny if the U.S. Congress does its work. Ultimately, whether General Carter Ham is retiring because of ‘long planned leadership succession deliberations’ or he was strongly advised to retire does not change the realities of the insecurity in Libya after the NATO intervention.

This author will accept the word of Benjamin Benson of the media management division of AFRICOM that Carter Ham was not, 'removed.' Whether removed or retiring because of 'succession deliberations' we await the full audit from General Ham of what happened in Libya and how AFRICOM contributed to the present lawlessness in Libya by this intervention.

Horace G Campbell
Professor of African American Studies and Political Science at Syracuse University




African Writers’ Corner

Fifty years of whining!

Uwineza Mimi Harriet

2012-11-21

http://pambazuka.org/en/category/African_Writers/85511

Where are we now?
Guinea pigs of slavery
Murderers of our own blood
while we sing of freedom!

Now complacent and helpless
Pretense of humanity

Suffocating Pluralism

Covering to suppress


How we whine!

Of foreigners’ deeds
Decorations of covered crimes?

What are we doing different?

How they turn into their graves!
The great heroes of motherland
Who fought through mountains and valleys!
Thinking it will come to pass!

* The poet Uwineza Mimi Harriet, is a M.A Candidate in Peace and Conflict Studies at Makerere University, a blogger, an author and activist. She has co-founded a think-tank called Peace Associates Network Africa and works with a human rights organization in the Horn of Africa.





Fahamu - Networks For Social Justice
www.fahamu.org

Pambazuka News is published by Fahamu Ltd.

© Unless otherwise indicated, all materials published are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported License. For further details see: www.pambazuka.org/en/about.php

Pambazuka news can be viewed online: English language edition
Edição em língua Portuguesa
Edition française
RSS Feeds available at www.pambazuka.org/en/newsfeed.php

Pambazuka News is published with the support of a number of funders, details of which can be obtained here.

To SUBSCRIBE or UNSUBSCRIBE go to:
http://pambazuka.gn.apc.org/cgi-bin/mailman/listinfo/pambazuka-news
or send a message to editor@pambazuka.org with the word SUBSCRIBE or UNSUBSCRIBE in the subject line as appropriate.

The views expressed here are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of Pambazuka News or Fahamu.

With around 2,600 contributors and an estimated 600,000 readers, Pambazuka News is the authoritative pan-African electronic weekly newsletter and platform for social justice in Africa providing cutting edge commentary and in-depth analysis on politics and current affairs, development, human rights, refugees, gender issues and culture in Africa.

Order cutting-edge climate titles from Pambazuka Press:

'Earth Grab: Geopiracy, the New Biomassters and Capturing Climate Genes' – OUT NOW

To Cook a Continent: Destructive Extraction and the Climate Crisis in Africa – OUT NOW

* Pambazuka News is on Twitter. By following '@pambazuka' on
Twitter you can receive headlines from our 'Features' and 'Comment & Analysis' sections as they are published, and can even receive our headlines via SMS. Visit our Twitter page for more information: twitter.com/pambazuka.

* Pambazuka News has a Del.icio.us page, where you can view the various websites that we visit to keep our fingers on the pulse of Africa! Visit http://delicious.com/pambazuka_news.

ISSN 1753-6839 Pambazuka News English Edition http://www.pambazuka.org/en/

ISSN 1753-6847 Pambazuka News en Français http://www.pambazuka.org/fr/

ISSN 1757-6504 Pambazuka News em Português http://www.pambazuka.org/pt/

© 2009 Fahamu - http://www.fahamu.org/